24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to inform the House of ministerial arrangements to be effective during the absence from Australia of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) on official business. During the period of his absence, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) will act as Minister for Defence. In this House, the Acting Minister for Defence will be represented by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). As my colleague the Minister for Defence represented the Minister for Civil Aviation in this House, the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) will represent the Minister for Civil Aviation. In other words, in this House the Minister for Supply will represent the Acting Minister for Defence and the Minister for Air will represent the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. Has the attentionof the Minister been drawn to a recent statement by a doctor, using the nom de plume “ Parkinson’s Disease “, in which it was said that the majority of exservicemen receiving repatriation treatment and pensions for mental illness were deadbeats, drongos, drunkards and inadequate members of society, who are encouraged by the Repatriation Department to seek shelter from their responsibilities? Does the Minister consider that this is an unwarranted and slanderous attack on those unfortunates who are suffering from mental illness as a result of their war service? Will he take the opportunity to deny publicly the wild and irresponsible charges laid against those unfortunates who are suffering from mental disorders as a result of their war service in defence of our country?
– For once, I am half inclined to agree with my friend, the honorable member for Bowman, but perhaps I would not use the same language as he has used. Over the last few days, I have released two statements relating to this very subject. One was released on Friday and another to-day. Honorable members, of course, will receive copies of those statements. I would like to make it quite clear that the view expressed in the statement to which the honorable member refers is a private view expressed by a member of the medical profession and published in the journal of the Australian Medical Association. It is not an official expression of opinion by the association and I am sure the great majority of the members of the association would not agree with it. Of course, we are living in a democracy in which people can express their views.
I entirely disagree with the view that has been expressed by this individual doctor. I have replied to the statement, I think suitably. I replied to a similar statement by another doctor, which appeared in the journal of the Australian Medical Association just a few weeks ago, and my reply was published in full in that journal. One of my previous statements on this subject was also published in the journals of ex-service organizations. I hope that my reply to this latest statement will be published in the same way, not only through the press but through the journals of ex-service organizations.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I refer to the very expensive advertising campaigns which are being conducted in New South Wales, first by the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales, and now followed by the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited, to entice members of the public to subscribe to one fund rather than to the other. As this is a very expensive process, I ask the Minister: Out of whose moneys do the funds for these advertising campaigns come? What is the interest of the Commonwealth in this matter, in view of the very large annual subventions which are made?
– As the honorable member knows, some time ago - I think in 1960 - the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited in New South Wales, and the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales signed an agreement to form a joint management company, which was known as the Medical and Hospital Benefits Management Proprietary Limited. This has been in operation, and about twelve months ago formal notice of termination of the agreement was given by the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales. The termination date was set at 1st November this year. In the meantime the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited, which is registered under the National Health Act as a hospitals fund organization, has decided to move into the field of hospital benefits in New South Wales, and at the same time the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales has decided to move into the field of medical benefits also, and has applied for registration under the National Health Act. As a result of these actions a considerable amount of advertising has been undertaken by both organizations. No Commonwealth finance whatsoever is involved in this advertising. Under the National Health Act the Commonwealth must keep an eye on the administrative costs of these organizations, and an upper limit is set. The administrative costs of neither of the organizations mentioned have yet reached that upper limit. The only control over advertising that the Commonwealth Department of Health exerts is for protection of the subscribers. The department is carefully examining the present advertising to see that the act is not contravened in any way.
– Can the Postmaster-General give us any indication when applicants for telephones in their homes or businesses in Sydney, and in particular in the St. George district, can expect to get them, without delays ranging from several months to several years?
– The general position is that when an application is received from a person for the installation of a telephone service, that application is viewed by the officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department. The applicant is then advised of the position and is told how long it may take to supply the service. In some areas service can be given very quickly indeed, and is so given. Honorable members will remember that some time ago I sent out a notification to all. members, of the time lag at the various places throughout Australia in supplying services. Speaking from memory, that notification said that 70 or 80 per cent, of the applications were serviced within a few months, and some within a few weeks, although the majority of them were within a few months. Taking into account the fact that gangs have to be sent here and there and cannot be sent to make only one installation, I think that is a pretty good record.
I have never attempted to evade this fact: In the metropolitan areas, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, in respect of which my colleagues have made representations to me, there are some districts in which the enormous development of our economy, the building of new factories and the growth of new suburbs around them have set my department an enormous task to install all the new works associated with the supply of hundreds and hundreds of telephone services in those areas. Consequently, in those circumstances there is a lag of six months, nine months or more. I have compared the department’s record with information I have received from overseas and I find that our record will stand comparison with that of any other administration.
– My question also is addressed to the Postmaster-General. As the 1964 Olympic Games are scheduled to commence in Tokyo during October next year, can the Minister tell the House whether arrangements have been or will be made to provide direct telecasts of them to Australia? Is there any reason why Australia cannot obtain such direct telecasts, in line with the United States of America and other Pacific countries?
– The honorable member for Balaclava has asked me whether there is any reason why direct telecasts cannot be provided from the Olympic Games at Tokyo next year. Yes, there is a reason why they cannot be provided. It is that a direct telecast means direct channels which could be used for television purposes between Tokyo and Australia. Although we are progressing rapidly towards the stage where our international communications will provide for television services as well as telephone services, we have not yet reached the .stage where, we could provide a direct telecast as distinct from a programme of films.
We are in direct communication with Tokyo by teleprinter and Telex, and shortly we will be in direct communication by telephone. So we are progressing steadily in the field of international telecommunications. I think it will be agreed that it is highly desirable that we should concentrate, first of all, on the services that are required for the development of business and trade between these countries, before we get down to providing for direct telecasts of events such as the Olympic Games.
– My question, which I direct to the Prime Minister, arises from the visit of the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Carrington, to Malaysia and the consequent action taken or to be taken by the Royal Navy to protect Malaysian shipping and fishing vessels from Indonesian naval interference. I ask the Prime Minister: Are units of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force involved in such protective patrols in the Straits of Malacca or near the Celebes, or anywhere else in South-East Asian waters?
– With the honorable member’s approval, I would prefer to treat that question as though it were on the notice-paper, so that I might provide an answer.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether any decision has been reached yet on the proposal that the Commonwealth give matching financial aid to the New South Wales Government for flood mitigation on the north coast rivers of that State. 1 ask that question because of the desirability of the councils being able to plan their works programmes for the drier part of the year.
– I appreciate fully the honorable gentleman’s interest in this problem. Indeed, we all have an interest in it. Many aspects had to be examined, but it is now almost ready for Cabinet discussion. I am hoping very much that we will bc able to make a statement about it within the next few days, or at any rate within the next week.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by stating that during a recent debate in the House on the proposal to introduce decimal currency the Minister for Labour and National Service said that even if there were some price rises due to the change-over, the worker would get an increase in the basic wage. Will any provision be made in respect of people receiving superannuation payments, social service pensions and repatriation benefits to cover the increased living costs which will follow the introduction of decimal currency?
– I have expressed the view in this place previously that the introduction of decimal currency in Australia will not lead necessarily to price increases. Indeed, certain factors will obtain under a decimal currency system which could lead to some reductions in prices. In the first place, in the field in which the honorable member is most directly interested there is now a high degree of competition. That situation will obtain under a decimal currency system just as it does under the present system of currency. Undoubtedly economies and efficiencies will result from the introduction of the proposed system, and these should exert a downward pressure on prices generally. I do not think we ought to assume too readily that price rises will follow tha introduction of the system.
I have read some of the discussion which took place in the House. I would merely make the point at this stage that the 10s. system to be adopted in Australia, following the recommendation of our own committee of inquiry, is directly in line with the 10s. system which was adopted in South Africa, which is proposed in New Zealand and which formed the minority recommendation of the committee of inquiry which recently conducted an examination of this matter in the United Kingdom.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Defence. Has the Government been informed that on 14th February, 1963, a meeting was held of Indonesian service chiefs, under the chairmanship of General Nasution, and that at this meeting plans were drawn up for the capture or annexation of Portuguese Timor and the Australian half of New Guinea, which is known to Indonesia as East Irian, as and when opportunity offered? If so, will the Minister lay on the table of the Library any or all of the information he has received and/ or any information which is obtainable from the various sources of intelligence available to him so that the Australian people may be fully apprised of the value of the statement by Indonesian leaders that they have no further territorial ambitions? Did the Minister see a cabled report, recently published in the newspapers, of a speech made by a Malayan citizen in Kuala Lumpur in which these Indonesian objectives were defined?
– I am afraid that the best I can do is to attract the attention of the Acting Minister for Defence to the honorable gentleman’s question.
– In the absence of my leader, who is attending the opening of the Presbyterian Assembly in Melbourne, I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the visit of the Minister for Defence to the United States of America. Does the Government believe, as the previous Minister for Air stated three and a half years ago, that the replacement of the obsolete Canberra bomber is the most important task facing the Royal Australian Air Force? Is the Minister’s visit to America for the purpose of completing arrangements for a replacement aircraft on which the Government has already tentatively determined, or is his visit for the purpose of making a further survey of the most suitable types of replacement aircraft, such as the Minister’s predecessor, Sir Philip McBride, made in 1957?
– First, I do not propose to make any statement of Government policy on the matter referred to by the honorable member. This is not the place to do that. Secondly, I do not propose to say anything in this House which would handicap the effectiveness of the very important discussions in which my colleague will engage in America.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of the success of the Colombo Flan, under which many Asian students are trained in Australia, will the right honorable gentleman consider taking steps to institute a scheme to enable selected Australian students concerned specifically with Asian studies to undertake exchange studies in universities in SouthEast Asia?
– I thank the honorable member for his question and I will be glad to look into his suggestion.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by pointing out that at many levels of industry and commerce there is pervasive talk concerning the likelihood of a horror budget being introduced early next year to place further restrictions on economic expansion. Will the right honorable gentleman inform the Australian people that such a premise to their thinking either has or has not a substantial foundation? If it has not, will the right honorable gentleman give the reasons?
– The only statements that I have seen concerning ‘he matter raised by the honorable member have come from the mouth of his leader and, as far as I can discern, are entirely the manufacture of his leader. This Government has economic objectives of full employment, increasing national development and expanding prosperity for the Australian people, with social services improving as our prosperity expands. We shall go ahead adopting the policies necessary to secure those objectives. In the last few weeks I have had opportunities to make comparative studies of the strength and stability of the economies of Australia and other countries and I can claim quite confidently that no country has a more securely based prosperity than has Australia. This Government intends to keep things that way.
– My question, which is addressed to the Postmaster-General, relates to the proposed television station to serve the central agricultural area of Western Australia, which is to be erected at a place called Mawson Trig, not far from York and Northam. Is the Minister able to say what kind of equipment will be used to relay programmes from the national station to the station at Mawson Trig? Will the metallic relay system or the micro-wave system be used? When does the Minister expect construction of the station to commence?
– The honorable member for Moore and other honorable members from Western Australia have, naturally, indicated a very considerable interest in the development not only of commercial television but also of national television as far as the people of Western Australia are concerned.
– We need it so badly.
– Yes. A considerable amount of atention is being paid to this matter. The honorable member referred to the national station that is to serve the central agricultural area. I was a little disappointed when I learnt that no applicants had come forward seeking licences to operate the commercial stations in the area in question and in the other agricultural area. As I said at the time, we intend to proceed with the development of national services in those areas. This will be part of the fourth phase of our television development. As I have pointed out previously, the starting of the fourth phase will not necessarily have to wait until the completion of the third phase. We have not quite completed the national stations for the third phase, but we are getting very close to completing them. The question asked by the honorable member for Moore is bound up with the question: When shall we be getting on with the development of national services in the fourth phase? The honorable member asked what kind of relay would be adopted. It will be a microwave relay. I am drawing on my memory in relation to the time when this service will be available, but I can tell the honorable member that tenders have been called and I expect that contracts for the supply of the technical and engineering equipment required for the station will be let some time next year. On the letting of those contracts, the construction and finally the installation of all the equipment will proceed. I can say with confidence that the station should be operating in 1965.
On several occasions I have intimated that we are making steady progress with the national services and are keeping up to our planning. As I have said before, I think it will be realized that the departments concerned are doing a very good job in the whole of this planning and in keeping up with the construction programmes that have been outlined from time to time. I am sorry that I cannot give the honorable member an exact date for the beginning of the service about which he was asked, but the broad outline that I have given will be more or less kept to.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Social Services by saying: No doubt he is aware that the Queensland Government grants State aid to class A widows and invalid pensioners with dependent children. No doubt the Minister is aware also that the increases in pensions recently granted by the Commonwealth have been looked forward to by invalid pensioners and class A widows in Queensland with great pleasure. However, the State Government has now advised that it will reduce its payments by the equivalent of the increases paid by the Commonwealth and, in some instances, by a greater amount. In many instances, the Commonwealth increase for a man, wife and three children is 22s. 6d. a week, but the State is now reducing its payment by 25s. a week to a level equivalent to the benefit formerly payable to a family with only two children. Furthermore, the allowance paid by the State for textbooks for education will be withdrawn. In some instances, the increases paid by the Commonwealth will result in lower total income for many invalid pensioners and class A widows in Queensland. I now ask: Will the Minister confer with the responsible Queensland Minister for the purpose of alleviating any financial hardship that will be occasioned to class A widows and invalid pensioners in Queensland and ensuring that they receive the full benefit of bis generous action announced in August of this year?
– I regret to say that 1 have no jurisdiction over the sovereign rights and powers of the States as they are exercised from time to time by the State governments. But it is competent for the honorable member for Petrie or any other honorable member to make representations direct to the Queensland Government or to the State Minister responsible for the alteration in the payments of the States to supplement social service benefits paid by the Commonwealth. One of the disappointing features of social services is that no matter what is done by this Government or any other government to improve the circumstances of people who are in need of assistance, almost invariably attempts are made to reduce the effect of what is being attempted or what is being done, and the explanations stem from a desire to effect economies in the administration of the States.
– I ask the
Treasurer: When is the legislation proposed by President Kennedy to impose a charge on funds lent by the United States of America to other countries to be submitted to Congress? How will it apply and when is it likely to become effective?
– The proposal is, I understand, before Congress at the present time. When Congress will determine the matter is, I think, not known even to the members of Congress. It is certainly not known to the Administration. The honorable member asks when the proposal will become effective. In one sense, it is operating quite effectively at the present time, because uncertainty about the situation has discouraged any operations on the New York market in relation to the bonds of those countries which have not been specifically exempted. As to Australia’s situation, it was made clear to me in the discussions I had with senior members of the Administration that no objection would be taken to Australia raising a loan on the New York market, provided that the interest equalization tax were paid if the measure subsequently became law. This would not be altogether satisfactory from our point of view. Apart from an increase in the rate of interest, there would be undoubtedly some discouragement to investors to ‘partici pate in a loan if they felt that that would be running against the general objective of the Administration. I pointed out to the authorities that, in our judgment, it was demonstrable that the proposed legislation was having some adverse effect upon the interests of the United States in Australia. I made it clear that, until there was some clarification of the situation, we did not propose to approach the New York market.
I think it will be of interest to all honorable members to learn that, over the last four years, on an average 45 per cent, of the subscriptions to Australian loans floated in New York has come from sources outside the United States. It would be practicable for us, I believe, to arrange for support from those sources, and not necessarily through New York, if the present disincentive were to operate for a long time. That possibility is now being actively explored.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he is now in a position to announce the Government’s decision on the manning and building of tankers operating on the Australian coast. Questions on this subject were asked by my colleagues, the honorable members for Darebin and Batman, on the last sitting day of last week. Will the Government provide that Australians shall man chartered tankers until replacements can be delivered by Australian shipyards? How soon does the Government require orders for tankers to be placed in Australian shipyards?
– The Government’s objective, as has been announced, is eventually to require tankers operating on the Australian coast to be built in Australian shipyards. In the meantime, pending the outcome of the discussions which have been taking place with various organizations, no alteration will be made of the policy of not permitting second-hand tankers to be imported for trade on the Austraiian coast.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. By way of explanation, may I say that I have received information from an Australian who is- a world’ authority on China, and who is presently living in England, to the effect that, during the months of August and September, more than 2,000 individuals known as “ Olaoli “ passed through Singapore on their way to Borneo and West Irian. I am informed that these people were trained in subversive activities at a school for that purpose situated near Canton. I ask the Prime Minister, as a matter of urgency, whether, if I make available to him the name of the person who has furnished me with this report, the right honorable gentleman will make arrangements for him to be interviewed by British authorities.
– I would be very glad if the honorable member would give me the name. I will then discuss the matter with him.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that remitted profits to United States investors have increased from £2,400,000 in 1950 to £29,000,000 in 1962 - an approximate increase of 1200 per cent. Also, is it a fact that there has been an increase from £19,000,000 in 1961 to £29,000,000 in 1962, or over 50 per cent, in one year? Is this due to the Kennedy Administration’s policy of seeking to discourage overseas investment of such profits in preference to their investment at home? If this is so, will the continuation of these trends be likely to cause balance-of-payments difficulties in Australia in future?
– I am afraid I did not catch the opening sentence of the honorable member’s question. Were you referring to portfolio investment?
– On new investment from the United States in this country.
– You are asking whether the measures proposed! by President Kennedy would be likely to have adverse effects upon Australia’s balance of payments generally?
– You know that profits remitted to United States investors in Australia have increased by 50 per cent, in the last year. _ .
– I am aware, of course, that there has been a growing United States investment interest in Australia which has reflected itself in a variety of investment categories. The measure proposed by President Kennedy does not give a disincentive to all aspects of investment. For example, it does not discourage a company in the United States from establishing a subsidiary in this country or establishing a new enterprise in this country. As to the general question of whether our balance of trade is likely to be adversely affected, fortunately the strength of the increase in our overseas reserves at the present time leaves us well situated to ride out what I think will be only a temporary difficulty in relation to United States investment in Australia.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade. There have been reports that there is a world shortage of processed tropical fruits, particularly canned pineapples and canned fruit salad. Has the Minister any information about the demand for tropical fruits and whether any inquiries have been made of our trade commissioners with a view to obtaining Australian tropical fruits?
– It is a fact that trade investigational missions have discovered that there is a substantial market for a product known as tropical fruit salad, particularly on the west coast of the United States of America, a market in which Australia is able to supply competitively. It is a market estimated to be worth perhaps millions of pounds. Unfortunately at the present time the availability of two of the ingredients - pineapple and papaw - is inadequate to enable us to exploit this market in full. To the extent that the ingredients are available, the market is being exploited, and I have no doubt that those who are capable of producing more pineapples and more papaws for this purpose will be busying themselves doing so because this is a valuable export market.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has he received a report from Singapore concerning the experimental shipment of Tasmanian potatoes, a substantial proportion of which came from the southern midlands? If he has received the report, can he say whether the condition of the potatoes was such that further shipments would be acceptable by Singapore importers? Can improvements be made in shipping facilities if necessary and if required?
– In August last, on the representations of the honorable member, I gave permission for the export of a shipment of Bismarck potatoes to Singapore. Unfortunately, it was rather late in the season; the harvesting of Bismarck potatoes normally ends in April. However, we tried the market out and the result was not very satisfactory. This was due mostly to the fact that the potatoes were harvested too late before they were sent away. Some industrial trouble also occurred which delayed the discharge of the potatoes and that aggravated the position. The report on the shipment mentioned excessive sprouting and rot. Those things can be overcome if the potatoes are shipped immediately they arc harvested.
Some Bismarck potatoes from Victoria arrived in Singapore in a satisfactory condition, but the Tasmanian potatoes did not. 1 think the trouble can be overcome if the growers ship the potatoes at the proper time. 1 hope we will get better results next time.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. 1 refer to the statement he made in his Budget speech to the effect that amendments arc to be brought down in respect of defence forces retirement benefits and superannuation. Can he advise the House when further information will be made available as to the detailed nature of the amendments and can he say when the amendments will bs brought forward to be dealt with?
– I checked this morning the progress being made with the drafting of the necessary legislation. I hope to introduce the legislation and make my second-reading speeches in explanation of the provisions within the next two or three weeks.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, lt is supplementary to that asked by my colleague the honorable member for Blaxland. When will the next order be placed in an Australian shipyard for the construction of an Australian coastal tanker?
– I gave a reply to the honorable member for Blaxland. At this time I cannot say when an order for a tanker will be placed in an Australian shipyard.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army a question. How much has the Federal Government donated towards the erection of a new chapel at the Royal Military College? I understand that graduates of the college have collected a considerable sum of money towards the cost. Does the Minister not consider that the spiritual welfare of students should be catered for as well as the military arts and should not the Government provide such facilities?
– It is true that under normal conditions the Government provides chapels at various military camps. The new chapel at the Royal Military College is a special undertaking which will be a very beautiful building and it is considered to be of great national importance. An appeal for funds has therefore been made in relation to it. I understand that the appeal was made yesterday by General Rowell and I sincerely hope that many honorable members in this House will contribute to it.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Has he seen the forthright statement made yesterday by Sir Douglas Copland to the effect that we have allowed education to go backwards in Australia? Is it a fact, as claimed by Sir Douglas, that Australia is spending less than 3 per cent, of its gross national product on education - one of the lowest percentages in the whole Western world? Will the Prime Minister, in consideration of the grave nation-wide educational shortages outlined by Sir Douglas, agree to pursue a policy designed to lift education expenditure by at least 50 per cent.?
– As I have not seen the statement I can make no comment on it.
Motions (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) on the ground of public business overseas.
Motion (by Mr. Whitlam) agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be given to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) on the ground of public business overseas.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the consequential amendment made by the House of Representatives upon the amendments by the Senate to this bill.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 9th October (vide page 1644).
Department of Customs and Excise.
Proposed expenditure, £6,029,000.
Department of Trade.
Proposed expenditure, £4,792,000.
Department of Primary Industry.
Proposed expenditure, £16,930,000.
.- The appropriation for the Department of Trade and Customs in 1950 was £1,750,000. In 1956, the Government decided to separate the trade and customs activities and to put them under two separate Ministers with two separate departments. In 1956-57, the appropriation for the Department of Trade alone was £1,440,000 and for 1963-64 it is £4,792,000. It is £500,000 more this year than it was last year. In 1950, the population of Australia was 8,400,000. In 1957, it was 9,600,000, and in 1962-63, it was about 10,900,000. In 1950, the value of the £1 was 12s. 6d.; in 1957, it was 7s. 7d.; and in 1962-63, it was under 7s. It is only a matter of simple arithmetic, therefore, to arrive at the startling conclusion that in 1950 the cost of the Department of Trade per head of population was 10d.; in 1957, it was about ls. 2d.; and in 1962-63, it was 3s. 4d. In terms of 1963 currency, the cost of the Department of Trade has increased 400 per cent, since 1950.
People may ask: “ What docs this matter? What have we obtained for this vast increase in the cost of the Department of Trade?” In 1950, the value of exports from Australia per head of population, in terms of 1963 currency, was £45. In 1957 it was £40, and in 1962-63, the latest period for which figures arc available, it was £35. This means that, although the cost of the Department of Trade per head of population has increased by 400 per cent, since 1950, the value of exports has decreased by 25 per cent. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) -and supporters of the Government say that everything in the garden is lovely. They say that Australia has never been in a better trading position than it is at present and that Australia is one of the ten leading trading nations of the world. If the cost of the Department of Trade had increased not by 400 per cent, but by 800 per cent, and if the value of exports per head of population had diminished not by 25 per cent, but by 50 per cent., what would be the jubilation of supporters of the Government? If Australia were a big business, we would say that the path it is treading is the path to bankruptcy. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has called this country “ Australia Unlimited “. He has said that it is a big trading organization. Other members of the Ministry have proclaimed that this country is a major business organization. If that is so, they must accept that the Government is not advancing Australia’s trade but is retarding it.
Some one may say, “ It is not the value of goods t’ at a business sells that determines whether it is profitable; it is the amount of profit made on the goods sold that matters “. From 1950 until the present time, the adverse trade balances of Australia have totalled £1,933,000.000, and that is a vast amount of money. From 1950 to 1957, the adverse trade balances totalled about £800,000,000. From 1957 to 1962-63 our adverse balances amounted to about £1,200,000,000. Nol only have we a vast deficit in our trading with other countries; the deficit is increasing. The deficit over the last six years has been much greater than was the deficit over the previous eight years. This is not a trend that leads, in my opinion at least, to national prosperity.
Not so long ago - in 1959, in fact - in this city of Canberra there was held what was called an export convention. The object of it was to increase exports from Australia by £250,000,000 a year. It was said that this was essential to maintain our secondary industry, to provide for our increasing population and our rate of expansion and to maintain our standard of living. However, this objective has not been achieved. The other day Sir John Crawford made a statement which members of the Government should consider, because he has been an adviser of theirs for many years. He was the head of the Department of Trade and is now a member of the committee investigating the Australian economy. He does not view the trading operations of this Government with complacency or satisfaction. Speaking to the annual agricultural bureau congress in Adelaide he said, according to a report in the Melbourne “ Age “, that a rise in Australia’s export income of between £250,000,000 and £400,000,000 would be needed in the next ten years. The newspaper quoted him as saying that the economic growth of Australia was certain in the next ten years to call for increased exports if national objectives of a sustained level of migration, full employment and rising living standards were successful. This need for additional exports would be greater if Britain, as expected, finally entered the Common Market.
The Minister for Trade points to the various treaties he has negotiated, including the treaty with Japan, as evidence that this country is making great progress in its trading with other nations. As I have said, our adverse trade balances from 1950 to the present time have amounted to about £2,000,000,000, but our adverse trade balances with the United Kingdom, with the United States of America and with Canada in that time have reached a total of more than £3,000,000,000. We have had a favourable balance of £1,000,000,000 with other countries. Countries such as mainland China, Japan, the Common Market countries of Europe, have given us opportunities to achieve favourable trade balances. The Minister for Trade seeks, quite rightly, to sell more goods to Japan, but he also enables Japan to sell more goods to Australia. He helps Japan to regularise its trading with Australia. But what of these other nations? Mainland China bought £52,000,000 worth of our wheat last year. It was the greatest purchaser of Australian wheat. It wants to sell more goods to Australia. So do other nations, and they are all saying, “ Unless you increase your purchases from us wc will reduce our purchases from you “. The Government should, before regularising our trading with those countries with whom we are showing a profit, have regularised our trading with those countries with whom we are incurring increasing losses.
On 15th May, 1962, the Minister for Trade said -
The policy of the Government has never been to seek a bilateral balance of trading with any one of its trading partners. The policy of the Government is to have an overall satisfactory trading position for Australia.
Labour does not disagree with that policy, but it says that you do not have an overall satisfactory position when you have £3,000,000,000 of adverse trade balances with the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada, and favorable balances with other countries - favorable balances that you seek to regularize or destroy. The first duty of a government that knows anything about trading would be to regularize our trading With those countries with whom we have shown deficits before seeking to do anything in relation to Japan and other nations.
During the last few months there has been an upsurge in exports from this country, but there have been upsurges in the past, and this present upsurge is but a flash in the pan. In .the- Melbourne “ Herald “t a few days ago, John Eddy, that newspaper’s economist - and not an economist who supports the Labour Party - pointed this out, and also stated that the loans that have now been secured in Europe and the United Kingdom, and which the Treasurer sought in vain to secure in the United States of America, will mean an upsurge in imports to this country, and that for the next nine months of our financial year, instead of a continuation of the improvement in our export position that was evident during the first three months, there will be a grave deterioration. This, of course, is obvious, and unless the trading policies of this Government are radically altered we will go on accumulating greater and greater trading deficits. We will go on paying more and more for the operations of the Department of Trade. We will be negotiating, through our missions that go abroad, newer and more treaties. We will be paying more for the men in various parts of the world who carry out trading operations on behalf of this Government. But the results of the trading will still be that, per head of population, the costs of our trading operations will increase - and that, of course, is what counts.
What counts in any country is not its overall wealth, it is the wealth per head of the community. It is the individual’s status that matters. Some of the bigger countries, which have vast populations and vast poverty, have great overall wealth, while the conditions and the standards of living of individuals are depressed. Although this Government points-and will point - to an overall improvement in trading, the overall improvement in the value-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I had some difficulty in following the theme of the argument of the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) in relation to the Department of Trade and its estimates. It seemed apparent that he was supporting what the Government has done in recent years in relation to Australia’s approach to the whole question of trade. He uttered some criticism, of course, but I do not intend to speak about trade in my contribution to the debate, and 1 am quite confident that I can leave- bis comments to my col leagues who will follow, and who, I am sure, will amply deal with any of the honorable member’s criticisms.
My purpose in joining in this debate is to discuss the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. Whilst I have been in this place for something less than two years, I believe that this period must go down in history as one of the significant periods for primary industry in its dealings with the Commonwealth Government. I imagine there would have been few times in our history when the whole breadth of farming industries would have received more favorable recognition by the Commonwealth Government in negotiations for agreements of one kind or another. I wish to refer briefly to some of them. The most important point is that there has been costprice stability. The complete stability of prices has benefited the primary producers enormously. In fact, instability of prices is regarded as one of the greatest enemies of the progress of farms and of the profitability of farming industries. Secondly, I refer to the legislation which established the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Australian Wool Board. Those two bodies have come into being in the last two years, and must be regarded among the great developments of the wool industry. Recently a new wheat industry stabilization plan was announced and under that plan 150,000,000 bushels is the quantity subject to the guaranteed price. This Government has continued the dairy industry subsidy of £13,500,000. In addition, the dairy industry export bounty has been paid. An amount of £300,000 has been provided to the industry to compensate for the loss of export markets.
– The amount is £500,000 now.
– The amount has been increased to £506,000. Recently a superphosphate bounty was introduced. Surely that will be one of the greatest aids to the development of the primary industries. As if those things were not enough, we have had the recent announcement of a new Japanese trade agreement, to which the honorable member for Scullin referred. In the last few days we have heard of a 5,000 tons meat deal with Japan:
Tn addition to assistance to those industries which I regard as more or less the fundamental Australian primary industries, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has put forward a plan for the stabilization of the cotton industry. Surely that is one of the greatest things that have happened to the cotton industry in Australia. It will do an immense amount to promote that industry not only in the areas in which the industry is already established but also in new areas, especially in northern Australia. The last item to which I shall refer is the recent announcement by the Government of a £1 for £1 subsidy on the wool promotion levy. I ask honorable members and the people of Australia generally to try to recall any previous period in our history in respect of which they could compile such a magnificent list of benefits to the primary industries.
Many of the primary industries and their problems will be encompassed by the enabling legislation that will be introduced at one time or another; therefore I intend to pass over them and to refer for a few minutes to a matter which is of vital interest to the primary industries on a national basis. At present this matter is administered by the Commonwealth through the State governments. I refer to the application of funds for specific agricultural extension. Right at the outset I wish to make it clear that I recognize the quite proper function of the States, through their departments of agriculture and other agencies, in implementing extension methods. I do not intend to advocate any form of take-over by the Commonwealth. But I believe that there is probably a bigger role for the Commonwealth to play. For many years, because of my position, one of my tasks has been to study and examine various reports on, and results of inquiries that have been made into, many branches of the primary industries. It can be said that there has been hardly one report which has not directed attention to the need for more applied extension work. That need is referred to in economic surveys without number, and was highlighted by the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, whose report was published in 1960.
Conferences have been convened by professional organizations, such as the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. Only last year an agricultural extension conference was held at Hawkesbury College. That conference was organized by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and conducted under auspices of the Standing Committee on Agriculture of the Australian Agricultural Council in order to discuss all aspects of the extension problem. I am hopeful that the gathering will provide the stimulus and the means whereby agricultural extension work will be established in its rightful place, as a guiding hand for this country’s greatest industry, and will be recompensed accordingly.
I have no intention of making any dogmatic statements about what I believe should be done to improve the situation. I hope I know enough about extension techniques generally not to fall into that kind of error. I am optimistic enough to hope that, when all the wealth of information from that conference has been sifted, the Government will recognize the value of extension work and act accordingly - perhaps even only in a co-ordinating capacity. I hasten to make the point that the Commonwealth Government repeatedly has directed attention to the importance of extension work and has made considerable sums available by way of assistance. But that has not solved the problem; nor has it obviated the need for the special conferences.
At this point I refer to the present situation in regard to Commonwealth assistance for extension work. It is quite considerable. First, there is the dairy industry extension services grant. It was commenced in 1948 and has been continued by successive governments. This year the grant will be £340,000. There is also the Commonwealth extension services grant for the expansion of agricultural advisory services generally in the States. This grant was commenced in 1952 and has been continued. It was commenced at the rate of £200,000 a year; this year it is £296,000. In 1955, with the passing of the Tobacco Industry Act, an allocation was made for assistance to that industry , and the grant provides for research as well as extension work. This year £24,000 is being made available for tobacco industry extension services. Those are quite considerable amounts. In total they amount to £660,000. 1 believe that something more is required in order to establish the appropriate techniques and to create the suitable conditions for obtaining and retaining, and also training, the staff required. I suggest that those three aspects appear to be fairly fundamental to the whole question. In order to establish the priority of extension work, I refer to the publication prepared by the C.S.I.R.O., containing the papers of the conference to which 1 referred and a review of a paper presented by Mr. Penders, the Director of Agricultural Advisory Services in the Netherlands. In that paper he points out that fourteen nations belonging to the Organization for European Economic Co-operation have carried out a critical analysis of their extension services. A study of extension work on an international basis was carried out at a series of conferences from 1953 to 1960. Since 1956, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, through the European Commission on Agriculture, has sponsored four meetings on extension and related subjects. Article 42 of the Rome Treaty of the European Economic Community specifies as its aim the promotion and co-ordination of extension, education and research in agriculture. I believe that gives an indication of the importance that is given to extension in overseas countries, lt is supported by my own personal observations and knowledge of the overseas situations - mainly in the United Kingdom, I admit. But whilst the circumstances are quite different in many cases, I doubt whether any of those countries is as completely reliant upon its agriculture as Australia is.
Now I want to come a little nearer to home and point to the importance which the farmers of Australia place upon extension services. I should imagine that a handy criterion would be their preparedness to help themselves by financing their own schemes. If this is an acceptable basis, I should like to describe the development of the farm management advisory services in Australia, and particularly in Western Australia because it will be well known already that it is in that State that the greatest developments have taken place. The first group commenced in 1958 within what was then my own advisory district. Its success has been such that a second group has already come into operation in the same district. Altogether eighteen groups are now operating, with a membership of about 700 farmers, and the president of the federation of farm management advisory services has suggested that an additional eight groups might well be in operation within six months.
It must be appreciated that something more than just extension services, in the accepted use of the term, are provided. This might be described as a combination of extension work, business consultation and managerial guidance. For this, the farmer members are paying an annual fee of from £40 to £150, depending upon the characteristics of their districts. In the words of the president, “ Obviously this is something the farmers want and are prepared to pay for “.
As a final example of the regard in which extension services are held, I point to Gnowangerup, within the Canning electorate, where the shire some few months ago erected a commemorative stone and plaque in recognition of the work of the agricultural advisory services in that district. This I believe to be quite unique, but surely it is amply expressive of the real appreciation which is felt for the endeavours which are being made to bring greater knowledge to those who would use it.
While I have been very brief and of necessity fairly quick in relating these things, 1 hope that I have been successful in building up a picture which shows, first, the regard and concern felt by practising agriculturalists in Australia; secondly, the importance attached to these functions by overseas and international authorities at the very highest level; thirdly, that the farmers themselves in Australia are prepared not only to accept these services but also, through self-help, to contribute very substantially to receive personal service; and fourthly, a district which has benefited materially from such services and has been prepared to give expression to its appreciation in a very tangible form.
What more can I say other than that we are all generally aware of the attitude of the Treasury towards propositions requiring finance. It looks for justification first, and rarely is money made available on a trial or experimental basis. I suggest that there is justification enough in the four items that I have mentioned specifically. I honestly do not believe that either the Minister or the Government needs convincing, but if what I have said can be regarded as assisting the interests of those vitally concerned with this question I will be well satisfied1.
.- Like many of his colleagues, the honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill) is always ready to criticize the Government or to express dissatisfaction with it, but he and they act in a chicken fashion. When an issue is put to the vote, they invariably support the Government. They express their criticisms knowing full well that the Minister will take no notice of them because he realizes that he can count on their votes.
Because of the Government’s failure to meet the serious difficulties threatening Australia’s exports, and in particular its failure to counter the licences and agreements entered into by Australian manufacturers associated with overseas companies which prevent or restrict exports, I move -
That the proposed expenditure for the Department of Trade be reduced by £1.
I have proposed this amendment to pinpoint the widespread and growing practice by Australian companies of signing agreements with overseas principals which prohibit and seriously restrict the export of Australian manufactured goods. “Briefly, there are two types of Australian manufacturers in this category. The first is the Australian company which, by reason of an agreement to pay royalties or licence fees, obtains from an overseas manufacturer or company the right to manufacture in Australia a product of a design which carries a well-known name brand. One of the conditions of such an agreement is that the Australian company cannot export that article, which in fact is an Australian manufactured article. The second type is the company which is a wholly-owned or partowned subsidiary of an overseas company arid which’, as a matter 6f company policy, cannot export or, if it is permitted to export, is able to do so only to a restricted area.
I freely admit that it is very difficult to get the facts, because these agreements are private. They are known to the Reserve Bank only if royalty fees are involved. The Reserve Bank is interested only from the point of view of the payment of overseas currency. Any other clause in an agreement between an Australian manufacturer and an overseas company is of no interest to the Reserve Bank. Its sole interest lies in the question whether any royalty fees are involved. In every one of the great number of cases that I know of there has been no question whether the Reserve Bank will approve the agreement.
– Let the Government nominate one agreement which has been refused.
– I have never heard of one. I have asked the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) a number of questions about this matter but I have received no facts from him. My most recent question to him was on 10th September, 1963. The question was in this form -
In view of the replies he has given to previous questions in this House and of other public statements he has made, I ask: Does he still agree that many firms, either because they are controlled by overseas principals or because of agreements that they have with overseas companies, are unable to export their manufactured goods from Australia or, if they can export, may do so only to very limited areas? Does the Minister agree that this is a very dangerous limitation of Australia’s efforts to build up its export trade? Has he had a survey made recently of those companies in Australia which have agreed to such limitations of their export possibilities? Will the Minister make available to the House the results of any survey made by his department? If no survey has been conducted, will he arrange for such an examination to be held immediately?
The Minister replied -
I am not able to say that the Department of Trade has conducted a specific survey on the matter referred to by the honorable member; but the department has a running knowledge and, I have no doubt, a fairly comprehensive knowledge of it. I will ascertain what facts are available and make them available to the honorable member and the House.
So far I have heard nothing further from the Minister. On 18th September the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) asked the Prime Minister a question relating to a new drug manufacturing company in the honorable member’s electorate. The Prime Minister replied that he had no real knowledge of the matter but that he would investigate it with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and with the Minister for Trade and let the honorable member know the position. On 26th September. 1963. the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) asked a question on this matter and the Minister for Trade said that I had asked him about it, that he was trying to obtain the facts and that when he did obtain them he would make them available to all honorable members.
Many companies which sign these contracts with overseas organizations undertake to buy raw materials and even capital equipment overseas, sometimes paying excessive prices for any or all of these articles. However, these undertakings are not necessarily shown in the licensing agreement which is made available to the Reserve Bank. In any case, they call for additional overseas payments or, in some cases, the issue of bonus shares by the Australian company on which dividends have to be paid overseas year after year. But the Minister has said that he has had no survey made recently, that he cannot give the facts, but that he will ascertain the facts and let us know them. But when will he do this? The most recent survey conducted by the Department of Trade to which any publicity was given took place in 1959. Even then the survey was very limited, as I shall show. At that time the department communicated with 650 Australian firms which are subsidiaries of or have manufacturing agreements with United States companies. Only 275 recorded an interest in export. Obviously, many companies which either denied such interest or ignored the questions submitted to them by the department did so to avoid having to disclose that they had signed agreements which restricted or prohibited their right to export their Australian-made products. One hundred and two companies with United States connexions admitted signing agreements to restrict the export of goods made in their factories in Australia. Five hundred and sixty Australian companies admitted being either wholly owned subsidiaries of British firms or financially linked to British firms. The total number of Australian companies linked to British firms by licensing agreements was unknown in 1959 and still is unknown. Of the 560 Australian companies with which the Department of Trade corresponded, 71 with British connexions reported that they had signed agreements to limit or to restrict exports. As was the case with companies having United States connexions, most companies did not report any interest in exports for the obvious reason that they did not want to disclose the fact that they had signed agreements restricting their right to export.
That was the position in 1959. What is the position in 1963? The Minister for Trade has said that no survey has been conducted. He has stated that the department has a loose knowledge of what is going on. We know that the practice is rapidly growing. This situation is important to Australia. It is limiting our productivity and affecting our employment position. If companies are to continue to sign such agreements Australia’s whole export programme will be affected. Such restrictive agreements are becoming increasingly prevalent. There is nothing to stop anybody going overseas, signing an agreement for the right to manufacture a product in Australia under licence and agreeing not to export that product. If a licence or royalty fee is involved the agreement must be approved by the Reserve Bank of Australia. But the Reserve Bank is interested only in the amount involved in royalty fees. Although the amount has increased in recent years from £2,000,000 to £15,000,000, there is no difficulty in obtaining the approval of the bank. Last week I contacted the secretary of the Reserve Bank. He told me that the bank was interested only in the amount of overseas currency involved, and not in export restrictions.
Many industries are involved, covering many types of trade. Some very large industries are involved. I have taken the electrical industry as an illustration of the situation that exists in Australia. “ Mingays Price Service”, published in May, 1960 - the latest edition that I could obtain - discloses that about 22 manufacturers in Australia make refrigerators. Between them they make more than 140 types of refrigerators. Twenty manufacturers make about ..110 different types of, washing machines. .Twenty-three manufacturers make more than 200 designs of stoves, grillers and boilers. More than 30 manufacturers make 226 styles of electric fans. Eleven manufacturers make more than 25 types of electric jugs. Twentyeight manufacturers make more than 150 designs of electric radiators. Almost all those manufacturers pay a royalty or a licence fee to an overseas principal for the right to manufacture the article and to use the brand name. Almost all of them have agreed not to export their products.
Let us deal with refrigerators. I have selected refrigerators because in the electrical appliance field more money is spent on advertising refrigerators for retail sale in Australia than on any other product. In fact, more money is probably spent on advertising refrigerators than is spent on any other product of a similar nature. The Commonwealth Statistician has revealed that in the twelve months ended 30th June, 1963, Australia exported 1,326 mechanical-type refrigerators. Of that number, 515 went to New Guinea, 556 to Papua, 21 to New Zealand, 32 to Fiji and 13 to Borneo. So, of the 1,326 refrigerators exported, 1,071 went to Australian-controlled territories. If we need proof of the desire of Australian companies to sell refrigerators all we need do is look at the daily newspapers to see the amount of advertising space devoted to refrigerators. Yet of 1,326 mechanical refrigerators exported in the last financial year, more than 1,000 were exported to Australian-controlled territories. Is that not proof that the manufacturers about whom I am speaking cannot export their products because they have signed agreements not to do so?
Of 235 non-mechanical refrigerators exported during the last financial year, 173 went to Australian-controlled territories. Here is proof that the people manufacturing refrigerators cannot export them freely because they have signed agreements not to export their products. In so doing they are limiting our prospects of building up our export trade. Most manufacturers have signed an agreement which includes the words, “This licence is available for Australia only “.
This pattern is followed in other branches of the electrical industry. Look at the positions ‘Of the Philips organization and the Crompton Parkinson company. Those are two of the best known electrical firms operating in Australia, and neither of them exports its products. The same situation exists in the motor car industry and certainly in the drug industry, where only one manufacturer - the Australian-owned company - is prepared to export. All of the others either cannot export because they have signed agreements not to do so or are restricted to exporting to certain areas. The same situation exists even in the fields of men’s and women’s clothing and men’s, women’s and children’s shoes. Firms in Australia have contracted to manufacture certain brand names of men’s and women’s clothing and men’s, women’s and children’s shoes, but they cannot export their products. This situation is reaching the point of absurdity when even products such as shoes cannot be exported. But still the Government does nothing. The Minister for Trade has said that he is aware of the situation and that the department has a loose view of this thing. But what is the Government doing about this practice which is preventing Australia continuing its export drive? We have had a lot of talk from Government spokesmen about restrictive trade practices. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) circulated four beautiful booklets about his proposed restrictive trade practices legislation and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has told the Chamber of Manufactures what the Attorney-General will not do about restrictive trade practices, but what has the Government said about the practice to which I have referred? Nowhere in any of the four booklets that he issued has the Attorney-General pointed to the restrictive trade practice of overseas organizations telling Australian factories that they cannot export their products. The Government should take action in the matter. The Government must take action when overseas companies insist on placing restrictions on the export of goods manufactured by Australian companies that have signed agreements to restrict their exports. Either such companies must lose the favorable tax concessions resulting from the double taxation agreement or the Government must set up an authority to examine all such agreements with a view to seeing that they are beneficial to Australia’s economy. Such an authority should examine the serious effect that the prohibition or restriction on the sale of our goods on the export market will have on Australia’s drive and determination to expand her exports.
I have moved the amendment because I believe that the Government is guilty of having failed to do anything about the prohibition or restriction on the export of goods manufactured in this country and because I believe the Government should immediately survey the situation and see that this very dangerous practice does not continue.
.- Earlier this afternoon the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) referred to trade with mainland China. While I appreciate the honorable member’s wide knowledge of statistics, I cannot for a moment see why our trade with mainland China should be affected by the fact that we have a surplus trading balance with Japan. Unfortunately time will not permit me to go fully into that matter. Similarly I regret that I cannot deal fully with the matter raised by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld). Suffice it to say that I agree with tha honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill), who referred to the two popular departments - the Department of Trade and the Department of Primary Industry.
– The Ministers are popular.
– I agree with my colleague from Gippsland. We have two very capable and very practical Ministers at the head of those departments. I think that has been borne out by the provision that the Government made in the recent Budget. Any one who realizes the extent to which the present Government has subsidized and otherwise assisted the primary industries must fully appreciate that this Government is certainly very sympathetic to these allimportant industries.
The main subject that I want to discuss this afternoon is the importance of the flour industry. Notwithstanding recent sales of wheat and of 125,000 short tons of flour to Russia, I claim that the flour-milling industry is threatened to-day. In the Wimmera electorate, we used to have some nine mills operating up to three shifts a day permanently. Now, we have ony seven mills operating at fewer than three shifts a day. In recent weeks, I have had the opportunity of checking on employment in the flour mills in my electorate and I find that the seven mills at present operating employ about 250 men. What do we find as a result of the sale of a large quantity of flour to Russia? The mills cannot obtain sufficient labour to go back to their normal run of three shifts a day. If labour and flour markets were available, the mills could increase their staffs from about 250 to approximately 400.
Honorable members will notice that no fewer than 33 flour mills throughout Australia have been closed in recent years, chiefly because of lack of export sales. Sales in Australia, naturally, have continued. When I look at the statistics, I find that there has been a terrific reduction in Australia’s export sales. In 1938-39, we exported 725,065 short tons of flour. The peak year was 1950-51, when exports totalled 883,009 short tons. They totalled 766,655 short tons in 1956-57 and about 550,000 short tons in 1961-62 - a very big reduction. Let us look at the export sales of other countries, particularly the United States of America. In 1935-36, that country exported 325,650 short tons and, in 1960-61, 2,180,250 short tons - a terrific increase. A similar trend is apparent in French export sales. In 1935, France exported 153,313 metric tons of flour. The latest figures I have been able to obtain were for 1958, when French exports totalled 391,826 metric tons. Honorable members can see that the flour export trade of both France and the United States in increasing very rapidly.
The question is: Why are we losing export markets? That is a question to which we must find an answer. The chief reason is that countries like West Germany, France, Italy and the United States are under-selling competitors by subsidizing production at the rate of anything up to £5 or £6 a ton. Also, Asian countries, for very good reasons, are installing their own mills. One reason is that, naturally, their own labour is cheaper. Furthermore, they can also take advantage of the much-needed offal that is made available by the local mills. Freight on wheat shipped to Asia is much lower than freight on flour. All these are important reasons why we are not continuing to export flour in large volumes. »*
I believe that, prior to the war, Australia was recognized as one of the leading exporters of flour. But we have certainly given way now to countries like the United States. Our mills have been recognized as being well up to world standard and the quality of our flour has always been high, particularly that produced in the Wimmera electorate. Although, in the past, people have frowned on soft wheats with a low gluten content and the flour produced from them, flour made from certain kinds of soft wheats is in good demand to-day. Our reduced export sales certainly pose great problems. In considering them, we must not overlook the effects on employment, which are so important, particularly in some country areas. Here, we touch again on the long story about the old problem of decentralization. If ever there were an industry that could be decentralized, it is the flour industry.
We have now been offered a new market for 125,000 short tons of flour, virtually out of the blue. However, because the mills have been geared to a slower pace than three shifts a day - quite a number have been running only one shift a day - they are finding great difficulty in obtaining labour to enable them to increase their rate of production. Men do not like taking jobs with flour mills because many of these jobs are not permanent. Also, there is the problem of recurring shortages and gluts in the supply of offal by the mills. I was discussing the matter with a miller only a few days ago. He told me that one of the big problems is the variation in the quantities of flour sold. One day a mill cannot keep up the supply of offal to meet the demand and the next day it cannot get rid of the offal.
One cannot blame the workers, the mill-owners or the Government for the present situation, Mr. Temporary Chairman. It is brought about by circumstances, and we must face it. The mills have many problems, and time will not allow me to discuss them all in detail this afternoon as I should like to do.
Recently, the Federal Council of Flour Mill Owners of Australia asked Personnel Administration Proprietary, , Limited ,to examine ,the, industry.; I h aye, not, time to read all the recommendations that were made as a result of the survey. Some were of considerable note, and I should like to read one in particular, as follows: -
That the present provisions covering (he offering of credit to underdeveloped countries for such basic items as flour be reconstructed to allow the millers to enter these new markets while themselves carrying a minimum credit risk.
I believe that the Government should consider that recommendation very deeply. The Combined New South Wales and Victorian Flour Millowners Councils also conducted a survey of which they prepared a booklet in which a number of recommendations appeared. Again, I have not sufficient time to go through all of these. Like Personnel Administration Proprietary Limited, the councils recommended that the export flour industry be included in the wheat stabilization scheme. This is one recommendation with which I do not agree, because the stabilization scheme for the wheat industry is separate altogether from the flour industry. I believe that if the flour industry were brought into the scheme a further subsidy of some kind by the Commonwealth would be needed or the wheat-growers would actually have to subsidize the flour industry. The wheat industry stabilization plan has been very satisfactory, and the new one that should be introduced very shortly should be particularly satisfactory, but we should not interfere with that scheme to benefit any other industry.
If the flour mill owners wish to produce a scheme of their own, well and good. I suggest to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) that we should set up an overall authority to find markets. Perhaps we could call it the Export Flour Board. It would be an authority similar to many of our present marketing boards. At the present time, the mill owners are in competition with each other. They send their representatives overseas to establish contact virtually with the same buyers. This is a form of duplication. Consequently, the profit margin of the mill owners is such that they are not in a position to conduct their businesses satisfactorily.
I want now to refer to the Tariff Board. Again, time will, not allow me to go into all the details I want to cover. I believe that it is important for Australia to retain a rate of duty on imported fibre piece goods sufficient to protect our textile industry, which is faced with quite a number of worries. It is very nice to be able to purchase overseas goods at reasonable prices, but we must not only protect the interests of firms such as Prestige Limited, Bruck Mills (Australia) Limited and Silk and Textile Printers Limited, but also protect the interests of the staff they employ. It is interesting to note that at the present time about 71,000 people are employed in the textile industry. A large number of female workers is included in that figure.
Australia is the biggest wool producer in the world, but it is importing in the vicinity of 90 per cent, of its cotton. Naturally, as this is a young and developing country, we are still experimenting in our cotton industry on the basis of trying to increase production. We have to keep our eyes on the industry and make sure that we protect it. This task comes within the field of activity of the Tariff Board. If the Tariff Board imposes tariffs to protect the textile industry, it is indirectly protecting other industries such as the cotton industry.
I would like to refer finally to the cooperation of the Minister for Primary Industry with the all-important wool industry. Many problems in the wool industry have been solved in the last few years and I attribute this success largely to the efforts of the Minister. I feel that wool-growers throughout Australia, whilst they are critical of one another, have fully approved of the part played by the Minister in helping to solve their problems. I believe that a lot of the success of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Australian Wool Board is attributable to the Minister. If we can only get the wool-growers to appreciate the full importance of the wool industry-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In dealing with the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, I wish to direct a few remarks to primary production. To all Australians a prosperous and efficient farming community is of vital importance. From 50 per cent, to 60 per cent, of Australia’s annual export income is derived from primary products. Without this income secondary industries could not be adequately developed, nor could basic materials for their operation be obtained from overseas. Finance for essential imports such as petroleum would be less readily available. Obviously, a wise Commonwealth Government, which the Labour Party can provide, would use the machinery of government to ensure the maximum possible degree of efficiency and stability in the primary production sector of the national economy.
Grave difficulties in primary production arise from many causes, including droughts, inefficient production, lack of adequate credit facilities, variations in overseas prices and chaotic marketing conditions with associated low prices. In most fields of primary production, the farmer is the victim, within Australia and abroad, of efficiently organized buying groups which extract a heavy toll without rendering any service. Organized marketing of primary production is essential. Adequate credit facilities are also essential. At the present time, the operations of the Commonwealth Development Bank are devoted mainly to financing developmental projects. A much wider ambit of credit facilities from the bank is required, and will be arranged.
The Chifley Labour Government established the Division of Agricultural Economics. Its work has been outstandingly successful and has been commended by all primary producers’ organizations. Its publications are excellent. A Labour government will ensure its continued service to primary industry and, where necessary, will expand its activities and increase the circulation of its excellent publications.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has made a magnificent contribution towards increasing the efficiency of primary production. The fullest possible support will be accorded its splendid research and extension work. Extension work in primary production was pioneered by a Labour government in 1947. This work will be continued and, where scope offers, will be expanded, particularly in co-operation with the State Departments of Agriculture. Labour knows that there has never been any real difficulty in disposing of all of our surplus primary products on the world’s’ markets. Th’e great problem has been the price factor, the influence of which can be materially diminished by an extension of international agreements, by organized marketing and by more efficient farming and research, enabling emphasis to bc placed on the production for export of primary products that are most likely to be saleable on the world’s markets.
Although the negotiations by the United Kingdom Government to enter the European Common Market have been suspended for all practical purposes at this stage, there is no guarantee that the negotiations will not be resumed at a future date. The new preferential entry of some Australian primary products into the United Kingdom market could be prevented by tariff barriers, should the negotiations be successfully concluded. Australia is obliged to fight continuously for the right to retain traditional markets, particularly for primary products. In the event of the United Kingdom market for Australian primary products becoming non-existent, or seriously reduced, it will become essential that this country have alternative markets. lt is necessary at all times to develop new markets, particularly in the Asian sphere. Taking the long-range view, and accepting that the United Kingdom will enter the Common Market under the Treaty of Rome terms, a Labour government would not hesitate to provide subsidies sufficient both to maintain Australian living standards for those engaged in primary industries and at the same time facilitate the gaining of a footing in export markets by the products affected.
I turn now to organized marketing, the farmer and the Constitution. The Labour Parly pioneered legislation for the orderly marketing of primary products but effective orderly marketing requires a uniform national policy, and while section 92 of the Constitution remains unaltered, uniform policy is difficult of attainment. Many existing orderly marketing schemes, including those applying to the dairy industry, rest on insecure legal foundations. The Labour Party believes that a satisfactory legal basis for the orderly marketing of primary products can be found and the Labour Party will support the following recent all-party recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review -
Although the Menzies Government received the Constitutional Review Committee’s report on 26th November, 1959, it has taken no action yet to implement that committee’s recommendations, and I predict that it never will.
Now let me give a summary of Labour’s rural policy. The points included in it are -
Better rural facilities for postal, telegraph and telephonic communications. 6. (a) Appointment of trade commissioners in overseas countries to establish markets for Australian products.
Co-operation with the States for the following purposes:
I place those points before the Parliament of the nation to-day because I believe that within days, perhaps within hours, this nation will again be in the throes of a campaign for a general election, and, should that happen, the people will know exactly where the Australian Labour Party stands. It is the only party that has ever done anything worthwhile in the interests of the primary producers of this country, and as it has acted in the past, so will it act in the future. Let me assure this Government that we will welcome an election. Why is the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) withholding information about an election? Why does he not tell the nation? We will go to the country and come back as the government. We will return to occupy the treasury bench in this Parliament.
– The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) has obviously given us a run through of what he may need to use as an election speech at some time in the future. The only point that came out of his speech concerning Labour’s policy was the fact that he believes that the Commonwealth Government has not sufficient power at the present time and that more powers should be conferred upon it by way of referendum. I point out that the conferring of additional powers would react to the detriment of the States and could lead to greater centralization of power in the Administration at Canberra. I think this demonstrates in very clear terms the difference between the policy of the Australian Labour Party and that of the parties that form the Government. It is the policy of the Australian Labour Party, as we have recently been told, to make a policy on a certain matter and then tell the industry concerned what is good for it. If honorable members opposite had the extra power which the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) says the Parliament should have, they would be able to impose their will on any industry. It is the policy of the Government - and one which on this side of the House we all support - that industries should be encouraged to make their own policies and that the Government should do what it can to provide the forum in which an industry can make its own policy on matters vital to its future and that, when it has made its policy it should seek appropriate government co-operation. That is the way in which this Government has worked, not with one primary industry only but with all primary industries, over a long period of time.
– And consequently the primary producers have had nothing from it.
– They have got more from us than they ever got from Labour governments in the history of federation. If those engaged in primary industry are given an opportunity to show it, the honorable member will find that he has no more support from them to-day than he had when he wanted to sell wheat cheaply to New Zealand at the expense of the Australian wheatgrowers.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member finds it convenient to forget. It is, nevertheless, a fact, and the honorable member knows it to be a fact.
I would like now briefly to say a few words about two or three Australian primary industries. I think it is evident to all fair observers that under the administration of the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the present Government there has been a great improvement in the organization, administration and control of more than one primary industry in recent times. I will deal briefly with the wool industry, in the first instance. It is not yet quite a year since this Parliament passed legislation for the establishment of a new Australian wool board, to be responsible for the overall control of the industry. It should be recalled that the legislation was passed after the acceptance by the Government of a unanimous request from the two largest wool-growing organizations, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. The representatives of the two organizations had met together and the two bodies formed their own federal conference, upon which they both had delegates from all the States in which they have members. That conference and the organizations had asked this Government to act. Here, again, was a typical example of this Government’s approach to these matters. The Minister had been actively encouraging the organizations to get together so that they could put forward uniform views and thus be in a much stronger position in any negotiations that they wanted to conduct with the Government. It is only recently that we have seen the first positive result of the new organization which has been established.
As the result of the two organizations being represented on this conference, the conference executive was able, a few weeks ago, to come to the Government with a proposal that it should assist in financing a proposed expanded wool promotional programme. I suggest that if the two organizations had not had the forum of the con- ference upon which to meet together, it night have taken them a very much longer time before they would have been able to arrive at unanimous views, which they could pui to the Government. But they had a forum in which they could speak and they formed their policy and came to the Government. They put forward a strong case and in a very few weeks the Government accepted the case put to it by the con ference. It is my belief that this was due entirely to the new organization within the industry at present. This is a perfect example of the Government encouraging an industry to make up its own mind and then seek the co-operation of the Government.
I was glad to hear the Minister, when commenting on the Government’s announcement in regard to wool promotion, say that when other matters come from the conference to the Government, they will be given the same kind of careful consideration. I was glad to hear the Minister say that he thought a marketing plan would be desirable, but he then pointed out the difficulty of coming to a decision, in a short space of time, as to which plan should be adopted or which would be in the best interests of the Australian wool-growers.
It should be recalled that the Australian Wool Board has been in existence only since the 1st May this year and at that time it had nothing in relation to marketing in front of it. It is true that it had a great deal of evidence and detailed reports, but no technical examination had been conducted to try to find out which marketing proposal would give the highest return to the woolgrower. I understand that the Australian Wool Board is undertaking this inquiry at the present time. I do not believe that the board could be blamed for not achieving in six months what the divided organizations, without meeting together, had not been able to achieve in over 30 years. It is interesting to note that the chairman of the board has given a categoric guarantee that recommendations concerning marketing proposals will come down, at the latest, in the middle of 1964.
It is pleasing to note that this year’s wool production looks like being a record - about 60,000,000 lb. greater than that of last year. With the prices at present available it would appear that this year will be the fourth or fifth year in a row in which the prices and return to the Australian wool-growers have improved. It will be remembered that in 1958 the price of wool fell to an extremely unprofitable level of slightly over 48d. per lb. Last year it was just over 59d. per lb. and this year the weekly averages so far have varied from 61 d. to 67d. per lb. I think honorable members are well aware that this season has opened on ‘much more favorable terras than was the case last year. The average price of wool for the first three months of last year was a fraction over 50d. per lb., whereas for the first three months of this year the average return was nearly 63d. per lb. If this trend continues - and there is no reason why it should not - the wool-grower will be in a much happier position this year than he was last year.
In addition, there are other matters which are assisting him, such as the Government’s contribution to wool promotion, the extent of which could be between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000. The amount of the Government’s contribution is entirely in the woolgrower’s own hands, because it depends on the size of the levy which he decides to impose on himself. In addition, there was the announcement by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget speech of the implementation of the superphosphate subsidy, which will be very welcome, especially to producers established in the high rainfall areas where costs have been highest and returns lowest. All in all, I think the woolgrower can look forward to a better year than he has had for some considerable time. With the matters that are in train and with the prospects of marketing changes and the recommendations to come forward next year, the future of the wool industry should be better than it has been for some time.
I wish now to turn my attention briefly to the dairy industry. By the end of June, 1964, this coalition Government will have supplied £205,900,000 in subsidy to it, whereas all previous payments by way of subsidy totalled less than £45,000,000. It can easily be seen that by far the greater part of the subsidy that has been paid to the Australian dairy farmers has come from the present Commonwealth Government, and I agree with the dairy farmers that this subsidy in many ways is a consumers’ subsidy rather than a subsidy paid direct to the farmers.
Last year, a decision was made to subsidize the export of processed milk products. This was a good move, because the producers of processed milk had been in difficulties. Their exports had been falling and their production had been falling. This had led to an increased production of butter and cheese, and overseas markets for these products were not readily available. A limited subsidy was paid to encourage the export of processed milk products. This limited subsidy has been so successful that it has been extended and increased to £500,000 for this year. In the first year of operation of the subsidy the downward trend of production of processed milk products was reversed and, in terms of tons of butter fat, the export of processed milk products increased by 33 per cent. I think the Commonwealth can say with complete justification that it has had a very good return for the £350,000 it has spent in the first year. The return on the £500,000 that will be spent in the current year should be greater than the return we have already had.
It is interesting to note that the industry is becoming more vigorous in taking charge of its own affairs and is more actively promoting its products overseas. A typical example of this is the increase of cheese exports between 1957-58 and the last financial year. In 1957-58, only 9,000 tons of cheese were exported for a return of less than £2,000,000. In the last financial year, we exported 25,000 tons of cheese for a return of more than £6,000,000. Again, it is interesting to note that it seems that Japan will become the largest overseas consumer and will take 5,000 tons from us in the next financial year. This is due in large measure to changes in Japanese eating habits which are the direct result of an improved standard of living.
I would like to refer very briefly to the meat industry. It is well known that this industry is increasing the export income that it earns. This is due in no small measure to the different markets that the industry is now supplying. In .1958-59, the United Kingdom took 150,000 tons of our export beef and veal, to the value of £30,000,000. In that year, which was- the first year or perhaps the second year of any sizeable exports to the United States of America, 51,000 tons went to that country for a return of £18,000,000. It will be clear that the average price on the United States Market was greater than the price on the United Kingdom market. In the last year, the exports to the United States rose to 213,000 tons for a return of £67,000,000, and the exports to the United Kingdom fell to under 30,000 tons for just about £6,000,000. The total value of exports increased from £55,000,000 to £80,000,000. With the policies of this Government for the construction of beef roads, there is every prospect of our exports increasing even further, because more than 50 per cent, of our export beef comes from the northern half of Australia. Indeed, I think 50 per cent, comes from Queensland itself.
The rural industries, particularly those that I have mentioned, have prospered under the present Government. They will continue to prosper under this Government. 1 do not believe that the honorable member for Lalor in this year, next year or any year in this decade will have the chance to be Minister for Primary Industry again.
.- The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) has looked forward to a time in the coming year when the wool industry, the dairying industry and the meat industry and those engaged in the industries will be better off because of an improvement in prices, because of the payment of the superphosphate subsidy and because of other factors Let us hope that the honorable member is right. Let us hope that these industries will be better off in the coming year. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said in his speech on the Budget that the physical output of these industries has increased by 40 per cent., 50 per cent., or 60 per cent, and in some instances has more than doubled over the last ten years. However, as I was able to point out after the Minister had spoken, the money income received by the farmers in these industries has declined over that period of ten years from something like £800,000,000 or £900,000,000 to about £500,000,000 or £600,000,000.
Let us hope that at long last the honorable member for Wannon, who is supposed to represent primary producers, is right and that there will be an improvement in their position in the coming year. Let us hope that he will be able to persuade the farmers that the payment this year of the subsidy on superphosphate is in some way to the credit of this Government. However, I am quite sure that he will not be able to obscure the fact that the subsidy on superphosphate was removed by the Government in 1950 although the subsidy had been continued during the term of office of the Labour Government. It has taken twelve years for the Government, supported consistently by the votes of the honorable member for Wannon, to restore the superphosphate subsidy. Let us hope that the position of the farmers will improve in the year to come. If it does, it will improve despite the policies of this Government and not because of them.
I would like to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) that these estimates be reduced by £1 so as to direct attention to the restrictive factors that are preventing the export of secondary goods from Australia to take place as rapidly as it should. I want to deal with the estimates for the Department of Trade, and to point out that the balance of payments is critical to Australia’s economic affairs. The balance of payments is critical to our level of income, our employment and our production. Depressions and inflations have always come to Australia through the ports, through the balance of payments, and through sudden and significant rises or fall in the component parts of the balance of payments. That is still as true to-day as it was in the ‘thirties, when we had severe recessions. It is as true to-day as it was in 1961, when we had a quite severe recession.
The component parts of the balance of payments that we must think about are, on the credit side, the proceeds of Australia’s exports and investment from overseas in Australia, chiefly from the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and, on the debit side, the cost of imports and the cost of freights and other services. These four items are the significant component parts of the balance of payments. A rise on the credit side in the value of exports and investment in Australia tends to produce inflation in Australia. A fall on this side tends to produce a recession. On the oilier hand, a rise on the debit side tends to produce a recession and a fall tends to encourage improvement in Australia.
The significant element in the balance of payments upon which Australian economic activity depends to-day is overseas investment. Overseas investment is to-day the critical factor in the balance of payments. In answering a question this morning, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that he thought to-day that we were in somewhat of a different position, because of the height of our reserves. I want to refer to this for a moment to show that this is not so. It is true that the latest figures show that our reserves stand at £634,000,000 and that they have risen consistently during 1963. If one compares that level of reserves with the level just before the 1.961 recession, one sees that it was considerably higher. Before the 1961 recession our reserves fell from £483,000,000 to £398,000,000. Our £634.000,000 to-day is considerably higher than £398,000,000, which was the level at the time when the credit squeeze went on in 1960. But although our reserves arc higher, our requirements are also higher.
Tn 1961 when the recession began, because of this Government’s credit squeeze, our imports were at a considerably lower level than they are to-day. Then they were running at about £900,000,000 annually. In 1961-62 they reached £1,067,000,000. Taking the last monthly figure available, to show what our imports are to-day, one finds that they are running at about £1.200,000,000 a year. In other words, we have reserves about £300,000,000 higher but we also have imports about £300.000,000 higher, and the fact that we have higher resources is not the additional safeguard suggested by the Treasurer earlier to-day. The significant factor is still the level of overseas investment.
Increase in the significance of overseas investment is the outstanding characteristic of Australia’s trading situation to-day. This increase should also be looked at a little more closely. There has been an increase in the significance of United States investment and a decline in the significance of United Kingdom investment. Since 1960 American investment in Australia has increased by £120,000,000, while United Kingdom investment has increased by only £86,000,000. The American part of investment in Australia is becoming more and more significant, and American investment to-day is of vital importance in our balance of payments position. If there is a significant fall in investment from one of these countries, with a Liberal Government in office which will take no offsetting measures to deal with it, it will mean trouble and recession for Australia.
The latest figures available tell us that United Kingdom investment in Australia fell from £93,300,000 in 1960-61 to £39,000,000 in 1961-62. That fall was one of the critical factors that brought about the recession of 1 961-62. At least it produced the policy of the credit squeeze, which itself brought the recession. We know the cost of that. We know the fall in national income that was involved. We know that Australia in 1961-62 lost between £500,000,000 and £600,000,000 of national income that otherwise would have been available to it. But we know that unemployment rose to a level of 135,000. With a Liberal Government in office, which will take no offsetting measures to deal with a decline in the credit side of the balance of payments, this kind of thing will happen again, lt happened in 1961 and it will happen again if investment from either the United Kingdom or the United States falls significantly.
That raises for our consideration the question: What is the position to-day? There is every indication that United States investment will fall significantly in 1964. lt is the policy of the Kennedy Administration to use discriminating tax measures to discourage overseas investment, including investment in Australia. The object of this is to encourage investment at home, where it is badly needed to raise the level of employment; - there arc. 6,000,000 unemployed in the United States - and also of business activity. Kennedy has an election coming up in the not distant future, and he also believes, 1 think rightly, that economic conditions in this country must be improved for various other reasons as well.
I submit that the Treasurer has come back to Australia with depressing news, with the warning that United States investment in Australia will fall significantly in 1964, indeed that United States money coming to Australia may be virtually cut off. It is obvious that the policy of the Kennedy Administration, in the interests of the American economy, makes this highly probable. Therefore the Government must now prepare for a severe credit squeeze in 1964. So what does it do? It put on a credit squeeze in 1960-61 to deal with a similar situation, and a situation of no greater severity. We know of the consequent unemployment, the lower production and the lower income. We know also that the Government was stupid enough to allow that credit squeeze to be followed by an election within a few months. We know the consequences of that election. The Government lost sixteen seats in 1961 as a result of the conditions imposed on Australia by the Government itself. The Australian people realized what the Government had done and they voted accordingly.
What is the Government going to do to-day? It is going to do something quite different. They are very clever men, the men who run the Australian Government. They are saying in England now that it is much better to have good men than clever ones. The clever men who run the Australian Government have learned their lesson from 1961. They are now saying, “Have the election now and the credit squeeze afterwards”. Therefore, I submit, an early election is probable in this country, not in the interests of Australia but in the interests of the Liberal Party, so that the election can be got out of the way and the Government, if it comes back with a majority in both Houses, as it hopes to do, can then impose a credit squeeze to deal with the economic situation. It will not have to worry about an election at the end of the next year, because the election will be three years away.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the estimates for the departments under discussion.
– The proper reaction to this situation is to increase our trade, to make sure that the Department of Trade, the estimates for which are the subject of examination, will not agree to a policy such as this but will fight it, as I imagine it did in 1961. As for your own party, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I hope it too will fight this policy, as I understand your leader did in 1961. If this was the attitude in 1961 of the Country Party and its leader, and the Department of Trade, then they are in fact opposed to the kind of policy I have just described. On the other hand, the Treasurer, and the Treasury itself, are in favour of that kind of policy. The question now arises: Will the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) come down on the side of the Treasurer or on the side of the Minister for Trade? Will he do what he did in 1961, or will he say that in the interests of this country we must maintain employment and economic activity by relying upon our own resources, and that we will not be dominated by our balance of payments and by any fall in overseas investment that takes place.
This is the critical question that faces Australia to-day, and it is, of course, the critical question that faces this committee, and we should not be allowed to turn our attention away from it. There is a very great likelihood of a fall in American investment in Australia, with the consequences of a credit squeeze, unemployment and loss of income and production, such as I have outlined. That is the issue confronting any one who is considering the estimates before us at the moment. I have pleasure, therefore, in supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), to the effect that the estimates should be reduced by £1, because I denounce the policy followed by the Government in relation to exports. I believe, in fact, that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the people, and that the sooner the Australian people have an opportunity to express their view the better.
– I propose to address my remarks to the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) referred to one or two subjects connected with primary industry. I believe his references should be taken up. His analysis of the present electoral situation, whilst it might be hopeful from his point of view, is quite unfactual. He mentioned that the subsidy on superphosphate had been removed by the present Government in 1950. That is true. He went on to suggest to the committee that the Government instead of removing the subsidy in 1950, should have retained it during the whole period of the 1950’s when we were receiving the highest prices we have ever received for our exports. I refer particularly to wool, but also to some other exports. At that time we were receiving prices that were beyond the imagination of anybody five or six years before. I believe that the
Government acted quite correctly in regard to the superphosphate bounty. 1 believe and appreciate that, because of a rise in the world cost level and the unfortunate falling off in commodity prices on world markets, the Government now has bad to take certain action to give some fillip to our primary industries. I say - I believe correctly - that the re-introduction of the superphosphate bounty is something which the Government should have done.
Another item in respect of which I disagree with the honorable member for Yarra is the present balance-of-payments situation. Surely he does not intend to suggest to the committee, on the evidence before his own eyes of the prices that we are receiving for wool, wheat, sugar, meat and other export commodities, that we are likely to run into an adverse balance this year. If he intends to say that he either has failed to read his homework or has a completely wrong conception of the subject. Two previous speakers - the honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill), who made an excellent little speech, and the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) - brought out the diversity of the Government’s interest in our primary industries. They mentioned the various respects in which the Government is showing its encouragement to our main exporting industries by making available to them the type of assistance that will help them to swell Australia’s exports and so help to solve our major problem in connexion with the balance of trade. Reference was made to the dairy industry, the cotton industry, the tobacco industry, the wheat industry and various other industries. I believe the committee will appreciate the points that were made by those two speakers. They pointed out that the Government has accepted a serious responsibility in regard to assisting the export of our primary industries. 1 propose to address my remarks mainly to the matter of wool. I think every member of the committee and the Australian public realize the vast importance of the wool industry to the general economic welfare of our country. The two main problems facing the new Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Industry Conference are, first, the financing of . the- wool promotion campaign which has been recommended by the International Wool Secretariat and, secondly, an examination of our wool selling procedures and, if thought advisable, the adoption of alterations. The latter problem is now being studied by a committee of the Wool Industry Conference; so I do not propose to deal with it at any length. I merely say that on a previous occasion, when this matter was referred to a referendum of wool-growers, I was in favour of the proposal. I believe that the circumstances have altered very considerably since that time and it might be necessary to reconsider; but I still say that that problem is now before a committee of the Wool Industry Conference and therefore I do not propose to discuss it.
I propose to discuss at some length the question of promotion and how the funds are to be raised, because I believe this is extremely important. I remind the committee that the South African growers already have agreed to a levy of £A.2 16s. 3d. approximately a bale. I say “ approximately a bale “ because I believe that the Australian levy will be struck not on a bale basis but on a percentage basis which will be far fairer to all. The New Zealand growers have agreed to a levy of £A,2 9s. 8d. a bale. I stress again that that is an acceptance by the growers in those two countries of the fact that promotion is something that really matters to them. There has been some criticism of the idea of a larger levy for promotion. Some criticism has come from people in the fat lamb growing industry. I suggest to those people who criticize the proposed levy on the basis that they do not have a substantial wool clip that if they are selling lambs they will know that a large part of the profit that they make on their fat lambs comes from the skin value; that if skin value is low their profit is low, and if skin value is high they make an extremely good profit. I suggest that any effective promotion scheme will help to increase the value of lamb skins and directly affect the profits of the fat-lamb growers. As the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) says, if they were selling the Iambs in the wool they would not be making a contribution to the promotion fund, although they would get wool from the mothers of the lambs.
The request which has been made to the Government for assistance for promotion is a unique departure from previous woolgrowers’ policy. I mention for the information of the committee that the Government Members Wool Committee, of which I happen to be chairman and of which the honorable member for Wannon is secretary, in support of the request when it was made to the Government, took the opportunity to discuss the matter with some of the Ministers concerned. I said that this is a unique departure because it is the first time the industry has made a direct request for assistance. An unfortunate point in connexion with this industry - the greatest Australian industry - is that the Opposition has attempted to make a political football out of the present situation. The worst feature of this is that this is an attempt to drive a wedge between the wool-growers, to separate what members of the Opposition call “ the big man “ from the little man, as if they had entirely opposing interests. The position is partly due to interorganizational rivalry for membership. It is doing a great disservice to the industry which the organizations are dedicated to serve. Of course, members of the Labour Party, with their usual opportunism, in supporting the activities of my friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), have seized on this as a nice piece of propaganda to use for political purposes.
I remind the industry of the difference between the approach of this Government and that of the Opposition to this problem. I believe it provides a warning to woolgrowers of what the industry could expect if Labour were returned to power. This Government has always adopted the attitude that the industry must make its own decisions for its future, and that once those decisions have been made the Government will proceed to give legislative effect to the industry’s requests. On the other hand, the Labour Party wants to impose its own ideas on the wool-growers. It is going to tell them what is good for them. That would be the first step towards the complete domination of the industry which, fortunately for the industry, it has escaped so far.
That applies to the promotion levy proposal. Prior to any decision of the growers’ representatives on attracting Government assistance for promotion, Labour members jumped on the band wagon and said, “ We are going to be in it; we are going to provide assistance whether the industry wants it or not “. As I said, in this instance a direct approach has been made by the executive committee of the Wool Industry Conference and the Government - I believe correctly - has been pleased to make a very generous offer.
I do not propose to traverse the arguments for wool promotion. Everybody has the opportunity of reading them and studying them at length. I merely say that at the present time wool is engaged in a desperate struggle for survival against the forces of man-made fibres. What was an easy situation years ago, when competition came only or mainly from cotton and silk, has been altered dramatically. People have to realize that, because a certain set of circumstances existed in the past, those circumstances do not necessarily apply now, when we are faced with a competitive situation in which advertising and promotion are necessary for the survival of our great wool industry. Further, by skilful and penetrating promotion it is possible to increase the price of wool in world markets and every one penny per lb. increase in the price of greasy wool means an increase in our export income of £7,000,000. That is a pretty sizeable amount, so the stakes are not small. In addition, I believe there is a distinct possibility of increasing the sales of our processed or semi-processed wools, such as wool tops.
The growers must decide whether they believe that expenditure on promotion is worth while. They must not allow this issue to become clouded by the other proposition of altering the present marketing methods. I remind the industry generally that, if through its own inaction it allows the present promotion campaign to grind to a halt, it will be very expensive to get the campaign going again and that the industry’s competitors will seize the opportunity to suit their own ends.
I was particularly impressed by the remarks of Mr. F. R. Howell, vice-president of the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association. I believe them to be particularly pertinent. In a personal statement issued fairly recently Mr. Howell said -
In March, 1962, the annual general meeting of the V.W.W.G.A. passed a resolution that there should be no increases in levy for wool promotion until a grower-controlled marketing scheme was in operation. The March, 1963, meeting reaffirmed this.
It was not until two months later that the Australian Wool Board announced the details of its promotion plan.
Mr. Howell was pointing out that the decision had been made before the members of the association really knew the proposition submitted to them by the International Wool Secretariat. In other words, they prejudged the situation, without full knowledge of the facts. Mr. Howell went on to say that the organization had really no policy of promotion. He made some very pertinent remarks which I believe the committee should hear. Referring to a meeting held on 13 th November, he said -
Some district council representatives would also bc present - but this would not solve the problem that the Association had not considered the case put for increased promotion, and had as yet no policy on it.
Every effort should be made to correct this situation, because promotion was too vital a matter for members to be satisfied with rubber-stamping a decision made more than 18 months ago when all the facts were nol known.
Later he said -
Again it could be claimed that if the V.W.W.G.A. policy of marketing before promotion is wrong, it is guilty of holding the whole of the world’s wool industry up to ransom . . . Such drastic action is unrealistic and would definitely be against grower’s interests.
The case for immediate increase of promotional activity was so strong that rank and file members should decide on the future of their industry and not leave it lo the V.W.W.G.A. executive to make policy.
Mr. Howell has taken a very strong stand. Wc must admire him for dealing with the matter in a completely realistic way. He tried to show his own organization how it had attempted to prejudge the case without really being in possession of the facts.
There is no difficulty in justifying the Government’s share in the expenditure involved in this proposal for wool promotion. Already the Government promotes directly or indirectly the sales of the products of certain Australian industries overseas, by participating in trade drives and trade fairs. The justification would lie in the higher prices for Australian wool, which would result in additional revenue from taxation and increased overseas funds. The Government has acted extremely wisely in this matter. The growers should -give serious consideration to the proposals that are being advanced, so that when the time comes to study the question of marketing they will be in a far better position to know the facts.
.- The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) is always very interesting, but he is always exceedingly reactionary and sometimes most inaccurate in his statements. He has accused the Opposition of being political in this matter. That is a reactionary and futile remark. Of course, all members of this Parliament are political. Political ideas and political economic theories of various brands permeate all organizations and authorities in Australia.
I should like to refer to the tobacco industry - an industry which has not many supporters, advocates or defenders in this Parliament. There came into my hands this week the 1963 annual report of Rothmans of Pall Mall (Australia) Limited, Glancing through the report, I discovered that Rothmans of Pall Mall (Australia) Limited is associated with companies incorporated in New South Wales, to wit, American Cigarette Company (Overseas) Proprietary Limited, Investment Administration Proprietary Limited, Martins of Piccadilly Proprietary Limited, Pall Mall Investments Proprietary Limited, Rembrandt Tobacco Corporation (Overseas) Proprietary Limited and Riggio Tobacco Corporation of New York Proprietary Limited. It is associated also with Granville Tobacco Processors Proprietary Limited, which is incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory.
This report is contained in a beautiful brochure. No doubt Rothmans believe in promotion, but the tobacco growers do not seem to bother about it. Has any one ever called upon the growers to undertake any promotional activities? The wholesalers and the retailers do that, and in all probability they reduce the price of tobacco leaf.
What has intrigued me in the chairman’s report to his directors is his very severe criticism of the system operating in Australia under which, by law, tobacco manufacturers who use a specific quantity of Australian tobacco, are entitled to a tariff rebate. The Rothman Company does not like that at all. There is no rebate unless a company follows that law. The law was framed with the acquiescence of the tobacco growers, and I believe it to be a very good and wise law. I am not sure whether I or my successor in office is responsible for it. I think we share the honour. The fact remains that it is a great protective instrument for the tobacco growers, in the absence of any marketing scheme.
Mr. Irish, the chairman of directors of Rothmans, criticized this scheme severely. It would take too long to quote him fully, but, in effect, he said that because the manufacturers are required to buy so much Australian leaf the quality of their products is suffering and they have decided on a policy of restriction of production. If you look at the diagram on page 11 of the annual report you will see that Rothmans, with six brands, had over 50 per cent, of the market. Other organizations, which sell 94 other brands, had not quite 50 per cent, of the market. The Peter Stuyvesant cigarette enjoys the largest sale in its price class and has easily the second largest sale of any brand. Sales of this brand are increasing rapidly.
Severe criticism is directed at the rebate system. Obviously the Rothman Company wants to destroy it. It is true that the company states that the way in which to sell more Australian tobacco is to produce a better quality product. On one hand, the company states that it is restricting production; on the other hand, it boasts that sales are increasing. A remarkable feature is that Sir William Gunn is a director of Rothmans. No doubt that is within the law. But it is a function of a board of directors of a concern of this nature to operate so as to buy tobacco leaf at the cheapest possible rate. Sir William Gunn apparently is a consenting party to criticism of the percentage system, which enables the manufacturer to get a rebate and prevents him from importing too much tobacco from other countries. On the one hand you have Sir William Gunn, in his capacity as chairman of the Australian Wool Board, apparently operating to promote the sale of wool at improved prices, and on the other hand you have him .as a. member of the board of directors of Rothmans, in which capacity it” is obviously his duty to endeavour to purchase tobacco as cheaply as possible. If his chairman of directors speaks for him, Sir William Gunn obviously is critical of the system that protects the Australian tobacco-grower. I raise this matter because the tobacco-growers of Australia and this Parliament should be forewarned of attacks of this kind upon a system that has undoubtedly conferred benefits on the Australian tobacco-grower without in any way forcing the sale of deleterious tobacco on the pipe-smoking community.
– The manufacturers have been discussing this policy with the growers only last week.
– I have no doubt of that. The Minister agreed a little while ago that this quota system - this drawback tariff system which applies if a certain amount of leaf is used - was a protective system for the growers and, if the chairman of directors of Rothmans speaks for him, Sir William Gunn does not like the system. No doubt his signature goes on the annual report.
– Why run down Sir William Gunn when he is putting up such a fight for a primary industry?
– I do not think that Sir William Gunn, by being a director of a company that must buy its leaf as cheaply as possible, is putting up much of a fight for the tobacco-growers, who are involved in a primary industry. No doubt at the tobacco auctions the buyers for Rothmans wink at the buyers for other companies. They would not be natural if they did not.
Let us look at the wool situation. The honorable member for Corangamite and other honorable members opposite have referred to the Labour Party’s attitude to primary production. The honorable member for Corangamite was kind enough to suggest that the Labour Party rams its schemes down the necks of people. I remind the honorable member that a poll was taken of wheat-growers to determine their attitude on wheat.
– Such as the sale of wheat to New ‘Zealand.
– The honorable member will not get me off on that side issue. He knows that he did not say anything about that matter. If he were not so damned ignorant he would know that no wheatgrower in Australia suffered the loss of Id. on the sale of wheat to New Zealand. He would know that the wheat-growers were paid at export parity at the date of shipment by the government of the day. I will leave the matter there.
– That is not correct. Wheat-growers as taxpayers lost heavily.
– That is true.
– You know that your statement is wrong.
– When this argument is finished I will continue. With regard to wool, I have studied some of the records and I have found that on 25th January, 1961, the Government set up the Philp committee. That committee reported on 19th February, 1962, but it dodged the issue of marketing. The committee reported -
After careful consideration and close assessment of the merits and demerits of the existing methods of marketing Australian wool and the proposed alteration to this method, the Committee concludes that there are not sufficient advantages in any alternative to warrant its adoption at present in place of the existing system.
The committee also commented -
We are primarily asked to advise on marketing and promotion.
The committee dodged both issues. So blame for the delay that ensued cannot be laid at the door of the subsequent committee appointed by the Government and of which Sir William Gunn was a member.
Let us look at the history of this important primary product and of the people who grow it. I go back to 1945. That is far enough. In 1945 the Curtin Government sent Sir Frank Murphy and some other good Australians to London to consider the promotion of surplus wools. They attended the meeting of a committee which comprised representatives from South Africa, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It was an honour to Australia that Sir Frank was appointed leader of the delegation which submitted on behalf of the committee three suggested methods for disposing of surplus war-time wools. Those methods were first appraisement and auction by growers with the reserve price as a floor; secondly, appraisement and acquisition and bulk auction with a reserve price as a floor; and thirdly, appraisement and acquisition and resale at an issue price. After considering the three suggestions the delegates decided on the reserve price system.
That was in April, 1945. By November, 1945, this Parliament had appointed the Australian Wool Realization Committee to dispose of Australia’s portion of the war-time carry-over of wool - 6,500,000-odd bales - and to sell along with it the incoming clip. It was estimated that it would take thirteen years to dispose of the accumulated wool, but it was sold within five or six years. The committee’s work was finished in 1 950. In 1950 and 1951 this Government - the Menzies Government - imposed a tax of li per cent, in order to set up a scheme which it had recommended to wool-growers in this country. The Government conducted a poll of growers in an endeavour to obtain approval to impose a levy of 20 per cent., but it was defeated at the poll.
Thirteen years have elapsed since 1950 during which time the Government has been fooling about and messing around. For thirteen years it has been trying to decide bow to market effectively Australia’s wool, but a Labour Government between April, 1945, and November, 1945, actually put into operation the world’s most successful disposal instrumentality and marketed not only a war-time surplus but the incoming clips as well. The Government has been dealing with this problem for thirteen years and all it has is a wool board presided over by Sir William Gunn, a conference of 50 people from two dissentient wool-growing organizations and a proposal to impose a levy on wool which has put the various woolgrowing organizations into a state of ferment. Of course, Sir William Gunn has said that no report is expected until 1964- 65 from the committee appointed to inquire into marketing and no action is expected until probably 1965-66 on a wool marketing instrumentality. It is no good blaming Gunn; blame Menzies, McEwen and Adermann. For thirteen long years they have done nothing. That is time enough to create half a dozen instrumentalities.
Look at the wheat position. The war ended iti 1945. ‘ Between 1945 “arid 194,8 the
Labour Government conferred with wheatgrowers and tried all sorts of ways to get a wheat stabilization scheme going in this country. By 1948 it had succeeded and from 1948 to 1953 the wheat-growers had a marketing organization second to none. It took Labour only three years, but this Government has been messing about and fooling around with wool for thirteen years and has not done anything. It never will do anything.
.- We are dealing with the estimates for the Department of Trade, the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Customs and Excise, but after listening to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) one would be pardoned for thinking that we are delivering policy speeches on trade, primary industry and customs. I rise to speak on the estimates for the Department of Trade and particularly on tourism. I refer to the allocation made to the Australian National Travel Association. I am pleased to see that this year the allocation has been increased by £60,000 to £320,000.
Both the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) and I have taken a very keen interest in the tourist industry in Australia, because both of us represent electorates that have considerable potential for the attraction of international tourists to Australia. The tourist industry has become one of the major industries throughout the world. In fact, tourist traffic throughout the world is rising at the rate of between 7 per cent, and 10 per cent, a year. I am pleased to say that the number of overseas tourists coming to this country is increasing substantially. Over the last five years, the number has risen from 73,000 to an estimated total of 150,000 for the current calendar year - an increase of more than 100 per cent. Earnings by Australia from the tourist trade have risen from £13,000,000 to £27,000,000 over the last five years. The international tourist trade throughout the world is worth three billion pounds a year and involves something like 50,000,000 tourists who cross their national boundaries.
Some countries consider the tourist industry their major source of foreign exchange. Among these are Italy and Spain. Although the tourist industry has not been one of Australia’s major earners’ of foreign exchange, I am very pleased to see that it now ranks as our ninth greatest earner of income from overseas. If we are to continue to have the benefit of this great surge of international trade in tourists, Australia must at all times be well to the fore in seeking her share. Some people visualize earnings from the tourist trade as being different from earnings from the usual exports, but our earnings from the tourists who come to Australia and spend their money here are just the same as our earnings from exports of wool, meat, minerals and so on. It is estimated that in 1963 every tourist who comes to Australia will spend £180 here. This is the equivalent of the earnings from the export of approximately two bales of wool or something like 45 fat lambs. It could be expressed in terms of so many boxes of butter or of a given volume of exports of other kinds. So a very important feature of Australian trade is the attraction to this country of as many tourists as possible. I admit, however, that the tourist trade does not offer the same degree of security that is offered by some other export industries, because it is extremely temperamental in its reaction to international tension, war or recessions in various countries.
I believe that Australia has a great potential for the attraction of tourists even though this has not been traditionally considered a tourist country. I have seen something of other countries and their tourist attractions. I have moved about Australia a good deal and I know that here we have certain features that are attractive to international tourists. I know of the fascination that overseas tourists find in our fauna and flora. I know of the great charm of our inland, especially places like Alice Springs and Ayers Rock, and the Northern Territory. I know of the unrivalled wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. One could go on and on recounting the attractions of the Australian scene for the tourists.
Without being too parochial, I should like to mention also the great tourist potential of my own district, which I know so well. I know that it has great appeal for overseas tourists, because, on many occasions, I have had the great pleasure of showing overseas visitors about my electorate. The area of which I speak extends from the Gold Coast of Queensland down the New South Wales north coast, with its many fine beaches, past the Clarence River south to Coffs Harbour. This is an area of magnificent contrasting scenery. It has a beautiful coastline with a great variety of streams and rivers running into the sea. Along these streams are to be found all kinds of mixed farming activities, which lend considerable variety to the texture of the scenery. In the background, the skyline is broken by rugged mountains that are covered with dense jungle growth. This area offers superb beaches and river waters for surfing, boating and fishing.
Not only estuary fishing but also excellent deep-sea fishing are available to tourists. Indeed, the fishing is not only for the amateur and the sportsman. The commercial fisheries along the New South Wales north coast bring to the table many varieties of fish with most delicate flavours. Crabs, prawns and excellent oysters are to be found in abundance. These are things that overseas tourists enjoy and like to come here for. On the slopes of the rugged mountain ranges that I have mentioned are beautiful rain forests that offer tourists the joys of exploring and really appreciating nature at her best. These are some of the attractions that will enable Australia to develop her tourist industry, which has considerable potential. That is why I have pleasure in supporting the proposed allocation of funds for the Australian National Travel Association.
I have mentioned that Australia’s tourist industry ranks as our ninth greatest earner of foreign exchange. In 1962, more than 132,000 visitors on both cruises and short visits spent approximately £23,000,000 in this country. It is estimated that in 1963 the number will total approximately 150,000 and about £27,000,000 will be spent. But our tourist trade is not very great by comparison with that of other countries, Mr. Chairman. Britain, for instance, in 1962, received approximately 2,000,000 overseas visitors who spent about £287,000,000. In the same year, Canada earned £225,000,000 from tourists and Hawaii more than £69,000,000. In New Zealand, the tourist industry is the sixth largest source of foreign exchange. In the United States of America, in 1962, more than £505,000,000 was spent by over 6,000,000 visitors from Canada, Mexico and other countries. Overseas visitors are and must continue to be an important source of foreign exchange for Australia. We are seeking augmented overseas earnings from the tourist industry as a matter of urgency. I am very proud to say that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has realized the need to expand the tourist industry and has placed as much emphasis as possible on ways and means of encouraging more tourists to come to Australia.
Apart from increasing our foreign earnings, the tourist industry also promotes increased internal economic activity. Australia’s earnings of about £23,000,000 from the tourist industry in 1962 generated almost £74,000,000 worth of domestic business. It is estimated that about 13,000 Australians are now employed in jobs created by the tourist traffic. It is very interesting to note that the Australian expenditure made by overseas visitors is approximately as follows: 25 per cent, on accommodation, 32 per cent, on food and beverages, 25 per cent, on purchases, 10 per cent, on sightseeing and amusements and 3 per cent, on other requirements. This expenditure, in all fields, exerts a very strong influence on the improvement of our service industries. For instance, it encourages the provision of better transport, better accommodation and better and more varied entertainment, and the general broadening of national facilities.
The international tourist traffic is extremely important also because it promotes better international understanding.. There is no substitute for the better understanding of one another that people gain by visiting one another’s countries and seeing how other people live.
Any industry that affects the fields of international trade, internal revenue and international relations must command the Government’s attention, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to say that, through the agency of the Australian National Travel Association, the tourist industry in Australia has achieved a very well worth-while partnership between governments and private enterprise. The Minister for Trade is responsible for tourist matters at the Commonwealth Government level, and the Department of Trade co-operates with the association in the field of promotion. The Commonwealth has been backing the tourist industry since 1929, when the initial very small grant of £1,000 was made to the newly-formed Australian National Travel Association. In 1958, the Minister for Trade commenced giving the association substantially-increased financial contributions. As a result, the association has become increasingly recognized, both at home and abroad, as a national tourist promotion co-ordinator and the authority for Australian tourist promotion overseas. The Government has decided that, in the financial year 1963-64, the association shall be given a straightout grant of £220,000 - £20,000 more than last financial year - and a matching grant, on a £1 for £1 basis, to a limit of £90,000, to match contributions to the Australian National Travel Association from non-Commonwealth sources. In addition, there will be a special grant of £10,000 for the staging of the Pacific Area Travel Association Conference in Australia next February and March. I would like to explain that the Australian National Travel Association is an independent, voluntary, non-profit-making organization which confines itself to overseas tourism promotion. It does not act as a travel agency, nor does it book tours. It has an honorary board of 29 members, on which the Commonwealth Government and the State governments, as well as shipping lines, airways, hotels and other travel interests are represented. Because of increased Commonwealth grants, the association has been able to extend its tourist promotion activities significantly in recent years, and there has been a commensurate increase in the numbers of visitors and in exchange earnings. It has estimated that by 1965 the number of visitors to Australia should rise to 187,000 and that earnings from this source should rise to £36,000,000. The Australian National Travel Association estimates that our income from overseas tourists will then almost match the amounts spent by Australians going abroad.
I have given an indication of the activities of the association. I believe that tourism will become increasingly important to us, because we have the potential to attract tourists. At all times we should give whatever help is required in encouraging people to come to Australia by letting them know the attractions to be found here. I believe that by fostering the Australian National Travel Association we shall be doing a very good job for Australia and helping many people in the areas of Australia associated with tourism.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - Sir, at the last general election in December, 1961, the Government’s majority was reduced to two, which meant one after the election of a Speaker. It is therefore not surprising that the Government has, throughout the life of the Parliament, been under repeated pressure by the Opposition to go to an early election. Indeed, Sir, when the new Parliament met, a no-confidence motion was submitted by the Opposition on 27th February, 1962, the proceedings taking the form of a no-confidence amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. This amendment was defeated by 60 votes to 59.
– Pretty close!
– Yes, indeed. That is the point. I am glad you follow me. On 14th August, 1962, in the Budget debate, the Opposition moved a motion of censure in the normal way by moving, “ That the first item be reduced by £1 “. Had this motion been carried, the Government would, of course, have been defeated. The motion was defeated by 58 votes to 56, there being at that time a vacancy in the Opposition-held seat of Batman. On 2nd April, 1963 - that is, this year - the Opposition moved, “That this Government no longer possesses the confidence of this House “.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– I am delighted to hear it. This motion was defeated by 59 votes to 58.
– How many do you want to win by?
– After the election, Sir, I propose to win by eleven or thirteen votes. I am indebted to my friend. That was a very good question.
Now, to come back to the facts. The motion was defeated by 59 votes to 58. There was a vacancy in the Opposition-held seat of Grey, but a Government member was absent, unpaired, from the division. On 18th April, 1963, there was yet another censure motion, which was defeated by 57 votes to 55. On 20th August, 1963 - again this year - the Opposition moved an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Appropriation Bill. The amendment concluded with the words - and these are significant words - “ the House is of the opinion-
– Are we to have an election or not?
– Restrain your fears. The amendment concluded with the words, “ the House is of the opinion that the Government no longer possesses its confidence or the confidence of the nation “.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– It is wonderful how helpful they are on all great occasions! This amendment was defeated by 59 votes to 57, there being a vacancy in East Sydney, an Opposition-held seat. It will thus be seen that already, in somewhat under two years, the existence of the Government has been challenged no fewer that five times, three times with an increasing note of urgency in the last six months.
– No; it is wonderful. You are easily shocked. You will be even more shocked in a month’s time.
Sir, in each case it must be reasonably assumed that the Opposition was serious in its intentions, and that it would have welcomed success. Any other assumption would be unwarranted and offensive. Any such success would have meant the defeat of the Government and, under established constitutional practice, an election.
– What is wrong with that?
– Would you mind listening a little? It will be one of the few times when you will have to listen to me.
– If you are here.
– Quite right. You can always listen to me if I am here, but not if you are not here. I repeat that in each case it must be reasonably assumed - and I gather that this is agreed - that the Opposition was serious in its intentions, and it would have welcomed success. Any other assumption would be unwarranted and offensive. Any such success would have meant the defeat of the Government and, under established constitutional practice, an election.
The Opposition knows, as I do, that in the present state of the House of Representatives, the crossing of the floor by one member sitting on the Government side would bring about the defeat of the Government, as indeed would the inadvertent or voluntary abstention of two Government supporters from a division. These are elementary mathematics. In short, the Opposition has five times sought to force an election which would be one for the House of Representatives alone.
– That is right.
– You do not disagree with that, do you?
– Not at all.
– Of course not! I have it on record now. Five times the Opposition tried to force an election. Do not abandon your leader too quickly, my dear boy. I emphasize this point because I observe that it is now being said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that an election for the House of Representatives alone, that is, before July, 1964, would be wasteful and improper.
– Hear, hear!
– He says, “ Hear, hear! “ and the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) does not agree with him! Harmony breaks out on the Opposition benches! This is indeed a curious argument for the Leader of the Opposition to employ, having regard to the events that I have recited. Are we to understand that all of his no-confidence motions were deliberately designed to fail?
I would be reluctant to make any such charge of political- insincerity against an opponent whose constant devotion to his party I freely recognise. I add to this short history of events that, as honorable memmers have observed, in the last no-confidence amendment, less than eight weeks ago, the special inclusion of the words, “or the confidence of the nation “ was a direct demand to test the opinion of the nation by a House of Representatives election.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– Thank you very much. I submit that these facts conclusively establish that there can be no legitimate objection on the part of members of the Opposition to a dissolution of the House of Representatives, a dissolution which they have done their best to secure on five critical occasions.
Mr. Speaker, I will now proceed to set out some additional reasons for recommending that, without an actual defeat of the Government, there should be a dissolution of the present precariously balanced House, and a new election. There have been times in history when peace seemed secure and when there were no international problems of moment-
– Order! Honorable members will refrain from interjecting.
– I am sorry, Sir, but I must instruct honorable members opposite. I remind them that there have been times in history - does anybody deny it? - when peace seemed secure; when there were no international problems of moment; when, in any event, there were no material differences between the political parties on foreign affairs; when there was stability of government; and when circumstances were conducive to long-range policies. The present position of Australia is quite different. Australia is a Commonwealth country, with a significant voice in Commonwealth affairs. It has, apart from its vital association with Great Britain, the United States of America, France, Pakistan, New Zealand, the Philippines and Thailand, in the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, an alliance with the United States and New Zealand in Anzus.
Pursuant to these arrangements my Government has, during the current Parliament, first made an agreement with the United
States for the establishment by it, on Australian territory in the north-west of Western Australia, of a naval radio signalling station, the value and significance of which would, of course, be of the greatest urgency and moment in the event of a war in which the United States was engaged. Indeed, without its prompt and full use, the operations of the United States naval forces of all kinds would be grievously handicapped. My Government believes that in any foreseeable future any such war must be one of defence against Communist aggression and that any such aggression would put the security of Australia at risk. In short, in such events the United States forces would be defending Australia.
In our contract with the United States in respect of this radio installation, therefore, my Government, while providing for general consultation and access by Australian naval forces to the signalling facilities, has not required or obtained a joint control of the station. Such joint control would, of course, enable an Australian government to veto the American use of the station in peace or in war, or require an Australian censorship of the messages transmitted. The Opposition in Parliament has, I believe, made it clear that should it come into office it will re-negotiate the treaty and will insist upon joint control; that is, upon a veto by either party on the activities of the other.
Sir, the station is about to be constructed at the cost of many millions of pounds by the United States. It is, in my submission, important that the inter-party problem in Australia be resolved. In these international engagements, certainly it is essential to security.
Secondly, we have also made a clear but unilateral declaration of our attitude to the new state of Malaysia. This was made by me on behalf of the Government on 25th September, 1963 - only the other day, in a sense - in the following terms: -
But for the benefit of all concerned, honorable members would not wish me to create or permit any ambiguity-
– Are you happy, Jack? You do not look at all happy, Jack.
– Order! The honorable member for Reid will restrain himself.
– Of course he does not like Malaysia.
– Order! Honorable members will refrain from interjecting.
– I do not mind, Sir. I have plenty of time.
– Time is running out.
– Yes, it is running out for you, but not for me. That is why I say I have plenty of time, and so I repeat what honorable members opposite appear to dislike - the statement I made on behalf of this country in this House, I begin my quotation again -
But for the benefit of all concerned, honorable members would not wish me to create or permit any ambiguity about Australia’s position in relation to Malaysia. I therefore, after close deliberation by the Cabinet, and on its behalf, inform the House that we are resolved, and have so informed the Government of Malaysia, and the Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand and others concerned, that if, in the circumstances that now exist, and which may continue for a long time, there occurs, in relation to Malaysia or any of its constituent States, armed invasion or subversive activity - supported or directed or inspired from outside Malaysia - we shall to the best of our powers and by such means as shall be agreed upon with the Government of Malaysia, add our military assistance to the efforts of Malaysia and the United Kingdom in the defence of Malaysia’s territorial integrity and political independence.
These are words with which all honorable members are familiar. Sir, this declaration has attracted wide international attention, and is clearly of crucial importance in Australian foreign and defence policy. It is most important that the other nations concerned should know whether it carries the clear backing of the Australian people. The Opposition, speaking through its leader on the same day in the House of Representatives, has announced a view which, while listening to it, I thought reasonably helpful. But a close study of the text of the speech makes it clear that the Opposition’s position differs very materially from that of the Government. It is true that the Leader of the Opposition said: -
The Labour Party supports the concept of Malaysia and welcomes its creation. We believe that this experiment in nationhood should be given its chance, free from attack or interference from other nations, to prove itself.
But, Sir, he went on to say that the continued presence of Australian troops in Malaysia -
Shall be covered by a treaty clear, open, and if possible, mutual, which gives Australia an effective voice in the decision of the treaty powers.
– Is there anything wrong with that?
Sir ROBERT MENZIES__ If you have patience you will hear what I have to say about it. Whatever this may turn out to mean, since any treaty involves mutuality, it does not mean support for the declaration made on behalf of the Government by me as Prime Minister. I say this for two reasons, which I will state as succinctly as possible.
In the first place, Malaya - and this I am afraid has been overlooked - was not, and Malaysia is not, an alined country. It is a non-alined country or, in the old vocabulary, a neutral country, and because of that it is not a party to Seato. It has been, and is, a matter of high policy for Malaya and Malaysia to be regarded as a nation jealous of its independence but not as one having, in peace-time at any rate, mutual contractual military obligations with any other country. In this respect, Mr. Speaker, it resembles India. True, Great Britain has a defence arrangement with Malaysia. But this arises from the fact that Great Britain was the “ colonial “ power, and that, in granting independence under a carefully evolved constitution, it found it desirable to give effective assurances to the new nation that its complete independence would be protected. In short, the British agreement does not run counter to Malaysian non-alinement, but, in effect, helps in a practical way to preserve Malaysian independence.
Australia, not having been the colonial power, stands in a different position. If what the Opposition wants is, as I understand it, that there should be a mutual treaty of defence between Australia and Malaysia under which Malaysia becomes our ally for military purposes in advance of any armed attack upon co-operating Australian forces, then the answer is that such a treaty would, in the absence of a revolutionary change in Malaysian policy, be impossible of achievement.
Again, what Australia does under the Government’s declaration is to support Great Britain in the defence of Malaysia’s “ territorial integrity and political independence “. This being so, we believe that disadvantage would accrue to Australia if we conditioned our help upon the securing of a detailed treaty. For the reasons I have indicated, any such treaty could not reasonably be expected to express any advance military obligations by Malaysia to us. This being so - this is the vital question - is it better for Australia to have a simple but clear declaration of intention on our part which, in its very nature, preserves our own judgment as to the nature, extent and disposition of Australian forces to be deployed, or for us deliberately to enmesh ourselves in a mass of written detailed rules and regulations which would limit our own freedom of action while conferring upon us no actual rights to secure reciprocal military obligations on the. part of Malaysia? In short, Sir, the Government believes that the Opposition’s proposal is impracticable and would be damaging to the complete authority of the Government of Australia over its forces in the event of an attack upon Malaysian security or political independence.
The problems which exist in our near neighbourhood are too critical to admit of uncertainty in our national policy. To deal with them, there should be a government with an effective mandate and authority; and the sooner there is one, the better for all concerned.
There is another great issue of international policy which needs to be resolved. I speak about this with some delicacy. It is the declared policy of the Australian Labour Party, I understand - I have not heard the outside voices yet - that Australia should negotiate for and participate in a nuclearfree zone south of the equator, with an agreed prohibition of the accumulation or deployment of nuclear weapons in that area. If this came off, as honorable members no doubt hope it will, with Australia as a party, our allies under Seato and Anzus could not, except against the will of Australia, use nuclear weapons in the defence of this region, including Australia, even though powers north of the equator created and used them.
– You must explain it to me. The Government, though it has, in line with the unanimous opinions of the Prime Ministers in conference in London, refrained from establishing nuclear military power itself, would regard the Opposition’s policy, if it succeeded, as suicidal-
– Bomb-happy Bob!
– Now, Reggie, behave yourself! The Government would regard the Opposition’s policy, if it succeeded, as suicidal, since it would operate to handicap our defending allies who possess nuclear weapons while leaving Communist nuclear powers, who are north of the equator, completely free to deploy and use nuclear weapons wherever they chose. It is time for this issue to be resolved by the people.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– I am delighted to find such unanimity about an election.
To sum up, I would say this: Since the 1961 election, the Government has, after the election of a Speaker, and given completely norma] circumstances, a majority of only one in a House of 122 voting members. It will, I am sure, be understood that in the existing circumstances a proportion of the time of myself and other Ministers has to be devoted to what I may call the almost daily problem of political survival, with all the cumulative strains involved.
– What are you here for, anyhow?
– I am here, apparently, to listen to you. I have listened to you from that seat for a long time, and I hope to listen to you for a long time further. However, since you are apparently unaware of what is involved in office, I will repeat what I have said. I do not mind. It will, I am sure, be understood that in the existing circumstances a proportion of the time of myself and other Ministers has to be devoted to what I may call the almost daily problem of political survival, with all the cumulative strains involved - and one of the strains is listening to the honorable member for Newcastle, who is interjecting. And,
Mr. Speaker, this occurs in a period of Australian history in which an Australian government, whatever side it comes from, should be able to devote the . whole of its energies to the international, defence, economic and developmental problems of the nation. These are growing and frequently pressing problems of magnitude and complexity. Their solution calls for close and concentrated attention, undistracted by the parliamentary crises-
– Why don’t you-
– Order! The honorable member for Newcastle will remain silent.
– With great respect, Mr. Speaker, he came here only to make a noise and he will never make a noise except from the back bench, on whichever side he is.
Their solution calls for close and concentrated attention, undistracted by the parliamentary crises which are inherent in an almost equally divided .House. In particular, Australia is increasingly significant in and affected by the political and economic activities and arrangements of other nations. It therefore needs a government that can speak and act authoritatively on behalf of Australia. The nation is entitled to this, and to choose unambiguously who shall speak for it. I repeat that, for the reasons I stated earlier, the Opposition cannot legitimately object to an election which it has repeatedly done its best to secure.
I shall mention times, because there has been some very funny gossip, stated as fact, in certain organs of opinion. I therefore yesterday morning advised His Excellency the Governor-General that the House of Representatives should be dissolved at the close of the current business on or about 31st October, and that an election should be held’ on 30th November.
Opposition Members. - -Hooray
– I share your joy. I had a personal interview with His Excellency yesterday afternoon. I am sorry to disappoint the prophets. His Excellency has to-day accepted this advice in writing on the usual condition, of course, that before dissolution the Parliament should have made the necessary financial provisions for the services of the country. Well, all honorable members understand that. This means that the debates on the Appropriation Bills must be completed before dissolution.
There are, of course, Mr. Speaker, other important measures, some of them arising out of the Budget, which will have to be disposed of. I expect, particularly in the light of my announcement to-night, that all the necessary business will be completed by or before the end of this month.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was good enough to hand me a copy of his statement, which I followed as he read it. However, I have not had time to study it very carefully, although I made some notes on it as he proceeded. The statement the right honorable gentleman made is a most important one. He has told us that the Twenty-fourth Parliament is to end. He said that it will end some time towards the end of this month, and that an election will take place on 30th November. He has told us nothing more. He has not told us how long the campaign will last, or when we might expect him to deliver his policy speech. He has stated the issues upon which he hopes to conduct the election campaign, and we will not hestitate to fight him on those issues and on whatever other issues we like to raise during the campaign. Before the last election we stated the issues of the campaign, and in the end we forced the Government to give answers on the issues we raised, and ils majority was reduced from 32 to two. It is because of this that the Prime Minister now says, two years after the event, that the Parliament is unworkable.
The Prime Minister said that because we moved five motions of want of confidence in the Government, in one form or another, the House should now be dissolved twenty months after it first met. He says that this is in accordance with constitutional practice. But to us the decision of the Government to have an election at this time is an act of supreme political cynicism. This, Sir, is to be merely a Harold Holt benefit election. This is an election to give the Treasurer an easy ride in to the Prime Ministership, because he can never win one on his own behalf. Behind it all is the conspiracy to make the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) the deputy leader of the Liberal Party. Mr. Speaker, is not that reducing national politics to the level of the Tivoli Theatre? The Prime Minister will discover that this decision of his Government is, in the words of that witty anonymous Frenchman, worse than a crime, it is a blunder.
The 1955 dissolution of the House of Representatives, when both Houses of the Parliament were out of joint, was designed, so we were told, to bring the two Houses back into alinement. Now the election to be held on 30th November will throw the Houses out of alinement again. There was no justification for this election if it meant the wasteful expenditure of £500,000. To have Harold Holt as Prime Minister of Australia is not worth £500,000. This expenditure is not justified in any circumstances. If the Government has £500,000 to spend, let it spend it on flood mitigation in New South Wales, let it spend it on repatriation benefits, let it spend on additional child endowment, let it spend it on the people who matter, but do not let it waste it for the purpose of holding an election which it knows it cannot win.
I do not know who told the members of the Government that they could win this election. I have never understood why the Government could summon up enough confidence to go to the electors. If it does go it will be defeated as surely as the members of the Government are sitting here to-night. I am a pretty good judge of elections, as the House knows after the last election. 1 said before that election that we would win, and the Prime Minister, his Treasurer and all the underlings of the Liberal Party said that not only would they not lose seats but that they would actually win seats. Yet they came back fifteen or sixteen fewer than when they went out.
The chief backer of the Government is Sir Frank Packer of New South Wales. In the “ Sunday Telegraph “ of last Sunday he said that the Government needs an election because it must win three seats from the Labour Party in order to survive. The newspaper said that the Government had three undependable members; it had a gunboat philosopher in the person of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), it had a brilliant eccentric in the person of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and it had a no-hoper in the person of the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). It said that because all these people were undependable the Government had to get three more seats in order to survive. If that is the best reason for the Government going to the electors, not only should the Government be defeated; the Labour Party should be returned with a majority of twenty or more.
I do not agree with the leader-writer of the “ Sunday Telegraph “ in respect of the honorable member for Chisholm. I may disagree with the honorable gentlemen quite strongly, but for him I have a very profound respect. I think that the honorable member for Mackellar would win our respect if he, too, would stand up and be counted occasionally. He wins a reputation for being a rebel, but when it comes to backing his opinion he crawls out like a mouse. He does not stand up. I have no doubt that the opinion of the people will be well known about him after the position is finally put to them.
I have no doubt that this is the Prime Minister’s last election, and that he is trying to make it easier for his Treasurer to succeed him. In my own heart I am quite certain that he is about to follow his erstwhile friend, Mr. Harold Macmillan, into the House of Lords. I have no doubt about that. I am sure, too, that the same unseemly brawl as is occurring in England will take place for the succession to the leadership of the Liberal Party in Australia. In respect of what the Prime Minister has had to say in his apologia for an election, let me say that the historical parts are fair enough. He has got the dates right, and he has got the division numbers right. This statement is also true: “Australia is a Commonwealth country . . . “; and the phrase “… with a significant voice in Commonwealth affairs “ - is accurate too,
Then he went on to talk about the agreement on the North West Cape communication station.- Our position on that matter was made perfectly clear. We said that we supported the establishment of the communication station, provided we had a say in the operation of it. And what is wrong with that? I have been reading articles by Conservatives in England. There was no greater Conservative in English politics than Christopher Hollis, who was a member of the House of Commons and who visited Australia recently. He said that what the Labour Party was demanding in respect of the North West Cape communication station was what Britain had in respect of its establishments with the United States.
– That is not true.
– That is what he said. The honorable member for Moreton is shaking his head. I hear it rattling. Christopher Hollis put his point of view very clearly. And 71 per cent, of the Australian people, in a gall up poll not arranged by a Labour organization, said that they supported the Australian Labour Party in its demand for the imposition of the conditions that we laid down.
In my discussions with American statesmen from the top down in the United States, I did not find any opposition to the proposal that we put up when I said that if we came to power we would re-negotiate a treaty. I know their views; they know ours. We would try to re-negotiate a treaty. But the Prime Minister takes the point of renegotiation further. He determines the conditions of re-negotiation and the effect of the re-negotiation. He took a lot of liberties tonight. When we come to power we will not be dealing with the Liberal Party or its partner, the Country Party; we will be dealing with our great and powerful allies.
In any case, the Prime Minister has emphasized the importance of the North West Cape naval communication station to Australia - it is important - but let us not forget that it will not be finished until 1966 and by that time many things will have happened. We hope that many things will happen. Something which we all hoped would happen but which we feared might not happen happened this year. The United States, Britain and Russia came to an agreement to ban nuclear tests. By 1966 it may well be found that this station will not be wanted. Let us hope that it will not be wanted. But if it is wanted and if a Labour government is in power, that Labour government will use it as Labour used all the facilities that were necessary when war came in other days.
I remind the Prime Minister and the House that it was in 1941 that Australia looked to the Labour Party to rescue it when the Japanese were coming down. The people will look to us again, and not to this disorderly collection opposite us, to save the nation from defeat if it is attacked again.
– Who was the Prime Minister at that time?
– I think the present Prime Minister was the Prime Minister at that time. He resigned. He was succeeded by Sir Arthur Fadden, who was voted out of office by two Independents sitting on the Government benches.
– Why rake all this over again?
– It is important to rake it over at this time when honorable members on the Government side are claiming that they are the ones who can save Australia and that the Labour Party docs not want to save Australia.
I said that whatever we want done we want done by way of treaty in respect of the North West Cape communication station and in respect of Malaysia. The Government said, in respect of the communication station: “ We did not need to bring down a treaty, but we arc doing it just to please the Parliament. We could have made an arrangement without reference to the Parliament.” I suppose that is true. But the treaty was debated in this Parliament.
In respect of Malaysia the Government does not follow the same practice. It says that no treaty is required because, for some particular or peculiar reason, Malaya did not and now Malaysia does not want to enter into any commitments with anybody else; that it does not want to accept any obligations for the defence of an area that accepts obligations for Malaysia’s defence. The Australian people will not regard that as satisfactory. They will want to know something about what all that means.
When I finished speaking the other night the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen), if I remember rightly - I would not willingly or wittingly misrepresent him - said, in effect, that there was very little in my statement with which he disagreed. We heard the Prime Minister to-night; we heard the Deputy Prime Minister the other night. I think the Australian people will agree that what I said the other night on behalf of the Australian Labour Party was right. Let me say this: If this country is ever at war, the Australian Labour Party will defend it with whatever weapons it can obtain and with whatever allies it can obtain. It always has done that.
It is all very well for the Prime Minister to say that we want a nuclear-free zone in the southern hemisphere and that that will prevent us accepting assistance in time of war. I have never heard such nonsense. One of my colleagues shouted “ Nonsense “. That was a correct description and answer to the Prime Minister. What did we say? We said: “ Let us have a nuclear-free zone in the southern hemisphere, negotiated by all the powers in the southern hemisphere and all the powers in the northern hemisphere, too, who are parties to the Antarctic Treaty; and let us try to extend the nuclearfree zone from the 60th parallel of latitude north of the Equator “. Of course, if only one power objects we will fail in our objective. If only one power says “ No “, we will fail. But at least we will try, because it is in the interests of humanity that we should try. Does the Prime Minister rule out the desirability of trying? If this is to be the issue of the election, I think the Australian people will say that we, who wish to expand the humanitarian activities of the United Nations, who want to bring the people of the world closer and who want to stop nuclear war, are doing the right thing by humanity.
If the Prime Minister thinks that he can win on debating points, this election will be the one in which he will fail and in which he will be defeated. As I listened to him to-night - the old master before the High Court; the professor of semantics playing with words - I thought that he was deluding himself more than he was succeeding in deluding the Australian people. I am certain that if we go to the people on these issues - they will not be the only issues, I assure him and his colleagues - we can win. We will do our best to win.
I do not disagree with the Prime Minister’s statement about his journey to see the Governor-General. If he gave advice to the Governor-General to dissolve the House, then, even though some alleged experts claim that the Governor-General may act not on the Prime Minister’s advice, I think that His Excellency was completely right in accord ance with modern constitutional practice, in granting the dissolution. I think that was the proper thing to do.
Economic issues will be considered during this election campaign - the issues of unemployment, trade, the balance of payments, restrictive trade practices, the credit squeeze that is to be imposed again next year and another horror budget. The development of northern Australia and the vital issue of education will also be raised. All those issues will have to be decided by the people.
Not one word was spoken by the Prime Minister about the insignificant question of redistribution - not one word. I am not certain that the Liberal Party and the Country Party have settled their differences on that issue. I should like to know what they have done about it. I should like to know what promises, if any, have been made and accepted. I should like to know where the Government stands on the question of redistribution.
– We know where you stood on the last proposal. You voted against it.
– We knew where we stood. We voted with the Country Party against it. Where do you stand now?
– You will fix it.
– We will be here to make the decision, but we will not fix it if by the use of that word you imply that we will gerrymander the boundaries or do anything dishonorable.
My distinguished friend, the Prime Minister, is now, one might say, a Scottish nobleman. He is a member of the most distinguished, the most ancient and the most noble Order of the Thistle. If I, as an ordinary Australian bloke, may address my noble Scottish friend, I would say to him, in the words of Macbeth -
Lay on, Macduff;
And damn’d be him that first cries, “ Hold, enough “.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Order! Is leave granted?
Government Supporters. - No.
– Leave is not granted.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 1790).
– The question before the committee is, “ That the proposed expenditures for the Departments of Customs and Excise, Trade and Primary Industry be agreed to “, upon which the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) has moved as an amendment, “That the proposed expenditure for the Department of Trade be reduced by £1 “.
.- It is not very difficult at this stage to anticipate the headlines in to-morrow morning’s newspapers. They will probably run along these lines: “ Bob rushes off to Lords; leaves Liberals in anguish “, and “ Harold happy as future head while Black Jack gets the sack “. We of the Labour Party have been expecting this for some time. We are happy that our suspicions have been confirmed. As an Opposition, we have been so virile and so effective that we have forced the Government to concede-
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. The honorable member for Oxley is havering about something that has nothing to do with the estimates now before the committee.
– The Labour Party has been most effective in its efforts to protect the rights of the people. It is interesting to note that there is a feeling in the community that the credit squeeze from which we are gradually emerging was not the last credit squeeze that we would have seen if the Government had its way. There is no doubt that the credit squeeze had a most adverse effect on the community. I have read in a number of periodicals and financial journals that it was expected that in the new year the Government would impose another credit squeeze upon our economy. Obviously this is one reason why the Government wants to hold an election now instead of waiting until the end of next year after such a credit squeeze.
– Order! The honorable member must deal with the matters before the committee, which are the proposed votes for the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of
Trade and the Department of Primary Industry.
– I regret very much having deviated, Mr. Chairman. One interesting and very significant factor which emerges from any discussion of trade is that while Australia is battling under adverse conditions, brought about mainly by the Government’s economic policies which have created a crisis in the community, the need for an overseas shipping line is of paramount importance. I was surprised to discover, after reading the report of the Commonwealth Statistician relating to our balance of trade, that in succeeding years Australia had a surplus of exports over imports but that by the time invisibles - freights, insurance charges and so on - had been taken into account we were left with a heavy deficit. The reply given by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to a recent question relating to comparative freight rates was a revelation. It disclosed that freight on exports from Australia to the Near East is much higher than the freight on similar commodities carried from much more distant places. European organizations control the shipping lines and they are intent upon placing Australia at a disadvantage in international trade. The Government surely cannot feel confident about going to the electors on the basis of the situation which prevails to-day in our trading operations. That situation has been closely analysed by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), who to-day proposed an amendment to the proposed allocation to the Department of Trade.
Surely the Government also cannot feel happy about going to the electors on the basis of the treatment that it has meted out to primary producers over the years. If I bad sufficient time I should make some comparisons between the treatment which the primary producers in Britain enjoy and the treatment which has been foisted upon the primary producers in Australia. The Australian primary producers are not given the encouragement and assistance to which they are justly entitled. The lack of support of the primary producers by this Government belies its oft-quoted claim to be the supporter, defender and promoter of our primary industries.
First, let me deal quickly with an element affecting primary industry. I refer to the threat - the very serious threat - to Australia’s primary production and to her exports from the proposals of France to conduct nuclear tests in the Pacific. All that this Government has done about this terrible proposal is to lodge a formal protest in writing. The Government has not done anything positive, constructive, absolute or vigorous.
– I rise to order. What have these remarks to do with the estimates before the committee?
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Fawkner that I am in charge of the committee. I suggest to the honorable member for Oxley that the testing by France of nuclear weapons has nothing to do with the estimates now under discussion.
– I proposed to refer to the effects of fall-out on primary production. This is a serious matter. Honorable members opposite treat it lightly, but nuclear tests in the Pacific will seriously affect our trade. They will affect the health of our people and will constitute a setback to our efforts to sell our primary produce. If you will bear with me for a few minutes, Mr. Chairman, you will find that my argument is logical, relevant and backed by scientific facts.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that he was allowed to refer to nuclear testing because I appreciated the point that he was making but although a matter may be touched on to emphasize a point, that matter should not become the whole subject of the speech if it is not related to the items before the committee. I suggest to the honorable member that he has made the point he desired to make and should now come back to the matters before the committee.
– It is amazing in many ways to hear Government supporters claim that this Government’s policies have been responsible for the great achievements in pur primary industries. They expect the Opposition to criticize them for their attitude, but certainly they cannot be happy when their supporters outside criticize them publicly in official publications. I have here a report entitled “ Past, Present and Future “ which is prepared by Mr. Chislett, an economist for the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. Members of the Country Party cannot deny that that organization is a contributor to its funds. If they care to peruse the clipping service of the Parliamentary Library they will see that discussions have taken place at various conferences of the Woolgrowers and Graziers Council relating to contributions to the Country Party organization. On looking through the report I was surprised to discover repeatedly statements that standards of living in primary industries have taken a nose dive in successive years since this Government came to office. I will not labour the point. The report states -
An examination of the financial results of rural producers over recent years is the best indication of their current situation. Except for occasional good seasons nett farm income has barely been above the 1949-50 figure of £448m. in the intervening years. Despite a rise of 31% in volume of production, nett income to farmers rose by only 4 in eleven years to June 1961. This highlights the futility of raising output as a means of increasing income.
We know that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has no reply to that. The report states further -
This exercise shows that the total net money income of farmers in 1960-61 (£467 m.) would buy only 55% of the quantity of resources commanded by their income of 10 years earlier.
The situation at the present time is very little different from that outlined in the report. You must make allowances for inflationary spirals in the finances of the community brought about by the policies pursued by the Minister’s Government. I am always interested to hear the stouthearted protagonists opposite of primary industry state categorically their great faith in primary industry, particularly the dairying industry, and deprecate suggestions that anything could happen to upset the industry because they are its watchdogs. Yet the Minister in answer to a question that 1 asked recently stated that between 1959-60 and 1961-62, 879,713 lb. of cheddar cheese worth £153,236 was imported into Australia. At Woodford in my electorate there is a cheese factory which recurrently has a problem of getting rid of surpluses created by the importation of cheese. The Government is responsible for allowing cheese to be imported into this country. The Government states that the only cheeses imported arc exotic kinds not normally made in Australia. The Government states that if Australian manufacturers were to produce these other types of cheeses the problem would be solved and . there would once again be balance. But the figures disclose otherwise. They show that large quantities of cheddar cheese are coming into this country. This is a cheese that is manufactured here and the Australian product is of a very high standard.
Pig meat is another interesting item of primary industry. Usually the dairy farmer produces pig meat in conjunction with his dairying activities. It is always a hazardous occupation because the poor dairy farmers arc subject to pressures from the buyers who can practically control the market. In fact, the buyers do control the market at depressed prices. They have done this for many years, largely due to the indolence of the Minister for Primary Industry and his Government. In reply to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) recently admitted that in January of this year 22,722 lb. of pig meat worth more than £4,000 was imported. By June, of this year - only six months later - the quantity imported had increased to 2,104,000 lb., representing a value of more than £252,000. No wonder the primary producer has problems! This Government does not face up to its responsibilities. In the British Information Services bulletin for 30th September this year it is stated -
Before the war two-thirds of Britain’s total food supplies were imported. To-day, although the population has increased by five million since 1939, only about one-half of Britain’s food is imported.
The bulletin points out how the British Government has caused this promotion of primary industry by establishing a guaranteed price for primary producers, ensuring that they will have prosperity. In the year ended March, 1963, the cost of assistance provided by the British Government was £190,000,000, including £101,000,000 in respect of guaranteed prices for fat stock, £64,000,000, for cereals and £22,000,000 for eggs. There was also a guaranteed price for liquid milk, but this is paid directly by the consumer. What has this Government done to try to put our primary industries on a more secure footing? On a number of occasions I have asked the Minister to investigate the possibility of introducing a system of stabilized marketing for primary products. Usually, he glibly passes this off as a State responsibility. Some months ago, during a State election campaign, the Queensland Miinister for Transport, speaking in the State electorate of Lockyer, said that this was not a State responsibility but was a Federal responsibility. Where do we go from here? Obviously, the Government is evading its responsibilities.
From what I have just read to the committee, it is obvious that the primary producer in Australia finds his prosperity decreasing. In Great Britain, by contrast, the prosperity of the primary producer is increasing. In Britain, primary producers are producing more and the demand for imported commodities is lessening. The primary producer in Australia must directly face this problem of decreasing prosperity. Statistics that I have seen show that radioactive fall-out is impregnating and polluting the products of our primary industries. If this continues, those products will lose their attraction on overseas markets, and our trade as well as our primary industries will suffer, to say nothing of the very serious effects that this pollution by radio-active fall-out will have on the health of the Australian community. The Government stands condemned for its attitude towards our primary industries.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I have an uneasy feeling that from now until the session closes there will be a spate of speeches like the one that we have just listened to. Perhaps there will be a certain amount of electioneering on this side of the chamber, also, but I hops and trust that it will be more useful and more constructive than the example that we have just heard from the Opposition side. Obviously, Labour will make a great deal of the argument that it advances about the importance of having an Australian-owned overseas shipping line to help counter, so it says, increases in freight rates to other countries. None of us is content with the present position, but I think that we all must admit that the solution proposed by the Australian Labour Party would be disastrous.
Let us, consider just one illustration of what happens when goods are carried by Australian-owned ships. I just picked this figure out of a book that I happened to be reading in an effort to take my mind off what the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) was trying to tell me a few moments ago. The freight on soda ash in bags from Adelaide to Brisbane, when carried by coastal shipping operating under Australian conditions dictated by the Communistcontrolled Seamen’s Union of Australia, would be more than the freight from Liverpool to Brisbane in a British-owned vessel. So the cure proposed by the Labour Party, if it were adopted, would merely make the disease far worse than it is.
We are discussing the estimates for the Department of Trade, the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Primary Industry, and I think it will be a relief to the committee - it is a relief to me - to know that I shall not discuss tariffs in any great detail on this occasion. Tariffs, I know, are a subject on which I have detained honorable members on a great many occasions. I assure them that I shall not do so now. Nor shall I go electioneering. I want specifically to say something tha t certainly will not be popular with everybody in my electorate, but I think it ought to be said. I believe that Australia ought to have another look at the embargo on the export of merino rams. This embargo was instituted by a Labour government and it has been continued by the present Government. I protest against the embargo because it seems to me to be fundamentally foolish prohibition. I have heard only two reasons advanced in support of it. First, we are told that the prevention of fine wool production in large quantities in other parts of the world is important to us. The second argument is that the embargo on the export of merino rams tends to keep down the prices of stud merino rams. I have heard no other arguments raised in ‘ support of the embargo. I propose to examine these two in some detail.
Sir William Gunn, the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board, and all other wool authorities have made it quite clear that one of the things that we must do in fighting the battle for wool is to produce more fine wool, not less. Therefore, it is important that we abandon this idea of trying to prevent any increase in the production of fine wool. I think it is quite clear that the only way we can effectively fight the battle against synthetics is to produce more and better wool. So the argument that we should not allow other countries to have access to the fine-wool blood strains that we have in Australia is fundamentally foolish. In any event, this argument falls down, because, as anybody who knows anything about sheep knows, environment much more than breeding controls the quality of wool. Only in hot, dry climates will merino wool grow really well.
We could learn from Britain’s example. It is worth remembering that for many years Britain has been exporting some of her best cattle and sheep. Certainly, if the embargo imposed to prevent the entry into this country of the disease known as blue tongue were lifted, there would be, as there has always been, a continual demand in Australia, as there is all over the world, for animals of the blood strains that Britain has been exporting for centuries. The simple fact is that certain environments suit certain kinds of stock. I am quite certain that the removal of the embargo on the export of merino sheep would not give other countries an advantage and work to our detriment.
The other thing that ought to be said, Sir, is that we in Australia have no monopoly of fine-wool blood strains. I told honorable members on another occasion of my experiences when, in 1961, I was asked by the Australian Government to go to Nepal under the Colombo Plan to investigate a sheep problem there. After wandering about the rather big hills there for some time, I came across a small flock of Rambouillet sheep. I know a fair bit about sheep. To my eye, those animals looked very much like our own merinos. Perhaps they were woollier on the head and the points, but they were strong, big sheep with very strong bones and very fine wool. If we think that, by maintaining our embargo on the export of merino sheep, we shall prevent other countries from getting access to fine-wool blood strains, we are wrong. It just is not so. The Ramboulillet is producing fine wool in the United States of America and in Nepal. Those sheep could be used to breed up fine wool in any country where conditions suited them.
As I have said, the second argument for maintaining the embargo is that it keeps the prices of stud rams from getting too high. This has always seemed to me to be fundamentally the most foolish argument of all. For the benefit of some honorable members who may not have been brought up in contact with the pastoral industry, I think that I ought to explain that merino rams are divided into two categories - stud rams and flock rams. The studs are the dear ones and the flock rams are the ordinary ones that are run with flock sheep. If the embargo keeps up the prices of rams, it must keep up the prices of either studs or flocks. I would say unhesitatingly that it would be an excellent thing if it kept up the prices of stud rams.
A lot of people labour under the delusion that stud-breeding is a very lucrative business. Certainly it is profitable if one happens to get iri the top bracket. The difficulty is to stay there, because there are always other people trying to push one out. The truth is that because the stud-breeding industry is reasonably easy of access and because it is tremendously interesting, there are always people going into it and others going out of it. However, having a really good stud industry is to Australia’s advantage. One way to encourage a good stud industry would be to ensure better prices for top stud rams. Therefore, if one of the effects of the embargo on the export of merino sheep is to keep down prices of top stud rams, the embargo, in my view, is doing us a disservice. If the embargo is imposed to keep down the prices of flock rams, it seems to be silly, because, in any case, the prices of flock rams would probably be too high to make them keenly sought after. Even if a demand sprang up for flock rams, it would not make much difference. There is one certain way of increasing the number of rams, and that is to have fewer wethers. The supply of flock rams could be quite easily increased.
Another argument for lifting the embargo is that it is a severe restraint of trade. It ill becomes us eloquently to urge the United States of America to lift its duty on raw wool - which, of course, we bitterly oppose - when at the same time we refuse to allow the Americans access to our sheep. Yet another argument is that by our embargo on the export of merino rams we are refusing to help other countries. ‘ I again use Nepal as an example. There was a very strong feeling by the people of Nepal that we would not do for them what the United States of America was doing for them in letting them buy the kinds of sheep they wanted.
Honorable members are aware that the export of Corriedale rams and Polworth rams is allowable. A Polworth is a threequarter bred merino. I defy most people, even in the Department of Primary Industry, to tell the difference between a finewooled Polworth ram and a merino ram. I have heard it said on very good authority that merino rams are being exported as Pol worths. That is not a rash statement. It is made on what I believe to be a very sound basis. Any overseas breeder who is worth his salt and had access to a Polworth ram could within ten years breed a flock that very few people could tell from merinos. We all know that we are perpetuating something that is fundamentally wrong. The embargo is not lifted because the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Wool-growers and Graziers Council have never been able to agree on the subject. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation has always opposed the embargo and the Australian Wool-growers and Graziers Council has never been quite sure of the stand it should take.
I pay a tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for his patience in getting the two organizations to work together. I admit that often I have been very impatient with him for being so very patient. I think that in this particular case a strong lead by the Minister would be a good thing. We all must admit in our hearts that the embargo is a mistake. We are doing a disservice to Australia because we could build up a good export trade in merino rams. We are doing a disservice to the wool industry because we are denying people access to the fine-wool blood of the merinos. We are told that this is one of the reasons for not allowing merinos to be exported. We are doing a disservice to other countries, such as Nepal, whose sheep breeders feel that they should have access to our merino rams if we are .really sincere in. our protestations that we are going to help them.
For these reasons, I think we all agree that it is fundamentally foolish to retain the embargo. We have made a mistake and have perpetuated it for almost twenty years. I think it is time that the embargo was reviewed, and I ask the Minister yet again to have another look at it. I hope that his patience, of which we have all heard a great deal, in bringing together the two main primary producers’ organizations will run out and that he will take a stand on this matter for the benefit of Australia.
.- A year ago the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was casting about for a pretext to hold an election, a pretext to relieve him of the necessity of keeping his mind consistently on his job, and a pretext to relieve him of the embarrassment caused by some of his less docile back-benchers. The issue which at that time was being built up was one which we are debating on the estimates to-night - the issue of trade. At that time the great issue confronting Australia was the threat posed to our trade by Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community. The Government was then putting it abroad that the problem could be met, as far as Australia was concerned, only by a government with the experience of the Liberal-Country Party coalition, only by persons who were “ utterly familiar “, to use the Prime Minister’s phrase, “ with the personnel involved and the problems posed by Britain’s application to join the Common Market”. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) were outbidding each other in explaining the seriousness of the trading situation that we faced. Nobody in the Government’s ranks was permitted to doubt the seriousness of the position or the wisdom of the two right honorable gentlemen.
– Did you not think it was serious?
– Indeed, I did. I think that our trading position now is just as serious as it was twelve months ago, but the Prime Minister did not mention it to-night. He did not mention it to-night because, he is just as clueless on the problem now as he was twelve months ago. Australia’s trading position and the associated problems are much the same now as they were when Britain’s application to join the Common Market was still being considered. The Common Market application merely highlighted the problems. The Government is still without a clue on how to deal with the continuing problems of Australian trade. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) - at that time the Minister for Air - was so ill-advised as to describe the claims of the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Country Party as exaggerated. He was sacked for his trouble. Overseas the Government was accused of panicking and of making too much fuss over the matter. Every day the Government bombarded the public with statements about the critical position of our trade. In the end, the public became bored with the Government continually beating the Common Market drum.
To-day the position has changed. The agitation and the alarums of twelve months ago seem but a dream. Gone is all sense of urgency. Despite the warnings of the Labour Party, the Government has lulled itself into a .false sense of security. Since General de Gaulle’s veto on Britain’s application to join the Common Market the Government has lapsed again into lethargy and laisser faire. The Government could not resist the temptation to blame Britain’s application to join the Common Market for the deterioration of and the deficiencies in Australia’s trading pattern. Our trade has deteriorated more than that of comparable countries. The Minister for Trade cannot obscure this fact, despite his barrage of words, press statements and replies to questions.
In the last fifteen years, under this Government, deficits on current account in our balance of payments have totalled £1,500,000,000. Our balance of payments has been propped up only by dangerous and’ increasing reliance on capital inflow. In August the Minister for Trade admitted the Government’s failures. He said -
Due to the inadequacy of our export earnings, we are now geared to a rate of expenditure that makes it necessary for us to have a tremendous capital inflow.
This year the Reserve Bank reported to Parliament that our balance of payments is still heavily dependent on capital inflow. Our trading position is still serious. It is just as serious as it was twelve months ago. In order to meet our current expenditure’ we have been selling important sectors of our economy. As the Minister for Trade said, we are living by selling a bit of the farm every year.
The Government has failed to appreciate the challenge and urgency of the problem. Our political and trading relationships are undergoing rapid changes. Forces very largely outside our control are compelling us to make a fundamental re-examination of our position as an exposed and isolated European community. In trading matters, we are being driven rapidly to make an adjustment to an unfamiliar Asian world. We would be living in a fool’s paradise if we thought we could continue to coast along in the face of the new situation and the challenge it presents. The improvement of our external trade depends upon a vigorous assertion of Australia’s national interests by Australia’s national government.
Wc must be bolder and more enterprising in promoting trade. Our trading interests will be better served by Australians than by foreign shippers, middle-men and merchants who tie us to declining European markets. We must develop an export promotion and distribution system which is controlled by Australians in the interests of Australians. The old comfortable policies are just not suitable in the new circumstances of international trade. We cannot allow ourselves to remain dependent on the United Kingdom and tributary to the United Kingdom. We must vigorously assert our own independence and initiative in this matter.
This afternoon, my colleague, the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) directed attention to the inhibitions on our export income presented by export franchises. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) detailed the seriousness of the position in a reply he gave last March to the late honorable member for East Sydney, Mr. E. J. Ward. He said that at least 1,500 overseas companies are known to have entered into arrangements with Australian companies to manufacture their products under licence. During last year and the year before, his department surveyed the situation and found that some 700 Australian firms are parties to about 1,100 financial and licensing agreements with overseas firms’ which in some degree provide for restriction’ of exports. The Government has so far done nothing to meet this situation.
It is futile to expect one’s competitors willingly to promote one’s trade. We cannot rely on American and British firms to build Australia’s trade with Asia. The change of heart which the Government has looked for from overseas investors has not come about. The Australian Government should establish - a Labour Government will establish - a trade commission with functions to include discovery of franchises, licences or agreements which prevent or restrict the export of any commodity, and to take or recommend action necessary for their removal. There is no doubt that the Commonwealth Parliament has the constitutional power to take appropriate action in this field of trade and restrictive practices.
Not only must we see that foreign-owned companies operating in Australia or Australianowned companies which are affiliated with foreign companies are permitted and required to export Australian manufactures overseas; we must also see that the export of our manufactures is promoted. The largest of our manufacturing industries, such as steel and motor cars, are highly efficient industries. They should be able to compete overseas, and we must promote the export of their products.
The Minister’s reply is, “We have trade commissioners doing this job “. Worthy and dedicated as the trade commissioners are, they are not able to conduct the market analysis in depth necessary to ascertain the export potential in the areas- to which we should now increasingly turn. A short’ time ago, the Government of West Germany backed a group of economists and businessmen to go to Singapore for several months. This group recruited local economics students and graduates as part-time market research assistants and made an intensive study of the market to ascertain commodity requirements, consumer fads and preferences and also the likely import requirements for Singapore in terms of the plans for its anticipated economic development. Supplemented by follow-up surveys, this depth analysis of the Singapore market led to a considerable expansion of West German exports to the area. Why has not Australia done the same in a market which is only one-third the distance from Australia that it is from West Germany, and which is in the Commonwealth, which is in Malaysia, with which we, have so many commercial, and now defence, ties?
I pass from the question of franchises and promotion to research. The total investment in research in Australia is low by comparison with other countries. The United States of America spends 3 per cent, of its gross national product on research. Britain spends 2i per cent., Canada 1 per cent, and Australia .6 of 1 per cent. Clearly, the Government in Australia must make up some of the deficiencies of private research. Because so many of our companies have been financed from overseas, or are affiliated with overseas companies foreign investors believe that they do not have to pay for so much research in Australia. They do not carry out research for Australia’s needs or for the needs and potential of Australia’s export markets. Therefore, the Government in Australia must undertake to make up the shortcomings of private investors and private industrialists who have come increasingly in recent years from overseas, or have been tied to overseas principals.
Apart from scientific research, there is the question of credit facilities for Australian exports. We have no export-import bank. Is there another manufacturing country in the Western world, in Japan or North America, or in Western Europe, which is without the credit facilities that Australia lacks? Here again the Minister for Trade makes the excuse - and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) agrees with him in this matter - that term loans are satisfying the needs. The Reserve Bank of Australia, however, reported this year that firm propositions specifically for export finance have been rather few.
Let me give an instance of what we can do in the field of our greatest primary product - wool. It is estimated that only £12,000,000 would be necessary to modernize India’s woollen mills to the point where they could make greater use of Australian wool. The modernization of these mills would reduce the cost of woollen commodities to the Indian consumer, the second largest market in the world. Such aid would have to be associated with sales on credit.
Whilst capital aid and credit along these lines might not produce immediate results, we could anticipate substantial benefits in the not far distant future. The trading patterns of these countries in the Commonwealth, in our political, defence and commercial spheres of interest, are now being formulated, and if Australia does not get in on the ground floor we are likely to miss out altogether. North America and Western Europe are again showing a great deal more interest in South-East Asia and in the Indian sub-continent than is shown by Australia despite the fact that Australia produces things that those countries need, despite the fact that Australia is so much closer to them than its competitors, and despite the fact that Australia already has intimate ties, through the Commonwealth, which its competitors do not possess.
I conclude by referring to marketing boards. We know that the Australian Wheat Board has made very great advances on Australia’s behalf in selling our wheat. It used to be said that our wheat could not compete with American and Canadian wheat. In the last couple of years, we have shown that it can, and this has been because the Wheat Board has been permitted by the Government to make deals itself. Our other marketing boards, every one of which with the exception of the Australian Wine Board was set up by a Labour government, have the statutory function of selling things themselves. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is the Minister responsible for them, has forbidden them all except the Wheat Board to carry out that statutory function. The countries in our area want to conserve their foreign exchange; they want to see that it is used to the best advantage of their citizens, and they prefer to deal, to some extent at all events, with government boards and bodies. In these marketing boards we have cooperative bodies, we have government bodies which represent Australia and Australian producers. They should be permitted - they will be permitted by a Labour government - to make advantageous deals on behalf of Australian producers and Australian citizens, just as the Wheat Board has been permitted to do in the last two years.
Mr. ENGLAND (Calare) r9.40].- In the limited time at my disposal I Would like to speak about the linseed industry, but before doing so I will address my remarks to a subject already dealt with by my colleague the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). I may then conclude, if I have time, by giving the committe some figures in answer to the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam).
The honorable member for Richmond referred to the tourist industry and I know that, through lack of time, there were one or two points which he did not bring out. I wish to refer to the increase by the Department of Trade of some £60,000 in the vote for the Australian National Travel Association. The unpleasant side of the picture is that Australians, generally, spend far more in travelling and purchasing goods in foreign countries than visitors spend here for the same purposes, the difference being of the order of some £20,000,000 annually. In order to emphasize the point brought out by the honorable member for Richmond, I say that we have to continue our efforts to attract more visitors to Australia. One of the difficulties with which we are faced is mentioned in the annual report of the Australian National Travel Association, in which appears the following passage: - 1962 may well go down as the year of the standard gauge railway between Sydney and Melbourne and the abolition of the income tax clearance.
That was done by this Government, of course. The report continues -
This latter move has been welcomed, particularly by overseas visitors, but Australia still remains one of the more difficult countries for overseas tourists to visit judged in terms of formalities necessary for arrival and departure.
This is something to which we should give attention in the future. I know there are difficulties in this regard and one of them is our quarantine regulations. Neither I nor any of my colleagues want to see those regulations relaxed and because of the danger to Australia which would otherwise bc involved they must always be maintained. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) recently said that his policy and that of the Government is to do everything possible to facilitate the movement of people from one country to another. I hope the Government will always assist the Australian National Travel Association, as it is doing now, by continuing this grant and also by abolishing all but the most necessary of the formalities that are attached to the movement of people in and out of the country.
I stress the need for the utmost to be done in the maintenance of accommodation of all types to keep it up to world standards. The proprietors of motels, hotels, boarding houses and so on are well aware of this need for maintenance and of its cost. Buildings and the stock in trade of the accommodation industry must be renewed constantly. The Government may be able to help this industry in the future by increasing the depreciation rates on buildings, bedding, linen and so on.
A further difficulty arises in respect of television in modern tourist accommodation. Travellers demand that television be provided in most first-class accommodation. We know that each set in each room attracts the full licence-fee. I have raised the question with the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) and he told me of the difficulty of laying down a line of demarcation between what constitutes an hotel, a motel or a boarding house. Perhaps the Government will keep this in mind and further consider some modification or liberalization in respect of this feature of accommodation. I commend the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the Government for raising the grant to the Australian National Travel Association this year by a further £60,000.
I want now to refer to what is becoming a major industry in Australia - the linseed industry. It is a growing industry in Australia; it is a growing industry in my electorate, Calare, and the whole Lachlan Valley. It is growing to such an extent that one crusher is putting in, at Forbes, a mill which will be a good thing for the town and of great value to the industry. Another crusher at Forbes is putting in bulk handling facilities.
The linseed industry is providing a very valuable alternative to the ordinary cereal cropping. This necessitates a growing organization of growers, the need for which this Government, through the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has always encouraged. It is Government policy, when an industry decides what is in its best interests, to legislate accordingly. In my electorate we have the Central West Oilseed Growers
Association, which was T formed in August. This association has informed me and other honorable members of its- concern at the importation of cheap soya and safflower oil. These oils are largely interchangeable with linseed oil and if their importation is left untouched they could create a threat to our soya and safflower industry and to the major industry, linseed.
We know this Government has Streamlined tariff procedures and helped industries generally by Setting up the Special Advisory Authority. The complaint of the growers is that this situation results largely in planning on a year-to-year basis, which brings about a state of uncertainty in the industry. One of the effects is that very little research is being carried out by State departments of agriculture or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. By “ research “ I mean research into type, yield, diseaseresistance, drought resistance and so on. If long-range stability could be built into the industry, partly by the effect of the tariff machinery, Australia could look forward to increased yields and cheaper production costs. We could then not only satisfy our own home market but also achieve further expansion of the production of another income-earning commodity.
One cannot go through the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Customs and Excise without congratulating the Government on two major moves it has made in the recent past. One of these moves is the introduction of a superphosphate bounty of £3 a ton. In travelling through my electorate to Canberra - as I do - one cannot help being impressed by the great use being made of superphosphate in that area and the growth of the air-spreading of superphosphate. The superphosphate bounty will be of great benefit not only to the man on the land but also to the people selling him machinery and servicing it, and its effect will be reflected in the pockets of all who depend on primary industry.
Another great benefit announced by the Government was the £1 for £1 contribution, over and above a certain figure, to the fund for wool promotion. I feel that wool prices to-day already reflect the effects of the promotion efforts over the past year or two. With this additional money available, the wool promotion campaign will be of great value’ to Australia.
We cannot consider these estimates without thinking of some of the other things which have been given to us by this Government. I refer to the investment allowance on new plant, and the extra 20 per cent, depreciation on machinery. I must also mention the Government’s will and drive to go out after new markets as instanced by the negotiation of the Japanese Trade Agreement. This was a masterpiece of negotiation. We should never forget that the . legislation was opposed by the Australian Labour Party when it was introduced into this House. The disposal of all the wheat and wool produced in Australia reflects great credit on the Government. Assistance to the tobacco industry is another matter that comes to mind. J heard it said here to-day that not many people stand up and defend the tobacco industry. No one can tell me that my colleague, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten), is not right in the forefront when it comes to doing all that can be done for the tobacco industry.
I refer again to the expansion of the quantity guarantee for wheat. For the first time, the wheat-growers have gained all that they have asked for. In the recent negotiations they have been given a guarantee on 150,000,000 bushels and the adoption of the cost of production as a basis for price fixing. The honey industry has been stabilized, and this is another great achievement by the Minister for Primary Industry. I will give a few figures to show the will and the drive of the Government in going out after markets. The trade commissioner service has grown between 1950 and 1963. The number of posts has grown from 15 to 37 in that time, with a big increase in Asia, Africa and South America. The number of trade commissioners has increased from 28 to 54, and there are nine trainee trade commissioners at the moment. The figures on cost are rather astounding. In that period, the cost of the trade commissioner service has grown from £200,000 to £1,200,000, and this again reflects great credit on the department.
Pay-roll tax rebates have been of considerable assistance. There is no need for me to go into any detail. The Export Payments Insurance Corporation has been a great success. The vote for trade publicity has increased from £15,000 in 1949 to £1,500,000 at present. In the few minutes of my time that I have left, I want to refer to the export of manufactured goods. This has increased considerably during the life of this Government. We know that there is a difference in definitions, so let me say that the figures I give will exclude processed foodstuffs and will include iron and steel, refined petroleum, machinery, vehicles and chemicals. In 1948-49, we exported £29,000,000 worth of these goods, and this has increased to £133,000,000 at present, with £23,000,000 of this in steel. That is a terrific growth even in that time.
The figures on trade missions are interesting. Since 1949, there have been fourteen major selling missions and six survey missions. Three trade ships have gone overseas. They have been organized by the industry and assisted by the Government. There has been very active industry participation. Visits have been made to 41 countries. Since 1949, there have been 45 major international trade fairs in which industry has participated with the support of this Government. We have seen increasing trade publicity overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom, and the cost of this has grown from £21,000 to £602,000. These figures speak for themselves. They show that this has not been just indiscriminate, piecemeal, off the top of the head action. It has all been part of a great plan by this Government to lift our export income and to improve the lot of the Australian people. In all of this my colleagues of the Australian Country Party, who sit around me in this corner of the chamber, can take their full share of credit. I congratulate the Government and the departments concerned on the success they have achieved.
.- Now that we know definitely that an election is to be held I would remind honorable members and the electors that in no other sphere has this Government pinched more of Labour’s policies than in the sphere of the rural industries. During the last two years, the Government has taken great chunks out of the policy which we announced to the people two years ago. At the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party held in Perth at the end of July, I had the honour to present our rural policy for the coming election. It is now in black and white and will be delivered in due course to the people of Australia.
To-night; I want to make a plea for the farmers. They are a vital unit in our economy. As a farmer’s son with many years experience on a wheat farm in Victoria and as a member representing a large rural electorate, I believe it is my duty to speak for them. Primary producers are caught between the nether millstone of costs on the one hand and world prices on the other. These prices are fixed on a government-to-government level or are completely governed by economic factors in overseas countries. The poor old farmer has no say at all about production costs and has no control over prices. He is thus at the mercy of two great imponderables, and it is these two imponderables that concern governments in their efforts to assist him.
The farmer’s gamble is greater than 1,000 Melbourne Cups. He rarely knows what he will receive for his crops. His costs go on relentlessly, whatever his harvest may be in volume or whatever his financial return may be. He works completely in the dark. Stabilization and price-fixing by governments, a process that worked so successfully in wartime, do not exist in these days for commodities other than wheat and sugar. The farmer is the first victim of an unplanned capitalistic economy. He faces drought, flood, fire and hail that can destroy his crops overnight and bring financial ruin or financial impoverishment. The irony of this is that it costs him as much to produce a crop that is destroyed as it does to produce a crop that brings in a record return, and he does not know which he will get when he plants his crop. He is the only producer in the country who works under such imponderable conditions.
The farmer cannot live alone any more. His survival depends not only on local factors but on decisions made and prices fixed in countries thousands of miles away. It is furrows across the frontiers. The farmer is linked to people right around the world. He is affected by conditions that exist right around the world. His onetime rugged individualism, of which he has so often boasted, is a complete anachronism in these days. To-day the farmer has to combine with other producers in his industry and he has to co-operate with governments. His very survival depends on a new kind of co-operation and disciplined team work at all levels, and he is the hardest person ever to get into a team. The farmer to-day has to be a business man, an accountant, a scientist, a financial genius, a mechanic, an industrialist dealing with awards and a technician, all rolled into one. His survival depends on these personal qualities as well as on economic factors. The average profit to-day on capita] invested by the farmer is between 1 per cent, and 2 per cent. No private industrialist could ever survive on such a low margin of profit. In thousands of cases farmers find themselves poised on the razor’s edge between insolvency and success, and only mixed farming has saved many of them from financial ruin.
There was a time when, farmers as a whole despised Government aid. They said it was a corroding charity and that they would have none of it. However, a great change has come over the farmer’s thinking in the past fifteen years.
– He socializes his losses.
– Exactly. I was coming to that. Even though it savours of socialization, the farmer to-day seeks Government aid to a greater and greater extent. It has been said that the farmer likes to individualize his gains and socialize his losses. This is still pretty true. Whoever would have thought that wool men would ever accept a government subsidy, even for promotional activity? Yet a subsidy has been accepted with open arms within the last couple of days. 1 admire the farmer who has sense enough to bow to the inevitable and to accept Government assistance when his industry is in trouble. After all, that is what the Government is for.
This brings me to the problem of rural credit. Not many primary producers can continue without credit. It is the lifeblood of production, particularly rural production. The word .”mortgage “ still looms menacingly on the horizon of the primary producer, and debt is still his irritating companion. Most primary producers are in debt all the time. Rural industry is in desperate need of long-term credit. Shortterm credit is available, but this is a frustrating and pressurizing thing.
Most of the increases in rural advances came between 1945 and 1956. Since then they have been on a reduced scale. Nor has rural lending been spread evenly over all rural industry. Borrowings always seem to jump as prices fall, except in the case of dairy farmers. A paper prepared by two Adelaide economists, Jarrett and Dillon, early this year, mentions this strange phenomenon. These two gentlemen have found that dairy farmers tend to borrow less as their cost-price position deteriorates, and to borrow more as their position improves. This is contrary to the general trend among other farmers. These two economists give two probable reasons for this. The first is that when prospects improve bankers are more willing to lend. Bankers are, of course, always more willing to lend when conditions improve, but the test of worthwhile lending is whether banks or pastoral companies are prepared to lend when the outlook is grim, and thus take a risk. All lending has an element of risk, of course. The second reason given by these two economists is that the price of land used for dairying has risen less than that of sheep country in the period from 1956 to 1963. They went on to say that since a large proportion of bank finance is used to purchase farms, this could account for the lower rate of growth of credit to dairy farmers. As a matter of interest I would like to see a breakdown of the figures for loans used to purchase farms and loans used to finance developmental work.
Statistics produced by Jarrett and Dillon give the following information concerning rural advances by major trading banks: -
The increase between 1949 and 1956, a period of seven years, was £105,000,000, but between 1956 and 1962 the increase in lending by trading banks was only £26,600,000. This shows a significant slowing down in lending to primary producers. Pastoral companies and other lending authorities lent £21,000,000 in 1949, £74,000,000 in 1956 and £104,000,000 in 1962. Here again we see an increase of £53,000,000 between 1949 and 1956, and only £30,000,000 between 1956 and 1962. The trend towards slowing down was evident in respect of pastoral companies as well as trading banks.
When Labour comes to office after the election on 30th November it will look at this problem of rural production. It is obvious that we must encourage a good deal more long-term credit for our primary producers, lt is the only kind of lending that gives them the incentive to go on from year to year. We intend also to establish an export credit corporation as an ancillary of the Commonwealth Bank, to provide long-term loans free of interest to overseas countries to help the sale of Australian primary products in those countries. As to the wool levy for promotional purposes, which is now 10s. a bale, the Labour Government will match whatever it is decided that the growers will pay. We initiated this principle, and it was taken out of our policy only last week by the present Government. We intend also to establish Australia-wide co-operative pools for the marketing and financing of the sale of primary products. Likewise, the superphosphate subsidy, which the Government reintroduced after we had announced it as part of our policy, will be maintained by us at a rate of at least £3 a ton.
The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has forecast export earnings from fifteen commodities for 1964-65. These commodities represent 90 per cent, of our rural exports and 71 per cent, of all our exports. They are the products of our main primary industries. I shall not go through them all, but, assuming increased production and a greater volume of exports for most of these commodities, and making not overpessimistic estimates, the bureau concluded that their export value in 1964-65 will be £650,000,000, or only £6,000,000 more than in 1960-61, and actually £9,000,000 less than in 1959-60. There is a great need for a growing volume of exports to a hungry world and for our economic uplift, because it must be remembered that primary producers are responsible for 80 per cent, of our export income.
In conclusion let me say that we must consider the importance of irrigation in our whole programme of rural production. It is a crime that in this country so many millions of gallons of water that could be used to increase our production are allowed to flow to the sea. We must also look at shipping freights and endeavour to have them stabilized, especially on the overseas lines. We must establish an Australian shipping line so that the matter of transport of our produce can be brought into proper perspective and our farmers may be given the opportunity to effect savings in freight charges.
Summing up my arguments, we must arrange for long-term credits, extension of stabilization arrangements, control of costs, trade expansion agreements, improved marketing facilities, stabilization of shipping freights and subsidy assistance wherever possible, in order to help the farmers of Australia.
– Australia’s balance of trade is still in deficit and is likely to remain so. The deficit is being made good by the inflow of capital funds from abroad, in order to maintain our balances. That is not altogether a satisfactory state of affairs. The Government has done much to remedy the situation by encouraging exports. We have had a concerted campaign to encourage exports. I will not rehearse the various measures that have been taken to achieve that objective. Honorable members will know them. In encouraging exports we ought to be selective. We should encourage those exports in respect of which we have some natural advantage, whether it be of soil, climate or mineral resources or of inherited skill. The former types of natural advantage are quasi-permanent ones. The margin of inherited skill may be more transitory.
Under those circumstances, it seems to me that our encouragement of exports should be directed not so much towards manufactures - except in certain cases - as towards our primary products, Including iron and steel, metals and other commodities which depend on the advantages that Australia has by reason of her soil, minerals or climate. I agree that we have to take particular note of the starvation that may occur to the north of Australia and that therefore our exports of food, particularly of the basic grains, might engage more of our attention. There is another side of this question, which we are inclined to forget. There are two basic reasons for our wanting to export. The first is the one that J have mentioned - the need to feed a hungry world; and the second is the need to provide ourselves with the funds to buy our necessary imports.
We can improve our adverse balance of trade just as much by reducing our appetite for imports as we can by increasing our capacity to export. I do not deprecate in any way the policy of increasing exports. Indeed, I do very much the opposite; I commend that policy. But side by side with it we have to do something in the way of import replacement planned on a proper scale. I suggest that the Department of Trade might turn its attention to looking consciously at the lists of imports, endeavouring to see which ones can be grown, mined or manufactured conveniently and economically in Australia, and then encouraging, by bounty or some other means, people to go in for the growing, mining or manufacture of those commodities.
We have seen this process in the past. For example, there is a drive on now in the Department of Primary Industry to increase our growing of cotton. Cotton is something which we should grow arid which can be grown economically under our conditions of soil and climate. This has been done with tobacco. It has also been done with copper. Not very long ago Australia was an importer of copper, but to-day it looks like becoming one of the world’s major exporters of copper. That is the result of a conscious policy of developing our resources. This can be done in regard to machinery, particularly motor cars. The Australian motor car industry, which was quite insignificant a couple of decades ago, is now providing the great bulk of our requirements of motor vehicles. We are doing this in regard to oil. We are trying to encourage the search for oil and thus obtain, some replacement of an import which, hitherto, we have been debited with.
I believe that in the Department of Trade, co-ordinated with the effort to expand exports, we should have an organization devoted to the expansion of industry for the replacement of the commodities that we import. This is particularly true in the secondary field. We will improve our balance of trade just as much by doing that as we will by expanding our exports. Import replacement needs more attention than it receives. In a way, import replacement is a sounder way of correcting the imbalance in trade than expanding exports, because when you are replacing an import you are creating an industry which is selling its goods on an Australian market, which you can keep under direction to some extent and which is not subject to the fluctuations of a world economy which you cannot control in any way. If you are dependent on exports and a depression of world prices comes along, what can you do about it when you do not control the conditions in the markets in which you are selling your exports? If, on the other hand, you are increasing your production of things which otherwise you would import, those new industries are selling on a market which is an Australian market and which is not subject to the chances overseas and tendencies which you cannot control or offset in any way.
So, I suggest constructively that the Department of Trade should be thinking of setting up an organization devoted specifically to import replacement, just as it has an organization directed to the encouragement of exports. These are not two competing things. They are both measures which can be directed towards the same objective, namely curing the present imbalance in our trade figures. We have been very lucky, particularly in regard to some of the major mineral discoveries we have made. We will have an aluminium industry and we have a copper industry. Now we have found two things: First, that our coal resources are much more valuable than we reckoned them to be in the past; and secondly, that we have tremendous resources of iron ore available. It may be that our best means of exporting those minerals will be not in the form of raw material but in the form of steel or at least semi-processed material. Those are complex questions. I do not intend to go into them now.
Having had this luck, having found these tremendous mineral resources, it may well bc that our trade balance problem is less intractable than we once thought it was. But considering the size of Australia - we have 11,000,000 people and the population is increasing - and considering the maturity of our economy, in that we have manufacturing facilities in Australia, I believe that the proportion which our overseas trade bears to our gross national product is a little high and that we should be making a conscious effort to reduce it. I am not suggesting for one moment that we should slacken in any way our drive for exports. On the contrary, I suggest that we should make a conscious and co-ordinated drive for import replacement.
.- I wish to direct my remarks to the proposed allocation for the Department of Primary Industry. I am sorry that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is not in the chamber. I admit that he has been most attentive all day to the debate, but he has a case to answer for the very raw deal he has handed out to the primary producers in Tasmania, particularly to the fat lamb producers. I refer to the guaranteed minimum price scheme for export Iamb and I again urge the Minister to extend the higher price of ls. 6d. per lb. to cover the Tasmanian export season and to apply the guarantee to each shipment of lambs.
The scheme operated for the first time last season, following a statement by the Minister that producers would receive a guaranteed minimum price of ls. 6d. per lb. for lambs shipped during the months of September, October and November, and ls. 4id. per lb. for lambs shipped during the second three-monthly period of December, January and February. I want to stress as forcibly as I can that when the Minister made his statement there was no mention that prices would be averaged. Last season the producers exported lambs, believing that if the market was weak they would receive the guaranteed minimum price for each shipment. The State Meat Board of Tasmania also had this belief when it made an initial advance to the producers. It was believed that the scheme applied to all lambs shipped and that if any shipment sold below the guaranteed price the deficiency would be made up by the Government. Instead, the prices paid in each of the three-monthly periods have been averaged and as the figure arrived at was higher than the guaranteed price no payments were made by the Australian Meat Board. However, many shipments were sold for well below the guaranteed price.
Let me cite one or two examples to indicate the raw deal that fat lamb producers received last season and to support my claim that the guaranteed price should apply to each shipment. One farmer, whose returns I have here, forwarded 200 carcasses on the “ Ayrshire “, which sailed on 2nd December and arrived in the United Kingdom on 3rd February. Thus he was in the second three-monthly period and looked forward to receiving the benefit of the guaranteed price of ls. 4id. per lb. if prices on the British market dropped below that figure. The State Meat Board of Tasmania made him an advance equivalent to 37s. a lamb or ls. 2d. per lb. His lambs averaged £3 6s. lOd. in the United Kingdom, and when charges amounting to £1 10s. lid., made up of £1 for freight and 10s. lid. for processing, were deducted he received 36s. 8id. net for each carcass. Because his return did not reach the amount advanced by the State Meat Board he received a debit note for £3 9s. 2d., which sum he was required to pay within fourteen days.
Those who shipped on the “ Canopic “, which sailed on 7th January and arrived in the United Kingdom on 25th February, fared very badly indeed. One producer with a consignment of 100 lambs - I have the figures here if the Minister cares to look at them - received an advance of ls. Id. per lb. from the State Meat Board. His lambs netted 10 1/4d. per lb. in Britain, so he received a debit note from the board for £16 0s. 6d. with a request to pay the amount within fourteen days.
I cannot state too strongly that these fat lamb producers fully expected that the guaranteed prices announced by the Minister would apply to all shipments. As no public statement was made about a proposal to strike an average, I contend that a review should be made of all shipments last season and that credit payments should be made by the Australian Meat Board to all producers whose lambs failed to reach the guaranteed minimum prices. It is scandalous that these farmers were hoodwinked into believing that the Government had taken steps to stabilize the fat lamb industry only to find that they received demands for repayment of advances made to them for the 1962-63 season.
This year an announcement was made that the scheme will be changed. The chairman of the Australian Meat Board, Mr. Shute, has stated that prices obtained in the United Kingdom will be averaged on a monthly basis. I fail to see why the guaranteed prices cannot be applied to each shipment and why, if any shipment is sold at below the guaranteed prices, the deficiency should not be made up. There can be no question about the prices obtained because the trade journals show the prices paid in Smithfield every week for shipments of Australian lambs to that market. The Minister and the Australian Meat Board have avail- able all the figures that they could possibly require.
I want to deal now with the discrimination which this Government has practised against Tasmanian producers. I have raised this matter on several occasions and have sought the extension of the higher figure of ls. 6d. per lb. to cover the second threemonthly period to assist the Tasmanian fatlamb producers. At present this guaranteed figure applies only to Iambs exported during September, October and November, so the five mainland States reap the benefit. We in Tasmania are members of the Commonwealth of Australia, but we are being discriminated against because we are forced to accept the lower price of ls. 4id. per lb. How can the Minister and the Government justify this state of affairs? It is against the whole spirit of federation.
The Government’s excuse is that the higher guaranteed price will encourage producers to market their lambs earlier and so avoid the competition caused by the pressure of heavy supplies from New Zealand. I admit that objective was achieved last year because over 100,000 lambs arrived on the United Kingdom market by the end of October, compared with 41,000 at the same time the previous year. But even if the guaranteed price was doubled for Tasmania we could not get them to the market any sooner because of our climatic conditions. The chairman of the State Meat
Board of Tasmania, Mr. F. W. Hicks, pointed out this year-
There are difficulties of seasonal conditions and production costs to be overcome before there could be any worthwhile development of early Iamb shipments from Tasmania to the more attractive market usually found in the United Kingdom in November and December.
He refers to the two factors which make it impossible for us to get our lambs away with those of the five mainland States - our seasonal conditions and our production costs. Why should the Government discriminate against fat-lamb producers in Tasmania simply because of our peculiar climatic conditions? These farmers - bear in mind that many of them are settlers who have been established under the war service land settlement scheme - are having a bad’ enough time as it is without having to take less than is guaranteed to the mainland States. The majority of our exports last year arrived in the United Kingdom in February. In that month over 3,000,000 carcasses arrived from New Zealand. This is all the more reason why we should be assisted and a greater degree of stability afforded our producers.
The New Zealanders can buy and sell us when it comes to sales promotion. With their constant advertising on television and the use of other media they have built up a terrific reputation in the United Kingdom. A recent survey conducted in the cities of Bath, Birmingham, London and Newcastle indicated a 48 per cent, preference for meat from New Zealand and only a 3 per cent, preference for the Australian product. Even Scotland with a 10 per cent, preference and Argentina with a 7 per cent, preference were ahead of Australia. This popular demand for New Zealand meat is attributed to constant television advertising. Yet Tasmanian Iamb, as I have pointed out previously, is better than lamb produced by our sister dominion. This is proved by the awards that our carcasses have won at Smithfield, in England.
We have asked repeatedly for permission to brand our lamb as Tasmanian lamb so that we may build up a market and a demand for it on account of its quality. But no, we must market it as the product of Australia and have it lumped in with the lower quality product from the mainland
States. Then, as if to further humiliate us, you force us to take a lower guaranteed price for our product. When it suits the Government it uses the concept of federation - of a united Commonwealth of Australia - and insists that all things be branded Australian. But when it does not suit the Government, it discriminates and offers more to mainland States than it does to Tasmania.
As I have stated, fat lamb producers in Tasmania arc having a lean time. If the Minister for Primary Industry requires further evidence of this I refer him to the “ Australian Sheep Industry Survey “, published towards the end of last year by the Division of Agricultural Economics. The survey sets out very fully details of the decline in the return to capital and management over the past three years on all types of sheep properties in Tasmania. It shows that in the case of cross-bred fat lamb properties in Tasmania the return has fallen from 2.1 per cent, to 1.29 per cent.
I would like to correct an impression conveyed by the Minister in answer to a question that I asked on this subject in the House on 14th May last. The Minister said that there was now a better appreciation of the facts by Tasmanian lamb raisers, implying that they were satisfied with arrangements as they stood. I am afraid the Minister has been sadly misinformed by the Australian Meat Board, which apparently conveyed that impression to him, because the board’s counterpart in Tasmania - the Tasmanian Meat Board - stated as recently as 24th May of this year - only ten days after the Minister’s reply to my question -
Any suggestion that representatives of the Tasmanian lamb industry are content to receive a lower rate of subsidy is incorrect. We requested also that the higher guaranteed price should apply during the extended period so that producers in this State would receive an equal benefit.
We consider that we have had a raw deal, because no mention was made of the fact that there would be an averaging of prices. For this we request an immediate review of last season’s shipments and we ask the Australian Meat Board to make up the deficiency payments involved. We press again for the extension of the higher guaranteed price to cover the whole of the export season and so remove discrimination against Tasmanian producers.
From to-night election fever gradually will mount. I am amused by the political trickery and humbug of the newly formed Country Party in Tasmania, which is operating with paid organizers. It is stabbing in the back Liberal Party members and senators who are forced to be here in Canberra to support this coalition Government. Country Party organizers are travelling throughout Tasmania saying that the Liberals look after the wealthy people of the community and that the Labour Party looks after the trade unionists and the wharfies, but that the Country Party looks after the country people - the farmers. But in this Parliament we have a Country Party Minister for Primary Industry who refuses to extend a subsidy to stabilize a very important and valuable export industry in Tasmania. Beside him sits a Country Party Postmaster-General who closes down post offices in country areas on holidays, thus denying country people the opportunity to collect their mail and particularly their newspapers. We also have a Country Party Minister for Trade, who recently addressed in Launceston a meeting of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation. He told them that he would do something to assist potato growers. That was many months ago. The price of Tasmanian potatoes on the Sydney market is down to £17 a ton. The potato producers of Tasmania are getting debit notes for freight costs to Sydney instead of getting some credit. As the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has pointed out, the farmers are the backbone of Australia. They are worthy of help. It is to be hoped that the Minister for Primary Industry will have another look at the suggestion that a subsidy be granted in the field to which I have referred.
.- I listened with some interest to the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies). I was particularly interested in his final tirade of abuse against the Country Party and, to a lesser extent, the Liberal Party. I do not think his remarks will carry much weight in the electorate. In the next five or six weeks during which the election campaign will be waged he will have an opportunity to endeavour to put forward a point of view that can be generally accepted.
I take this opportunity to refer to the estimates for the Department of Trade. I refer particularly to a most important aspect of our trade, namely our coal trade and particularly the export of coal to Japan. Under the Coal Loading Works Agreement (New South Wales) Act 1961 the Commonwealth undertook to provide financial assistance to New South Wales amounting to £2,650,000. That money was partly a repayable advance and partly a grant from the Coal Industry Fund. The money was furnished to assist New South Wales to provide modern and fast coal loading facilities at Newcastle, Balmain and Port Kemba. As at 30th June, 1963, the repayable advance had reached the figure of £782,000 and the grants had reached the figure of £474,000. The estimates now before us provide for additional repayable advances of £405,000 and grants of £245,000 to be made. The total amount made available to New South Wales, including the amounts provided in these estimates, is £1,906,000 of the total amount to be made available of £2,650,000. This is magnificent assistance on the part of the Federal Government to the Labour Government of New South Wales. This assistance will help to increase our export earnings. It will help to make the coal industry buoyant. What is particularly important so far as members of the Opposition are concerned, it will ensure jobs for coal miners and others who depend on this very important industry.
It is hoped that as a result of the assistance given by the Federal Government, export earnings from coal - in this regard exports to Japan will play a big part - will reach a figure in the vicinity of £16,000,000 a year. An increase in export earnings is dependent on modernization of coal loading facilities to ensure that coal handling costs are reduced to a minimum. By considerably reducing loading time of ships you speed up their turn round, which is all-important. Freight charges tend to be kept to a minimum and the coa! can be landed in Japan at a cost competitive with coal from other countries.
In his second-reading speech on the Coal Loading Works Agreement (New South Wales) Bill 1961 the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said -
The expansion in coal exports which is in sight cannot materialize, however, unless the facilities for loading coal at the ports are improved and the improvements are completed in the shortest practicable time. The trade is very competitive. The overseas buyers might turn to other sources for their coal requirements if they thought that the New South Wales ports would not be able in a few years time to provide adequate and economic facilities for coat shipments.
Of primary importance is the need to deepen the harbours and berths to receive the larger vessels now coming into use in the coal export trade.
So I say that the Federal Government has played its part in this agreement. What part has the New South Wales Government played? Has it fully played its part in ensuring that we maintain this very important coal trade?
I shall outline the position in the respective ports in New South Wales as I understand it. It was expected that the coalloading facilities at the terminal at Balmain would be completed before last Christmas. Unfortunately, they came into operation only last July. The operation of these new facilities has increased the loading rates from 300 tons to 800 tons an hour. It is not the maximum loading rate that it is hoped to attain. A rate of 1,000 tons an hour is hoped for at Balmain. This is to be achieved with two belts, each loading 500 tons an hour into special hatches. The understanding was that the railways would deliver to the Balmain terminal at the rate of 1,000 tons an hour, but this, unfortunately, has not been achieved, because trucks of the kind required to handle the coal have not been available in sufficient numbers.
The new loader at Port Kembla was promised for last month. Unfortunately, it will not be available until next month at the earliest. The Port Kembla loader, when completed, will have a loading rate of 2,000 tons an hour - twice as fast as the Balmain loader - with two belts each handling 1,000 tons an hour. A loading rate of that order at Port Kembla would represent quite an achievement. At Newcastle there is a rather sorry picture, because the promised load-loading facilities have not been provided yet. Originally, there was an inordinately long delay in the choosing of a site, and after a site was chosen, no contract was awarded to a construction company to construct the loading plant. So the date when the new facilities at Newcastle are likely to begin operation is anybody’s guess at the moment. The interesting part about the contracts to supply coal is that Newcastle supplies only soft coking coal, which Japan does not necessarily have to import in large volume, because that country produces its own soft coking coal. The terminals at Balmain and Port Kembla both handle hard coking coal, which Japan needs in large quantities. Therefore, it appears that there will be a steady trade in hard coking coal from New South Wales ports, particularly Balmain and Port Kembla.
As I have already pointed out, the New South Wales Government bears the onus of providing and maintaining bulk-loading facilities to obtain maximum efficiency and maximum speed in loading, thereby ensuring that the freight rates charged, which are based on the various factors involved in loading coal, are kept to the very rninimum. I direct the attention of the committee to a statement made recently by Mr. T. Kinoshita, coal manager in Australia for Mitsui and Company, a large Japanese coal-marketing firm. Remarks made by him in July are reported in the following terms: -
Lack of fast-loading facilities had caused New South Wales to lose this year coal orders from Japan totalling about 200,000 tons. . . .
He then went on to criticize the New South Wales Government for delay in getting the new facilities into operation, and his further remarks are reported in these terms -
Mr. Kinoshita said Japanese interests had been promised that the bulk coal loader at Balmain would be completed by December, 1962. “ But still it is not in operation, and this is very upsetting “, he said. “ It appears now, also, that the other main loader, at Port Kembla, promised for September of this year, will not be ready until at least Christmas. “ I do not think anyone here realises how important the quick handling of coal is to the Japanese steel mills. “These bulk coal loaders cut down a ship’s loading time to a quarter of the old time.
This, of course, affects the freight cost, and so the price of coal to the Japanese buyers. “ Australian coal now can just compete with other foreign coal in landed price. “ But other countries - America, Canada and Russia - constantly offer improved services. “ We have built two large coal-carriers to run coal from here to Japan, but these operate economically only when loaded fast from bulk loaders “.
Mr. Kinoshita said North Amenca was further distant from Japan than Australia, but United
States coal could still compete With Australian coal.
It is quite obvious, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the onus of ensuring that these coal-loading facilities are provided and kept in good order, and that everything possible is done to load coal into ships with a minimum delay, is squarely on the New South Wales Government. It would bc a great pity if that Government, as a result of dilly-dallying, bureaucratic bungling or any other form of procrastination, were to cause a situation in which the Japanese market for our coal could not be retained. We do not want to lose this trade. Its loss, obviously, would have serious effects on the coal industry in New South Wales and on those who are so sorely dependent on it. One views with grave concern the proposition, which appears to have emanated from the Labour Council of New South Wales or the coal-miners themselves, for a reduction in the standard weekly working hours in the coal-mining industry to 35. If a 35-hour week were adopted, obviously costs would increase. Consequently, a 35- hour week could be quite an important factor. It could mean the loss of this important coal trade with Japan. That would be serious for Australia and especially for New South Wales.
Another aspect of the problem that I view with great concern - I am certain that all serious-minded people view it with concern - is the fact that the Australian Labour Party has threatened to examine the possibility of nationalizing the coal industry in New South Wales. I do not know why that party would seek to nationalize the industry in New South Wales, and I rather doubt whether any Labour man, if he were honest in this matter, would claim to know, either. The Labour Party must realize that the industry is conducted by private enterprise with the highest degree of efficiency and econom’y in production. I hope that the industry will be left alone to carry on in the present wonderful manner.
Sir Edward Warren, chairman of the Australian Coal Association, who is wellknown in the coal industry, recently commented on a report made by the Joint Coal
Board. His comments were reported in these terms-t-
The Board said New South Wales exports of coal to Japan and elsewhere for the 28 weeks to July 13 this year were 342,300 tons lower than for the corresponding period last year.
They had decreased from 1,641,000 tons to 1,298,000 tons.
Sir Edward said prospects for exports of hard coking coal from Balmain and Port Kembla were considerably brighter.
He said the Association had recently received inquiries from Japan about soft coking coal.
A shortage in Japan had caused the inquiries.
In order for us to increase our sales overseas it is important that there is no increase in the price of coal f.o.b. from Australian ports, Sir Edward said.
I close by saying to the committee that it is very important that costs be kept down in order to ensure that we retain our very important coal markets.
.- In discussions on matters of trade, one of the questions always raised by honorable members opposite is the high cost of Australian wages and their effect upon our overseas trade. But when the introduction of decimal currency was debated last week and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) put the case on behalf of the Australian Labour Party - which recommended the adoption of 8s. 4d. as a dollar unit instead of 10s. - the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) was very quick’ to say ‘ that if there was any increase in the cost of living because of the introduction of decimal currency, it would result in an increase in wages. The Minister’s statement does not quite tie up with the concern expressed by the Government at the high cost of wages and their influence on our overseas trade.
One of the matters to which I wish to refer briefly in relation to the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry, and the Department of Customs and Excise is the importation of pig meat. I recently asked a question of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) as to the quantities of pig meat which had been imported. The Minister’s answer shows that imports of pig meat have been steadily increasing until in June of this year 2,104,709 lb., valued at £252,405, were imported. These figures relate to carcass meat. If my arithmetic is correct, the imported, cost is 2s. 5d. per lb.. The price then paid to the Australian pig? farmers, was 2s. 2d. per lb. Jive weight. In May the landed cost of carcass pig meat in Australia was about 2s. 6d. per lb. In April it was 2s. 6£d: per lb. In April and May the price paid to the pig-farmer was about 2s. 4d. per -lb.
I asked the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) whether the pig meat was imported entirely by processors - that is, the bacon factories which would process it as bacon and ham. The Minister said that it was very difficult to answer. In 1962-63 the importation of carcass pig meat into Australia totalled 1,884 tons. 1 asked further whether the meat was imported because of the shortage of local pigs or because the landed cost of the imported carcass meat compared more than favorably with the cost of the locally produced carcass meat. The Minister stated in his reply that information received from the trade would indicate that imports had been made for both of the reasons I mentioned. I realize that the majority of people raising pigs are doing so only as a sideline. However, there are people who are engaged solely in the raising of pigs. By the time they have purchased their sucking pigs and raised them to the stage where they are ready to be sold as baconers, they find that the price has dropped. There have been too many fluctuations in the prices of pigs in recent years. Pigs have been purchased by processors for 2s. 2d. per lb. and the price has even dropped to ls. lOd. per lb. Why should processors who pay these low prices then sell the processed uncooked ham at 8s. Hd. per lb., bacon in loose rashers at 8s. 6d. per lb., cooked ham at 9s. Id. per lb. and sliced ham at 15s. per lb.? The Australian Primary Producers Union has sought an inquiry into the industry. The matter comes more under the jurisdiction of the States than the Commonwealth. The A.P.P.U. requested a royal commission because the pig-farmers were not receiving co-operation from the bacon factories - particularly the proprietary bacon factories. However, they did receive some co-operation from the manager of Norco Co-operative Limited. In the break-up of the price, we find that a carcass weighing 127 lb., purchased at 2s. 2d. per lb., costs £13 15s. 6d. Freight, killing and inspection fees and swine tax equal to 2d. per lb. are added to the cost.
After trimming, the - processor is left with two prime sides weighing 98 lb. The cost of the sides is £14 17s., or a little over 3s. per lb. When the sides are smoked, their weight is reduced to 88 lb., and at this stage the cost to the processor is 3s. 4id. per lb. There is a credit of 29 lb. of sundries - the head, trotters, tail and entrails - at 6d. per lb. The price is thus reduced to 3s. 2)d. per lb. If the meat is then sold as sliced bacon, it gives 66 lb. of the original carcass weight of 127 lb., costing 4s. 3±d. per lb. If the bacon is sold in i-lb. packs through the chain stores, the approximate cost is 4s. lOd. per lb. The difference between this 4s. lOd. and the price paid over the counter is something that has troubled not only the bacon and ham processors, but also the primary producers who raise the pigs.
I wish now to deal with the dairying industry. I do not pretend to be a great authority on the subject, but I wish to quote the remarks of a dairying industry authority, Mr. Ralph Watson, in an address to the Gympie Rotary Club. Gympie is in the electorate of the Minister for Primary Industry, but the electorate of Wide Bay takes in a great deal of territory around that town. Mr. Ralph Watson is senior dairy adviser of the Department of Agriculture and Stock in Gympie. He said -
Unfortunately, I have to tell you to-night that dairy farming in the Wide Bay area is for the most part at a very low ebb and is deteriorating still further.
Mr. Watson went back only ten years. He said -
In 19S3-S4, the average price per lb. commercial butter was slightly in excess of 4s. Id. per lb. The price declined from that year and for some years has averaged between 3s. 9d. and 3s. lOd. lb. commercial butter.
He also referred to increased costs in the industry. He said -
Most milking machine parts have increased over 20 per cent.
Tractors available are now 30 per cent, dearer than tractors available ten years ago.
Cost of spare parts has risen tremendously.
Repairs now cost approximately 30s. per hour as against 10s. an hour in 1933. . . .
I feel that we must get away from a butter economy’ to a milk economy. At least until such time as all butter manufactured in Australia is consumed in Australia.
The price of butter in England of 312s. a cwt. is the best for some time and is more likely to decline than to increase.
We still have the fear that Britain - our greatest market for butter - will enter into the European Economic Community. He said -
With exchange added, this represents about 3s. 6d. per lb. commercial butter as against 4s. 7d. per lb. for home consumed butter after cost of manufacture has been deducted. This means ls. more per lb. to the producer, if this butter were sold in Australia.
The conclusion is on a very personal note. It reads as follows: -
If every person in Australia were to drink an extra half pint of milk daily, there would be little or no butter available . for export.
It is interesting to read in the statistical bulletin of the dairy industry that there are more dairy cows in Australia than there have been for a number of years.
I wish to speak briefly on another very good milking cow for the Government. I refer to the person who smokes and who drinks beer and spirits. The ComptrollerGeneral of Customs has announced in his annual report that beer and spirit drinkers, during the last financial year, paid a record amount of £125,845,000 in excise duty. Of this, more than £117,000,000 came from beer. Smokers contributed a further £81,000,000. The total amount of revenue from excise and customs was £383,000,000 which every one would agree would be a very good return from any sort of cow.
Last week, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) spoke about the Australian Wine Board and mentioned that the rum industry had been restricted to the advantage of the wine industry. He said that nine years ago the amount of excise duty on wine and brandy had been reduced to 45s. per proof gallon whilst the excise duty on rum had been maintained over the past nine years at 82s. per proof gallon. This has resulted in a fall in the sales of rum. I am very interested in this subject because in the electorate of Wide Bay at Bundaberg we have the Millaquin Sugar Company Limited. It not only grows its own cane but also produces rum from it. It is a very good rum. The question has often been asked: “ What is the definition of proof spirit? “ I have been reliably informed that proof spirit is a mixture of half spirit and half water. Some honorable members have told me how it used to be tested in the Navy. It was said that if you put ‘ two drops on the tongue of a day-old kitten and it became prepared to fight a bulldog, the liquid was proof spirit.
The figures show that those who smoke or drink alcoholic liquors make a considerable contribution to the nation’s finances. Many people are inclined to look down their nose at those who have a few beers at night or roll a cigarette. There may be health reasons why persons should stop drinking or smoking. But such persons contribute to the national revenue to the extent of £383,000,000 annually. For too long these people have been the milchcows of successive governments, and some reduction of excise duty on the articles I have mentioned should be made.
.- Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Howson) put -
That the question be now put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Elnfeld’s) ba agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.) Ayes . . . . 55 Noes . . . . ..56
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative. Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed expenditure, £17,642,000.
Advance to the Treasurer.
Proposed expenditure, £16,000,000. Progress reported.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Loan (Housing) Bill (No. 2) 1963. Commonwealth Banks Bill 1963.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Howson) put -
Thai the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer (o (he honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Information on the intake of permanent staff during the year ended 31st December, 1962, is available in the preliminary statement by the Public Service Board which I presented lo the House on 11th September. The following statistics, which are drawn from the fortieth annual report of the Superannuation Board, show new contributors including those from statutory authorities for the year ended 30th June, 1962: -
n asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. So far as I am aware, no farming or similar rural industries have been taken over by foreign interests. However, in recent years there have been a number of take-overs in the food processing industries and some of these have involved manufacturing plants in the country. The following list gives a selection of some of the take-overs which have occurred in the food processing industries in recent years. In some of these take-overs, foreign control has been attained by a holding of more than SO per cent., whilst in other cases the foreign ownership has been complete: -
With the exception of a recently reported offer by International Packers Limited, to take over Mayfair Hams Limited, I do not know of any established Australian firms preparing meat for export having been taken over by overseas interests in recent years.
n asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The above rates of education allowance are payable on the basis that both children are between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years and are living at home. The amount of education allowance varies according to age and whether the child is living at home or away from home. Members receiving the special rate of war pension qualify for free medical benefits for most disabilities whether or not they are war-caused. Subject to the nature and extent of their war-caused incapacity, they may also qualify for such repatriation benefits as an attendant’s allowance, recreation transport allowance, a gift car, and also certain fringe benefits outside the jurisdiction of my department.
s asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
How many service pensioners (a) will and (b) will not receive the 10s. increase in pension provided for in the Budget?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Of approximately 46,700 member service pensioners there are approximately 14,000 who are defined, for the purpose of this benefit, as “ single “ pensioners under the act, and who will therefore receive the 10s. per week increase for such pensioners. The remaining 32,700 member service pensioners are married, and their wives are also receiving a service or social service benefit payment.
International Labour Organization Conventions: Aborigines. (Question No. 284.) Mr. Whitlam asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
How much time does he expect to elapse before State and territorial laws and practices concerning aborigines will have been sufficiently amended to permit Australia to ratify International Labour Organization Conventions (a) No. 107, Indigenous and Tribal Populations, 1957, and (b) No. Ill, Discrimination (Employment and Occupation), 1958?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
As the honorable member has mentioned in his question, both State and Territory laws arc involved and in view of this I am unable to say when Australia might be able to ratify the conventions.
m asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
How much time does he expect to elapse before Australia will ratify the .following International Labour Organization conventions relating to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea: -
No. 50, Recruiting of Indigenous Workers,
No. 64, Contracts of Employment (Indi genous Workers), 1939;
No. 65, Penal Sanctions (Indigenous
Territories), 1947, revised 1962;
No. 110, Plantations, 1948; and
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I regret that I am unable to give the honorable member any indication as to how much time might be expected to elapse before Australia might ratify International Labour Organization Conventions Nos. 50, 64, 65, 82, 83, 84, 86, 104, 110 and 111. On 12th September, the Minister for Territories, in his reply to the honorable member’s question No. 178 on Conventions Nos. 50, 64, 65, 82, 83, 86 and, 104, indicated the respects in which provisions of the legislation of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea fall short of or differ from the standards set by those conventions.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
On 17th July, 1962, the former Royal Australian Air Force aerodrome at Uranquinty, New South Wales, was sold to Crestbrook Proprietary Limited, for the sum of £67,750 on terms requiring a deposit of 10 per cent, on execution of the contract with the balance payable over nine years plus interest at 6 per cent, per annum on quarterly rests.
Northern Development Authority.
– On 26th September, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) asked me a question about the possible setting up of a northern development authority. I can confirm that there has been no new statement of Government policy on this issue. I am aware of reports that the Queensland and Western Australian Governments intend to make a joint approach to the Commonwealth. When that happens we will consider our attitude to whatever may be proposed.
Papua and New Guinea: Soldier Settlers Scheme. (Question No. 335). Mr. Whitlam asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) 131; (b) 145. 2. (a) (i) £860; (ii) £21,660. (The amounts of loans to Europeans varied considerably with the type of crop and the stage of development prior to the granting of the loans.) (b)(i) £1,200; (ii) £31,400.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has his attention been drawn to recent allegations that a number of men travelled from Australia . to Yugoslavia with the intention of carrying out assassinations and terrorist activities?
Has his attention been drawn to allegations that this school or unit teaches subversion and trains people to carry it out?
– 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: -
Because of variations in the States’ registration procedures it is difficult to state with precision the number of medical practitioners in active practice in Australia. A recent examination by the Health Department indicated that the number was approximately 13,900 as at 31st December, 1962. As only one State maintains a register of specialists it can bc stated with even less precision what proportion of medical practitioners are engaged solely or substantially in general private practice. Available evidence indicates, however, that the proportion is likely to be about SO per cent, or a little more. The remainder are specialists, salaried doctors or resident medical officers in hospitals.
The Australian ratio of doctors to population appears to be adequate when compared with other Western countries. On the basis of the best available estimates there is one general medical practitioner for each 1,600 persons in Australia. The comparable ratio for Great Britain is one general medical practitioner for each 2,300 persons. In the United States the ratio appears to be about the same as in Australia. However, it would seem to be true that there does tend to be a shortage of doctors in some rural areas in Australia, particularly in those areas where the local population is insufficient to keep a general practitioner fully occupied.
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
It is wrong to claim that the benefits of fluoridation of public water supplies will apply only to some IS per cent, of any community. In the beginning of any fluoridation project younger children will receive the greater benefits. These benefits continue throughout adult life. Ultimately better dental health will be enjoyed by the entire community. There is reason to believe that the dental health of adults will be improved if water supplies were adequately fluoridated. Furthermore, the presence of fluoride in water supplies is considered to have a favorable influence on the course and incidence of certain conditions of bone, for example senile osteoporosis. Fractures are believed to be less frequent in the aged and to heal more rapidly as a result of fluoride being present in water in optimum concentrations -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What percentage of the population, excluding persons already covered by the pensioner medical service and the Repatriation Act, is covered by hospital benefit funds?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
Of the total population 73 per cent, are covered by hospital benefits funds. Information is not available as to the number of persons enrolled in the pensioner medical service and the number of persons covered by ‘ repatriation benefits who are also covered by hospital benefits funds.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
I li is a rule of the medical benefits scheme that the combined Commonwealth and’ fund benefits shall not exceed 90 per cent, of the fee charged for the medical service. It was never envisaged that the combined benefits would cover 90 per cent, of the fee in all cases. This would not be practicable because the Commonwealth has no control over the fees charged by medical practitioners, and these fees show considerable variation for individual services.
The average amounts paid by the Commonwealth, the funds, and contributors, expressed as a percentage of the medical fees for the year ended 30th June, 1963, were as follows:-
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice-
What percentage of the medical Fee is payable under the national health scheme in the case of a confinement?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
The Commonwealth benefit payable for a confinement, hem 218 in the Schedules to the National Health Act, is £4 10s. The amount of fund benefit depends on the table of benefits to which a member contributes. The most common table provides a fund benefit equal to 166) per cent, of the Commonwealth benefit, producing a combined benefit of £12 for a confinement.
The fees charged for confinements vary gi early. The most common fees range from £14 14s. to £21. On this basis the combined Commonwealth and fund benefit varies between 81.6 per cent, and 57.2 per cent, of the fee.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What are the total assets of registered medical and hospital benefits organizations?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: - .
Details of the total value of assets held by registered, medical and hospital benefit organizations are nol available. However, as at the 30th June, 1962, the last year for which complete returns are available, the reserve position was -
Registered medical benefit organizations - £8,457^23.
Registered hospital benefit organizations - £16,665.372.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
I am advised that three international conventions relating to bills of exchange and promissory notes were adopted by the League of Nations and signed at Geneva on 7lb June, 1930. These were -
Australia formally acceded to the last-mentioned convention on stamp laws on 3rd September, 1938. The Commonwealth had already implemented the proposals of that convention by the insertion in 1936 of a new section, 77a, in the Bills of Exchange Act. It was apparently considered that as the other two conventions dealt with laws of the continental type, it would not be appropriate for Australia with its common law system to adhere to those two conventions.
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 October 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19631015_reps_24_hor40/>.