24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HANSEN presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government ease the financial position of age, invalid and widow pensioners by providing (1) a pension rate equivalent to half the basic wage and subject to future basic wage adjustments and (2) an allocation of additional finance to enable the State Housing Commission to build low-rental houses and units for pensioners and elderly people.
Petition received and read.
Mr. KING 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. Monaghan.
Petitions severally received.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 10th September, at 2.30 p.m.
– I desire to make an explanation of a personal nature under Standing Order No. 64. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is reported at page 549 of “Hansard” for 27th August as having said -
The Public Works Committee was making an adverse report on expenditure on beef roads in the Nothern Territory, but the Government lobbied, shall 1 say, the Government members of the committee and the subject has been recommitted.
Both those statements are untrue. I make this explanation as chairman of the com mittee. The committee has not commenced its report on the reference given to it by this House on beef roads. Indeed, at the last meeting of the committee it was decided to call for more evidence before starting to draft the report. The Government has not lobbied Government members.
– I wish to make a personal explanation with regard to an article that appeared in the “ Australian Financial Review “ of 8th August. In an article headed “Beef Road Scheme is now under way “, the following statement appears: -
The Federal Government Members’ Food and Agricultural Committee, which recently toured North-West Queensland, is reported to have claimed the beef road is not being patronized.
A Victorian member of the committee, Mr. Max Fox, had said he wondered where the demands for the roads had come from and that “ we should not be spending money just to stop a political clamour “.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I have never said the beef road was not being used. This statement was made to the commitee by the manager of an important cattle station in Queensland. I said that, if this were a fact, I would be shocked.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. My attention has been drawn to the fact that yesterday the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) - I am not sure whether by way of praise or blame - quoted an extract from a speech I made the previous night. I feel I must correct or re-assure him by pointing out that the extract from my speech was in fact a quotation from a speech made by the Leader of the Australian Country Party last month when he was addressing the annual conference of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation.
Debate resumed from 28th August (vide page 624), 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”.
.- The House is now debating the Budget presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I cannot remember a single occasion in my experience in this House on which a Budget brought down by this Government has not been automatically met with a censure motion in some form or other. Usually it is in the form of an amendment to reduce the first item of Government expenditure by £1 or an amendment such as that now before the House.
I also cannot remember when the Opposition has resorted to so much deception in a Budget debate. This seems to be part of a campaign that has been waged for several months, now, by the Australian Labour Party in order to divert attention from the achievements of the Government in the development of this country. We should keep in mind that, if the amendment is successful, the Australian Labour Party will immediately take office. It is against this background that 1 wish to make some remarks.
An amendment of the kind moved by the Opposition is a valuable contribution to the debate because it gives us an opportunity to examine the merits of Labour’s proposals. More particularly it gives us an opportunity to assess the sincerity of purpose behind those proposals. The amendment foreshadows that a Labour government would provide tax concessions for people in the lower income groups, would increase social service benefits and would provide more money for housing and health services, defence and national development. At no time in the course of this debate has any honorable member opposite given serious consideration to the inflationary effects’ of those proposals. The bitter experience suffered by most people twice in the last decade should be sufficient to place the community on guard against inflationary proposals. The community should be on guard against that unjust, if I may so term it, indirect form of taxation which falls so heavily on people in the lower income groups. Sensible Australians know that speculative orgies always end in disaster. Inflation may be put in that category. Everything should be done to minimize the effect of the internal and external pressures that are being applied to the economy.
Industry, whose recovery in some sections still is slow and sluggish, will take some time to absorb the increases in wages flowing from the recent Arbitration Commission decision and the granting of three weeks’ leave to workers in industry. The overriding necessity is to bolster the economy against inflation so that we may increase exports and gain the stability from which flows general business confidence, not only in Australia -but also overseas. Unfortunately to-day in Melbourne electricity workers are engaging in a senseless stoppage. The entire community is involved in a 24-hour stoppage of State Electricity Commission workers. Disputes cannot be settled in thi3 way. 1 have no doubt that if the workers themselves do not know it, at least the Labour Party’s agencies know that a dispute cannot be settled by resorting to direct action. It is estimated that at least 1,200,000 workers will be affected by the stoppage and that at least 300,000 of the commission’s employees will lose a day’s pay. All this because of a senseless strike! The leaders of the Labour Party must know from past experience that strike action involving a State-owned instrumentality, such as the State Electricity Commission, cannot gain for the workers any changes in pay or conditions. The State is bound to observe the principles of arbitration and conciliation. But despite that the Australian Labour Party, through its agencies, is supporting the strike in Melbourne to-day.
It is fortunate that in spite of things of this kind that tend to spoil the image of the Australian economy, people can see the great progress and development that are taking place in Australia. That progress’ and development are apparent, not only to people in this country, but also to people many miles away overseas. A few weeks ago an interesting article appeared in the London “ Financial Times “ pointing out that a new phase of expansion had been generated in Australia. The article read -
Fluctuations in the movement of many industries have blurred the picture of recovery. With stability in external accounts and domestic costs, the economy is well placed to cope with the testing period which lies ahead.
All of this is so true. One has only to examine the statistical reports in the bulletin that comes out from month to month, and also the index produced by the Australian and New Zealand Bank Limited, to see something of the remarkably stable conditions that exist in Australia’s economy. I remind the House, too, that these stable conditions exist despite what we know is going on at the present time on the waterfront, which is exemplified by the stupid strike that is being conducted in Melbourne at present.
According to the figures to which I have referred, production has increased in the last twelve months by 6.5 per cent. Wages have, increased by 2.9 per cent. Yet the consumer price index, giving the weighted average of six capital cities, has increased by only .3 per cent. Surely this is true of the economic stability that prevails in Australia at the present time. Production is up, wages have increased, yet the consumer price index has hardly moved.
I believe that the Leader of the Opposition fully realizes the position but is not prepared to admit it in this House. He prefers to engage in knocking. However, I am glad that when he goes overseas he acts like an Australian. It is refreshing to learn that when he met the President of the United States of America a few weeks ago he spoke with sincerity, telling the President that Australia was progressing at a rate faster than the United States had achieved during its great developmental period. If this is true - and I believe it is, because the statistical information gives proof of it - then it is also true that this has not been achieved under a Labour government, because Labour has not been in power for more than a decade. The Labour Party can take no credit either for the economic stability that exists or for the progressive development that has’ taken place’ in Aus tralia during its greatest developmental period, which has been the last ten years.
We must remember that the Labour Party has done everything it could, both in this House and outside it, to retard progress and to inflate the economy - and I go further and say that it has done its best to spoil the Australian image in the eyes of investors overseas. Not so long ago the leader of the Australian Labour Party was exhorting the people to spend their savings before they lost them under the Menzies Government. This is the man who is bidding to-day for the Prime Ministership of this country - a man who knows full well the tremendous development that is going on here, and is able to tell people overseas of it - but while in Australia he allows the members of his party to engage in a campaign of knocking and so causing a certain amount of inflation and helping to retard Australia’s progress.
The Labour Party is trying desperately to win favour at the present time because it knows that the economy is on the up and up and that if it does not win its way to the Treasury bench now it will not have another chance within the next ten years. During the last three or four months the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Labour Party have made some remarkable statements in order to deceive the people as to that party’s policy and what it has agreed to in this House. Every honorable member will remember the occasion when the Leader of the Opposition said that it was inconceivable that the Labour Party should give up its socialistic objectives. But every honorable member will also remember that at the last election he promised that if the Labour Party were returned to office it would not introduce any socialistic legislation. We all know how insincere and full of deception that statement is. How can he make a statement like that when he knows that every member of the Opposition and every member of the Australian Labour Party, before becoming a member, has to sign a pledge to do all in his power to bring about socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. That is one of the points in the campaign of deception conducted by the Labour Party to draw the people’s attention from the tremendous progress which is occurring.
The Australian Labour Party recently held its conference in Perth. Immediately after the conference two different kinds of report were issued. The president of the party, Mr. Keefe, said, “ If you want Australian troops home from Malaya, you can trust the Australian Labour Party because that is part of our policy “. A few days later the right wing members of the executive said, “ We have left a loophole for the Calwell government to leave them there “. During the debate in this House on the establishment of the United States communication station in Western Australia the Leader of the Opposition said that if the Labour Party came into office at the next election it would renegotiate for operational control of the base. It is clear that such action would cause the Americans to leave the base. Yet he told the people on every possible platform that he has supported and is prepared to continue to support the base in Western Australia.
We are getting a little tired of this volte face approach by the Leader of the Opposition. It is noticable particularly in the unity ticket campaign being conducted not only in Victoria, but also in Queensland. At the recent Perth conference it was announced that there was a federal ban on alinement with Communists in election campaigns and that the ban would continue. Yet the Leader of the Opposition told the Victorians who support unity ticket alinement with Communists, “ I do not know that it is going on “. This was said despite the fact that we all know unity tickets were issued in the recent election of officers of the Victorian Railways Union and we also know that they are being used in Brisbane.
The foreign policy of the Australian Labour Party also contains some remarkable aspects. I am sure that every foreign delegate to the United Nations would like to know what is meant by the Leader of the Opposition when he says that he will recognize the Mao Tse-Tung Government of Communist China and will also recognize the Chiang Kai-shek regime in Formosa. How will he do that in view of the fact that neither of these leaders nor their governments will recognize the other? That may be one of the crucial reasons why Communist China is not admitted to the United Nations Organization.
– You know that Britain already recognizes Communist China.
– That is so. The Leader of the Opposition says, “ We are prepared to recognize Formosan China “. Both Chinas cannot be recognized at the same time, Sir.
All this is only one part of the campaign of deception. When people are dissatisfied with some aspects of the Government’s policy, shall we say, the Australian Labour Party is prepared to agree with them by making some statement that is completely opposed to Labour’s normal policy. One of my colleagues has referred often to the Australian Labour Party’s faceless men. I think that the Leader of the Opposition has become, not a faceless man, but a man with many faces. He wants to have one turning to the left and one turning to the right almost simultaneously.
I now turn from the false promises that have been made by the Labour Party, !o its great discredit, and come to some of the features of the amendment to the motion for the second reading of this bill proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. The amendment needs very close examination, as I said earlier. In the time available, it would be impossible for me to answer .ill the statements that have been made in this debate by Opposition speakers. 1 would like particularly to discuss the great problems of housing and education on the only basis on which they can be effectively dealt wilh.
We remember that the Leader of the Opposition said that Labour would provide increased funds for housing under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. I take it that the statement means that if, at the conclusion of this debate, the amendment is carried and the Labour Party takes office- - if such a thing is possible - Labour will spend a lot more on housing. I remind the House that this Government has made available for housing more than £1,000,000,000 during its term of office. This is a tremendous sum. When one writes it down, one takes a second look at the figures to make sure that an additional nought has not been included. This Budget will provide a further £90,000,000 for housing. The greater part of that will be spent on new dwellings and a very significant part of it on the purchase of existing houses.
In addition to these funds, there is the flow of home finance from institutional sources. What this will total in the next twelve months is subject to a certain amount of conjecture. We can say at least that in the last quarter the funds obtained from this source exceeded £30,000,000. The latest statistics prepared by the Bureau of Census and Statistics show that the rate of approvals for the building of new houses and flats is approaching the level of the boom year, 1960. I venture to say that, with the expansion that is going on in this country, the sums that I have just mentioned will be exceeded if this Government continues in office. The declaration by the Leader of the Opposition that he will increase the rate of home-building by making more money available has no real meaning, because we cannot usefully spend more money than the industry can effectively absorb. If we spend more, inflation must prevail and make it more difficult for young people to own homes.
The Leader of the Opposition also discussed the problems of education. The Australian taxpayers must not forget that while the Australian Constitution remains as it is education will continue to be a State responsibility. Those who are most closely associated with education - the State governments and the education authorities - accept the principle that education should remain a State responsibility.
The parents and citizens associations that I have addressed from time to time and with which I have discussed this matter have asked that additional revenue finance be made available to the States during 1963-64 and have asked for an inquiry into primary, secondary and tertiary education. I want to deal for a moment with those requests. As to their background, it is noteworthy that at the last Premiers’ Conference and, indeed, at the preceding one, the majority of the States asked for increased general revenue grants, not for special education grants.
Honorable members will recollect that, on Tuesday night last, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made it crystal clear in a very fine speech that the Premiers required, not special education grants, but increased general revenue grants. That must not be overlooked. Of course, primary, secondary and tertiary education is one of to-da’y’s greatest problems. It must be kept under constant review. We must not lower our sights on it and we must not allow our thinking to become fogged by party politics.
Expenditure on education for 1962-63 was about 3.5 per cent, of our gross national product. This represents a marked increase since 1949 when expenditure was about 2 per cent, of the gross national product. This fact alone proves that much has been done, although I readily concede that more remains to be done. In 1962, out of a total expenditure of £733,000,000, the States expended £168,000,000 on education, and out of expenditure from loan funds of £220,000,000 they expended £45,000,000 on education. I have mentioned already that, for 1963-64, the Commonwealth will make available to the States an additional. £52,700,000. This is an increase of £45,000,000 over the amount made available last year. The States, of course, have their own revenue in addition to what is provided by the Commonwealth. They spend approximately 28 per cent, of their consolidated revenue and 20 per cent, of their loan funds on education.
The lesson from this is obvious. Those most directly concerned with education should now turn their attention to the State governments. They have the finances in varying degrees and are in a position to make substantial increases in the funds available for education. In the case of Victoria, funds from Commonwealth and other sources have been increased by over £10,000,000 and revenues from the State’s own taxes will, I believe, also increase during this year. Therefore, the Victorian Government is now in a position to appropriate more for education than was appropriated last year.
As to a national inquiry, it must not be forgotten how education policy has been reconstructed under the Menzies Government. We have had an inquiry already into university education which has resulted in financial assistance to the States for universities being increased since 1950 to the sum total of £18,000,000. In addition, the Australian National University has been assisted to the extent of £3,500,000, and 4,000 national scholarships have been awarded each year. I recommend the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) to consider these figures again and to compare them with the relevant figures for 1949.
The Australian Universities Commission is now conducting a full inquiry into tertiary and technical education. It is expected that the report will be available during the next few months. There is no reason why each State should not carry out its own inquiry into its own education system if it wants to do so. It must be remembered that if the Commonwealth Government instituted an inquiry into the primary and secondary divisions of our educational system and produced a result that many of us probably could anticipate, the Commonwealth would have no power to enforce on the States the committee’s findings. I do not believe that the States would be prepared to accept them.
I should like to discuss another question that was raised by the Leader of the Opposition, namely, health. He said that the Labour Party, when it gets back into power, will improve health services and social services. This Government also will improve these services in the future. Nothing is static in a quickly developing country like Australia. All the things that are anticipated by the Opposition must come into being. It is not a question of stealing the Labour Party’s policy. These benefits must increase naturally as this country progresses. I should like to have said something about health, but I see that my time has almost expired. We will be able to discuss it when the proposed votes of the Department of Health come before us. We will then be able to reply to some of the statements that were made in this debate by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) and the Leader of the Opposition.
In conclusion, I say that I see in this Budget all the elements necessary to make Australia a trading nation of great eminence built on a solid foundation of progress and prosperity. Only one event can really halt the progress that is being made; and that is for this country to revert to Labour government. I congratulate the Treasurer on his Budget speech. I support the Budget. I believe that we will continue to march on to greater progress than has been achieved, even in the past ten years.
.- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), in opening his speech, said that every budget that has been brought down by this Government has been censured automatically by the Australian Labour Party. Of course, that action is quite in order because we of the Australian Labour Party have never been of the opinion that this Government has ever brought down a budget or a policy that is in the best interests of Australia. Therefore, we as the Opposition believe that it is our duty to censure this Budget as we have censured previous budgets. The honorable member for Isaacs, in the usual manner of Government speakers when referring to its legislation, attempted to cloud the issue by bringing in extraneous matters. He brought up the old bogy of the differences and divisions in the Australian Labour Party, unity tickets, and all the other drivel which we have become accustomed to hearing from Government supporters over the years.
– He did not mention the Liberal Party and the Country Party, did he?
– No. The reason why these matters are being raised by Government speakers is very obvious. At the present time the coalition Government forces are in a perilous position. We have the spectacle of the Liberal Party and the Country Party, which form this coalition Government, being at loggerheads with one another and on the verge of a very great split. That split, when it happens, will be far greater than any of the differences that have ever occurred in the Australian Labour Party.
– That is absolute nonsense.
– It is not nonsense. If the Minister wants to listen to nonsense, he should listen to honorable members on his own side of the House. Every time they stand up to speak we hear this nonsense about differences in the Australian Labour Party. The honorable member for Isaacs accused the Australian Labour Party as such of being responsible for the strike that is taking place in Victoria at present.
– Quite rightly.
– I will have something to say about you later, old boy. The strike that is taking place in Victoria at present’ ,’ …
– Do you support the strike or not?
– I do not understand the ramifications of the strike, so I am not in a position to stand here and say whether I support the strike or do not support it. Neither is any other honorable member, particularly the honorable member for Isaacs who probably has never been in a position to understand the struggle that workers have had to improve their conditions over the years. These things are brought up by honorable members opposite in an effort to distract the attention of the people of Australia from the real issues. The real issue is the fact that Australia is not progressing as it should these days, in view of the great advances which have taken place throughout the world. Australia is by no means in the forefront of the countries making these advances. The honorable member for Isaacs spoke about the forward march of the nation. Under this Government it has been more or less a dead march; we have been going forward very slowly.
During this debate supporters of the Government have tried to play down the matter of unemployment, although it is a great problem in this country. It is far greater now than it was during 1961 when the unemployment figure stood at about 63,000. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in commenting on this number in that year, said that he did not consider that a figure of about 60,000 unemployed was serious, but that if it rose to about 75,000 or 80,000 the position would then become serious and the Government would have a look at it.
During the last eighteen months the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Prime Minister, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and other Ministers have tried to paint a rosy picture to show how the unemployment problem was being overcome by the Government. If the problem is being overcome it is being overcome very slowly. We believe that this Government has not done anywhere near sufficient to tackle the problem.
The Treasurer, in his Budget speech, studiously avoided any reference to unemployment and when we see the departmental estimates of expenditure we will find that the amounts set aside for unemployment and sickness benefits in this financial year will be very much the same as those set apart in the last two financial years for this purpose. Quite obviously this Government does not foresee any appreciable reduction in the unemployment figures in Australia in the near future. You cannot dismiss this great problem. We have heard honorable members on the other side of the House speaking about unemployment as a percentage, that is, the number of unemployed as a percentage of the work force. They have mentioned a figure of 2 per cent, and have said it is not large. They say it is nothing to worry about because it is less than the unemployment rate in most other countries. I think that is a very negative attitude to take.
It has been shown that full employment is possible in Australia. The Australian Labour Party proved that to the people of Australia, yet we have slighting references to unemployment by honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay). They probably know nothing about the matter, never having suffered the misfortunes of unemployment. They treat unemployment as a matter of no importance. If they represented electorates such as many Labour members represent, where unemployment is a great problem, perhaps they would take another look at it, even if only to save their own political hides.
This Budget, again, met with a very poor reception from the nation generally. That is no wonder, because it has done nothing for the nation generally. The Treasurer again used that overworked word, of which he is very fond - “ stimulus “ and said that this Budget will give the country the necessary stimulus, and put the necessary injection of money into the economy, to make Australia go forward. There are, in the Budget, one or two items which in my opinion are good, but there are others which, while being improvements on previous provisions, still fall far short of that which is necessary in the interests of certain citizens of the Commonwealth.
I would like first of all to refer to social service payments. This is a matter which is very near and dear to the hearts of all members of the Australian Labour Party, because we are concerned about the people who need this assistance from the Government. They are placed in a position where they are not capable of making their own way, due to certain circumstances, and they constitute a large proportion of the population of Australia. For that reason they become an integral part of the economic set-up of this country.
I will deal at this point with age pensions. This subject has been referred to by previous speakers from this side of the House, but I, also, would like to add my protest at the proposal to increase by 10s. a week the payment to one section of the pensioners. The Treasurer has said that something like 521,000 out of 786,000 age, invalid and widow pensioners throughout Australia are of single status. I find that statement hard to believe, but will accept the Treasurer’s word, because he has probably obtained those figures from a reliable authority. The fact, as mentioned by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), is that this proposal inflicts a penalty on married pensioners. I will not reiterate the various things which have been said about the relative situation of married pensioners but there seems to me to be a serious defect in this proposal. I ask the Treasurer now - even at this late stage - to consider making this extra payment to all pensioners, irrespective of their marital status.
The extra grant for widows’ pensions is something which I applaud. I believe all honorable members of this Parliament and the public generally will also applaud it. This increase is long overdue; it should have been given long ago. Having seen the financial side of the picture, I know of the worry which widow pensioners have suffered for many years. A widow pensioner with youngsters is in a different position from that of many other pensioners. She cannot readily go out to work. If she were to do so the result could be the breaking up of the family. We members of the Australian Labour Party believe that family life is the most integral part of our way of life. I would never support any move which forced a widow to give up her family or to leave them in the care of some one else while she tried to supplement the mere pittance handed out to her as the pension. The increase of the payment is a welcome move on the part of the Government, and I applaud it. But the matter will have to be looked at very closely in the future. I hope that, this rise having been granted, it will not be left at the new figure irrespective of changes in the cost of living. This payment is still only a mere subsistence allowance. I think the Government should give particular attention to the amount of widows’ pensions.
Invalid pensioners are another section of the recipients of social services who are placed in a much more difficult position than others. Let us consider the case of an invalid pensioner with a wife and two children. When the new rates come into effect, an invalid pensioner will receive £5 15s. a week, plus £3 a week for the wife and 15s. a week for each child. That will give the family a total of £10 5s. a week.
A family of this size is the basis upon which the basic wage, computed in accordance with the C series index has been determined over the years. As we know, the basic wage is just a pittance for a family - even a man, his wife and two children - to try to exist on. The Minister for Labour and National Service, as the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) reminds me, has said that the basic wage is quite adequate. But the Minister would not know, because he is a bachelor, anyhow. I do not know what his financial status is. Of course, we must expect to have the present state of affairs when such people have charge of the administration of the country.
These invalid pensioners receive £10 5s. a week on which to keep a family of four - a man, his wife and two children. 1 do not want to be misunderstood when I point out that an age pensioner couple receives £10 10s. a week. This is little enough. In addition, they can earn up to £7 a week, but it is most unlikely that they would find work, particularly when the economic policies of this Government lead to a shortage of jobs. I am merely trying to draw a comparison between the unfortunate invalid pensioners who cannot supplement their incomes in any way and age pensioners. The income of invalid pensioners is limited to the pension. The Government should examine this problem while it still remains in office. I am sure it will not be in office for very much longer.
I am very concerned about another aspect of social services. Many of my constituents have had to face the problem of the age pensioner whose wife is several years his junior. I will take as an example a man who has reached the age of 65 years and who is quite fit and well but who is compulsorily retired from his position. If ibis wife is 55 years of age, it will be five years before she will receive the age pension. If the husband is fit and well, it is not possible for her to obtain the wife’s allowance of £3 a week - it was previously £2 7s. 6d. - and she must go out to work. Those who administer the department argue that, as neither the wife nor the husband have any physical disabilities, they can supplement the husband’s pension. But they do not realize how difficult it is for a man of pensionable age to break into a new field of employment or for a woman of 55 years of age to find work.
– The Commonwealth Employment Office will not register such a man for work.
– That is so. It recognizes that he is unemployable. The wife has probably spent a lifetime rearing a family and may not have had any training for industry or business. It is, therefore, virtually impossible for her, after, perhaps, 30 years of married life, to find work in industry or business. These people must try to exist on the husband’s pension of only £5 5s. a week. This is a shocking position. It has been raised previously in the Parliament and I am surprised that the Treasurer, when framing the Budget, did not examine this position closely. The fact that it has been ignored shows that the Treasurer and his advisers do not have a true appreciation of the problems confronting pensioners.
The Treasurer gave prominence in his Budget speech to sales tax. He made great play on the fact that, after all these years, sales tax on foodstuffs had been abolished. The removal of the tax on these items costs the Government £11,000,000 a year in revenue. But people in the lower income group do not use many of the items in the category that was removed from sales tax. I was surprised that the Treasurer tried to suggest that this concession would be of any great benefit to the community generally. I do not condemn the abolition of sales tax on any items, lt is an iniquitous tax. But it was rather significant that, following the abolition of the sales tax, announcements were made in Brisbane newspapers, at least, that the prices of many commodities, such as bread, would rise. It was stated that the public would not benefit greatly from the abolition of sales tax on biscuits and other items because price rises were pending anyhow.
Who will get the benefit of this concession, which amounts to £1 1 ,000,000? It certainly will not go into the pockets of the workers; and they are the people who most need assistance. I believe that it is Government policy to see that amounts like this £11,000,000 do not go into the pockets of the workers.
Of course, the Government will not in any circumstances agree to price control. It speaks of the evils of price control and claims that free competition will keep prices down. In 1949, the Government parties, who were then in opposition, announced in their policy speech that they would lift all controls. They did so when they became the Government. But then we had an unprecedented rise in prices and the greatest inflationary period in the nation’s history. The Government should take a close look at the situation of the workers. If it wants to help the little man and the people who are compelled to live on comparatively low incomes, it should examine the problem of prices. If free enterprise is given its head, it will exploit the people. The Government should introduce some form of price control.
The Budget did not grant any income tax concessions. However, I do not think that such concessions would have been of much benefit to the people in the lower income group. When income tax was cut by 5 per cent, in 1962-63, it had little effect on the pockets of those in the lower income group. The greatest benefit went to those in the higher income group. This was the natural result of reducing income tax by a flat amount. I do not quarrel with the Government for its failure to reduce income tax. However, I am very concerned about the Government’s failure to adopt certain proposals for income tax deductions, which have been put forward during the time I have been a member of the Parliament.
Many honorable members have suggested in questions to the Treasurer that fares incurred in travelling to and from work should be allowed as an income tax deduction. This expense takes a considerable part of the average worker’s income. A conservative estimate would be £50 a year for workers who travel by train or tram. In certain areas, it would cost £100 or £120 a year to travel to and from work. This money is spent by workers in the pursuit of their incomes. I thought that the answer the Treasurer gave to a question last year suggested that he had agreed to the request for this concession.
It would seem that it has been overlooked. This is an injustice to the person on a low wage who is forced to spend a considerable amount of money in fares to and from his place of employment. If the matter has merely been overlooked I trust that it will be rectified in the near future. The man in receipt of a high salary and who, perhaps, uses his car in the normal course of his business, obtains the benefit of an income tax deduction in respect of the running expenses for his car, but similar justice is denied to the man on a low income. I should like to ask the Treasurer why this situation exists. Why has not the matter been attended to? Will the Treasurer again look into this matter? I sincerely urge him to do so because there can be no doubt that the injustice that has been perpetrated on the low wage earners should be rectified.
The Treasurer had a great deal to say in his speech about the increase in the maximum deductions allowable in respect of medical and education expenses. On the face of it those provisions are good, but when we examine them they do not amount to very much. I do not think the provisions will cost the Government anything because very few individuals will incur medical expenses in excess of £150 in any year. The increase in allowable deductions in respect of education expenses is welcome, but it will not be of very great assistance to people in the low income groups - the people for whom I am mainly concerned - because they cannot afford to pay £150 a year to educate each of their children. 1 wish to refer to a matter that concerns the Postal Department. In his speech on the Budget the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien), referred to the .increased public telephone charges announced by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). The honorable member claimed that this increase was the thin end of the wedge; that it was the forerunner to increases in charges for other Post Office facilities. Many of my constituents have on many occasions protested to me about the excessive charge for telephone facilities. I refer not only to the charge for calls from public telephones but also to charges associated with private telephones. In many cases the rental charge for a private telephone is much higher than the charge for calls. Also we must not forget that a few years ago a charge of £10 for installation of private telephones was instituted. The installation fee is an unjust imposition. It would appear that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is becoming a revenue producer for the Commonwealth. I am not opposed to the department making a profit. It is good to see any socialized project making a profit. We see this happening to-day in the Postal Department and in Trans-Australia Airlines. But instead of the department making huge profits, some of the benefits of its administration should be passed on to the public in the way of lower charges for telephone facilities.
I understand that coloured telephones are causing some concern in the department. The coloured telephones are stock-piled in hundreds. People will not install them because of the excessive additional cost of these nicely coloured pieces of plastic. I understand - I cannot verify this statement - that the coloured telephones actually cost less to produce than the standard black telephone, yet an additional fee is charged if a subscriber wants a coloured telephone. If the department wants to make its telephone facilities more attractive it should provide coloured handsets at no extra cost. They should not be used to produce revenue.
I would like to raise many other matters, but my time is running out. One matter that has been brought to my attention concerns certain sections of employees in the Postmaster-General’s Department. Employees of the department working in Queensland very often work in severe climatic conditions. Most of southern Queensland is in the sub-tropic zone and that part north of the tropic of Capricorn is regarded as being in the tropic zone. No matter where you live in Queensland, conditions can be very trying, not only for outdoor workers, but also for indoor workers. The Amalgamated Postal Workers Union and other unions whose members work for the department have, from time to time, made representations seeking the installation of air-conditioning equipment in all postal buildings in Queensland, particularly those situated -n hot areas. Those requests have been consistently ignored by the department. The department claims that it would cost too much to install air conditioning. But the department carefully looks after its equipment. All of its technical equipment is housed in air-conditioned buildings. I agree that that is essential, but if it is essential to protect equipment surely it is also essential to protect the workers who keep the department going. The department’s excuse for not providing the workers with airconditioned buildings is that the cost is too great, but the department has been making enormous’ profits in the past few years. Surely it is not too much to ask it to provide a little comfort for its employees, particularly those in the tropic zone.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber) began his remarks by referring to something that my colleague the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) had said about the differences that exist in the Australian Labour Party between the left and the right. The honorable member for Bowman tried to compare the differences that exist in the Labour Party with those that he would like to think exist between the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party. To suggest that there are differences between the parties that form this Government is sheer fancy - wishful thinking - on the part of the honorable member. How dearl’y he and his colleagues would like to see differences between the two parties on this side of the House as great as those that exist within the ranks of his own party!
The honorable member for Bowman said that Australia is not progressing. One wonders at his powers of comprehension because there are several obvious indications that Australia is progressing. Australia has one of the smallest populations in the world, yet it is one of the ten great trading nations. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) indicated in his Budget speech that the gross national product increased last year by 8 per cent. Does not that indicate progress? Last year rural production reached a record level - an increase of 6 per cent, on the previous year. Is that not progress? Of course it is. The fact is that the Labour Party does not wish to acknowledge the progress that is being made by Australia.
The honorable member for Bowman made the usual remarks about unemployment that he and his colleagues always make. He said that unemployment presents a problem. Does he or any other member of the Opposition believe that this Government is not aware that some unemployment exists? This Government concedes, as I concede, that unemployment is a problem, no matter where or when it exists. To say that the problem has not been tackled by this Government is something of an untruth. The honorable member for Bowman said that the Budget does not refer to unemployment. I refer the honorable member to the Treasurer’s speech in which he states that this year an allocation of £20,000,000 will be made to the States in the form of additional assistance grants for employmentgiving activities. A matter of £2,500,000 more is being made available for that purpose than was provided in the previous year.
The honorable member for Bowman also said that the Budget showed that the Treasurer had no appreciation of the needs of the people with regard to social services. I admit that the honorable member, like myself, has not been in this place very long. Perhaps his study of government activities in the field of social services has not been as deep as it might have been. Can it be denied that this Government has done more in respect of social services than any previous government of Australia has ever done? The Menzies Government has a fine record in the field of social services, and surely this should be acknowledged.
I do not intend in this speech. to give a recital of all the magnificent virtues of the
Budget. This is not because I do not believe repetition of them is justified. In fact I think that the more these virtues are repeated the greater will be the confidence engendered in the people of Australia. Repetition is justified, perhaps, for the purpose of dispelling the atmosphere of gloom, misery and despair with which the Opposition would surround us - an atmosphere, of course, completely of its own creating, and one which serves no useful purpose in this country. Certainly it does not make for a contented people. But am I right in assuming that the Opposition does not want a contented people under this Government?
Several speakers on this side of the House have acknowledged the right of the Opposition to propose a motion of censure against the Government. It is the Opposition’s place to do so, certainly. There are, of course, some people who say that it is Labour’s place to be in Opposition. But what do we hear of alternative proposals, which, after all, should be made when a motion of censure is proposed? All we hear are dire forecasts of what will happen if we persist with this Menzies Government. But I go further and say that there are dire forecasts for the people also in that censure motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I remind honorable members and the people of what he said in relation to taxation, particularly taxation of incomes in excess of £1,200 a year. The honorable gentleman suggested that this was about the average income being received at the present time. Income tax on incomes of about this amount is not excessive at the present time, but the Leader of the Opposition said that if Labour comes to power it will increase the rate of income tax on all incomes of more than £1,200 a year. On Tuesday night the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said that such increase would amount to 10 per cent, of the tax that people on these higher salaries are at present paying. I am reminded of traffic signs I once saw on a dangerous section of road. The first sign said, “Proceed With Caution”. The second, a little further on, said, “ You Have Been Warned “. So I say to this House and to the people of Australia: You have been warned. Take warning.
I suggest also that the people of Australia should heed the warning inherent in the policies of the Labour Party as expressed at the recent Perth conference. With regard to defence, for instance, the Labour Party said that it would withdraw our strategic reserve troops from Malaya. This is a declaration of policy. We understand that. But for electioneering purposes perhaps the Labour Party can say that it is committed to certain treaty obligations and so can justify having our troops in Malaya.
Then consider Labour’s declared policy on education. Perhaps this aspect of the matter of education does not come within the jurisdiction of this Parliament; nevertheless I would like to refer to what was stated at the Perth conference about state aid for education. Labour policy is to provide no such aid. This is quite consistent with Labour’s aims to destroy the private system and bring everything under state ownership. But this may not suit the electorate, so Labour gives itself a let-out by saying that a Labour government will do more, in the field of education. But the Labour Party is not very specific in this regard, and it is not apparent that it will do more than this Government has been doing for years, or give more assistance than this Government has been giving, in the fields of secondary and tertiary education, in the granting of Commonwealth scholarships, in giving financial assistance to the States, much of which is spent on improving educational facilities, and in providing an enormous amount of assistance for universities. As the Prime Minister said on Tuesday night, what this Government has done in respect of education has been far greater than anyone could have comprehended fifteen or twenty years ago.
But why must the Labour Party have these escape clauses? Perhaps it is because it is not clear as yet whether the private educational system can best be destroyed by denying assistance and so letting it wither through lack of support, or by giving some financial assistance and eventually taking over. So I repeat: You have been warned.
In submitting his amendment to the motion for the second reading of the bill the Leader of the Opposition sought to censure the Government in respect of certain matters, but not in respect of certain other matters about which provisions were made in the Budget. What were these provisions? They were the increased social service benefits and the assistance given to to primary industry through the superphosphate bounty. Why did the Leader of the Opposition make no complaint about these matters? Was it because he and the Labour Party generally believed that these things are good for the country, or was it because they seem to represent good election stuff? Lest the Opposition try to claim credit for the superphosphate bounty, let me remind honorable members opposite not only that farmers’ organizations throughout Australia have been pressing for this for a long time, as has the rural committee of the Liberal Party, but also that there has been no more fervent advocate of it in this place than the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). But what is this superphosphate bounty? As the Treasurer has said, it is a further recognition by the Government of the need to help to reduce costs of production in primary industries.
This Government has stated time and time again that it is most important to reduce costs, and its statements in this connexion have not been merely an exhortation to primary industries to improve efficiency. The suggestion that rural industries should improve efficiency has become anathema to me, as a member representing a country electorate. Such suggestions are made by ill-informed people. I venture to say that there is a greater degree of efficiency in primary industry than in . any other industries in this country, and this applies particularly in the case of the wheat industry.
However, let no one forget that the severe economic measures brought down by this Government three years ago were designed mainly to protect our export industries, particularly the farming industries. We can see in this Budget a reflection of the success of those economic measures. Neither should we forget that the almost complete stability of the consumer price index over the last two years, brought about by Government policies, has done far more to advance the prosperity of Australians - and again in particular those in the farming industries - than all the forebodings of the Labour Party.
The Government has recently announced a new wheat stabilization plan. The Government has virtually accepted all the submissions of the wheat industry. In doing so it has shown that it fully appre ciates the increased efficiency of wheat farmers, which is evident from their lowered costs of production. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) referred to this aspect and quoted a press report of a special meeting of the wheat section of the Farmers Union of Western Australia Incorporated in Perth last Monday. He claimed that in this report there was some criticism of the Government’s policies. This indicates how wrong he is and how unwarranted were his comments, because at the time of that conference it is fairly certain that the Government had already come to its decision on a wheat stabilization plan. In the plan we have, a great achievement and an acceptance of the submissions made. It will be of magnificent assistance to the wheat industry generally. I repeat that the comments of the honorable member when quoting from that report were, in my view, quite unwarranted.
I will turn, now, to examine what the Government has done in the Budget. Apart from its measures for development and social service benefits, it has not provided sops to the electors by way of taxation cuts. The Leader of the Opposition would like to have seen taxation cuts. Nor has any step been taken in the form of unproductive benefits. The Government has invested heavily in our future. Because of the super.phosphote bounty, £9,000,000 annually will be invested in two of our greatest assets - the land and the skill and enterprise of the farming community. Surely this sets an example to the rest of Australia and particularly to the investors who, we have heard, have been lacking in confidence. This Government has set an example for all to follow. Last night the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) described the Budget as a declaration of faith. I support that description.
While on the subject of investment, I turn to the Commonwealth Development Bank. Once again, the Government has supported the bank by providing a further £5,000,000. I believe that, at times, we are too prone to accept a given situation without analytical thought and too ready to espouse the aspirin philosophy - a cure for all ills. It is said that the Government should do more. In a country which requires independence of thought and action by an adventurous people, a country in which the < people aspire to freedom, including freedom from governments, this may be a dangerous philosophy. In my view, it should not embarrass the capacity of a government to provide the means whereby expression can be given to the aspirations of the people, and particularly to the aspirations of industrious people.
It has long been a preoccupation of mine, from way back, that, for various reasons, there have been occasions when too little finance has been available for individual enterprises, and the little provided has had too many strings attached. This was the situation before the establishment of the Development Bank. Despite the wishes of governments in their attempts to influence the availability of money to specific industries because of their national purpose, the trading banks - no doubt with understandable reasons - have pursued very largely their self-determined policies. I remind honorable members that the Chifley Labour Government tried to nationalize the banks. As if this would have achieved anything useful! This Government has provided some real competition. With the Development Bank, which is not competitive, it has filled a space which had not previously been catered for. It has performed a function which the trading banks, not considering it theirs, were unwilling to deal with. From its own sources, the Government has provided the means whereby individual enterprises can obtain money under long-term conditions far more freely than ever before. It was just not available. Last year we saw the funds of the Development Bank increased by £10,000,000 and this year by £5,000,000, so that, to-day, it has available funds of the order of £71,000,000.
As well as the superphosphate bounty, there are other forms of encouragement for investment in the Budget. I refer to the 20 per cent, investment allowance and the liberalizing of estate duty. I do not recall the Opposition trying to claim any credit for the latter measure. No doubt the Opposition would have increased estate duty. The Development Bank funds represent a direct investment by the Government in the land and the people, particularly the people who work the land and work it well. Certainly, these measures are not complete in their coverage and I hope, that a scheme can’ be ‘ evolved whereby the young people - particularly young farmers - lacking a clear title and adequate funds, can be accommodated without prejudice to their future and without placing the proverbial millstone around their necks.
There are some avenues of Development Bank financing which appear, regretfully, to pass unnoticed. I refer to the part played in decentralization to which so many thousands of people pay lip service. I would like to mention one instance which has its connexions, not only with decentralization, but with the fashionable exercise of “ develop the north “. I call to mind the meat processing plant of considerable proportions in a far northern port playing a big part in the development of that area. It is conducted by private enterprise which, in this instance, obtained finance on second mortgage. Without such finance, the days of that enterprise could well have been numbered. I regard this sort of finance, provided by the Development Bank, as the very essence of decentralization and northern development. It is one thing to announce, as the Leader of the Opposition has done, what his party would spend in the north. It is quite another thing to create all the conditions for spontaneous development. I claim that this is what has been done by the Government and is still being done. Even when it comes to spending, can one really be critical of the present spending programme for northern development? I recall that, two years ago, the Leader of the Opposition said that, if elected, he would spend £60,000,000 in the north. He would spend it - not in one year - in damming the rivers. This was a most praiseworthy objective, but not one that the experts would agree with.
I remind honorable members, as the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) did, of the speech of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) when he detailed the spending in the north. At the risk of wearying honorable members, I will repeat some of them. I refer to the Western Australian beef roads scheme, the Derby jetty, the Wyndham jetty, and, now, the Broome jetty, the Ord River dam and irrigation scheme, the Northern Territory and Queensland beef roads scheme and port facilities, the Queensland brigalow land development, the
Mount Isa railway and the enormous mineral resources surveys. Does not the Opposition realize that these things add up to over £50,000,000 and that they are happening now We can add to this the £16,000,000 for the Northern Territory in the provision of community facilities development such as schools, hospitals, harbour works, water supplies, and roads. I repeat that all of these things are in the north and it is long past the time that this Government should have received full recognition and credit for its achievements.
I marvelled at the honorable member for Kalgoorlie in a debate last week trying to claim credit - he apparently thinks some credit is due - for the Hawke Labour Government of Western Australia for northern development. He instanced the Kimberley research station and its exploraory work. I remind the honorable member that this station was established over twenty years ago and during that time it has produced some great results. That is admitted. It was a Commonwealth-State venture. But all that it did, year after year, was turn out scientific data. I am the first to admit that the information was very necessary; but that was all the station did throughout this period. It was not until the Menzies-Brand combination set to work that we saw something really concrete coming out of the exploratory work.
If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie still needs convincing, I refer him to the figures I have quoted previously here relating to the funds being used by the Western Australian Government. In 1957-58, the Labour Government of Western Australia spent 12 per cent, of its main roads funds in the North-west and the Kimberleys, and in 1958-59, 12.4 per cent. The Liberal and Country League Government, in 1959-60, spent 17.1 per cent, of its main roads funds in the North-west and the Kimberleys, and 27.1 per cent, in 1961-62. The present Western Australian Government, in the last financial year mentioned, spent more than one-quarter of its main roads funds in the North-west and the Kimberleys. Let me detail also the expenditure from loan funds made in the North-west and the Kimberleys, expressed as a percentage of total loan funds expenditure. Under Labour, in 1958- 59, the figure was 4.67 per cent. Under the Brand Government, it was 5.25 per cent, in 1959-60, 10.13 per cent, in 1961-62 and approximately 9.17 per cent, in 1962-63. Does the honorable member for Kalgoorlie need any more convincing?
My time runs on, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I see that I shall not be able to discuss all the matters that I would like to discuss. But perhaps I shall have time to deal very quickly with defence. We have been censured by the Opposition on defence. Is the Opposition really in a position to criticize and censure this Government on that score? What is the Opposition’s intention in taking this action? Is it trying to cover the debacle of its attitude towards the United States naval communication station at North West Cape? Can the Government be criticized and censured because it has negotiated for the purchase of what will be the most advanced and most modern strikereconnaissance bomber in the world? Can it be censured for obtaining and assembling the finest fighter aircraft in the world - the Mirage? Can the Government be censured for acquiring missile ships for the Navy and anti-submarine helicopter forces? Can it be censured on the state of the Army, with its adaptability to Asian situations and campaigns and its general flexibility, which has reached a level unknown before? Can the Government be censured because our defence forces are at a level of efficiency and readiness quite unheard of in Australia previously in peace-time? They are more modern and far better equipped than ever before. Can the Government be censured for the proposed defence expenditure of about £251,000,000 this financial year, which involves an increase of some £30,000,000 in the Defence vote?
– Why is the honorable member so vicious?
– I am not being vicious. I am trying to state the facts, and that is all. These are facts. They cannot be denied. We have yet to see a Labour government in peace-time provide Australia with defence forces anything like those that this Government has provided. I believe, and most Australians believe, that the Opposition’s attempt to censure the Government on the whole Budget, ‘and particularly on the provision that it makes for defence, is nothing more nor less than frivolous. I cannot believe that this action will be taken seriously.
Let me say in closing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that 1 believe that this country has rarely seen a budget that was more comprehensive in its additional social service benefits, its provision for immense development in the north and elsewhere - I repeat the word “ immense “ - and, as I have just demonstrated, its attention to our defence requirements. All these measures have been made possible only by policies which, in the last financial year, produced an 8 per cent, increase in our gross national product, a 6 per cent, increase in rural production, virtually complete stability of cost levels, with an unwavering consumer price index, and overseas balances that to-day stand at the level of £626,000,000. These are the things that the Government has demonstrated it can do. Because the Government has done these things, I support this Budget.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, this Budget is a dismal disappointment to the people of Australia. 1 believe that the Government parties are at present so hopelessly divided and are snapping and snarling at each other so much that they are putting last the best interests of the Australian people. This Government has failed to give attention to the most urgent needs of the Australian community. We need only think of. contemporary affairs to recall the sharp divisions that exist in the Government’s ranks. The two parties are preoccupied with redistribution proposals. They are considering opposing each other in various electorates, and are trying to reconcile the views of members of the Australian Country Party, particularly the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), with those of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in matters such as overseas investment in Australia. Furthermore, the Treasurer, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Minister for Trade are fighting to the death over the leadership of the Government, which will shortly become vacant when the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) throws in the towel. These are the reasons why the Government ignores the present state of the nation, and why this Budget is very unimaginative.
The Opposition has advanced many good reasons why the amendment to the motion for the second reading of the bill, which amounts to a motion of no confidence, should be agreed to. Foremost among the matters involved, I believe, is national health. The measure of this Government’s lethargic interest in national health is indicated by the fact that the Treasurer, in his Budget speech, did not even mention the term. The health of the nation is only one of many important topics that are denied consideration in this Budget. The Government’s refusal dramatically to overhaul this shocking apology for a national health scheme, with all its glaring anomalies and shortcomings, is shameful. National health has been lumped with education, unemployment, national development, repatriation pensions, high interest rates and a host of other important national topics. All the perplexing national problems related to these subjects have been unceremoniously relegated to the pigeon-hole to which are consigned all those problems designated as too difficult for this Government to handle. These matters are beyond its comprehension and its interest. As the president of the Federation of Australian Taxpayers Associations said recently, this Budget is a tired old men’s budget. In other words, in the Australian vernacular, the old men in. this Government appear to have had it.
In the short time available to me, I intend to outline some of the deficiencies of the national health scheme, because I am aware of the economic embarrassment and the anxiety experienced by many Australian families in respect of health matters. Labour intends, at the first opportunity, to replace the existing arrangements by a genuine national health scheme that will provide real sanctuary for the sick under a free hospitalization plan, together with all the other ancillary services to which this Government has never given any thought. At present, Australia is spending extravagantly on health and getting very poor returns for the money. Drug prices are excessively high, the quality of the drugs is poor and their’ suitability for Australian conditions leaves a great deal to be desired. Benefit organizations have been known in recent times to put the public interest last in their consideration and, in many respects, have come to be a hazard and a hindrance rather than a help. The Commonwealth, to a considerable extent, has divested itself of responsibility in this field and loaded the burden instead on to the public and the States. Benefit organizations, after all, provide the means by which the community partially finances the payment of hospital and medical expenses. There are reasons to doubt whether they provide the best means of achieving this end.
As at 1st January, 1963, there were 80 medical benefit organizations and 112 hospital benefit organizations in Australia, all registered under section 73 of the National Health Act. In other words, Australia is labouring under the luxury of 192 benefit organizations, all of which operate for precisely the same purpose. There is no advantage in being a member of one fund instead of another. These funds have succeeded in accumulating massive reserves in anticipation of a plague or an epidemic which is never likely to occur. One fund, the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales, is at present holding reserves in excess of £5,000,000. These so-called non-profit organizations have built up these reserves and other tremendously valuable assets in the form of buildings and investments at the expense of ‘the benefits which should accrue to people who are sick and in need.
What is the extent of staff duplication in these 192 autonomous funds? We know that, in most cases, management expenses are as high as 15 per cent. We know, also, that there are many devoted people associated with the funds and we pay tribute to the efforts that they have been making in an endeavour to fill the vacuum which has been created by this Government’s disinterest.
– Do you want to put them out of work?
– How much of the contributors’ funds is pouring into prestige buildings? Does the honorable member who has interjected even care about this matter? These are some of the questions which need answers, and we call on the Government to give attention to them. If benefit organizations are essential, is it not desirable to fulfil the function with a minimum of overhead? One benefit organization could fulfil the purpose and, if it were a public instrumentality, it would not need reserves. It could be backed by the great resources of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Let us look for a moment at the contributions and benefits of these funds for the year 1961-62. Contributions to medical benefit organizations in that year amounted to £18,700,000 and benefits to £15,400,000.
– Is this for the whole of Australia?
– This is for the whole of Australia. In that year contributions exceeded benefits by £3,300,000. In the same year hospital benefit organizations collected £19,400,000 in contributions and returned £16,700,000 in benefits. In other words, contributions exceeded benefits by £2,700,000. For that one year, contributions to medical and hospital benefit organizations combined exceeded benefits by more than £6,000,000.
It is interesting to see how benefits paid to insured persons have fallen from the 90 per cent, of medical charges which was the announced objective in the Gevernment’s original health scheme. The average amount of combined Commonwealth and fund benefits paid to contributors was 63.6 per cent, of total fees paid in 1960 and 63.9 per cent, in 1962. The percentage has remained practically static in the face of steady increases in the rate of contribution to the benefit organizations. For every £100 expenses incurred, the patient has to find £36 or £37. This means disaster for the average Australian family. Twentyseven per cent, of the Australian community is not covered by any hospital benefit organization - something like 3,000,000 people excluded from benefit - and 32 per cent, of the Australian community does not belong to any medical benefit organization, so 3,500,000 people are excluded from that benefit. They have no coverage for medical expenses.
– That is their decision.
– Why are these people who are denied the splendid animation of being liable for only 37 per cent, of medical and hospital expenses unable to join? The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) claims that it is their own decision but I believe there are many other considerations as well. Many are incapable of penetrating the economic barrier. There are the sick and the unemployed. Do you expect them to meet these expenses? There are the aborigines, recent arrivals from overseas and more than 96,000 age, invalid, widow and service pensioners who, because of financial reasons, are unable to join a benefit fund. The 96,000 to which I referred are those who have been deprived of membership in the pensioner medical service as a consequence of the means test which has been imposed by this Government. So the low income group - the people who need these services most of all - is denied consideration. Even in this Budget not one solitary fleeting thought has been given to these problems.
Another bad feature is the element of compulsion. The late Sir Earle Page, as Minister for Health, spoke in 1953 of the virtues of voluntary insurance. But this Government has decreed that, to attract Commonwealth benefit which comes from the tax pool to which he has contributed, the citizen must contribute to a privately conducted benefit organization - one of these so-called non-profit organizations which have massive accumulated reserves.
Of course the most undemocratic feature of the organizations is that members rarely have any say in their operations. In Victoria, on occasions, provision is made for representatives of contributors to have some say in them but this is the exception rather than the rule. In New South Wales, hospital and medical benefit funds which had amalgamated now have decided to separate. Great expense and public inconvenience is involved but this Government does not appear to care. The public is the Government’s last consideration. This matter should become the subject of an urgent public inquiry. If it can be established that public interest has been denied, those responsible should be relieved of their positions. Indeed, the Minister would be justified in taking over the operation of these organizations and making them a public instrumentality upon which we could build a great edifice for the future. It could be conducted economically and without all these unnecessary reserves and overhead expenses.
This year, expenditure by the Commonwealth Department of Health from the National Welfare Fund will rise to £97,100,000 - a phenomenal sum of money. The cost of pharmaceutical benefits will rise to £40,800,000. Of course, much more than £40,800,000 is spent on pharmaceutical benefits. All the money collected in the form of the 5s. prescription fee must be taken into consideration. Since the inception of the charge these collections have amounted to £17,400,000. This sum has been taken from the sick over the chemist’s counter in the form of 5s. for each prescription. It is interesting to note that the cost for each prescription has risen from 4s. 9d. in 1948-49 to 20s. Id. in 1960-61. This is a staggering increase and I should think the Government would be interested enough to consider it.
– Is that an average?
– I have given the average prescription cost in 1948-49 compared with the average for 1960-61.
Balance-sheets for a number of our leading drug houses have been published recently which reveal dividends of 16 per cent, and 17 per cent. There is nothing unusual about this. Many drug houses make these profits after diverting large sums of money into new capital investment for expansion. One group is said to be showing a return of 66 per cent, on paid-up capital. It is very difficult to identify the shareholding and composition of many Australian drug houses, due to the complex cross-investment between the various companies. Some are subsidiaries, branches, counterparts or agents of companies incorporated in the United States of America which at present are defending themselves on indictments under the Sherman anti-trust legislation. Those American companies stand charged in the United States at present with pricerigging and conspiracy against the public interest. But, unfortunately, the Australian people are denied the protection which the people of the United States enjoy. Meanwhile, in this place the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is being pressurised by his own colleagues to withdraw the restrictive trade practices legislation which is designed to deal with a situation of this type.
Some overseas drug interests are waxing fat in this country under the provisions of the reciprocal taxation agreements which substantially relieve them of taxation obligations to Australia on dividends payable overseas. So great are the margins of profit in sections of the industry that manufacturers, retailers and travellers often provide discounts, bonuses or rebates, as they are usually called in fact, which go as high as 25 per cent. That indicates the profit margin which enables those people to play around with prices so generously. Very big money is involved here, and the Australian taxpayers have to carry the burden. For example, the official government fee to chemists for tetracycline capsules in 100’s is 269s., and the unofficial rebate is 67s. On top of the rebate there is the usual profit margin and everything else. That excess charge of 67s. has to bc borne by the poor unfortunate Australian taxpayers on one item alone. It is interesting to note that, as a result of practices of that type and other matters which I hope to mention, the average prescription cost in Australia is 20s. 2d., compared with the average prescription cost in England and Wales of 10s. Australian, and the average prescription cost in New Zealand of 12s. 6d. Australian. So we are at the very top of the ladder in respect of average prescription costs.
An alarming situation is revealed in the differentiation in drug prices charged to hospitals and chemists. This differentiation is usually attributed to the saving effected by bulk packaging for institutions. However, the difference in price levels is so great that that explanation can be accepted only with reservation. Let me give a few examples. Prednisone 5 milligram tablets In 100’s are supplied to hospitals at a cost of 9s. and to chemists at a cost of £5. That is the government fee to chemists. For packages of 1,000 tablets, the cost to hospitals is £4 14s. 2d., and the fees to chemists range from £40 to £60.
– That is straight-out roguery.
– It is straight-out robbery. One vial of heparin costs a hospital 12s. 6d., and the same thing costs a chemist 31s. 3d. That is the government fee to chemists. Think of the excess profits as exposed by that example. Penicillin P.V.K., in packages of 500, costs hospitals 250s., and 568s. 9d. is the government fee to chemists. Tetracycline capsules cost hospitals 153s. 10d., and the government fee to chemists is 269s. Do not those figures justify some inquiry? They demonstrate clearly to me that the government fee to chemists is extravagantly and excessively high, and that some drug manufacturers are determined to squeeze the very life-blood out of the so-called Australian national health scheme. This Government has a duty to investigate thoroughly the drug industry in this country. I am confident that a little investigation would establish a prima facie “ case to justify the appointment of a royal commission.
Let me refer briefly to hospitals and their problems. There are 1,836 hospitals in Australia. Mental, private and public hospitals are included in that figure. The cost of maintaining hospitals in 1960-61 was £123,000,000. The Commonwealth contributed £9,500,000 to the States for hospital services and £9,000,000 in hospital benefits. The real problem here is the big drop in Commonwealth aid or support for the maintenance of hospitals. New South Wales is a good example to take because that State has 37 per cent, of the population of Australia. In 1946-47 the Commonwealth was contributing 22 per cent, of the cost of hospitals in New South Wales. In 1962-63 the figure had fallen to 12.5 per cent. Of course, the public has been forced to carry the burden. The contribution charges of the various hospital benefit funds have been increased dramatically as a result. The great Chifley concept of free hospitalization - that vision which was directed to providing facilities for any one who was in need - has now been abandoned by the Menzies Government. The milk of human kindness has indeed turned sour during the years for which this Government has occupied the treasury bench. Labour is pledged to the re-establishment or reinstitution of free hospitalization in Australia, free public ward accommodation and equivalent financial benefit for those people who go into private or intermediate wards.
In 1946, when the average cost of maintaining a hospital bed was 18s., under the Commonwealth-State Hospitals Agreement the Commonwealth was providing one-third of the cost, namely, 6s. a day. When the cost went to 24s. in 1948, the Commonwealth still honoured the agreement and contributed 8s. a day, which was still onethird of the cost. But now the average bed cost has risen by 360 per cent, to £6 a day. The Commonwealth’s contribution should be £2 a day. The assistance it gives to the States should be in accordance with the proportion I mentioned earlier. But, instead of paying £2 a day, the Commonwealth is paying 8s. a day for uninsured patients, £1 a day for insured patients, and £1 16s. a day for pensioners who qualify under the pensioner medical service. The burden has been transferred to the patients. That is the result of this Government’s failure to co-operate. In New South Wales last year there was a hospital deficit of £3,600,000. The position is proportionately similar in most of the other States.
I believe that many of these problems could be solved if this Government showed any interest in this subject. The word “ health “ is not mentioned in the Constitution, just as it is not mentioned in the Budget. But we know that there is much that the Commonwealth can do to close the gap that exists at present between what we do and what other countries are starting to term “ total patient care “. One can go to some hospitals in Australia and find this total-patient-care concept in operation, but in the vast majority of hospitals there is no sign of it even emerging as a concept.
I know that the Royal Newcastle Hospital - this is one case in point; there are probably others - provides a service which is not generally available in Australia, namely a domiciliary care service. Hundreds of people are looked after in their own homes. That is done at a much lower cost than that at which people are accommodated in hospital beds. Out-patients’ services are also provided. A person does not need to go along to a local doctor for most things. He can go to the hospital if a toe has been cut off his foot by a Victa lawnmower, or if he has a toothache or any other medical problem. That is what happens in Newcastle. What a wonderful concept it is for people to be able to go to the out-patients’ department of a hospital. But does this Government show any interest in this matter? Is any honorable member opposite making a study of these things which have engaged the attention of members of the Opposition for many months? It is difficult for most people to imagine the frustration which is being experienced by parliamentarians on this side of the House, who have a burning zeal to put so many of these things right. Under the existing provisions of the Constitution the Commonwealth can, in fact, surge ahead and do something worthwhile. Under Section 51 (xxiv) of the Constitution, relating to legislative powers, power is given to the Commonwealth to make laws regarding pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits and medical and dental services. A fair interpretation of that provision would enable this Government to go, at an enthusiastic pace, into this almost untapped field.
Section 51 (xxxvii.) of the Constitution is significant, as it confers on the Commonwealth powers in respect of matters referred to it by any or all of the States. Section 96 of the Constitution provides the authority by which the Commonwealth can make conditional grants. This is not an insurmountable or insuperable problem. This has in fact been done by countries with the same kind of constitutional difficulties as we have in Australia. We have our six State governments and our National” Government. In 1961 the ten provinces of Canada came together, after a series of conferences with the National Government, and from that emerged a plan which provided for conditional grants to the provinces. We can do this and say to the States, “ We will give you conditional grants if you are prepared to provide a total out-patient service in respect of public hospitals or a domiciliary care service, a service for the care of handicapped children, the establishment of sheltered workshops or service in geriatrics “. There is unlimited scope here for a government which shows interest in the fundamental problems of human beings.
I call on the Government to wake up to itself and, if it is not prepared to do these things, there can be no doubt that Labour will be swept into office in the not too distant future. It is highly apparent that the Australian people are sick and tired of the insecurity -at present prevailing in relation to health services - a subject which has not received even a solitary mention in this Budget. The Opposition, when it comes to the treasury bench, will institute specialist services. There is a great deal to be done. You know the Dr. Kildare concept of hospitalization, which we all see on television from time to time. The first thing that you identify on this programme is that the doctors are on the staffs of the hospitals. They are not people who casually flit in and out of those places. They are there all the time. There is also Dr. Gillespie, in a capable supervisory capacity. Where is the counterpart in Australian hospitals? Have we ever started to think of the extent to which the Australian people are penalized and prejudiced in medical care because the doctor is probably not there when a confinement is in progress or when some other serious deterioration in the patient’s health has taken place? Maybe he is in licensed premises or at the bowling green at that time, but he should be at the hospital, and, moreover, he should be engaged in his specialist capacity. This is the sort of thing that Labour advocates.
I put it to the House that it is a shocking indictment of this Government that all these concepts have been denied and ignored in the Budget. For the sake of a national health scheme which will give a genuine feeling of security to the Australian people, some honorable members opposite who claim to have some qualities of decency and honesty should cross the floor and vote with the Opposition for the amendment.
.- We have heard the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) make an impassioned speech about the nation’s health services, with particular reference to those in New South Wales. We admire his interest in this subject and his sympathy for those who are ill, but I do not think he can place the finger of blame on the Commonwealth Government for not doing its utmost to try to help the health services of Australia. Our record in relation to pensioner health services is a very proud one, as it is also with regard to assistance to State governments for the construction of hospitals and a whole host of other services. If I were to deal with all those matters in the course of this debate I would have no time to touch on other matters. However, if the honorable member feels discontented with what is going on in New
South Wales and believes that the Commonwealth should give that State more money to help it in this field, I ask him to look at the position in Queensland, where there is a completely free hospital service and where there are complaints that the Commonwealth is not providing adequate funds. The record of New South Wales is not a very proud one. Here is a Stale which charges the highest hospital fees of any Stale in Australia yet still thinks that the Commonwealth should provide it with more money.
To commence my speech on the Budget I would like to pay a tribute to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). I pay him tribute, firstly, on his presentation of the financial papers, which have been changed so that one can now get a clearer look at the capital expenditure and what the deficit really means. I think this will be of great help in future years. 1 want, secondly, to pay a personal tribute to the Treasurer. I am certain this is the best Budget he has presented. I believe it is a very good Budget and that the great majority of the Australian people are recognizing it as a very sound and wise Budget. The right honorable gentleman was unfortunate that, in his early years as Treasurer, he had to bring down a very unpleasant Budget and certain economic measures. The result was that many brickbats were thrown at him. While he was in this uncomfortable position for a number of years, I did not once hear him squeal or complain. He defended his policy solidly all the time, because he genuinely believed that what he was doing was right. I supported him strongly on all those occasions. Now that he has presented a good Budget he is not saying, “ Look what I have done for you “. He has presented his Budget and he hopes that the people of Australia will accept the fact that it is a good Budget. I like the Treasurer for these personal qualities.
When the Government had to bring down its economic measures in 1960 we were in a period of severe inflation. I would like to recall that in February, 1960, as appears at page 206 of volume 26 of “ Hansard “, I quoted from the monthly economic letter of the First National City Bank of New York for September, 1959. This is a statistical table, showing the annual depreciation of currencies throughout the world1. At that time that table of statistics showed that for the previous ten years, from 1948 to 1958, the annual rate of depreciation of Australia’s currency was 6.9 per cent. In fact, between 1948 and 1953, the period in which we took over office from Labour, we had the sixth worst depreciation rate of the 40 countries listed in that statistical table. In the latest of these monthly letters, which came out in July this year, we find that the annual depreciation rate in Australia over the ten years from 1952 to 1962 was 2.4 per cent, a year.
This shows that we have arrested the runaway inflation that we had during the earlier years and we are now developing a very stable economy. In fact, for the last eleven quarters there has been practically no inflation whatever in Australia. This is a record that no other country can match.
This period of economic stability of our currency has enabled local industries to compete with imports from other countries because the cost structure of other countries has risen. It has also enabled our exporters to be in a much better competitive position when selling overseas. If we can hold the economy reasonably stable, we will be in a very strong trading position in the future. I would hate to think what our economic position would be if Labour, with its inflationary policies, became the Government.
The Budget has a strong rural flavour. The metropolitan press has been critical of it for this reason and has said that members of the Australian Country- Party have applied too much pressure to obtain benefits for rural producers. I will accept that accusation, for it is our job as members of the Australian Country Party, at all times, to fight for the benefit of primary producers. I think this is a very good Budget. If I were a blue-blood conservative, and I am not, my only criticism would be that it is slightly too expansive - that it will boom the economy too much. However, I realize that in this modern world there is no room for conservatism. An ultraconservative does not look into the future sufficiently. He is prepared to rely on what has happened in the past. In a world where we have to develop very rapidly, we must be a little adventurous with some of our policies. I do not say that we should be radicals, as are members of the Australian Labour Party who would adopt policies which are untried, on which no experiments have been carried out and which would ultimately wreck our whole economy.
We want our economy to expand. We must expand if we are to hold this nation in a world where we are surrounded by millions of Asians, who must eventually look outside the borders of their countries to obtain their food requirements. But the expansion provided by this Budget represents a balance between developing productivity and giving social justice to those who need help. At the same time, it provides room for the security of the nation. It provides plans for large capital works development. It provides for an increased immigration programme. It provides for the expansion of our great primary industries of the outback and of the north. It is also a budget for the little man. It will help the little man by easing the sales tax on food, by easing taxation on those in the very low income bracket and by eliminating probate on those who have a small amount of capital when they pass away. Of course, it eases probate for everybody, too. It also provides increased pensions for widows and for single pensioners. It gives assistance for the development of housing and helps private companies by encouraging them to retain a greater proportion of their income for expansion.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended I had told the House that I considered this Budget to be very sound. It is a budget that strikes a balance between expansion, social justice and security. I said that this was a little man’s budget and that it provided assistance for housing and to private companies.
I want to say something about the social justice provisions of this Budget. The Budget provides increased benefits for widows with families. This is a matter about which I have felt very strongly for many years. I was delighted, as I am sure other honorable members were, to note that special consideration has been given in the Budget to widows who are mothers of young children. 1 am sure that other honorable members have received, as I have, representations from time to time from widows desperately in need of help but, because the framework of the social services legislation did not provide any special assistance for them, they have had to go on battling their way through life. I am delighted to know that henceforth the pension of a widow with one child will be increased by £3 a week. That is a substantial increase.
For some time I have felt that single age pensioners were not getting a fair deal compared with married pensioner couples. Single pensioners will now receive an increase of 10s. a week in their pensions.
The pensions of totally and permanently incapacitiated ex-servicemen are to be increased. I am sorry that more repatriation benefits are not contained in the Budget. 1 have studied the plan put forward by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia relating to repatriation benefits. It is a reasonable plan. The benefits sought by the R.S.L. are not excessive and I am sorry that more has not been done to comply with the requests of that organization. Perhaps next year more will be done in this field. The Opposition has tried to make capital of the fact that the Government has abolished the limit on the amount of medical expenses that may be claimed as a deduction for income tax purposes. It has also had a good deal to say about the increase to £150 in the limit on educational expenses.
– Who benefits from these increases?
– The Opposition wants to know who will benefit from the increased concessions. Perhaps not many people will benefit but there are many people who desperately need the extra concessions. The person who does spend more than £150 in medical expenses for any member of his family genuinely needs the extra concession. I am pleased to know that even a very small minority in the community in need of assistance will benefit. This is what I do not like about the Labour Party: When it thinks of benefits it thinks only of benefits that will flow to the greatest number because whenever it thinks of social services benefits it thinks of how many votes it will win. It does , not think of the good of the community.
The economy at the moment is sound. I defy anybody to say it is not. What are the economic indicators? The gross national product has increased in the last year by 8 per cent. I doubt whether since the war we have had a year when the gross national product increased by so much. I am told that last year was a record. Retail sales have increased. Sales of motor cars are at a record high level. Records are being broken in the production of iron, steel, copper, zinc and coal. Despite all this the Opposition claims that the Government is not running the country properly; that it is not a wise government. What foolish talk Consumption of electrical power is at an all-time record level. More and more oil and petrol is being used every year. The nation is expanding and developing rapidly. Savings bank deposits are at an all-time high level. What is the position with the stock exchange? Following the 1960 economic measures there was a lull, but to-day activity on the stock exchange is at its peak. All these things indicate that the nation is moving forward. There is no sign of stagnation. What is the position with regard to exports? Exports are at a record level. Our exports are worth more than £1,000,000,000 a year. Our ability to borrow money with which to buy goods from overseas has never been higher than it is to-day. Our capacity to buy goods from overseas has never been greater. We have funds immediately available amounting to £622,000,000. We can borrow £212,000,000 from the International Monetary Fund. From the World Bank we can borrow £100,000,000. We have a credit balance in Communist China of something like £50,000,000. We have at the moment about £1,000,000,000 with which to buy goods and supplies to keep the nation going and expanding. And still the Opposition says that the Government has not managed the country properly! How foolish!
This Budget provides for an expansion in the nation’s productivity. It provides for a building-up of the real wealth of Australia. Look at the public works that are being undertaken with finance provided by this Government. We have the Chowilla dam on the Murray River and the Blowering dam-
– What about Queensland?
– I will deal with Queensland later. The Government has an impressive record of developmental projects undertaken throughout the country. The Government has provided funds for the Broken Hill to Port Pirie railway, for beef roads in the north-west corner of Western Australia and in Queensland and for development of the brigalow lands. It has provided money for port development at
Derby and Broome and in Queensland. The Commonwealth is spending money assisting the States to develop their productivity, Look at what the Government has done for the Ord River development project. That project represents immense potential for developing a large area of Australia.
– That was started by a Labour government.
– Do not talk nonsense. The Ord River project is still in the experimental stage. I hope that the project will be a success.
The Labour Party talks a lot of airyfairy nonsense about developing the north. Honorable members opposite wave their hands in the air and say that we must develop the north, but they do not tell us what they would develop or what can be successfully developed. This Government has taken time to study thoroughly developmental projects for the north. Even at this stage the great Ord River project is still experimental. I hope that the experiment will pay off, but many problems associated with the project still remain to be overcome. Only three weeks ago I went to the area with an applicant for a block of land. I studied the area probably more closely than any other honorable member has studied it, and I see great problems associated with the project. But I honestly hope that the project will succeed. The north-west corner of Western Australia presents a vast potential for irrigation - for growing cotton, linseed, safflower and rice. I am referring not only to the Ord River area but also to the areas of the north in which flow the Fitzroy River, the Margaret River, the Leonard
River and the King River. I refer also to other areas of the Northern Territory. Those areas have great developmental potential, but they can be developed only along economic lines. Honorable members opposite must get this fact into their heads: These areas can be developed only on economic lines. Honorable members opposite merely wave their hands and claim that they would develop the north. You cannot develop anything in this country on a long-term basis unless you do so on sound economic lines.
The mineral development of Australia is absolutely fabulous. Huge mineral deposits are being discovered right and left. Some coal deposits that have been discovered are estimated to be the largest in the world. Coal has been discovered at Moura in Queensland. Iron ore has been discovered at Pilbarra in Western Australia. Australia’s future will be fantastically prosperous provided we work and develop the nation. The only way to develop Australia is by working intelligently. If we are to increase productivity we must develop the intellect of the people. That means providing adequate education facilities. It means that we need capital and machinery.
Honorable members opposite talk a lot of nonsense about stimulating the economy by increasing social services. To increase social services would have a slight boosting effect in the early stages but do honorable members opposite mean to tell me that you can continue to boost the economy by increasing social service benefits? Is that how a Labour government would develop this country? Would that action really increase productivity? This is unsound economics. We are trying to develop Australia along sound lines. We must get down to the grass root problems associated with productivity. We must develop the great national undertakings about which I have spoken. The Government is trying to give the private individual an incentive to get out and work and make a profit or get a reward for his efforts.
There is no industry in which free enterprise plays a greater part than the farming industry. It is the greatest free enterprise business in the whole world. If you want to study the success of free enterprise as compared with state-controlled enterprises, just consider the position in respect of agriculture in various countries. In the western world our main problem is that of overproduction. This is in countries in which farming is on the basis of free enterprise. In the Communist countries - Russia, China, Cuba - the trouble is under-production. Those countries cannot produce enough to feed their own people. That is what happens with state-controlled enterprises. There is no substitute for the system in which a person is encouraged to use his initiative and go out and work for himself, to use his own judgment, to become a specialist in his own line of business.
Our survival in this great nation depends on productivity, or the production of goods at reasonable cost. If we are to develop this country we must meet the trade challenges of other countries. We must be able to sell in competition with other countries. Since the hot war has turned to a cold war between the East and the West, the most effective weapon now being used is that of trade. The Russians are using the trade weapon to try to interfere with the economy of Western countries. They will be able to affect our trade adversely only if they can get on top of us in efficiency of production and in being able to sell goods at lower prides than we can. If we run this country sensibly and work hard they will never be able to beat us. We have the raw materials and we have suitable climatic conditions for production.
When I hear members of the Labour Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, as well as members of the electrical trade unions in Victoria and many other unions, talking about introducing a 35-hour working week into Australia, I am actually shocked. This nation needs to be developed, and we cannot develop it unless we work. ls anybody persecuted in this country as a result of the working conditions operating here? We have the best working conditions in the world. Let us be proud of that fact, but let us also be realistic. Do not get carried away with the idea that you can keep on reducing working hours to an infinitesimally low point. You cannot, particularly when you have to live in this world and compete with other countries of the world.
I sometimes wonder why people want to have a 35-hour week introduced. I think most trade union leaders and members of the Labour Party advocate it as a means of attracting the votes of credulous people. There are others who see a 35-hour week as a means of wrecking the economy of Australia to the advantage of other countries. I have some statistics on hours of work. I have some figures taken from the Quarterly Summary of Australian Statistics for May, 1963. These figures give the weighted average weekly hours for all industrial groups in Australia. They show that the average number of hours worked per week was 39.9. I have also some figures taken from the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics issued by the International Labour Office, an organization of the United Nations. They show the hours worked per week in various other countries, and I shall give the figures for the nine countries having the lowest number of hours worked, apart from Australia, which shows the lowest figure of all. They are as follows: -
– What about Russia?
– I am sorry, Russia is not included in these statistics, but I have another figure for Russia too. I know that honorable members opposite will throw this back at me and say that I am all for long hours. I am not for long hours, I am for sensible hours. Let us remain in the position in which we are to-day until our trade advantage is so much in our favour that we can talk reasonably of reducing hours. Rather than having hours reduced I would prefer to see increased wages paid to Australian workers, so that their purchasing power could be still further increased.
I have before me a newspaper article which refers to a statement made by Mr. Gerard, the President of the Australian Metal Trades Association, in which this gentleman said that Australian working hours are the best in the world, that the Russians work 30 hours a year more than we do, the Americans one week more, the West Germans six weeks more and the English workers seven weeks more. Is this the time to talk about reducing working hours? Do you not want to develop Australia? I believe that every Labour man in this House wants to see Australia made a great nation. We all do. But let us be realistic about this matter. The only way we can become a great nation is by working hard, by educating the people and by achieving the capacity to buy machinery from other countries so that we can get maximum productivity.
I would like to mention briefly some of the benefits to primary producers contained in this Budget. I think the most important is the superphosphate bounty. Honorable members of my party have been pressing very strongly for this for a long time. I refer particularly to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King). They have become almost fanatical on this subject, as I have sometimes jokingly told them. But their efforts have paid off. I think this bounty will do a lot towards keeping costs stable and improving the productivity of the primary producer.
I see this bounty as being of great advantage in my own area, coming at this particular time. In that area we have had great problems in establishing legumes in pastures. For about ten years a group of enthusiastic people associated with the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has been working on varieties of legumes to grow in the area. I think they have now found suitable legumes and have devised methods of growing them. However, all these legumes need large quantities of superphosphate. If the farmer can now get superphosphate more cheaply, at the time when this development has taken place, he will really be able to benefit from all this research work. A lower price for superphosphate, in conjunction with wider extension work, will be of considerable help in improving productivity in my area in the dairying industry and in the beef cattle industry.
I am also very pleased to see the removal of the sales tax on ice cream. I have been incensed for a long time about this tax. I have felt that it has been quite unfair that the dairy industry should haVe been penalized by the tax, and I know that everybody in the industry is delighted that it has been removed. Those connected with the timber industry are also very pleased that the industry is now to be recognized as a primary industry. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) covered this subject very well yesterday, so I will not spend any more time on it.
Decentralization is a most necessary development for Australia. The achievement of decentralization is probably the biggest problem we now face. There are many people who realize this. The members of my party have fought strongly for decentralization wherever possible. It is the major plank of our platform. We want to develop industries in the country in order to provide more employment opportunities, and I am delighted to see that a really great group of enthusiasts connected with the New State Movement have come to Canberra to-day to demonstrate their belief in decentralization. They believe that the most effective way to develop the potential of the north coast of New South Wales is to form a new State, to get away from the domination of the industrial and commercial groups in Sydney who are taking, we believe, an unfair share of the benefits granted to New South Wales.
The members of this group have no selfish motives. Their motive is to develop a very rich area of Australia which has an unlimited potential and which can be developed economically if we are given the opportunity. I believe that one important way to improve Commonwealth-State relationships is to form more States, because every day the States are becoming more dependent on the Commonwealth.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) criticized the workers for wanting reduced working hours. I suppose that he will not expect working hours to be reduced, even as automation gradually encroaches on industries. Working hours are being reduced in other countries because of the effects of automation. In some industries in the United States of America they have been reduced below the 35 hours a week worked by Australian workers. In, other industries in the United States, working hours are down to 32 and in at least one industry they have been reduced to 25 a week. The honorable member reminds me of the old die-hard Tory of years ago who opposed the reduction of working hours from 60 to 56, from 56 to 48, from 48 to 44 and from 44 to 40. He does not want the workers of this country or any other country to get the benefit of increased production.
I support this motion censuring the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development. The Government is also to be censured for its failure to provide for full employment and increased child endowment. The Government deserves censure. If some honorable members opposite vote in accordance with their feelings, they will vote with the Labour Party to-night when the vote on this motion is put to the House. However, the law of self-preservation enters into calculations and, in order to save their own skins, no doubt, they will support the Government.
Every one knows that the relationship between the Australian Country Party and Liberal Party is reaching a critical stage, lt has been an unhappy relationship since the redistribution proposal of the Liberal Party was thrown out last year by the Country Party. The Country Party is at war with the Liberal Party about future redistribution proposals. The Country Party wants the Liberal Party to agree to a gerrymander in regard to rural seats. The proposal, of course, would work to the advantage of the Country Party. The argument has developed to such an extent that the parties are threatening to oppose one another at the next election.
All honorable members are aware of the vicious attack made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) on the Leader of the Country Party because of his opposition to the redistribution proposal. It is reported in “ Hansard “ and there is no need for me to repeat what was said. There have been other attacks by the Minister. I will quote an extract from a letter printed in the “Farmers’ Weekly” of 1st August, ‘1963.
The letter was written by the Minister for the Interior and in it he had this to say -
If Mr. McEwen disagrees with what Cabinet decides, or has decided, and wants to express disagreement, there is only one course open to him as he accepted in the case of Mr. Bury; namely, resign. If he, or any other Minister, discusses outside Cabinet details of proposals before Cabinet, then this is in flagrant breach of all principles of Cabinet responsibility and, again, he has only one course - to resign. If he, or anyone else, tells or publicly speculates about individual ministerial opinions expressed around the Cabinet table, again he is talking so much out of turn that he should resign.
Those are the views of the Minister for the Interior, writing to deny a report by the Canberra correspondent of the newspaper that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was seeking budgetary concessions for rural industry and that the Liberal Party was opposed to them. It is not a letter to a school magazine. It has to be read in its political context. It was signed not by “ Gordon Freeth “, but by “ Gordon Freeth, Minister for the Interior “, in his official capacity. While the Minister for the Interior provided himself with a let-out by saying that he did not agree with the point that the correspondent had made, be seized the opportunity to make a savage attack on the Deputy Prime Minister under the guise of argument. He went to great lengths to attack the Minister for Trade and no amount of backing or filling can alter this fact. He could have omitted the passages I have quoted and the sense of the letter would not have changed a bit. The letter is an indication of the feuding which is going on between the two parties, and in particular, between the two Ministers.
As the Minister responsible for electoral re-distribution, the Minister for the Interior suffered a humiliating setback at the hands of the Country Party. In the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 5th April, 1963, the Minister is reported as chiding the Minister for Trade for embarking on public discussions of electoral matters which could be inflammatory while Cabinet was still discussing them. Taking the Minister for the Interior’s argument in his letter, it is clear that the Minister for Trade should resign from Cabinet, He disagrees much more fundamentally with the Cabinet than Mr. Bury ever disagreed over, the Common Market, knowing this, the Minister for the
Interior devised this elaborate method of putting the boot into the Country Party. I am reliably informed that the Country Party will endorse a candidate to oppose the Minister in his electorate of Forrest at the next election.
There are other points of disagreement between the two parties. They disagree about overseas investment, as honorable members are aware. The Leader of the Country Party agrees with the Labour Party when we say that overseas investment is welcome but it has to be controlled so that overseas investors do not take charge and so that Australia’s vital interests are protected. The Leader of the Country Party said that we must not sell part of the farm to pay our way. The Liberal Party represents big business in this House and its representatives are prepared to let overseas investors come into this country unrestrained and regardless of the harm that could be done to Australia’s economy. That is nothing new for the Liberal Party. The policy of the Government has been disastrous over the years and has boiled down to drift, confusion and stagnation in this highly endowed country. The overwhelming lesson that has been learned is that incompetent economic direction can be disastrous and can create its own crises. The policies of this Government have been responsible for one crisis after another, culminating in the man-made depression of 1961 from which we have not yet recovered.
This year’s Budget does not help us out of our trouble. The lessons of the past have not yet been learned. It has rightly been referred to as an unadventurous budget. It is most unimaginative and does nothing to correct the blunders built into the economy due to the Government’s disastrous policies. Economic stimulus was urgently needed, but the Budget does not provide it. There are still 78,131 registered unemployed and, of these, 22,990 are under the age of 21 years. At this time last year there were 23,349 unemployed under the age of 21 years. It can been seen that the efforts to obtain work for our unemployed young people have resulted in a reduction of only 359 in their number in twelve months despite the fact that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said in his report on the Australian economy ‘ in June, 1963, that something had to be done to get the young people back to work.
The unemployment position has worsened in Western Australia, where, in July last year, there were 5,582 registered unemployed. That figure represented 1.9 per cent, of the work force. Lj July this year there were 6,612 registered unemployed in Western Australia, or 2.3 per cent, of the work force. This is the worst percentage of unemployment among the mainland States and compares most unfavorably with the Australian average of 1.8 per cent. - bad as that is. The number of unemployed youth has grown in the last month. It is worse than twelve months ago. Surely we have to take account of that fact. A headline in the “West Australian” of 21st August, 1963, reads -
Under 21’s Form One-third of State’s Jobless.
There is no need to read any more. The headline speaks for itself. This is a grave reflection on the Western Australian Liberal Government and the Federal Liberal Government. I have pointed out that the Treasurer in his report, “ The Australian Economy, 1963 “, said that some special effort would be made to get youth back to work. The improvement has been a reduction of 359 in its number of young unemployed people. Government members seem to be highly elated that there are nearly 80,000 unemployed. Do they consider this position satisfactory? Do they agree with the statement of the president of the Australian Metal Trades Association when he says, “ 80,000 jobless seen as permanent”? That statement appeared as a headline in the “ West Australian “ of 11th February, 1963. Do honorable members opposite agree with the president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, who, according to a report in the “ West Australian “ of 9th August, 1963, said that 110,000 may be jobless? Where is this Government going in regard to unemployment and the economy of Australia? On 22nd August, 1963, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ carried the following headline: -
Unemployment “Still Too High “-Reserve Bank.
That appeared after the Budget had been presented. In the opinion of the Reserve Bank of Australia, unemployment is still too high, but this Government seems to be satisfied about the present level of unemployment. On 22nd August, the “Sydney Morning Herald “ also reported -
Mr. Calwell has been able to quote instance after instance where practical proposals of the Labour Party have been derided by the Government one day only to be adopted by it the next day. Had he also been able, before he spoke, to read the latest annual report of the chairman of the Reserve Bank, he could have quoted more evidence of an inbuilt timidity and conservatism in Canberra. Dr. Coombs’ report, which maintains that “ unemployment is still too high “, leaves one in no doubt that the Reserve Bank found it necessary to battle hard and long to obtain agreement with its policy of lowering interest rates as a stimulant in the early months of this year.
So the story goes on. The “ Australian Financial Review “, in the leading article in its issue of 20th August, under the headline, “ Wanted - A Philosophy “, asks where the Liberal Party of Australia is going and what it stands for. I do not propose to quote all of the article, but only an extract, as follows: -
But the Budget is difficult to understand for another reason, a reason which goes towards the heart of the difficulties currently being experienced by the Liberal Party in showing the people evidence of some guiding plan in Liberal thinking, of some guiding philosophy about the sort of Australia the party’s policies are driving towards.
A very considerable part of recent Liberal Party economic policy has been taken from the 1961 Labour Party election program.
Where does this leave the Liberal Party?
Surely it leaves the party where it has really been for quite some time now - in a philosophical vacuum.
What a condemnation of any party or any government! How disastrous it is for Australia to have a government that does not know where it is going. What a tragedy this is for a young, highly endowed country and for the thousands of unemployed, particularly young people! Every unemployed person means that there is so much unused capacity. There should be no unemployment in a young, developing country like Australia where there is so much to be done.
The Government should have given general increases in social service benefits to stimulate the economy. Increases have been given to selected groups, but no overall increases have been given. All pensioners should have received an increase in the standard rate of pension. Mothers need more child endowment. The important point is that these groups, if the social service benefits paid to them were increased, would spend the additional money on consumer goods. This would stimulate business and create employment, and that is what is wanted. The Government stands condemned for its inhuman treatment of people in receipt of social service benefits. The increases given to selected groups are welcome, but no additional benefit is given to the great mass of little people.
The pension increase of 10s. a week to be paid to single pensioners will create anomalies. Pensioners who live together unmarried will be able to get £1 a week more than married pensioners receive. All pensioners should have received increased benefits. Only this morning, the leading article in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “, under the headline, “ Govt, puts a penalty on marriage “, stated -
The Federal Government should reconsider its decision to withhold its 10/ old age pension increase from married pensioners.
The leading article goes on to state that all pensioners should receive increased pensions. That is the view of the “ Daily Telegraph”, a newspaper that normally supports this Government. This Budget, it is true, provides for an increase from £2 7s. 6d. a week to £3 a week in the allowance paid to an invalid pensioner’s wife under the age of 60. Why should a couple in such circumstances be forced to live at a sub-standard level? Why should they receive less than a married pensioner couple both of whom receive the pension? This does not seem reasonable to any rightthinking person.
When the matter is put to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), what does he say? He says that the wife can go to work and earn income up to the permissible limit. But, in many instances the husband is too ill for the wife to be able to go out to work. Furthermore, when a woman has been out of industry for ten or even twenty years, where is she likely to get a job in the later years of her life? It is sad to think that people like this are expected to get jobs. The same arguments apply to a wife who is, say, ten years younger than her age pensioner husband. She cannot get the pension and is expected to go to work. Labour believes that in both these instances the wife should receive the full pension. When we form a government, that proposal will be implemented.
The Government has turned a deaf ear to all mention of the plight of the pen.sioners. Science and improved health schemes have enabled people to live much longer on the average than they would have lived 60 years ago. This is good, but we should be concerned about the standard at which our old people live. A situation in which the majority of pensioners live in poverty and dire straits is a reflection on our society. It has been suggested that a country’s standard of civilization can be assessed by the way it treats its old people. By that measure. Australia has not reached a very high standard. Science is helping people to live longer, but this Government’s policy is directed towards making the additional years of life a misery because pensions have not kept pace with the cost of living.
The funeral benefit is still £10, the rate fixed when it was introduced in 1943 by the Labour Government. The basic wage was then £4 16s. a week. It is now £14 8s. a week. The funeral benefit should be increased many times to restore its value. The policy of the Australian Labour Party provides for a benefit of £50, not £10 as at present. The Government stands condemned also for its callous disregard of families. After all, Australian-born children are surely the best migrants that we can get. The existing scale of rates of maternity allowance was laid down by the Curtin Government in 1943. The Labour Party will increase the scale substantially when it forms another government. From the inception of the maternity allowance to the time when the present Government took office, the allowance would always pay the expenses associated with the birth of a child. It will not do that now. Economic reasons prevent newly-married couples from having a child for some time because, in most instances, both husband and wife have to go to work to earn enough to establish a home.
In 1900, the average Australian family had four children. The average number of children to-day is 2.19. Married couples are doing little more than replace themselves. More than half the children born in Australia in 1894 were at least the fourth child in their families. The proportion has now dropped to 18 per cent. Fewer than one Australian couple in five is now interested in having a family of four children, whereas, about 60 years ago, one family in every two had four children. In order to lift the burden from families, the Government should have increased child endowment. In 1948, when the basic wage was £5 16s. a week, a family of five children received in child endowment £2 a week. To-day, with a basic wage of £14 8s. a week, a family with five children receives only £2 5s. a week. The basic wage has increased two and one-half times, and a family wtih five children should now receive at least £4 10s. a week in child endowment instead of only £2 5s. a week if the value of this benefit is to be restored to the earlier level. The Labour Party proposes to increase child endowment for the first child to lis. a week, for the second child to 19s. a week and for every additional child to 22s. a week. That is the policy on child endowment laid down by the recent federal conference of the party. I repeat that this Government stands condemned for its callous disregard of the little people in the framing of this Budget.
I want now to discuss defence, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What a sorry record the Menzies Government has on defence! In fourteen years, it has spent £2,700,000,000 on defence. But what have we to show for it? The Air Force is equipped with obsolete fighters and bombers. The Army is too small and inadequately equipped. The Navy has too few ships. These services have been allowed to run down.
– The honorable member would not even know whether we had an Army.
– Listen to this! It may interest you. In 1952-53, £215,000,000 was spent on defence. For 1962-63 it was £221,300,000. Based on the consumer price index, the £215,000,000 spent in 1952-53 is the equivalent of £267,000,000 to-day, which means that we spent £46,000,000 more on defence in 1952-53 than we did in 1962-63. As the Leader of the Labour Party has said, is the threat to our security less real to-day than it was ten years ago? This Government apparently thinks that it is less real. In the past ten years, Australia’s national income has increased by £2,322,000,000 and the gross national product by £3,121,000,000, so that whereas, in 1952- 53, defence expenditure represented 6 per cent, of the national income and 5 per cent, of the gross national product, to-day it represents only 3.4 per cent, and 2.8 per cent, respectively, or approximately onehalf the expenditure ten years ago.
At long last, the Government has produced a five-year defence plan, but it is completely inadequate for the defence of Australia. It leaves Western Australia out of its calculations. But that is nothing new. It was the Menzies Government which withdrew the Neptune squadron that was stationed at Pearce in Western Australia. Concern has been expressed by many authorities at the weakness of our air defences on the west coast and many authorities believe that a number of Mirage fighters and Neptune reconnaissance planes should be stationed in Western Australia. The Government is out of step with many naval authorities which believe that a naval base should be established on the west coast. The trade route across the Indian Ocean is the lifeline between Australia and Britain. Naval authorities have supported strongly the establishment of a naval base at Cockburn Sound. Some consider that Albany is the place at which it should be established. I do not say at which point the base should be established because that is a matter for the experts, but at least a naval base should be established on the west coast.
The value of Singapore as a naval base was illusory during the last war, and surely it must be admitted that its value to-day is even more uncertain. That leaves the coast of Western Australia as the only safe and sound place for a naval base. As matters now stand, in the event of war, naval vessels damaged in the Indian Ocean would have to travel 2,000 miles to the east coast for repairs. If a naval base were established on the west coast it would also render service to peace-time shipping because at present Western Australia has no dock and repair yards, which means that vessels must travel to other areas for repairs. All that the Government can think about is Pacific Ocean strategy. The United States of America is strong in the Pacific Ocean. Britain and Australia should be strong in the Indian Ocean. All of our friends are on the Pacific Ocean side of the nation so surely our defence forces are more necessary on the Indian Ocean side. Britain has responsibilities in this matter and it should be approached by the Australian Government to assist in establishing a naval base on the west coast.
Considering the size of the State and the distance from bases in the eastern States, the defence forces in Western Australia are meagre indeed. If we are attacked, our defence rests on the ability of the forces in the eastern States to move speedily to Western Australia. Experience has shown that this cannot be done. The present position is not good enough. Adequate defence forces should be established in Western Australia. Recent mobility exercises, which were held in Darwin and not in Western Australia because Western Australia has no radar system to give warning of an impending attack, revealed that Western Australia cannot be defended against an initial attack. That State should bo provided with reconnaissance and covering forces from the Navy, Army and Air Force. Western Australia has a right to protection within the Australian defence system.
The defence aspect of the Budget is in keeping with the rest of it. Generally it lacks imagination. Defence is the baby of a government that is worn out and weary. The Budget has been referred to rightly as a recipe for stagnation. In his speech the Leader of the Opposition called for an immediate end to the suffering and economic stagnation which this Government’s policies have created. Labour has a dynamic policy designed to provide the conditions for growth and planned national development which will secure prosperity and justice for all. The Government cannot survive much longer. The people are waking up to it slowly but surely. It is breaking up and the coalition parties are fighting among themselves. The skies are black with the chickens coming home to roost. When they arrive this Government and those who support its policies will get it where the chicken got the axe.
.- The horticultural speech which has just been delivered by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) was not of a very high quality. I think most of the fruit has already fallen to the ground, but I shall touch the speech here and there with a saw and secateurs to try to trim it into some semblance of respectability. The honorable gentleman brings to the House an old world charm and a splendid sense of solicitude. These are qualities that we all admire. On this occasion I did not expect him to suffocate partisanship completely because in a budget debate, as in most debates, there is ample opportunity for two points of view, very much in conflict with each other, to be put. I did hope at least that the honorable gentleman, while showing partisanship, would have shown some respect for the facts. I assure him, with no sense of ill feeling, that if he deals with facts he will not come out in a rash all over. Facts do not hurt people.
One of the singular features of this debate has been the casual, almost contemptuous, way in which the Labour Party has dealt with facts. Let us consider the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). On Tuesday evening last, he gave the impression that he had listened to one-half of the Treasurer’s Budget speech and had then prepared his own speech on the remaining one-half. I realize that the honorable gentleman has a very narrow outlook. Indeed, as I listened to his speech I thought that his outlook was as narrow as the neck of a vinegar cruet. There was the honorable gentleman posing as a moderate. I want to lodge a caveat with the people of Australia against the honorable member for Werriwa. Do not regard this man as a moderate. He is a dedicated socialist; he is a dedicated centralist, and, in a very real sense, he is an unpleasant confederation of opportunism and flourishing humbug.
We know that the honorable gentleman is his own greatest admirer but he should not be deceived into believing that because he has such self-regard he is at liberty to disturb completely the nature of facts. That brings me to the ready way in which he seconded this censure motion. This is surely the strangest censure motion that this House has ever considered and, in the course of the next few minutes, I hope to show up some of the features of its strangeness. I should imagine that the first strange feature that would come to mind would be the repeated charge made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), vigorously supported by his deputy, that the Government has adopted Labour. Listen to some of the charges. “ Our remedies adopted by the Treasurer “ was the language of my friend, the Leader of the Opposition. “ The policy the Prime Minister, had derided, he began to adopt” is again the language of the Leader of the Opposition, as are these words, “ allowing Labour policies to be applied by proxy “. Assuming that there is truth in those charges, how strange it is that he should then turn around and proceed to censure policies that he claims have been adopted. It struck me as being a most unusual luxury of criticism.
Speaking of criticism, there was the Leader of the Opposition’s attack on the Treasurer. Whatever impression the Leader of the Opposition may have left with other honorable gentlemen, the impression that he left with me was that he did not like the Treasurer at all and he had little affection for what the Treasurer had to say. When the Leader of the Opposition referred to Dr. Samuel Johnson I said to myself, “ Aha, he is now going to go all cultural “. But then I reminded myself that he does not like the Treasurer. I thought of this language of Dr. Johnson: “Perhaps - no scarcely any man wrote so much and praised so few”. Then I had to jolt myself, because many of us on this side of the House are completely baffled about the authorship of the speeches made in this House by the Leader of the Opposition. Many of us who sit on this side of the House can see one gentleman who sits on the Opposition side of the House literally miming his way through every speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition. So I thought, “ No, what I have said of Dr. Johnson is not apposite. One should say -
Well may they venture on the mimic’s art Who play from morn to night a borrow’d part “.
Of course, the honorable gentleman is obliged to accept responsibility for what he has said. That brings me to what I regard as the second strange feature of this censure motion - the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition to the deficit. When he complained about the size of the deficit, I said to myself, “ I suppose all of us at one time or another feel overwhelmed with the sense of asceticism “. But this was a strange political and economic asceticism shown by the Leader of the Opposition. He declared the deficit to be, not £58,400,000, but £309,000,000. He said that most explicitly. There is no going back on it. There is no attempt by him - nor should there be by any honest man - to disguise or retract the significance of his words. He said of the Government, “… Its record deficit contained the seeds of inflation …” The fact of the matter is that the honorable gentleman has included1 in the deficit the whole of loans for works, for the States, for housing, for the Mount Isa railway, for the Snowy Mountains scheme, for TransAustralia Airlines and Qantas Empire Airways Limited, and for war service homes. When you look at that you see that Arthur the ascetic is none other than Arthur the mistaken. He should take counsel with his deputy leader on this matter, because that honorable gentleman, when he came into the lists the other night, said explicitly that the deficit is £58,400,000. I was delighted that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) was so clear and frank in this matter. He has some interesting economic theories, which to his credit he has not disguised, but has presented in the House.
May I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition led for the Opposition last year in the Budget debate he said, “ First, we would budget for a deficit of £160,000,000 “. Then he propounded what I thought was a rather quaint economic principle. He said, “ The magnitude of a deficit should be assessed according to the amount of the national income”. The national income figure available when he said that was £5,926,000,000. He suggested, mark you, that on that basis there should be a deficit of £160,000,000. The national income figure now available is £6,114,000,000. So, taking the honorable gentleman’s own argument and his own logic, the deficit on this occasion should be £173,000,000. The Leader of the Opposition is prepared to describe as “ the seeds of inflation “ a deficit of £58,400,000. How would he describe a deficit of £173,000,000?
Finally on the subject of the deficit, in order to throw into pretty clear relief the faults in the logic and substance of the honorable gentleman’s argument, 1 point out that if his arguments were applied to Barbados that country’s deficit this year should be £600,000; the United States of America should have a deficit of £4,800,000,000; San Marino should have a deficit of 3s. 4d.; and Liechtenstein should have a deficit of 7d. That shows the validity of the honorable gentleman’s argument.
Let me take the substance of the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition, and supported by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition here and there, whenever he thought it prudent to support it. There is no indication in either of those speeches of any cuts in expenditure. On the contrary, there was every indication of substantial increases in expenditure. May I refer to some of them. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in speaking of defence, used language to this effect: “ Australia is defenceless “. Would he suggest that another £50,000,000, possibly, would put things right? It has been said - this was repeated this morning by the honorable member for Stirling - that there should be an increase in the rate of child endowment. This is the language of the Leader of the Opposition: “There are to be no increases in the rates of child endowment “. Very well, let me add £60,000,000. The Leader of the Opposition complained about pensions and social services generally. Very well; let us accept his complaint and add £35,000,000. In regard to pay-roll tax he declared, “ We will move for the gradual abolition of pay-roll tax “. Let us accept his avowal and add £20,000,000. On housing he thundered, “ We will provide increased funds … so that many more houses might be built”. Very well, add £40,000,000. On education he said, “ We will provide . . . greatly increased financial aid for education “. Let us accept that and add £50,000,000.
– Hear, hear!
– You will note, Mr. Speaker, the flute obbligato from the other side of the House, agreeing with me. In regard to rural industries the Leader of the Opposition suggested, “A system of commodity marketing schemes, subsidized where necessary “. Let us be modest and add £5,000,000. I have never yet heard the Leader of the Opposition use a figure under £100,000,000 in relation to expenditure on northern development, so let us add £100,000,000 under that heading. On rail standardization he asked rhetorically, “ When will the continent be spanned by a standard-gauge railway system? “ Accepting the intrinsic worth of what he has inquired about, let us add £20,000,000. In regard to the petrol tax, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition chided the Treasurer and the Prime Minister about this on Tuesday evening. He said, in effect: “ We have never said that we will abolish the petrol tax. All we have said we will do is hand back the total amount raised by the petrol tax.” Ignoring the argument and accepting what the Opposition has said, let us add £9,000,000, which is the difference between what is popularly regarded as petrol tax revenue and what is handed back to the States under the aid roads grants.
Those amounts add to £389,000,000. How is that amount going to be raised? Does the Leader of the Opposition seriously suggest that he is going to run a series of elaborate coin evenings to raise £389,000,000? Is he going to run a series of raffles or barbecues to raise that amount? No. He has provided the answer for us because he said, “He” - pointing to the Treasurer - “ is imperilling price and cost stability because he lacks the courage to raise taxes to at least match the extra expenditure he is budgeting for”. If the Leader of the Opposition had prepared this Budget he would have added £389,000,000 on current account. He would not have had any deficit. So, throwing in the £58,400,000 you come within cooee of £450,000,000 extra to be found. Taking the honorable gentleman’s language at its face value - for what that may be worth goodness only knows - it means that if he led the Government to-day he would be socking into the Australian taxpayer for an extra £450,000,000.
The next remarkable feature about the honorable gentleman’s amendment was the language he used. This is it in part and not distorted, as I am sure honorable members will agree - the House condemns the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and national development
If ever there was a political party that should have obliged its members to take a vow of silence on any issue it is the Labour Party. That party should oblige its members to be silent on the question of defence. Look at the 1954 policy speech of the then Leader of the Opposition. In it he said -
Here - i that was in the north - - defence links up with development to prove that expenditure on transport is partly preferable to defence.
Then we have the Labour Party’s policy speech in 1955, in which the leader said -
Labour would not require the huge annual expenditure at present appropriated … we shall review the defence vote so as to exclude wasteful and extravagant projects like St. Mary’s.
The Leader of the Opposition, in sweet, dulcet and encouraging tones said over the radio, in 1957 -
It would have been far better if some of the defence grant had been spent on universities and secondary and technical schools, instead of being figuratively poured down the drain.
In his 1961 policy speech the Leader of the Opposition referred to - . . turning Seato into a cultural body.
Does he repudiate that? Does he still stand by the statement that Seato should be turned into a cultural body? What of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren)? In 1960 he declared-
This Government should reduce its expenditure on armaments and use the money it is now wasting on expenditure for war to work for peace.
What of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen)? He said-
I firmly believe that the best defence measure we could take would be to ensure that we have a railway system of uniform gauge throughout the entire continent.
What of the honorable members for Wills (Mr. Bryant), Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and Hunter (Mr. James)? The honorable member for Stirling this afternoon had the utter impertinence to challenge the Government on defence, although he voted against the establishment of the United States naval communication station at North West Cape in any form whatsoever. Are those honorable members prepared to stand up now and be counted? What of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who declared that all Australian troops should be brought home from Malaya? I ask whether the Leader of the Opposition repudiates his own deputy, or is this a case of -
Fate, fantastic fate, once wedded fast To some utter humbug hugs it to the last.
Not one word has been uttered by any honorable member opposite on the counts of education, health and housing - not a line, not a word, not a syllable as to the constitutional responsibility of the Commonwealth Government in these fields. On Tuesday evening, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said the Government had no vision. He accused it of having no vision to face the problems of education and housing. Very well! I will call him as a witness in his own cause. In this Parliament, in 1957, he said -
That is, the Federal Parliament - cannot administer any educational institution except those in our own Territories; we cannot administer any hospital except repatriation hospitals and those in our own Territories and we cannot administer any housing except war service homes and housing within our own Territories. ls he now going to be a hostile witness in his own cause? What struck me as being remarkable while listening to the Leader of the Opposition and to other honorable members opposite who have spoken since their leader, was the fact that there was no acknowledgment whatsoever of the provisions that are in the Budget. Am I to understand that the Labour Party is completely composed of cynics, critics and knockers who seem to have a physiological incapacity to give credit where it is due? In the speeches of honorable members opposite there was no praise at all about the removal of sales tax from food; no praise about the reduction of sales tax on household goods; no acknowledgment of the lifting of the limitation on the deduction for medical expenses. On the contrary, honorable members opposite complained about those things. They cave no approval of the raising of the limit on education expenses. They complained about that. They gave no recognition whatever to the provision of an extra £72,000,000 through the savings banks for housing. They gave no recognition of the extension of the benefits available to single pensioners and civilian widows. On the contrary, they bitterly attacked the Government for those provisions. They have not approved in any shape or form of the grant of investment allowances for primary producers. There was no approval, in any shape or form, of the effect of the new basis of valuation of trading stock; of the giving of the new general business deductions; of the maintenance of a policy of growth and stability; or of the policies which have revolutionized Australia in the last ten years. Those policies, I hasten to remind the Leader of the Opposition, enabled him to say to the President of the United States of America -
Australia outstrips the United States. Australia is progressing at a rate faster than the United States achieved during its greatest developmental period.
I can well see the Leader of the Opposition saying to the President of the United States, with a quiet, firm and manly pride in what his country has done over the last tea or fifteen years, “ Our country to-day, Mr. President, outstrips the United States of America in development”. But when he comes home to Australia he wants to knock every institution that is worthwhile and to run down and rubbish every material effort which has been made towards the development of this country. Then there was the bewildering odyssey of the honorable gentleman. He summed up Europe’s problems in Singapore and obligingly dealt with some aspects of Australia’s educational problems when he was in the Middle East. He spelt out some of the significance of South-East Asian events while he was in Berlin and he desperately sought respectability for his party when he was in Washington. All that could pass like a caravan in the night, but what bewilders and, indeed, frightens one, is the fact that when he comes home he discharges himself in the role of being a professional and accomplished knocker, aided and supported, when opportunity demands, by his deputy leader.
If we look at his speeches on budgets on six occasions we will see that he has used the word “ confidence “, never to approve of it but only to sneer at it. What a pity that he has brought himself to such a pitiful level. I implore the Labour Party to stop being a party of critics and knockers determined, apparently, to destroy everything worthwhile in this country. We have accomplished much, but we have yet more to accomplish. We are confronted by challenges. Our one determination should be to see that we have in Australia a people vigilant enough never to be deceived by the calms of their existence and vigorous enough never to be overwhelmed by the storms that may strike them.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to the motion for the second reading of this bill which has been brought down by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). Before commencing my remarks on the Budget I would like briefly to refer to the almost hysterical and certainly excitable outburst of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) on the question of the Budget deficit. The honorable member should have been trying to justify the actions of the Treasurer, who last year budgeted for a deficit of about £120,000,000 and finished the financial year with a surplus of £16,000,000. Apparently in the mind of the honorable member that was good deficit budgeting. But as soon as we talk about deficit budgeting, we are assailed and told that we are quite incapable of managing a budget, whether it be a deficit or a surplus budget.
The Commonwealth Budget is the key budget for many thousands of budgets throughout Australia. It contains many factors that influence other budgets - the home budget, the small trader’s budget and the company budget. In fact, all commercial enterprise is in some way affected by the Budget. Its responsibility is not limited to narrow confines. On the contrary, it reaches out into many facets of our daily lives. It is a document of truly national importance. The Budget introduced this year by the Menzies-McEwen Government is not a great deal different from many other budgets that have been presented by the Government. It exhibits all the characteristics of other budgets and continues to show the inability of the Government to present a budget that we could honestly say was a national budget worthy of this Parliament and a budget that would give Australia a feeling of economic security and social justice.
The Budget does not remove the uncertainty that has blanketed Australia since the 1960 credit squeeze, when the Government’s use of our monetary system had disastrous effects on the security and wellbeing of thousands of Australian citizens. The people have shown clearly that they do not trust the Government, particularly in the commercial sphere. I will give some figures from the “ Digest of Current Economic Statistics “ to prove this assertion. The July issue, which is the latest issue available, shows that the monthly savings bank deposits for July of this year were £2,004,000,000, which is a record. Twelve months ago, the deposits were £1,756,000,000. This is a rise of £350,000,000 within twelve months. Deposits have risen steeply since the credit squeeze year of 1960, when they totalled only £1,500,000,000. The people are now saving all the money they possibly can and not spending it and so stimulating the economy, as they should be.
The trading bank transactions also provide some evidence of this trend. In 1962, trading banks lent only 58 per cent, of their deposits and 57 per cent, in 1963. This shows that the banks had a considerable excess of deposits which could have been used in industry or in some other way. Perhaps this is one explanation of the fact that trading bank deposits have been channelled into government loans during the past few years. More interesting still is the downward trend of new money being invested in listed companies. This has fallen from a peak amount of £248,000,000 in 1959-60 to £153,000,000 in 1962-63. This is evidence of a lack of confidence which is inhibiting further company expansion and expenditure. Unfortunately, the daily newspapers carry many stories of insolvencies and liquidations, which are still continuing despite the prosperity that Government supporters claim is becoming apparent throughout Australia. This should arrest our attention and make us think a little about our economy.
The Leader of the Opposition when he was moving the amendment emphasized the many failures of the Government - the seriousness of unemployment, the shortage of homes for the people, the stagnation evident in our economic life, the lack of confidence present in commercial fields, foreign investment, national development and defence. These matters are being ably dealt with by other Opposition members. Just before the end of the last sessional period, I asked the Treasurer a question about economic stability. He did everything but answer my question. He romanced about the exciting future awaiting Australia and said that, as overseas capita] was pouring into the country, we must be prosperous and we must have economic success. What he left unsaid was much more important. He did not reply to my request for an assurance that the Government would not again apply the credit squeeze that had such disastrous effects on our trade and commerce from 1961 onwards. He did not tell the House that overseas capital investments were down in 1962, somewhere in the region of £100,000,000. He salved his troubled political conscience by waving his arms in ecstasy at the thought of our grand future. 1 agree with the Treasurer on only one point. I agree that Australia has a great future in the hands of a wise government, but not in the hands of the present Government.
This Government has mismanaged our administration so badly that every year or so it must apply panic and harmful legislation that brings misery, suffering and confusion into our organized society. That is not good government, but the product of stop and go improvisation and expediency. This has become a permanent feature of the Menzies Administration. It has allowed creeping inflation to increase costs and prices. Only when needled by its junior coalition partner, the Australian Country Party, does it mutter, “Yes; we must have a look at this question “. The superphosphate subsidy is the first real line of action taken to appease the Australian Country Party, and it is of more than passing interest that this was done only after continued advocacy and pressure from the Australian Labour Party. The superphosphate subsidy of £3 a ton was included in Labour’s policy speech at the 1961 election. The Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party, by their silence, showed that at that time it was not their policy. Now, having adopted Labour’s policy, they shout in very loud voices that this was always their policy, hoping, of course, that the people will forget that this
Government in 1950 abolished the superphosphate subsidy which had previously been given by a Labour government.
The subsidy of £3 a ton on superphosphate is a good thing and if the primary producer obtains the full benefit of the subsidy it will materially assist to increase productivity. The danger inherent in the provision of the subsidy, as I see it, is that the primary producer may not get the full benefit of it. The Government has not announced any measures designed to ensure that the primary producer receives the full benefit of the subsidy. I am sufficiently suspicious to think that within a few months - perhaps even within twelve months - the superphosphate companies will increase the price of superphosphate by £1 or £2 a ton, thus to a large extent negativing the effectiveness of the subsidy. If that happens the subsidy will become little more than a mirage to the primary producer instead ot being a full-blooded benefit. I am sure that if a Labour government had an opportunity to provide a subsidy on superphosphate it would be ever alert to see that the manufacturers did not take advantage of the subsidy to increase the price of their product to the disadvantage of the primary producers, for whom the benefit was intended.
It is perhaps appropriate to remind the House that the Government is a coalition government. It is a mixed government. It is also a mixed-up government. It is rather interesting to analyse the component parts of this Government. On the one hand we have the Liberal Party, which is the prisoner of big business. It represents interlocked company directorships and financiers. On the other hand we have the Country Party, which represents that section of workers who engage in primary production. I cannot imagine a greater conflict of interests. Monopolies, combines and financiers, exacting every penny they can from the workers of this country, are linked arm in arm with a section of manual workers engaged in primary production. I am amazed that primary producers have allowed themselves to be sucked in and robbed by their political colleagues. Each year our primary producers are hampered by a rising internal cost structure imposed upon them by their political bedmates. No beneficial steps have been taken by the Government to keep down costs of production. Producers are constantly exploited on the altar of free enterprise by commercial interests which have received from this Government the green light to go ahead.
Towards the end of the last sessional period the House heard an extraordinary statement from the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). He said that he fully supported the credit squeeze which brought such disastrous results to our country. Evidently the misery and suffering that plagued us in 1961 meant nothing to the honorable member. In effect he said that it was just too bad that thousands of people suffered and had their family life disrupted and their economic security threatened. Apparently it was just too bad that the country was thrown into turmoil. The fact that hundreds of people went bankrupt and that many businesses failed financially as a result of the credit squeeze evidently meant nothing to the honorable member for Mallee. So long as his financial stability and economic security remain intact, all is well with Australia and we arc safe for democracy. The honorable member tries to relieve his conscience by thinking that the credit squeeze put an end to the rising cost structure that had been bedevilling primary producers. Nothing is further from the truth than that erroneous belief.
At question time and in their speeches on debates in this House colleagues of the honorable member for Mallee constantly complain about the rising cost structure. I never feel convinced that when the honorable member speaks he is not indulging in a good deal of ham acting. He makes some extraordinary statements and waves his arms as if he is auctioning penny candles from a star. There must surely bc a great many complacent electors in Mallee.
The unemployment situation deserves urgent attention. When we contrast the policy of the last Labour Government - a policy of full employment - with the policy of the present Government we cannot help but realize how this country has slipped back in the field of economic security. The Curtin and Chifley Governments planned our economic future so that full employment was a continuing factor. Effect was given to that policy despite the exigencies of war, the problems of post-war reconstruction and the problems associated with sending more than 1,000,000 men back from the armed forces into civilian life. Under this Government a large pool of unemployed has become commonplace. This situation arises naturally under a government that is actuated by profit motives and which puts human motives and requirements in second place. The unemployment situation highlights the fact that this Government has no plan to solve the unemployment problem in the forseeable future. While this Government remains in office we may expect to have a pool of between 70,000 and 100,000 persons out of work. It is sickening to see men walking the highways in the forlorn hope of obtaining employment. It is sickening to see our employment offices crowded daily with people seeking jobs. Most of those people do not get jobs. Only the lucky few get jobs. We can well imagine the feelings of an unemployed person who may read in a newspaper the Treasurer’s flamboyant statements about Australia’s exciting future. That exciting future will never develop under a Liberal government. It will become a reality only when Labour again assumes office.
The Opposition would welcome an election, because it would give the electors an opportunity to express through the ballotbox their feelings about this Government. Our leader challenged the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to hold an election after that right honorable gentleman made some noisy outbursts about the Labour Party’s special conference on the North West Cape proposal. The Prime Minister very soon forgot about Labour’s miserable compromise, as he termed it, about which he had been so vocal soon after the conference. The Prime Minister used his discretion and prodded his lieutenant, the Treasurer, to make a side-swipe at the Leader of the Opposition by challenging him to give personal assurances concerning the United States communication station at North West Cape. The Government’s action in relation to this matter and its subsequent conduct emphasize the hopeless and hapless plight of the Prime Minister and his Government.
The Opposition has launched a full-scale attack on the Government’s mismanagement of the nation. Government supporters have been on the defensive. From the Prime Minister down they have displayed obvious discomfort and confusion throughout this debate. It was interesting to see the new tactics adopted by the Prime Minister last Tuesday night when he spoke in the debate. The press of Australia and the public generally had accepted the analysis of the Budget by the Leader of the Opposition. That acceptance must have frightened the Prime Minister somewhat because when he spoke he adopted a new tactic. He accused the Leader of the Opposition of political dishonesty in putting the Opposition’s viewpoint in the debate. Fancy the Prime Minister talking of political dishonesty. Is he not the same Prime Minister who said during the 1961 election campaign, “I give a solemn promise to the people of Australia that I will cure unemployment within twelve months “? Was that political dishonesty? Is he not the same Prime Minister who promised to tax excess profits, provide housing for the people and cater for young married couples and who, last but not least, made the famous promise to put value back into the pound? This is the Prime Minister who now appears to be shocked at what he calls political dishonesty or misrepresentation in politics. He should be the last one in this Parliament to talk in that strain.
It is a great pity that this debate has not been televised. If it had been, it would have shown Australian viewers the effects on Government members of Labour’s criticism. Viewers would have seen the sorry spectacle of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) floundering in a sea of confusion, ineffectively trying to answer the penetrating attack of the Leader of the Opposition. His veneer of self-satisfaction might have deluded Government members, but it certainly would not have satisfied thinking Australians. The ideal situation, from the point of view of this Government, is for the Parliament to be in recess while Ministers give daily press releases telling the world how good they are, what a wonderful job they are doing, how prosperous the economy is and that generally everything in the garden is lovely. One has to look outside the circle of Go- vernment members to see what is really going on.
Leaders in trade and commerce circles constantly express concern at the stagnant, stay-put condition of our economy. Many representatives of industry and business are courageous enough to declare that there is an air of uncertainty and a lack of business confidence. This lack of confidence can be sheeted home to the administration of this Government. Its improvisation, expediency and stop-go methods have shattered the confidence of our people. For its sins of omission and commission the Government has lost the confidence of the majority of Australian electors. It is the lurking fear of insecurity under a stop-go government that is retarding spending. This decline in spending is apparent from the marked increase in savings bank deposits.
People have not forgotten the excuse given by the Treasurer in 1960 when he inaugurated his credit squeeze. He then told the people of Australia that we were building too many motor cars and that this would cause inflation. He clamped down on the motor ‘ industry and almost paralysed it. Many small businesses allied with the motor industry closed down and thousands were thrown out of work. Later the Treasurer had to reverse his policy and allow the motor industry to develop again in accordance with the demand for the products of that industry. We must overlook the fact that to-day, nearly three years after the credit squeeze, the motor industry is producing many more vehicles than when the Treasurer clamped down on it. In fact, much of our economic activity, described to-day by the Liberals as prosperity, is wrapped up in the motor industry.
The question many people ask themselves is whether history will repeat itself, and whether the Treasurer will again say “ stop “ in accordance with the stop-go policy of the Government. In other words, can the nation trust this stop-go Government? I do not believe it can.
There are many other shortcomings in the Budget, but one could not deal adequately with them all in a limited time. I want to criticize the Government for its handling of social services. It has shown discrimination between single and married pensioners and between civilian widows and war widows. I appreciate the increases that have been granted, but I believe married pensioners should have received the increase of 10s. a week that has been granted to single pensioners. The Government should not discriminate as between groups of pensioners, and so set up class distinctions amongst our pensioner friends.
The severe hardship that has been suffered by civilian widows has been recognized, but I believe that a civilian widow should be able to earn more money, without having her pension reduced, if her health and other circumstances permit her to do so. The restricted earning rights of pensioners constitute an injustice in many cases. There is also discrimination between widows. If a war widow is allowed £3 10s. a week, then other widows should be treated similarly. The increases granted in the Budget expose the suffering that widows have had to endure under the old rates of pension. Labour members have for a long time been directing attention to the hardships suffered by these women.
Other social service benefits that should have been adjusted have been overlooked, but I have only a few minutes remaining to me and I wish to make a few remarks on the subject of housing. I want to repeat what previous speakers have said, that this Government has fallen down on the national matter of housing. Although we have a reasonably rapid increase in population, both by natural increase and by immigration, fewer homes are being built each year. In 1959-60 nearly 104,000 homes were built. Then followed the credit squeeze and the number dropped by 10,000 in 1960-61. Another drop of 9,000 came in 1961-62. In the past year we picked up a little with an increase of 9,500 homes on the previous year. But the overall picture is quite disturbing. The fact is that we built 9,500 fewer houses in 1962-63 than we built in 1959-60. We have had four years of backward progress, if I may use the contradictory term.
This decline in overall home building occurred while our population increased by 1,159,000. These figures reflect the attitude of the Menzies Government to a matter of such national importance as the housing of our people. Housing is an important national matter. It involves the stability and security of family life, upon which our Christian society is built. Happy homes and healthy children should be more important considerations than the latest type of bomber or a new Parliament House for Canberra.
My time has almost expired. Let me say to the House that the Opposition has exercised its right to analyse and criticize the Budget. It has made very valuable suggestions as to practical ways in which the Budget could be improved. If the censure motion is carried, the Budget will be transformed by a Labour government into a budget worthy of the nation. In the interest of the progress and development of Australia I hope that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is agreed to.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wentworth) adjourned.
.- I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 88).]
[Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 89).]
Mr. Chairman, the proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1933-1963, and give effect to the Government’s decisions following receipt of the Tariff Board’s Reports on portable electric hand tools and bisphenol A and epoxy resins. The recommendations made by the Tariff Board in these reports have been adopted by the Government.
In Proposals No. 88 the by-law treatment accorded professional type vibratory massagers. being portable hand tools, has been extended to include all types of vibratory massagers at a free British preferential tariff rate and a most-favoured-nation rate of7½ per cent. Certain other types of portable electric hand tools, being outside the range of local production, are also being admitted under customs by-law at concessional rates.
Proposals No. 89 provide for increased tariff protection against imports of bisphenol A and certain epoxy resins and preparations derived therefrom.
On bisphenol A, the duties have been increased to11d. per lb., British preferential tariff, with the most-favoured-nation rate determined at the lowest level consistent with international commitments.
Increased protection has also been provided for the Australian production of epoxy resins by an increase of 10 per cent. ad valorem in the most-favoured-nation rate on liquid grades and by new alternative fixed rate duties on both solid and liquid grades. The fixed rate duties of 1s. 3d. per lb. on solid grades and1s. 9d. per lb. on liquid grades are designed to apply in the event of any further decline in the overseas price of epoxy resins. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– Mr. Speaker, I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Bisphenol A and epoxy resins.
Gauges for liquid levels.
Portable electric hand tools.
Toluene, nitration grade.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed (vide page 664).
– In this Budget debate, the Opposition has seen fit to move a censure motion which, in a way, makes it very hard to speak on the Budget. None of us on this side of the House would have the slightest trouble in seeing that a censure motion, if carried, would have the effect of playing into the hands of the Opposition. I regret that this has happened, particularly since the Opposition in its approach to the Budget has brought forward matters of very little substance and has made this a dreary debate. The Opposition has accused the Government of stealing its policy. This is an oft-repeated and, I think, irrelevant charge. 1 could accuse the Opposition of stealing my policy because the things that members of the Opposition are saying now, particularly in regard to defence, are the things that I have been saying here for some years. The Opposition should have the decency to remain silent on the matter of stealing policies.
I have said that we cannot vote for a censure motion moved by the Opposition. It is not what they say that is important; what is important is what they do not say. It is quite clear that all they are pumping out is meant to screen their policy of socialization, which remains the same. From the old bottles we are simply getting the mixture as before. They have learned nothing and they have forgotten nothing. They have not in any way retreated from their socialist stand.
It can be said of this Budget that it is adequate, if not particularly adventurous. It is justified by the fact that there is now, in the economy, a very perceptible upward trend. We have not at this moment reached the degree of full employment and economic activity we would like to see, but we know very well that the upward trend now in evidence will carry us to the desired point before very long. In this trend lies the justification for a budget which docs not go forward too much. One hopes that the stimulus of this Budget will be applied quickly, in the early months of the financial year, so that in the later months of the financial year the high level of industrial activity and employment can be maintained. We have an upward trend. We have stable prices. We have a lot to be thankful for. But, in regard to this Budget, I want to say very little. I want to speak rather of the future and the way in which we should be going.
Sometimes, when a new model of a car is bought after it has been in use for a time, repairs are needed. Sometimes modifications are needed and the purchaser of the car, in the normal way of things, incurs the expenses of maintenance and modification. But there comes a time when the car should be traded in for a new model. I feel that Australia is reaching the position where we should be trading in our old financial policies for a new model. I do not say that the old financial policies were not good or did not have their good points, at all events. I say rather that the time has come when we should be taking a new look at our over-all position. The new model can scarcely be a Labour Party model. For one thing, we do not want a left-hand drive model. For that reason 1 think that any real progress, from Australia’s point of view, must come from this side of the House, because the Opposition stands selfcondemned by its adherence to its old vengeful and retaliatory socialist policy.
Looking at the position as we see it, I am afraid that the first thing we have to say is not very pleasant. Through circumstances which are definitely not within the control of this or any other Australian Government, our international security in the past decade or so has deteriorated immensely. Australia stands in danger and will stand in danger for as long as we can foresee unless and until there is some effective system of complete disarmament under appropriate safeguards and with appropriate sanctions. This position may be reached, but until it is, Australia stands in quite considerable danger. Unless it is reached, for the whole of our lifetimes in this House and elsewhere, we will have to devote a large degree of our production and of our national income to defence. 1 say this reluctantly. I hope against hope that international accord will make this kind of expenditure unnecessary in the future, but, until that accord comes, Australia is committed, unfortunately, to a high defence programme.
In this Budget, the provision for defence rises from last financial year’s level of £205,000,000 to a proposed level of £238,000,000. This is not a great rise. I know that the defence programme cannot be effectively expanded overnight. Plans have to be laid, material has to be ordered and men have to be trained. I fear that the increase this financial year is only the start of the necessary escalation and that we must think in terms not just of a bigger defence programme but of an immensely greater defence programme. Any government that does not envisage this and does not take responsibility for it, however unpopular the taking of that responsibility may be, is letting Australia down. So, in looking at our future financial policy, we have to make this greatly increased provision for defence unless and until there are satisfactory international organizations that will give us the required protection.
We have to envisage an increased rate of economic progress. Australia is a comparatively empty country, measured against the population pressures from outside. As a corollary to our defence programme, we have to envisage a programme of economic development, industrial progress and expansion of primary production at a new tempo. The old tempo is not good enough. This may mean more capital investment, which will have an impact on budgetary policy. I do not believe that this capital investment is incompatible with the attainment of higher and well-diffused living standards throughout the population.
Our population must increase. This Budget provides for an increase in migration of the order of 10,000 a year. Well and good! That is a good start. But when we talk of national security, national development, expansion of industries by new settlement in the north-west and expansion of primary production in the south-east - when we talk of all these things, we have to think of a migration target of a different order of magnitude altogether. An increase of 10,000 a year in our intake is not enough. Our sights are not being set high enough. An additional 10,000 migrants a year will be a good start, but we have to continue from there. We must think of increasing our migration target by at least 100,000 a year and to make this increase within only a few years. National security demands at least this. As I have said, these things are a corollary to our defence programme.
I turn next to housing. I think it is a pity that in the past we have not taken advantage of the situation and built up our housing stock at a far greater rate. Migration requires more housing. The bottleneck in a migration programme is always housing. When we look at the age structure of our population and realize the large numbers that are now turning seventeen as a result of the high birth-rate after the war, we know that our demand for housing will be much greater in a few years than it is to-day. 1 believe that the Government should be devoting more money to housing, both through the war service homes scheme and by ensuring that more funds are provided by banks and co-operative societies or in other ways.
What is wanted is not only money for housing. We want low-interest money, which alone provides a practicable means of enabling people to own their own homes. We have not, I think, tackled this problem in a constructive way. Think of war service homes! Why should there be a lag in war service homes finance? There is no sense at all in such a lag. Why should people have to wait for war service homes loans and obtain finance at high rates of interest to bridge the time gap? This matter is directly within the sphere of the Commonwealth Government. Why not also extend its responsibility and see that lowinterest money is made available for lowcost housing? This is a matter in which a much more positive policy is called for, although I admit - indeed, I assert - with some gratification that this Budget makes some move towards the attainment of this very desirable objective.
Let me now talk about overseas investment and foreign loans, Sir. Here, again, I return to a theme which, over many years, I have brought forward in this House. Table 6, at page 1 1 of the document, “ National Income and Expenditure 1962-63 “, which was tabled by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in conjunction with the Budget, shows that in 1962-63 Australia’s deficit on current account in overseas trade was no less than £214,000,000. That is a big sum. A deficit of that magnitude can be financed only by international investment coming into this country. I believe that we should be taking measures to get rid of this deficit. We must export more or import less, or perhaps do a little of both. We should not remain dependent on this willy-nilly tide of money coming in.
There are some kinds of international investment that we should welcome and some about which we should perhaps be a little cautious. We can welcome international investment unreservedly when it is in the hands of migrants who bring their own property here and who will become Australian citizens. We also need and welcome investment that brings with it skills or methods of organization that are not available on the Australian scene. Many of the great companies have brought in such skills or methods of organization and used them to create in Australia new industries that would not otherwise come to birth. This we can welcome. Perhaps there are reasons why, for the sake of international goodwill, certain investment from overseas should be welcomed, though here I make some qualifications. We should reduce our dependence on the inflow of foreign funds. We should, I think - here I differ with my friends in the Australian Labour Party - receive more overseas investment in the form of debenture and less in the form of equity.
Furthermore, I believe we should see - here, again, I may differ with my Labour friends - that overseas investment does not occupy key points in the Australian economy. I well remember an occasion when in this House I proposed a motion on this subject. I was astonished and disappointed to find that the Opposition, particularly through the mouth of its present leader, who was not then Leader of the Opposition, opposed the thesis that we should keep overseas capital out of some of the key points in the Australian economy. I ask Labour to reconsider its attitude. Perhaps it already has done so. Perhaps it has repented of its errors in this regard. 1 come now to social services. The improvements effected by the Budget are very welcome, and it is a little niggardly of the Opposition to try to make political capital out of the position. We have gone forward a good way but I believe that we should take a new look at this. Our social services scheme, good as it may be, patched up from time to time, now should be traded in for a new model. I refer particularly to the means test. The means test is not only bad in itself, being unjust, inhibiting production and reducing the out-turn of Australian industry, but it is also causing reduced savings thereby increasing budgetary difficulties. In itself, it also applies a ceiling on a possible increase in social services. I would not, and I do not, object to the idea of a welfare state in the sense that we want welfare for all. I support it. But if you do not allow those who have worked for themselves to have something more than the minimum, then you reduce incentive and reduce the minimum, not only for those people but also for all other reci pients of social service benefits. The means test is an anachronism. It is an extravagance which the Australian economy can no longer afford. It is time to take a new look at this and to bring forward some constructive suggestions.
The Budget contains some very welcome reductions in taxes. I had hoped that there would have been a further attempt to simplify the complexities of the present system. Particularly I had hoped that increased allowances would have been made for family responsibilities, even if these had had to be co-related to some kind of bachelor tax, particularly if its impact was on the teenagers and those who are earning big money and have no family responsibilities.
May I now say something about the form of presentation of the Budget? The Treasurer has changed and improved this. Again, let us be thankful for what has been done. But the House should realize that a budget which mixes up revenue and capital in the way in which this Budget does is not a satisfactory document. I refer honorable members to page 32 of the Budget speech. From the table set out thereon, it will be seen that the so-called expenditure from revenue is £1,616,000,000 and that corresponding revenue is £1,647,000,000, so under this head, according to proper accounting practice, there is a surplus of £31,000,000. But if you look more carefully at the details you will see that, in addition to this surplus - referring again to the official documents - £125,000,000 is charged to revenue on account of fixed capital expenditure on new assets. If one turns to page 39 of the document “ Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1963-64”, one will see that £87,000,000 is included for specific purposes of a capital nature. So when you add in these capital amounts you find that the true surplus in this Budget is £243,000,000. These are the facts contained in the statement presented by the Treasurer but they have not been clearly set out and people do not realize what has happened because capital expenditure has been lumped in and confused with revenue expenditure.
I have endeavoured to sort this out. I see that some of my friends of the Opposition have not quite understood this, but if they look at the official papers to which I have referred, they will see the correctness of what I have said. If you exclude these capital items, the surplus in this Budget is £243,000,000. This is being used very largely because of the short-fall in loans for capital expenditure. This short-fall occurs because the savings ratio, unfortunately, is still insufficient to cover the gap and has to be made good by taxes. This is a vicious circle The amendment which I have suggested in relation to the means test would go some of the way - not all of the way - towards breaking this vicious circle.
We must have a new look al the way in which the Treasury is approaching these matters. The present arrangement is running us into a blind alley. We should have a system in which our capital expenditure is financed - as capital expenditure is properly financed - from loans or new subscriptions. If we can keep this up from our savings and, at the same time, balance our revenue budget, then we are financing soundly. These are major structural changes. I am not suggesting that they can be introduced over-night, but I believe that they will be made easier by a modification of the means test. If they can be introduced we will be able to restore to the banking system the freedom of operation which it has lost.
I would have liked to mention other subjects, but the time allotted to me is running out. The Government is right in regarding technical education as the most important gap in our educational system. Surely this is something which we must pursue even if it means additional expenditure. I am one of those people who do not think that this is merely a question of money although money may well be involved in it. What is more important is the proper expenditure of available funds for the benefit of the children who will be young only once. Therefore I still support, as I have supported previously in this House, the proposal that there should be a Commonwealth-chaired conference on this subject with particular emphasis on the role of technical education in raising the productive standards of the Australian people and the real prospects of advancing Australian children.
I should like to think that we were tackling, on a more vigorous scale, the question of financial relationships with the States. I should like to see a more constructive approach to the Australian transport system. This is a subject which I understand Labour has taken up from me. I have been mentioning it in this House for many years now. I am glad that I have won some converts on the Labour side of the House after so long. In this respect it seems to me that we could achieve a great deal of economy and, therefore, a great improvement in our standard of living by adopting a better overall approach to the transport system. This Government has done more than all previous governments together have done for the development of the north. It has made a good start. One hopes that that good start will be followed up. We want more constructive initiative. We are gettting it, but I think we could go further.
I repeat what I have said before, namely, that if Australia is to make any progress the initiative must come from this side of the House, because honorable members opposite - although many of them are well intentioned - unfortunately have shown that they are still captive to an old system which is not in the interests of the Australian people. It is a great pity that time and time again honorable members opposite assert that they are merely the slaves and servants of an outside machine which is of a degenerate character, which represents all the worst features of our system, and which is not democracy but an abuse of democracy. However good individually one or two honorable members opposite may be, unfortunately they are the slaves of a machine whose objectives are not in the interests of Australia and whose methods, unfortunately, are not Australian methods.
– That is a complete lie.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw.
– We are now in a new world. For Australia it is not a comfortable world in every respect. Perhaps we would re-mould it, if we could, nearer to our heart’s desire; but our power to do that may be limited by outside forces. I believe that within those limits we should show all the vigour and all the initiative that is possible.
.- Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the censure motion embodied in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). This is the second week in which honorable members on this side of the House have thrashed out the mismanagement of this Government. Strange to say, when Government supporters get a thrashing, they do what the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) just did; they revert to saying that we are in league with some foreign power - the Communists or something else. It should be made clear at the outset that this Liberal Party-Country Party Government is in power to-day by the vote pf the Communist Party. There are two honorable members on the Government side of the House who would never have been here were it not for the Communist Party.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask that that statement be withdrawn. It is factually untrue. These statements are untrue and they should not be made.
– Order! I think the statement was fair comment.
– I am not concerned with the honorable member for Mackellar or the reply that I have made to him. I am really concerned about the people who are suffering in my electorate of West Sydney. We have 100,000 people out of work. We have more than 100,000 people looking for homes and shelter. I am not here to abuse the Government for anything that it has done for the benefit of the people of whom I speak. In fact, I congratulate the honorable member for Mackellar, whom I have just castigated, because I believe that, were it not for his speech on the Budget last year, the maimed and limbless in my electorate would not have received the £2-for- £1 subsidy. I acknowledge fair play and justice when I see it. But most members of this Government hardly ever leave Canberra. They have homes in their electorates and homes in Canberra. Most of the supporters of the Government would not have more than a few dozen pensioners in their electorates. Therefore, they have no knowledge at all of the way some people have to live to-day.
This morning we were taken to the Government Printing Office. I think every honorable member and every other person in Australia would be pleased with the new building, because it is magnificent. But we have spent £3,335,000 on that building, and we are spending £4,000,000 on the lakes in Canberra. I hope there will be no suicides there. We have also started to talk about building a new Parliament House. Every day we read in the newspapers about the party clash on the new Parliament House, in regard to whether it is to be built on the shore of the lake or on Capital Hill. That is beside the point. We are preparing to spend £10,000,000 on that building. The cost will be £20,000,000, of course, by the time the building is finished. But what are we doing for the people who are starving in this country to-day?
I hope and trust that the architects of the new Parliament House will not follow the pattern that we have here. Whilst we have a good man in the chair to allow some elasticity, our Standing Orders follow those of the House of Commons almost word for word. I hope that the architecture of the new Parliament House will not be along the same lines as that of the House of Commons. During the last war the House of Commons was burnt down. People in England and other countries subscribed money to build a new House of Commons. But what do we find? The membership of the House of Commons is about 620. The chamber in the new House of Commons, built over the last twenty years, holds only about 430 members. Members have to listen from the doorways or somewhere else. I read in the newspapers last week that more than 200 members cannot get into the chamber in the House of Commons. We all read recently about the Profumo case. Everybody wanted to be in the chamber when it was being debated, but 200 members could not hear or see the participants in that debate. I hope and trust that the new Parliament House will not be confined, or its construction postponed, because of sentiment. I understand that the reason why the chamber in the House of Commons was built to hold 430 members is that that was traditional. If we are to part with tradition, I hope and trust that we will not make that mistake when we are building or calling for architects to build our new Parliament House.
I should like to bring to the notice of the House certain matters in connexion with the Budget which are not justified. I intend to speak about social services, but first
I criticize the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) for not granting diplomatic representation to Ireland. This may not be the appropriate time to speak on such a matter, but the amount of money allotted in this Budget to the representation of Australia in Ireland does not exceed the cost of the last trip of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) overseas. Our hopes for the establishment of an embassy in Ireland have been marked for liquidation for the sake of a few thousand pounds, and that is perhaps ground for concluding that while the present Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) retains his portfolio we shall not have the representation that I would like to see. I warned him two or three years ago that there would be an election in Parramatta and that on that occasion we might take revenge for his having ignored the representations 1 have made to him on this account.
I come now to this Government’s neglect of Lord Howe Island by its failure to build an airstrip there. Honorable members might say that I have come a long distance, from Ireland to Lord Howe Island, but there are no two places on earth where it is better to spend a holiday than Ireland and Lord Howe Island, which is in my electorate of West Sydney, lt costs the people of Lord Howe Island, which is 430 miles from Sydney, £17 or £18 to travel to Australia in a flying boat which is 40 years old. This aircraft belongs to the Ansett organization and I understand it is the only one of its kind in the world. Recently, I asked a young fellow who travels on the flying boat, “ Are you not afraid when you are on that aircraft? “ “ No “, he said, “ I take out very heavy insurance, because I would like to leave something to my family if anything happened.” Judging from his words there must be some doubt about Lord Howe Island getting the up-to-date service it is supposed to get. The people have to get many of their requirements from the markets in Sydney and, whereas the passenger’s fare to the island is £17, the cost of taking goods to Lord Howe Island is about £40 a ton. There is a boat every four months, but, strange to say, the honorable member who represents Rose Bay has never said a word about the provision of a better service.
The present air service to Lord Howe Island has cost £100,000 of Commonwealth money each year for the last six years and it is estimated that an airstrip there could be built for about £500,000. If we continue as at present for another three or four years we will have lost more than enough money to build two airstrips there, yet the Government is silent on this question. We are not supposed to indulge in guesswork, but I have heard stories to the effect that the Government is not anxious to build this airstrip. There are many Commonwealth servants on the island. Some are employed at the radar station and others at the weather station from which we get our weather information, but the Government will not build the airstrip. I receive letter after letter from people of Lord Howe Island, but, knowing that it is no use writing to Ministers in order to get something done, I say to my correspondents, “ What is the use of wasting paper and stamps writing to a government from which you know you will receive no reply? “ Some people from Lord Howe Island came to Canberra on two or three occasions, at considerable expense, to ask the Government to do something for them, but their submissions were unsuccessful.
I will now deal with the nearer portion of my electorate. On Monday morning 28 persons interviewed me and, if I were not in Canberra this week, there would possibly be hundreds of people asking me, “ What has happened to our pensions? “ When they read in the papers that pensions have been raised by 10s. they naturally expect to receive the extra 10s., but later they are told that the increase is only for single pensioners. They are told: “You are married. You have a husband to keep you and he gets £5 5s. a week.” Two people from Forest Lodge interviewed me last Sunday morning; I will not mention their names. They receive £5 5s. a week each and they have been paying £5 a week rent for one room for the last nineteen months. The landlord is supposed to supply gas, but he turns it off at the meter and it takes these people half an hour to boil the water to make a cup of tea. The gas pressure is so low that it is out of the question for them to try to cook food, even if they have the money to buy it. They have to go to a shop and buy some cooked food to keep them alive. Yet the Government says £10 10s. is sufficient for these people! The Government has given this 10s. increase, which it admits is necessary, but it has given the increase to some pensioners and not others. Have you ever heard of such a paltry thing? The Government says, “ That pensioner is all right, but this one might need helping out”. The Government will have to account for that discrimination in the very near future, because this kind of treatment cannot be explained to a hungry person. 1 am very thankful that the Government restored the Post Office clock in Sydney because I can now tell people, “ At last you have the clock “. But I was riding in a taxi the other day and the driver asked, “ What is that clock doing there? “ I could have told him that the clock had been restored at a cost of about £150,000 but he went on: “ Why does the Government not provide homes for the people? Why does it not give the pensioner homes, and more money? “ I had to remain as dumb as an oyster; I was responsible for the campaign to restore the clock. But when the restoration is finished at Christmas time and at 6 o’clock the angelus rings the people who are hungry will not have anything to eat and the bell will not be ringing to call them to dinner. Nevertheless, the restoration of the clock has been a step in the right direction.
I am glad of the provision of the grant of £2 for £1 to help maimed and limbless people. In one workshop in my electorate there are 100 of these people working and this has relieved the Government of the necessity to pay them pensions. The removal of sales tax from motor cars bought by incapacitated people has enabled them to obtain their vehicles for about £200 or £300 less than they would otherwise have to pay. Many honorable members have seen Mr. and Mrs. Bedwin, who are confined to chairs as they are unable to walk about, and know that they have done great work. They were in Canberra about three years ago. By their efforts they have enabled many incapacitated people to be independent of social services because they have been paid full wages. They are spending money to get the subsidy of £2 for £1. This took a long time, but I give credit where credit is due- An honorable member on the other side of the House at one time wanted to introduce a private member’s bill dealing with disabled persons, but he was squeezed out. We thought we had lost the case.
Although the Government has given some relief to certain pensioners, it has robbed other pensioners to do so. This does not do the Government any credit. I think the increase should be given to all pensioners and there should not be any discrimination. There is no need for me to say anything about social services to those who listened to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) when he spoke in this debate. He devoted the whole of his half an hour to the injustices that are apparent in pension matters. The sooner the means test is removed the better. There are many good officers in the Department of Social services, and I would not say a word against them. However, a lot of work is created by the means test. Every applicant for a pension must have his case investigated and this takes several weeks. The local member of Parliament has to write three or four letters. Sometimes the applicant for a pension is not able to come to me and I have to go out to him. The process of dealing with the application involves a large amount of work by departmental officers who are paid big salaries. It arises only because of the means test. I am inclined to agree with the honorable member for Mackellar that, if the means test were lifted, a lot of trifling work that is now wasting time and money would not have to be done.
The Government has set up an office to determine whether an unemployed person should receive the unemployment benefit. But it should be the responsibility of that office or of the Government to find work for those who register. The unemployed people go down to the office and they do not get any work. They come to Danny Minogue because they know him. I tell them that Jim Cope, or some one else, is their member. I send them round to Jim Cope and the two of us get our heads together, but we cannot find work for these people. That happens every day of the week. If a job is available, it should be found by the office or by the Government. The people who work in the office are paid big salaries and running the office involves a lot of expense. The unemployment benefit is only £4 5s., although a man may have a wife and four or five children to keep. If he cannot find work he is informed at the office, “ We will have to stop your social services because you have not looked for a job “. Looking for a job means that a man must go to six or seven places. Often, the men have not enough money to pay the fares that are involved in going around to all these places. In any case, who wants to employ a man who has been out of work for five or six months? Such people go back to the government office, where they are told that they have not been looking for work and their social service benefit is stopped.
They come to me. All I can do, then, is to ring the State Government office which very often gives the men rations for two or three days to carry them over. But then the same thing happens again. Insurance companies, banks and service stations are taking over all the places in West Sydney and this means that many of these unemployed men must sleep in the park. We hear people talking about hunger and poverty overseas and asking us to support all sorts of campaigns. But nothing is done about the poverty in Australia, and I am sorry to say that it exists in West Sydney. Many of the pensioners live in West Sydney. Many others live in nearby electorates. The Government should do something to help these people.
When the State Government fails me, when everything else fails me and when I have no more two shilling pieces to give to these hungry people, I send them down to another place.
– A soup kitchen.
– You can call it a soup kitchen if you like. It is the Matthew Talbot Hostel for homeless and destitute men at 7 Young-street, Sydney. This home does its work in many places around Sydney. If these unfortunate men go to this home, they are given a bed for a couple of nights, if a bed is available. Even if they cannot be accommodated there, they are given a meal, and then they have to go away to sleep in the park. We are told that the situation should not be like that. I know it should not be like that. But what is the Government doing? I have asked the Government to give the Matthew Talbot Hostel a grant of £2 for each £1 that it spends on the construction of a building. The ground is available. If another building were constructed more men would be able to get a bed or a meal. I will read from the 1962 annual report of the hostel, not so much to enlighten honorable members on this side of the House - because they have a good idea of what is happening - but to enlighten honorable members on the Government side of the House because they know nothing about conditions in this area.
– You will educate them.
– I do not know about educating them. The only way they can do any good is to provide money for this association to do something more for the multitude of destitute men. The people who work at this hostel do not ask for payment for their services; they do their work for love of mankind. The annual report shows that 233,932 free meals have been given - just on a quarter of a million free meals; work has been found for 360 men and free haircuts have been given to 1,050. Help has been given to all who appeared in need, regardless of race or creed. The annual report contains photographs of hungry men waiting for a meal and receiving a free meal. They get a free meal if it is possible to provide one.
The hostel has beds for only 38 men, but it is doing its best to provide for more. It has started an appeal in an effort to raise £70,000 and the Government should help by subscribing to the appeal so that a new home can be built. Conditions have become so bad that I have had to forego the annual dance at the Town Hall. Although we were getting £700 or £800 every year from the dance, it became impossible to divide the money amongst the people who were out of work and looking for help. I hope that anybody who is listening to me to-day will send a donation to the Matthew Talbot Hostel which is doing work that I would have done if I had had enough money. The people who give their services to the Matthew Talbot organization do so for love and not for money. In this regard women do as good a job as men. Many women are working at the Blackfriars Infants and Nursery School. Twice a week a free meal is provided there.
If this Government would grant a subsidy of £2 for £1 to the Sydney City Council, as I have often requested it to do, my good friend Lord Mayor Jensen would have been able to provide beds for everybody who wanted a bed. Year after year the Sydney City Council provides £90,000 to help needy pensioners. Those people receive an average of £8 or £10 each for Christmas. That gift is very beneficial. The council has built from its own resources 400 homes and flats which are let to pensioners for £1 a week. The council has land lying idle. If it could get money it would build on that land suitable accommodation for pensioners. If the Commonwealth Government would assist the Sydney City Council financially the council would build homes for these people and would maintain those homes. But this Government has done nothing.
The Government has created an anomaly in the pensions system by providing £5 5s. for one class of pensioner and £5 15s. for another class. It will be difficult for the authorities to ascertain whether a pensioner is single or married. There was enough snooping previously when a person applied for a pension. I have been asked embarrassing questions about the marital status of some of my constituents who have sought a pension. If that kind of thing went on previously, how much more will it go on now? You will have to examine a pensioner’s bedroom to see whether he is single or married. All sorts of embarrassing questions will be asked of women in order to determine whether they are single or married. It is all very well for honorable members to laugh but if the Labour Party were in power it would set matters right overnight.
As sure as day follows night, after the next election, whether it be this year or next year, this Government will be out of office. A Labour government then will be able to do something for the people who are homeless and destitute.
.- Since this Government came to power in 1949 it has introduced many budgets and at least two supplementary budgets. We must expect criticism of those budgets by the Opposition. All I ask is that the criticism be fair. I was a member of this House before the present Government came to power. At that time a Labour government was in office and we were in opposition. In those days we criticized the Labour Government’s budgets just as the Labour Opposition has criticized this Government’s budgets.
This afternoon I want to be absolutely fair in my rebuttal of what has been said in the course of this debate by honorable members opposite. It is well known that I devote a good part of my speeches to rebutting the arguments presented by honorable members opposite because if an unfair or incorrect claim is made by a member of the Opposition and it is not corrected, people who read it in “ Hansard “ will assume that it is true. So I want honorable members to know that I am trying to be as fair as possible when I endeavour to rebut the arguments that have been presented by Labour supporters.
Quite properly the Opposition has criticized every budget that this Government has introduced since 1949. I have never known of a perfect budget. I do not think any government in the world has ever presented a budget that could not be criticized. But what we want is fair criticism. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and other honorable members are ever prone to refer to the conditions that existed in this country prior to what they call the credit squeeze. When the economic measures that led to the so-called credit squeeze were introduced in 1960 the Labour Party strongly criticized them and said that the Government would be defeated when next it went to the polls. Opposition members are still saying the Government will be defeated at the next election. Their prophecy may now be true, but it was not true back in 1960. Only the future can reveal what will happen. We have had many prophets in this House, principally the Leader of the Opposition, but generally they have proved to be false prophets.
In his speech in this debate the Leader of the Opposition painted a very dismal picture of the state of the economy and said -
Labour’s budgetary policy, when we take office, will be designed to secure and maintain strong basic demand through higher incomes and increased benefits to the families of Australia. . . .
He said that Labour would reduce certain taxes and would provide immediate and greatly increased financial aid for education, housing, defence, subsidies, social service benefits and other items, and would bring about an era of full employment without inflation. But the Leader of the Opposition did not say where the money would come from to do all these things, other than to make a passing reference to Labour’s plan to adjust the income tax structure. I would have expected the Leader of the Opposition to show how he would finance the plan that his government would put into effect if Labour were to win the next election. He did say there would be an adjustment of the income tax structure. What does that mean? If I have understood Labour members correctly it means that the tax paid by people earning up to £24 a week would be reduced considerably. Labour supporters are nodding their agreement with that interpretation. But they must be aware that the people in the higher income ranges are the people who create employment. They are the people whose enterprise has been to a large extent responsible for much of the prosperity and progress that we have enjoyed in this great country.
– People like those associated with the Reid Murray group.
– I am talking about well-managed business undertakings. It is strange for the Opposition to accuse Government supporters of having no feelings for the unemployed. Everybody knows that we on this side of the chamber are mindful of the plight of the unemployed. When a man who has been unemployed, gets a job and eventually goes into business and through his energy, skill and tenacity succeeds in building up his business from nothing until it is a thriving enterprise, the Labour Party says something is wrong. That kind of thing has happened all over Australia. You have only to read the stories behind some of the men who live in big homes in Toorak - and other such places where the so-called 61ite live - to know that they started with almost nothing. But when, through their own industry and initiative, they make good, the Labour Party says that something is wrong with them. Those men who to-day are in big business are the same men who started off in a small way. If they were honest when they were out of work, surely they are still honest to-day. Surely that is a fundamental principle of humanity. It is in this respect that I disagree completely with Labour’s criticism. Labour’s criticism or praise is not levelled at the man but at the conditions in which the man lives. If the man is unemployed, he is honest, but if he has money and is in big business, the Labour Party regards him with suspicion. Surely that argument cannot be sustained.
The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) challenged the Government to go to the people. I think it is not only unfair but also unsporting to issue a challenge of that kind. After all, the Olympic Games are held only once every four years. If a crack team is beaten unexpectedly at the Olympics it does not challenge its victors to a re-run. It waits four years until the next Olympic Games. In the same way one would expect the Opposition to wait until the time came for another election in the normal way. It is absolutely unsporting and unfair to suggest that a government that has been elected by the people, and with which I believe the people are well satisfied, should go to the polls before the time comes around for another election in the normal course of events. Every sporting person who engages in boxing, in racing, in athletics or in some other form of sport would agree that such an attitude should not be adopted even in politics, and that it is grossly unfair for members of the Opposition to make a challenge of this kind.
I want to say something about the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, and in this respect I have an extract here from the speech of a member who has been interjecting rather fiercely this afternoon. In some way the question arose whether the Leader of the Opposition had written his speech or had not. He certainly read it, as we know. I am not blaming him for that, because, after all, many members read their speeches. However, I have been speaking for a long time against this practice of representation by proxy. This is what the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) said-
– You are reading now.
– I am reading what the honorable member for Darebin said. The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), who is one of the fairest men in this House, must realize that he is wrong in making such a suggestion. He knows that I am reading only what the honorable member for Darebin said. It is not at all the form of the honorable member for Port Adelaide to make this kind of an attack on a member who is doing something legitimate. The honorable member for Darebin said -
Whether Mr. Calwell wrote it or did not write it does not matter. What really matters is the content of the speech.
– What is wrong with that?
– Somebody interjects and asks what is wrong with that. There is everything wrong with it. The speech could have been written by some one outside, some one who had not the same ideas of politics as the Leader of the Opposition has. It could have been written by a member of the Labour Party executive. It could have been written by any one. But the honorable member for Darebin, with the support of most of his colleagues, said that it does not matter whether the Leader of the Opposition wrote the speech or not. Men are elected to this Parliament to represent certain people in certain electorates, and they should represent them to the best of their ability. For my part, if my representation of my electorate does not please the Labour Party, I can tell honorable members opposite that it pleases the people that I represent, for the simple reason that those people know that I come into this House and, in a genuine way, put a case as I see it, not as some stooge outside asks me to put it by writing my speech.
I want to say a few words about what the Leader of the Opposition said in the United States of America. I have heard honorable members on the Government side state that the Leader of the Opposition said in America that Australia now is making progress at a more rapid rate than America did even in the heyday of its progress. I have before me an extract from the Melbourne “Age” of 19th July, 1963. It is headed, “ Australia Struggles to Survive: Mr. Calwell “. The article is as follows: -
Australia is a country “ struggling to survive “, the Leader of the Federal Opposition (Mr. Calwell) told American industrial and commercial leaders yesterday.
The struggle was on all the time, Mr. Calwell said, in an appeal for further American investment in Australia.
There are two points that should be noted in connexion with this reported statement of the Leader of the Opposition. First, it is completely opposed to the views expressed on many occasions by the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Labour Party in regard to investment of American capital in Australia. Secondly, it is the very reverse of what he said, as I stated, on another occasion, perhaps in some other part of America and certainly during his overseas tour. No doubt the Leader of the Opposition is as proud of this country as any other man is. We know that the country is progressing at a faster rate than America ever progressed. But why say that we are struggling to survive? Perhaps he was talking about the Labour Party. Perhaps he meant that the Labour Party is struggling to survive, because in actual fact it is struggling to survive. It has been so struggling, and it has been trying to get the reins of government, ever since it went out in ignominious defeat in 1949.
The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage), whom I regard very highly, made a speech in this debate, in the course of which he said that the Government had stolen ideas from Labour. He went on to say -
This shows how bankrupt the Government i? of ideas of its own.
If it were true that the Government had stolen ideas from Labour, then his second statement would be true, because this Government would have to be bankrupt of ideas to steal ideas from Labour. If it had to steal the ideas of the socialists, whose policy is completely opposed to our free enterprise policy, the Government would certainly be bankrupt, and the honorable member for Mitchell would be right on both counts.
The honorable member said that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) did not explain the deficit. The Treasurer said in his Budget speech -
Very tentatively - indeed I might say even speculatively - I am suggesting a figure of £300,000,000 for loan raisings in 1963-64. . . .
If that figure in fact proved to be somewhere near the mark, there would remain a gap of some £58,400,000 between our expenditure commitments on the one hand and the total of revenues and loan funds on the other. This gap would have to be bridged by temporary borrowings.
– Who wrote that?
– I am quoting from the Treasurer’s speech. I do not know how anybody could explain the position more fully than the Treasurer did in that passage. I will say, in fairness to the honorable member for Mitchell, that the honorable member must have missed that part of the Treasurer’s speech, because it sets out the position very clearly.
I want to agree with the honorable member for Mitchell on one point. After all, I am not a fellow who disagrees with everything. I agree with his advocacy of the abolition of sales tax on freight. We have advocated this for a long time. The people whom the Country Party represents suffer much more from this extension of sales tax than do the people in the metropolitan areas. Many of the country people are hundreds of miles from market centres, and freight on goods sent to them is very high, and sales tax has to be paid on it. I put a case for the abolition of this sales tax to the Treasurer on a few occasions. The Treasurer gave me some time ago a report of a committee that had looked into the matter and had not recommended that this tax on freight be abolished.
– It never will, either.
– Well, perhaps you know more about this than I. In any case, the committee did not recommend it. But I will continue my advocacy, and I commend the honorable member for Mitchell, a new member of this Parliament, for taking up this matter. He will find that the Country Party also supports it. This is a very important matter, as the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) has said. It is one of the minor planks in the Country Party’s advocacy.
I notice that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has been appointed as the new member of the shadow cabinet. The honorable member made a statement the. other day to which I would like to refer. He spoke of the amount of sales tax collected in 1949 when the Labour Party was in office. Of course the amount was not very high, and since then the amount of sales tax collected has increased considerably. The honorable member said -
In 1949-50, the last year of office of the Chifley Government and the year that the present Government assumed office, £42,400,000 was collected from the Australian people in sales tax. In the present financial year the Government is budgeting for the collection of £155,000,000 in sales tax.
They are very interesting figures, but they must be considered in conjunction with the fact that, in the same period, government payments for health services and social services increased from £81,000,000 in 1949 to £387,000.000 in 1963. Let me be very fair about this matter. I know that honorable members on both sides of the House are using these figures to the best advantage for their cases. I am not condemning the honorable member for Grayndler for using them’. Honorable members on this side of the House have used the figures in the reverse way to suit their cases: I thought it would not be out of place for me to remind the honorable member that money, to-day, does not have the value that it then had. The amount of money being spent now should be judged by different standards and on a different basis to those used in 1949.
The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) said that Labour will replace the present health scheme with a real health scheme. That means nationalization - one of the provisions of Labour’s policy.
– He did not say that.
– I am not saying that he did. He said that Labour will replace the health scheme. Labour has tried to institute a health scheme before and, on the last occasion, the medical profession would not work in with it. It will not work in with the Labour Party should it try again.
I do not want to spend all my time dealing with the mis-statements of honorable members opposite. Time is getting away. People say that the Government should take action to prevent marginal increases in wages. The two main authorities which administer this country are the Government and the courts. Everybody knows that. Labour’s policy includes full political control of prices and wages. It is written into the Labour Party’s policy. I say to my constituents that perhaps we do not like marginal increases in wages but we would be in a worse position if the political parties, when they formed governments, were given power to fix wages and prices for goods. Therefore I am sticking to the present arbitration system in spite of anything that has been said.
Finally, in dealing with these rebuttals I want to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton), who said, “ The honorable member for Mallee gets up, throws his hands about, and makes a speech”. If I do that it is only through the enthusiasm that I have for the case I am presenting. Surely to goodness honorable members know that enthusiasm is the spark that kindles energy by means of which the work of the world is done. The honorable member for Adelaide quoted me as saying that I fully supported the credit squeeze. Of course I supported the credit squeeze! But the honorable member went on to say that I had said I did not care about such things as starvation or bankruptcies. People hearing him speak would think that I had said that. All I said was that I supported the so-called credit squeeze. I do not like to say that the honorable member for Adelaide acted cunningly in quoting me as having said these things. I do not think he is cunning. But the things he said were the figments of his own imagination. I said that I supported the credit squeeze because if we did not have it there would be much more suffering in this country than it caused. Primary industries could not have continued to produce satisfactorily. With the very basis of our national stability gone, people would be out of work not in numbers up to 70,000 but in numbers up to 500,000. That is why I supported this so-called credit squeeze.
I have a lot of meetings in my electorate and I have often told my constituents of my views on this subject. Perhaps the honorable member for Adelaide thought he was saying something that I did not want revealed. I want it revealed in full measure.
– It will be.
– It has been. I tell my constituents my views, but for goodness’ sake do not put on record that I said everything that was attributed to me by the honorable member for Adelaide.
– Read my speech.
– If you state the position correctly and quote me correctly I will read it with pleasure. I would expect you to do that, but there is no harm in my jogging you.
– When are you coming to the Budget?
– As far as the Budget is concerned, I have here a copy of the “ Sunraysia Daily “ of 14th August. The headline reads “ A Brighter Budget “. Nearly all honorable members quote the metropolitan press. Here is a paper printed 370 miles from Melbourne and it states that the Budget is a brighter budget for decentralized areas. If the Budget did not please the centralized areas, is that what we want? We want better conditions in far-flung areas to attract the people. Honorable members quote newspapers of the capital cities. Give me the press from the wide open spaces! One proposal in the Budget was to remove the sales tax from foodstuffs containing dried fruit. I want to pay a tribute to the Australian dried fruits industry for the case it presented and the fight it has put up for the removal of sales tax. The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) said -
We find the Country Party leaning more towards the platform of the Australian Labour Party to-day.
If that is the case, I will have to examine my position in the party. But it is not true, because the main plank in the Labour Party platform is socialization. I believe that there is no honorable member here more opposed to socialization than I am. My abhorrence of that policy is shared by all members of the Australian Country Party, this fine body of men seated here. You have only to look at them to realize their sincerity and their urgent desire to do all they can for this great Commonwealth of Australia.
The exemption in respect of estate duty has been raised to £10,000. That is a welcome step and will be well received. A great problem has existed in Victoria in this respect, especially in regard to land valuations. Probate duties are assessed on valuations. It is stated with great authority in Victoria that valuations are being made on sales, not on production.
But you cannot correctly base valuations on sales, because many factors come into sales. A man may want to buy an adjoining property for his son and the same machinery will work the’ two farms. For this reason, he may pay more than the place is really worth. There may be a man with a very big income who buys a property requiring special seed beds and fencing. He may effect those improvements and claim the whole expense as a taxation deduction in one year. That gives him the opportunity to pay much more for the property than the ordinary man, could pay. If the price he pays for the land is taken into account for probate purposes, then other people suffer. The average primary producer is not a land dealer. A very small percentage of land changes hands. Most primary producers do not care whether the farm is worth £25, £35 or £50 an acre. They keep on producing, generation after generation. After all, values and prices like that do not go together. Let me give an illustration. Thomas Alva Edison, at one stage in his career, wanted money urgently. Consequently, that great genius invented the ticker-tape machine. Edison, who was shortly to be married, discussed with his future wife the price that he would ask for the machine when he offered it to some big businessmen in the United States of America. He said, “ I think I shall ask 2,000 dollars for it”. The girl said, “ No; let them make you an offer “. When Edison met the big businessmen, he sat tight. One of them offered him 30,000 dollars. Edison was taken aback and made an exclamation. The businessmen thought that he was exclaiming in disgust at the offer. So they offered 40,000 dollars. The sale was concluded at that figure. As Edison was about to leave the room, one of the businessmen with whom he had made the deal said, “ It may interest you to know that we were prepared to go to 60,000 dollars for your machine”. Edison replied, “ It may interest you to know that I was prepared to take 2,000 dollars for it “. That is the best illustration that I can give of sales and values. Valuations of land should not be based on sales. They should be based on the productive value of the soil.
At this point, I want to pay tribute to a man at Sea Lake, in my electorate, who has been engaged in the valuation of land for many years. I refer to Mr. Sam Lockhart, who has travelled throughout the country trying to get some redress of the situation. Often, when a person dies, a property has to be sold by the family. I believe that if valuations were kept at a reasonable productive level, everybody in the country would be better off.
In the few moments that remain to me, I want to say something about the availability of “ Hansard “ to readers throughout the country. To-day, with other honorable members, I attended the official opening of the new Government Printing Office building in Canberra, the total cost of which, I understand, will be £3,300,000. I want to remind people throughout Australia that all kinds of organizations with 50 or more members can obtain free copies of “ Hansard “. Any individual can obtain the “ Hansard “ of this House on payment of a subscription of 6s. a year. The “ Hansard “ of the House of Representatives is one of the major publications in Australia. It contains the details of what happens in this House. More organizations such as young farmers’ clubs and shire councils should take advantage of the free distribution by writing to Mr. Speaker, giving particulars of the organization and asking for free copies of “ Hansard “. “ Hansard “ is made available by the Government to all manner of organizations in this way.
In conclusion, I say that I support this Budget. I do not think it is perfect. I do not think that any budget is perfect. However, I believe that the Budget that we are now considering will do much to help this country to progress.
.- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has said some remarkable things. He declared that the Australian Labour Party was struggling to survive. Why did not he tell us something about his own party and the conditions that it is laying down to the Liberal Party of Australia in relation to the re-distribution of electoral boundaries? It is all right for the average person in Australia to have one vote that is equal in value to the vote of any one else, but that is not enough for my friend from Mallee. He wants the Australian Constitution altered so that his party can survive. Instead of talking about another party struggling to survive, he should first look at his own party. If he did so before speaking, his words would be received with a little more understanding.
The honorable member talked also about what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had said in New York during his recent overseas trip. But the honorable member for Mallee did not tell the House all that the Leader of the Opposition had said in New York.
– Just as well!
– That may be what the honorable member thinks. The honorable member for Mallee should have told us all that was reported in the newspapers concerning the statement made in New York by the Leader of the Opposition. That statement was to the effect that Australia wanted to have an equity in the overseas investment being made in this country. We want to see the balance-sheets of overseas companies that invest in Australia. We do not want those companies merely to make profits here and transmit them overseas while we are kept in ignorance of what is going on.
– I quoted from the “ Age “; that is all.
– So the honorable member did, but he did not read all the report.
The honorable member for Mallee was very unfair to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who, he said, had stated this morning, when discussing the national health scheme, that Labour would bring in a new policy on health.
– That is not right. I said that Labour would bring in a new policy. I did not say that the honorable member for Hughes had said that.
– That is right. The honorable member for Mallee said that Labour would bring in a new policy on health. Then he was ungracious enough to say that this would mean nationalization. The honorable member should not presuppose anything. The honorable member for Hughes said nothing about nationalization.
– I did not say that he did.
– What a squib the honorable member for Mallee is!
– I am not a squib.
– I did not say that you were a squib.
– I am showing the honorable member for Mallee what I am so that he will know in future.
I support the amendment to the motion for the second reading of this bill that has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. The amendment has been well received by all sections of the community in Australia. Indeed, it is something that the people had been waiting for. Yesterday, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) said that the Budget had been received with acclaim throughout the country. I have extracted comments from various newspapers throughout the Commonwealth to show how the Budget was received, Mr. Speaker. Admittedly, I have taken these only from the metropolitan newspapers and not from the newspaper in Sunraysia, from where my good friend from Mallee comes. With respect to Sunraysia, let me say that I spoke in Mildura at a meeting that happened to coincide with one addressed by the honorable member for Mallee. I won the headlines in the local newspaper and he was forgotten.
– But I got the crowd.
– I do not know what the honorable member thinks about his standing in his electorate.
I want to recount to the House some of the comments that were made in the principal newspapers throughout the Commonwealth after the presentation of this Budget. The Melbourne “Herald” commented -
This is a timid budget.
Treasury is haunted by the ghosts of 1960.
Budget is not bold enough for vigorous young country.
The Budget that holds back.
There is less good news in the Budget than the people had the right to expect.
The “ Australian Financial Review “ reported -
A confused document. … A miscellaneous collection of bits and pieces. … It is not a Budget which will set the world on fire.
Its great weakness may prove to be that, lacking any grand gesture, and lacking originality and conviction, it may fail in its purpose of encouraging business out of despondency.
There is scarcely one point which Labour put forward in the election campaign of 1961 which the Government parties have not seized upon and incorporated into their own policies since. . . .
We all know that, Mr. Speaker. We have seen a number of features of Labour’s policy adopted by the present Government. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ stated -
An unadventurous Budget.
The Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ made the comment -
It was a cautious Budget which disappointed many. . . .
The Hobart “ Mercury “ said that this was an uninspired budget. The Adelaide “ Advertiser “ declared that the Government’s refusal to provide a more direct stimulus to the private sector of the economy was disappointing. The Melbourne “ Age “ made the comment -
An Even-Keel Budget.
The Adelaide “News” described this as an unspectacular budget. The Melbourne “Sun News-Pictorial” reported -
The budget was not as brave or exciting or as full-blooded as most of us hoped for.
Summed up, Mr. Speaker, what does it all mean? Does this mean that the press of Australia has received this Budget with acclamation The indications are directly to the contrary. It is time a little more leadership was given by members of the Government so that Australia can advance as it should.
– We are not budgeting for the press, we are budgeting for the people.
– The press can only base its comments on what is presented. The Treasurer presented a budget which he hoped would catch on with the people, but it misfired. He thought it was a good budget and that if a snap election were held the Government would be returned to office, but the Government knows now that a snap election on the Budget before us would be most unwise. The Budget does not appeal. In fact, it angers and disappoints most of the people in Australia.
I want to deal with the child endowment aspect of social services. To say the least, the Treasurer’s action in failing to increase child endowment for the second and subsequent children is unfair and unbalanced. There has been no change in this social necessity since 1948 when the basic wage was £6 18s. a week. Nothing has been done for fifteen years to increase child endowment. The present-day strains placed on married people are far too great. I shall cite the case of a married man with four children who brings home £20 a week clear. On top of that, the family receives £1 15s. a week child endowment making a total income of £21 15s. to be divided amongst six people. I do not know how a family in that position manages. But there are many people who bring home as much as £3 a week less than the man to whom I have referred. Out of the £21 15s. that I have mentioned, the breadwinner has to pay rent which, if he is lucky, will be not more than £5 15s. On top of that, he has to meet light and fuel bills amounting to about £1 15s. a week. So he has £14 5s. left out of which he must provide food, clothing, insurance premiums and school expenses. I do not know how six people manage on that amount of money. How they do it amazes me.
The Treasurer claims that people in this category have been taken care of by arbitration. This is completely untrue. When the application for increased wages was before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission recently, the Treasurer sent his representative there to ensure that there was no increase in the basic wage. Instead of receiving their just dues, the workers received nothing because of the Government’s intervention. It is time that the Government paid greater attention to the work force of this country. It should put the people into the position of being able to save and to provide for the future. When you take away these little rewards from married people you take away any opportunity that they have to provide for the future.
A couple marrying, say, at the age of 25 years and then having four children are unable to commence saving until the children are off their hands. If the children leave home by the time they are 25 their parents are then 50 and have remaining an effective working life of only 15 years. How can they put enough aside in those fifteen years to provide for their future? The Government has forgotten about these things. It has allowed child endowment to continue unchanged for fifteen years. I hope that the Government will give some thought to the matters that I have raised so that the people of Australia may benefit.
There is no humility in this Government. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) came into the House and said in effect, “I am pleased to announce that the number of registered unemployed is now 78,000 “. How much better it would be if he had said, “ I regret to announce that 78,000 people are unemployed “? How much better it would be if he took this House and the nation into his confidence and said: “ I am most concerned about this. Let’s get together to see what we can do to put the ship of state on an even keel “. But no! He says, “ I am pleased to announce that we have 78,000 people unemployed “. I would not be pleased to announce that one man was unemployed, let alone 78,000. I hope that the Government will give more thought than it has to the unfortunate 78,000 people who are out of work.
Recently I asked the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) what plans the Government had in hand to cater for the 135,000 migrants it expects to bring to this country in the next twelve months. My question has not been answered completely. The Minister said that most of the people would be tradesmen but all of them will not be tradesmen. Surely it is the job of any good government to find work for the people now in this country who are out of work before bringing in a multitude of other people who have no hope of a job. I want to see this country populated. I want to see more people coming to Australia, but for goodness’ sake make provision for the people who are already here. Until that is done there is not much hope for the migrants who will come to Australia under this Government’s administration.
A portion of the speech made by the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp), which is reported on page 426 of “Hansard” of 22nd August, 1963, was brought to my attention. The honorable member was referring to six alleged insincere statements which had been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in the Budget debate. The honorable member directed the attention of the House to what purported to be a photostat copy of a letter written by Mr. Ryan, secretary of the Federated Photo Engravers, Photo Lithographers and Photogravure Employees Association of Australia, which Mr. Ryan had sent to England for publication there. The letter set out the unemployment position in Australia and suggested that, until the situation improved, intending migrants would be better off remaining where they were. The honorable member mentioned this letter in an endeavour to belittle the Leader of the Opposition who, when Labour was in office, started the immigration programme. This is the man whom the present Minister for Immigration lauds by saying that the foundation he laid is a very good one and that the Minister is proud to have been able to take over where he left off. The honorable member for Higinbotham said that Mr. Ryan was the secretary of this association and was a member of the Australian Labour Party. Since that statement was made we have not been able to find any record of Mr. Ryan being a member of the Australian Labour Party. Then the honorable member said -
If Opposition members are sincere, why do they not prevent these union leaders from writing such letters? I have only given one case out of many.
It is all right to say things like that, but first you have to get right with yourself. The honorable member for Higinbotham said that we should take a member of the Labour Party to task. But what does the Liberal Party do about its own party members? It does worse things than this nian is supposed to have done. I shall recall some of the things which have been Jone and published and which show what has happened in the Liberal Party. On 1st August, 1961, Sir Arthur Warner, who at that time was the leader of the Liberal Party in the Victorian Legislative Council, said this about his own party -
Many of Australia’s economic problems have resulted from the free-trade policies of the Minister for Trade and Federal leader of the Country Party.
Honorable members also will remember what Mr. G. E. Knox, a prominent Liberal, said on 3rd November, 1961. He said -
I think Mr. Holt has been a disaster for Australia. He is the worst Treasurer Australia has ever had.
– Would you not think some Opposition members would say something, instead of merely reading extracts from newspapers?
– I would not have brought up this matter if honorable members opposite had not started it by saying that a member of the Labour Party wrote to England and said certain things. Honorable members opposite want us to take him to task. Why do they not take their own people to task first?
– Mr. Knox was not writing to England.
– Mr. Knox was a prominent member of your party. Your colleague criticized our party and said that we should do something about Mr. Ryan.
– He was not a member of our party.
– Who, Mr. Knox?
– I wish to direct the attention of the House to the Government’s policy on banking. I hope that some Government supporters will take time off to read the speeches that were made in this House in 1947 when certain banking legislation was before it.
– We have already read all the speeches that were made then.
– Order! The honorable member must not interject. He has already spoken in this debate.
– I am sorry to have-
– Honorable members opposite might like to read the speeches that were made in 1947. The principal speakers who are still in this House were the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). They were very alarmed that anything should ever be done to the banking institutions. This Government has placed many restrictions on the banking organizations and insurance offices of this country. It is good to recall what the Treasurer said in his Budget speech this year. He said -
The Government has, therefore, decided to amend the banking regulations.
So the Treasurer has decided to amend the banking regulations. After reading his spech in 1947, I would have expected him to be the last man to interfere with the banking regulations, but now he has decided to amend them. He said -
We will do this in such a way as to enable the savings banks concerned to invest up to 35 per cent, of their depositors’ balances in housing loans. The detailed amendments of the regulations to give effect to this decision will be promulgated in the near future.
All I can say after reading what has been said in the past is that there are many chameleons on the other side of the House. I remind the House of a statement by Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, in the annual report which was published just recently.
– We have heard that ad nauseam.
– Yes, and you might as well hear it again, because you forget quickly.
– This is tedious repetition, which is out of order.
– The Governor of the Reserve Bank says that unemployment is still too high. What has the Government done about it? In 1959 the Government brought down the Reserve Bank Act, but it has not carried out the provisions of the acf. This is what the Government said the Reserve Bank Board must do -
It is the duty of the Board, within the limits of its powers, to ensure that the monetary and banking policy of the Bank is directed to the greatest advantage of the people of Australia and that the powers of the Bank under this Act, the Banking Act 1959 and the regulations under that Act are exercised in such a manner as, in the opinion of the Board, will best contribute to the stability of the currency of Australia; the maintenance of full employment in Australia; and the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia.
Has the Government carried out the banking policy it laid down? It has not.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to a point of order. Standing Order No. 85 says -
The Speaker, or the Chairman after having called the attention of the House, or of the committee, to the conduct of a Member, who persists in irrelevance, or tedious repetition either of his own arguments, or of the arguments used by other Members in debate, may direct him to discontinue his speech. . , .
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order raised by the honorable member. I suggest to him that it would be a good idea if he set an example.
– I want to remind the House of something that great leader, Ben Chifley, said. He laid down certain provisions for the good of this country, which the country chose to reject. That is democracy. We in this country are lucky in that if we do not like the colour of a fellow’s face or if we do not like his policy we have the right to choose. Mr. Chifley’s policy was put forward, but because of certain misrepresentations the Chifley Government was defeated. At the present time, fortunately, the Treasurer is carrying on some of the policies laid down by Mr. Chifley. But there are several things that the Treasurer does not understand. For instance, he does not understand that prosperity depends on what people can purchase and not so much on what they can produce. The evidence to-day is that production has reached new peaks and consumptionis touching new lows. It must be remembered that stabilization of prices, about which the Treasurer crows so much, has nothing whatever to do with the money that people have not got in their pockets. That is what Mr. Chifley pointed out. Until that is understood we will find in this country very distressing scenes and people in want.
The Treasurer tells us that we must borrow money from overseas in order to develop this great undeveloped country. The findings of the royal commission which inquired into banking - they were put forward by sane and mature men - revealed that the Commonwealth Bank could provide all Australia’s needs. They also revealed that the bank could find all the necessary finance, debt and interest free. Science has changed the whole nature of production processes, but under this Government the same old financial system marches from mistake to mistake, with the result that once again we are threatened with an era of poverty amidst plenty. This is because we have 78,000 unemployed - that is the known number - and the Government has never come forward with a programme to try to get us out of that position.
In the few minutes left to me I will say something about the rise in freight rates on shipments from Australia to America. In one of to-day’s newspapers I read a heading, “ Increase in Freight Rates to America “. Before that newspaper appeared I received a copy of a journal called “ Muster “. In it appears an article headed “ U.S. Market Vital for our Meat Exports”. The article refers to the Australian Meat Board, and continues -
Figures contained in the Board’s report show that of Australia’s total beef and veal exports of 250,000 tons, just over 200,000 tons or 80 per cent. went to the United States.
The shipowners, knowing that we send so much meat to the United States, have not been slow in putting up freight charges. To-day’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ contains an article headed “ Freight Rise Attacked by Meat Board “. The article states -
Australian meat producers may have to absorb an additional £750,000 per year in increased shipping costs for exports to America.
Later the article states -
Mr. Shute said any development which means increased cost to the processor of meat means lower prices to the producer of livestock.
Mr. Shute is the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, and that is the sort of statement that we want to hear from the honorable member for Mallee. It is also the kind of statement that we want to hear from the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). This is just another piece of the farm that has gone, and I hope the Minister will explain the reason to us. Will he tell us that the Boomerang Line, which he so proudly subsidizes, will increase its freights by 10 per cent.? We want the Minister to tell the House what steps he will take to ensure that the primary producer sends his goods overseas at a reasonable cost. I will be here to listen. We, on this side of the House, hope that no part of the farm will have to be sold. But the Minister for Trade has told us that little pieces of the farm are being chopped off. Here is another piece of the farm that is to be sliced off, and I regret it. These things will happen until the Australian Government forms its own overseas shipping line and has some say in the freights to be charged. Will the Minister tell us whether he was informed of the intended increase in freight rates?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– In this debate, I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). It appeared to me that only one thing was clear. They have not really come to grips with the main features of the problems that face the Australian economy. In this debate, the Australian Labour Party has achieved nothing to build confidence in Labour. Its speakers have contributed nothing towards building confidence within the business community. But nothing would more quickly contribute to the absorption of people who are unemployed than full reestablishment of business confidence. The failure of Labour to attempt to build up confidence in the business community is, itself, an action to delay betterment of the employment situation. By contrast with this, the Government believes that the elements exist in the economy to justify full confidence on the part of business. The Budget itself adds much to strengthen this confidence.
I have said on many occasions, as have, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), that the overriding objective of the Government is to ensure the rapid, solid growth of the Australian economy. That is the objective towards which we consistently direct our policies. It is the objective towards which this Budget is directed. It is the objective against which the total policies of the Government should be judged. Let us look, therefore, at the positive measures in the Budget as related to the major policy objectives of the Government of rapid and balanced growth of the economy.
The Budget shows that we have made more money available for the States, from both increased loan programmes and increased direct payments by the Commonwealth to the States. In this way we have provided in the public sector the basis for expansion in the private sector. For the direct finance of housing, this Budget provides approximately £97,000,000. This is much more than the total Commonwealth Budget in the early years of my membership of this Parliament. This is really a tremendous contribution. Beyond this, to encourage housing not directly financed by the Government, the savings banks, government and private, have been given more scope for lending for housing. We have extended to primary industry the incentive of an investment allowance, introduced a bounty of £3 a ton on superphosphate, increased the capital of the Commonwealth Development Bank by £5,000,000 and provided £20,600,000 for special development projects such as beef roads, brigalow lands development, rail construction and rail standardization, harbour development and reservoir construction for water conservation.
These are some of the latest measures to expand the base on which Australia grows. They are not isolated dabs of aid or assistance handed out for political considerations. They exemplify a total continuous policy to secure growth and expansion in Australian industry and commerce and in export earnings. Let us not forget that this is the base for employment in Australia. The extra £30,000,000 provided for defence is, in itself, a product of our growth. Our future ability to meet growing needs for defence clearly depends on our ability to grow in economic strength and to accumulate the additional resources necessary. With growth in Australian prosperity, we generate the ability to enhance social services. The Government’s record in this field is one of which we are proud. As our material wealth increases, we will continuously do more. Each budget presented by the Government bears this out.
I have shown the means by which the Government is ensuring balanced growth. AH sections of the community share in the benefit of the growth. Under our policy concept, all sections may look forward to the rewards of national prosperity. I have mentioned a number of points in the Budget to show that each is part of the pattern of our total policy of growth. We have looked at each sector in order to stimulate balanced growth. Growth for growth’s sake alone - growth without balance - could not be relied upon to endure or ultimately to bear the fruits of prosperity. Contrast this careful and deliberate policy of balanced growth with the Opposition’s approach to the Budget. No consistent thread can be traced through its proposals, no expression of a well-considered programme and no real compass point of policy can be found. All we hear from Labour is a jumbled hotch-potch of random ideas and criticisms without any solid core of real, businesslike, overall thinking. At one moment, we on the Government side are accused of sowing the seeds of inflation; at the next, we are accused of not doing enough to stimulate growth. It would be bad enough if the Australian Labour Party were merely unsure of which horse to saddle - inflation or deflation - but the real tragedy is that Labour just does not seem to know in which race it wants to start.
There is no doubt where the Government stands. We want growth with balance. In the years that this Government has been in office we have seen our population increased by 1,200,000 immigrants. With us, the objective of growth is paramount. With Labour, political opportunism is always paramount. The fact that, this year, the Budget can provide for an increased migration target of 135,000 is a reflection of the fact that there is sufficient growth in prospect in the economy to enable us to absorb this very big addition to the population. Future budgets will provide for even greater numbers of new settlers to come to Australia, provided our growth can make it certain that they can come here secure in the knowledge that they will find stable government and a climate of expansion.
Let me turn for a moment, now, to primary industry and show how the consistent policies of the Government, projected further by this Budget, have improved and facilitated expansion. Since we came to office in 1949-50, the volume of rural production has increased by 45 per cent. This average really comes to life when it is analysed and the discovery is made that it involves an increase in volume production of wool of 46 per cent.; a volume production increase in wheat of 42 per cent.; an increase of 97 per cent, in sugar in these few years; a 45 per cent, increase in the volume of beef and veal production; a 67 per cent, increase in the volume production of mutton and lamb; an increase of more than 600 per cent, in the production of tobacco leaf in these few years; and an increase of 18 per cent, in milk production. I have mentioned only a few of the more important industries. All this has been accomplished by increased productivity from a smaller rural work force.
Growth can sometimes be encouraged by prodigal use of resources. But Australia could not afford wasteful growth. Growth in quantity of production of the order of 45 per cent, in ten years or so with less use of scarce people is a great record of real economic growth.
Last year an investment allowance was provided to help manufacturing industry equip itself for more efficient production. This year in the Budget we have extended the same facility to primary industry. This again is an illustration of a single consistent thread of policy for growth running through successive budgets - a balanced, methodical, determined pursuit of national growth.
Provision of a bounty of £3 a ton on superphosphate is not a hand-out by the Government. It is an investment by the Government in the rural sector. The return from this investment will be multiplied over and over again in the increases in output which I confidently expect from this measure.
Still speaking of our growth policies for rural industries and country areas, I remind the House of other major development projects that this Government has sponsored or undertaken. The great brigalow lands development scheme in Queensland will make more than 4,000,000 acres of fertile land highly productive. For this purpose the Commonwealth Government will find £7,250,000, repayable in due course as proposed by the Queensland Government as the land begins to produce. This Budget pushes on with the beef roads projects in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. For this purpose the Commonwealth will grant £8,450,000 and in addition will lend a further £3,300,000.
So the list goes on. This Government established the Commonwealth Development Bank and will now provide a further £5,000,000 for the capital of that bank. The
Budget shows that the Government is providing funds for the Chowilla dam project, lt will assist also to finance the building of the Blowering reservoir. The Government has assisted the Ord River project and other developments in the northern areas of Western Australia. It will now provide an additional £3,500,000 for this area in the next three years.
These are development measures that have provided a stronger and firmer base for the growth of our more remote and rural areas - indeed, for the growth of our whole nation. Mr. Speaker, I am not painting a picture in words. I am describing, piece by piece, the actual components of a single policy of growth. This policy we have pursued and will continue to pursue.
We have sustained rural industry in many other ways. I have no need to remind the House of what this Government has done for the tobacco leaf growing industry and for the sugar industry and what it has done to stabilize the wheat industry, with the export guarantee now extended over five years to 150,000,000 bushels, and to assist the dairy industry. Certainly the farmers know what this Government has done to support them. Australian farmers will not be taken in for a moment by the airy-fairy statements of the Leader of the Opposition about what his party would do for them. Many farmers have too vivid a memory of what Labour did to them in the past.
Government policies cover both primary and secondary industry. Those are policies of co-ordinated, balanced progress which make an integral whole out of individual budget actions. They are policies which do not set one sector above another or one industry above another but which bring harmonized and sound development.
Let me illustrate how our policy of growth, which is continued in this Budget, has operated for manufacturing industries. Manufacturing industries - that great area of mass employment - need protection, but this Government has developed new thinking and new methods to ensure that they are protected effectively, and, for the first time, quickly. It has re-organized the tariff-making machinery. It has streamlined procedures to cut down delays in handling tariff requests. It has increased -the physical resources of the Tariff Board to carry out its important function. The whole procedure of temporary protection, acclaimed alike by manufacturers and their employees, was a completely new concept introduced by this Government. The result of all these policies, only some of which I have enumerated, is that we have developed a strong manufacturing industry able and ready to play its proper role in the growth of the economy. For instance, since we came to office employment in manufacturing has increased by 25 per cent., the number of factories has increased by 40 per cent, and the volume of factory production has doubled. At no time in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition did I hear of policies to encourage secondary industry. He did imply or threaten a tax plaster, although he did not explain the complaint that it was to cure.
No policy of growth would be complete if it did not provide for a balanced development of our great natural mineral resources. To be content to encourage agriculture and leave growth in mining to chance would be to ignore one of the great sectors in the economy - in the outback - which can contribute enormously to the development of empty sections of our continent. We have had appropriate policies. Without enumerating specific policies - they are many - I remind the House of their results, which are plain to see. In the period of office of this Government lead production has increased by 64 per cent., zinc production by 71 per cent., iron ore production by 120 per cent, and coal production by 50 per cent. As a result of policies introduced by this Government, copper production in the relevant period has increased by more than 500 per cent.
I could elaborate further but I have said enough about our budgetary policies to show that they all are directed at one common objective - national growth. The quite remarkable growth achievements are evidence that those policies have been good for Australia. But we cannot develop without exports to pay for the imports essential to our development. As Australia grows it inevitably develops an increased appetite for foreign exchange. A growth rate of 4 per cent., modest though it sounds, seems on present evidence to require an increase of foreign exchange for imports and invisibles of something like £50,000,000 a year. I would have thought that the Opposition would at least have made some attempt to develop policies for the encouragement of exports, but it did not.
To encourage exports the Government introduced export incentives. As an example, claims for rebates of pay-roll tax to exporters in the first two years of the scheme amounted to £4,100,000. The Government also introduced measures to allow double deductibility of expenditure on overseas market development by exporters. The Government set up the Export Payments Insurance Corporation to fill a need felt by exporters, to enable them to insure in the field in which there was no commercial opportunity to insure. The value of this move is illustrated by the fact that to-day the Export Payments Insurance Corporation has 373 policy holders, and is providing cover for £44,500,000 worth of exports. Last July, it was able to reduce its premiums by 10 pex cent. The Government has nearly trebled its Trade Commissioner Service. We have helped in the establishment of shipping services to Africa, Asia, North America and South America. All these moves have been intimately tied in with the Government’s objective of securing rapid growth and development. Our policies are bearing fruit.
Our exports of iron and steel and petroleum products have a habit of fluctuating greatly. If we put these to one side, we find that exports of other manufactured goods increased by 23 per cent, during the last year. That is a vast increase. While still small relative to exports of primary products, nevertheless exports of manufactured goods have risen significantly during the life of this Government. Our export earnings from these goods have increased from £29,000,000 in the first year of office of this Government to £133,000,000 in a year. When I speak of the contribution of manufactured goods to the earning of export income. I should also say that another great benefit in this balance-of-payments arena is the avoidance of the necessity to import items which formerly had to be imported and for which exchange had to be found.
Quite recently the Department of Trade made a study of 40 highly fabricated commodities successfully exported. The number of firms exporting these commodities increased by 70 per cent, last year, with the products going to many new markets. There was a widespread increase in products exported, in the number of markets in which those products were sold and in the number of firms moving into export operations. This is the best evidence of progress in this field. In fact, I am prepared to say that there has been a dramatic change in the attitude of Australian manufacturing industry towards exports. Export action has become a reality; it is no longer a dream. The Government has brought this about as part of a total policy of growth, and in budget after budget it has produced innovation after innovation to foster this growth.
I have no time now to speak of our international trade policies, of the Japanese Trade Agreement, of progress in international commodity agreements, of actions in relation to the European Common Market and of the so-called Kennedy round of tariff negotiations. I will speak of this subject on an early future occasion. Each step in this Budget is part and parcel of our policy to achieve national growth. Each act is part of a total plan, a plan for growth with balance and stability. The Budget in itself is not an expression of total policy; it is a revelation of policy at work. Labour, by contrast, seems to have a bunch of measures or means, but there is no exposition of a consistent total policy, no clear picture of an objective. Indeed, Labour seems so torn apart that it cannot develop a total policy, be it in the international field nf defence and foreign policy, or in the domestic field of industry where the hard facts of employment are determined. No political party should be more interested in this than the Labour Party, because it is in this field of industry that the real basis of sound mass employment is to be found. Yet we have seen no consistent policy from the other side of the House. Labour has muffed the opportunity to tell the House and the country its total policy.
– Tell us about the inflow of foreign capital.
– Order! There are too many interjections. I have already warned honorable members. I ask the House to come to order.
– Labour members do not like what they are hearing, Mr. Speaker, but they are going to hear it. In this Budget we have not merely provided £97,000,000 of government funds for housing, an additional £30,000,000 for defence, £20,000,000 more for social services and repatriation, £43,000,000 more for the States in direct payments and loans, an additional amount of £16,000,000 for capital works and services, £5,000,000 more for Papua and New Guinea, £5,000,000 more for the Commonwealth Development Bank, an additional £5,000,000 for special development projects and £9,000,000 for the superphosphate bounty. We have provided a balanced pattern of increased financial allocations and concessions designed to flow into a total conjunction which will form a stream of gathering prosperity for business, for manufacturers, for employees, for farmers, and so for the entire community. I say that this is a budget which will contribute one further great forward step to the development of the Australian economy and national prosperity.
.- The Minister for Trade and Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has won the reputation over many years of being perhaps the hardest hitting debater in this House. But this evening he carefully read a speech dealing with a long list of things which were not exactly what he said they were. He studiously avoided - as he never does avoid, as a general rule - penetrating interjections that called for a reply. I have never heard the Minister so silent in the face of interjections as he was to-night. His silence revealed the embarrassment that the right honorable gentleman feels in dealing with these interjections which penetrated to the very heart of his position in the Government.
The Minister for Trade spent five minutes defending the Government’s record as set out in the Budget, five minutes on this biscuit budget, hardly enough to convince anybody in this House that he has strengthened any confidence that the people might have in the Government. The right honorable gentleman began his contribution to the debate by saying that one thing has become clear and that is that the Labour Party has done nothing to create confidence by its contributions to this debate. It is not the job of the Labour Party in this debate to create confidence. This debate is on a motion of want of confidence in the Government, and for a few minutes I will postpone what I have to say about the Budget itself to test whether there should be any confidence in the Government or not.
To do so, let me refer to a number of specific points that the Minister for Trade, the Leader of the Country Party, raised in defence of his Government. First, he argued that during the term of office of this Government, agricultural production, real production, has risen by an average of 45 per cent. He told us about meat, wheat, and wool, saying that in the case of all these items production has risen by more than 45 per cent. He told us about tobacco production, which has risen by 600 per cent. True it is that the Australian farmers have produced in volume so much more in the last twelve or thirteen years in which this Government has been in office, but what have they got for it? I will tell you. Tn 1950-51 they received £756.000,000, in 1952-53 £572,000,000, in 1956-57 £535,000,000. But this year they received only £545,000,000. In other words, the farmers of this country who are so misled as to vote confidence, if they do, in the Minister for Trade, the leader of their party, have produced 45 per cent, more on the average and have hardly received one penny more in money. That is the situation.
With regard to the Budget, the Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Country Party and Minister for Trade chose from all the Budget items the one that he was inclined to hold up highest before the eyes of his country supporters. I refer to the superphosphate bonus which, we are told, is going to give farmers £7,000,000 more in a full year. What is the history of that bonus? By whom was it introduced? It was introduced by the Chifley Government. Tt was withdrawn by the Government of which the Leader of the Country Party was the leading member, in June, 1950. One of the first actions of this Government was to withdraw the superphosphate bonus from the farmers. It has taken the Minister for
Trade, leader of the Country Party and the Deputy Prime Minister twelve long years to restore the superphosphate bonus. What has it cost the farmers of this country in the meantime? At a conservative estimate it has cost them £60,000,000 in added costs for superphosphate during this time. It has cost Australia far more than £60,000,000 in lost productivity and fertility. This is the argument that the Minister for Trade holds up with pride to try to persuade his country supporters that this Government justifies their confidence.
The Minister for Trade plays a schizophrenic role - part manufacturer, part countryman, part Minister for tariffs and yet another part Minister for free trade. This is the gentleman who has said that the Government has done such wonderful things for the manufacturers of Australia, that they had been given protection whenever they ‘needed it, without delay and with certainty. But what do the manufacturers say about <this? What do members of the Liberal Party say about this? I want to quote for the attention of honorable members a statement of Sir Arthur Warner, a leading member of the Liberal Party and a ‘leading manufacturer. I quote from the “ Age “ newspaper of 4th August, 1961, where this report appeared: - -Sir Arthur Warner yesterday again attacked Mr. McEwen.
He is the gentleman who is Deputy Prime Minister. The quotation continues -
He said that the result of Mr. McEwen’s policy was high food prices and unemployment. He challenged Mr. McEwen to debate the issue publicly. In substance Mr. McEwen’s policy is resulting in .high prices for food in Australia to support exports sold below cost, while excessive imports under low tariffs, financed by overseas borrowings, are creating Australian unemployment.
The Leader of the Country Party can have that debate with Sir Arthur Warner, Liberal Party member of the Victorian Parliament and leading manufacturer, if he wants it. But it is hardly an item that the Minister can introduce in this House as evidence of confidence that manufacturers have in his Government.
Let us have a look at another matter that the Minister studiously avoided in the face of dozens of interjections. I refer to the question of foreign investment. In the winner recess of this Parliament the Minister, whenever he made a speech in any place in Australia, told us in the centre of that speech about the question of foreign investment. I would like to quote a couple of examples. At Lakes Entrance on 2nd April, 1963, he said -
If we earn enough1 annual income we can live comfortably. If we do not, we can still live comfortably by selling a bit of the farm every year and that ‘is pretty much the Australian situation. We are not earning enough and we are selling a bit of our heritage every year.
This was said by the Minister who studiously avoided all interjections asking him to discuss the point. In every speech the Minister made outside of this Parliament during the winter recess he made the subject of foreign investment a central feature. But only when he was dragged to the table of this House by an adjournment motion recently was he prepared to discuss it here. On every other occasion he has avoided the subject. On 26th June, 1963, he said -
Where overseas investment merely buys out a well-established going concern, I am troubled to see a substitution of overseas ownership for an old established Australian ownership, with nothing new added to the economy. “ I am troubled “, he said. But he was not troubled this evening. He had not a worry. He showed no sign pf any trouble at all. He went on to say m June -
The short term convenience of addition to our resources of overseas currency does not, in my opinion, compensate for the transfer from Australian ownership.
He is not bothered about that this evening. He did not even mention it. Does the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) know about this? He is to follow me in this debate and perhaps he will say something about it.
The quotation continues -
The position is even less attractive where an overseas company of great financial strength buys into Australia with a very modest expenditure of the currency of its own country, and then proceeds on the basis of its credit-worthiness to draw upon Australian savings for business expansion.
One good example we know of is our largest motor car producer which, with less than £1,000,000 capital brought in from overseas, bought into an Australian concern and then, to quote the Minister, proceeded to draw on the proceeds on the basis of the credit-worthiness of the Australian savings for business expansion. So fast has it expanded that it has a capital structure worth £110,000,000 upon which are based the profits every year that it withdraws from this country. The Minister was very worried about this problem during the winter recess, but the worry seems to have been dissipated. But he has a few other worries now.
Apparently there has been some worry in Cabinet. In the “ Farmers’ Weekly “ of 1st August, 1963, there was printed a letter signed by “ Gordon Freeth “. I understand that he is Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works in this Parliament. The letter reads -
If Mr. McEwen disagrees with what Cabinet decides, . . .
Does he disagree? The letter continues -
As presumably he has been doing throughout the winter recess - there is only one course open to him, as he accepted in the case of Mr. Bury -
He is the gentleman who is not with us this evening and who was once Minister for Air- namely resign. If he, or any other Minister, discusses outside Cabinet the details of proposals before Cabinet-
Has the Minister for Trade done so? He did not tell us this evening. He had a couple of minutes to spare at the end of his speech, honorable members will remember. He might have mentioned this. The letter continues - then this is in flagrant breach of all principles of Cabinet responsibility . . .
I am not quoting an honorable member sitting on this side of the House. These are the words of the Minister for the Interior in a letter written to the “ Farmers’ Weekly “ and published on 1st August, 1963. If that breach is committed by a Liberal Minister - there is nothing else liberal about him - then he has a responsibility to resign, according to the Minister for the Interior. So it is not to be wondered that the Minister for Trade does not want to raise the question of foreign investment. He has another worry on his hands. The Minister for the Interior is looking confidently in the direction of the Minister for Trade for his resignation. Perhaps it will change the structure of the Cabinet. One never knows. The Minister for the Interior might one day even be Minister for Trade. But I have sufficient knowledge of the situation and the judgment of the two gentlemen to hope that this change is never made.
Let us turn to the Treasurer, the man who emerges from the sea once every twelve months with a catch. This year he has perhaps the smallest catch he has ever made, a catch hardly bigger than the point of the spear that he used for the purpose of making the catch. The Treasurer has asked us to judge this Budget by his own criteria. In his Budget speech, as reported at page 9 of “ Hansard “, he said-
The gross national product may be taken as a broad measure of activity and output. In 1962-63 this was 8 per cent. greater than that of 1961-62.
This is nothing less than a bit of sleight of hand, Mr. Speaker. The Treasurer says that in the last twelve months the gross national product has increased by 8 per cent. This is a real increase, because there has been no significant increase in prices. This sets the limit to all that we can do. There are two things that we need to say about the increase. First of all, it has not taken place in one year alone. The increase over the past year is almost the same as the increase over the past two years. The increase was 8 per cent. in the last year and it was little more than 8 per cent. over the last two years. In other words, we have taken two years, not one, to get this increase of which the Treasurer is so proud.
The increase in the gross national product in 1962-63 represented almost completely a filling of the trough or the gap in national production caused by the Government’s own actions in 1961. In many respects, employment and production are now less than or little above the top level of 1960. You, Sir, will recall that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) quoted a report by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, which stated -
Overall employment in factories covered by our survey declined by 0.2 per cent. during June -
That waslast June - and is now 3.0 per cent. below the level of November, 1960.
What has the Treasurer to say about this? Is he aware of it? Is he aware that the increase in gross national production in 1 962-63 of which he speaks represents nothing more than the filling of the trough created by the Government’s own policy - the regaining of the ground lost because of the Government’s own policy and actions? If the economy could have proceeded at a steady, uniform rate of growth, we would be better off to-day by £500,000,000 worth more of goods and services than we are. That represents the real cost of the Menzies Government to this country since 1960. Is the Treasurer aware of this? If so, what has he to say about it?
So much for the immediate past. The right honorable gentleman and his colleagues want us to consider this Budget only in terms of twelve months or, at the most, two years. I recall, again, remarks made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports outlining aspects of the report by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, which stated -
The decrease in factory employment recorded in the latest Chamber Survey, taken at the 28th June last, represents a significant reversal in the upward trend of employment which has been evident since the middle of 1961.
In other words, the recovery is easing off. According to the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, since June last year there has been a decline. The latest production figures made available to us confirm this. I refer to the production statistics issued the other day by the Commonwealth Statistician. The list includes 35 key categories. In 21 of these categories that are listed as a measure of industrial activity, production was down or stable in the three months of May, June and July, 1963, compared with the corresponding months of 1962. In only fourteen categories had production risen.
– Production was low in 1962, too.
– In a number of instances, production was low in that year. Is the Treasurer aware of this? Is he aware of what has happened to the economy since June? If he is aware of it. what has he to say about it?
Then we turn to housing - a very significant subject for the Australian people. If the number of houses being built is declining, the Australian people have a right to ask why and to say to the Government, “You have not our confidence if you permit this state of affairs “. Let me refer the House to the official statistics. The table at page 35 of the “Monthly Review of Business Statistics” for June, 1963, shows that the quarterly average of new houses and flats commenced was 22,836 in 1959-60, 22,222 in 1960-61 and 20,617 in 1961-62. There was a fall in each of those years. In case the Treasurer wants monthly or quarterly figures up to date, let me refer him to the quarterly totals of commencements. Here, again, there was a fall. The quarterly total fell from 22,902 in the September quarter of 1962-63 to 21,769 in the December quarter and 20,849 in the March quarter. The statistics of new houses and flats completed show a similar situation - a fall from 21,059 in the September quarter of 1962-63 to 20,403 in the March quarter. The fall is even greater in the number of new houses and flats under construction.
– Not much growth is shown by those figures.
– There is no growth in this, Mr Speaker. These figures show thai there is no growth in a field of activity which is of vast importance to the Australian people - the field of housing.
When we look at business expectations, on which this Government is so dependent, we find that the Reserve Bank of Australia’s annual report for the financial year 1962-63, at page 6, states -
However, the effects of the recession lingered in some industries and there was keen competition among domestic and overseas suppliers, militating against a sharp improvement in business expectations.
A sharp improvement in business expectations could not take place in this situation.
In summary, the 1962-63 recovery can be considered only as a filling of the trough caused by the ground lost through the Government’s own incompetence as a national government. Secondly, the recovery has come about very largely only “as a result of the actions taken by private business on its own initiative. The recovery is now petering out. On any test, then, what is needed today is a stimulus. What has the Treasurer to say about this? He does not even claim that this Budget will give a stimulus. Here, let me mention a number of statements made by the Minister for Trade. He asked whether the Budget provided a stimulus and said that it does and that the stimulus to the economy consists of the injection of new money or the release of old- “..Mr. Harold Holt - Your leader thought that a stimulus would be given by this Budget.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) accepted the Treasurer’s assessments and said that if what he had said was right this was an inflationary Budget. However, it is obvious that what the Treasurer had said was not right. The right honorable gentleman, if he had any decency, and if he could read or understand properly, would not try to distort the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition. The Treasurer reveals himself continually as primarily a politician and last - a long way last - an economist or financier.
What does the Budget provide in the way of a stimulus? At the very outset, the maximum amount of new money to be injected into the economy is no more than about £70,000,000. So that the Treasurer may deal with this argument, if he is capable of dealing with an economic argument, I shall give him the items that make up this total of about £70,000,000. There will be tax concessions of £12,800,000, increases in social services of £11,400,000, capital works of £16,200,000, increased investment allowances £1,500,000, increase departmental expenditures of £13,600,000, development projects of £5,000,000, the superphosphate bounty of £7,000,000, payments to or for the States of £2,500,000 only, and increased repatriation benefits of £1.600,000- a total of £71,600,000. How much is this stimulus of about £70,000,000 worth in the economy to-day? In a total market expenditure in 1962-63 of £9,152,000,000 it represents .7 per cent That is about the degree of stimulus that the Treasurer represents in any situation, and particularly in the situation in which this Budget is brought down. There is no stimulus, there is no growth in this Budget. What, then, has the Treasurer to say about this? Does he consider that it is a sufficient stimulus? On any test, it certainly cannot be said to be sufficient. Therefore, the recovery - insofar as there has been one - will not accelerate; it wall probably decline.
This is a dead, neutral budget. A live, dynamic one is needed in the situation of to-day. The Government has a conservative, pinch-penny policy generally, and that policy is applied ito social ‘services. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), on Tuesday evening, outlined the host of anomalies and discriminations caused in the field of social services by the Government’s pinch-penny policy. What is needed is a broad study of social services over three or five years so that the basic rate of pension can be raised to something like the level that it should have attained. But the Government’s conservatism and its negative attitude in this Budget generally force it to be neutral, negative and parsimonious in its policy on social services.
So much for the short-term issues. But Australia must not be limited to this shortterm conservative view. Australia must have more people; education and national works must be revolutionized, and we must have a new era in housing. But this depends on more investment, more machines, more buildings, more electric power, more roads and railways and more skill. It depends, also, on more investment and upon a relative increase in investment. Is the Treasurer aware of this? If so, what does he have to say about it?
What has happened in the field of investment? When we look at the proportion of gross private investment to gross national expenditure we see that it has remained stable since 1953-54. In that year the proportion was 15.2 per cent., in 1961-62 it was 15.2 per cent, and in 1962-63 it was 15.5 per cent. We must make investment grow in relation to other things if we are to solve our problems. But it has not grown. These figures show that the economy is sluggish. Does the Treasurer know this? Is he aware that investment is sluggish despite record profits, despite record business income, despite record capital gains, despite record tariff protection and despite complete freedom for those who want to invest?
The Government has provided specifically for investment by granting record depreciation allowances. There is no shortage of money in that direction. In 1953-54, depreciation allowances amounted to £225,000,000, or 5 per cent, of the gross national product. In 1962-63 they amounted to £619,000,000, or 7.9 per cent, of the gross national product. In 1953-54 depreciation allowances represented 30 per cent, of total investment and in 1962-63 they rose to SO per cent, of total investment. Why is investment sluggish? On Wednesday, 28th August, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) blamed the Labour Party for this as though we were responsible for investment. What does the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) say about this? In the G. L. Wood Memorial Lecture, “ Trade Practices in a Developing Economy “r the Attorney-General said -
The trend for businesses to seek protection through these practices has thus greatly increased, and for that matter is still increasing.
Later in the lecture he went to the essence of the matter. He said -
President Kennedy made recently a significant comment about the American economy. He said that when an economy gets sluggish and loses enterprise and loses vigour, you will find a lot of restrictive practices. The point that emerges from the President’s observation - and I think it is one that must never be overlooked - is that restrictive practices and a sluggish economy go together.
Is the Treasurer aware of this? Does the Minister for Supply know anything about it? If in the United States of America, when restrictive practices exist they make the economy sluggish, what is the position in Australia? Professor Alex Hunter, Professor of Economics at the University of New South Wales, recently published a book entitled “Economics of Australian Industry “. Is the Treasurer aware that this book has ever been published? On page 7 of the book Professor Hunter states -
A method of comparing the degree of concentration of industry in Australia with that in the United States and in Britain appears to show that concentration in monopolized industries in Australia is twice as great as in Britain and three times as great as in the United States of America.
If President Kennedy and the Australian Attorney-General are satisfied that monopolization causes a sluggish economy in America and that the degree of monopolization in Australia is three times as great as it is in America, how sluggish does that make the Australian economy? Is it three times as sluggish as the American economy? We leave that to the Attorney-General to decide. A remedy for this situation is long overdue. Does the Minister for Supply know anything about this? Does the Treasurer know anything about this? Is he concerned at the fact that the economy of Australia is possibly three times as sluggish as that of any other country because of the extent of monopolization here?
The Government is not directly responsible for gross private investment, but what about public investment, defence and education upon which our progress and security depend? What has happened here? The position is the same as with private investment. Public authority investment for which the Government is primarily responsible was 8.8 per cent, of the gross national product in 1953-54. In 1962-63 it was 8.7 per cent, despite our great need for national development and despite the education crisis in this country. What about defence? In 1953-54 defence expenditure represented 3.7 per cent, of the gross national product whereas in 1962-63 it represented only 2.7 per cent. Public authority investment has remained stable. If it has increased at all it has been only when gross national product has fallen. If this, is the result, as I think it is, of some conservative Treasury theory, what has the Treasurer done to interfere with this conservative theory in the Treasury? Improvements in education and national defence and our general progress depend upon increasing the proportion of public authority investment to the gross national product
What about defence? I have pointed out that the proportion of the gross national product devoted to defence has fallen continuously since 1953-54. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess), who is interjecting, might exercise his little mind upon this question if he can. The fall in defence expenditure to which I have referred means either that Australia is in rapidly diminishing danger and in increasing security or that the Government has betrayed Australia’s position - if its own account is true. If the Government has betrayed Australia’s position, this country is in increasing danger. How can the Government account for the fact that the proportion of the gross national product devoted to defence, has fallen from 3.7 per cent, in 1953-54 to 2.7 per cent, in 1962-63? If Australia is not in danger, this Government is unduly stirring and disturbing the country by arguing that it is.
Let me refer to education. No doubt I shall not have sufficient time to discuss the examination of education made by Professor Karmel in his Buntine oration in Melbourne. Is the Treasurer aware that this oration was ever given? Does he know that in the course of it, as is reported on page 13 of the printed copy, Professor Karmel stated that in the proportion of children attending school in the age group from fifteen to nineteen years, Australia ranks twelfth out of 23 comparable countries? Does the Treasurer know that in a table relating to current and total expenditure on education in relation to gross national product Professor Karmel pointed out also that Australia ranks fifteenth out of 23 comparable countries and that the only countries listed below Australia are backward countries?
I have stated the position of the Australian economy as indicated by the Budget. When one examines the Budget and the negative, neutral role that it plays in our economy, surely there is only one decision to which any one examining it objectively can come - that this Government has lost the confidence of this House and of the people of Australia.
– The revision of the Standing Orders leaves me only twenty minutes in which to reply to the Opposition’s proposed amendment to the Budget which I presented. This amendment is in the form of a motion of no confidence in the Government.
– Why do you need a second go?
– I can well understand the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who was given unlimited time in which to make his speech, and did not require very much of it, asking why I need a second go. If I do need a second go it is to dispel the quite fantastic picture which the Opposition has sought to paint of the state of the Australian nation at the present time, and to restore some perspective to the vision which the people of this country can have of Australia’s progress.
I do not intend to devote much of the twenty minutes which has been allotted to me to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). After all, if he could not impress his own colleagues sufficiently to regain his place on th» Opposition front bench in the very weak fMd in which he had to compete, why should I devote mv time to him tonight? When there are minnows and bigger fish in the water, I prefer to deal with the bigger fish. But are they so big when one looks at the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) who is the Labour Party’s shadow Treasurer? The motion of no confidence against this Government has rested on those three leading Opposition spokesmen.
The Leader of the Opposition is never very comfortable when he has to make a speech on the Budget. This occasion was no exception. If anything, he read his speech rather faster than usual, as if he was only too glad to get it over and to sit down. But he made a couple of very interesting concessions or admissions in the course of his speech. I hope to have time to deal with them in a little more detail. One was his comment - however much honorable gentlemen opposite try to run away from it - that this Budget contained the seeds of inflation. The other was the very clear exposition that he gave of what Labour would do in taxation policy if it were ever given the opportunity of office. I will deal with them in a moment.
Any one who analysed the speech of the Leader of the Opposition and then went on to analyse the speech of the shadow Treasurer, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and who could reconcile those speeches is an intellectual wizard, because in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition we heard concern about the seeds of inflation and his colleague was telling us that we ought to spend another £70,000,000 or £80,000,000 on child endowment, that we ought to cut the rate of sales tax from the present figure of 12( per cent, to 8 J per cent. - all manner of concessions were indicated by him. One could hardly have heard two more dissimilar approaches to the economic situation than was to be found in those two speeches.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, quite obviously, was in a state of exhilaration from the billing that he had been given in his favourite newspaper on the morning of the day on which he was to make his speech. We were to look forward to the devastating reply to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Well, Sir, those who heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have never heard him windier and have never heard him worse than he was on this occasion. My colleague, the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), once was so unkind as to describe a speech by the honorable gentleman as smart, slick and shallow. I doubt whether his speech on this occasion rated even that description. We know that he can do better. No doubt he will do better when some of the excitement subsides. Here was a great opportunity to star, but unfortunately his speech was a fizz. However, we have more serious matters to attend to.
All I want to do, by way of comment on this point, is to make the charge that here, with the opportunity to demonstrate to the Australian people that the Labour Party had a clear alternative policy which would be better in the interests of Australian economic development than the policy of the Government, the Labour Party in a torrent of words has confused itself, confused the people and left no coherent picture before us. So I ask this question: Has either the case of the Labour Party or, what is more relevant for our purpose, the turn of events since we looked at the Budget problem back in the middle of July revealed a situation which would justify a vote of no confidence at the end of this debate? In the middle of July the Cabinet had a picture of the Australian economy and it had the problem of keeping growth moving steadily forward during the year. My colleague, the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen), has stressed, as we all have stressed on other occasions, the central theme of our economic policies and our economic planning. Whatever honorable gentlemen opposite may care to say, a great deal of economic planning goes into the economic policies of this Government. The Cabinet having that task, what has emerged in the quite significant period that has elapsed since that time?
I want, in a few minutes, to bring the House up to date on how the programme has been working out. Was our confidence in our methods justified by the subsequent results? We now have available to us the figures for July. They give us a very encouraging picture. On every one of the central indicators to which I can point - I invite honorable gentlemen opposite to point to any discouraging factors, if they can discover them - the position is one of steady movement forward since we considered our Budget proposals in the middle of July. When we look at the housing situation we find a very strong upward trend to a total of 9,465 housing approvals in July this year, compared with 8,273 in the corresponding month of last year and 7,015 in July, 1961. We aire told that we are in a sluggish economy. We are told that by representatives of a p’arty which has the discreditable distinction of having been in charge of Australia in the gravest depression that this country has ever known. We are told that we are mean in our attitude to social welfare. We are told that by spokesmen for a parry which has the discreditable distinction of being the only party in the history of Australia ever to have reduced pensions. Let ais see how the economy is moving at this time. It has gone steadily forward. We have now made arrangements to enable the savings banks, which have just about doubled their financial assistance for housing compared with the figure of two years ago, to lend considerably more in the years ahead.
The July figures, in this stagnant economy of which honorable gentlemen opposite speak, reveal that there were record motor car registrations - a clear indicator of general national prosperity. We find that in this period in which confidence apparently does not exist the stock exchange index has gone to an all-time peak. We find a strengthened demand for employment revealed in July. I can tell honorable gentlemen opposite - I hope they are glad to receive this news - that the August figures will reveal a strengthened demand for labour. Our overseas balances, which were already strong at the end of June, have increased still further. Hire purchase figures have shown a buoyancy in their movement. Savings banks deposits increased still further in July. Retail sales increased by 6.4 per cent, on the figure for the corresponding month of last year. Our trade figures this July showed a surplus of £17,600,000, compared with a deficit of £9,400,000 in the corresponding month of last year. In exports July was one of our best months on record. The value of our exports totalled £117,000,000. These are all favorable indicators revealing the buoyancy of the economy and a steady forward movement which, I believe, justify the measures announced by us in the Budget. Of course there is stimulus in this Budget. When the Leader of the Opposition was speaking to his brief he conceded that. It was only when his colleagues got to work that they disowned him and made their own charges of stagnation. The figures now given clearly demonstrate just how unreal those charges are.
I want to make one further comment about the more recent trend because we have claimed that a policy of price stability, associated with a national programme of development, will give the best type of expansion. It is rather interesting to note that, although we have the favorable indicators that I have recited, revealing a strength of demand and buoyancy in the economy which, I am sure, we all find very heartening, in that same period since the Budget there have been three quite significant falls in prices of important commodities. First, there has been a fall in the price of wheat, to which my colleague the Deputy Prime Minister (‘Mr. McEwen), has referred. That will have wide repercussions through the economy. The fall from 15s. lOd. to 14s. 5d. a bushel will help the food situation and the stock feed situation and generally will assist us to maintain a stable price level. Secondly, there has been a fall of id. a gallon in the price of petrol. When we consider the quantity of petrol consumed in Australia week by week, we realize that that fall in price is not without its own economic significance. Of course, since the sales tax concessions were announced, there has been a general movement on the part of manufacturers and retailers to pass speedily on to the public the benefits of the concessions we were able to make. So here we have clearly demonstrated the kind of thing we have been working for - price stability - with the public getting the advantage of stable costs and prices and the improved community morale that this situation itself produces. At the same dme there has been a steady expansive movement forwards.
I turn now to one or two particular matters which have been raised in the course of the debate. The Opposition has tried to make something out of the social welfare provisions of the Budget. I wonder whether honorable members opposite know that the pensioner organizations themselves have pressed for the differential rate of pensions which we have adopted in this Budget. To hear the comments of honorable members opposite and to read some’ of the criticisms which have appeared in the press, one would imagine that the Government had adopted a1 certain policy through some niggardly approach of its own. Let me answer that by pointing out that the total provision for social welfare in this Budget is more than four times, in volume, that in the last year of Labour’s term of office.
– It is not enough.
– Oh, it is not enough? It just happens to be four times what you provided in your last term of office. You try to tell me that the value of money has changed. Of course it has! It is about half to-day what it was at that time. But this is a quadrupled provision for social services. The total provision now represents, in the aggregate and by way of percentage, just on £411,000,000 in total and 68 per cent, as a proportion of the total collections of personal income tax.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), the shadow minister for social services, attacked this provision which we have made for a special payment to single pensioners. The Government considered this whole social problem very carefully indeed and the judgment it came to was assisted by the views of the pensioner organizations themselves. I have here a message dissociating these two particular organizations from the criticisms which appeared following the reports of the speech of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. The Government’s decision followed representations of that kind and it followed the most careful and sympathetic study given by the Government members social services committee. It followed a careful analysis made by the Department of Social Services, which is closer to the problem than is any other organization in the community.
– What are the two organizations to which’ you refer?
– I will make the telegram available to the honorable gentleman if he cares to study it. Here we have a record provision for social welfare. I am glad to say that, unlike the attitude adopted by the Opposition, we have had the most appreciative comments and communications from the organizations benefiting as the result of the provisions we have made in this Budget.
Let me now say a word about taxation, because the Opposition has tried to present the Government’s taxation policy as though it was designed to give some special favour to a section of the community as against the rest of the community. The Opposition has for years made this charge, which, on analysis, is so absurd as barely to justify the time necessary to answer it. The Opposition has made the charge that this Government has a policy favouring the wealthier section of the community, while Labour’s policies would benefit those on smaller incomes. We have had considerable pressure from manufacturers and employers on payroll tax, company tax, depreciation for industrial buildings and a wide variety of matters. We have had requests in hundreds of other directions, but our approach has not been one based on a naked political philosophy such as that df the Opposition - a sock-the-rich policy-although in these days of affluence, lii the view of honorable members opposite, the socking process apparently starts with anything above the average weekly earnings. If Labour members are given their heads, a great mass of solid citizens, who are the backbone of the economy of this country, will feel the weight of heavier personal income tax, giving effect to the Labour programme.
Our policy recognizes that in a young and developing country the taxation programme must provide incentive and encouragement to people who take risks - encouragement to people who risk their capital and who expect, by way of return, something rather better than employment in a comfortable job in a large and secure organization would provide for them. The entrepreneurs in this country to-day are the great risk-takers and if there is not the incentive attracting their capital and enterprise we will not get the development that the country needs.
That is why we have a balanced policy on personal income tax, company tax, pay-roll tax and in respect of the indirect taxation - sales tax - field. If ever an argument of the Opposition was exploded, it was the destruction by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) of the arguments put up by the Opposition on the relationship between direct and indirect taxation. The more closely one analyses our taxation policy, the clearer is the recognition that what we have always claimed on our side of politics - “that we stand for the people as a whole and not for any particular section of the community and that we seek to deal fairly by all sections of the Australian people - i& exemplified in our social welfare policy, our housing policy and our taxation policy, as it is in sail the major elements of our economic policy. Because the people recognize that, they will give us their vote of confidence, just as surely as will supporters of the Government give us their vote later to-night.
.- i In taking part in this public debate let me say, first and foremost, that I wholeheartedly support the amendment so ably moved by my leader (Mr. Calwell), which, in cold hard fact, means a vote of censure on this Government. After all the ballyhoo in the press about the expansionary Budget which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was to produce, its ultimate appearance before the stage of Parliament was a tragic flop. The Treasurer hardly mentioned the word “ unemployment “ and national development was barely touched upon. The whole sorry mess was devoid of the slightest concept of economic planning. If this is the Budget on which the Liberal and the Country Parties want to fight an election, let them have an election.
I invite the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to come into the Hume electorate. I remember that he went into Calare, and in the town of Cowra held a magnificent meeting which 600 persons attended. His candidate polled the lowest number of votes. He also went into the electorate of EdenMonaro during the last election and in one place where Labour had never in its history got a majority, on that occasion it got a majority.
The Treasurer’s uninspiring financial message may win a few hurrahs from some graziers, but there was nothing in the Budget for any One else and nothing for the people of Australia, anxious to be Up and about building this great young country of ours. The daily press predicted a small man’s budget and an election-winning budget. What an anti-climax this Budget was! There is very little in it for the worker. There is no boost to the economy to alleviate the unemployment that stalks this fair land. The few concessions handed out by the Menzies-McEwen Government are mainly filched from Labour’s policy. The 10s. rise in pensions is limited to the single pensioner only. I have no objection to the single pensioner receiving an extra 10s., but giving an increase in this way will bring a hornets nest around the head of this Government. The increased widows’ pensions and allowances have been repeatedly urged by Labour for several years. Child endowment has been completely forgotten by the Government. It would appear that it has no concern for our own Australian-born children.
The Treasurer had a lot to say about the benefits that will accrue from the Government’s action in allowing savings banks to increase the amount they invest in housing from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent, of depositors’ balances. But this is of little advantage, because the full 30 per cent, previously allowed was not being used. Workers and young couples cannot afford the high interest rates. The increase of the taxation allowance for education expenses and the removal of the limit on the medical expenses that can be claimed will be of scant benefit to the small man who cannot afford rich school fees or expensive doctors.
There is an old saying that knowledge is power. If this is true, the Government has a big leeway to make up. A national approach to the urgent problems of education is needed. During the 20th century, education standards have risen throughout the world and this process is continuing at an ever-increasing rate. The countries that do the most to foster this trend secure the greatest benefits. Labour will make special grants to the States so that they may eliminate all temporary accommodation and provide adequate class room accommodation, develop physical, health and technical education, train kindergarten teachers and provide science equipment. In comparison with most countries, Australia’s expenditure on education is miserably small and will remain so while conservative thinking determines education policies. The percentage of national income spent by various nations on education is as follows: -
Australia has the lowest percentage of all.
We of the Australian Labour Party believe that an educated democracy is a powerful democracy and that every child must be given the fullest opportunity to develop its talents to the extent of its capabilities. No child should lose the chance of a secondary or university education because its parents cannot afford the cost. Cost is now only a secondary consideration, because our nation just cannot afford to neglect to develop any youthful talent. As a people, our numbers are all too few. The Australian Labour Party will establish a Ministry of Education and Science. In every State, children are being taught in emergency accommodation. Some of it has to be seen to be believed. We of the Australian Labour Party are aware of the financial difficulties facing the States because of this Government’s failure to measure up to its responsibilities. Labour will establish a system of secondary school scholarships similar to the Commonwealth university scholarships. They will be on a qualification basis, payable to students and tenable at any college, State or non-State. Labour will also provide an increasing number of scholarships, again on a qualifying basis, for university education, lt will also provide adequate university buildings. Most importantly, Labour will appoint a commission to inquire into primary, secondary and technical education on the lines of the Murray committee, which inquired into our universities.
Now let me return to another point in this do-little-or-nothing Budget. For five years, Labour has pressed for the abolition of the sales tax on food. The Treasurer’s Budget makes a half-hearted attempt at this. Some foods have been freed, but children’s lollies and soft drinks still carry the impost. To appease the Australian Country Party, a few sops have been banded out to the farmers. Here again, the Government has stolen Labour’s policy. Labour was the first to grant a subsidy of superphosphate. It did this back in the middle ‘forties. This Government was the first to abolish it. The Government has a sorry record, as far as the primary industries are concerned.
Summed up, this is a pious hope Budget. The Government has done nothing to stimulate the economy and to provide employment, hoping all the time that the private sector will do the job. The Government will find no public confidence whatever in the Budget. Investors will continue to play safe by investing in government bonds instead of backing industry. In August of last year, the Australian Labour Party proposed action to lower interest rates. The Treasurer described this as immoderate and inflationary. He has now been forced to eat his words and to lower interest rates. The Prime Minister promised to restore full employment by the end of 1962. He has failed to honour this undertaking. In the last month, the number of persons unsuccessfully seeking employment scarcely fell at all, whilst there was a drop in the number of available jobs and a rise in the number of persons receiving unemployment benefits. The Menzies-McEwen Government is trying to condition the Australian people into accepting a high level of unemployment. I recall that back in the 1940’s the late Profesor Hytten, who was a supporter of this Government, advocated that we should have a pool of unemployed of from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent, of the work force.
This Government maintains that little can be done about the problem of unemployment, at least in the shortterm, by increasing community spending because so much of the unemployment is among women and unskilled workers and because special treatment is required in these fields. Statistics do not bear out this superficial and misleading analysis by the
Government. There is a sluggish demand for Labour generally - not just for women and unskilled workers. This fact is illustrated by the few vacancies registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. The number of vacancies registered with the service has dropped by 50 per cent, since late 1960. In the mid 1950’s unfilled vacancies represented 1 per cent, of the work force, but last year they represented 0.5 per cent, of the work force. The employment problems of women and unskilled workers are not new. For a long time there has been an over-supply of unskilled labour compared with skilled labour. Since 1949 unemployment among women has consistently been higher than among men. If anything, the disparity is being increased.
After its horror budgets of 1951 and 1956 the Government was willing and able to reduce the general level of employment despite the special problems of women and the unskilled. The Government’s discovery ox these problems now is a political smokescreen to obscure its failure to reduce unemployment after its 1960 horror budget. There is still considerable scope for a reduction in overall unemployment.
One reply to the argument presented by the Leader of the Opposition has come from the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). So weak was the Minister’s case that he had to resort to downright misrepresentation in order to bolster his argument. The Minister said that the Leader of the Opposition and of the Labour Party had only recently begun to advocate the restoration of the superphosphate industry.
The Minister said -
On examining that claim’ I found that during the election campaign in 1961 there was no reference by the Labour Party to a superphosphate subsidy. That proposal was kicked around a little in the Grey by-election campaign, it is true; but it was being kicked around by every one at that stage.
In other words, the Minister gave a broad hint that the Government introduced the bounty proposal merely for electoral purposes.
I join issue with the Minister. His examination of Labour’s policy speech apparently did not go very far. I happen to know that the Minister has a copy of that speech: In it the Leader of the Opposition said -
Secondly, Labour will restore the subsidy of £3 a ton on superphosphate, for which Mr. Pollard was responsible and which the Menzies Government abolished.
That was Labour’s policy in December, 1961, yet the Minister for the Interior has tbe audacity to claim that we did not advocate the restoration of the subsidy until the Grey by-election campaign in May this year. The overgrown schoolboy posing as a Minister should do his homework better. I am sure that the headmaster of Guildford Grammar School would have made this a caning matter.
The Minister for the Interior recently wrote two letters to the “Farmers’ Weekly” of Western Australia, making thinly veiled attacks on the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen). The Minister had the impudence to compare his experience as a Minister with that of the Minister for Trade. Just imagine this messenger-boy Minister - almost the bottom of the class - comparing himself with a man who was a senior Minister when the Minister for the Interior was still learning how to box. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the two letters to which I have referred -
Sir: In the article titled “Liberals May Reject Bid for Rural Aid in Budget Talks “ in your issue of July 18 your Canberra correspondent is guilty of purely partisan propaganda which can only seek to make mischief in the Federal Coalition Government.
Moreover, the article is demonstrably false. It suggests that Mr. McEwen is seeking advantages for rural industries that will be opposed by Liberals. This speculative nonsense might deceive some. But if accepted it should condemn Mr. McEwen personally in the minds of anyone who understands Cabinet Government.
If Mr. McEwen disagrees with what Cabinet decides, or has decided, and wants to express disagreement, there is only one course open to him, as he accepted in the case of Mr. Bury; namely resign. If he, or any other Minister, discusses outside Cabinet the details of proposals before Cabinet, then this is a flagrant breach of all principles of Cabinet responsibility and, again, he has only one course - to resign.
If he, or anyone else, tells or publicly speculates about individual ministerial opinions expressed around the Cabinet table, again he is talking so much out of turn that he should resign.
By fabricating this story of Mr. McEwen’s budget proposals your Canberra correspondent is therefore attributing to Mr. McEwen the grossest disloyalty to his Cabinet colleagues. Hard as he plays politics, I don’t believe Mr. McEwen would want to have that reputation in order to score a political point
Moreover, from his published speech at the New South Wales Conference of the Country Party, Mr. McEwen is clearly in favour of maximum economic growth, even where, to- use his own words, “it impinges on stability.”
Indeed, if any criticism of Cabinet could be implied from that speech, it would be that it has chosen the course of stability, rather than progress - again to quote his own words, to slow down growth “ in order to have the comfort of pleasant stability.” Since he has frequently pointed out that we can only hope for satisfactory growth through the expansion of secondary industry, and all primary producers will agree that they are hurt most by any sacrifice of stability, this hardly puts Mr. McEwen in a line up of Country Party against Liberals in Cabinet. Yours etc.,
Minister for the Interior and Works.
Sir: Mr. D. W. Maisey has obligingly endorsed the view expressed previously by the State President of the Liberal and Country League (Mr. Reg. Withers) that because the Liberal Party has nine of the 12 members of the senior Cabinet it must have a greater share of the responsibility for Cabinet decisions.
No Liberal objects to this, provided the Party is given as much credit for popular decisions as it is criticised for unpopular decisions.
Mr. Maisey in criticising the Liberals for wheat Stabilisation defects has expressed a view which is at variance with your Canberra Correspondent’s startling fabrication that the Country Party Ministers impose their views as a minority by threatening to walk out.
In my experience as a Minister (which is as long as Mr. McEwen has been leader of the CP.) this has never happened. While I cannot vouch for Sir Arthur Fadden’s leadership I understand the situation was no different.
My letter was never intended to be read as an attack on Mr. McEwen but as an exposure of the absurdity of your “Canberra Correspondent’s” partisan and mischievous comments. Mr. Maisey apparently agrees.
I do not intend to engage in a debate with Mr. Maisey over the new topic he has introduced - namely the erosion of the value of the Wheat Stabilisation scheme, except to say that this does not seem to be borne out by the substantial part that increased farm values play in the increased cost of production, particularly in a period when costs have been relatively stable. Yours, etc.,
Minister for the Interior and Works.
As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out in his brilliant speech on 20th August last, the Treasurer, who used to make so much of the fact in other years that he was budgeting for deficits, did not tell the House in clear words whether he planned for a deficit at all this year. If one wants to find out what he had in mind one must search through the tables that were presented after the Budget speech. These, of course, are not likely to be seen or read by the general public The use of the budget surplus or deficit as a restraint or stimulus to the economy is a vital element in fiscal policy and it is essential that I should make clear just how erroneous the Government’s judgment has been over recent years. I use the Consolidated Revenue Fund figures as the most reliable guide to the Teal deficit or surplus. In 1956-57 the theme of the then Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, was that the Government had developed policy measures designed to restrain demand and so mitigate pressures on resources. A surplus of £195,000,000 was achieved in that year. The economy collapsed and there was a new peak of unemployment. In 1957-58 the diagnosis was that we had reached a state of substantial balance at a high level of trade and internal activity. But the surplus was cut to a Tittle more than £100,000,000 and the Treasurer was in fact whistling in the dark, because in 1958-59 he said that there must he an enlargement of activity to ensure employment opportunities for additional labour -and absorption of the increased output of mills and factories. Thus Sir Arthur Fadden admitted another lost year for the Australian economy and in fact provided for a deficit of £9,000,000. By 1959-60 the present Treasurer had come to office. He considered that the vital thing to do was to keep local expansion moving. Nevertheless, he did nothing to provide any further stimulus and estimated that he would have a balanced budget. The Treasurer admitted in the following year.: -
Clearly a strong upthrust of activity is still under way. Prices and costs rose sharply over last year and, so far, the rate of increase does not seem to be slackening . . . clear signs that out efforts to expand are overreaching our resources.
If that were the case, he should have taken action in his 1959-60 budget, but he left it until the 1960-61 budget to introduce a set of measures which resulted in a surplus of nearly £150,000,000. He was wrong again, of course, and when he added the final touch of the measures of 1960 the economy came crashing about his ears. So, hi the 1961-62 budget, he offered his sympathy, saying -
Our sympathies are strongly with those who, through the turn of events, find themselves unemployed. On behalf of the Government I assure them . . . that we will do everything that oan reasonably be done to lift this misfortune from them.
What he felt reasonable was to reduce the estimated surplus to £83,000,000, which was only £20,000,000 less than in 1957-58, when the Government felt the economy had reached a state of substantial balance.
The election that followed the presentation of that budget showed him that sympathy was not enough. So, adopting in part the proposals of the Labour Party, he introduced new measures which had the effect of producing a balanced budget and reducing the proposed surplus by a further £83,000,000. In last year’s budget the Treasurer spoke of -
The determination of the Government to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level we can hope to sustain.
The proposed deficit was £47,000,000 and the actual deficit £40,000,000, nearly £40,000,000 greater than in the previous year when the Government was offering sympathy. This year the Treasurer has not said whether he plans for a surplus or a deficit, but, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, there will be the highest peace-time deficit on record. Because this Government has made no attempt to plan ahead, because it will not provide genuine leadership and guidance, the Australian economy is threatened with another period of boom and bust. The Government still remains addicted to the stop-and-go technique that I have described. This has been its policy ever since it came to office, and this remains its policy, and will remain its policy while it stays in power.
Let me mention now some of the things that a Labour government will do when it comes to office in the very near future. The Leader of the Opposition has promised that a Labour government will revise all income tax rates and allowances. Labour will restore equity in taxes with a fair go for lower income and family wage-earners, who represent the vast majority of the Australian people. The Leader of the Opposition also promised that a Labour government would legislate for increased social services, gradual abolition of the pay-roll tax, establishment of a home finance commission to guarantee loans at low interest and on low deposits for housing, immediate and greatly increased financial aid for secondary and technical education, and a new and effective defence policy.
In this Budget the Treasurer and the Government had a great opportunity to provide real and genuine leadership, to let the fresh breeze of hope and optimism flow through the nation. They have thrown away that opportunity, perhaps their last opportunity.
A Labour government will take the defence of Australia from the dusty realm of three and seven-year programmes which are pigeon-holed almost as soon as they are made. Australia has never had an effective defence policy since this Government came to power, but Labour will repair that deficiency. We will tell the people openly and frankly what defence burden they must bear. We will not pretend, as the Government does, that the national interest is served by a system of down payments on the instalment plan for weapons and equipment which may be delivered anything from one to five years hence.
Labour will place the prosperity of the Australian farming community on a firm and secure basis by a system of commodity marketing schemes, subsidized where necessary and established with the consent and operated with the co-operation of the growers. Labour will not ignore, as the Government seems prepared to do, the difficulties of the wool industry. Labour will establish, in co-operation with Queensland and Western Australia, a planning authority, along the lines of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, to tackle the problem of development in the north.
No attempt is now being made to deal with the transport problems of the nation. When will we have a continuous standard gauge railway crossing the continent? That is one of the questions we ask. When will this Government take over yet another item of Labour policy and return the proceeds of the petrol tax to the States? When will it introduce a national roads plan for Australia? Labour policy would envisage planning for growth, for full employment without inflation for defence, for security.
The underlying defect of this Budget, a defect which it shares with all the budgetary measures brought down by the present
Treasurer, is that it lacks a coherent plan and fails to give guidance to business or leadership to the people. Let me say in conclusion, in the words of my great leader, that we can be a great nation, that we will be a great nation, but that if we are to make the break-through to greatness we must have in government those who are willing to lead. Those who have lost the will to lead have lost the right to lead. That, in the final analysis, is why this Budget fails to satisfy the full needs of the nation. That is why, in the hour of our common trial as political parties before the jury of this nation, whenever that hour may strike, this Government, which has abdicated leadership, will be rejected by the Australian people.
.- This has been a long and somewhat drawnout debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I have no doubt that many honorable members will be somewhat relieved when the following speaker concludes the debate. The Opposition has tried to make out a case for criticism of the Budget by the formality of moving an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Appropriation Bill 1963-64, but one senses that despite the hollow protestations of some honorable members opposite, the majority of honorable members support the important new items in the Budget.
What the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has, in fact, tried to do has been to use this debate as a vehicle for putting forward so-called Labour policy. What he has succeeded in doing is to add greatly to the already confused and devious form of Labour policy. This confusion has been greatly accentuated by a number of inaccuracies in his own speech, notably a completely improper assertion that the 1963-64 budget deficit will amount to £358,000,000. In fact, there is a budgeted deficit of £58,000,000. He was in error by some £300,000,000, that amount being the loan raising for the States. He again showed his inconsistency by saying that when the loan market was previously slow-moving it was due to a want of confidence in the Government. Now, because of the success in the loan market, he has again said it is due to a lack of confidence in the Government. How he can reconcile those two statements I do not know.
These conflicting statements have come, not only from the Leader of the Opposition, but also from the Deputy Leader and members of. the Opposition. The greatest conflict, in short, is in the loan policy as propounded by the present Leader of the Opposition. It has become evident that the Labour Party has two policies. It has two faces. It has one face to present on certain occasions and another face to present when it so wishes.
There are some glaring examples of Labour’s two faces to be seen in relation to defence. Labour has consistently, during the period that this Government has been in office, opposed the amount of money that we have been spending on defence, year by year. On some occasions the Opposition has suggested that the amount spent on defence should be reduced by up to £50,000,000. Now, for the purpose of the exercise, perhaps trailing its coat for the electors, the Opposition wants the amount increased. I can see no consistency when honorable members opposite who, on previous occasions, clearly stated that the Government was spending much too much money on defence now advocate an increase. Let us look at the Labour Party’s attitude towards defence, if one can discover it. The left wing of the party, including its federal conference, has said in fairly clear terms, as one can read from press reports, that we should withdraw our troops from Malaya. We should withdraw our Air Force from Butterworth.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member may suggest it is not true because the right wing of the Labour Party has suggested that there is a way out by which, under its existing so-called policy, Australian troops may be allowed to stay. The confusion is not only in the minds of Government members but in the minds of the public as to exactly what is meant by the Labour Party. There are two faces on this policy and it is not possible clearly to understand the precise policy it is attempting to adopt. My own belief is - and I think it is substantially true - that it has gone back to the old policy of the threemile limit. That is the policy which was expounded by a late member of the House, the late Mr. Ward, who said that no Australian, no aircraft and no ship should serve outside the three miles territorial limit of Australia. One can only come to the conclusion that this is the suggestion of the Labour Party, that we should withdraw our troops frrom Malaya and our aircraft from Butterworth. It has gone back to that old-fashioned policy which, on examination, can be seen to be ridiculous. The Labour Party ignores one very simple principle that the best a government may do is to keep any potential aggression as far away from its front doorstep as is possible. One has only to turn, while on the subject of defence, to the attitude of the Labour Party towards the United States communication station at North West Cape. Here again we have the most fantastic confusion.
– What is wrong with the Budget?
– This is part of the Budget, as the honorable member now promoted to the front bench ought to know. Defence is part of the Budget and I am talking about defence. On the one hand, Labour said, “We will not support the North West Cape installation. We will re-negotiate it, if given the opportunity.” In point of fact, this means that Labour is almost prepared to repudiate the agreement. It is hardly necessary to remind honorable members that, during the course of the debate on the establishment of the communication station, the Opposition endeavoured to kill the agreement by moving that the third reading be postponed for six months. This would have killed the agreement. The Opposition knew full well that the Americans, for reasons well known to honorable members opposite, wanted to conclude the agreement before a period of six months had elapsed. I wonder whether, when the Opposition looks back into its skeleton cupboard, it still remembers Manus Island. If ever there was a very wrong decision made by a government of this country it was made when the Labour Government refused to accept the offer of the United States of America to take over the base at Manus Island. Manus Island was an extremely well-equipped base. One hesitates even to estimate what amount of money would have been spent on that base by the Americans. But by a policy decision of the Labour Party the offer was refused.
The greatest mystery of all in connexion with defence is the nuclear-free zone.
When the Leader of the Opposition went to the United States of America, I understand that he attempted to explain the attitude of the Labour Party on this matter to President Kennedy. I understand, as much as one can from press reports, that the President completely failed to follow the Labour Party’s attitude towards this matter. I, as a lesser person, find it very hard to follow its attitude.
I now refer to the re-equipment of the Air Force so far as fighter and bomber aircraft are concerned. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, backed up again by the Leader of the Opposition, has asserted that the Labour Party could buy aircraft off the hook. It is very easy to make a statement of that kind. It may confuse or bemuse some members of the public but if anybody makes the slightest examination of such a statement he will come to the conclusion that it is merely a platitude, uttered for effect. Any person with a slight knowledge of the technical details involved in purchasing aircraft will know that an aircraft may be on the drawing board to-day and, almost literally, tomorrow it may be out of date. Our problem is not only to buy an aircraft to last us for some time as a current aircraft, but to buy an aircraft which is suitable for our peculiar conditions. I think that all honorble members know that the problem of a fighter is solved. We have .agreed to buy, and will receive very soon, the Mirage aircraft, a French fighter. Discussions are in the process of being concluded in relation to the re-equipment of our bomber force to replace the Canberra which, admittedly, is more or less obsolete. The choice has resolved itself to the TSR-2, a British aircraft, the Vigilante and the TFX, American aircraft, and the Mirage IV., a French aircraft. I have no hesitation in saying that if I had the choice, I would unhesitatingly choose the TSR-2, but for one reservation which I will mention in a moment. It is an aircraft with very effective low-flying capability which enables it to evade radar installations. It .has a greater potential survival rate than any. other aircraft that we can call to mind. However, my reservation which I know is the concern of those who, at the moment, are making up their minds as to which aircraft they will choose, relates to the delivery date by the manufacturers. That, I fear, is one of the reasons why the TSR-2 may not be chosen. I do not know which aircraft is to be chosen. There has been some discussion on this matter in the press and I think that we may get the Vigilante bomber in the end. Perhaps the main reason why we may not be able to purchase the TSR-2 goes back to a decision several years ago when the United Kingdom Government - unwisely, I think - decided to place no further orders for manned aircraft and to base its air defence on unmanned machines. That, in itself, dealt a pretty severe body blow at the British aircraft industry.
Some honorable members on the other side of the House would have us believe that fighter and bomber aircraft can be built in Australia. Any honorable member Who bothers to ascertain the cost of the Mirage aircraft that are being bought and the possible cost of replacement bomber aircraft will be staggered by the sum involved. I want to make it quite clear that if, at this point of time, we set out to tool and rig for the building of both bomber and fighter aircraft in this country, we could build our requirements of these machines only at prohibitive cost. For these reasons. I suggest that some of the arguments on this subject advanced by Opposition members are completely pointless.
I turn now to the two faces of Labour’s policy. One has only to consider the question of trade to see how these two faces of Labour’s policy are revealed. With the threat of the European Common Market and the upheaval that it may cause in the -commercial community, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), quite properly and very effectively, took strong measures to intensify our search for markets in SouthEast Asia. These efforts met with considerable success. The Opposition’s attitude to the Japanese Trade Agreement is a significant factor in its trade policy. The Opposition has been rather critical of the Government’s successful efforts to obtain new markets abroad, but we should not forget that the Opposition opposed the Japanese Trade Agreement and voted against it. As is well known to every person in Australia, the trade treaty with Japan has provided us with a market that represents our mainstay for wool exports and for exports of many other products.
The winning of the Japanese market has helped to stabilize our export markets generally.
Let me turn now to. the Opposition’s attitude to the investment of overseas capital in Australia. Time and time again in this Parliament we have heard honorable members opposite oppose the inflow of capital from overseas. Within the last couple of months, the Leader of the Opposition has been in the United States of America protesting rather too much to President Kennedy that the Australian Labour Party was not really opposed to the inflow of capital from overseas. The honorable gentleman, admittedly, said that some restraint should be put on the investment of overseas capital in Australia and to a point perhaps I agree with him on that issue. But let us not have any doubts about whether, generally speaking, a socialist government would present a welcome sight to potential overseas investors in Australia. It would not. To see confusion worse confounded in the Labour Party, one has only to consider the utterances of the New South Wales Premier and his attitude to the investment of overseas capital in Australia.
Another illustration of the confusion in the policy of the Labour Party is to be found in that party’s attitude to inflation. The Leader of the Opposition the other evening proposed that we increase expenditure and reduce revenue. Anybody knows that that is absolutely the reverse of the remedy needed to reduce inflation to any degree, and just the reverse of sensible budgeting.
I want to discuss now some of the details of the Budget proposals, Sir. Notwithstanding what was said by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), who preceded me, I say that everybody in Australia benefits in some way from the increased pensions and other benefits provided in this Budget. The income of civilian widows will be increased by up to £3 a week, and I do not think that any member of the Parliament would argue against that for one second. I am sure that we all completely agree with that substantial increase. We must not forget that repatriation pensions payable to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, and other repatriation pensions and war widows’ pensions, have been increased. I am sure that the Parliament as a whole approves these increases.
The individual taxpayer is to receive the benefit of an increase in the limit below which income is not taxable from £105 to £209 a year. This represents a useful benefit. Those who are bringing up children - most of us in this Parliament are - will receive the benefit of an increase from £100 to £150 in the maximum permissible tax deduction for each child in respect of education expenses. The limit on deductions for medical expenses is to be removed entirely. This, in itself, represents a very substantial benefit. AH of us know that at times individual families have to foot very large medical bills in one year.
A very significant benefit for the average man will result from the removal of the sales tax on many foodstuffs subject at present to sales tax at the rate of 12£ per cent. This may not appear significant to many people, but in the long run it will be of much benefit. Let me give honorable members a simple illustration. Pastrycooks and bakers in small country centres will no longer have to pay sales tax on many items and, perhaps even more important to them, will no longer have the time-consuming, task of filling in the necessary forms and submitting them to the Taxation Branch. They will be relieved of a small but very irritating job.
Much has been said in this debate about housing. In terms of cold, hard cash, this Budget will provide an additional £97,000,000 for housing throughout Australia.
– Not enough!
– It may not be enough, but it represents a direct boost to housing. Let me take at random another example of the merits of this Budget. An additional £5,250,000 is to be provided for expenditure in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This will be a very welcome addition to the revenue of that Territory.
At this point, I propose to make a few somewhat parochial remarks concerning my own State, Tasmania. The recent proposal to increase the tariff duty on imports of canned tuna is of considerable significance to many people employed in my electorate and in the electorates of those honorable members who represent constituencies on the south coast of New South Wales. This proposal will ensure that the local canners are at no disadvantage in competing against the imported product, and this should help the industry greatly. I believe that we can develop a very prosperous tuna industry in Tasmania. Some excellent work has been done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization but much more work is needed to follow through to the establishment of a soundly based industry.
I refer now to a matter which has been mentioned previously - the superphosphate subsidy. The Opposition has claimed - I do not quite know how, when or why - that it was the first to think of the subsidy. The fact is that the superphosphate subsidy has been promoted by the Liberal Party for some time and I, representing in part a rural area, have been one of those who believe strongly that this is not only a necessary and a useful subsidy but also that it is one which, in the long run, will pay handsome dividends to the Government in the form of exports It is one form of cost that the farmer has to bear and one over which he has no control.
I should like to say hew much we in Tasmania appreciate what has been done for our State by the Commonwealth Government in the matter of shipping and freights. This cannot be emphasized too often. After all, it is only in the last few years that we have had the “ Princess of Tasmania “, the “ Bass Trader “ and the “ South Esk “ and soon we are to have the “ Empress of Australia “. Because of the action that the Government has taken and because of the funds that it has advanced, the tourist industry has made a considerable step forward. It has become an important facet of the State’s revenue and has helped to develop the State. In addition, goods which now are transported from the mainland by searoad, as it is called, notably perishable goods, fruit and similar commodities, are becoming cheaper.
On the general question of shipping and freights I make this observation: Freights have risen to such an extent that if they rise any further on exports from Tasmania, such as apples, the Government will have to consider an export subsidy. This is one cost that the producer cannot control. It is the highest single component in his costs. Most western countries subsidize their exports in some form so that they can compete on world markets. If there is a further increase in freights the time will have arrived when we shall have to adopt the same policy.
If all the words of gloom, despair, doubt, pessimism, uncertainty and woe uttered by the Labour Party were believed by the people it would not be possible to build a wailing wall big enough to accommodate every one. These are the present-day stock in trade of the Labour Party. Fortunately, most people have the good sense to ignore this policy of despair, but Labour has a great deal to answer for in areas where this dismal campaign has made some impression. To try deliberately to destroy the morale of the people is hardly a patriotic act. After all, the consumer price index is steady, prices are stable, real wages are increasing, the gross national product is rising, housing is on the increase and unemployment is falling substantially. I support the Budget.
.- My speech will conclude the debate on the Budget and a vote then will be taken on the proposed amendment which has been submitted by the Opposition. I am both proud and honoured to deliver the Opposition’s summing-up in this debate. I am pleased to see that the Treasurer (Mr Harold Holt) is in his place to hear some comments that we still desire to make on the Budget. The point we make and the thing which h» must realize is that he never came to grips with the questions asked of him by honorable members on this side of the House nor did he give any necessary explanations. There is no doubt about that. There has not been a fight on this Budget because the Government either would not or dare not fight. That is quite clear. It is all right to make a lot of noises and refer to subjects with which I shall deal later, but questions were asked by the economists and others on our side of the House and they were not answered.
The Treasurer is a curious Treasurer. He entered the chamber a fortnight ago and read a lengthy tome. He can be excused because the Budget is a compendium. It is difficult to deliver a Budget speech when people are listening to see what benefits they have or have not been given. Delivering a budget speech is not the test of a man’s calibre. But having done that, having laid his egg, as it were, the Treasurer cleared out of the . chamber and we have not seen him since - I have been watching the position pretty closely - until tonight because he knew that the budgetary egg was addled and it did not take us a fortnight to learn that it was also infertile. There is the dereliction. For his own reasons - we have supported them - he desires to leave this Parliament and go overseas. But if a man is handing to the nation a budget which he protests is so all-powerful, so all-mighty so all-pervasive and so all-embracing that it will cure all our ills, why does he not sit in his place in the chamber, see it through and fight it out? He locks himself away among his experts and leaves the small fry to carry the burden. So weak was his initial attack and so atrocious his final reply an hour or two ago when he took twenty minutes to explain the unexplainable, that I am moved to wonder whether he has not disaffected the whole of his party. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) who, we all admit, is a brilliant speaker, if you like that kind of talk, who is an effective speaker, if you like to be gently tickled in the midriff, and who is a most comprehensive speaker when he wants to expand, looked rather like the fat boy at the eisteddfod reading a set speech on the subject -
The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead.
The dead were members of the Liberal Party who had not the courage to fight their own Budget. They have not made the necessary explanation.
I have been listening carefully to the budget debate because my role has to be that of an observer. The honorable member who is quacking now can quack in another direction. 1 have been able to handle him in other places and I think I can stop him nattering now. I want to speak about the effect of the Budget - the most vital aspect. People outside who were listening to the Budget speech no doubt asked themselves: “ What do we get out of it? What does it mean? How does it affect me? “
We can disregard what has been said by Government supporters. Our economists - restrained, trenchant, pungent and1 driving home their points - did not fall for the gimmicks which I believe completely bewildered the public.
Let me disappear, as it were, from this chamber for a moment and replace myself with a man whom I represent. Let us call this mythical figure Bill Smith of 21 Beamish-street, Campsie. If he was listening in during the week, as I was, he would have heard the economic miracle workers - the honorable gentlemen opposite - discussing the Budget without going into the Budget’s practical material. He would have heard the words “ balance of payments “ 48 times. I am sure that Bill Smith does not know what balance of payments are but when it comes to taking his wages home to his wife the imbalance, no doubt, is very apparent to him. He would have heard the words “ portfolio investment “ at least 27 times. The only portfolio investment poor old Bill has is when he goes to the Canterbury racecourse, which is in my electorate, where the bookmaker holds the portfolio and Bill Smith holds a ticket on a losing horse. For God’s sake, be realistic when you are discussing these things with the Australian people. Bill Smith would have heard the word “ productivity” bandied about and one honorable member gently chide another: “ My dear fellow, you do not mean productivity; you mean production. There is a difference, you know.” It is extraordinary that people should become so lost. Such terms are legitimate for an economist to use, but they should not be used in explanation of a practical housekeeping budget.
Then in the higher intellectual bracket in the corner where the doctors abound, I heard people referring in their economic jargon to the inflation accelerator. Up she goes! Poor old Bill! What would he think about inflation? He would think it would be a nasty day at Woolworths, when he was not able to get home with the food. They talk of the inflation accelerator. How utterly absurd! Honorable members opposite resort to semantics, using words to disguise their meaning because they have no case. I also heard a shy reference by a rather shy honorable member to the Isabella curve. I hope the perfume of the House of Commons has not got into this House, and that the reference to the Isabella curve had nothing whatever to do with his sex life. I do not know; I simply say that there were references to these things. Is it any wonder that the Opposition is dazed and disappointed and that the members of the public are dazed and disillusioned, because the debate that goes on has no reality? The twenty minutes’ speech of the Treasurer reminded me of his days on holiday. He was deeply submerged and breathing through his snorkel. I could not get anything out of his speech, and I am sure that the nation could not gel anything at all out of it.
After that lead-in on this matter, I want to ask the Treasurer a question that he has refused to answer in the course of his reply to a long debate in which he has been beaten, worsted, defeated and flung aside. Will he give us some answers to questions on matters about which the man in the street, the average fellow, the Bill Smith, to whom I have referred, wants to know. The Treasurer should have given an answer to at least one question, namely: What are the future plans for employment? I know that some one has to say: “ What did you say, Haylen? You said that 5 per cent, unemployment was satisfactory.” I say to that person: Be careful that you do not fall into that trap. I heard one honorable member opposite talking about a great hole in production. Honorable members opposite may fall into it if they do not watch unemployment. I am sure that they do not understand it and know nothing about it.
We have only to look at the employment figures for three years to prove that the Government is not improving the unemployment situation. The figures relating to immigration, automation and mechanization prove that the unemployment situation cannot be improved by this Government which applies stupid, old-fashioned economic policies.
– But you did make that statement, didn’t you?
– The beetroot from Ballaarat has risen from the vegetable patch. I shall deal with him in due course. In the meantime, I merely say to him: Never mind running around Mount Ainslie trying to track me down in this year of grace. I know you are a bloodhound. I tremble at your approach. Put your collar on, tie yourself up and keep quiet.
Here is a serious proposition in relation to the Budget - a proposition that this Liberal Party-Country Party Government, now in sore disarray, will not touch. These are simple figures. I have to use simple figures. I am not a great economist. I cannot juggle figures. But in simplicity there is truth. So I ask you to listen to them. In June, 1961, 111,700 people were out of work. In June, 1962, 93,100 people were out of work. In June, 1963, 81,409 people were out of work. Is this what the Treasurer is chortling about? Is this the great recovery? It is a bit of seasonal catching up of the slack. It has nothing to do with a recovery, because the way the Government is acting the position is insoluble. In simple arithmetic, it means that over the three years for which I have given figures the Government, by every devious means, by prayer and fasting and by pumping some money into the economy, has put back into the labour force 20,000 men who would have gone back there anyway because it was summer and people buy ice-creams in summer. That is all it means. The Government has not got near solving this problem. In simple arithmetic, it means that the Government has put 20,000 men back to work in three years. I am sure that the honorable member for Ballaarat will understand this.
– You have always prayed for unemployment. You have always wanted unemployment.
– Order! The honorable member for Ballaarat must not interject.
– Therefore, under Liberalism, in the best circumstances, it will be twelve years before the workers are back in employment and full employment is given to them, as it was under the Chifley Government.
– What is full employment?
– You can get your little ready reckoner out. In three years 20,000 people have been put in work. Multiply that figure by four and you get 80,000, the number of people unemployed; and four times three are twelve. So it will be twelve years before you, if you are not far away from this House by that time, will realize that it takes that time for your party to put the unemployed people back to work, if there was nothing to prevent it doing so. But there is. It is that the Government does not understand its own plans. That is why it will not get the unemployed people back into work, and it ought to tell the workers that.
There is unemployment; there is automation; there is immigration and there is mechanization. All of those things are forces working for the disemployment of men and women. You are not beginning to understand them. You bring down your ridiculous Budget and talk about the gross national product. What is the gross national product? It is a sort of mythical can into which you can put motor cars, pianos and pink lavatory seats; but nobody knows, in the ultimate, what is the value of that production. The term “ gross national product “ is another gimmick of the fairy tale spinners from the economic Disneyland.
Let us have some solid facts. I have proved to the House that the unemployment figure is being decreased at such a slow rate that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ said to the Minister, in effect: “ This is not good enough. You will have to increase the absorbtion of unemployed people; otherwise we are going to be in serious trouble “. I will tell the honorable members opposite now why the Minister remains in serious trouble. Let us have a look at the immigration figures. In the three years for which I gave the unemployment figures, the migrant intake of this country was the high figure of 206,900. Let us have the simple figures that delight the heart of the honorable member for Ballaarat. I will put them in juxtaposition. There are the people out of work who have nothing, and the people who are coming in and want something. In June, 1961, 111,700 people were unemployed; the migrant intake for the year 1960-61 was 86,700. In June, 1962, 93,100 people were unemployed; the migrant intake for the year 1961-62 was 56,200. Are you getting it? In June, 1963, 81,409 people were unemployed; the migrant intake for the year 1962-63 was 64,000. Let us have the totals. The total number of workless people over that period was 296,209. The migrant intake over that period was 206,900.
– Plus or minus five.
– You are a minus. A total of 296,209 people were out of work in this country with 10,000,000 people and an economy such as we know exists under this Liberal Party-Country Party Government; and 206,900 people came into ‘.he country. Talk about the labour of Hercules! Talk about the Augean stables! What can you do when one shovelful goes out and another shovelful comes in. That is precisely what happens. How can you keep people in employment?
I am a supporter of immigration. I had the distinction of working on the immigration programme under our present leader. I was sent to Europe to discover suitable migrants. I support immigration. But the immigration that is supported by this side of the House carries, under the Chifley Government’s directive to us, one essential factor that this Government does not care about. There has to be an economic factor in it. There must be jobs for the people who come from other countries; otherwise there should be no immigration. If there are no jobs, for them, what is it? It is a biological piece of cruelty, squeezing bodies into this country as some of those junior officers squeezed recruits into the Army and then neglected them. That is not going to happen under a Labour government. There is your problem, and you have not the guts to solve it. Let me repeat the figures I have cited. In three years there were 296,209 unemployed Australians and 206,900 migrants. Are honorable members opposite prepared to go before a group of migrants working on a building project in my electorate or waiting outside a Commonwealth employment office and say that this is a good idea? It cannot work, because the economy of our small country, with a population of 11,000,000, cannot absorb them when we have not jobs for our own people. Honorable members opposite tell us that the gross national product has grown by 8 per cent, or that something else happened, but there are real factors and undercurrents which they have not explained to this House. Migration, automation and mechanization are causing a drag and men, when they lose their jobs, cannot get back into work. Some of them never return.
The Treasurer should ponder this question, because he does not begin to understand the awful tragedy of unemployment. I direct a question to any honorable member opposite: Is there any reason he can discover why the United States of
America, the richest and most powerful country in the world, and full of ideas, has 6,000,000 people unemployed and cannot get them back to work? The same thing is happening as is happening here. Men are being replaced by machines and the Minister for Labour and National Service comes in with his squash rackets under his arms and says: “We have two more back at work this week. Isn’t it lovely? “ It shows that he has no common sense and does not understand the position.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who is one of my close personal friends and a great human, spoke to me the other day, in the most graphic way which he has, about how automation can effect people on the coal-fields. He mentioned the tragedy of unemployment there and spoke of how the owners mechanized the mines. What has happened on the coal-fields? Conditions are better for those men in work, but 4,000 miners disappeared. Where did they go? Some went on the dole, some into retirement, some got other jobs or got lost somewhere. The Government does not understand that the machine is not merely putting men out of a job. It is putting them on the scrapheap.
– There are 9,000 of them out of work in New South Wales.
-LEN. - My colleague, who also has a couple of coalmines in his electorate, and is well aware of the disabilities suffered by the producers of the coal, says there are 9,000 of these men out of work in New South Wales. That is the indicator State, if I may borrow an economic term from the Government. There is your problem - migration on the one side and mechanization and automation on the other. You do not see it. You run to the glass and ask: “ What is the weather this morning? Fair and warm! Time for a game of tennis.” You have not a clue in respect of unemployment.
– What is your definition of full employment?
– The honorable member for Ballaarat is interjecting again, so I will use short sentences which will not disturb him. The tragedy of the situation is that it is Australians who are out of work. If they are listening to-night to the clap-trap which has been talked in this Parliament for a fortnight, with references to the gross national product, portfolio investment and the accelerator in inflation, they must be filled with horror. They would think they accidentaly struggled into one of our lesser asylums for the insane. Let me bring the debate back to reality.
We have said that the Government has not got a plan and can do nothing for the unemployed because it is only hitting at the effect. When a jug falls off a shelf it is because something has shaken it. The Government just puts the jug back on the shelf, says “Isn’t it lovely?” and thinks everything is right again. We want to get at the cause of the damned and brutal thing which is putting men and women out of work. The Government knows nothing about it and, what is more, is determined to do nothing about it. But the Government is out! It is on the way. The Government’s gone and it does not matter.
When I speak to honorable members opposite, I feel it is like preaching to the dead in the cemetery. But some Government supporters may still have a quiver of conscience and it is to those that I address my remarks. Ministers are equally wicked in regard to housing. Has the House ever heard such nonsense as has been purveyed in regard to bousing? Out comes the adding machine again. Ministers say: “ In 1961 we did this. In 1960 we did that.” That is the sort of diabolo, the sort of yo-yo, the sort of nonsense which drives everybody mad. But here are some simple figures which may work out. How much money is available for housing? The Treasurer deliberately used the total amount, as I am reminded by the honorable member for Yarra, another very fine colleague and friend of mine. He pointed out that the Minister had used the total figure instead of the amount of the increase. It was a paltry £3,000,000 or £4,000,000, yet the Treasurermade it out to be £79,000,000 or £97,000,000 or some such figure. Let us get down to bedrock. The people listening to the debate want to know about work, housing and that stupid thing called the deposit gap-
What about the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) whom I call the Minister for mincemeat. He put the pensioners on that standard, They have never seen a steak in this country where there are millions of wonderful cattle. They have not had more than a pint of milk a week in their lives because of this, but the Minister sits up proudly and says in his broad gaelic tones “ I am going to do something for the pensioners “. I think poor little Oliver Twist, in the happy days of Dickens, had a magnificent life compared with that of the pensioners under the Minister for Social Services. That is why I call him - and I mean it - the Minister for mincemeat. That is the standard to which he has relegated Australians in retirement. It is sickening, it is disgusting. We leave him where he is.
I return to the question of housing and will try to knock some sense into the heads of members on the Government side of the House with sheer statistics. Here is the blather about housing, what the Government did and what it is going to do. It is like the house that Jack built. On this subject, Senator Sir William Spooner gets up and blows off like a black whale going north to the spawning season, but I would like to say something on the question of housing.
– Why not say something serious?
– I will say something serious. How could anybody be anything but serious when he is looking at you across the table - not only serious, but also frightened! Here is the record of housing, and the Minister will not laugh this off. Houses built in 1961 numbered 88,888. Can’t you hear old Bill, with his teeth out, mouthing those figures in the Senate on a windy night. What is the number of people in this country wanting houses? It is 100,000 - deny the figures if you can. There are 100,000 houses needed in the nation and the number built in 1962 was 83,296. These are not my figures. They are from the “ Monthly Review of Business Statistics “. I delved and strained to get them. I hate reading statistics in this House but I felt that I should bring these to the notice of the Government. There are 100,000 houses required. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is an estate agent, should be in a wonderful position. Why do you not do something about it? I notice-
– Order! I remind the honorable member that he is directing his remarks to the Minister. He should address the Chair.
– He is a real estate agent. Instead of looking after divisions in the Army he should be looking at subdivisions for housing settlements. That is the trouble. He is in the wrong job. The housing position is that it is completely static. You can work out all the figures, just as you can work then; out in regard to unemployment, and the result is that there are 100,000 Australians wanting homes. In 1961, there were 100,000; in 1962, there were 100,000; and in 1963, there are still 100,000 Yet the Minister dares to prance around this House and say: “ We are on a wave. We are on an escalator. We are going up £.nd up like a rocket.” He has got the wrong twist. He is dropping down into the bowels of the earth. He has not been able to come up with answers to the two important problems - unemployment and housing.
We will debate the housing position in more detail when we are dealing with the Estimates. I have given the horrible figures relating to unemployment and I have referred to the influx of immigrants. I have drawn the simile of Hercules and the Augean stables, which Government supporters can apply to themselves when discussing the subsidy on the fertilizer that is coming into the House.
The Government’s effort to meet the housing position has resulted in an appallingly small number of houses being built to meet the need. Of course, the Treasurer pleads that there is no money. But there are two factors in this. The better-off Australian - I mean the slightly better-off Australian who has a job - asks, “ What is this thing called the deposit gap? I have a block of land worth £1,000. I want to build a three-bedroom house on it, which will cost me about £5,325.” He goes to the bank and asks for a loan. The bank officers swoon back and say, “ Have you never heard about the deposit gap? “ and he says, “ Have you never heard about my three kids? “ They get nowhere. But the Government cannot interpret this position. In 1961, a three-bedroom house cost £5,350. The deposit required was land worth £1,000 or £1,500 in cash. In 1962, such a house cost £5,340 and the cash required was £2,500. In 1963, the house cost £5,246 and the cash required was £2,300.
The thread of stagnation can be seen running through all these matters. There was no movement in unemployment, no movement in housing and no movement in the deposit gap. Does this position arise because the banks have no money? I took out a few statistics which reveal that last year the Bank of New South Wales Limited made a profit of £2,790,000, the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited made a profit of £1,106,000, the Australian and New Zealand Bank Limited made a profit of £1,365,000 and the poor little neighbour, the National Bank of Australasia Limited, only just scraped in with £1,065,000. The young Australians who want a home are concerned about the deposit gap. They say, “ We do not want a Housing Commission home. We want to try to buy our own home.” But the Government has no solution to the housing problem.
I think we have driven home the three points I have made. The Government should be thoroughly ashamed of its Budget, and I believe it is ashamed of it because it did not put up a fight. The economists and experienced men on this side of the House literally wiped the floor with Government supporters and, if the Government gives us an extension of time, we will do it again. I want the Treasurer to ponder on the three points I have made whilst he is overseas, sweeping through the empyrean blue, going to discuss money matters on the highest level, although he does not appear to understand the common level of this Parliament.
What does the Government intend to do about unemployment? It has not made a move to relieve the housing backlog.
I have not had time to deal with the many other matters I could have raised, so I have confined myself to the three salient issues. The men and women of Australia want to know the answers to the basic and practical questions. The Government has refused to answer them. Because it has refused to answer them and has gone to its Disneyland so that it can misquote statistics instead of giving valid statistics, it has lost the confidence of the Australian people. It has lost any respect the Opposition had for it. If the Government goes to the country, sooner or later, it will be destroyed because of its laziness and evasiveness and because it has never in the long term of office the people have given it lived up to the promises it has made. This Budget debate closes on a triumphant note for the Australian Labour Party.
We have everything. The Government has only the numbers. It has a bare majority because it was saved by a lot of misguided donkey voters putting a cross in the wrong square and voting for the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). That is the slender thread on which the Government hangs. The Government in this Budget has put up a disgraceful performance. It has never come down to the practical considerations that I, as a novice, have attempted to outline. The Government has earned the contempt of the Opposition and its demise is not far off.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. Lucock).- In accordance with Standing Order No. 226 the committee will first consider the Second Schedule of the bill.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– I present the seventh report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m. until Tuesday, 10th September, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Broadcasting. (Question No. 9.)
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
I would add that the Australian Broadcasting Commission rearranged the programmes ofits domestic radio services from 28th July, 1963, the effect of which is that 6WF transmits the commission’s lighter programmes and 6WN the commission’s serious and service programmes. The lighter programmes of the commission in which the honorable member’s question appears to show an interest are therefore available over the wider country areas which are served by 6WF on account of its higher power of 50,000 watts. On the other hand, in the rearrangement, special attention has also been given to the desire of country listeners to hear more of the commission’s serious programmes. From 28th July, the regional stations have been operated for much of the time separately from the metropolitan stations enabling listeners in the country to hear a wider variety of programmes, including the more serious types of material.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following table, which contains the information requested.
3 and 4. Barrier Reef Airways was taken over by Ansett Flying Boat Services Proprietary Limited in November, 1962, and Gibbes Sepik Airways by Mandated Airlines in April, 1960. In neither case were the financial arrangements made public. Ansett Transport Industries Limited is the holding company for. the following airlines, its controlling interest being acquired on the dates shown: -
Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited- October, 1957.
Butler Air Transport Limited (now Airlines of New South Wales)- February, 1958.
Queensland Airlines Proprietary Limited (a subsidiary of Butler Air Transport) - February, 1958.
Guinea Airways Limited (now Airlines of South Australia) - August, 1959.
Mandated Airlines Limited (operating as Ansett-MAL)- January, 1961.
MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited - April, 1963.
In respect of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, the company paid the former shareholders £3,300,000. A.N.A. had a substantial interest in Butler Air Transport Limited, and Ansett Transport Industries purchased additional shares on the open market and by private negotiations Details of the latter transactions are not known. This purchase of Butler Air Transport also resulted in the acquisition of Queensland Airlines, since it was substantially owned by Butler. In the case of Quinea Airways, the shareholders of Guinea Holdings Limited were offered two and a half A.T.I, shares or 17s. 6d. cash for each Guinea Holdings share. In acquiring the controlling interest in MacRobertson Miller Airlines, the company purchased the shareholding of Mac
Robertson Proprietary Limited .and part of the shareholding of Miller Investments Proprietary Limited. The shareholding of W. R. Carpenter Limited was acquired in the case of Mandated Airlines. Details of these latter transactions were not made public.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
ser asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
s asked the Minister representing the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s ‘ questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: - 1 to 4. The cost of pharmaceutical benefits between the years 1953-54 and 1962-63 has been -
I am sure the honorable member will agree with the Commonwealth Government’s policy of making new and effective drugs available to the public at nominal cost. Apart from this, I would assure the honorable member that arrangements for the supply of pharmaceutical benefits to the public are subject to continuous review in order to ensure that the scheme is conducted on the most efficient and economic basis. The cost of drugs and medicinal preparations is under constant examination, and the department takes action to negotiate new prices whenever it is appropriate to do so. A number of substantial price reductions have been so effected, resulting in considerable savings in cost to the Commonwealth.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
e asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
In view of the 20 per cent, increase being made to doctors’ fees in Western Australia, allegedly to bring these fees into line with those applying in the eastern States, does the Government intend to increase medical benefits?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
I have noted the recent increase in doctors’ fees in Western Australia. I am making an examination of all aspects of the proposals for adjustments to Commonwealth medical benefit - these include the financial implications for the insurance funds, the probable effect on weekly contributions, and the relationship of the combined total benefits to doctors’ charges.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2. No. The National Health and Medical Research Council has previously considered fluoridation and in November, 1961, recommended that public authorities give early consideration to the necessity of fluoridation of their water supplies.
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
Will he recommend to the Government that a special educational grant be made available by the Federal Government to the children of pensioners wishing to attain a higher educational standard than the pension income of their parents, or parent, will allow under the present scale of pensions?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The question of educational grants is not a matter which comes within the province of my department.
I may add, however, that as announced by the Treasurer, the Government proposes to assist pensioners with student children by providing for the continuation of pension payments in respect of each such child beyond his sixteenth birthday. This assistance will be available while the child is undergoing full-time education and is wholly or substantially dependent on the pensioner. It will continue until the end cif the year in which the child reaches the age of eighteen years.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Since local government authorities come under the jurisdiction of State governments, under whose laws they are constituted, the extent, if any, to which these authorities are reimbursed for fare concessions granted to pensioners on transport systems operated by them is entirely a matter for the State government concerned.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
What payments were made to the National Debt Sinking Fund in 1962-63 in respect of liabilities discharged on war service homes before the end of the repayment period?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
The amount paid during 1962-63 to the National Debt Sinking Fund in respect of liabilities discharged on war service homes before the end of the repayment period was £5,248,405.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: - 1. (a) Payments made to registered hospital benefits organizations by their members during the financial year 1961-62 amounted to £19,466,828. Figures for 1962-63 are not yet available, (b) Payments made to registered hospital benefits organizations by the Commonwealth during the financial year 1962-63 amounted to £11,984,583. (This figure includes payments of £2,122,836 towards special account deficits.)
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: - 1. (a) Payments made to registered medical benefits organizations by their members during the financial year 1961-62 amounted to £18,720,045. Figures for 1962-63 are not yet available, (b) Payments made to registered medical benefits organizations by the Commonwealth during the financial year 1962-63 amounted to £11,737,161. (This figure includes’ payments of £246,225 towards special account deficits.)
Payments of fund benefits (including ancillaries) to members during 1962-63 totalled £16,932,882, and Commonwealth benefits paid amounted to £11,490,936. 3. (a) Claims were accepted for fund benefit in respect of 23,262,434 services during 1962-63.
Conference on Antibiotics. (Question No. 98.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will an Australian representative be sent this year to the annual conference on antibiotics in the United States of America in accordance with the resolutions of the National Health and Medical Research Council in November, 1958, and May, 1959?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
Consideration is being given to Australian representation at the international conference on antibiotics. The honorable member will also be interested to learn that a representative of my depart ment attended the Second Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy at Chicago last November.
Education in Papua and New Guinea. (Question No. 99.)
m asked the Minister fo Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In addition 979 indigenous students at various centres in the Territory receive classroom tuition or tutorial assistance from Territory Standard IV. to Queensland Junior. Correspondence tuition is received by 450 indigenous students at primary standard and by 1760 indigenous students at junior high and secondary standard. Of the 1760 junior high and secondary students, 187 attend special tutorial classes. All are adolescents or adults.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will the Minister consider providing hearing aids either free, or at substantially reduced rates, to recipients of social service pensions?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
The Government has given careful consideration to several schemes to provide hearing aids to special groups in the community and in fact does make hearing aids available free of charge to invalid pensioners undergoing rehabilitation training where rehabilitation can be assisted by the use of an aid. It is not intended at present to widen the National Health Scheme in the direction proposed.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1. (a) The value of goods admitted under bylaw at concessional rates of duty and the value of goods admitted under by-law free of duty, during the year 1961-62 is set out in “Hansard” (Representatives) dated 7th May, 1963. The total of those two figures is £343,388,437. Information desired in respect of the year 1962-63 is not yet available, (b) The list of goods admitted under standing by-laws runs to some 190 pages of print. The honorable member may refer to the Commonwealth “Gazette”, No. 23, of 10th March, 1961, in which the last consolidated list was published and to copies of the weekly “ Gazette “ since then. He may also refer to the Consolidated List of Customs By-laws (as amended) which is issued by the Department of Customs and Excise.
Land Settlement of Ex-servicemen. (Question No. 131.)
d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The visit referred to was undertaken by the group of businessmen on their own initiative. Their purpose, as I understand it, was to inform themselves at first hand about the Territory, its stage of economic development and its needs and problems. In view of the private nature of the visit I am not in a position to give information about investment resulting from it. In general, I can say that private concerns are showing continued interest in investment in the Territory as is indicated, for example, by the investment of about £150,000 by British Tobacco (Australia) Limited in a cigarette factory at Madang which recently began operations.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
Telephone Services. (Question No. 86.)
m asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
How many applications for telephones were received and how many telephones were installed in each month during the last two financial years?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
son asked the Minister Trade, upon notice -
What is the (a) name, (b) tonnage, (c) name of the owner, and (d) country of origin of each ship used by each Australian trade mission since the inception of these missions?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The vessels used and the organizations responsible for arrangements in each case have been -
“Delos” of 4,235 tons owned by Rederi A/B Helsingborg, of Sweden (arranged by Associated Chambers of Commerce Export Council)
“Straat Banka” of 9,161 tons owned by Royal Interocean Line of the Netherlands (arranged by Associated Chambers of Commerce Export Council)
” Chandpara “ of 7,274 tons owned by the British India Steam Navigation Company Limited, of Britain (arranged by Australian Manufacturers Export Council).
son asked the Minister Trade, upon notice -
What is the (a) name, (b) tonnage, (c) name of the owner, and (d) country of origin of each ship used in the transportation of Australian wheat to China?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Recent sales of Australian wheat to China have been made on an f.o.b. Australian port basis. Therefore the vessels are provided by the buyer and not by the wheat board. It is understood that in most instances such vessels have been chartered on the Baltic Exchange.
Tonnages of the vessels being used vary widely up to a capacity of 23,000 tons, but the majority of vessels which have loaded have been in the 12,000- 15,000 tons capacity range.
Ownership and origin vary widely as the ships chartered were those offering on the world market. British, Greek, Panamanian, Scandinavian and Dutch ships were among those which have been utilized by the Chinese.
n asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
What was the total expenditure by his department in each State during the years 1960-61, 1961-62 and 1962-63?
– The answer to the honor able member’s question is as follows: -
The Department of Supply incurred expenditure against appropriations and trust accounts in the following amounts in the last three financial years -
This covers expenditure by the department from its own funds only and does not include purchases arranged by the Contract Board on behalf of other departments.
e asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What was the value of the imports during 1962-63 of each of the following items: - Tinned meats, tinned poultry, tinned fruits, tinned vegetables, frozen peas, citrus fruit juices, cheese?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What is the estimated number of Russian technicians who are serving with the Indonesian armed services or are attached to these services for rations and duty or are present as advisers and teachers?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Indonesian armed services have received assistance from Russian technicians, the numbers probably varying from time to time. I am, however, unable to give an estimate of the total number of technicians who might be employed in this way.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
Registered Medical Benefit Funds.
The allowance of 7s. 6d. in (b) and (c) above applies only to new members joining the organization and does not apply to transfers between tables.
The allowance of 7s. 6d. in tables with a family contribution of 3s. 6d. or more per week, applies only to new members joining the organization and does not apply to transfers between tables.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
Journal of Australia on 6th July, 1963, under the title of “ The Changing Face of Toxicology “.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
These applications may be satisfied either by the allocation of a housing agreement dwelling or by the accommodation of the applicant in other married quarters held by the Services.
Note. - Tasmania withdrew from the 1945 agreement during 1 950-5 1 . South Australia does not operate under the rebate formula laid down in the agreement. However, it does operate a rebate scheme but the above information in respect of the cost of the scheme to that State in 1962-63 is estimated.
Colombo Plan. (Question No.60.)
e asked the Minister for External
Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Miscellaneous expenditure on regional projects and administration was £986,000.
son asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
During the last ten years how many age and invalid pensioners have suffered the loss of their pension as a direct result of their admittance to State mental hospitals?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The information is not available. However, figures have been kept since 30th June, 1957, of the number of cases in which pension has ceased to be payable where the pensioner has been an inmateof a mental hospital for more than three months. The numbers in each period of twelve months from that date are as follows: -
During the same period, 1,712 wives of persons admitted to mental hospitals were granted widows’ pensions who, otherwise, would not have been eligible.
b asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Will he prepare a statement showing (a) the original amount paid in respect of all repatriation benefits, including the service pension, (b) the corresponding amounts now being paid and (c) the amounts which should be paid to adjust the rates to the original purchasing power of each pension benefit?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I refer the honorable member to the information which I provided earlier this year for the honorable member for East Sydney in reply to a similar question (“ Hansard ‘ - House of Representatives - 4.4.63, . pages 471-72). Since then the Government has announced its intention to vary certain of the benefits referred to in that answer. Details are to be found in the Budget speech of my colleague the Treasurer (“Hansard”House of Representatives - 13.8.63, page 16.)
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: - 1. (a) 110 hospital benefit organizations,
78 Medical benefit organizations.
Registered hospital benefit organizations -
Registered medical benefit organizations -
n asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What is the estimated cost of increasing age and invalid pensions not covered by the Budget proposals to the same rates as those applying to single pensioners under the Budget?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The estimated cost is £7,000,000 for a full year.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630829_reps_24_hor39/>.