25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. MORTIMER presented a petition from certain citizens of the Division of Grey praying that the Commonwealth Government will take immediate steps to provide high standard television reception throughout the entire far west coast and upper Eyre Peninsula regions of South Australia.
Mr. MINOGUE presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Australian Government withdraw our troops from Vietnam, call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Vietnam and call on all world leaders to call a conference of conflicting parties aimed at permanent peace and self-determination of the Vietnamese people based on the principles of the 1954 Geneva Accords.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I direct attention to the Minister’s plea for a new deal for women in industry. How does the Minister reconcile this plea with his refusal to establish a commission on the status of women in Australia and his refusal to support the ratification of the International Labour Organisation Conventions and recommendations calling for equal pay for work of equal value? Unless these I.L.O. decisions are adopted in Australia would not his plea for a greater use of women in the national work force merely amount to a plea for the utilisation of a source of cheap labour?
– I do not agree with the honorable gentleman. Already, as a result of the Government’s initiative and as a result of action by women themselves, almost 60,000 extra women came into the work force last year. This is a remarkably good figure and shows that the women are, if they get encouragement, anxious to join the work force. As to the two questions asked by the honorable gentleman, he will know, as the House knows, that frequently we have debated these issues here. If I could add anything to what has been said, and if I could make a contribution to a solution of the two problems that the honorable member has mentioned without causing great problems to the economy generally, I would do so.
– 1 desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question regarding restitution and compensation payments made to residents of Australia who were victims of Nazi persecution in Germany. I understand that prior to this year’s United Kingdom Budget, brought down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, payments made by the West German Government, through the Bank of England, to residents of Australia carried a premium rate. Since the bringing down of the United Kingdom Budget, although the West German Government is continuing to make payments through the United Kingdom, it is withholding the premium rate, which varies between 71/2 per cent. and 10 per cent. In view of the humanitarian aspect of these payments will the Minister make representations to the United Kingdom Government on behalf of Australian citizens for the purpose of having the premiums restored? If co-operation is not forthcoming, will he arrange for the West German Government to pay funds direct to the Australian Embassy?
– I have received no notification of any change that may have taken place in the procedures for making these payments to residents in Australia, but I shall refer the matters raised by the honorable gentleman to my Department so that they may be inquired into. If Australian citizens are suffering disadvantages, we shall certainly see what steps can be taken to remove those disadvantages.
– I ask the Minister for the Army: Have the problems associated with the establishment of an Army task force at Townsville been solved? I refer to the problems arising out of the attitude adopted by the Townsville City Council. Has the Government any plans for assisting the Townsville City Council financially to provide amenities such as water and sewerage for the Army base, the provision of which will be beyond the resources of the Council as things now stand?
– The differences that existed between the Commonwealth and the Townsville City Council have now been satisfactorily and amicably settled and the project will go forward, I hope, in mutual amity. Some discusions are still taking place, mainly between the Townsville City Council and the Queensland Government, on the second matter raised by the honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: Are the two broadcasting and communication centres at Khon Kaen in Thailand and Ban Me Thuot in South Vietnam being provided by Australia under the Colombo Plan aid? [f so, can the Minister inform the House why the former is 15 months behind schedule and the latter is also held up by delays in the provision of equipment? Does the fault lie with the contractor or the Department?
– The station in Thailand is being provided under our scheme for South East Asia Treaty Organisation aid and the one in Vietnam is being provided under the Colombo Plan. I have no close and recent knowledge about the one in Vietnam. My Department held .the view that the one in Thailand did not seem to be coming along as quickly as we would like and, with the co-operation of my colleague the Minister for Supply, I sent an officer up there from Australia last June to examine the conditions which may have caused or contributed to the delay. As a result of that visit, I have received a report which is being examined at the moment in my Department. We hope that, as a result of that report, further delays with the Thailand station will be avoided. At this stage, I certainly would not like to make any comment by way of apportionment of responsibility for any delays that may have occurred, but I can assure the honorable member that the matter is being examined very closely.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, by reminding the right honorable gentleman that on 13th July last, when speaking at a nation wide television and Press conference, after having been asked about rumours of his retirement, he said that he was giving thought to his future and to his duties, and that when a conclusion was reached he would say so. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Has he yet reached a conclusion?
– I understand the honorable member’s anxiety, but I do not share it.
– I address to the Minister for Immigration a question relating to the number of migrants in Australia who have not yet applied for naturalisation. Has the Department of Immigration sought information from these migrants as to the reasons for their not applying for naturalisation, with the object of perhaps overcoming some difficulty? If so, with what result? If not; will the Minister consider such an inquiry?
– This situation is always under our scrutiny. We believe that as many migrants as possible should become naturalised at the end of the qualifying period. There are, however, about 190,000 who are eligible for naturalisation at the present time. We send each migrant a letter after he has been here for 41 years, telling him that he has become eligible for naturalisation. Statistics have shown that most migrants decide to become naturalised after they have been here between six and eight years, and we have decided, therefore, to send further letters to migrants after they have been here 6i years reminding them that naturalisation is available to them.
The Department sends representatives to factories where migrants are employed, and in every way possible we are trying to bring to the notice of migrants the benefits of naturalisation in this country. But it is a free country and they are entitled to make their own decisions. There is no question of forcing them to become naturalised. About 440,000 migrants have accepted naturalisation and I am quite sure that as time goes od, as a result of the efforts we are making and the personal observations by migrants of the advantages of living here, we will still have a steady flow of migrants applying for naturalisation.
Mr. HANSEN__ My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it correct that freight charges on Australian -wool exported to Britain and other European countries will today rise by 6.6 per cent.? Did the Minister or the Government intervene when the decision to increase these charges was being made? Did the Government advise, as it did during the hearing of the case before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for an increase in the basic wage, that an increase at this time would be dangerous to the national economy?
– It is well known that there has been an increase in freight charges on certain items carried by the Conference lines between Australia and Europe. This increase has resulted from the application of a formula agreed to by the exporter interests, known as the shippers, and the members of the Conference lines, the shipowners. This formula was agreed to in 1956. It has regard to costs and cost movements and has semi-automatic application. I think it has automatic application unless the shippers can persuade the shipowners that there is some special reason why it ought not to apply.
This formula arrangement is in substitution of the previous arrangement under which the shipper interests negotiated annually or from time to time, without the restraint of a formula, with the shipowners, and if they were dissatisfied with the result they could turn to the Government and ask it to help them in their negotiations. In 1956 they decided on their own initiative to change this arrangement, so that the Government no longer had any status in these negotiations. At that time the Government said that if they were to adopt this course it was thought that at least they should be equipped with a permanent secretariat to keep abreast of cost movements. The Government offered them some thousands of pounds a year to help them to equip themselves with such a secretariat. The arrangement decided on at that time has operated ever since.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. Having in mind the importance to Australia of overseas communications, can the Postmaster-General say whether we are financially involved in the ownership of any communications satellite? Is it correct that our present overseas telecommunications system is most profitable, and could not and should not the monetary gains from that system be used to finance Australian interest in satellites of the future?
– Australia is associated with a number of other countries in a satellite communications system. Those countries, so far as the Pacific area is concerned, include New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and, of course, the United States of America. There are also some ten or a dozen European countries, including the United Kingdom. Already we have undertaken the launching of a satellite, the “Early Bird”, and this is being used for communication purposes. As to the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I inform him that the activities of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission have been profitable and. with the concurrence of the Treasurer, I have approved the Commission’s using its profits for the purpose of expanding its activities in relation to both cable communications and the financing of this satellite undertaking.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. May I preface it by saying that last Monday at 6 p.m. a Sydney commercial television station broadcast an advertisement for Toltoy Mark 10 submachine guns. The advertisement told children that the machine gun could kill in six different ways and depicted a child ambushing his playmates and then running home to tell his mother of the wonderful capabilities of this gun. I ask: Will the Minister direct that these and other advertisements that encourage the notion that war is a game be withdrawn?
– I should not like to cast any doubt on the reliability of the statements made by the honorable member in relation to this matter. I shall be pleased to investigate the particular advertisement and to ask the Australian Broadcasting Control Board what can be done about it.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask whether, during the currency of Legacy Week, he will consider exempting legatees from the national service call-up.
– There is no provision in the National Service Act by which I can exempt any class of persons from military training under the national service scheme. However, I shall ask the Department to have a look at the question of whether, outside the provisions relating to cases of exceptional hardship, call-up can be deferred for one year. I doubt whether this could be done, because we took particular care to write into the Act provisions to ensure that deferment could be obtained only by appearing before a magistrate. Nonetheless, as legatees may be in a special position, I shall ask my Department to have a look at the matter. I shall let the honorable gentleman know the result.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Interior. In view of the fact that when electoral boundaries were under consideration the Minister and the Australian Country Party, to which he belongs, bitterly opposed the principle of one man one vote, will he now state why he refuses to apply this principle to the election of members to the Parliament yet supports the principle of one vote one value for the referendum of wool growers on the reserve price scheme? Would it be correct to say that, so far as he and the Country Party are concerned, the result of the referendum is more important than the principle involved?
– With respect to the first part of the honorable member’s question, I and others have said repeatedly in this House that probably there is no country with more equality of voting than Australia. If the principle of one vote one value applies, it certainly applies in this country. The second part of the question related to voting in the referendum of wool growers on the reserve price scheme. That has nothing to do with my Department.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Is he aware that many primary producers are financially embarrassed because their equities in their properties have been exhausted by the drought? Are there any provisions in the franchise of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia to enable financial assistance to be made available immediately for carry on finance and finance for restocking? If not, will the Minister take steps immediately to have the franchise of the Bank altered so that such assistance may be provided?
– I have replied in this chamber to questions on the same lines and have indicated the work that has been going on in this field. I should- like to give the honorable gentleman,, if I may, a written reply which will set out fully what is being done and which will deal specifically with the queries that he has just raised.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. Is it correct that a committee has been set up within the Department of Trade and Industry to examine the problems of decentralisation? If so, has the committee recommended that only an area south of a line drawn from Perth in Western Australia to Rockingham in Queensland should be considered as suitable? Does this mean that the area north of such a line will be completely disregarded for the purposes of decentralisation or is this area considered to be the responsibility of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development? If the latter suggestion is correct, is not decentralisation in both areas likely to suffer from the friction that exists between the two Departments and would this to some extent explain the attempts of the Minister for Trade and Industry to have the affairs of the Department of National Development placed under his direction?
– It is a matter for the Minister for Trade and Industry to inform the House of occurrences in the Department of Trade and Industry. However, he has told me that no committee of any sort dealing with decentralisation has been set up in his Department. Therefore, the whole question asked by the honorable member has absolutely no basis in fact.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. He will be aware that many people and organisations throughout Australia are concerned at the successful infiltration of Communists into legitimate organisations in Australia and the insidious propaganda that these people are thus able to spread in support of Communist aims. To support the assertion that this request comes not from one side only, may I remind the Prime Minister that the former President of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labour Party, when resigning, stated that Communist influences were active in that State? Has the Prime Minister had the opportunity to study the report submitted to the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition? If not, will he see whether he can obtain a copy of it so that a bipartisan policy towards Communists may be formed?
– I will see whether I can secure a copy of this no doubt valuable document.
– Will the Treasurer inform the Parliament of the name or names of any institution or institutions that today will make money available to drought stricken farmers at a net interest cost of 4i per cent.?
– I will see what information I can obtain for the honorable gentleman. He is well aware of the current interest rates and of the rates offered by the Commonwealth Government for its latest loan issue. I do not know what specific aspect the honorable gentleman has in mind. If he is arguing in favour of private institutions lending to drought affected farmers at lower than commercial rates-
– I wanted to know of any institution that would lend at that rate.
– What the honorable gentleman is suggesting is that private institutions should be lending at lower than commercial rates.
– No, I want to know what the Prime Minister was referring to when he said that money was available at 4i per cent.
– Order! I remind the honorable gentleman that this is question time.
– I will study the remarks of the Prime Minister on this matter and see how far I can amplify them.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Services, relates to a possible anomaly in the widely welcomed provision in this Budget for supplementary rent allowance for aged persons living alone. In some aged persons’ homes married couples who are both eligible for pension benefits each pay the same rent as a single person does. The single person now receives up to £7 a week but, with the same costs and expenses, each of the married persons is restricted to £5 10s. Will the Minister consider the position of aged married persons who are treated by institutions in all financial respects as single persons, and attempt to extend the new provision to them?
– The supplementary assistance that was provided by this Government some years ago was paid primarily to single persons. Arrangements under the new budgetary additions to social service benefits have been made for the extension of supplementary assistance to certain married persons. As far as those people who live in aged persons’ homes are concerned - and I understand the honorable member’s question relates to this matter - the arrangements between the management’ and the individuals within these homes are matters for private agreement between the management and the individual residents. The payment is not rent in the sense of the same amount of money that would be paid by a person for occupying tenancy of a home. However, I will look into the substance of the honorable member’s question and see whether I can provide him with a more complete answer in due course.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. What other countries, apart from Sweden, use the cross bar equipment that is being installed in Australian telephone exchanges? Have I been correctly informed that Britain, the United States of America and several other countries have rejected this equipment? ls this equipment responsible for many of the mechanical faults, engagement of wrong numbers, cross line conversations and other interference characteristic of much telephone operation at present?
– From time to time, I receive some complaints of the nature mentioned by the honorable member. But, in general terms, when these complaints are investigated they are found to be very few “in relation to the number of calls and the service which is demanded by the Australian public. The technical advisers of my Department believe this to be the best equipment that is available throughout the world. As a matter of fact, the organisation that manufactures this equipment caine to Australia at the request of the Post Office to set up a factory here. Therefore, this equipment is Australian made. It is not the equipment which is manufactured overseas because the technicians in my Department have made no fewer than 155 modifications to it. So it is better equipment than the supposedly similar equipment made overseas. I believe that Australia, having regard to the size of this country and the smallness of our population, has a telephone system of which we can be proud and of which many other countries are jealous.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the Minister received a strongly worded protest from the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation that the entry of even limited quantities of cheese and pig meats under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement is the thin edge of the wedge that will ultimately have disastrous effects on the standards of living of Australian dairy farmers? Will the Minster give consideration to their request for him to re-negotiate for the exclusion of these items from Schedule A of this Agreement?
– Upon request, I received on, I think, Monday afternoon a very extensive deputation representing the
Australian Dairy Farmers Federation and other interests. This deputation put to me substantially what the honorable member has put in his question, namely, that the inclusion of cheese to the extent that it is included in the Agreement and also pig meats to the extent that they are included in it, and the terms under which those items are included represented the thin end of the wedge - I use the words of the deputation - and that the imports would seriously harm the Australian dairy industry. Speaking of pig producers as being part of . the dairy industry in that sense, I made two points. First, there was no question of either of those items representing the thin, end of the wedge. The treaty is for ten years and it is quite explicit. The quantity of cheddar cheese that has been imported hitherto has been unlimited. That is to say, there has been no restriction on imports except a duty of 6d. per lb. Under the terms of the Treaty, for the first time there is, by agreement between the two countries, a tonnage ceiling of 1,000 tons a year which will be reached at the end of a five year period.
Contrary to representing a threat to the Australian dairy industry, on examination it will be seen that the Agreement affords protection to the industry. If it were argued, as it could be - I would say not unreasonably, although I would not agree with the argument - that every ton of cheddar cheese that Australia imported would require a ton to be exported from Australia at a lower price, I would agree in principle with the argument, but not as to degree or as to tons being involved. As I have pointed out to the House, calculations show that if this happened, in the first year the Australian cheese industry might be at a disadvantage of £12,000 and, by the tenth year, at a disadvantage of £48,000. This is the same industry for which this Parliament annually votes a subsidy of £1,250,000. I thought that the effect of the Agreement could not represent a substantial detriment or harm to the Australian dairy industry. The situation with regard to pig meat is similar. I will not occupy the time of the House on this subject, but whereas there was no quantity limitation on pig meat, which could be imported by the payment of a duty of 3d. per lb., now there is a quantity limitation of 3,000 tons, rising at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum which may be imported duty free. These imports will go only to those processors who engage, in writing, to maintain their competition in the procurement of pig meat in Australia.
– I address a question to the Minister for Territories. When the Minister is nominating members to the board of directors of the proposed credit institution for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will he include a number of the indigenous people and thus give the native inhabitants representation and an opportunity to serve in the commercial and economic life of their country?
– As I said yesterday, a board of directors will be appointed for the new institution for credit for Papua and New Guinea, and most members of the board will be chosen from people in that Territory. It is very early to say who are likely to be the members of the .board, but I agree that it would be most desirable to have at least representation on it of the local people.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. I ask: Is the present Budget allocation to the Postmaster-General’s Department sufficient to allow for increased departmental work to improve rural telephone services? If so, will the Postmaster-General give high priority to a substantial increase in the installation of rural automatic telephone exchanges?
– The increased allocation to the Post Office this year, which takes the capital works amount to £90 million, will enable us to catch up to some degree on the lag which has developed over recent years. I am unable to say at this moment exactly in which areas there might be substantial improvement, but the honorable member will realise that there are a number of areas which are deserving of special consideration. New South Wales - particularly the Sydney area - has by far the greatest number of deferred applications for telephones. I know that there is a desire on the part of all those in rural areas which have not automatic exchanges to acquire them. It would be impossible to do everything in one year, but I assure the honorable member that the maximum result will be obtained from the expenditure of this large sum of money within the Department this year.
– Has the Prime Minister any knowledge of the continued presence in an Australian special hospital of a man named Chen Yu-teh who is said to be an ex-prisoner of war of Formosan origin? Are there any other ex-prisoners of war who remain in Australia in similar circumstances?
– I confess that I have no knowledge of this matter. 1 probably saw the same newspaper paragraph as the honorable member saw.
– My question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, concerns the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. Is it correct that the Fund presently has what might be described as a surplus for its effective operation? If so, and if it is proposed to disburse the surplus, when and in what way will the disbursement take place?
– The honorable gentleman is correct in stating broadly that there is a surplus in the Fund. I thought that early in this sessional period I gave the House a good deal of detail about the stage that has been reached in relation to calculations affecting the surplus and its distribution. I shall be glad to supply the honorable gentleman with a copy of that statement if he has not seen it. If he has seen it and is interested in some further point, I would be glad if he would let me know.
– The crucial point is when the surplus will be distributed.
– Unfortunately, I am not able to say when the actuarial calculations will be completed by the Commonwealth Actuary. In order io speed up the work he has been advertising, quite unsuccessfully, for two additional actuaries. That has created some uncertainty as to when this task can be concluded. But the Treasury officials who are directly responsible for this matter have assured me that no-one is more anxious than they are to see it brought to finality.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement by the new United States Ambassador to Australia, Mr. Ed Clark, that it is the policy of the State Department that American companies functioning in Australia should make 50 per cent, of the share capital of their Australian subsidiaries available to Australian citizens? If so, will he arrange for the submission to this Parliament of legislation which will ‘ give effect to the wishes of the American Government and the desire of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people?
– I have no direct knowledge of the existence of any such policy in the State Department. I have not even read what the honorable gentleman apparently has read on this matter. Of course, it does not follow that because a policy may be admirable in itself it will lend itself to precise legislation. If that is the proposal that he is putting forward, I am, of course, quite willing to look at it. But I am rather apprehensive of reducing to strict legislative form something that may be much more successful in flexible application. I will have a look at the statement to which the honorable gentleman has1 referred and see what I can do about it.
– The Prime Minister, is not unsympathetic to the idea?
– I have advocated it.
VIETNAM. Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES. - I ask the Prime Minister this question: As a general service ribbon for Malaysia and a Borneo star ribbon have already been authorised, why is there a delay in the decision with respect to a South Vietnam ribbon and star for Australian Imperial Force troops serving in that region? Has the original inexplicable instruction - that Australian troops serving in South Vietnam are not allowed to accept foreign decorations because headquarters states that they are serving in a time of peace - been countermanded?
– I anr sorry to have to point out to my friend that the first question comes within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Defence. I will convey that question to the Minister. I have no personal knowledge of that matter. The second question may have some relation to the Department of External Affairs if a comparison is being made between Service personnel and people serving the country in, say, a diplomatic capacity.
– No, it is not.
– If the question is confined to military activities, I will find out everything I can from the Minister for Defence and convey the information to the honorable member.
– I ask the
Attorney-General a question. Is the appointment of Australian notaries public still the prerogative of the Archbishop of Canterbury? Does the Minister consider this arrangement to be a relic of colonialism for which there is now very little justification? Will the Minister review the arrangements for the appointment of notaries public? Will he also seek to overcome the present inadequate distribution of notaries public, which causes great inconvenience to persons seeking their services?
– I will be glad to look into this matter and to give the honorable member a detailed answer.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question concerning the recent announcement of the appointment of a chairman of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, which was established by legislation recently passed by this Parliament. Has the work of the Bureau now begun? Has it been staffed? Will it be working in liaison with the States at an early date?
– The Chairman of the Bureau officially starts his duties on 1st October next. Preparatory work is being done towards getting together a staff for the Bureau. It will be appreciated that the newly appointed Chairman occupies a responsible position in another department and some time necessarily had to elapse in order to arrange his transfer.
– 1 ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Will the Parliament have an opportunity during the current sessional period to debate the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement which, I understand, has been ratified by Executive action? Is the Government under any obligation to allow a debate on this immensely important document? What may a widely interested public in this country expect from the Government on this matter?
-I shall reply first to the latter part of the question. To the extent that provisions of the Agreement that is now in existence are not clear to any member of the public, I or my Department will be very glad to provide an elucidation or an interpretation. As to whether the Parliament will be given an opportunity to debate the Agreement, I point out that this is not an agreement of a kind which current practice requires should be ratified by the Parliament, but opportunity may be taken to debate the substance of the Agreement. There is on the notice paper, in relation to a statement that I made about the Agreement, a motion that the statement be noted. I am sure that if members of the Parliament desire to debate the subject of this motion the Government will arrange for the discussion at a proper time. This would provide a complete opportunity for debate of everything included in the Agreement.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. As university students appear to be the main force in wild protests overseas against democratic government and as there is a distinct indication that some Australian university students are following this lead, will the Prime Minister institute an inquiry with a view to ascertaining whether there is any basic reason why university students hold views so different from those held by the general body of Australians?
– It has been my experience since my own days as a university student that you can get a certain percentage of university students to support almost everything that somebody submits to them. This is in the nature of the occupation.
I do not at all resent this or seek to repress it. Of course, the bigger the university the larger the numbers represented by that percentage. When I was at a university there were about 1,500 students; today the number is nearer 15,000. It stands to reason that there must be far more in number who want to go around singing “ Hooray! “, offering their views - very half baked - and calling themselves, just for the fun of it, intellectuals.
– Earlier in question time the honorable member for Kalgoorlie based a question addressed to the Minister for National Development upon a published report that the Department of Trade and Industry has a committee on decentralisation which intends to report that no steps towards decentralisation should be taken in the northern areas of Australia. This report must have been widely published because in the last week or two I have answered, I suppose, about 50 letters from various people in the north of Australia and said that there was no foundation whatever for it. There is no committee within my Department devoting itself to the study of decentralisation, but consequent upon a decision, taken a year or more ago at a Premiers’ Conference, that the Commonwealth and the States should study what might be done to further decentralisation, there is an interdepartmental committee, of which one officer of the Department of Trade and Industry is a member, studying decentralisation for the Commonwealth. Anything that is going on in my Department in this regard is done to service the officer who is a member of this interdepartmental committee. I can say quite unequivocally, and I hope finally, that neither I nor anyone in my Department has said - nor has it ever crossed our minds - that there should be any minimisation of the effort to decentralisation in the north of Australia.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Industry move that bis statement be noted?
– The Minister was speaking in further reply to a question.
– No question has been asked of the Minister. This was a ministerial statement, lt was not in reply to a question and no reply was sought.
– I ask for the indulgence of the House to inquire from the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he will move that the statement be noted, because there are aspects of it that the Opposition might like to discuss at a later time.
– If I had’ been purporting to make a statement I would have sought leave of the House to do so. I did not do that. What I had to say was said as part of question time. This is not without precedent in this House. If I had been forced to observe the formalities I would have said that I desired to make a personal explanation because 1 had been misrepresented in the question that had been asked. I will do so retrospectively if it will make anyone happy.
– I take it now that the Minister is moving that his statement be noted?
– Again, without transgressing Standing Orders, Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask the Minister whether he will prepare a statement on this subject today or tomorrow and submit it to the House. If he lays a paper on the table we can move that it be noted and the paper can be discussed at a later time.
– With all respect to the House, let me say, in relation to the question which the Leader of the Opposition puts to me, that it is not exclusively within my ministerial province or jurisdiction to speak for the Government on decentralisation. I was speaking only on a matter which purported to come from my Department and which, in fact, did not.
– The Minister speaks on al! department’s.
– This is different.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business tomorrow.
– I move - ;
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient that the following work should be carried out- without having been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: - Mackay, Queensland- Erection of Television Transmitter Building, Construction of Access Road and Provision of Power Supply.
The television transmitter station for the Mackay area is to be located on the top of Mount Blackwood, and the estimated cost of the project is £272,000. The total cost to the Commonwealth is, however, not expected to exceed £250,000, as a commercial television operator will be sharing the site, and he will be required to contribute towards the cost of the access road and the power supply. He will also be required to contribute towards the cost of the transmitter building if he decides to share it with the national television station.
The cost of supplying power to the site is also likely to be less than allowed for if the Mackay Regional Electricity Board extends electricity supply to prospective consumers in the area of Mount Blackwood in the near future. The access road to the station’s site will pass through a national park reserve and negotiations are in progress to have it taken over by the local Pioneer Shire Council after construction as a public road.
In view of these factors, and the urgency to commence work on the access road, it is recommended that the proposal be exempted from reference to the Public Works Committee.
.- As Chairman of the Public Works Committee I should like to tell the House that the Minister representing the Minister for Works in this chamber (Mr. Freeth) informed the Committee in July of the facts about this project and stated that it was proposed to move for the exemption of the work by the House during this session. It is well to remind honorable members that the Public Works Committee Act provides that all projects estimated to cost over £250,000 shall be referred to the Committee for investigation and report unless exempted by motion of the House or by an order of the Executive Council. In the case of works exempted from Committee scrutiny by motion of this House, the reasons for seeking the exemption - as in this case - usually have substance and are made known to honorable members. The Committee has, however, been disturbed in recent months at the excessive use made of the alternative means of obtaining exemptions. I would add that in these cases the reasons put forward for seeking an exemption are not made known to the Committee or the House and we have no means of knowing whether the provisions of the Act which allow this action are being misused. The number of cases where exemptions have been given by this means recently leave the Committee far from satisfied that this is not so.
The Minister has outlined the history of the project now before the House and has stated the reasons why it should be exempted. The Public Works Committee has considered in detail the reasons advanced for the exemption of this project from its scrutiny and agrees that they are valid. The members of the Committee support the Minister.
.- It seems to me that the question is not so much whether the Public Works Committee desires that it should be by-passed and then tell the House afterwards, but whether there should be a report to this House from the Public Works Committee. It is a committee of this House. Its authority stems from this House and the House should have been consulted before an agreement was made with the Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 31st August (vide page 638), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt - That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “ this House condemns the Budget because -
Such taxation increases as it contains add further burdensto wage and salary earners whose living standards have already been eroded by price rises and the Government’s active intervention against wage increases;
Such meagre social service benefits as it proposes are inadequate, belated and partial in their application; and
The Budget fails entirely to deal with such problems as increases in imports and Australia’s dependence on foreign capital.
This House further declares that only by proper economic planning can Australia rapidly expand the resources required to meet its urgent needs in the fields of defence, development, education and social welfare “.
.- The business under discussion is the motion for the second reading of the Appropriation Bill - the second reading speech on which is commonly referred to as the Treasurer’s Budget speech - to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has moved an amendment. That amendment states, in brief, that taxes should not have been increased, that the provision for social services is inadequate and that the Government has failed to meet the demands of defence, development, education and social welfare. I thought that the Leader of the Opposition was hard put to it to work some enthusiasm into his remarks. Indeed, I feel that that could be said of all the contributions from the Opposition.
I should like to refer first to the remarks made last night by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The honorable gentleman spent the greater part of his time in discussing an imaginary feud between certain members of the Cabinet. Living as he does, and as all members of the Labour Party do, in an atmosphere of division and feud, he believes that this type of friction exists on this side of the House. No government remains long in office when it is divided. The fact that this Government has now been in office for over a decade and a half is an indication of the strength of the Government parties, and no-one knows better than does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that unity is strength. Despite all his huffing and puffing last night, he said nothing that will affect the solidarity of the parties on this side of the House.
Honorable members will recollect that the Leader of the Opposition said that this Budget was an unjust one. The general opinion of the people to whom I have spoken and with whom I have discussed the Budget is the very opposite of that. But how could one expect a barren Opposition to go into raptures over any purposeful Budget? The Leader of the Opposition mentioned one subject about which I should like to speak. He said that this was not a defence Budget. Such a statement is just nonsense. With the exception of the provision for payments to the States, the proposed appropriation for defence represents the largest item in the Budget. This year, the Government proposes to spend more than £385 million on defence. This represents an increase of £81 million over the amount spent last year. And this money is being provided by a country with a population of some 11 million people. I believe that this is a defence Budget. The defence expenditure proposed this year by the United Kingdom Government is something of the order of £40 sterling per head of population, and, on a rough calculation, the expenditure proposed in the Australian Budget represents £35 per head of population. When one considers the huge responsibility of the United Kingdom Government, with its various posts all over the world, I suggest that the amount of money being provided for defence in this year’s Budget in Australia is very satisfactory.
One might well ask: “ What is an adequate amount to spend on defence?” It was hard enough in the days of conventional warfare to say just how much money should be spent on defence, but in these days of advanced scientific equipment, in this atomic age, it is almost impossible to say how much should be spent. I say flatly that the level of defence expenditure proposed in this year’s Budget is exactly the level required by the present situation. If the Opposition was more responsible in its outlook, it would appreciate that in these days total economic strength is an important part of a defence potential.
I direct attention to this in support of the Government’s general appropriation. It will be recollected that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) mentioned some 14 or 15 items, ali of which, in some way or other, materially affect our way cif life. This year, one might reasonably have expected that, in view of our overseas commitments, various items of expenditure to which I shall refer in a few minutes would have been stabilised at last year’s levels. But this was not done. It is proposed that expenditure on social services, repatriation benefits, payments to the States, international capital works and other items mentioned on pages 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Budget papers shall be increased this year, and these all represent benefits to the community.
The only item in the Budget which disappoints me is the amount it is proposed to make available for oil search. The principal reason for my disappointment is that oil is closely related to the defence and security of this country. The only way in which this position can be corrected is for the Government to make an early announcement of the result of the Tariff Board’s inquiry into oil exploration. I hope that this will be done and that the announcement will result in an increased return to the producers of indigenous crude oil, or those who find it.
Oil is a most important item in our overall defence scheme. In these days, oil means not only mobility but power. Oil is the key to our national strategy, but I fear that we may not be paying sufficient attention to this important commodity. I must confess that I was alarmed during the autumn sessional period when the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) announced the extent of Australia’s existing fuel supplies. On that occasion, he said that Australia normally holds stocks of petrol sufficient to last for about 10 weeks. He mentioned three aspects of the conservation of fuel supplies. He mentioned, first, the extent of existing supplies. The second aspect to which he referred was how to make the best use of those supplies, and the third was how we should go about encouraging local production. He said, further, that to increase our holdings of petrol so as to have at least four months supply, instead of 10 weeks supply as at present, would cost something like £34 million. I take it that this money would be necessary mainly to provide tanks and other facilities for bulk storage.
During the last World War, we had a maximum of six weeks supply of oil on hand. The Commonwealth Government, by means of generous subsidies to the exploration industry, taxation concessions to shareholders and important technical contributions by the Bureau of Mineral Resources, has radically changed this situation. Today the experts assure us that we can look forward to being self-supporting in natural gas. lt is also believed that it will not be long before we can produce our own requirements of oil. Until we can do so, however, we will have to use up considerable amounts of our overseas reserves in order to purchase the oil we need. At present it is costing us £150 million a year, and if I recollect rightly that was about the extent of our adverse overseas balances last financial year.
The best oil storage we have, as I am sure the House will agree, is the oil storage under the ground. That oil storage does not involve us in the expenditure of £34 million for surface storage. But you must know, of course, where to get oil in sufficient quantity in time of emergency. The experts tell us that our total requirement of oil is 300,000 barrels a day. All we can produce at the moment from wet wells is about 7,000 barrels a day from Moonie and Elton - that is not taking into consideration the potential at Barrow Island. In other words, we are now producing less than one-fortieth of our current needs. We have, nevertheless some excellent prospects, and surely there is a place for these in our defence planning. If indigenous oil reserves have a defence priority - and I cannot believe that our Chiefs of Staff Committee would leave the need for oil out of their thinking - then surely this is something that deserves the greatest consideration by the Government.
The search for oil requires, as everybody knows, the expenditure of many millions of pounds, and the oil producing industry can exist only on a large scale. One or two producing wells are not enough in a vast country like Australia. We need whole fields producing at a level that will support pipe lines and refining centres in a balanced complex. Oil prospectors may look for decades without discovering oil, and indeed they may never find it. On the other hand success may come quickly as it has done for several oil and gas exploration com panies. We hear a lot about the rich rewards of oil discovery, but the people who risk their money in oil ventures know that there are many more chances of costly failure than there are of success. Indeed, in gambling parlance the oil search penny, if I might call it such, has one head and a great many tails.
This leads me to the next point I want to make: If it had not been for oil explorers, and particularly the independent oil explorers who depend upon the relatively small investor to risk his money in oil search ventures, together with the government subsidy, the development of oil production in Australia would not be as advanced as it is today. In fact the situation boils down to this: The Australian taxpayer has made a terrific contribution towards oil search in Australia, both through his own investments and through the Government’s contribution. A wise government cannot afford to disregard this fact. By the end of this year oil explorers will have contributed an estimated total of £139 million of the £170 million or so spent on oil search in Australia and in Papua and New Guinea. The Government has contributed, from taxation receipts, £25,300,000 over the six years since the introduction of subsidies. To come a little closer to present day figures, last year the independent exploration companies contributed an estimated amount of £18,250,000 of the total of £22,750,000 spent on oil search in Australia.
All this sounds very impressive - and it is impressive - but it must be said that a still greater effort is needed. I have just cited the amount of money spent last year on Australian oil search, but what did that money represent in terms of numbers of wells drilled? The number of wells drilled in Australia was a little more than 210. In the U.S.A. 3,500 wells were drilled in one month, and in 1963 there were 44,000 oil wells drilled in that country. The U.S., with all its vast resources, simply places a higher priority on oil search as a defence component than we do. Why do we attach less significance to the value of oil search? This is something that is beyond my comprehension. One would have thought that our isolation here in the Pacific area would have made us more conscious of oil as a strategic material. As it is, however, I regret to say that at least one-third of all the available rotary rigs in Australia, those items which are absolutely essential to drilling operations, are idle.
What is the reason for this? I think the reason can be stated briefly. Companies are finding it almost impossible to raise funds because the Australian investor is becoming disinterested. Recently shareholders of one company with a good drilling record passed in some 363,000 shares at auction, while in the first place more than double this number was forfeited. The Australian investor who has provided so much capital for oil exploration in the past now points to the fact that prices paid in Australia for locally produced crude oil are just not sufficient to cover large-scale production and exploration. Investors say - and I think their attitude is reasonable- that if they are going to risk their money in oil ventures they must at least be assured that when oil is struck the return from it will be sufficient to meet exploration costs and make a profit for the investor. I think it is fair to contend that the price we set for our own Australian product ought not to be one penny less than the price paid in the U.S.A. for the product of that country. If our need for oil reserves is greater than that of the U.S. - and I am sure it is - then we should do all we can to develop and stimulate the industry in this country.
I also believe that the price for indigenous crude oil in Australia should bear a closer relationship to the price paid, say, in the U.S. than it does at present. We should not allow ourselves to be misled by comparison with other oil producing areas in which special circumstances may apply. There are important special circumstances applying in other countries and I would like to refer to them, but unfortunately time will not permit me to do so. However, I hope that the problems that confront the oil exploration industry will be solved when the Tariff Board delivers its report on crude oil. How can we consider the defence potential of Australia without thinking of fuel supplies? If we are to find oil in Australia, we must offer worthwhile incentives commensurate with the financial risks borne by those who engage in oil search.
I want to mention another matter briefly. I raised it at question time this afternoon in a question to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). I should like to have gone into the matter much more deeply than I did at that time. But, as you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, very well know, the Standing Orders do not provide for lengthy questions and extended remarks at question time. It appears that for some years the West German Government has been making annual compensation payments to former German residents, particularly people who suffered from Nazi persecution. These are the ones in whom I am particularly interested. This compensation totals a considerable sum annually.
Payments to people now resident in Australia are made in Deutsche Marks and are paid into the Bank of England in the form of a kind of re-investment certificate. These certificates attract an exchange premium at something like 1 or 10 per cent., depending on the difference between the values of sterling and the Deutsche Mark at the time of payment. When the Wilson Government presented its Budget early this year, it provided that such restitution payments would no longer qualify for payment in reinvestment certificates attracting exchange premium at the rates I have just mentioned. As a result, recipients in Australia, none of whom is a person of large means, have lost in the value of these remittances the equivalent of the premium rates that I have just mentioned. This is galling enough to Australian residents. It is even more irritating when one learns that funds representing the proceeds of the sale of property in West Germany are eligible for the premium rate.
These restitution payments are made for a specific purpose - to compensate victims of Nazi persecution. These are people who have lost their vocation and their profession and have suffered great privations. How can anyone who is humane differentiate between the two kinds of payments that I have mentioned? I cannot understand the United Kingdom Government and its Chancellor of the Exchequer differentiating between the rate of premium on compensation payments and the premium rate on the proceeds of the sale of property. I trust that the Minister for External Affairs will make representations to have this matter rectified. Indeed, I am sure that he will. He has said that he will look into the matter. I hope that, if he is not able to make arrangements with the United Kingdom Government to have these compensation payments treated in the same way as the proceeds of the sale of property so that these unfortunate people will receive the full premium rate on their compensation, he will be able to make arrangements with the West German Government to have these compensation payments made direct to the Australian Embassy in Bonn, so bypassing London altogether.
In conclusion, Sir, I want to get back to the Budget. I believe that it should receive the full approval of the Parliament I consider that, generally speaking, it has the approval of the Australian community, particularly because of the provision that it rnakes for the National Welfare Fund and social services and for the defence of this country. I support this Budget. [Quorum formed.] - Mr. BRYANT (Wills) [3.52].- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I thank honorable members for returning to the chamber to pay attention to this debate on a Budget that provides for expenditure representing about 25 per cent, of the national income. The Budget is the major political and financial document of the nation. Yet few honorable members opposite, apparently, regard this debate as needing any of their attention. I warn them that 1 shall keep count of the numbers present and shall have them called back if they are not careful.
The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) spent most of his time complaining bitterly - or, at least, with as much bitterness as he could engender - about the lack of action by this Government in the field of oil search. Indeed, complaints about the Budget have been characteristic of the remarks made in this debate by speakers on the Government side of the House. Government supporters say they support the Budget but spend most of their time complaining about its deficiencies. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) offered serious criticism of the defence situation, and the honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) breathed dire forebodings when he discussed the lack of decentralisation and especially the lack of planning for it. So today we are discussing a document that is uninspired. The Budget that we are now considering has made so little impact on the community as to lead the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) last night to say - this Budget has excited less public criticism, less criticism from the Opposition and less discussion among the academic community . . than any Budget I can remember during the last 15 years . . .
The Minister maintained that nobody has become excited about this Budget. One cannot become excited about a fog,. Mr. Deputy. Speaker. One can only worry about it and hope that it will eventually clear. This is the situation in which we now find ourselves. The major political and financial document with which the Parliament is concerned has nothing new to offer to a nation on the fringe of new developments and faced with a completely new situation in the part of this planet to which we belong. The Government has presented no plans for the future in the major fields of public endeavour.
Let us consider some of the deficiencies in the present Government’s administration and see whether this Budget represents any attack on the problems that confront the community. Politics are the people and the Parliament is the people. So this Budget is concerned essentially with people. Government supporters may recount all the statistics they wish and draw as many graphs as they like. They may fill book after book with tables and write as many learned treatises as they wish. They may bring forth cliche after clattering cliche, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) did in presenting this Budget. But, when all is boiled down, this debate is concerned with the way the Australian people are to live. So we must consider things such as the local services in the community. Last week, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) pointed out that in Sydney alone a quarter of a million homes are without sewerage. Surely this is a fundamental part of the standard of living of the community. A community must have adequate sewerage, water supplies and so on. It is well enough to say that this is no concern of ours. But since 1900 there has been such an accretion of power to this Parliament that we can no longer abdicate our responsibility for every element of community life. We have a responsibility for the way in which local government works, for the way in which State Governments work, and for the way in which the statutory corporations established by this Parliament work.
The local services in a community are the first services to which people turn for the enjoyment of life in their community. Serious deficiencies of this nature are evident in the community in which I live in Melbourne. This Parliament, through the exercise of its taxing powers, places burdens on the community, and I will mention these burdens in a moment. But first let us consider Melbourne itself. A great fuss has been made about giving Melbourne an international airport. We have been told that this is a wonderful gift. But only a few of my constituents will use it, although millions of pounds will be poured into it. At the same time, we have 1,000 to 1,100 miles of unmade streets in thickly inhabited areas of the metropolis of Melbourne. If the unmade roads in Melbourne were placed end to end, they would stretch from Melbourne to Rockhampton, and these are only the unmade streets in the second largest city of Australia - a city that claims to be a leader amongst the cities of the world. I find no recognition in this Budget of the fact that this is the concern of this Parliament. The taxation policy of this Government impinges on the development of community services by local government authorities. The high interest policy of this Government is strangling local government authorities. Therefore, the responsibility for these matters lies on this Parliament.
Let us look at other fields. Let us consider the situation in education. This is the major activity of the community. People, buildings and the intellectual resources of the community are involved in it, and we have a large investment in the day to day operations of the Departments of Education throughout Australia. Some 2,250,000 children attend our schools, we have some 8,000 to 10,000 schools and these are staffed by some 80,000 teachers. Expenditure on education takes the best part of £300 million. Education is one of the most important activities of governments in the modern age. In the past few years, this Government has stepped into the field of tertiary education in grants for universities. I believe it has acted rightly, and this has become an important activity of the Government. However, I look in vain in this Budget for any real recognition of the fact that there are serious deficiencies in the field of tertiary education - a field that this Government has accepted as its particular respon sibility. Literally thousands of young people are being turned away from the tertiary institutions in Australia because of the failure of the Government to plan and act. I look in vain in this Budget for any sign that the Government proposes to act or to make any move to ensure that in the years to come the doors of the universities will be opened wider than they have been in the last 10 to 15 years. Last year, literally thousands of young people were turned away from the universities. And let us remember that universities do not cover the whole field of tertiary education. This is a serious blow to the future of our nation and to people individually. But I find no sign in the Budget that the Government is aware of it.
Other fields, such as national development, can properly be said to be the logical fields of responsibility for this Government. The development of the railway system is moving at a very slow pace. Eventually, we will have a standardised railway line to Perth. But what about a railway line from the north to the south of Australia? What about the movement of goods and passengers across the continent? We have had dream plan after dream plan for the railway system for at least a century, and these plans have been especially evident in the last 30 to 40 years. But we have become obsessed with the internal combustion engine. Some people believe that the railway system is out. I suppose that this has been said since 1914 or 1915, and this attitude has frustrated all developments in railway work in this country. But I look in vain in the Budget for recognition of the fact that the railway system is still probably the best way to haul goods over long distances in bulk. Australia has need of a standardised and modernised railway system. In some areas, the railway network should be extended.
The recent tragic drought which has affected great areas of Australia has demonstrated the vital need to have the capacity to haul large numbers of stock from one place to another. This drought ought to be an eye opener; it ought to cause most Australians to search their consciences. I suppose every member of this Parliament, every member of any Government and the farmers themselves ought now to realise that we live on one of the driest continents of the world. Although we know now that droughts will occur here periodically, very little has been done to help the country over this situation. I can see no evidence in this Budget of any plan to help the country during the next drought, which is due in 17 or 18 years or thereabouts. I am not giving that as a long range meteorological prophecy; the statistics show that this can be expected. In many areas, we can meet the onset of drought only by planning over a period of 10, 15 or 20 years.
The next aspect that comes to my mind relates to the Territories. This subject is coming very rapidly into the forefront of the Australian conscience, particularly as it affects Papua and New Guinea. Let us consider for a moment what Australia is doing in Papua and New Guinea. We are not doing too badly. I am prepared to say that in most instances this Government has not done any harm. I will qualify my remark so that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn), who is chuckling, will not become too chesty. The Government has not done as much good as it should have done in this field. It is here that the nation faces its greatest challenge. It will be with us forever. The two million people in Papua and New Guinea, who are our fellow subjects but not our fellow citizens, rely absolutely on us for their future, and we may well be very grateful for their friendship and co-operation in the years to come. A nation with a population of two million is not insignificant. This is the population of Israel, half the population of Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. It is about the population of New Zealand. The people of Papua and New Guinea are a part of our future and the Territory is our future neighbour. I am not satisfied that sufficient attention has been paid to the needs of the Territory and I hope that in the future the Parliament will have adequate opportunity to turn its full vision upon the implications of the report of the World Bank, particularly as it relates to education in the Territory. This deals with primary education, and I will refer honorable members to the sections of the report that are concerned with it.
Now I come to the sins of omission and commission of this Government. First let me take some of the sins of omission. These were mentioned by the honorable member for Isaacs, but not in the context in which I will deal with them. Australia has abdi cated its general responsibility throughout the world. This theme has been apparent in many speeches made by honorable members from both sides of the House. Australia is one of the world’s most prosperous nations and it has a responsibility that it cannot avoid. Very few people on this planet are as richly endowed with the world’s goods, with security, with an homogeneous community and so on as Australians are. Therefore, we must accept wider responsibilities in the world at large. The honorable member for Isaacs, speaking out of his colonial conscience, said that Great Britain has greater responsibility in the world than we have. That is nonsense. Great Britain has about five times the population that Australia has, but it is 12,000 miles away from the area where the world is finding most of its troubles these days. There is no reason at all for a British taxpayer to accept more responsibility than an Australian taxpayer does.
In this as in other fields many of the responsibilities are not very expensive. Australian representation abroad is much too meagre. We are hardly represented at all in eastern Europe - in Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia - and we have no representation in Turkey or Iran. This, of course, is an abdication of our responsibility and I hope to have an opportunity to deal with this aspect more fully when we are debating the Estimates.
That is a sin of omission, but the sin of commission that concerns me and, I think, is causing concern to an increasing number of Australians is the manner in which the Government is dealing with our mineral resources. Australia is lavishly endowed with iron ore and bauxite. Let us consider for a moment the position of our bauxite deposits. We have about 3.000 million tons of the 10,000 million tons of known reserves in the world. We have three large deposits - one in Western Australia, one in Arnhem Land and one in Cape York. In each instance, we have abdicated our own responsibility and our own sovereignty. We have handed over the development of these deposits to other nations. With the bauxite deposits in Arnhem Land, I think we are getting a royalty of only about 6d. a ton. Many people are afraid that other nations will invade Australia and take it over.
Nobody needs to invade Australia; other nations can get most of it for 6d. a ton from this Government.
The same position applies with our iron ore deposits. It may well be that future generations will know this generation as the pillaging generation. Iron ore deposits will probably be valuable to our descendants - our grandchildren and our great greatgrandchildren and generations for perhaps hundreds of years or even a thousand years. One of the penalties Australia has to pay for its short history is that we do not have the advantage today of any planning for the future. Every road that is laid down may well be usable still in 200 or 500 years time - not the ones built by Liberal governments though, because they will probably crumble. But, in fact, most of Europe is now enjoying the benefits of the activities of countless generations which have constructed roads and streets and built cathedrals, public gathering places and so on. Most of those countries are taking steps to protect their future. What is to happen to future generations of Australians, if all that they inherit from this generation are holes in the ground? I believe that none of the mystiques of national development, overseas investment and capital gains, to name a few, which come from overseas activity in this country can possibly justify the complete alienation of our bauxite and iron ore deposits.
Another matter is the question of defence. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) yesterday spent most of the time allotted for his speech in telling us about most of the inadequacies in organisation, etc. Honorable members opposite claim that this is a defence Budget. If that is so, I still see very little sign that this country is adequately prepared to defend itself. But I believe that we have the capacity to defend ourselves which has, as yet, not been discovered or acknowledged by honorable members opposite or by a good number of people in the community either.
Some of the characteristics of the Budget and the financial policy of this Government are causing the country great concern and are placing millstones about the necks of most of our citizens. These characteristics are implicit in the Budget document. For instance, this is a high interest government.
I do not think anybody can justify the high interest rates which have been inflicted over the past 10 or 15 years. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in houses provided through the war service homes scheme at low interest rates know the tremendous difficulties interest rates impose on the family budget. Every household in Australia is paying tribute through the high interest policies of this Government. The stage of usury has been reached. It is the doctrine of this Government. It would be an interesting exercise, to work out how much the family man pays in interest over his lifetime. Most people who buy a house over a period of, say, twenty years will pay much more in interest, in the period of repayment, than they paid for the bricks, mortar, plaster, windows and every other part of the building. The high cost of housing in this country is attributable to interest rates. This is also one of the highest burdens that effects the whole business community. High interest rates are handed on through rent, the cost of machinery, the cost of financing business and so on. There is a concealed and subversive element of cost in all business relations flowing from the high interest policies of this Government.
The next point I make is that the Government regards money as the manipulator in the community. The Government places taxes on goods to prevent people buying them instead of taking direct action about those goods in one way or another, either by increasing the supply, diverting resources, or something of that nature. So, taxation, as honorable members will see if they look through the taxation schedule, acts as an encouragement to these practices rather than being used as a method for the direct management of the economy. We are now in the field of indirect taxation. I believe that indirect taxation mostly falls unjustly upon the people who can least afford to pay it. In this Budget, £143 million is to be gained from customs duty, £383 million from excise duty, £197 million from sales tax, £82 million from payroll tax, £23 million from estate duty and £4 million from gift duty. The total is £832 million or thereabouts. The amount of £1,200 million will be gained out of direct taxation.
An interesting statistic to me is the difference between the tax burden of this nature in Australia and that in the United
States of America. This year, approximately 61 per cent, of our national Budget will be gained from direct taxation, whereas the current percentage in the United States is about 86 or 87 per cent. I believe that indirect taxation represents an attempt by the Government to avoid placing before the community the direct cost of running the nation. I believe that it is a sign of political and national immaturity. In fact, indirect taxation places unjust burdens upon people.
I took the opportunity to turn back to a notable commentator on economic affairs, one who is rather contemporaneous in time with the thinking of this Government. This commentator is Adam Smith who wrote “The Wealth of Nations” in 1775. This is an important date for honorable members opposite. This is the time of the American revolution, which is the last revolution that anybody in the Government is prepared to recognise. The Government has made reluctant recognition of the fact that France had a revolution and it probably thinks it is fortunate that France seems to be going back to that point. The Chinese and Russian revolutions, along with any other revolutions in the rest of the world, are not to be acknowledged by this Government. But what did Adam Smith have to say about indirect taxation? He said -
Every tax ought to be levied at the time, or in the manner in which it is most likely to be convenient for the contributor to pay it.
He also said -
The tax which each individual is bound to pay ought to be certain and not arbitrary.
I think his next statement is one with which wc all agree. He pointed out -
The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities.
Anybody can demonstrate that indirect taxation is a burden upon the people not in accordance with their ability to pay but in accordance with their necessity to consume. This is where, of course, sales tax and such taxes come into consideration. Excise tax is another.
I happen to be one of those people who does not consume alcohol. I believe some measure of heavy taxation upon such items can be justified because there is no doubt that there are social factors involved in alcohol and its consumption regarding alcoholism in the community and also road fatalities, but nobody can be sure just what they are. However, the fact is that the Government manages to opt out of taxing the wealthy people in the community in many ways. For instance, there is no capital gains tax of any significance. People can make profits in all sorts of ways without paying their just dues to the community. Honorable members opposite return to the time of Charles Stuart who was a notable indulger in the levying of indirect taxation or hearth money. The Government has not tried that yet.
– It will.
– Yes. If honorable members consider page 14 of the Treasurer’s Budget speech, they will realise that it wilt not be long before the citizens of Canberra get around to paying hearth money. This is what Adam Smith had to say about hearth money -
The first tax of this kind was hearth-money, or a tax of 2s. on every hearth. In order to ascertain how many hearths were in the house, it was necessary that the tax-gatherer should enter every room in it. This odious visit rendered the tax odious. Soon after the revolution, therefore, it was abolished as a badge of slavery.
The next tax of this type was the window tax. That tax was imposed for many years in Britain. Following this, we come to stamp duties and, in “The Wealth of Nations”, there is a list of these stamp duties applying in Great Britain, Holland and France. Adam Smith said -
In Great Britain the stamp-duties are higher or lower, not so much according to the value of the property transferred … as according to the nature of the deed.
So, we find that the Treasurer - that arch priest of modernity, that spearfisherman, and all the rest of it - has got around to introducing a form of taxation, as mentioned on page 14 of his Budget, which was not very highly regarded 200 years ago. The comment in this publication on that tax is most appropriate. It almost fits into the Budget. Adam Smith said -
Those modes of taxation, by stamp-duties and by duties upon registration, are of very modern invention.
This was written in 1775 -
In the course of little more than a century, however, stamp-duties have, in Europe, become almost universal, and duties upon registration extremely common.
This is where the statement fits the present position. Adam Smith points out -
There is no art which one government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.
So, 60 per cent, of the running expenses of this country are being taken from the people in an indirect way because the Government (a) will not face up to its responsibilities and tell the Australian people what the overhead of running a nation is; and (b) the Government wishes to avoid placing a burden upon its wealthy friends. I might remind the House, as I said earlier, that Charles I widely practised the art of levying indirect taxation. He finally lost his head over it.
I consider that the position of the family man in Australia is desperate particularly if he is drawing an income of approximately £1,500 or less. Anybody earning £25 to £30 a week- let us take £25 as the mark - is in a position where he cannot possibly save for his future. He cannot sustain a student at a university. Yet the tax scale of this country places an undue burden upon that person. It is my belief that rather than give a proportionate deduction for families we should establish a flat rate. Instead of a wealthy person who earns between £10,000 and £16,000 a year and pays 13s. 4d. tax per £1 of taxable income receiving a concession of £143 for his wife, which means a return to him of 143 times 13s. 4d., and a man on a low income receiving a concession of only 143 times 2s., we should strike a lump sum of what would be a reasonable amount to deduct from a person’s taxable income, whether the taxpayer receives an income of £500, £5,000 or £50,000.
From an examination of the figures it appears to me that we should make a flat rate deduction of about £50 for a wife and £30 for a child, which would mean that a person with a wife and two children, unless he had to pay more than £1 10 in income tax - which would be the taxation payable on an income of about £700- would be removed from the field of income tax. This is only fair. It is the family person who carries most of the burdens in the community. It is the family person who pays the consumption taxes and who pays rates but, in many instances, receives so little in return from local government. If honorable members examined the tax return of an ordinary wage earner they would see the amount of tax involved and what is left after taxation, and would agree that this is the field in which the Government could do the most good.
I did a little arithmetic and found that 256,000 people in Australia were paying between £500 and £600 in income tax. Their incomes aggregated about £141 million and they paid an aggregate income tax of £6 million. For that 256,000 people, 16,000 wives and 30,000 children were involved. If we make a calculation we find that the 256,000 people were left with an average of £500 a year each after they had paid their tax. Let us consider the folk in the higher brackets- the £15,000 to £20,000 bracket, for instance. In that bracket there were 900 taxpayers whose income aggregated about £15 million and who paid £6 million in tax, so they had £9 million left, which gave them an average of £10,000 per head.
The taxation schedules show that the tax burden falls relatively heavier upon people at the low income level. I believe that this is the greatest deficiency of this Budget. It does not recognise the difficulties of the person in receipt of a low income. It does not recognise the difficulties of the family man. This is where education and medical services come in. This is where local services to assist local governments and high interest rates come into the whole field of Government endeavour. This afternoon and over the last few weeks we should have been considering the impact of the Budget upon Australians. I believe that a great measure of justice could be done by simply reorientating our tax structure. I have glanced rapidly at American taxation schedules and it appears to me that the low income earner in America gets off much better that his counterpart in Australia. In America the income tax is heavier on high incomes and lighter on low incomes than it is in this country.
– A very casual look, I would say.
– That may be so, but an element of the situation is that in America 80 per cent, of the taxes paid into Federal revenue comes from direct taxation. In Australia, direct taxation represents only 60 per cent, of the total tax collected. I believe that indirect taxation is simply an effort by a government to avoid its responsibilities to the community and to avoid having to explain to people what they will have to pay and avoid making them pay directly.
Surely there can be no basis in economics for presuming that pay roll tax paid by a municipality does anything other than raise charges. It seems to me that there can be no other end result. I believe that without any difficulty it can be proved by figures that most sales taxes are inflationary and cause rising costs and rising prices. When it comes to lowering the cost structure of the community the Government ignores the avenues which are directly open to it. For example, in the last five or six years the Post Office has become a taxation medium. It has become an element in the financial doctrine of the Government, which uses the Post Office as a method of gaining revenue. Everybody uses the Post Office; it is a line of communication for both business and private purposes. 1 believe that in a democracy it is essential that the lines of communication should be free. Anything that imposes difficulties on the lines of communication between people is undemocratic and, in the end, is subversive to the integration of the community.
In the last few years there has been a tendency to raise telephone and postal charges to a level where they have slowed down communication. This is bad and it ought to be prevented. That tendency should be reversed. I believe that the element that has been introduced of charging the Post Office an interest burden, or whatever the technical term may be, on its capita] works funds is a serious and grievous error. If the Government set out on the direct task of lowering the cost of its own services and lowering the cost of interest and of indirect taxation on municipalities and other services, it could carry out generally without any great loss in revenue a programme of lowering costs. Therefore, I believe that the House should support the Opposition’s motion. I believe that this Budget has serious deficiencies and omissions. Some of its commissions, too, will not add to the country’s future prosperity.
.- This debate concerns itself particularly with the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1965-66, which is commonly called the Budget for 1965-66. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) began his contribution to the debate by talking about national development and he seemed to concern himself with matters associated with local government. He wants more streets, more drains and all the things concerned with local government. What he failed to say was that payments to or for the States is the largest item in this Budget of £2,667 million. This year £549.6 million - £61 million more than last year - is allocated for payments to or for the States. This Government believes in decentralised control. It believes in the rights of the States and in the rights of local governments to perform duties that lie closest to the centre of their operations.
It was said by the honorable member for Wills and by others that very little public interest has been shown in the Budget, that very little has been said about it. The reason for this state of affairs is obvious. The Budget is not a repressive one to the individual. It has had no bad effect on the business confidence in the community. In fact, on 18th August - the day after the Budget was presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) - share prices rose and they have maintained the higher level since. In other words, from the lack of discussion by the people and by industry, it is quite obvious that the 1965-66 Budget is moderate and flexible. It is the type of Budget that Australians are accustomed to from this Government. Newspaper headings prove an eloquent guide to the thoughts of the people at or after Budget time, and I will quote one or two of them. One newspaper headed its article on the Budget by saying: “ Economic Aim - Defence Without Disruption”.
A second heading was: “Mr. Holt’s Attempt at Moderation “; a third was: “ Mr. Holt’s Mild Medicine”; and a fourth was: “ It Could Have Been Worse “. Those are the views of the ordinary man in the street, the ordinary taxpayer. The honorable member for Wills confirmed that the Australian taxpayer is doing very well. He said: “ Very few people on this planet have more worldly goods than Australians have “. In those words he confirmed that the Budget presented by the Government through the
Treasurer is a moderate one and a good one for Australia. We realise that the Budget for 1963-66 should have a stabilising effect on costs, because our policy includes stability of costs and full employment for people who want to work. At the same time we believe that social services should and can be increased in a time of full employment and high living standards.
I believe that from the end of May until the presentation of the Budget each year too much attention is given by private enterprise and business generally to prognostications of what the Budget will contain when it is presented by the Treasurer. It seem to me that many businesses free-wheel for two “or three months prior to the presentation of the Budget. That is not good for the Australian economy. Sales are made when they should not be made. This year many of us saw television and newspaper items suggesting that the sales tax on motor cars would be increased. The result was that many people purchased motor cars prior to the presentation of the Budget, believing that they would save some money. Now they realise that they purchased their motor cars prematurely. The result is that sales of motor cars dropped in August because additional sales were made in the preceding months.
That is not good for Australia. It is not good for the Government for that type of activity to take place prior to the presentation of a Budget. I believe that the Government could well consider giving the people indications of trends for Budget purposes. There is no need to deaden the economy for two or three months, as happens prior to the delivery of the Budget. After all, industry should know that the broad aims of this Government are, first, a high standard of living; secondly, full employment; thirdly, stability of prices; and fourthly, strong external balances.
This afternoon I wish to speak about some of the matters that affect those four major aims of this Government. First, I refer to Australia’s importation of goods. When demand in Australia is strong the entrepreneurs and speculators in money start importing much more than they have been hitherto importing. This leads to competition with local production and also to a running down of our overseas balances unduly. Both the Treasurer and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) referred to this running down of overseas balances and the fact that last year our imports were high. The Treasurer said -
Nor would we wish to see a further large rise in imports . . .
That statement was supported, more or less, by the Leader of the Opposition when he implied that interest rates were too high because the Government was endeavouring to ensure that imports would be kept under control.
Other countries use a system which is quite different from the systems that have been used in Australia in the past. I would call that system the import deposit system. It is used in Japan in a large way. It is used in many countries to ensure that their imports are reasonably kept under control at given times. Under this system the importer must deposit an amount of money before or at the time when an overseas order is placed. In Japan in particular this procedure has a salutary effect on speculative importers. In fact, it has a dampening effect on imports, particularly when they compete with local production. Banking authorities have told me that the system can be administered by trading banks, the Treasury and the Department of Customs and Excise without additional cost to the Government. I am told that the system can be applied in various forms. I have had a look at several of them, but this afternoon I wish to recite the form which I believe could be applied in Australia.
First, importers would be required to lodge a cash deposit in respect of goods to be imported, and exemptions would be given only when the imports were for the good of the nation itself. Secondly, the amount of deposit would depend on the value of the imports; it would be proportionate to the value of the imports. When the imports were competitive with the local product the deposit would be high. It could be up to 100 per cent, of the total value of the imports. When the goods were for the national benefit of Australians generally, the deposit could be reduced to as low as 25 per cent, or even 10 per cent, of the value of the imports. Essential equipment for the benefit of Australian production could be imported without any initial deposit.
Thirdly, deposits would be made on or before ordering. That would enable the
Reserve Bank on the one hand and the Treasury on the other to follow Australia’s trade balances, to follow imports generally and to know to better advantage the overall value of future imports. Fourthly - and this is a machinery item - the banks connected with the importers would lodge their deposits with the Reserve Bank and charge the importers interest until all, or say 90 per cent., of the goods had been delivered.
This system has the effect of reducing the liquidity of the importer himself, and particularly of the importer who uses bank overdrafts to finance his imports. Many importers use bank overdrafts to finance their business transactions. When we have shortages of goods that can be produced here, they take advantage of the high demand here to import competitive goods from overseas and so run down our overseas balances. This system increases the importer’s costs because his bank charges him interest at the rate applicable at the time on the deposit that it has lodged with the Reserve Bank. Therefore, the prices of the goods imported are increased when the interest is added to the initial cost. The system also has a psychological effect on the importer. If he had any doubts about importing overseas products, those doubts would be accentuated if he has to lodge with the Reserve Bank a deposit of up to 100 per cent, of the value of the goods to be imported. The system also makes the banks more selective in granting overdrafts to their customers.
Under the system more money would be kept in Australia for Australian production than has been kept here hitherto, when conditions here have been so liquid and production and demand have been running at such high levels. Whenever the Government saw that overseas balances were falling, it could apply pressure on importers to ensure that imports were reduced. Control of imports could be exercised very simply by increasing or decreasing the amount of deposit that the importer had to lodge with the Reserve Bank or by lengthening or shortening the period within which the amount had to be lodged. In that way the Government would control imports without the stigma of quantitative restrictions being applied to it and without using other measures which other governments have used and which apparently are difficult to explain at Geneva conferences. This would ensure that the Government and the banks had full knowledge of all imports into Australia and of potential imports for months ahead. The Government of Japan has a very good idea of the total imports that will come into the country five, six or seven months ahead. As I have said, the stigma that attaches to quantitative restrictions on imports would be lessened. Overseas countries would not be able to apply any odium to Australia’s imposing a surcharge on their production. The Government should look at this system because some of the banks feel that it would have a salutary effect on speculative imports. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer said that imports increased last year by 22 per cent. In other words, last year we spent on imports £250 million more than we spent in the previous year. The total bill last year for imports was £1,375 million. This had the effect of reducing our overseas balances by £158 million.
There is another factor which the Minister concerned and the Government as a whole should look at in respect of the future of Australia. I refer to primary industry. It may be contended that I have a hate on primary industries but in fact I believe that any country that produces primary products is a stable country so far as the food requirements of the people are concerned. But it is true also that those countries which depend to a major degree on primary industry, particularly for exports, usually have a sagging economy. The Treasurer has referred to this matter in his Budget speech. He said -
Once again the terms of trade have turned heavily against the primary producing countries and already a number of them are in grave balance of payments difficulties.
There are the things to which I direct the attention of the Government so far as our primary industries are concerned. Primary industries can be affected by so many factors beyond the control of man. The first factor is, of course, that good seasons and crops in the countries to which we export may put us out of business unless our commodities are more than competitive with the production of those countries. Another factor is that bad seasons in Australia may affect the productivity of the land. In this regard we have heard members of the
Country Party rightly asking the Government what it is doing for the drought stricken areas in New South Wales and Queensland. We have been told in the House that the price of sugar has fallen. Last year sugar was apparently at a high price but marketing arrangements throughout the world varied considerably. This year we are obtaining only half as much as we obtained for our sugar last year. These are factors that highlight the vulnerability of a country like Australia, because we produce and export so much primary produce. The Ministers concerned with these matters should endeavour to formulate a policy which would direct a good deal of Australia’s money into manufacture and a good deal less into primary industry than has hitherto been the case. Our production and design potential in relation to secondary industry should be increased so that we may be more competitive with design and production methods than we have been in the past.
A perusal of a document that has been circulated by the Bureau of Census and Statistics shows that industries and services in Australia are subsidised out of Consolidated Revenue to the tune of £51,633,000 a year. The reason why I have directed my remarks to primary industry is that the three largest items of subsidy go to primary industries. The first industry is the dairy industry. I know that many honorable members on both sides of the House have considerable interest in the dairy industry and a wide knowledge of it. All I say is that the dairy industry receives a subsidy of £13.5 million a year or about £250,000 a week. I can suggest only that if this amount were injected into a new steel industry in Australia there would be very little need for the workers to worry about their future. We have in this country large supplies of highgrade iron ore. We have all the potential to produce and export a great deal more steel than we have produced and exported hitherto. The second item on the list of subsidies relates to the wheat price stabilisation scheme, which last year took £11,317,000 of the taxpayers’ money. The amount is increasing yearly. I cite these matters not for parochial reasons but because I would lit ft the Parliament to realise that all of this money is coming out of Consolidated Revenue Taxpayers’ money is being used to bolster these industries at a time when the
Treasurer has said that the terms of trade of primary producing countries are running against those which produce and export primary products. The third item to which I refer relates to the subsidy of £9.4 million for phosphate fertilisers used by primary producers.
– Do not forget tariff protection.
– 1 appreciate the honorable gentleman’s interjection. If he wishes to calculate the amount of subsidy that is ~paid to manufacturers, that is his business. I am referring to these matters because they are listed by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. As far as I am concerned they provide ready information of the subsidies that go to primary industries and other industries. The three items to which I have referred amount to more than £34 million a year in subsidies. This is equivalent to about £3 per head of population.
– Would the honorable member close all the dairy farms?
– I understand that the dairy farmers in 1961 submitted to this Government a report recommending that the subsidy paid to their industry should be reduced by 10 per cent, each year for ten years. At the end of that time the industry would cease to receive a subsidy. If the honorable member for Scullin, who interjected a moment ago, will take the trouble to read the report he will confirm that the dairy industry does not want this subsidy. I support the recommendations contained in the industry’s report.
– It was not the industry’s report.
– I am informed by honorable members who represent country districts that all members of the committee were dairying men. If they do not know what is best for the industry then we in this Parliament do not know much about the industry. I am a believer in subsidising industries in the initial stages of their operation - even for five or ten years - whether they be primary, secondary or tertiary industries. After the expiration of ten years an industry should be able to look after itself and play a full part in the development of this country. I do not think, we can long continue to draw on Consolidated Revenue, to which taxpayers earning £25 or £30 a week contribute and give the money to industries of the magnitude of the dairy industry.
– Does the honorable member feel the same way about tariff protection.
– Yes; I believe that when effect is given to the decisions of the Kennedy Round, this country will face real problems. We are tending to increase our tariff protection to secondary industries whereas America and other countries that manufacture are tending to reduce tariff protection to manufacturing industry.
– Does the honorable member think we should do so too?
– It would appear that the honorable member for Wakefield wants me to talk about tariff matters. I will leave it to the honorable member to tackle the Government and the Opposition on these matters. I agree with the Treasurer that the terms of trade, such as countries which concentrate on secondary industry have, are better for the future of Australia and the workers of this country than if we give undue preference to primary industry. We should have a look, therefore, at the indigenous products which we have available for our use in Australia. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who was a school teacher, I understand, talked about iron ore and bauxite deposits in Australia. I wonder how many people in this House realise that the Tariff Board produced a report last year which confirmed - and it will produce another one this year which will confirm - that so far as pig iron is concerned Australia can produce this product 50 per cent, cheaper than Japan can.
We have high grade iron ore in the Hammersley Range, the Constance Range and Koolan Island. AH over Australia we have tremendous quantities of high grade iron ore that could be processed in Australia. As an honorable member who is interjecting says, we have it at Whyalla, too. The Tariff Board’s report shows that we can produce steel merchant bars at £42 8s. 3d. a ton in Australia as against a cost of £49 9s. 6d. a ton in
Japan, or 16 per cent, cheaper. We can produce structural steel 16 per cent, cheaper than Japan can produce it. All we need do is produce more steel to make the lot of the workers, business men and members of Parliament in Australia a great deal better.
We have 40 per cent, of the world’s known reserves of bauxite at Weipa in Northern Queensland, the Darling Range in Western Australia and the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory. An honorable member opposite interjected a few minutes ago to ask why we sell these products overseas. We sell them overseas because we need to get these businesses under way. Once they are under way I believe that the people of Australia will want to see the final product processed in this country. We do not want to see the Japanese smelting our aluminium. We do not want to see Swedes using our iron ore. We want these minerals produced to their final stage in Australia so that we can become a manufacturing country. Unless the Government does something in a thoroughgoing way about the subsidies paid to primary and secondary industries we will continue to have tremendous troubles with our overseas balances.
It is useless to talk about minerals being taken out of the quarries of Australia and sent overseas unless the personnel who should be concerned with these matters sit down and decide what should be done. I am not concerned about the infinitesimal quantities of iron ore, copper and bauxite being exported at present, because the amount of iron ore in the Hammersley Range itself amounts to 3,500 million tons. I have mentioned in this chamber on previous occasions, and I will do so again, that at our present rate of consumption we have 1,900 years’ supply of iron ore left. I do not mind a few small quarries being dug out in my lifetime, but I do hope that the people concerned in governing this country, and the Opposition too, will give consideration to our potential indigenous products of iron ore, bauxite and copper. In the early part of this year the Opposition supported the miners at Mount Isa who closed down the mine there with the result that the price of copper internationally rose by £52 a ton and has not since gone down again. We talk about the welfare of the people of Australia. I believe that the people of Australia expect the Opposition and the Government in this Parliament to take some action in these matters and not to sit down and let one man, or a group of men, hold us to ransom with the indigenous- resources of this wonderful country of ours. We are all responsible to ensure that the welfare of Australia is raised year by year and generation by generation.
.- I find myself in agreement with him on some of the matters raised by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn). 1 do not, however, find myself in agreement with his criticism of the subsidies that are being paid directly to primary industries and, the invisible subsidies that are being paid to secondary industry by way of protective tariffs, as mentioned by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) in an interjection. We know that these subsidies are being paid to maintain the standard of living which we in Australia are proud to claim is one of the highest in the world. When honorable members consider the payment of these subsidies they should also consider the payments made by those engaged in the dairying and wheat industries into stabilisation funds. The honorable member for Balaclava also mentioned the sugar industry. I do not know whether he would claim that the Australian public was subsidising the sugar industry by guaranteeing the home consumption price in order to maintain a living standard for the people associated with that industry.
The honorable member said - and I agree with him - that there was considerable speculation by the public prior to the introduction of the Budget. This speculation was encouraged to a certain extent by the newspapers. There was speculation as to the taxes that would be levied and as to whether sales tax would be lifted from some goods and increased on others. In some cases buying sprees were engaged in. Prior to the Budget before last there was a buying spree in relation to beer and spirits. As things turned out, it should have been this year that the buying spree was indulged in.
The people for at least a month preceding 17th August were subjected to propaganda designed to condition them for a severe Budget. This campaign was carried out very effectively by newspapers and other advertising media in Australia. This, how ever, would not be the real reason why so many of the business magnates from their headquarters in the capital cities hailed this Budget with joy. The real reason is that their profits and high incomes will not be hit. The Government has spared its supporters and is to levy increased indirect taxes, lt intends to raise an additional £19,730,000 on petroleum products; an additional £10,310,000 on tobacco; an additional £3,340,000 on spirits; and an additional £16,560,000 on beer, giving it a total additional revenue from these sources of £49,940,000.
The joy of the business magnates in knowing that the Government had left untouched their excess profits is the antithesis of the feelings of the wage earners who were refused a wage increase just recently and are now increasingly taxed both directly and indirectly. It is the antithesis of the feelings of the pensioners who gained naught by way of pension increases, and of the housewife who is trying to keep a family on a little more than the basic wage and who had hoped for an increase in child endowment.
But the people I mentioned previously are the friends of the Government. They are the people who upset the Liberal Party and the Country Party in 1961 by refusing to contribute to their election campaign funds. These people admonished the Government on that occasion, so the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and his Cabinet had to consider closely any measures that might again alienate their financial backers. The people adversely affected by this Budget are those mentioned in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in this passage -
Such taxation increases as it contains add further burdens to wage and salary earners whoso living standards have already been eroded by price rises) and the Government’s active intervention against wage increases.
The Government, by raising the prices of the commodities I have mentioned - tobacco, petrol, spirits and beer - has given the green light to further increases of prices to the public. When questioned about this in the House the Prime Minister said that prices were a matter for State Governments. The Premier of Queensland is reported in the Brisbane “Courier-Mail” of last Monday as having said that his Government did not intend to order a general inquiry into recent price rises. Apparently it is no concern of his. The worker is still reeling from the majority decision given on 29th June last in the national basic wage case. A 12s. a week increase was justified, based on the cost of living increase, if the basic wage was to buy the same amount of goods and services as it did when fixed by the Arbitration Commission in June 1964. The workers have been slugged again.
There was a glimmer of human understanding in the decision to drop the means test for pensioner medical services. This means test has been in operation since November 1955 Labour has sought other amendments, all having as their objective the removal of these restrictions, but the members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party have consistently voted against them. It is pleasing to know now that their hearts are not all granite. The proposed increase in the funeral benefit is also a breakthrough, but here again the conditions attaching to the payment of the benefit, where the person responsible for the payment of the funeral expenses is not a pensioner, smack very much of the Liberal idea that elderly persons are the responsibility of their families and should be supported by them. The Curtin Labour Government introduced the funeral benefit in 1943 and no increase has been made in the amount provided them, despite the substantial increase in the cost of being buried. Similarly, the maternity allowance, the rate for whi’ch was last fixed by the Chifley Government in 1947, has not been increased during this Government’s 16 years of office.
What do the primary producers think of the Budget? Mr. Tozer, president of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Primary Producers Union, in a prepared statement - not one made off the cuff - expressed his disappointment. He was reported in the Gympie “ Times “ as having said -
While primary producers do not face greatly increased taxation -
That is quite evident, because many of them have no income - the inevitable fact emerges that all producers are again saddled with a still steeper rise in costs.
The impost of 3d. per gallon on petrol, automotive distillate, and aviation turbine fuel will directly impose further hardships and cancel out recent price falls. In short, the farmer and the man on the street will be asked to carry a heavier load.
I am disappointed that the budget made no provision to lighten the farmer’s load. Even a small new concession would have infused a more hopeful spirit into Australia’s hardest-working and hardest-hit segment of our people.
On Thursday last, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made a statement about the drought which is at present the scourge of south western Queensland and north western New South Wales. He made the statement in answer to a request for assistance which was made some months ago by the Premiers of Queensland and New South Wales. I do not think that the measures described by the Prime Minister fill the bill by any means. I do not know what the Premiers asked for, but I am sure they asked for more than what is outlined in the Prime Minister’s statement. After mentioning relief that might be given, such as tax exemptions, and after stating that the banks had been requested to give as much assistance as they were capable of giving, the Prime Minister said -
If, as a result of action related to the drought, the States of New South Wales and Queensland find it necessary to meet abnormally high calls on their budget that are established to be beyond their financial capacities, we will be prepared to consider assisting them by means of general purpose assistance grants. I am advising the two Premiers in these terms.
I do not believe that that was what the Premiers wanted or requested. If the relief is to be effective, it must be spontaneous. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), who is a practical man, emphasised when asking a question today that any relief given must be given immediately. Immediate relief is the only relief that will have any effect. Any relief must be spontaneous. Before farmers can decide whether to stay on their properties or to seek employment elsewhere, they must know how much help they will receive. Faced with the prospect of continuing to pay exorbitant prices for fodder, they must quickly decide whether they will place another millstone around their necks in the shape of a further loan or let their stock take their chances, thus facing a certain loss of 50 per cent, or even more of their stock.
The drought may be over in some places. Now that it is over, the time has come for replacement of stock and the replanting of crops to get back into production. What the Prime Minister has offered is not the answer to the problem, and there will be further procrastination while the State Governments are deciding what action they will take. Eventually they will make a request to the Prime Minister, but at present neither they nor the people who support them know what assistance they will get from the Prime Minister. The Queensland Government has made an offer of loans of £500 to individuals, repayments to be spread over a period of years. In many cases, this will result only in the primary producers getting further into debt. Speaking in the Queensland Parliament last week, the Country Party member for the State seat of Gregory had this to say -
The State Government’s contribution of £50,000 for drought relief still would not feed the working horses on Thylungra.
He is a practical man. The income tax concessions which are offered are quite good, but they are useless to a man who has no income. The Federal Treasury is losing revenue because of the greatly reduced incomes of farmers who are affected by this drought. The Premiers will write to the Prime Minister, and then, some time later, the Prime Minister will say: “ If you find it necessary to meet abnormally large calls on your Budget we are prepared to consider assisting you with some grants; meanwhile, we will study the matter further and perhaps you will not need to ask.” Many people in the State, especially those affected by the drought, are wondering what they are going to do.
In April of this year, Mr. Nicklin, the Premier of Queensland, publicly criticised the Federal Government for what he termed frustrating delays in Commonwealth decisions. I feel that he will consider this to be another frustrating delay in a Commonwealth decision. I am sure that those honorable members who know Mr. Nicklin as Honest Frank would not expect him to use violent language. Possibly the expression “ frustrating delays “ is the strongest language that he would use, unless he were attacking members of the Australian Labour Party. We on this side of the House would prefer to think of him as being neither frank nor honest.
Most of us have received a booklet entitled, “ A Case for Capital Water Storage and Irrigation Works for the Lower Burnett Area, Queensland “. I recommend the booklet to those honorable members who have not had an opportunity to read it. It was prepared by the Bundaberg and District Irrigation Committee and relates to a portion of my electorate and a portion of the electorate represented by the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw). It is a record of self help. It tells a story of two years of drought in what is regarded as rich cane growing land. By its own efforts, the Committee raised £10,000 to meet the cost of bringing experts into the area from the Snowy Mountains scheme.
The honorable member for Dawson, Senator Dittmer and I have attended meetings of this Committee and we know of the earnestness and determination displayed by its members. We have visited cane fields in the Childers, Bingera and Wallaville areas, where this year’s crop has collapsed on the ground. Some of it is being burnt off and some of it is being grazed off. It was estimated last July that the cane harvest for the Isis district would be 143,000 tons. Crushing for that district commenced this week, which is about 6 weeks later than usual. I ask honorable members to compare that harvest with a crushing of 217,000 tons last season and 433,000 tons the year before, when there was no drought. The Isis Central Sugar Mill is a co-operative mill. It is faced with its problems in retaining skilled men. It has been able to retain them only because it has undertaken an expenditure of £300,000 on an expansion programme. That mill has got further into debt to undertake this programme. If the drought lasts for another year, God only knows what the position there will be.
There are cane growers in the Isis district who are experiencing their second year without a crop. For how much longer can they carry on? The booklet to which I have referred contains a comparison showing the advantages of irrigation. It mentions that last year an irrigated farm of 127 acres harvested 100.9 acres with an average yield of 31.1 tons of cane to the acre, making an aggregate harvest of 3,143 tons. It compares this with the results on a neighbouring farm which contains 130 acres and is not irrigated. Of the 130 acres on that farm, only 30.9 acres were harvested and the average yield was only 20.2 tons of cane to the acre, giving a total harvest of only 626 tons.
The sugar industry has a responsibility to the nation. It recognizes this and bases its assignments on production figures designed to produce sufficient sugar for a home market at a price that will guarantee all those associated with the industry - the growers, the millers, the field workers and the mill workers - a living wage. The world price of sugar is at its lowest for many years. The booklet to which I have referred clearly demonstrates in appendix “ C “ the relationship between normal seasons and productivity. The year 1962 is shown as a year of good rainfall in the mill areas of Bingera, Millaquin, Fairymead, Qunaba, Isis and Gin Gin. In that year the total amount of cane crushed was 1,982,000 tons, being 572,000 tons more than the estimated tonnage for the season. Manufactured sugar in 1962 amounted to 285,000 tons, being 95,000 tons more than the estimated quantity of 190,000 tons. Further comparisons between 1962 and 1965 show a loss of revenue from gross sugar production totalling £4,408,000 and a loss of wages of £1,590,000.
The last two figures are the ones that should most concern this Parliament because of the resulting loss of taxation revenue, not only direct tax from the reduced incomes but also the indirect taxes connected with the earning of the income, taxation on petroleum products being not the least of these items of indirect taxation. So this Parliament has an interest in the problems of these people of the Burnett district. They have shown that they are prepared to help themselves by raising £10,000 for preliminary work, but while this is a large amount it is to them a drop in the bucket compared with what is needed if our production is not to depend completely on seasonal changes. The position is summed up briefly, aptly and fairly on page 13 of the booklet to which I have already referred, in the following terms -
Only a Commonwealth grant to Queensland, or the provision of low cost capital from another source, backed by the Commonwealth, can provide the means to carry out this immense task which, when completed, will benefit the Lower Burnett area and its 42,510 people and the State of Queensland, and must be a factor in assisting the overall economy of Australia.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) referred in his amendment to the failure of this Budget to deal with increases in imports and Australia’s dependence on foreign capital. I know, from his public utterances, that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) is concerned that we should be selling part of the farm every year to pay the mortgage. However, it is also well known that the Prime Minister and particularly the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) do not share the views of the Deputy Prime Minister and that they welcome overseas investment of any kind. It is small wonder, then, that a Queensland Liberal member should ask in the Queensland Parliament a question as to which policy is being followed by the Queensland Government, which has a Country Party majority. Unfortunately most Queenslanders are of the opinion that the Queensland Country Party majority is not in line with the Federal Country Party leader, the Deputy Prime Minister. So the sale of Australia’s assets, particularly mineral wealth, goes on, making profits for overseas companies.
I recently had the good fortune, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to represent this Parliament on a visit to Latin America, and one of the things that impressed me was the nationalistic outlook of the people of Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. I was interested to find that in most of these countries there is a requirement that there should be a national interest of not less than 51 per cent, in all industries established within those countries. There are iron ore deposits in the north of Brazil, just as we have iron ore deposits in Western Australia, but the Government of Brazil wanted industries established in the northern part of that country. Japanese interests wanted to exploit the iron ore deposits, but the Brazilian Government said: “ You can do so only if you are prepared to establish steel mills in the north to provide employment for the people living there.”
How different is the attitude adopted in Australia, where we find that Western Australia iron ore and Queensland bauxite are to be exported in the raw state to Japan to boost industry in that country. What better opportunity could we have than that which exists at present to establish steel mills in northern Australia? At present iron ore from Western Australia is carried past the Queensland coal ports of Bowen and Gladstone to the steel mills at Port Kembla and
Newcastle. There is an excellent opportunity for expansion of our iron and steel industry. The honorable member for Balaclava referred to this, but what he will do about it and how successful he will be in convincing his colleagues remain to be seen.
Yesterday the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr Jones) demonstrated in this debate that there exists in Australia an opportunity to expand the iron and steel industry. This would assist development and decentralisation more than selling our coal and ore to Japan and buying back the steel at a higher price than we would pay for our own locally produced steel. The honorable member for Newcastle yesterday was given leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “ a table showing that our imports of iron and steel in the past year exceeded exports by some £17,684,000. The use of steel in construction in Australia is increasing. Unfortunately the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) is not in the chamber at present, but I can tell the House that more flats and home units are being built than was previously the case, and this points to a wider use of steel in housing construction.
I mentioned earlier the bauxite deposits. I know that an alumina factory is to be established at Gladstone, but most Australians wonder what will happen to the large deposits on Gove Peninsula. I trust that the Deputy Prime Minister can convince his colleagues that Australian interests would be preferred by the Australian people to overseas interests in the exploitation of these deposits, and that it would be in the national interest to ensure that these resources are developed by Australian interests. The Leader of the Opposition also referred in his amendment to the need for proper planning in the fields of defence, development, education and social welfare. In this Budget development, particularly northern development, has been relegated to its 1960 position. The Ord River scheme does not rate a mention. In Queensland the beef cattle roads scheme is part of a five year plan which will be finalised this year, and unless further funds are made available for the complete sealing of these roads it will be found that, as has happened on previous occasions, the money already spent will be lost because of the rapid deterioration of the roads due to seasonal rains and droughts.
The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) mentioned in his speech the assistance given to Queensland in connection with the rehabilitation of the Townsville-Mount Isa railway. He would do well not to mention this in Queensland. Even the Premier of Queensland admitted that his State had been given a rotten deal in connection with this project. I point out that while other States could get up to twothirds of the cost of a project as a Commonwealth grant, with the remainder as a loan repayable over 30 or 40 years, Queensland had to borrow the full amount of the cost of the project - no grant whatsoever - to be repaid over 20 years and with halfyearly interest repayments at 5i peT cent. The actual amount borrowed for the Mount Isa railway reconstruction was £17,267,000. Queensland this year repaid to the Commonwealth £1,151.709, made up of £253,022 as repayment of principal and £898,687 as interest. So in fact Queensland has returned more than the amount of £1 million to be spent on the brigalow land, and interest charges on the Mr Isa loan exceed the £750,000 allocated for development of the port at Weipa.
In the short time left to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to discuss shipping freights and the participation of the Australian National Line in overseas trade. Today, I asked the Minister for Trade and Industry whether it was true that freight for the shipping of our wool to Europe and the United Kingdom would be increased by 6.6 per cent. I inquired whether the Commonwealth had intervened to point out that an increase at this stage would be dangerous to the national interest. The Government could have intervened in this instance just as it did before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the basic wage hearing when it stated that any increase at this stage in the basic wage would be dangerous to the economy. I believe that any increase in shipping freights could be more dangerous to the economy than an increase in the basic wage. At least a basic wage hearing is open to the public and anybody can listen to the proceedings and make up his own mind about whether the unions have presented a good case for an increase or whether the employers have presented a good case against an increase. Anybody can judge for himself whether an increase in the basic wage is justified. Cost of living and price index figures are readily available. In the last basic wage case, these clearly showed that a wage increase of 12s. a week was justified.
The Minister for Trade and Industry, in reply to my question, said that a formula for the determination of overseas freights had been prepared. He said also that the Commonwealth used to be a party to discussions relating to freight rates but, since 1956, had withdrawn and left the determination of freight rates to the shippers and the Conference lines. No member of the public and very few, if any, members of this Parliament would have any conception of any case for an increase that may have been presented or any agreement that may have been made. An increase in shipping freights is equally as important to the people of Australia as is an increase in the basic wage. The Australian people have a direct interest in this matter.
We have been told that a formula has been adopted. Apparently, the formula proposed when shipping freights are to be increased is acceptable, but the formula proposed when an increase in the basic wage is being considered is not acceptable. The learned men who sat on the bench of the Arbitration Commission and gave the majority decision in the basic wage case probably had some justification, in their own minds, for the decision they gave. I should like to know what decision the same men would give at a hearing to determine whether freight rates should be increased to the detriment of Australia’s export income, which depends on our exports of primary products.
It has been demonstrated that when the Hughes Government operated an Australian shipping line in competition with the Conference lines in overseas trade, shipping freights fell. It has been shown also that Australian exporters are being exploited in a fashion unknown in countries that have their own national shipping lines engaging in overseas trade. An example is the difference between the freight charged for the carriage of canned goods from South Africa to Malaya and that charged between Australia and Malaya. The same ship owners charge £6 5s. a ton between South Africa and Malaya and £12 9s. a ton - £6 4s. a ton more - between Australia and Malaya. To this must now be added the increase that will very shortly take effect. Yet Australia is 1,400 miles closer to Malaya than is South Africa. The total labour cost for loading in Australia is 12s. a ton. We wonder why we in Australia are subjected to this kind of exploitation. The reason is that there is no competition here. Government supporters have said repeatedly, in respect of many fields of activity, that competition is wanted. Australia has shown that it is quite capable of operating one of the best overseas airlines if not the best overseas airline. I believe that we could operate a fleet of special vessels, built for specific purposes, in overseas trade with great advantage to Australia as a nation, and particularly to the advantage of Australia’s primary producers. I am pleased to support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support the Budget, because I believe that it represents a genuine attempt to spread the increased burden of taxation that is necessary because of the defence measures that must be undertaken in. view of the world situation. However, I do not want to dwell too long on external affairs. I just want to say that I have listened with great interest to the speeches made in a number of debates in this chamber. I have listened with particular admiration and great interest to what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has said on a number of occasions. I agree with what he has said about China. I invite any honorable member who does not agree with the honorable member for Fremantle to have himself put on the mailing list for a publication that is obtainable by writing to a box number in Peiking. This publication refers to the glorification of the efforts of China, North Vietnam and South Vietnam against what is described as the imperialistic outlook of the United States of America. I want to make brief reference to what has been said about our supplying foodstuffs to China. If it could be proved that China would not be able to get foodstuffs elsewhere and that we would impede or stop her aggressive march by refraining from supplying her with foodstuffs, 1 would readily support any proposal that we cut off those supplies. But such a move would not slop China’s march for five minutes. However, I do not want to dwell longer on those matters.
I turn now to something about which a great deal has already been said - drought. This is still the biggest influence in the fluctuations in our national economy. At the outset, I want to mention something the like of which, I believe, has never occurred before in time of drought. I refer to Operation Goodwill, which was entered into by the Victorian people to provide relief in the recent dry time. Drought has two particular aspects - one short term and the other long term. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in his ministerial statement last Thursday, referring to the State measures, said -
After careful consideration, we have decided that it would not be appropriate for the Commonwealth to participate directly in the financing of such measures, nor do we think it would bc a proper function for the Commonwealth to participate in making loans to individuals or providing other forms of direct financial assistance to those who may be having difficulty, for reasons such as drought, in financing their business activities.
I agree wholly with that observation, for the administration of drought relief is a State responsibility, because the implications and severity of drought vary so much from State to State and even within a State.
The present drought has hit us rather unexpectedly. It is a full generation since we last experienced a drought of national proportions, though we always have a limited drought somewhere in the Commonwealth. The present drought has caught many people with considerable experience on the land off their guard. Our finances have not been geared to meet the sort of situation that has now arisen. Over the years since the last major drought, there have been big changes. Australia has become industrialised to a much greater extent and hire purchase has become an important feature of our economy. These changes require a new approach to a drought situation. In the old days, droughts were approached in a way entirely different from the approach needed now. The effects of the current drought have been to a great extent cushioned by better communications, the availability of more markets for lean meat and the wider use of irrigation. In the last 20 years irrigation has increased markedly.
In the short term, immediate assistance to tide producers over the difficulties experienced in the drought is all-important. But, from the national standpoint, we must take a long term view of drought. We ought to establish a national drought body composed of Ministers representing both the Commonwealth and the States. This body should have power to make a thorough study of droughts and to prepare a national plan to counter them. The difficulties that confront States in the short run can be overcome, but if a national body of the kind that I propose were established, the States ought to make more specific applications for assistance and set out in detail just what help they need. With all due respect to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), I doubt whether up till now the States have made their applications for assistance sufficiently specific and detailed. The provision of long term finance to help farmers overcome bad seasons is of real national importance. If finance can be granted for long periods, the strain is taken off the economy in the short term. The Governor of the Reserve Bank referred to the flexibility of the economy. The Commonwealth Development Bank is one agency through which such assistance could be afforded, but 1 suggest that the private banks should consider establishing their own development bank. Ample private bank money is held in the Reserve Bank that could be used for this purpose and I would say that there are no better people to deal with this problem than the traditional lending houses.
I have said that conditions during this drought are different from the conditions in former droughts. We should now be able to get a quicker turn round of money. In the 1902 drought in Victoria, a resident in, I think, the electorate of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) owed a pastoral house a large sum of money on his sheep. He almost lost them all. The manager of this private firm induced him to restock his property, and he lost the next lot of stock, but he was induced to restock his property for a third time. The situation today is quite different. I know of capable young men with quite an equity in their properties who, in trying to save as many sheep as they could, have now spent as much money on them as the sheep are worth. They have been told by their wool houses that they simply cannot get any more money. It would be a national disaster if people of this type were not encouraged to carry on. They still have a good equity in their properties. The suggestion contained in the question asked this afternoon by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) could well be considered.
More money on a long term basis and at a moderate rate of interest is needed. I do not know that the money should be lent at a low rate of interest, but it should be lent on a long term basis so that land can be developed and production increased. Thousands of young men are trying to establish themselves on the land. That is not a guess; it is shown by the number of applicants who seek land when a ballot is held in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. They have a good deal of capital and they have confidence, strength and capacity. All they ask is that we have faith in them and give them assistance. In Western Australia, one million acres are being brought into production each year. This land will carry three to five sheep to the acre. Tremendous changes will occur in northern Queensland in the next 20 years. But with all this we will be short of men willing to work on the land. Intelligent academics in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - there are intelligent academics - have estimated that tropical areas could be made to carry nine times as many cattle as they now carry. If we were able to achieve this, we would be able to get a larger return from beef than we now get from wool.
The southern areas are not suffering from drought, although the area between the Murray and the Lachlan rivers has just been saved by the bell, if I may use that term. We have had one good fall of rain. However, our attention has been focused on the value of irrigation. The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has been uniquely successful and should be used on other water conservation projects and flood mitigation schemes. But when we think of wider development, we should be careful that we do not neglect to develop all the possibilities of projects that we have already undertaken. In the Riverina we were warned this year that there would be water restrictions. Certainly, this was the driest period for about 80 years, and it was the first dry year most of us had experienced for a considerable time. I suggest that this situation invites careful examination.
I want to refer briefly to northern development. In my opinion, we must have balanced development. We cannot do everything at once and priority must be given to some projects. The brigalow country is one of the areas that Wm carry huge numbers of cattle. I do not speak of this area as a person who has flown over it at a height of 30,000 feet and a speed of 300 miles an hour. I knew the brigalow country when you could not do anything with it except with an axe. However, as the Commonwealth Government has made a substantial contribution for the purpose of clearing the land, I believe that we are entitled to offer criticism. Huge areas are being cleared at the one time and then handed to young men. This is creating problems for them. I suggest that only a part of the area to be handed to a settler should be cleared before it is handed over. Secondary growth then would not present so many difficulties to people with limited capital. I think it was the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) who referred to iron ore in Western Australia.
– That is right.
– It was known in 1960 that iron ore deposits existed in this area, but the quantity and quality of the ore was not known. The Commonwealth Government allowed a certain amount of the ore to be exported. Because of this, further prospecting took place and today there is a known reserve of 15,000 million tons of ore that is comparable in quality to any ore in the world, except that found in an area of Brazil.
– Will it last for 1,000 years?
– At the present rate of output, it will last for 500 years.
– That is right, but civilisations go on far longer than that. We have come a long way since 1066.
– I am not here to talk about William the Conqueror. The honorable member should know that in this area five companies - they are predominantly Australian-owned - are building, at no cost to the Australian taxpayer, 590 miles of railway, seven towns and three ports that will take up to 100,000 tons of shipping. Furthermore, the companies are obliged to pelletise the ore within a certain time, make it into sponge iron in another given period and set up two steel works within 25 years. The development is not altogether one sided.
I want to refer now to probate, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) recently. Probate duty is generally considered to be a big revenue producer. A commission in America investigating medium sized estates came to the conclusion that money obtained in the short run was lost in the long run by probate which has a crippling effect not only on family estates but also on small businesses and factories. I would suggest that consideration could be given to assessing probate on a different basis from the one on which it is now assessed in the case of a family estate. Consideration could be given to assessing probate on the basis of the number of beneficiaries. Therefore, an estate of £50,000 which was to be divided between five beneficiaries or next of kin would be rateable as five units of £10,000 per unit instead of as one unit of £50,000. The situation which obtains today in relation to the man who has worked all his life on the land would not apply. Such a man very often has not enjoyed a very large income to put in his pocket but has built up a good asset. This is simply whittled away by probate. The most important thing in regard to probate on such land is continuity of ownership. An asset which has been built up by a family on the land is lost. This occurs quite often. 1 wish to refer briefly to the increase of nearly £3 million in the allotment for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. This is an institution that in my opinion, deserves our greatest support. It was said recently by one of the highest authorities in the land that C.S.I.R.O. cost the nation £200 million in 38 years - I accept that figure from the man who gave it - and it is now returning, conservatively, that much per annum. I hope that what is happening this year is taking up the slackening that occurred last year. I hope that C.S.I.R.O. will continue to grow. It is not necessarily our only source of scientific knowledge but it is an establishment which is unique and which has produced a number of practical results. It has played its part to a great extent in the achievements in the north to which I have just referred.
Many references have been made to northern development. There are plenty of opportunities in the north but there are also plenty of opportunities in the south, particularly in the coastal areas. So there is no necessity for people to venture into comparatively unknown areas where life is less congenial than elsewhere. Unless we are prepared to give people greater assistance with schooling, medical services, etc., the rewards for moving to such isolated areas will need to be very high. It is people who are the ingredient needed to develop these areas.
I refer also to the incidence to drought. We hean it said continually that a drought would not affect us as much as it used to do. I think such a statement comes in the category of famous last words. It is interesting to reflect that in New South Wales, in the drought which occurred between 1892 and 1903, the sheep population diminished from 62 million to 27 million. That figure of 62 million was not reached again in New South Wales until 1956. During that same period, the sheep population in Queensland fell from 22 million to 7 million.
A number of the problems associated with providing adequate measures to counter drought could be largely overcome by taxation assistance. A great deal could be done. I have mentioned the necessity for large water schemes and fresh irrigation plans. Much could be achieved by irrigation on farm areas and storage of fodders. I do not think it is practical to have a system of storage of fodder on a wide basis. But greater tax incentives by way of greater total deductions and special allowances could be given to encourage people to put larger dams on their properties and to undertake some local irrigation. This practice is widely followed in South Africa, and is of great assistance in times of intermittent drought, but perhaps not over long periods of drought. The days are long gone when we could allow large numbers of stock to die. This was what happened even as short a time ago as 30 years. I remember as a youth travelling with a pastoral inspector in Queensland. We stayed at a cattle property owned by a company, and I was kept awake at night by the bellowing of the cattle. When I complained next morning, the pastoral inspector said: “ You need not worry. The day after tomorrow, we are going to a place where there are no cattle alive.” That was true. But that is not good enough for this nation. Such things should be avoided if it is possible to do so. I think we have taken the necessary measures.
The company to which I referred was a big company which was able to set aside large areas of land for the purpose of countering the effects of drought. Most of that land is subdivided now. It is a very good thing to see land subdivided, provided it is subdivided in the best way, which is to provide for a man a place where he can raise a family and thrive. The wrong way is to subdivide it into an area where a man has to fight for his survival. One of the paddocks which this company kept to offset the effects of drought has been cut into three blocks of 180,000 acres. During one drought, 38,000 sheep were in that paddock. They were counted after the drought. I know this is a fact because I helped to count them. All the factors I have mentioned represent the small cogs which make up the big wheel. They are factors that assist in building up Australia as a nation.
Australia occupies a unique place in history. If honorable members look at a map they will see that never before has any one people had a continent to themselves. We have great things to do in this country, but I think we have to be bolder in our outlook. We have to take calculated risks. We have to build up our food producing potential to a tremendous extent. At this moment, we are running short of vegetables and the basic commodities in the producing areas which feed our cities. We shall have a water problem before very long as far as industry is concerned if we are not careful. The Australian Water Resources Council is doing a great deal about this matter but there are quite a few cross currents between State Governments and the Federal Government on this subject.
Another matter is that we should develop the potential of the areas we are using now before we go to areas which are further out. I refer particularly to the need for weirs on certain rivers. One which I looked at - the Marraboor Weir - is in a district that I share with the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). One of the State representatives to whom 1 spoke said that the Weir would cost £2 million and that a lot of water could be pumped for £100,000 which is 5 per cent, of £2 million. To me, this is a short term outlook. We have to take a longer view. Risks have to be taken in this country. We have not put the sand in the glass of time, and the odds are against us. I liken the outlook that we must develop this country to the outlook that one of our great cricketers took. I refer to Sir Donald Bradman, a batsman who possessed great talent. He combined with his talent energy and determination and a great capacity to take calculated risks. If he had not done that he might have remained a bush batsman in the backwoods of Bowral and be unknown to cricket history. That is an analogy. I suggest that long term finance is the greatest requirement of our economy today. Without any doubt we will fail to develop Australia in the way that it should be developed if we are not prepared to take a calculated risk. I am not advocating great inflation. We all know that too much money chasing too few goods is inflationary. It is not a matter of inflating currency but merely, I suggest, a matter of using capital that is now being held in reserve. We would not need a great deal of money to do most of the things that I have said are necessary to correct the evils that have come about from the drought and to build up the things that will be required in the future.
.- After listening to the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong) speaking about the drought situation, no doubt a great number of honorable members will leave the chamber and go somewhere else to quench their thirst. I support the amendment that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). In doing so I should like to say that this Budget can be regarded as a “ Ned Kelly “ Holt Budget which will have an effect somewhat in reverse of the actions of the famous Australian bushranger who was well known as taking from those who could afford it and giving the proceeds to the unfortunate. With the ever increasing cost of living this Budget will hit the pockets of the low wage earners. It will increase substantially the price of commodities from which most workers get enjoyment. The Government proposes increased taxes on beer, cigarettes and petrol, and also it will increase personal taxation. I wonder bow the Government missed imposing a tax on “ the pill n.
Recently the trade union movement applied to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for an increase in the basic wage. Although the Commission granted an increase in margins, it denied to many workers in Australia extra money in their pay packets. This Government’s representative before the Commission opposed an increase in the basic wage and said that at that juncture an increase would be fraught with great danger to the economy. But what do we find? In presenting the first Budget to be introduced after that decision of the Arbitration Commission, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) stood up in this chamber and painted a rosy picture of the economy and said that the gross national product had increased by 9 per cent.
In the course of this debate Government supporters have said that the Budget has met with no hostility. All I can say to those honorable members is that they must have stayed indoors, afraid to go out. I am sure that if they went out and mixed with the people they would soon learn the views of many people on the great increases in taxes. Let them try to convince the Australian housewife that an increase in the basic wage is not warranted. Let them ask this gallant band of women, who do battle every week looking for bargains to make ends meet, whether they can buy as much for £1 as they could six months ago. The housewives will soon answer that question. The cost of living today is causing undue hardship, but mostly for families in the low income bracket. The cost of meat is increasing. Families cannot afford to buy the better cuts of meat and today they are compelled to live on the cheaper varieties, such as mincemeat, minced steak and chuck steak, so that they can make ends meet.
There is to be an increase in petrol tax. The result will be an increase in transport costs. As a great number of our commodities, especially foodstuffs, and in particular vegetables, are transported by motor vehicle, the increased cost no doubt will be passed on to the consumer and we will find in the very near future that there will be a great increase in the retail prices of these commodities. By the time the Arbitra tion Commission grants another increase in the basic wage rising costs will have absorbed the increase before the worker ever receives it. We all know what happened on the last occasion. The basic wage was increased, but even before the workers received it rising costs had eaten up the increase, with the result that the workers received no benefit. 1 am sure that if women were allowed to appear before the Arbitration Commission they could present a sound case to warrant an increase in the basic wage. If a woman were appointed to the Arbitration Commission she could give the Commission some understanding of the problems confronting the workers who have to meet ever rising costs.
– A woman could not do worse than the present members of the Commission.
– That is so; probably a woman would not do worse than the present members of the Commission. By this Budget the Government proposes to increase excise on beer, which will raise about £21 million in revenue. But in addition to the worker paying this additional amount, the hotels’ association has added further increases. In New South Wales the increase in the price of beer is about 2s. 8d. a gallon, which in total will cost the workers another £19 million. Of course, this additional sum will not go to the Treasury; a great deal will go into the pockets of the hotelkeepers. But it will be at the expense of the consumer. The increased tax on beer will cost the consumers throughout Australia approximately £40 million.
The Budget will increase the tax on spirits by £1 1 ls. a proof gallon, which will increase the price of a nip by 1 id. This tax will raise £6i million. Again we find that the hotels’ association has imposed a further increase. The price of a nip will increase by 4d., so the consumers throughout Australia will have to pay an extra £17,120,000 for spirits. The Government will receive about £21.3 million from the increased tax on beer and spirits, but the hotels will receive £35.2 million. We do not hear any outcry from the Government or from Stale Governments to show that they are opposed to the hotels’ association imposing these extra costs. They have done nothing about it, yet the consumer will have to pay much more.
Yesterday the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) spoke about the price of beer and referred to the changeover to decimal currency. We will find when we change to decimal currency that the consumer who receives only a low wage will be called on to carry an extra burden and pay even more for his beer. Just before the Budget was presented certain articles appeared in the Press. One article referred to a “ Mr. Fixit “ who was going about selling spirits to hotelkeepers and the big brewery monopolies and offering a money back guarantee in the event of tax on spirits not being increased by the Budget. A great many of the hotels and breweries ordered quantities of spirits far in excess of the amounts they usually received. These stocks will be held and then passed on to the consumer at an increased price.
Increases in social service expenditure proposed by the Budget amount to more than £7,720,000. Certain pensioners will benefit, but the great majority of social service benefits will remain stable. The basic rate of pension remains unaltered. The married age pensioner couple will not benefit from this Budget. The extra 10s. supplementary assistance that the Government is granting will soon be absorbed by money hungry landlords. Many pensioners are still paying rents that take the major portion of their pensions. I know that in my electorate some pensioners are paying up to £5 a week for a room to live in. Some of the rooms have no cooking facilities. How can such people be expected to live on what they have left over? They are able to live only because charitable organisations give them free meals and free clothing. These people have to depend on charity. They have to beg and borrow in order to exist.
This Government is doing nothing whatever to house the aged. I know that we have the Aged Persons Homes Act, but charities have to find money before they become eligible for grants under that Act. This Government does not make any specific provision for the building of aged persons’ homes through the State housing authorities. No grants are made specifically for the building of homes for aged persons. Those of us who represent areas with large pensioner populations know that the greatest problem for pensioners today is high rents.
If they could get homes at reasonable rentals they probably would be able to live a little better than they are able to live on thenpensions today. But this Government is not concerned about the plight of pensioners. How does it expect them to exist with foodstuff prices as they are today? Pensioners do not get their foodstuffs at cheaper prices. They have to pay the same prices as a person receiving a substantial income pays. They do not buy their foodstuffs at cheaper prices than a member of Parliament buys his.
This is causing a great many pensioners to live in poverty. The Government should be ashamed of that, because it talks about the prosperity that we are enjoying in this country at the present time. Many of our senior citizens are too proud to accept anything from charities. JJ members of the Government parties got around and looked at the situation they would see that many pensioners are living in a state of poverty. We, as Australians, should be ashamed that any poverty at all exists in Australia. This Government is doing nothing to eliminate it. It has done nothing to assist these people, such as by supplying cheaper homes for them, by giving them decent places to live in or by giving them a decent and adequate pension.
A married pensioner whose wife receives the wife’s allowance and who is entitled to supplementary assistance has a total income of only £10 a week. That is still £1 a week less than the income of a married pensioner couple. Under this Budget there is no increase in the child allowance of 15s. a week. How can anyone expect parents to clothe, keep and educate any child on that paltry allowance? Many pensioners with children have to depend on handouts from friends, relations and charities. Many such children are jumped on at school because they have to wear clothes that are handed down or are given to them by neighbours or relations. Many of them have not new uniforms or new school clothing, as the rest of the kiddies in the community have.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the umpire lifting the bails for tea I had been batting on a sticky wicket because I had been referring to the social service benefits contained in the Budget. I had pointed out that many aged persons in the community will receive no benefit under this Budget. Last year pensioners received from the Budget an increase of 5s. a week, but, without advance notice by way of a statement in the Press or in this House, the cost of television licences, which many of these people are obliged to hold, was increased, cancelling out in large measure the value of the increase in pensions.
The Budget provides for an increase in the amount of the funeral benefit. The benefit is to be increased from £10 to £20. But the increased amount is payable only to a person who is a pensioner. We know that in many cases sons or daughters are compelled to pay for the funeral of their parents, but they will not get the extra £10. All that they will get is the paltry £10 which the Government has been handing out for the last 10 years or so. Notwithstanding the fact that these sons and daughters of pensioners must pay £80 or £90 in many cases for the funeral of their parents, the Government refuses to help them.
Government supporters claim that the Government deserves commendation for the free hospital treatment that it provides for pensioners. The fact is that the Commonwealth provides only £1 16s. a day towards the cost of treating a pensioner in a hospital. The States must make up the difference. It costs about £6 a day to keep a patient in a public ward of a hospital these days. The burden of looking after aged persons in hospital falls upon the State Governments, which must find about £4 4s. a day in respect of each pensioner. Many pensioners are forced to go into mental institutions. After they have been there for four weeks the Government ceases to pay their pensions. They receive nothing by way of pension while they are in a mental institution. The Government should continue to pay pensions to these people while they are in hospital, irrespective of what kind of hospital it is.
One category of social service recipients which the Government seems to have forgotten are recipients of sickness and unemployment benefits. After many years the benefit remains at £4 2s. 6d. for the husband, £3 for his wife and 15s. for each child. An unmarried person between the ages of 16 and 18 years receives only £1 15s. a week. The rate for unmarried persons between the ages of 18 and 20 years - £2 7s. 6d. - has not been increased in all this time. It is stupid to think that anybody could exist on such a miserly handout. At 30th June this year only 10,187 people were in receipt of the sickness benefit. The Government has neglected these people. The benefits should have been increased.
Recently I saw on television the programme “ Four Corners “. It dealt with the costs of litigation. A young couple told the reporter that the husband had met with an accident and had been waiting for years for their case to come to trial. In the meantime the husband was in receipt of the unemployment benefit. He was receiving a total benefit of £7 17s. a week, out of which he was paying £7 a week rental for a flat. This left 17s. a week on which to keep himself, his wife and his child. Because of their difficulties the couple had lost many of their friends, who could not afford to assist them.
– They also lost a lot of hope.
– They did. Because they could not meet their commitments they lost many of their friends. They were forced to depend on charity. Charitable institutions were giving them a handout until their case came before the court.
These are some of the problems which the people of this country must face under this Government. The Government has let the people down. It should have done more to assist the people.
Not everybody missed out in the Budget. A certain section of the community will benefit considerably. I refer to doctors. Payments for medical services will cost the Government an extra £6,233,000. Of this amount £2,690,000 is brought about by the fact that a medical entitlement card is to be issued to pensioners who formerly were not entitled to one. Payment of Commonwealth benefit to members of medical benefits funds will account for £3,062,000 and repatriation services will cost an extra £471,000. Government supporters have praised the Treasurer for extending the benefits of the pensioner medical scheme, but for ten years the Labour Party has been agitating for such an extension. On occasions Opposition members have moved amendments to legislation in an endeavour to extend the benefits of the scheme, but on all occasions Government supporters have voted against the amendments. Government supporters have been guided in their actions by the attitude of the Australian Medical Association, which has been opposed to extending the scheme. We should place on record in “ Hansard “ our appreciation not of the Government but of the Australian Medical Association for permitting the Government to make this humanitarian gesture. This extension of the operations of the scheme will benefit financially 108,000 pensioners who have been paying for medical benefits.
In the last couple of months doctors in general have increased their fees. In many cases the increases are to operate from 1st November next. Doctors are a select section of the community. They do not have to go be i ore an arbitration tribunal in order to obtain an increase in fees. They are not even governed by their own association. They gather together in small groups in the various districts in Sydney, for example, and they decide what their fees will be. The President of the New South Wales branch of the Association, Dr. Hamilton, has stated that fees for surgery consultations will rise by 3s. to 28s. and for home visits by 3s. 6d. to 36s., but many groups of doctors have decided that these rises are not sufficient and that they will charge even higher fees. In the electorate which I represent, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, doctors have raised their fees from £1 5s. to £1 10s. for a surgery visit, to £2 5s. for a home visit and to £2 5s. for a surgery visit outside normal hours. If they make a home visit outside normal trading hours, if you like to call it that, they charge £3.
In some areas outside of Sydney some of the associations decided not to increase their fees. In the Blue Mountains area the doctors decided to keep the fees at 25s. for a surgery visit and 32s 6d. for a home visit. On the central coast, in the Gosford area, doctors also decided to charge 25s. for a surgery visit and 32s. 6d. for a home visit. In the northern districts, including Tamworth, the fee for a surgery visit is to be 25s. and for a home visit 30s. Two district associations of doctors have decided to charge excess fees. South Sydney doctors have agreed to a charge of 30s. for a surgery consultation and 40s. for a home visit.
Here we have a section of the community which does not have to go to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, or appear before any judicial body. The associations decide what the doctors’ fees will be by just moving a motion, and of course the community has to pay.
Recently there has also been an increase in subscriptions to medical benefit funds. The most that a person paying under the 4s. a week table can receive in benefit for a visit is 18s. For a person paying under the 5s. table, again 18s. is the most that he can receive. For those paying under the 6s. table an amount of £1 can be received. If a person has to pay an account of 35s. to a doctor he does not receive from the fund even 60 per cent, of his account. When the legislation introducing the national health scheme was brought into the Parliament, Sir Earle Page declared in the House on 20th November 1953 that the Commonwealth would contribute approximately 90 per cent, of the cost of all medical services. Honorable members will see that the amount a person receives from the benefit funds at the present time falls far short of the percentage that was given when the legislation was introduced. A married man contributing under the 6s. table is called upon to pay £15 12s. a year to a medical benefit fund, but each time he goes to see his doctor he has to fork out another 15s. If the doctor writes a prescription, at least another 5s. is taken out of the patient’s pocket.
Only 70 per cent, of the population today is covered by the medical benefits scheme. In order to receive the 8s. Commonwealth benefit a person must be a member of a medical benefits fund. After all, this is the taxpayers’ money. Why should not the 8s. be paid to persons who do not belong to a medical benefit fund? A great many people cannot afford to be in these funds and that is why only 70 per cent, of the community are covered for medical benefits.
As I have already stated neither the Parliament, the Government nor any court has the right to dictate the fees that may be charged by doctors. The doctors are unlike trade unionists, who are forced to apply to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in order to obtain extra benefits. I am not opposed to doctors obtaining a rise. They are entitled to a decent salary, but I cannot see that it is fair for one section of the community to have the right to fix its own fees while oher people have to apply to the Commission before they can receive justice. It is time that the Government appointed a select committee of the Parliament to inquire into the cost of medical fees, drugs and hospitalisation so that the full facts can be placed before the people of Australia. Before Government supporters speak about these matters they should compare the Australian medical benefits scheme with the English scheme. In England today optical and dental services are included in the scheme.
There is just one other matter to which I should like to refer. This week, as we know, Legacy Week is being celebrated. At the present time a large number of Australian troops are committed to overseas service. It is natural that there will be casualties and that many widows and children will have to be provided for in this country. It is a pity that Legacy has to appeal for funds to assist it in the wonderful work that it does on behalf of the widows and children of ex-servicemen who are not catered for by the Government. Legacy accepts the responsibility of looking after widows and children irrespective of the cause or time of death of the soldier. This year in Sydney alone Legacy is catering for 27,188 widows and children of exservicemen by assisting them financially. It is estimated that Legacy’s budget to cover the cost of its activities this year will be £278,000. Last year it was only £260,000. Honorable members can see that it is on the increase. Next year it will be a great deal more.
I think that it is a great insult to the Government and to the nation that the children and widows of ex-servicemen have to be catered for by some outside body.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– This Budget is very largely a defence Budget. The largest single increase in expenditure in the forthcoming year will be expenditure for defence - an additional amount of £83 million. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine), in common with many of his colleagues, has completely ignored this factor which has had Such a significant impact on the framework of the Budget. Indeed, the amendment moved bv the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), while it mentions various matters that are important, makes no mention whatever of this matter which is so vital and important at this point of time.
The general purpose of Budget policy does not vary very much from one year to another. The purpose is to pursue an even and balanced development throughout the year; to maintain justice between different sections of the community; on the one hand to stay on the narrow path between inflation and deflation while on the other hand seeing that we live within our income, not only as individuals but as a nation, to marshal the resources of the country by policies necessary not only for Australia’s advancement but also, in today’s circumstances, for its survival.
The general objectives of the Budget remain the same from year to year, but the measures adopted obviously will vary from year to year because various pressures occur at particular points of time, and very often these pressures are outside our control. The pressures at this particular point of time are these: There is a scarcity of labour - especially of skilled labour - which has an impact on many industries, included amongst which are, of course, the defence industries. We have a moderately adverse trade balance because of the high demand inside Australia. It has been largely an industrial demand and not a consumer demand. We have had lower prices for our exports, which has been a factor in the adverse balance of payments. Capital inflow has been reduced, largely by measures outside of our control. There have been the demands of a growing economy which we need to meet, and which we want to meet. Two instances of this are the extra £69 million to be found for State purposes in this Budget and the extra £8 million for the Postmaster-General’s Department. We all agree that these increases are necessary. Then there is the largest increase of all, the additional £83 million for defence.
Many of these matters are outside our control. Lower export prices, the fall in capital inflow and the increased defence needs of Australia are matters that we cannot really affect; we have to meet them as they arise. Others we might be able to alter but, because of national needs, we would not want to. Finance for the Post Office and many other Government departments, as well as increased expenditure on education, would come within this particular category.
This, therefore, means that there is limited room for manoeuvre within the framework of the Budget itself. The Budget should and must be judged on the manner in which it meets the needs of the country at this particular point of time and on the manner in which it reduces the pressures which are bearing on the economy - pressures which, if untouched, would tend to push it one way or the other. As we know, this year expenditure is to be increased by a record £275 million. Revenue, untouched by increased taxes, would increase at a much lesser rate than this. Loan prospects are reduced compared with last year by something between £20 million and £30 million, on the estimates made in the Budget. In addition, of course, we have defence needs which could involve additional expenditure throughout the course of the year.
These circumstances make increased taxes necessary and, as we know, these have been imposed. As a result of these increased taxes, demand will be reduced in certain sectors but, in view of the employment situation and in view of our balance of payments position, I think it is pertinent to ask whether the Budget does enough to relieve these pressures. My answer to this would be that it does, and I shall give reasons for saying that.
Matters which are working outside the Budget and which will help to relieve inflationary pressures and pressures on the balance of payments include, firstly, the recent decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It is a fact of life that if from £100 million to £200 million had been added to the wage bill, the inflationary pressure so generated would have been very great indeed. The drought will reduce demand throughout large areas of the country. Liquidity is much tighter than it has been for many sections of the community for a long time and this will help to bear down again on the pressures on the economy. A proportion at least of the increased defence moneys and a large part of the standing defence vote will be spent overseas on orders for equipment. That will not be an inflationary expense for Australia.
If we look at the nature of our imports for last year, we will find by far the greatest increase in such items as metals, metal manufactures, machines and machinery of different kinds. The increase in the importation of consumer goods was not very much. When we look at the Mount Isa strike and the position of the motor car industry, we have good grounds for believing that at least a part of last year’s increase in imports was of a non-recurring nature.
In addition, there is what I think is the pleasing factor that at present there are relatively no speculative pressures which need some kind of control. All these factors give us good grounds for concluding that the pressures on labour and on the balance of payments will stay well within acceptable limits throughout this year. Even though the Treasurer has but limited room for manoeuvre within its framework, this Budget has done a great deal to maintain the development of the country, as the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) outlined earlier in the debate. In addition, there are welcome extensions of social services and international aid of one kind or another. The ready and general acceptance that this Budget has had throughout Australia is a tribute to the Government and to the Treasurer as well as to the initiative, skill and industry put into it.
I should like to turn now to the at times vexed subject of overseas investment. This is a subject which we would do well to examine without emotion. We would do well to examine the facts as they exist. It is very easy to make emotional statements about this matter, and thereby attract favorable publicity of one kind or another, but this is not necessarily the kind of approach which is in the best interests of Australia. The Opposition has been guilty on more than one occasion of playing up this particular subject purely for the emotion it can arouse in a nationalistic sense.
Let us look at the gains that can come from overseas capital flowing to Australia. They are increased resources, increased facilities, increased services, the establishment of new industries, improvements to existing industries and import savings year by year. In addition, the investment of overseas capital can very often lead directly to increased exports. There are times when large undertakings could not be begun but for overseas capital coming into Australia which is prepared to stand for several years without any initial profit. This kind of venture - the really large venture - often requires overseas capital and sometimes overseas knowledge as a prerequisite to its existence.
But it is clear that if there are gains there are also costs. There is clearly a price that nobody in this Parliament would be prepared to pay. In the 1930’s, payments overseas were absorbing about one-half of our export funds at one time. This is a circumstance that we would not want to repeat, and I do not believe that the policies of this Government would ever lead to that eventuality. In the last few years, the proportion of the net national product, to use the Statistician’s terms, payable overseas has varied between 2.3 per cent, and 1.8 per cent. That has been the variation over the last ten years. This is a fairly small proportion of our national net product to pay for the benefits that have come from overseas investment in Australia. I think it is unreasonable to assume that this proportion will increase, because overseas income also grows as a result of the capital inflow that has been taking place and which this Government hopes will continue to take place.
People are often concerned about the question of overseas control of Australian industry. This is perhaps more a political cost than an economic cost. Looking at the question in economic terms in order to try to judge its political impact, we find that 25 per cent, of investment in companies over recent years has been, to an extent, foreign owned, and I think it would be reasonable to believe that the control of those companies would be in a similar proportion. This is all new investment year by year. But what alternative is there to accepting this except a slower rate of growth, which I would hope we are all opposed to in this Parliament? Perhaps one might ask whether we could establish conditions which would enable this degree of overseas control or ownership to be reduced. But can we be sure that we can establish those conditions and not drive the capital to other countries? There is not so much of it about that it is easy to get. There are many countries competing for overseas funds at this particular time, but up to the present Australia has been fairly lucky and has been favoured by overseas capital as a place for investment.
The Government believes - I fully support its view - that negotiations between the Government and the company or industry concerned with new capital investment in this country at the beginning of the venture represent by far the best approach to this problem at this point of time. I think this is so, because circumstances are different for different industries. Any hard and fast rule that we might tend to lay down as appropriate for one industry may not be appropriate for another, ls it unreasonable for the owners of the capital that comes to Australia from overseas to control that capital? Must we assume always that the owners of the capital will use it against Australia’s interests and not for our interests?
I should like to examine one kind of case that is sometimes quoted. If overseas capital comes to Australia and buys out an existing or already established firm, this is certainly a rebuff to our national pride, but the result is not necessarily bad for Australia. For instance, the industry is probably going to be improved; it would be a bad investment for an overseas firm to buy a firm in Australia and do nothing with it but carry it on in the old way. It is almost certainly going to be expanded, improved and further developed. Then, when we look at the other side of the coin in this matter, we see that Australians who formerly owned the industry now have funds that they will use in other directions, that they will utilise in the performance of other acts of development inside Australia. Overseas reserves will also be increased by the capital imports, which will help development, perhaps, in many different fields.
There are, of course, extremes of overseas investment. You can imagine a firm with a local share interest in a new industry which adds to exports. It allows that industry to export and it has imported funds origininally to establish that industry. Then it would be possible to find examples of another kind of overseas firm which does not import funds to this country, which uses its name and reputation to raise fixed interest capital in Australia and which perhaps at the same time places an export embargo on the Australian subsidiary. This is, of course, at the other end of the scale of examples of the kind of overseas investment which does not serve Australia’s interests very well.
But when people talk about a local share in industries established by overseas capital it is important to know what they are talking about. It is important to know what a local share in such an industry can achieve and what it cannot, because I sometimes believe that people think that a local share in an overseas firm with a branch in Australia can achieve much more than it in fact can. It will not achieve control of the industry, because the overseas interest will not sell enough of it to allow this to be done. It may allow Australian interests to exert some influence on the industry if the local shareholding is held by one or two or three firms at the most, but if the local shareholding is scattered through thousands of shareholders in this country, then the local shareholding will have no influence on that company’s affairs in any way whatsoever.
A local share in such an industry does not add to our resources; it reduces them, because less overseas funds will have come in for the industries established and there would be less funds, therefore, to do the things that Australia needs to do to push its development as fast as possible. A local share in the industry does mean that profits will be shared, and this satisfies public opinion and so is useful in itself. It means that future payments overseas will be reduced. It means that there will be a greater identity of interest between the Australian shareholders and the overseas firms. These are useful results. But we want to know what a local interest cannot achieve, and I have given an outline of this.
There have been people who have at times suggested that laws should be established to force participation in a local firm. I think this approach at this point of time would be quite wrong because all cases cannot be treated in the same manner. Forty per cent, of the real value of overseas firms would probably amount to about £400 million or £500 million at this time. If you passed a law to say that local interests must over a period buy 40 per cent, of these overseas firms it would mean that we would not only have to find £400 million or £500 million in Australia to pay somebody but also that these funds would have to be remitted overseas, with fairly serious consequences for our balance of payments. It is clear that if any approach of this kind were ever to be taken it could only be taken in respect of industries that are going to be established here at some time in the future. But again I prefer the approach of negotiation at the beginning of the establishment of an industry, and a government’s power of negotiation could be quite considerable, especially over an industry that needed tariff protection at the outset of its introduction to Australia.
It is quite clear that the volume of overseas investment that’ comes here involves a risk from time to time. There is no security of inflow, as United States and United Kingdom action has shown us in recent months. But beyond treating overseas capital well we can have little influence on this. A cut back of overseas investment could have an effect on our balance of payments and on liquidity. It could affect our imports and reduce the rate of our development, and the resulting deficiencies we would have to meet by budgetary, monetary or fiscal means of one kind or another.
There is a possibility, I believe remote, of large-scale withdrawals. 1 say it would be remote because in emergency there is always the availability of exchange control, and it is difficult to realise assets quickly and to take them out of the country. But because of these reasons it is clear that Australia needs larger reserves than might otherwise be the case to counteract any temporary changes in the flow of overseas capital to this country. This again has been demonstrated in the policy of the Government. It should be possible, and I believe it is, for overseas capital to continue to come to Australia on reasonable and equitable terms for Australia and for the overseas interests involved. Overseas capital, when it comes here, throws in its lot with ours, and therefore some protection for its assets is reasonable. Subject to balance of payments problems, income and capital should be capable of being moved out at the will of the owner, but this cannot be guaranteed because if international solvency were threatened any government would act
But for this reason the owners of overseas capital have an interest in increasing overseas earnings as a means of self protection or protection for their investment inside Australia, and I believe more of them are coming to realise this. If overseas capital is to continue to attract favourable treatment, as it has had in Australia, it must use Australia’s resources well, go along with official policies and avoid inordinate profits. Again, in general terms, this Is what has been taking place.
It is worth looking at the statistics for a moment with regard to overseas investment to see what changes have occurred over a period of several years. It is important to take a fairly broad view because short term changes in the statistical position can lead one to a misleading conclusion. In the seventeen years to 1963-64 nearly £2,000 million of overseas investment came to Australia. This is in respect of companies. Of this amount 54 per cent, or more than £1,000 million came from the United Kingdom and 37 per cent, or £670 million from North America, largely the United States. It is worth comparing the nature of the investment from the two sources because it has, for at least part of this time, been of substantially different natures. In the United Kingdom new investment has always been more than the re-investment of undistributed profits. Over the whole period new investment has totalled £761 million from the United Kingdom while reinvestment of undistributed profits from that country has totalled £310 million. But if we look at the United States and Canada we find that re-investment of undistributed profits has often, except for the last few years, been very much higher than new investment. From 1947-48 to 1959-60 new investment totalled £125 million from the United States and Canada while reinvestment of undistributed profits amounted to £200 million. For the years since 1960-61, to 1963-64, this trend in respect of North America has been reversed. New investment has totalled £272 million and re-investment of undistributed profits has been as little as £73 million. This is evidence of a remarkable change in the profitability of North American investment in Australia.
In the latter years of the fifties, from 1953-54 to the end of the decade, profitability of North American investment varied between 14.8 per cent, and 22 per cent. Over the same period United Kingdom investment varied in profitability from 6.9 to 8.4 per cent. I think this shows quite a remarkable difference. But since 1961 the United States rate has fallen dramatically and now stands at only 1 per cent, or so more than the United Kingdom rate - 7.7 per cent, as compared with something over 6 per cent. Thus, despite £410 million of additional investment from the United States since 1949-50- this is up to 1963-64- income payable to North America as a cost of overseas investment has risen by only £1 million, from £48 million to £49 million. While over the same period United Kingdom investment has risen by £476 million, income payable to the United Kingdom has increased from £56 million to £75 million. United Kingdom investment has clearly been less flamboyant but steadier in its results, although overall North American investment in Australia has been the more profitable of the two.
The cost to the economy over these periods has not altered very much, in relative terms. In 1949-50 an amount of £35 million was payable overseas, while in the 1963-64 year £136 million was payable overseas to service investment. In the earlier period overseas investment was equal to about a quarter of the gross private investment expenditure inside Australia. In 1963- 64, the proportion was the same. Although it dropped in the early I950’s, it rose again in the latter 1950’s and has remained at about a quarter. But it is possible to look at this in another way. In 1949-50, 21 per cent, of company income was payable overseas to service overseas investment. In 1963- 64, the proportion had risen to 26 per cent. - a not remarkable increase, having regard to the great advantages and the greater rate of development achieved in Australia as a result of overseas investment. Income payable overseas, as a percentage of net national product, has remained fairly steady. In 1949-50, the proportion was 1.6 per cent. In 1958-59, it rose to a peak of 2.3 per cent. It has since fallen to 1.9 per cent. These figures do not indicate any dangerous reliance on overseas investment or any dangerous increase in overseas control of and participation in Australian industry.
It is important that this subject be dealt with factually and not emotionally. Otherwise, we are certain to make the wrong judgments about it. In forming our opinions, we should look not only to the direct benefits or the direct costs of overseas investment. We should look also to the indirect benefits or, if you like, the indirect costs of things such as import replacement and the addition to our exports and the capacity, strength and diversity of our economy and the ability to do more than we once could have done. It might once have been thought that Australia’s capacity to develop had strict limits. But 1 do not believe that anyone now thinks this is so. The recent discoveries of minerals, natural gas and oil, and the possibility of finding the latter two in really commercial quantities, have lifted the lid off the possibilities of Australian development, if ever there were real limitations. Are we to develop as quickly as possible, importing both people and capital at the maximum possible rate, or are we to develop slowly and relatively alone? If the majority of honorable members believe that the best long term defence of Australia will be provided by an ever growing, stronger and more resourceful people and economy, we have no choice but to develop as fast as we can, with all the help we can get. We have not the time to do it alone.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), when proposing his amendment, very clearly pointed out to the House that the Budget that we are now discussing is not a defence Budget. Yet the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) has just seen fit to repeat that this is a defence Budget. Apparently, Government supporters, from top to bottom, believe, as did other famous propagandists from whom we have heard in the past, that if one repeats an untruth often enough, someone will believe it.
– Why go on, then?
– Absolutely, but honorable members opposite still try. It has been pointed out, and figures were incorporated in “ Hansard “ to prove, that this Government is spending, as a proportion of the gross national product, less on defence today than it spent 12 years ago. After all, the sum spent on defence must be considered as a proportion of the amount that we have available. The proportion of the gross national product spent on defence in 1953-54 was 3.73 per cent. In the financial year 1965-66, the Government proposes to spend only 3.54 per cent, of the gross national product on defence. If we are adequately to defend this country, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we shall have to do better than that.
I have pointed out in this House before that Australia is defending itself well enough to be able quite easily to defeat an attempted invasion by Nicaragua, the Republic of Panama or even Portuguese Timor. But, if we get out of that class, what have we with which to defend ourselves, apart from the quality of the men in our defence forces? We would not have much chance against any enemy more powerful than the three countries that I have mentioned. The Australian people are interested not only in the sum that is spent on defence but also in what we get for the money we spend. What do we receive? We pay - and pay heavily - for the equipment that is imported. We are told that Australia is not sufficiently developed, and has not sufficient population, to be able to establish and maintain its own armaments industry. Yet a country like Sweden, which has a population only two thirds the size of ours and which has nothing approaching the raw material resources that we have, has been able to establish and maintain its own armaments industry.
I am reliably informed by a gentleman who knows that the profit margin between manufacture and installation of some of the equipment going into the new destroyers that are being constructed in the United States of America exceeds 1,000 per cent. This sort of thing should not be happening in any Australian defence project. These charges are fantastic. That this sort of thing occurs in Europe has recently been very well demonstrated in an imported magazine that detailed these matters very clearly. Scientific or technical equipment is expensive. We have come to accept this. We seem to think that because an item of equipment bears some maker’s name that half the population cannot pronounce, it is quite all right if the cost runs into millions.
Two Italian youths who lived in Turin wanted to build themselves a tracking station. The problems appeared great. They wanted to establish a station with which they could track satellites and interplanetary rockets. I suppose that a lot of youths have thought that this would be a good idea. But here were a couple who did it. They established their station in an abandoned German concrete bunker. So they got the building for nothing. Governments, on the other hand, spend millions of pounds on such installations. These two youths, however, had to operate within the limits of their pocket money or abandon the project. One of the main items required was a moveable disk antenna. The Americans spent 15 million dollars on theirs at Tyngsboro in Massachusetts. The British constructed one at Joddrell Bank for £1,600,000. But the Italian lads were not deterred. They thought they would inquire how much it would cost to build one in Turin. So they consulted a contractor. He quoted them £1,400. But this was too much. Obviously, there was only one solution: They had to build it themselves. And they did- at a cost of £13 7s. 6d. We might say that this was just a toy, and we might ask what it would accomplish. We might ask what could be done with an antenna that cost only £13 7s. 6d., when the Americans felt it necessary to spend 15 million dollars on an installation for the same purpose.
The Italian boys staffed their station with friends - other youths who lived in the area - to the number of 15. The sister of the two boys also became a member of the staff. She had to learn Russian so they could listen to conversations between the crews of manned Soviet rockets and their control stations. These rank amateurs, with their junk yard station, rapidly expanded into what is now known as the Zeus network. It comprises 17 stations extending around the world, linked together by short wave radio. This was all done with an initial expenditure of £13 7s. 6d.
The cost of the station, of course, is of less importance than what it achieved. The youths concentrated on the Russians and were very quickly able to determine six frequencies used by Russian tracking stations. The youths were able to listen in at will. They developed a method that enabled them to determine whether the signals they intercepted came from the ground or from moving vehicles. They can predict and record the orbital paths of rockets and satellites with such accuracy that, 12 hours in advance, they predicted that the Russian Lunik IV would miss the moon by approximately 5,000 miles. In the event, it missed the moon by 5,281 miles. That is not bad for the expenditure of £13 7s. 6d. They saw a pre-flight picture of the American Glenn capsule and calculated the frequency from the size and construction of the antenna. This must have been a pretty fa it tracking station. The secret of all this is that they spent nothing at all for patent rights or commission. They knew what they wanted to do and they invented their own equipment, with no experience and very little money, and constructed their station with only amateur assistance. I do not suggest that the Government should follow the same line as the two Italian youths did, but the Government might find it profitable to allow our local talent some opportunity to show what it can do before contracting for fantastically expensive overseas technical equipment.
Expensive technical equipment is being installed on our three new destroyers, one of which has been handed over to the Australian authorities. Recently, the Press published an article by Vice Admiral Sir Henry Burrell, who was Chief of the Australian Naval Staff until he retired some three years ago. He said -
The new destroyers would have time to fire and guide onto the target only two guided missiles each during an attack by modern aircraft. Three ships would be a sufficient screen - if the enemy used no more than six aircraft in the attack. If enemy bombers attacked at 800 miles per hour, they would not come within range of the Tartar missile until they themselves were only IS miles from the ships.
Just imagine that! Here we have three destroyers, each costing £22 million and the recently retired Chief of the Australian Naval Staff says that they can, in action, fire two missiles each. Hostile aircraft travelling at anything like supersonic speed, themselves armed with air to surface missiles, would not be within range of the missiles on our destroyers until they came within 15 miles. There would not be time to reload and have a second shot. That is not my opinion; that is the opinion of the Admiral. We had a similar experience during the last war. Two British battle cruisers were sent out from Singapore and were sunk by one flight of Japanese aircraft in less than 20 minutes.
There would obviously be no time to reload the launchers on our new destroyers after the first discharge, because the hostile aeroplanes would be approaching at about 13 miles a minute. As the Admiral said, all might be well if the enemy used only six aircraft and all our three destroyers were together when attacked. We might add a few more “ ifs “ and say: “ If there were no malfunction at the point of discharge, if all the missiles operated correctly after discharge and, of course, if they all landed on the target “. American experience is that some 1 5 per cent, of failure occurs from one cause or another, even under favorable conditions. We could expect something to go wrong with one missile every time the six were discharged. If the enemy attacked with 10, 20 or even 100 aircraft, we could fully expect a repetition of the disaster that befell the two British battle cruisers off Singapore during the last war. They lasted less than 20 minutes.
Our destroyers are costing £22 million each or £66 million in all. The British have designed and tested a naval vessel known as the Brave class. It is only a small ship, slightly less than 100 feet long, but it is capable of carrying substantial armament and travels at almost twice the speed of the “ Perth “. This ship could be scaled up by 50 per cent, and would then be capable of carrying the Tartar or similar missiles. The cost of the scaled up vessel is estimated at £500,000. At this cost, we could have built 120 ships for the cost of our three destroyers and would then have been able initially to discharge no fewer than 240 missiles. Even allowing for malfunction, these vessels would have superior performance to that of the destroyers we are buying.
– What would happen if the attack were made by a cruiser instead of aircraft?
– What about guns; do they carry guns?
– The Brave class vessel is capable of carrying guns. It carries torpedoes and it will carry guided missiles. If the attack were made by cruisers instead of aircraft, these vessels would still be able to discharge their guided missiles. The Tartar missile is limited to a range of 12 to 15 miles. The larger number of small vessels would enable a screen to be established covering some thousands of miles of coastline, if they were stationed 20 miles apart. The three destroyers could cover 60 miles at most. I do not say that this would be the ideal use to be made of the smaller ships, but it does show their greater effectiveness for a country such as Australia. The Brave class ship would present a smaller target and, being faster, would be harder to hit by aircraft, surface vessel or submarine. It would require less depth of water and could more easily operate in the shallow coastal waters in which we would expect our Navy to operate.
I do not claim that we cannot use the three destroyers we are buying. There is no doubt a job for them to do. But the recently retired Chief of the Australian Naval Staff has pointed out that these vessels have only limited effectiveness against aircraft, and in all probability they will one day be called upon to operate against aircraft. The smaller vessels would be able to do more jobs. They could carry armament that would enable them to discharge two missiles. They could be used in shallow water. They could be used as commando carriers in co-operation with the Army. There would also be more of them left at the conclusion of the first action in which our Navy was engaged. This argument can also be applied to the Royal Australian Air Force. We are buying Mirage aircraft at a cost of £1,250,000 each. They are supersonic aircraft, capable of a speed of 1,500 miles an hour. But some experts in the Air Force are having second thoughts about equipping the Air Force entirely with this type of aircraft. I am quite sure that many people who fought in the last war would have seen incidents similar to those I have seen. On one occasion in New Guinea I saw a large number of Japanese aeroplanes bombing the Wau air base. In the middle of the bombing raid, a Wirraway came back from a reconnaissance mission. The pilot of the Wirraway flew around for about 25 minutes. The Zeros and Messerschmitt* attacked him. The Wirraway flew around and around and dodged all of the attacking aircraft. He had no supporting fire from the ground. He was not even hit.
– Where did the Messerschmitts come from?
– The Japanese apparently got them by some arrangement with the Germans. They certainly had them there and they were using them as dive bombers attacking the airstrip. There were about six of them and they were protected by about 30 or 40 Zeros which were flying about at a higher altitude. When the Wirraway appeared, these aircraft found that they could not shoot it down. They could not even hit him.
There is a very strong suspicion that subsonic planes today could even dodge the more sophisticated air-to-air and groundtoair missiles. The faster a vehicle travels, the more difficult it is, obviously, to manoeuvre it. If a plane takes 20 or 30 miles to turn, it has not very much chance of shooting down even a Tiger Moth. It cannot get within cooee of it. if the plane keeps near the ground. We need this type of plane. We need ground attack planes and aircraft which can attack other aircraft close to the surface. Aircraft have been purchased for £li million which, incidentally, cannot operate outside the range of their ground control. This is a very serious aspect of our defence expenditure.
This country is entitled to get value for the money it spends on defence. The people are entitled to know that they are getting value for the money that is spent. If we spend money abroad, very largely on patent rights and commissions, and if we buy only highly sophisticated material that cannot be effectively operated, then we do not get the value for our money that we are entitled to expect. What is the use of having planes which can fly at 1,500 miles an hour or better, if they cannot fly out of the area covered by their ground control? Maybe that is not correct. It has been stated to be the case. It has even been stated by the Government that we now have mobile ground control. It would take a long time to move the control from Darwin down to Derby or somewhere else in the southern section of Australia.
It is not much use having a plane in the air which can travel at more than 1,000 miles an hour if the mobile ground control can only move at about 30 or 40 miles an hour. The effective operational sphere of the aircraft is confined to a control which is more or less fixed on the ground. Is the Government going to repeat the error that was made in 1942 when our battle cruisers proved ineffective - absolutely ineffective - against what were, at that time, second class Japanese aircraft? It looks very much as if the remarks made by the retired naval officer are correct. I see no reason to suspect that his statement would not be correct. He has said that the three new destroyers can discharge only two missiles each before they themselves will be under attack. If every missile gets away, functions correctly and aims on the target, the three destroyers between them could bring down only six planes. Anybody crazy enough to attack these destroyers with only six planes would deserve to be shot down. But if the attack was made with the number of planes that were usually used in such attacks during the last war, what would be the obvious fate of the three destroyers and, incidentally, the £66 million that they cost and also the crews?
It is worth mentioning that while the three destroyers which we have ordered are being built by the Americans, Indonesia has bought five destroyers - not three - of a similar class. Those five destroyers have a speed of 38 knots, not 35 knots as ours have. The Indonesian destroyers have 5.1 inch guns as a secondary armament, not 5 inch guns as ours are. It is noted the guided missiles with which those destroyers are equipped have a range of about 20 miles, not 12 or 15 miles as our guided missiles will have. Somebody asked earlier what would happen to our destroyers if they met a surface craft. I will leave to the imagination of honorable members just what would happen to the three destroyers if they met the five Indonesian destroyers in any hostilities that might occur, bearing in mind the different ranges of the armament and the different speeds of the two types. If our destroyers were attacked from the air, and if the enemy used only half a dozen aircraft, all would be well. This is the fact.
The five destroyers are Russian built. No doubt the Government well knows that. The Government has spent its money, more or less, on something which it knows, before it receives it, will be ineffective. What the Government is creating is an anti-submarine force, not a combat force at all. It is building a navy which will be a branch of the American Navy that will act in southern waters as an anti-submarine patrol. The Government is not building a combat fleet in spite of the money it is spending.
Australia has not an aircraft carrier. We have not a strike force. In fact, we have not an effective navy. Our personnel are all right. This has been proved in war after war. They are as good as ever they were. But the Government did not expect the Admiral when he retired to say very much. He could not say anything before he retired.
– He would have retired a lot earlier if he had done so.
– As my friend from Port Adelaide says, if he had said this before he would have retired a lot earlier. But he has retired now and he can say what he thinks. He has said what he thinks. What effect has this had on Government policy? It has had no effect at all. These matters are very important. They are vital to this country.
This same situation applies to equipment. The Army has been equipping troops with a new modern rifle. It now turns out that this rifle is not quite as good as it is modern. The Americans recommended it to us but they did not touch it themselves.
– Tell us something about hygiene trenches. The honorable member might know something about them.
– I do not know as much about hygiene trenches as I do about this matter. But I do know about them and I will tell the honorable member sometime. Hygiene will not save the honorable member if we get mixed up with any of the people with whom we could become mixed up in the next decade or even earlier. I am not talking about the Government, of course, because we will not have to suffer this Government for another decade. I am talking about the defence policy of this country.
Nobody knows what the future holds. It is the duty of any government, no matter which political party forms it, to recognise that the security and safety of Australia and its population are the first duty of the
Government. If it fails in this regard, the Government automatically fails in everything irrespective of what it has spent on other projects or what it has accumulated in other fields of endeavour. If we become entangled in a war and we lose it, everything else that has been done becomes a waste of time. Do not tell me that we have entered an era where there will be no war. We on this side of the House hope that that will prove to be right. But, unfortunately, we are conscious of the fact that the nature of most of the countries among which we live is military. There are still people in this world who dream of conquest and who cast avaricious eyes at other people’s territory.
There is still the risk that this country could wake up one morning in any year to come and find that it is at war. If this happens, what do we have in the way of defence? We have the ludicrous situation where a former Minister for Defence admitted that it would take three months to move Army tanks from Bandiana to Darwin in the Northern Territory. What is the enemy going to do in that time? He will make quite sure that when the tanks arrive at Darwin they will be useless.
– The enemy will have to give us three months’ notice.
– That is a good idea. If we could reach some arrangement whereby we would receive three months’ notice of the intention of the enemy to attack, then we could get the tanks up to Darwin. If we could receive three years’ notice of the enemies’ intention to attack, we could build some more destroyers. The Government should not forget that it has had its notice. The very fact that other people have acquired weapons which are more effective than the ones that we have acquired surely is all the notice that is needed. If that fact is ignored it is not enough to say that the Government ignores it at its peril. Unfortunately, the Government ignores the signs of the times at our peril - and the peril of the entire nation.
– Why can’t it wake up?
– lt will never wake up until its supporters occupy this side of the chamber, and by that time it will not matter whether it wakes up. We who are now in Opposition will then be in a position to do something, if there is enough time left in which to do it after all the time that has been wasted by this Government. I have dealt with the vital points upon which this country will have to fight its next war. We sincerely trust that we do not have to fight a war but, as I have already said, looking at all the signs and portents, anybody who puts his head in the sand and thinks that there is no risk of war is wasting his time, is wasting the country’s money and is putting at peril everything that this country has been otherwise able to accomplish. He is putting at peril its entire future and the future of many people in this part of the world.
.- The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) has told a quite convincing story about the enterprise of two Italian boys. I followed the story with great interest. They deserve every credit. There was some point in the story. He then went on to conclude that all the equipment that has been acquired by the Government on the advice of its admirals, generals, and Air Force commanders is wrong and gave the impression that he knows precisely what equipment we should have. He may be right. The brass has often been wrong in the past. I am not an expert able to argue with him about this, but I strongly suspect that neither is he an expert.
– He is.
– That may be, but I should be unhappy to have to rely on his advice in these rather technical matters, much as I like the honorable member for Capricornia. In fact, a government must rely on men who have spent a lifetime in studying these matters. Perhaps the honorable member for Capricornia has spent a lifetime on these matters also, but possibly he has not had the training. He may say that he has not had training that would lead him astray on these matters. I do not know. However, I do not propose to pursue him in these matters. They are much too complex for me. I prefer to rely on the expert advisers, although I also am aware from experience that expert advisers can be wrong. But this is not the matter about which I rose to speak tonight, nor am I going to deal very much with the Budget as such.
The situation is that when the Government comes to Parliament and asks for money, it has been the traditional right of Parliament and members of Parliament to make complaints before the money is granted, so 1 want to make complaints. They are not about small matters but are about quite large matters which very largely affect this Parliament. 1 find, when speaking with people in the electorate and, indeed, throughout the country, that there is great concern about the future of this nation and about our very survival. I do not know whether this is the experience of other honorable members, but I find it to be so. People are questioning, as never before in my experience over 25 years in this Parliament or another, some quite fundamental things which, in the past, we have been inclined to take for granted. They are questioning even our institutions, such as Parliament itself and the courts, our policy and our relations with foreign countries - with South East Asia, the United States of America and Britain. They are questioning the adequacy of our defence arrangements, as did the honorable member for Capricornia. They are questioning our social and economic policies and our system of education. All these basic things that have been taken for granted for so long I find are now in question among thinking people in the community.
There is a sense of disquiet and veiled unease. Great matters are, they find, too seldom identified by our political leaders and still less often debated and discussed in this Parliament, or indeed at all in the public forum. Parliament has declined as an institution in the estimate of the people of this nation. This may be due to some passing and accidental causes and some other more deepseated reasons. We have the pre-eminence of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who bestrides our narrow world like a colossus. We have the decline of, and divisions in, the great Australian Labour Party, which has not been able to find a philosophy for the times and is having foisted upon it an alien philosophy for want of a philosophy that it has devised for itself. These are things which, of course, could change. Regrettably, the Prime Minister may not always be with us and it may be that the Opposition, some day, will find a philosophy and resolve its differences.
But there are other more deepseated reasons. One is the historical monolithic solidarity of the party system on both sides of Parliament. This is historically the result of the labour struggles in the late years of the last century and in the early years of this century, which have persisted to this day, to the disadvantage of the Parliament. There is also the historical reason that we were for so long a developing country protected by Britain. There is also our historical preoccupation as a developing country with the subject of roads and bridges. Then there is the servicing of our constituents, accentuated, of course, by the evolution of the welfare state. Most of these things are the legacy of our colonial past, but they have changed and the people are aware that they are changing. But Parliament, perhaps, has not adapted itself to this revolution.
If one looks for a watershed between our past, on the one hand, and our present and future on the other, I think one could find it set in one great event - the towering circumstance of the fall of Singapore in the last war. Since then we have not been so secure in the world and we have really not been able to concern ourselves as much with our domestic affairs as we did in the past, to the exclusion of all other things. We have been left among the orphans of the storm in this part of the world and the focus of world events has moved from Europe to Asia - to our part of the world. But Parliament has left all these great matters that arise from this revolutionary change in our situation to a Cabinet which we presume to be wise and to a public service which we know to be able, to lay down the pattern of survival for us in secret conclaves and to implement decisions so reached by pulling the wool over the eyes of Parliament and the public.
I do not believe that the Australian people can survive in the new circumstances that we face unless they are clear eyed about the dangers that they face, unless they have the will and the determination to survive and unless they accept the necessary measures to this end with full knowledge and conviction. I think that Parliament has failed to meet its responsibility to focus the attention of the nation upon these matters. Let me just run through a list of the great things that we have simply not decided. I say that the fault lies with the Parliament itself. We have not really decided these questions: Should we be involved in wars in Asia? That is still a matter in dispute. What should be our aim in New Guinea? Do we look to independence for New Guinea? If not, to what other aim do we look? We have never made that clear. Whether we should cleave to the Western alliance is still in dispute. What can we expect of the United Nations? Some people think our security can be ensured by the United Nations. Is it the duty of all able bodied Australians to bear arms? Some people think that is a matter for their own voluntary decision, not a matter for decision by the nation as a whole. Should we develop a nuclear potential in case of need?
What domestic industries should we foster? What should be our plans for national development? How should we regulate the relations between capital and labour? We have not been very successful in that field. Should social services be limited to the requirements of the needy, or should they be all-embracing? How can we best educate our people for the tasks that lie ahead? Those are all great questions that press upon us because of the changed situation in the world. None of them has been resolved. None of them has been really articulated, identified and discussed in this Parliament. I say that the fault lies with us.
Let us look at one or two examples of the way in which government is conducted in this country at the present time. About ten years ago the then Minister for Territories gave some countenance to the idea that New Guinea should become the seventh State of Australia. That matter was raised in the course of a very important debate - a debate on the estimates for Papua and New Guinea. There may have been 10 people in the House. The Press did not even think fit to report the matter. Yet it was a fundamental matter of policy.
Not so long ago the Government introduced legislation which, in effect, involved conscription of Australians for overseas service. This matter was the subject of a great battle during World War I. It resulted in a split in the Labour Party in 1917 and the repercussions of it have echoed down to this day. One would think that there could hardly have been a greater issue to be brought before the Parliament and the people of this country. But what happened? The Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) introduced the legislation and at the same time raised an issue about canteens in national service camps. This great issue was completely drowned in the other minor issue. Here was a great issue which was scarcely discussed in this Parliament or in the country.
Towards the end of the last sessional period the Government tabled the Martin Report, which was a voluminous report involving the whole future of tertiary education in this country. It was laid on the table, I think, a few days before it came up for debate. This happened in the last week of the sessional period. No honorable member had the opportunity to read the Report. The debate on it was a complete farce. That was how we dealt with that major matter. The same thing happened again at the end of the last sessional period with regard to certain very important amendments to the taxation laws. The proposals were introduced - they were voluminous proposals with highly complex explanations running into scores of pages - and they were passed, to all intents and purposes, without debate. We simply trusted the Government.
Within the last few years the Government has introduced a system under which, instead of increasing age pensions all round, it has recognised that certain people, such as single pensioners, suffer great disabilities. It was felt better that their disabilities should be relieved rather than that there should be an all round increase, which was not necessary for some pensioners and was less than was required for other pensioners. This involved the great issue as to whether social services should be allembracing or should deal with the needy. This matter was debated in this Parliament without any regard for the principle involved in it. We have never had any principle in our social services legislation.
For two and a half years the Vernon Committee has been brooding on some of the most important matters involved in our future economic development, such as our tariff policy in regard to the industries that we should foster, our wage fixing system, our incomes policy and a variety of other tremendously important matters. It has been reported in the Press that the report of the Committee may or may not be laid on the table by the end of this session. On past experience, what will happen is that, before the Parliament rises, the Government will make a statement on how much of the report it accepts; there will be no opportunity for members of the Parliament to read this very large report; and then in the next session there may be a debate on the matter when everything has been settled. Now we have had brought before us a bill in respect of a reserve price plan for wool, and we are not told what the plan is.
This is government by subterfuge, by pulling the wool over our eyes, by never really facing issues, by never really debating them here, and by never giving the public an opportunity to be educated on the great issues that face us as a nation confronted with great problems of survival. As I have said, the fault is our own. In this Parliament, seldom is an amendment accepted in the committee stage of the passage of a bill. The first reading stage has, for a long time, been simply a formality. The second reading stage is conducted with reasonable propriety. The committee stage also has become a farce. The third reading stage is a formality.
This is due to the fact that Ministers and their advisers know all the answers; they know which “ i’s “ have to be dotted and which “ fs “ have to be crossed; and it would be impertinent for honorable members to have any other thought about the details of legislation. It is also due to the fact that, on account of the monolithic regimentation of parties, any attempt by any honorable member on either side of the chamber to seek a reasonable amendment is regarded as an affront to the Government and as an undermining of the confidence of the Parliament in the Government. This is not what I found a long time ago when I became a member of the New South Wales Parliament. Frequently bills were amended on the floor of the House. I am not saying that bills are always able to be amended on the floor of the House. On many occasions they should be referred to a committee or a select committee. But that device is never used here.
The United States of America has a different system from ours. It has a congressional system. The committees of the Congress have very wide powers in scrutinising the details of bills brought forward by the Administration. Indeed, they call before them not only Ministers, as we would call them, but also officials. They have every opportunity to go into the details of the bills that are brought before them.
It is hardly surprising that the British parliamentary system is giving place to the American congressional system throughout the world. As I said at the outset, today we are beginning to question many of the things which in the past we have taken for granted. One such thing is the efficacy of the British parliamentary system, which more and more is reposing power in the Executive and making the Parliament into a rubber stamp. We are beginning to question the efficacy of the courts. Even the efficacy of British justice is under scrutiny today.
A device that we do not use here, but one that is still used in the Parliament of Westminster, is the White Paper. I recall, for example, that Mr. R. A. Butler introduced quite monumental legislation in respect of education in England at the end of World War II. Various expert committees deal with various aspects of education. Having studied the various expert reports brought before it, the Government set out its policy in respect to these matters and the White Paper was then debated in the Parliament. That was a debate on the future of the educational system in Britain. We simply do not have White Papers here.
– The Chifley Government used them.
– They may have been used on odd occasions. 1 am not arguing whether this Government or a Labour government did something, or whether something was done in 1066. I simply say that at this point of time this is a device that is not used but which should be used to focalise issues.
I now direct attention to the lack of information on a proper scale available to honorable members in the Library. This is not the fault of the Library; it is our fault. No doubt some honorable members have seen something of the legislative reference section in the Library of the Congress in Washington. This is a vast organisation with literally hundreds of research workers. Their work is available to individual members and to committees of Congress. We have nothing of the kind here. Yet Ministers here have all the help in the world. A perusal of the schedules to the Appropriation Bill shows that the Library does not have any research officers available to honorable members. But there are research officers in the Department of Civil Aviation. In the Department of Customs and Excise there are a senior research officer and research officers. Again, there are research officers in the Department of Health. Every Minister has at his command a host of public servants to advise him on every aspect of his administration. He also has available to him research officers. The Parliament has nothing of the kind. The Library of Congress has set out to provide this kind of service for all Congressmen so that they may be armed with information. A parliament that is not armed with information is unable to do battle with a ministry that has all these facilities at its command.
I have dealt with the failures of which we have been guilty. I pass now to say a word or two about external relations - the question of whether, for example, Australia should be involved in wars in Asia. I cannot deal with all of these great subjects, but this is one about which I should like to say something. There are those, particularly on the other side of the House, who think that we should withdraw into a hollow log and let the world go by; that we should ignore Asia and never become involved in its wars or quarrels. I remind honorable members that, looking back to the history of England, we find that Britain, island though she was and separated from Europe as she was, was involved on the continent of Europe in the days of the Spanish Armada; involved in trying to check the expansion of Louis XIV when she was ruled by William III; involved under Chatham and later under Pitt the Younger in the struggle with Napoleon; and involved with Germany in the Kaiser’s war and again in Hitler’s war. In other words, Britain was never able not to involve herself in the affairs of Europe, and particularly when Europe was threatened with the hegemony of some great power which, if it succeeded, would ultimately be a threat to the security of Britain itself. Britain was an island, but inevitably was involved in the affairs of Europe. Of course, this is our situation.
Let us look at some of the countries that have been able to maintain neutrality. Why was Switzerland able to maintain neutrality? I suggest she could because it suited her great neighbours that this should be so. The French liked to be protected from the Italians; the Italians liked to be protected from the Austrians; and so forth. The neutrality of Switzerland was possible because it suited her great neighbours that she should be neutral. Again, Switzerland had a great mountain barrier against other countries. Finally she always armed to the teeth. None of these conditions exists in the case of Australia. Sweden was in a position similar to that of Switzerland. It suited Sweden’s great neighbours that she should be neutral, and she also armed to the teeth.
Australia is not in a position to separate herself from the affairs of Asia because her security is involved if, for example, China were to dominate Asia as, say, Louis XIV threatened to dominate Europe in the days of William III. We have a large country without great neighbours whose interests it is to secure our neutrality. We have a small population. However well armed we are - we are not well armed - we could not defend this country as the Swiss can defend theirs. Although we have certain ocean barriers, these are by no means like the barrier the Swiss have. Further, we have an empty continent with great resources in it. These things would be a temptation to our Asian neighbours. This is a country they would like to dominate. We have a very congenial climate that would be highly suitable to people living in our north in tropical conditions. So we are no more able to disentangle ourselves from Asia than the British were able to disentangle themselves for generations from Europe. We are not able to count upon our neutrality being guaranteed by the interests of our neighbours. We have a country that has certain attractions for our neighbours by way of resources, climate and emptiness. So whether we like it or not - of course we do not - we are involved in the affairs of Asia.
Some people have averred - I am trying to make explicit the kind of argument that has been put forward by honorable members opposite but which they have never made explicit - that the force of nationalism is greater than the force of Communism and that Ho Chi Minh is a great nationalist. Well, I point out that if you would think of him as a future Tito you must remember that Tito lives on the border of western Europe. If the Americans went out of South Vietnam there would be no restraint upon China. There would be little possibility of Ho Chi Minh holding up his head against the power of China. No such opportunity exists in the case of Tito vis-a-vis Russia. To suppose in the technological and ideological age of the present that nationalism can raise its head again as it has in the past in many countries is to forget that modern technology and ideological means are available to Communist countries; to suppose that these things do not exist is to live 100 or 200 years ago.
This does not mean that we should aid nations in Asia without thinking of some conditions that they should observe or without thinking that they should do some things for themselves. We cannot carry out land reform for them. Their governments must do this. We cannot institute birth control, and yet without birth control, no matter how much they are helped, they will starve. These are things which they must do for themselves. But our aid should be forthcoming. Our involvement in these countries is inevitable.
I had hoped to say something about trade with China. I will content myself with a few remarks. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) admitted in answer to a question that I put to him that Australia was exporting steel and lead to mainland China. He said that the value of these exports was a mere £5,000. I do not care whether we are exporting £5,000 worth or 5,000s. worth: When Australians are dying in South Vietnam this is not the time to send to Red China even one ounce of lead from which bullets may be made. I would expect the Minister to say without hesitation that although the amount may be small not another ounce will leave this country. The same is true of other exports to Red China. I wish I had time to develop this theme. I may have another opportunity in due course, but I would hope that at this time the Minister would make it abundantly clear that not one ounce of lead, from which bullets are made, will go to Red China from this country.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it right in an important debate such as the Budget debate that no Minister should be seated at the table?
– Order! I think that there has been a tradition in the House that a Minister should be at the table.
– I want to repudiate the statement made by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) who said that when a war starts the Labour Party believes in crawling up a hollow log. I wish to remind him that the part that the Labour Party played in the First World War did more to contribute to victory for the Allies than the part played by the party he represents, and especially its leader. In the Second World War the party led by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) crawled up a hollow log and the Labour Party had to take over and bring the war to a successful conclusion.
The Labour Party believes that we should take a very important part in wars. It believes that the present Government should take a more important part than it is taking. Honorable members on this side believe that instead of indulging in, and encouraging, fighting, the Government should be attempting to take a leading part in intervening to try to bring the warring factions together. The Labour Party believes it is better to argue these matters out over the conference table than to have soldiers fighting each other and dying in the trenches. So much for the statement of the honorable member for Bradfield. It was his Party, not the Labour Party, that crawled up a hollow log.
I wish now to say a few things about the Budget. I shall be giving a lot of figures - ones, two and threes, and in pounds, shillings and pence. They are not so interesting. If I were talking about figures on the beach I could make the story more illuminating, but in order to prove the points I wish to make I shall have to use a lot of more dreary figures.
I think the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) aptly described the Budget when he said it was a book-keeper’s Budget. The Budget is heavily loaded against the low and middle range salary and wage earners. To support this contention I must use a lot of figures. I think that the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition is adequate, but matters in addition to those mentioned in the amendment could be included, because a number of important things are missing from the Budget. The Leader of the Opposition moved that the following words be inserted - “ this House condemns the Budget . . .
. because -
That is very true. This Budget will place a further burden on the workers of this country. When they go to the Commonwealth Industrial and Arbitration Commission to try to obtain an increase in their wages this Government intervenes against them. I think it is completely wrong for a government to take such action. Prices should be just as rigidly controlled as are the salaries and wages of workers. Why, on one hand, should there be complete control of wages and salaries by the Commission, where every detail of evidence has to be submitted to prove a point, even to obtain a penny increase, whereas on the other hand the people responsible for charges and prices have a free hand to do whatever they like?
The second paragraph of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition gives another reason. It reads -
Such meagre social service benefits as it proposes are inadequate, belated and partial in their application.
The word “ inadequate “ should be underlined. The only new benefit given to social service recipients - the supplementary allowance to be paid to people dependent on social services - will benefit only a very few. The third point in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition was -
The Budget fails entirely to deal wilh such problems as increases in imports and Australia’s dependence on foreign capital.
That matter was very ably dealt with by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who pointed out in his speech that imports, during the period of more than 14 years that this Government has been in power, have exceeded exports by £2,248 million. Australia must be a very great country to be able to stand such an impact as that. The Leader of the Opposition moved further that-
This House further declares that only by proper economic planning can Australia rapidly expand the resources required to meet its urgent needs in the fields of defence, development, education and social welfare.
There is no Government plan in this Budget to accomplish any of those things. I said that I would analyse some figures in order to try to prove that the Budget, and taxation generally in this country, are completely loaded against the low paid workers. I venture to say that wage and salary earners - from those in the middle salary range down to the lowest paid worker - pay about 80 per cent, of the taxes raised in Australia.
This year’s Budget is the largest that has ever been presented to the Parliament. It provides for an expenditure of over £2,667 million. Of thi’s amount about £2,135 million will be raised by taxes. Of that amount, direct taxes account for only one-third of the total taxes to be raised, being an amount of £898,720,000. Indirect taxes account for £1,236 million. Honorable members will notice that indirect taxes amount to nearly twothirds of the entire taxes to be collected. The “ pay as you earn “ taxpayers who have tax taken from their pay before they take it home, pay about £600 million as compared with the provisional taxpayers - professional men, doctors, dentists, farmers, graziers and so on - who pay only about £300 million. The small income earners, the “ pay as you earn “ men, pay twice as much as the persons in receipt of large incomes.
Honorable members will notice also that direct taxes represent 40 per cent, of the total taxes raised whereas indirect taxes represent 58 per cent. Direct taxes are the fairest taxes. It is the policy of the Labour Government to place taxes on the shoulders of the people most able to bear them. This can be done only through direct taxation. This Government, of course, believes in what it calls painless extraction - the imposition of taxes on tobacco and cigarettes, beer, spirits and petrol. Sales tax in this Budget will bring in about £181 million. Sales tax is imposed on foodstuffs and clothing required by pensioners. The pensioner has to pay the same rate of sales tax as does the company director and other people who have plenty of money. That is why I say that sales tax is an unfair tax. In the field of indirect taxation, revenue from duties on certain items is expected to increase from £315 million to £383 million. Of thi’s increase, the tax on tobacco and cigarettes will be responsible for £20 million, so that this year those who smoke will pay £105 million for the privilege. Beer drinkers are expected to contribute an additional £22 million. For the privilege of relaxing with a glass of beer on their way home from work, beer drinkers are to pay an additional £22 million, or a total of £160 million. This is what is called painless extraction. Those who drink spirits will pay an additional £13 million, and the revenue from the petrol tax will increase from £78 million to £105 million. As I have said, the total revenue to be derived from these indirect taxes will be £383 million.
As further proof that those on the lower incomes will contribute most of the taxation revenue and that those in the upper strata will get off very lightly, I now propose to outline what those on the higher incomes will be expected to pay. The Budget makes no provision for any increase in company taxation. This year it is expected that the revenue from this source will be £393 million. Tax on dividends will be responsible for £10 million, while estate duty - poor people do not leave estates - is expected to return £23 million. The revenue from gift duties is expected to be £4 million. Professional and business people will pay £306 million by way of direct taxation. The total taxes paid by people in the upper strata will be £736 million, out of a total for all taxpayers of £2,134 million. The lower paid workers will contribute 79 per cent, of the total taxation levied this year while the people in the upper strata will contribute only 21 per cent. That is grossly unfair.
I come now to the payroll tax. The Australian Labour Party believes that local authorities and other bodies which do not operate for profit should be exempt from the payroll tax. In order to give some idea of the drift in local government finances, I propose to quote some statistics which I obtained from the Treasury. The relate to the 10-year period from 1953 to 1963 and contain particulars relating to Australia’s national debt. At 30th June 1953, the Commonwealth’s share of the national debt was £1,946 million. In 1963-10 years later- it had fallen by 20 per cent., to £1,560 million. There are two ways of financing public activities. One way is to finance them from revenue - that is the method that should be adopted - and the other way is to use moneys borrowed from all those who want to lend money. Let us now examine the position of the States. In 1953, the amount of the debt owed by all the States was £1,643 million. By 1963 it had increased by 92 per cent., to £3,156 million. The Commonwealth’s share declines while the States’ share increases.
The Prime Minister has been requested by every Lord Mayor and by every Mayor in Australia to meet representatives of the local governing bodies in conference to discuss the financial relationships between the Commonwealth Government and the local governing bodies, which are fast getting to a position where they may become bankrupt. The Government stands condemned for not meeting the local governing bodies on this very important matter.
I take this opportunity to state the Labour Party’s policy on taxation and to compare it with the policies announced by the Prime Minister in 1949. In his 1949 policy speech, the Prime Minister said -
We will institute a prompt overhaul of the Taxation laws by a competent Committee to simplify the Statutes and to remove anomalies.
That has not been done. He said further, and this again was just so much humbug - We will review the incidence of indirect taxes -
I have referred to those provided for in this Budget - (which are a huge though sometimes unrecognised item in Australia) upon basic wage and cost of living items and housing costs.
All that the Prime Minister has done so far has been to increase indirect taxation still further, as is clearly demonstrated by the figures I have quoted.
The Labour Party believes that there should be a new deal in taxation. If returned to office, the Labour Party will rearrange the present burden of taxation, which falls unfairly on the small income earner. I have already shown how unfair it is. Under a Labour Government, there will be a progressive reduction in such indirect taxes as sales tax. I believe also that the tax on beer and cigarettes should be reduced, because the smoking of cigarettes and the drinking of beer are parts of the workers’ relaxation. They should not be taxed in the way in which they are. I point out that people on the lower incomes pay as much in sales tax on ordinary family requirements and household items as do those in the high income groups. In fact, the pensioner pays as much as the multi millionaire. The Menzies Government has eased the burden of taxation on the people in the higher income groups and has transferred some of that burden to the people in the lower income groups, the majority of whom are wage and salary earners. The Labour Party will reverse that position. We will place the burden on the shoulders of the people who are best able to bear it. Under our policy, those who get the most money will pay the most tax. That is only just.
I come now to the social services aspect of the Budget, and I should like to comment on the representations that have been made to the Government from time to time by the Original Old Aged and Invalid Pensioners Association of New South Wales. These poor old people come here year after year and put their plan before the Government. They have a plan but the Government has no plan with relation to this very important matter. There are almost one million pensioners in Australia, excluding repatriation pensioners, and they deserve greater consideration than they have received up to date. They are to be given very little consideration in this Budget.
The requests made by the pensioners are fair and reasonable. They ask the Federal Government to raise social service pensions by fi a week so as to give much needed relief pending introduction of their just claim for a basic rate of 50 per cent, of the male basic wage, with cost of living adjustments. I reckon that is a fair proposition. lt has been completely ignored by the Government, of course, because no increase whatsoever has been provided in the Budget for these people. I think it is a fair proposition and it is time the Government did devise a formula which would provide more for the pensioners. If I were Minister for Social Services I could introduce a scheme which would provide for permissible income for all pensioners. I believe it should be done by way of a national superannuation scheme, which would not cost very much, lt could be financed from contributions to be made by way of a social service tax such as Chifley wanted to introduce. If we had remained in Government with Chifley as our leader I believe that the pensioners would have been enjoying improved pension standards. In any case I think it is quite possible to devise a scheme under which the permissible income could be received by every married pensioner couple when they retired after having spent their working lives in the service of Australia.
– Is it true that the policy of the Labour Party aims at the eventual abolition of the means test?
– By graduation, yes. That is the basis of the Labour Party’s policy. The scheme I propose would eventually bring this about. The next submission made by the Pensioners’ Association is -
That a supplementary allowance of 30s. per week be paid to all pensioners in indigent circumstances who are entitled to the social service pension.
The Government has made some increase in the supplementary allowance. I might mention that this kind of supplementary allowance has been part of the policy of the Labour Party for a considerable time. It was mentioned in one of Labour’s policy speeches and, strange to relate, as has happened on every similar occasion when Labour has put forward a good scheme before an election, the Government eventually adopted the Labour Party’s proposition.
Any improvements that the Government implements have always been taken from the policy of the Labour Party. This supplementary allowance will benefit the single pensioner who has no other means. There is a very tight means test in respect of this allowance. It has not been fully described as yet. A single pensioner must be living alone and have practically no other means before he will be eligible.
– They do not all get if?
– For sure they do not all get it. 1 understand that the supplementary allowance for single people in this category will be increased from 10s. to £1. There is another category which I should mention - there are not many of them - the pensioner over 65 years of age who has a wife under 60 years of age who is, for that reason, not entitled to an age pension. She gets £3 a week. In such a case, where these two people are living together they would get - subject to the means test - a part of this supplementary allowance. The allowance is not going to apply to many people, and I think it will not cost the Government more than about a paltry million pounds. It was the policy of the Labour Party to apply this supplementary allowance to all pensioners in certain circumstances.
Then we come to the dependent wife of an age or invalid pensioner, and the Pensioners’ Association to which I have already referred submits -
The dependent wife of an aged or invalid pensioner to receive full social service pension.
That is a fair proposition. I know of cases in which the wife has to stay at home and act as an absolute nurse to a sick husband who has been worn out as an industrial casualty. This woman is then expected to keep her husband and herself on a pension of £6 a week that he gets plus £3 that she gets for herself. Now the Government has decided that it will give the supplementary allowance in such cases, although it will not increase in any way the amount of pension payable.
Then I come to the next submission. All honorable members know how many people in their electorates are without places to live. The Pensioners’ Association submits -
The Aged Persons’ Homes Act to be amended to include housing commissions and local governing bodies as eligible organisations.
If local governing bodies and housing commissions could enter this field we would eventually have homes for all the people who are now homeless or living in rooms. This is the submission, as I have said, of this Pensioners’ Association, which is affiliated with the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners’ Federation. The Association further submits -
Entitlement to a social service pension shall carry with it entitlement to a pensioner medical service, i.e. abolition of the 1955 means test on the medical entitlement card.
I am pleased that this is one suggestion that the Government has decided to implement. When the Government introduced the means test on this medical service in 1955 the Labour Party opposed it. We said it was a means test within a means test. We opposed it then and we have been advocating ever since that the entitlement to medical service should be restored. We are glad that after 10 years the Government has woken up to itself and given justice to the pensioners in the way of a free medical service.
– It has given them back what it took away.
– It is tantamount to that. Then the Association submits -
The Commonwealth to raise its contributions of 36s. per day for pension patients in public hospitals.
I think this contribution should be increased wherever the pensioner concerned is being treated. As honorable members know, a chronically ill pensioner who looks like being a bed patient for a long time will seldom be accepted by public hospitals. We believe that the amount of 36s. per bed per day should be considerably increased and that it should cover these old people who have to find accommodation in convalescent homes. At present it is difficult to get accommodation in a convalescent home for less than £17 or £18 a week. The Commonwealth contribution is 36s. a day, which is about £12 a week and the patient has to find the difference between the £12 and the £17 or £18. I believe the Commonwealth contribution should be increased and that it should apply to all pensioners whether they are in convalescent homes or in public wards in hospitals.
Then the Association raises the matter of the funeral benefit, suggesting that it should be raised to £60. In 1943 the Curtin Government introduced the funeral allowance, which was then fixed at £10. We have been advocating an increase in this amount year after year since 1949 when this Government came to power. The Government has gone a very short way towards meeting our request on this occasion. It has increased the amount from £10 to £20 although there is a means test which will not be easy for pensioners to pass. However, we all know that the cost of dying since this Government has been in power has risen as steeply as the cost of living. When the Labour Party set the allowance at £10 you could get a burial for £30. The allowance was then 33 per cent, of the cost. Today you cannot get a funeral under £100, but all that the Government will allow is £20, and not all pensioners will be able to benefit from it. We believe that it should be increased in the way suggested by the Pensioners’ Association.
The Labour Party supports the Association in its plea. We think the pensioners have had very shabby treatment. I wanted to deal with the matter of repatriation. This Government brags about its loyalty to the returned soldiers, but what does it do about their pensions? I wanted to suggest that the rates of pensions for returned soldiers should be increased in accordance with the plan that has been put to the Government by the national body of the Returned Servicemen’s League. The acceptance of this plan would cost about £23 million, but the Government is going to give £1 million, and there will be very few returned soldiers who will benefit from this. We think the pension plan put forward by the Returned Servicemen’s League is very fair. I think that exservicemen have received shabby treatment. I am sorry that I have not the time to elaborate on certain features of the Repatriation Act, but this can be done at a later time when we are dealing specifically with that subject.
Let me refer again to the final paragraph of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition -
This House further declares that only by proper economic planning can Australia rapidly expand the resources required to meet its urgent needs in the fields of defence, development, education and social welfare.
I believe that a Government that lives from one Budget to another without a plan, hoping that some good fortune will turn up to save it economically, is a hopeless government and should be turned out of office.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is very rarely that I have had the privilege of following a speaker who has made so well balanced and so well presented a contribution to the Budget debate as that which we have just heard from the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa). I heartily endorse all that he has said. I may say that on this occasion 1 have the privilege of following two very good contributions to the debate. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), who preceded the honorable memfor Banks, directed attention to the fact that the present Government is turning the proceedings in this Parliament into a farce. He said that the manner in which some portions of the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia - the Martin Committee - were thrust under the nose of the House, as it were, to be dealt with in the absence of any opportunity for proper consideration simply constituted a farce. I thoroughly agree with him. The honorable member stated also that there seemed to be no principle governing social services. He complained that the Government now proposed to conduct a referendum of wool growers on the reserve price scheme but had not presented to the growers or to this House any real plan. He declared that the Government was governing by subterfuge and never really faced up to great issues.
– He is a Liberal, too.
– Yes. I concede that in the Liberal section of the chamber there are some intelligent men. I notice that two or three members are present in that section of the chamber now, though not all of them are intelligent, of course. The honorable member for Bradfield said that Ministers appeared to think it impertinent of any honorable member to propose an amendment to a bill. So I repeat, Sir, that on this occasion I have the privilege of following two very fine contributions to the debate.
I now turn to the Budget. Naturally, I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). We have heard the usual distortions and twists and turns of interpretation of statistics that we hear each year in the Budget debate, some of them amounting almost to downright lying. In any event, all the statistics that have been cited do not alter the facts. I mentioned the amendment proposed by the Opposition, and I believe that a restatement of its terms now is well worthwhile. The words proposed to be inserted read as follows - this House condemns the Budget because -
There have been two forms of erosion, as honorable members can see -
All of that is true. Not one part of the amendment can be successfully attacked. So I support it. I believe that it directs attention to the many weaknesses that are appearing in our economic and social structure and to the fact that nowhere in the Budget’ can be discerned a serious plan to counter these weaknesses.
We have been told that the fate of the nation and, indeed, the fate of civilisation itself hangs in the balance. Since we were told this, the position has definitely worsened because of the collapse of the Malaysian experiment, for instance. There may have been a partial collapse some three weeks ago, but it is now quite evident that Malaysia is hurtling towards complete collapse. We have witnessed the spectacle of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, of Singapore, as has been publicly reported, actually raising the cry: “ Go home, Yanks “. He does not want the Americans in Singapore now. Furthermore, he declared that, if he so wished, he could within 24 hours have the British evicted from Singapore. Whether or not he means that seriously does not matter. The point is that he is now able to say it. So there has been a deterioration of conditions in the Malaysian area.
We know that our export earnings arc not meeting our expenditure on imports and that, as a consequence, our overseas balances are receding at an alarming rate. Wc can see in this Budget no prospect of relief from this situation. We know that overseas investment is being curtailed and that loan raisings overseas are being seriously inhibited. We know that our export earning capacity has been seriously hit by drought and that the effects of this disaster will continue to be felt for some time. We know that our goodwill with our nearest neighbours is in serious decline and that this seems likely to continue. We know that our educational system is not’ able to meet the nation’s requirements and that it is plainly impossible for the States to rise to the occasion, since they are so restricted financially. The honorable member for Bradfield, as 1 have said, stated that the report of the Martin Committee has been dealt with in this House in a farcical manner. We know that road and transport facilities are totally inadequate by modern standards. We know that a proper assessment of our economy shows that it is not growing at anything like the rate at which it should expand. We know that the housing situation is not really improving, despite the rather doubtful statistics presented. I shall not quote those statistics, because I believe that all honorable members and the people generally know this. It is not necessary for me to labour the situation by recounting statistics that have been quite freely quoted throughout this debate. Indeed, honorable members ob the Government side of the chamber misquoted them.
In the light of all this knowledge, we were entitled to expect a Budget containing serious proposals to meet the situation. But this Budget contains no such proposals. This is one of the points raised in the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment. Here and there we see evidence of a slight attempt to get on with the task of developing the nation’s resources. But, in the main, these efforts constitute merely a continuance of projects already in hand and, for the most part, proceeding at a very slow rate. The other evening, the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) was hard put to it to point to real development work that was going on, and he found it necessary to go right outside the scope of the provision made in this Budget and to rope in some sections of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme. He forgot to say, of course, that this project came into being not because of but despite the Liberal Party of Australia, to which he belongs, for members of that Party boycotted the official opening of the scheme. The Minister lightly skipped over the Ord River project, the importance of which, in the eyes of members of the Government, vanished after the 1963 general election. The absence of any new and positive proposals to develop our national resources has already been fully canvassed in this debate, and I leave the matter there.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and Government supporters generally claim that one feature of this Budget is that it makes adequate provision for the proper defence of this nation in the circumstances that now confront us. Yet I heard the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) deplore the fact that this was not so. I heard the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) argue in similar vein. I acknowledge that the allocation for defence this financial year is far and away above the sum allocated in 1949 by the Labour Government, even allowing for the decline in the value of money in the intervening years. As we all know, Government supporters love to talk about 1949. That is now a beloved year for them, but they forget about 1939. Their memories do not go back that far, apparently. It is a favorite custom of honorable members on the Government side to hark back to 1949 to cover the remissness of the Government in 1965 and in fact in all the years since 1949. The trick has little point when one compares the conditions in the two periods. In 1949, we were still rehabilitating ourselves after long years of total war. The immediate task was reconstruction. The amount spent on arms then was not as big as it is now, and it did not need to be. Most of the people who could then be regarded as our potential enemies had been defeated and were engaged in reconstituting their own ravaged economies. Hundreds of thousands of battle trained men were still available, but now we do not have even one battalion available in Australia. The priority in 1949 was for reconstruction and development, and we are still enjoying the benefits of the programme we adopted then. The great immigration scheme is an example.
– And the Snowy Mountains scheme.
– Yes. I come back to the Budget. I want to protest against the expansion of indirect taxation in a country that already has the highest rate of indirect taxation in the world. The honorable member for Banks, who spoke before me, devoted his attention to this subject and I do not want to labour it. If it is true that the nation’s fate hangs in the balance, the sacrifice should be more equitably shared. The Budget proposes that the burden will fall in the main on the workers, and not even fairly on them. I usually have sitting near me an honorable member who does not smoke, drink or own a car. Perhaps that is to his credit. But why should I pay his share of the cost of saving civilisation? Is civilisation to be saved by putting an additional excise duty of Id. on a glass of beer and then permitting the liquor interests to put Hd. on it? That is what these interests are doing. We of the Australian Labour Party say that the only fair method of taxation is to tax income and to adjust the rate of tax according to capacity to pay. So much has been said about this that I do not propose to labour it.
We on this side of the House believe that the Budget cannot be considered without having regard to the recent outcome of the basic wage case. We believe that the decision in that case was brought about largely by Government persuasion, if I may use a genteel word. It was here that a substantial part of the contribution towards the war effort was imposed on the wage and salary earners. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which over the years had paid regard to price movements, either upward or downward, decided that at least an upward price movement must not be taken as a substantial ground for a similar upward movement in the basic wage. The effect was that, although price rises had reduced the workers’ share of the nation’s gross product by about 15s. a week since the last assessment, they were to get nothing. Their percentage share of the gross national product was decreased accordingly. The workers were in fact deprived of somewhere between £125 million and £150 million a year. I ask: Who gets this? The answer is obvious. If the Government wanted to raise revenue to develop our resources, to provide for defence and to pay social services, it should have gone to those who received this windfall, not to those from whom it was taken. It could have made a real contribution to defence and to the welfare of the less fortunate recipients of social services had it looked in this direction. No wonder there was little outcry from big business; those engaged in big business received this windfall. The Government may console itself with the thought that there has been no real outcry. But that will come. The Government should always remember the old military maxim - there’s something wrong if they are not complaining. It should also bear in mind that it may need the full co-operation of the trade unions soon.
Government spokesmen claim rather proudly that our gross national product has been expanded by 9 per cent. I know that this has been disputed, but the Government insists that it is so. That brings me to this point: The report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was finally adopted on 15th June 1964. Amongst the various matters discussed and reported upon was the poverty and hunger that exists in what are known as the under-developed nations. Discussion was also held on the means that must be adopted to help to bring the people in these nations up to a point where at least the worst features of the situation would be ameliorated. About one-third of the human race just to our north is hungry. Most of these people are starving. Death from starvation is so common that it causes little comment. It was recommended that the more developed nations - those whose economy was expanding by 5 per cent. - should contribute at least 1 per cent, of their gross production each year to assist in this work. This Government claims that we are expanding at the rate of 9 per cent. It also claims that in devoting .7 of 1 per cent, to the aid of the under-developed countries, we are at least doing better than a great many other countries are. This may be true, but this effort includes the amount that is devoted by us to Papua and New Guinea. Strictly, this should not be counted. I therefore express my disappointment at learning that a greater allocation has not been made.
Last year we sent a delegation to the 53rd conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which was held at Copenhagen. It was attended by representatives of most of the parliaments of the world and in all 2,000 million people were represented. We all spoke very nobly of the necessity, in the name of humanity, to do our best to persuade our people and governments to fall into line with the proposals of the United Nations. We then came home and forgot about it.
– The honorable member did not.
– I take the opportunity now to remind the Parliament and perhaps people outside the Parliament that we did promise that we would do what we could to help solve this problem. I am now doing what 1 can. I spoke at the conference, but I would not want to read the whole of my speech from the rostrum. However, I will read part of it. I said this -
Mr. President, I mentioned that the fight against the disparities in world economics was receiving top rank attention and in this connection it is pleasing to note that during the course of the past few months it has been receiving the serious attention of the United Nations Organisation. The report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development was adopted finally on June 15, 1964. The report and recommendations are in complete harmony with the 1964 report of our Secretary-General as circulated to all delegates.
Now it is our job to see to it that the Parliaments of the world are not left in ignorance of these reports-
I am trying to see that this Parliament is not left in ignorance- and to see to it that this struggle becomes an active, vibrant and fruitful one. The alternative to this is to say that we are unconcerned that each day and each night two-thirds of the human race are to be left underfed, underclothed and improperly housed. Children are to be denied the right to an education and the opportunity to grow up properly equipped to face their journey through life with that dignity which all humans are entitled to hold.
I could almost have been speaking to honorable members on the other side of the chamber. I went on to say -
These things I have seen. It means too that you are satisfied to contemplate a world In which more fortunate nations cannot find it easy to devote a paltry one per cent, of their national income to help those who really need help. Although they do not mind devoting several times that amount to creating war machines to destroy other people. Nor do they strongly object to the spending of almost incalculable sums in the effort to be the first to put one of the cruelest and most destructive of all creatures on the moon. Why is anybody’s guess.
At this point, Mr. President, I would draw attention to the fact that France now proposes to detonate a nuclear device in the area in which my people live, t would say to France that we who have given much help to her in her great hours of need deeply resent the fact that she chooses to foul our atmosphere and that of New Zealand despite all objections. The cost of the experiment would be better devoted in the real cause of humanity.
Mr. Speaker, I concluded my address in this fashion -
In the words of the preamble of the United Nations Charter, let us seek, and I quote “to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples “. This can only be achieved in the atmosphere of peace. 1 am disappointed that there is no provision in the Budget to bring Australia’s contribution to the United Nations up to the mark of 1 per cent, of our annual productivity. As I have pointed out, our contribution stands at .7 of 1 per cent., and that figure includes our contribution in respect of Papua and New Guinea. If that amount were left out, we would make a very poor showing indeed. The honorable member for Bradfield mentioned the fact that, as we are living in an Asian community, we must be involved in the affairs of Asia. Maybe we must, but is it absolutely necessary that we should be so completely involved in wars in Asia and have such a small role in helping to raise the standards of living of those people after the manner decided by the United Nations Committee? The people of Asia must notice these things. As one speaker said during the course of the debate on international affairs - it happened to be the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) - there is not a great deal of difference between the Government and the Opposition on these matters. I say that there is, even if it is only one word. We believe in lifting these people up and the Government believes in shooting them up. That is the big difference.
What happens when the opportunity comes to assist these people? I refer again to the report of the 53rd conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union held at Copenhagen. A draft resolution, moved by Nigeria, was submitted by the Delegations of the Groups from the Cameroon Republic, Central African Republic, Dahomey, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Republic and Morocco. The resolution sought permission to put before the assembly, which represented most of the parliaments of the world, no more than a resolution which had previously been adopted by the United Nations condemning apartheid.
One would have thought that if we had serious concern for the feelings of the AfroAsian people, and in view of the fact that we knew all the facts about apartheid, the Australian delegation would have said: “ So far as putting the proposition forward for consideration is concerned, we do not mind giving you a hand “. We would have received quite a deal more appreciation by adopting a fair play attitude and letting those nations put forward their proposition than we would have gained by knocking it back. What happened? A statutory twothirds majority was required before the proposition could be put forward for consideration. Reading from the official minutes of the conference, I find that there were 476 votes in favour of placing the resolution on the agenda, and 185 votes against that course being followed. The resolution was defeated by six votes. The nations that supported the proposition were prevented from obtaining the statutory majority that they required. The big thing was that the Australian delegation split on the issue.
– That is right.
– The honorable member for Wills was there. As I said, the Australian delegation split on the issue. The seven votes that were cast by Government members were thrown in against the appeal by those nations that they should be heard, and the six votes from members on this side of the House were cast in favour of at least permitting them to put their case. What kind of a way was this to win the friend ship and goodwill of the Afro-Asian people? Of course, Government members will say: “ We voted on procedure only “. I want to make this point quite clear. The matter of procedure was brought to the notice of the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. He was invited to rule whether or not these people were permitted under the rules to take this action and whether they were adopting the right procedure. He ruled that they were adopting the procedure that was open to them. I think that the honorable member for Wills will agree with me that no question of procedure was involved.
The voting was in line with our general attitude to apartheid. The Prime Minister himself has made it plain on many occasions in answers to questions in this House, and even at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, that he considers that apartheid and the treatment of African people are solely matters for the Government of South Africa. When the case of South Vietnam is raised, the question is one for decision by the Government of the United States of America. People know and realise those things because they affect the great majority of the people who are to our north.
It is not difficult to follow the pattern of voting at the United Nations. It is not hard to follow the pattern of the voting of the Australian delegation generally. If that delegation wants to get the goodwill of our neighbours it is seeking to achieve that objective in a most peculiar way. I do want to say one thing in respect of the small amount of aid that we give - I am not including the aid to Papua and New Guinea - to the United Nations: I rather suspect that we use it more and more by way of a means of trade publicity than out of any humanitarian feeling because no-one who understands apartheid has ever dreamt of not taking the correct steps to bring that matter before the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Brimblecombe) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1, What sum is held in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the total hire-purchase debt in Australia at 30th June 196S?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Balances outstanding (including interest, hiring charges and insurance) on hire purchase and other instalment credit for retail sales at the end of March 1965 amounted to £716 million. They comprised £553 million under hire purchase agreements and £163 million under other instalment credit schemes (personal loan schemes, budget accounts, time payment schemes). Of the total amount of £716 million, £514 million was owed to nonretail finance businesses and £202 million to retail businesses.
Similar details for June 1965 are not yet available. However, balances outstanding to non-retail finance businesses in respect of hire purchase and other instalment credit for retail sales at the end of June 1965 are estimated at £525 million.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What progress has been made with his proposed amendments to the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
In accordance with the assurances given during the debates on the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1964, the amendments circulated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and all other matters raised in the Parliament in the course of those debates are being carefully examined.
It is anticipated that recommendations regarding not only those proposals, but also a number of administrative and structural amendments that have been under consideration, will be submitted to the Government at an early date.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 September 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650901_reps_25_hor47/>.