25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay’ took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON presented a petition from certain Greek migrants living in the Commonwealth opposing any proposition to conscript migrant youth for the armed Services and the Commonwealth Government’s decision to conscript youth for service beyond the Commonwealth and its Territories, particularly Vietnam, and praying that the Commonwealth Government reverse its present policy.
Petition received and read.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. Uren.
Non-military Overseas Aid,
Mr. IAN ALLAN presented a petition from certain citizens of New South Wales praying that the Australian Government increase by an immense amount its contributions to non-military overseas aid, to be financed, if necessary, by increases in taxation, administered by some international organisation such as the United Nations and offered to countries without reference to political advantage or purposes, but solely on the basis of need.
Mr. LINDSAY presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government repeal the Wards’ Employment Ordinance and legislate to provide at least the basic wage for all Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory.
Mr. BEATON presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights by providing increased social service and bousing benefits for the aged, tha invalid, the widowed and their dependants.
Petition received and read.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Primary Industry by drawing attention to a reply given recently by the Minister in which he said that he was anxious to conserve fishing resources in waters adjacent to Australia. When is action likely to be taken to extend Australia’s fishing zone from three miles to twelve miles7 When the zone is extended what means will be used to protect it, bearing in mind Australia’s extensive coastline?
– We are continually conferring with the responsible Ministers in Western Australia and other States on this matter. As the honorable member has asked a question with legal implications I will refer it to the Attorney-General for a reply.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. After discussions last June with the Director-General and other senior officers of the Department of Civil Aviation, kindly arranged by the Minister, I wrote to the honorable gentleman requesting an examination of the possibility of insulating those homes, schools and other buildings that are most seriously affected by aircraft noise. I referred also to the possible establishment of a fund to meet claims for damages arising from the effects of vibration caused by low flying aircraft. T referred to similar action taken by the United Kingdom Government. I now ask the Minister whether the inquiries which he promised to make overseas have been completed and whether he is in a position to give a decision in this matter.
– The honorable member has written to me on a number of occasions about this matter as it affects Essendon airport. I arranged for the honorable member to discuss the matter with officers of my Department. At the moment, I have no information that I could provide which would be more up to date than the information I provided in my last letter. However, considerable inquiries have been made overseas in relation to the problem in
Sydney and Melbourne. I assure the honorable member that very careful consideration is being given to his suggestion. I should refer to another point which I have mentioned previously in the House. A conference is to be held next month in the United Kingdom on the subject of noise associated with airports. Australia will be represented at the conference. From that conference we hope to obtain a lot of information that will be of value in assessing the position at Australian airports. Secondly, the situation at Essendon will be greatly improved when the new Melbourne airport at Tullamarine is opened. At Tullamarine wo have been fortunate in obtaining sufficient land around the airport to provide a buffer. The diversion of a large amount of traffic from Essendon to the new airport will relieve the situation at Essendon.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. Will he tell the House whether the Government has intervened, or intends to intervene, in the present wage dispute between Aboriginal station hands and pastoralists in the Northern Territory? As the dispute has its origin in a decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to delay the granting of full award rates to these people, will the Minister take the initiative and immediately call a conference, if he has not already done so, so that a just settlement can be worked out between the parties?
– The honorable member for the Northern Territory is referring to the recent hearing of an industrial case concerning the cattle industry award in the Northern Territory. The award will now embrace Aboriginal employees. The judgment of the Commission was delivered some time ago - I think in June. The Commission decided that Aboriginal stockmen were to be paid full award wages by December 1968 and suggested that, in the interim, the parties should try to agree on a method of phasing in that would enable the employers to adjust to the increased wages they must pay and the employees to become accustomed to handling the extra money. Negotiations are proceeding between the employers, my Department and the union, but so far no agreement has been reached. I do not see that any intervention in the negotiations is necessary at present.
– I direct my question to the Minister for National Development. By way of explanation, may I say that the official reports give the cost of peak hour electric power sold in bulk by the Snowy Mountains Authority to New South Wales and Victoria as an average of .93d. per unit and that the forecast future average cost is Id. I ask the Minister: Would not a large nuclear reactor, constructed in the Cooma area as part of the Snowy scheme and linked to a system of pumped storage, enable additional peak hour power to be sold to New South Wales and Victoria at a price less than that quoted above and still show a profit after meeting all charges for interest and depreciation? Would not such a plan implemented over five years provide useful employment in the Cooma area for some part of both design and construction staffs of the Snowy Mountains Authority?
– The decision as to where any nuclear power station is to be placed, or indeed even whether there is to be a nuclear power station, in New South Wales is entirely a matter for the Electricity Commission of New South Wales. Nevertheless, the proposal put by the honorable member is most interesting and I will see that it is fully investigated. The honorable member will realise that pumped storage is planned for Tumut 3. The water is to be caught in a small dam below the main dam and pumped back with off peak power to enable the production of larger quantities of peak power. During my recent trip overseas, I was agreeably surprised to learn that the cost of nuclear power is coming down, particularly where it is used for large units. 1 understand that authorities in the United States have already under construction or are committed to construct an amount of nuclear power equivalent to three times the entire power at present generated in Australia. Even the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is probably the biggest water authority in the world, has now planned to put a large nuclear power station in the middle of its area.
– I address my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the fact that Australia is paying S70 million a year to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, could not some effort be made to persuade the European section of the community in the Territory that Australian cars and other goods are at least the equal of cars and goods from other countries? Are not Australian table wines, for instance, among the world’s best and are they not good enough for officials in the Territory who, after all, enjoy our bounty?
– I can understand the reasonableness of the proposition inherent in the question. I point out, however, that the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is a Trust Territory held under trust from the United Nations. It would be contrary to the terms of the trust on which we hold the Territory to attempt to establish some form of preference for Australia in the administration of the Territory.
– That does not apply to Papua, does it?
– I would not like to think that we treated Papua differently from New Guinea.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry, relates to the payment of the bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers which came into operation on 17th August. I ask: What is the position of resellers who, on 17th August, had stocks of this fertiliser on hand? As an instance, I refer to dried fruits packing houses with stocks of this fertiliser which will be sold to primary producers who should receive the benefit of the bounty.
– Many distributors normally distributing to various producers, as well as the dried fruits organisations that the honorable member has mentioned, had stocks of the fertiliser on hand. The administration of the relevant legislation, when it is passed by the Parliament, will be undertaken by the Department of Customs and Excise, but officers of my Department will work with customs officials in trying to sort out the situation. The Department of Customs and Excise has invited all holders of stocks to advise that Department so that it may make a complete assessment of the position. I think that it would be necessary to cover the stocks held by distributors as well as those held by manufacturers.
– I would like to ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question that relates to the opinions expressed recently by the Prime Minister, and confirmed by the Minister for Territories in this House last night, concerning the recessionary problem with which the motor vehicle manufacturing industry, as a large scale user of labour, finds itself confronted. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Territories, in voicing their sympathy, pointed out that the present situation is necessary because of over expansion in the industry. I ask: If the Government seriously wished to cut back this over expansion, why did it not act earlier and prevent the present situation, with its harshly punitive effects, from arising in thu industry? Why has the Government in fact encouraged further investment recently by announcing a 10 per cent, tariff supercharge applicable to numerous imports of motor vehicles? Finally, is not the real reason for the present situation in the industry the Government’s desire to apply the crunch to private investment in order to make possible public expenditure on the scale proposed?
– The whole history of the Government’s fostering of the automobile manufacturing industry in Australia is based on support for the industry and promotion of its strength throughout. I am sure that the honorable member knows of the proposals which the Government brought forward a couple of years ago and which were designed to induce as many manufacturers as possible to produce at least 95 per cent, of the components of each vehicle in Australia as distinct from the previous practice of importing very substantial proportions of each vehicle. Even in respect of a vehicle whose volume of production here does not warrant so large a proportion of Australian content, an inducement is offered to encourage the manufacturers to produce more than 50 per cent, of the components of the vehicle in Australia. despite the low throughput. The recent imposition of an additional 10 per cent, duty on vehicles imported wholly built up is the outcome of a Tariff Board recommendation made after a thorough investigation of the industry. The additional duty clearly is designed to foster the production of vehicles wholly built in Australia and to protect them against competition by vehicles the manufacture of which provides employment in other countries and which are brought into this country wholly built up.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Can the honorable gentleman give the House any information as to the composition and equipment of the Vietcong forces against which elements of the Australian task force fought so successfully near Baria?
– Mr. Speaker. 1 rise to order. This question is on the notice paper.
– What is the number?
– Order! The honorable member has raised a point of order. He should be fully equipped to indicate the number of the particular question.
– I refer to Questions Nos. 1962 and 2027.
– Order! I point out to to the honorable member for Parkes that the information he now seeks can be obtained as a result of the questions which appear on the notice paper. The honorable member who placed the questions on the notice paper did so in the full exercise of his rights, which must be preserved.
- Mr. Speaker, I asked the Minister not only about equipment but also about the composition of the forces.
– Order! I call the honorable member for Bonython.
– My question to the Minister for the Army refers to the question which I asked him on Tuesday of this week. Is it a fact that an inter-departmental committee has recommended to the Government the establishment of a special committee to be set up within the Army to screen regular sol diers and conscripts who want to stand for election to the Parliament at the forthcoming general election? If this is correct, will the Minister explain his reply to my previous question? In any case, what justification can exist for screening candidates for Parliament, whether they are servicemen or civilians, and why the distinction between servicemen and civilians?
– The reply that I gave the honorable member previously was correct and I have nothing to add to it at this point of time.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question regarding satellite communication stations. Can the Minister tell the House what progress has been made in Australia in the building of satellite communication stations and the associated equipment which will enable Australian telephone subscribers to make calls direct through the international telephone network? Is Australian progress in this sphere developing at the same rate as progress in other countries?
– I believe that most honorable members would be interested in this subject. More time than should be given at question time would be required to deal with this subject adequately. When the House resumes I shall, having prepared a statement, ask the House for permission to make a statement about this matter.
– -Is it possible for the Attorney-General to furnish a statement showing the names of the companies in which the Australian Mutual Provident Society has purchased debentures and the value of the investments in each of these companies?
– I shall make inquiries to ascertain what information can be provided. It occurs to me at the first hearing of the question that it might be a matter which is within the control of the State authorities. However, I shall make inquiries and see what information can be provided.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Services who is do doubt well aware that through the courtesy of his Department certain types of pensioners receive reduced television and radio licence fees. I ask: In view of the clause whereby those in receipt of a certain rate of income automatically miss out on such reduction, will he ensure that the upper limit today is increased so that as a result of the proposed increases in the base rate pension these people will not miss out on the reduced rates?
– Particularly war widows.
– This should also include war widows.
– I can assure the honorable member that I will examine the problem he has raised. These licence fee concessions are to help pensioners who for various reasons are unable to pay the full amount of the fee. Consequently, any extension of pension benefits is normally intended to cover not only the pensions themselves but also the ancillary benefits. I will look into the substance of the honorable member’s question and I can assure him it will receive sympathetic consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the reported serious shortage of police personnel, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, and I ask whether the Minister has received any request from the police authorities in those States to exempt 20-year old police employees from call up for national service.
– ]f there were to be any representations at all they would hardly come from the police associations themselves. T presume that those bodies would raise the matter with their State Governments.
– He said “ police authorities “.
– Well, it does not matter in any case, because that would make it even more likely that the representations would come from the State authorities themselves.
– Has the Minister had any requests?
– I have not received any such requests and I should point out that a basic principle of the national service scheme is that everyone in Australia who is liable for service shall be treated on precisely the same footing, whatever his circumstances and occupation.
– I would like to address a question to you, Mr. Speaker. Are you aware that the notice paper contains up to 40 questions placed there on the one day by some honorable members opposite? Will you consider the desirability of action to limit the number and wide reference of questions placed on the notice paper, so that question time may not be deliberately obstructed?
– I point out to the honorable member for Evans that it is the right of any honorable member to place a question on the notice paper, and I hope that the last thing a presiding officer will do will be to interfere with the rights of honorable members. As a hint to the honorable member I may say that there is a Standing Order about this matter.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. The honorable member will have noticed an announcement by the British Postmaster-General four weeks ago that the Post Office in Britain is to become a public corporation, the members of which will be appointed by and responsible to a Minister. As the Australian Post Office is closely related in its history and organisation to the British Post Office and is now the largest enterprise in the southern hemisphere, has the honorable gentleman considered, or is he considering, whether it would now be appropriate to adopt this kind of structure, which the Commonwealth has most successfully adopted in respect of airlines, shipping, banking and insurance?
– I have followed with some interest changes which have taken place in the British Post Office over the last two or three years. The first of these changes was a determination to cause the British Post Office to look after its own finances to a greater extent than it had in the past; that is, to release to some degree from Treasury control the supply of funds. To this end it was determined that there should be a profit rate of about 8 per cent, earned by the British Post Office, first for the payment of interest on the total assets which are used by the Post Office; secondly, to cover supplementary depreciation - that is depreciation over and above normal rates having regard to the cost of replacement of assets - and thirdly, to provide a sum of money which could be used for capital purposes.
I do not know that this has been successful other than in the Post Office providing some of its own capital resources, ft is still substantially dependent on the British Treasury. On the latest proposal of the British PostmasterGeneral for the Post Office to cease to be a department of state and become a corporation, the statement of Mr. Short in the British Parliament was itself very short, lt was a brief statement which did not give a great deal of information. It indicated that the Nationalised Industries Committee was investigating the situation and that it would produce as a result of this investigation a White Paper, probably at the end of this year or early next year, and that the change would take place in about three years’ time. He did say that the Parliament could not expect the Post Office to be tied to its apron strings indefinitely.
I do not quite know what this expression means - for instance, whether it means that members of Parliament will not have the right to ask questions about the activities of the Post Office. Certainly he indicated that no longer would the British Post Office employees be civil servants, but he added that that was a matter he would have to work out. I am not satisfied at the moment that there is sufficient evidence on which I could make a judgment about whether this would be an appropriate move in Australia, but I believe that we should study what happens in the British Post Office, and if we believe we can achieve some good result from following the example then perhaps we should do so. However, this will be a matter for submission to the Government and for the Government’s determination later.
– I address a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Although we are increasing our aid to South East Asian countries and other countries through the Colombo Plan, would it be possible for Australia to accept responsibility for a specific major project in this area? I have in mind the rehabilitation and, if need be, the rebuilding of the shipping port at Djarkata.
– I suppose all such things are possible, but it is a matter of fitting within the total programme of our obligations whatever is thought desirable in a number of countries. I note the suggestion of the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services and ask: Is it correct that his Department refuses to recognise as dependants children born out of wedlock to widowed pensioners? ls this not a severe punishment for indiscretion? Will he consider recognising such children as pensioner dependants in cases where efforts to have the father maintain the child have failed?
– I do not quite follow the honorable member’s question, because my Department does not fail to recognise the dependants of widow pensioners in the circumstances to which I understand the honorable member refers. In fact any person who has the care, custody and control of a child or children within Australia is entitled to receive child endowment. This applies whether or not, for example, a person is a naturalised Australian. It applies to a migrant who comes to this country and it applies to children who are in institutions. Each of the organisations and individuals concerned is entitled to child endowment. If the honorable member is talking about the child allowance which is supplemental to the pension, then in these circumstances also the children of widows are normally granted the additional 15s. a week. I will look into the circumstances of the honorable member’s question but I do not think the difficulty he sees as existing really exists.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral know that in certain districts of Victoria where it has become necessary for farmers to bring their telephone lines up to the required standard owing to the introduction of State Electricity Commission services, the Postmaster-General’s Department is asking as much as $700 a mile to do the work said to be necessary? Is this charge in accord with Post Office policy? Is it Government policy? Will the PostmasterGeneral investigate this matter with a view to giving some practical interpretation of the oft heard call for decentralisation?
– I cannot be certain of the amount of $700 a mile mentioned by the honorable member but I do know that the Post Office has certain requirements relating to the provision by individuals of telephone lines beyond a certain point. That is to say, the Post Office does not accept responsibility for the unlimited outlay of money for the provision of private telephones. Let me illustrate this by mentioning one area where a telephone was demanded and it was discovered that the cost of installation would be between £6,000 and £7,000. whereas the revenue received from this service would be between £15 and £20 a year. In that instance the Post Office was not prepared to accept the responsibility for the outlay of the amount involved.
The Post Office has the right to determine the limit of the expenditure it will incur in relation to individual lines. Beyond that point the responsibility rests with the persons concerned. If there is an improvement in the service - this happens when a service is changed from a manual to an automatic exchange with subscriber trunk dialling - it is necessary generally for an uplift in the standard of the privately erected section of the line. The responsibility for meeting the cost involved beyond the point to which the Post Office takes its installation rests with the private individual.
– I preface my question to the Acting Prime Minister by saying that before leaving Australia on Monday night last the Prime Minister said that Australia was likely to be engaged in many more wars in Asia in the next few years. When does the Government intend to issue a detailed statement showing where and when these wars are to be fought? How many hundreds of thousands of Australian youths are to be conscripted to serve in these Asian wars?
– I am not familiar with what the Prime Minister said and I do not necessarily accept the honorable member’s version as the correct one although I am not challenging it. What I say now is that one would be bold indeed if he were to assume that we had reached the point in time at which we would never again be involved in something relating to the security and defence of our country. So far as this Government is concerned, the security of Australia is our first consideration.
– Has the Minister for the Army any information which indicates that North Vietnamese regular forces are operating in the vicinity of the Australian task force?
– Only recently, some information was released in Saigon, I think through American sources, which indicated that about one half the people operating against the Australian task force element a few days ago-
– Mr. Speaker, I raise a point of order. This information was sought by me in a question on the notice paper. That question has not yet been answered. Now the Minister is providing the information in reply to a question by an honorable member on the Government side.
– Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honorable member. The Minister may answer the question in any way he likes. May I add that I think the question has been rather skilfully framed. The honorable member will resume his seat.
– Why is the Government so dishonest.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– It is not even a question on notice and he has a prepared answer there.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat, or he will be dealt with. He will control himself.
– Mr. Speaker, on the point of order-
– Order! There is no point of order.
– Have you ruled-
– Order! There is no ruling. The honorable member is out of order. He will resume his seat.
– Information has recently been released from Saigon that about half the forces operating against elements of our Task Force in the major battle that took place a few days ago, were comprised of North Vietnamese regular troops. It has also been released from Saigon that the total forces operating against our troops in that conflict numbered approximately 1,500. Most of the weapons that were left behind when the Vietcong and North Vietnamese troops retreated at the end of the conflict were made in Communist China.
– I. would like to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question. Has the right honorable gentleman had time to have a look at the notice paper-
– Perhaps I can help the right honorable gentleman. If he will have a look at questions Nos. 796 and 797 on the notice paper he will see that both were asked by me on 10th November 1964. They were directed to the Minister for Territories. They have not yet been answered. I would like the right honorable gentleman to state whether he will have a talk with his Minister who, I think, has been rather neglectful of his duties to the Parliament and also direspectful-
– If the Minister is overworked, will the Acting Prime Minister consider apportioning part of his duties to some other Minister?
– We have never had the advantage of a better Minister for Territories than we have at present. This is widely recognised and I am completely content to leave him deal with his own business.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. I refer to question No. 1823 on the notice paper in my name. It has been there since 13th May and deals with friendly society dispensaries. Knowing the Minister not to be inflexible or rigid in his attitude, may I ask the right honorable gentleman whether a helpful and early answer to the points raised can be supplied?
– I will see that an early answer is given to the honorable gentleman’s question.
– I think it will bc appreciated that before answering a question of this kind some inquiries in Vietnam are necessary. These are under way. An answer to the honorable gentleman’s question will be given as fully as possible as quickly as possible.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Are operations under the Poultry Industry Assistance Act proceeding satisfactorily? Why are certain amendments to this Act and the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act necessary? Does the poultry industry generally support these amendments?
– After questions are concluded today I intend to present the first annual report on the operations of the Poultry Industry Act which will reveal a very satisfactory year for the whole industry. Indeed, the industry had hoped to receive an average return of 3s. 3d. a dozen throughout Australia, but finished with a return of almost 3s. lOd. a dozen and so is very happy. But some small amendments are necessary. I have indicated the reasons ibr (hem in the second reading speech of the Bill that has been presented, and the amendments will be discussed when the debate on the legislation is resumed. Experience of the operation of the Act shows that we need to correct these anomalies.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question without any reference to politics or anything of that sort. Will he assist honorable members who have put questions on notice - and some of them have been on the notice paper a very long time - by having them supplied with answers as soon as possible? It may be possible to prepare and provide these answers during the week or so that the House is in recess. I think it is important that some of these questions should be answered. I am not accusing anybody of refusing to answer questions or of hiding anything, but some questions have been unanswered for far too long.
– I shall ask Ministers to examine questions on the notice paper to see how expeditiously they can be answered, but in saying that may I observe that from my own experience over the years many questions are put on the notice paper which require an extravagant and a costly amount of research by departments to obtain the material on which to base answers. I think that honorable members, who are legitimately entitled to ask questions, might bear in mind the drain on the resources of departments in conducting this research.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in view of a misrepresentation on page 5 of today’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
– Order! It is necessary for me to ask: Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ reported -
Dr. Cairns . . . stressed that it would be impossible to follow the recommendations of the Caucus Foreign Affairs Committee that a future Labour Government would “ direct the army to bring home without delay” National Servicemen in Vietnam “ acting with full regard to the safety and security of the Australian force.”
That statement is completely inaccurate. In fact I expressed an opinion which was exactly the opposite of the statement in the report. May I protest against the practice followed by leading reporters of reporting obviously biased opinions without making any effort to check with the persons concerned?
– I understand that I have been misrepresented.
– Order! I think the honorable member had better make sure. The position is that if an honorable member has been misrepresented and attention is drawn to the fact and evidence submitted to the Speaker - as was done by the honorable member for Yarra - the honorable member has a certain right to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Wills has not followed this procedure and it will be necessary for him to obtain leave to make his personal explanation.
– I ask, Mr. Speaker, for leave to make a personal explanation.
– I thank the House for its indulgence. I notice that my name is included in the article referred to by the honorable member for Yarra. I am not a reader of the reports of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ as they are notably and usually inaccurate, and the remarks made by the honorable member for Yarra apply equally to the reference to me. I also agree that it is time the House took some action against people who perpetrate actions of this sort, reflecting as they do on the integrity and the good conscience of its members. It appears to be an attempt to bring Parliament and its members into disrepute.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 13th September, at 2.30 p.m.
Debate resumed from 31st August (vide page 651), on motion by Mr. McMahon.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
Thai all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view of inserting the following words in place thereof - “ the House condemns the Budget because -
It fails to recognise the injustices wrought upon wage earners because real wages have fallen as prices have risen faster than wages.
It makes inadequate adjustments to social service payments.
It fails to recognise the serious crisis in education.
It does not acknowledge the lack of con fidence on the part of the business community in the future growth of the economy.
It does not recognise the need of further basic development, public and private, in addition to the need for adequate defence, and that balanced development can only take place by active encouragement to Australian industry and co-operation with the States.
It does nothing to relieve our dependence on a high rate of foreign investment to finance the deficit in our balance of payments.”
– I join with other speakers on the Government side who have congratulated the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on the presentation of his first Budget. 1 think it was with considerable relief that a number of primary producers and businessmen in the drought afflicted areas of Australia read the terms of the Budget, because we expected it to err either on the side of increased taxation or on the side of inflation. Either would have been disastrous to both country business houses and the primary producers who are still in the throes of the drought and who will be suffering from the effects of the drought for years to come. But the Budget as presented was a model of restraint, balance and stability and will do much to ensure that Australia’s economy goes on as it has been going on for the last few years, as an island of stability in an economically turbulent world. The Budget will preserve a prosperous and stable economy in Australia.
While I congratulate the Treasurer I think we all as Australians should congratulate ourselves on our good fortune in having such a competent, experienced and able team to advise the Government. The Treasury team, led by Sir Roland Wilson over the last 15 years, is outstanding by any standard. It is able to provide the Government, particularly the Treasurer, with an experienced judgment that is rare in any circumstances and which has been of considerable benefit to the progress of Australia in recent times. Any one who doubts the competence, experience and wisdom of the Treasury should refer to the documents - the annual surveys of the Australian economy - put out by the Treasury, and in particular to the special White Papers which have been produced in recent years. One, I recall, dealt with growth, and one which accompanied the present Budget dealt with investment analysis. Both are admirably presented documents, lucid and pitched at a level which will ensure that they have the maximum impact on those interested in these subjects in Australia. If the Treasury is contemplating the issue of a further White Paper on a specific subject I suggest that it turn its attention to the broad subject of credit, because this is a much abused topic, especially since members of the Opposition have been sedulous in attempting to cloud the issues surrounding credit and to make it appear that money can be created freely, and without limit, without causing inflation and serious hardship to sectors of the economy.
Turning from the general field of credit to a particular field, I want to draw the Government’s attention to the needs of the farm sector. As everyone knows, we have built up a very strong and elaborate structure to provide farm credit. This has been done since the Commonwealth Development Bank was created in 1960. We now have as avenues for providing credit to farmers not only the traditional sources, such as the trading banks through the overdraft system, the wool firms and the hire purchase firms, but also the Commonwealth Development Bank as a lender of last resort. We also have the new scheme of term loans and the even newer scheme of farm development loans, which has not yet got into its stride. In addition, we have the special system for providing credit for drought relief and restocking which, as the former Prime Minister said, is an unprecedentedly generous scheme in its terms and provisions.
These new forms of machinery for making money available to farmers cover a very wide spectrum but there still exists a gap in the provision of credit to farmers. This is evident if we study the experience of other countries. There is still a need for the provision of some form of supervised credit to farmers who cannot be regarded as commercially sound. That description applies quite widely throughout Australia but particularly to a number of primary producers in the drought affected areas. Supervised credit can never have a large application. It certainly does not have a large application in Australia at the present time, but it has quite a history in other countries, especially in the United States of America. The United States has been making loans under close supervision for some considerable period. The scheme has been eminently successful. There have been very few defaults and the farms which have had the benefit of these loans have increased in productivity quite substantially. In fact, a survey which 1 read recently discloses that loans made five years prior to 1958 resulted in the total number of properties affected doubling their net cash income in the five years and adding to their assets by some 50 per cent.
What is supervised credit? To translate the American practice into the Australian environment we would have to create a large corps of credit supervisors. We would have to obtain the men to make loans and to draw up plans with farmers for farm improvement. These skilled men would have to supervise the application of the loans and the carrying out of the plans. We would thus make money available to farmers who could not obtain credit from any other source. We would make it available on long term and at rates of interest in the vicinity of 3 per cent. The results of this scheme, applied to Australian primary industry, would be very similar to those obtained in the American experience. We could expect to see uneconomic farms made economic. We could expect to see small farms encouraged and guided towards aggregation with the farms of their neighbours in order to make them into economic units. We would see much closer liaison between extension officers generally and farmers. Constant guidance would be available to the farmer from extension officers and loan supervisors in the fields of farm management and technical practices generally. We could expect to see in Australia the same kind of financial results as have been enjoyed by farmers in the United States of America.
I believe that this is a proposal which should be studied by the Government quite urgently because it is plain that those farmers in Australia who hae had to borrow from the State banks under the drought relief scheme will find it extremely difficult to recover from the present drought. I hope that, since the rains we have had in the past few days, the drought may be termed, now, the “ past drought “. But farmers who have been affected by the drought will find it very difficult to recover because they have no reserves of finance available to them. They exhausted their credit from normal lending authorities before they applied for drought relief money. Now they are up to their knees in debt through the drought relief scheme and through loans that they have had previously from the banks and the stock firms. They will find it extremely hard to build themselves up again. This situation is not good for Australia as a whole. It means that it will take the country 5 or 10 years to recover from the effects of the drought. This is not good enough for the economy, lt is in our interests as Australians to see that drought affected farmers get back into production as quickly as possible. So I put forward this scheme, hoping that the Government will give it urgent consideration. It is a success in other countries. It is a success in the one case in which we have applied it in Australia, and it should be applied generally.
The one case in which it has been used in Australia is on the Ord, which has particular problems and particular needs. The success of the scheme on the Ord is an indication of our ability in Australia to apply a scheme of closely supervised credit.
On the Ord, farmers who are selected for settlement are able to obtain a lease with option to purchase provided they fulfil stipulated conditions. Those conditions include acceptance over a five year period of directions given by the Western Australian Government’s agricultural advisers as to the nature and area of crop to be grown, seeding, fertilising, treatment of pests, harvesting, watering, &c. Everyone knows how successful that system has been at the Ord. All I ask is that the Commonwealth apply this scheme throughout Australia, but especially in those areas which have been so sorely affected by the drought.
I commend the Treasurer on the taxation concessions he has provided to alleviate the effects of the drought. They are very welcome concessions, although their scope is limited. I hope that the Treasurer will in time give attention to a proposal that I put earlier this year, that extra concessions should be offered to farmers to encourage them to engage in irrigation and water conservation on their properties. There is vo better form of conservation, whether” it oe water, soil or fodder, than the conservation undertaken on the farm. That is where it ought to be encouraged, and I hope that the Treasurer in the days and years to come will give attention to the pressing need to encourage farmers to act more positively to conserve water, soil and fodder, and even forests, on their properties.
While on the subject of conservation, 1 would mention the welcome offer of the Commonwealth to the States to retain the services of the Snowy Mountains Authority. The Commonwealth has offered to enter into negotiations with the States to determine whether it is possible to ensure a base load of work to occupy the staff of the Snowy Mountains Authority in the future. Until the States come forward with sufficient schemes and with projects of sufficiently large scope, the future of the Authority must remain in doubt. The Snowy Mountains scheme will be completed within the next five years and already members of the staff are leaving the Authority. The investigational staff is working itself out of a job. A continuity of work must be found, and now the Commonwealth has offered to the States the opportunity to nominate projects that would ensure the continued employment of most, if nc* all, of the officers of the Authority at Cooma.
I am particularly interested in this matter, because I believe that we must as a matter of urgency use the Authority foi conservation works in Australia. I have on earlier occasions in the House suggested that conservation schemes embracing a whole river basin should be advanced by the States. These would be of a suitable size for the Snowy Mountains Authority to hande. The river basin concept is novel in Australia, but it is not novel elsewhere. Other countries have realised long since that in matters of conservation we must treat the whole river basin system as a single unit if we are to spend our available resources in money as wisely as possible and achieve the maximum results. I hope that the States will come forward with conservation projects on a river basin scale in sufficient numbers to guarantee the maintenance of the Snowy Mountains Authority as a design and construction authority for conservation work far ahead into the future.
It is my view that the Snowy Mountains Authority is solely an engineering team and that conservation, especially water conservation, involves more than pure engineering. In order to have a Commonwealth body serving in the States on water conservation projects, we need also to be able to call upon experts in the field of land usage and experts who can carry out benefit- cost analyses to ensure that we establish a fair and sensible set of priorities for the work. So I hope that, when the States have come forward with their suggestions, the Commonwealth will establish a conservation commission by statute on the same lines as the Joint Coal Board was established between the Commonwealth and New South Wales. Such a conservation commision should be provided with funds and it should be empowered to call on the services of the officers of the Snowy Mountains Authority, of officers of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and of other specialist officers in Commonwealth and State administrations. We would then have a really efficient conservation commission in Australia. I have no doubt personally that the first job of the commission would be to deal with conservation problems arising in western New South Wales and especially in north western New South Wales and south western Queensland. This area includes the Darling River and its tributaries and it is the area that has been most severely affected by the present drought. There is reason why we should embark on this work with some urgency. I have used the word “ urgency “ quite freely in the last few minutes. I have done so because I am most conscious of the need for this work to be done. We must be imbued with a sense of urgency in dealing with all developmental matters because of events that are taking shape in Asia.
The problems of Asian countries, especially of Vietnam have been mentioned often during this debate. We have probably heard too much about Vietnam from Opposition members. I do not intend to say anything about Vietnam, but I shall refer generally to eastern Asia. Two powers in eastern Asia will determine the destinies of the hundreds of millions of people who live in this region. Those two powers are not China and the United States of America. They are Russia and Japan - the two most highly industrialised and powerful nations in Asia. However struck we may be by industrial developments in China, there is no doubt in my mind that Japan, as far ahead as one can see, will always be ahead of China in industrial might. The United States of America is not a coloniser. It is not in South East Asia and Vietnam permanently. It is there only to do a specific job, and when that job is finished the United States will withdraw its interests back to its homeland. Australia will still be in the area, because geographically we are in eastern Asia. And so will Japan and Russia.
It is significant that as recently as January of this year the Japanese and the Russians signed a trade treaty to develop the gas, oil and mineral resources of eastern Siberia. Those two countries are drawing closer together industrially and commercially. The rate of their industrial growth has to be seen to be believed. We in Australia should not be content to sit back and allow events to take their own course in Asia, guided and propelled by Russia and Japan. I believe that we should make our presence felt. We should do far more than we are doing at present to influence the course of events. We should use our own judgment on what can and should be done in Asia in the future and we should try to guide events, because we need to do so to preserve our own security and independence.
From the Budget papers, I learn that we spend only 20 per cent, of our allocation for overseas posts of the Department of External Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry on posts in East Asia. This is probably not realistic. The expendi ture of only 20 per cent, of these funds on representation in East Asia and 80 per cent, in the rest of the world, including countries that are scarcely if ever visited by Australians, does not seem to me to fit the needs of the present situation. Japan is already our biggest customer. What place will it play in our trade in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time if it continues to expand as it has expanded in recent years? What about our trade with other East Asian countries? Of course we want to trade with them as they develop. And they must develop. We must make sure that they do if we are to have stability in the region to the north of Australia. lt is in our interests to have stronger diplomatic and commercial representation in East Asia so that we may keep our finger on the pulse of things there. We must exert our influence, however small it may be at the beginning, on affairs in Asia so that we may do whatever we can to preserve ourselves from the only possible threat to Australia’s security. Any threat can come only from Asia. Obviously, we can do more than we are now doing to build up our representation and our influence in Asia. As one small step. 1 suggest that we should encourage greater interchange between Australia and the countries of East Asia through visits by businessmen, parliamentarians and people who are influential in Australia, and visits to this country by their counterparts in East Asian countries. I would also like to see greater encouragement for the placement of Asian students in our universities, training colleges and schools. I do not think that we have any Vietnamese, for example, studying in Australia.
– Yes, we have.
– I stand corrected. If we have, they are pretty thin on the ground. Yet it is plain that our bonds with Vietnam must grow. We must have strengthened commercial and diplomatic links between Australia and Vietnam. So also with Japan, which, as the principal Western oriented power in East Asia, must be encouraged to promote visits to Australia by its nationals in greater numbers. We in turn must visit Japan in greater numbers so that the two countries may be drawn closer together and each benefit from closer association between the two.
In the half hour available to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have discussed three matters. The first of these is the provision of supervised credit for farmers. The second is the use Oi the high powered expert teams of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority on water conservation works throughout Australia. The third is the building up of our associations with East Asia. In my view, these three matters are the most important and the most urgent to arise out of the Budget that we are now considering, regardless of the views of Opposition members on Vietnam, defence or anything else. The only fitting description of the approach of Opposition members to those matters is that it is a bodgie one. In my mind and also, I believe, in the minds of most Government supporters, the important issues are the development and the continued security of Australia.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support the amendment which was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and which condemns the Budget and highlights the Government’s failure to make adequate adjustments of social service benefits and to recognise the serious crisis that exists in education today. The amendment notes also that this Government has failed to recognise the injustices wrought upon wage earners because real wages have fallen as prices have risen faster than nominal wages. There is definite stagnation in the Australian economy and lack of confidence except in the mining industry. The Government, in the presentation of this Budget, has failed to recognise this lack of confidence in the business community and to make definite proposals to get business moving. The Budget contains no direct stimulus to industry other than a proposal to reduce sales tax on electric fans and air conditioners. The need for some stimulus to industry has been evident for some months. The Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd., in a pamphlet entitled “ Business Indicators “. which was published as recently as July of this year, warned -
Prompt and unmistakable stimulus is becoming imperative to prevent the current uneasy situation developing into a down turn.
The Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, in an economic survey conducted in July, also warned that industry was lagging. The findings of the survey were stated in these terms -
All branches of Victorian industry experienced little real growth during the past 12 months, and no worthwhile expansion is anticipated in the remaining months of this year.
These were the findings of this Chamber’s survey of industry taken this .month. The survey was conducted among chairmen of 83 branches of industry.
The Chamber of Manufactures went on to state that the findings of this survey contrasted very sharply with the generally optimistic Treasury survey of the economy released in June by the Federal Treasurer (Mr. McMahon). It added -
A comparison of the findings of both surveys makes it obvious that the only segment of the community enjoying boom conditions is the public authority section. This is clearly being fostered to the detriment of private enterprise.
We know from experience in my electorate, and especially from retrenchments in the timber industry, just how true the indications of the survey conducted by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures are. The Government knew all this, too. Some very revealing figures are contained in the Budget papers. I refer particularly to the document entitled “ National Income and Expenditure 1965-66”. It shows that gross national product rose by 4.5 per cent, in the financial year 1965-66, compared with 9 per cent, in 1964-65. Expenditure on business vehicles, plant and machinery rose by 9 per cent, last financial year compared with 18 per cent, the year before. Personal consumption rose by 5 per cent, in 1965-66, compared with 8 per cent, in the previous financial year. Gross fixed capital expenditure rose by about 8 per cent, last financial year, compared with 16 per cent, in the previous one. These figures taken from the Budget papers clearly substantiate the findings of the survey undertaken by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures. All this adds up to the fact that the A.N.Z. Bank publication’s description of the current situation as uneasy is correct.
In this Budget, the Government has made no effort to remedy the situation. It has provided no stimulus to get business moving again. Everyone was hoping that the Budget would contain some measures which would stimulate demand in the consumer durable and building industry and in the motor vehicle field, but none was included. Car registrations are down by 15 to 20 per cent, on last month’s figures and more than 1,000 men have lost their jobs in the car industry in three States this week. This will have a snowballing effect right throughout the allied industries which are associated with the car industry. As the General Manager of the Nissan company said yesterday, if the motor industry is in trouble, the whole country is in trouble. I believe it is quite true, as was reported in the “ Australian “ yesterday in a very good leading article, that the Government views this unhappy state of affairs as an adjustment by manufacturers who had overextended themselves in the past three years. But. as the “ Australian “ points out, this is quite preposterous. If anything, the industry is the victim of the vacillations and contradictions in what the Government is pleased to call its economic policy.
The crisis in education continues, as indicated by the concern expressed by the teachers’ federations in the various States and the vast amount of publicity given to this fact. Education authorities in the various States are hamstrung for the finance necessary for the provision of adequate teacher training facilities and aids and equipment for schools. We believe that a national inquiry should be conducted to examine all aspects of education, Government and nonGovernment. The Australian Labour Party’s policy, to be stated later this year, will include details of assistance that wc believe should be given towards the training and payment of teachers. Universities have benefited from recent financial grants and are able now, because of the excellent position in which they have been put. to make very attractive offers in their attempts to attract staff. University lecturers are recruited from our present top men in secondary schools and we cannot afford this drift. An inquiry into all aspects of primary and secondary education is urgently required and is supported by honorable members on this side of the House. The additional amount of $30 million provided in the Budget will not meet this crisis. The demand for teachers is increasing with the extra number of migrants and the additional number of children going to school, but again no real approach has been made to assist, particularly in the very important field of teacher training.
Turning to the position of the man on the land, the White Paper “ National
Income and Expenditure 1965-66 “ reveals that farm income at S970 million is S300 million down on last year and is at its lowest since 1961-62. All of this cannot be put clown to the drought and the weather. Dairy farmers this year are to receive an interim payment of 39c per lb. for commercial butter. This is lc less than last season and is much lower than it was 12 years ago. In 1954 the interim payment was 4s. 6d., or 45c. and despite all the increases in wages and costs that the farmers have had to meet we find that they are receiving less now for their product than they were receiving 12 years ago. ls it any wonder that we see the drift from the farms? Yet this Government idly sits by and has done nothing in its long term of office to arrest this drift from the farms to the towns. In my own State the number of farmers has decreased by 50 per cent, in the past 15 years and by 25 per cent, in the past 10 years. Because of depleted farm incomes, many farmers in my area have had to take employment in secondary industry in firms like Titan Manufacturing Co. Pty. Ltd. and Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd. in Burnie and other places in order to obtain enough money to meet their farm commitments.
This drift continues also on war service land settlement properties. This is a very serious problem. The Budget provides for an expenditure of $6$ million for this financial year, of which Tasmania is expected to receive $1,426,000. Twelve years ago this Government expected to bring the whole scheme to an end, but year by year it has allowed the whole sorry mess to go on. As the years go by the frustration facing these settlers continues to grow and now, after 1 5 years of occupation of their blocks, they are no closer to knowing what they will have to lace in this respect.
– We cannot even get a valuation on Flinders Island.
– That is correct. As the honorable member for Bass has said, it is impossible to get valuations of properties on Flinders Island, which is in his area. All this reflects the growing concern, the frustration and uneasiness that exists and is evident right throughout the soldier settlement areas. The whole basis of valuation of properties must be changed if the scheme is to bc successful. In many cases the areas must be enlarged to give settlers an adequate return to meet their commitments and to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. This question of additional land is yet another example of the bungling that goes on in the administration. We were told more than a year ago that the 30 or so vacant farms on King Island would be divided and added to existing blocks to strengthen them and so maintain the economy of the island. To emphasise the need for this I refer to the “King Island News” of 24th August 1966 - a fortnight ago - and in the time available I shall quote briefly from a letter to the editor which states -
For a good many years now it has been quite obvious that dairy farming on a 200 acre lot is a hopelessly uneconomic proposition.
Two hundred acres is only enough to run a decent dairy herd, but to make a reasonable living, to meet the high cost of living, commitments, etc., a settler must have extra land on which to run bis dry stock and replacements.
At the present time there is enough vacant land to fill this need, so I ask why? Why can’t this extra land be given to settlers who are in dire need of it? They could then make a decent living, meet commitments and so bring a bit of economic stability into the settlement.
This emphasises the need for more land in order to give these people a reasonable standard of living and to enable them to meet their commitments which they are so anxious to meet but cannot meet at the present time. In the same edition of the newspaper there is reference to the economic instability of the settlers. This is a matter that has often been referred to in this place. The article reads -
The average income from 45-cow dairy farms is $6,000. Of this, farm expenses take $3,000, Agricultural Bank commitments $2,000, living expenses $2,600, leaving a deficit each year of $1,600.
The writer goes on to say -
It is then seemingly impossible under the present conditions of leasehold to make a profit on a 200-acre dairy farm, so what good can it do me or anyone else to sign under a slave labour contract that does not even attempt to solve the main problems - too small an area and too large a commitment.
I only hop; that the Government will push on as quickly as possible with the plan announced to divide up some of the 30 vacant farms on the island which have been left by settlers who have walked off. These should be divided up among other settlers who are trying to make a go of it. By this means we could strengthen the existing properties and at least give the remaining settlers an opportunity to make a go of it.
– Has the Government investigated that angle?
– It promised more than 12 months ago that it would do this, but nothing has been done. We continue to see this continual bungling which I think comes about from having two sets of administration, one Commonwealth and one State. There is divided control and this never works. I will have more to say on this question in the debate on the loan bill which must inevitably come before this House later in this sessional period to authorise the raising of the loan for the continued expenditure of money on war service land settlement.
While referring to the man on the land I should state that I am very concerned about the situation facing the apple and pear industry in Australia. We in Tasmania, and I know that this is so in other parts of Australia, have just gone through the worst season since the depression of the 1930’s. I only hope the Government will give early and sympathetic consideration to a request by the industry for a guaranteed advance for apples shipped overseas next year. I wish to point out that this industry has been worth more than $17 million annually to Tasmania in recent years, and the market depression this year has been a tremendous blow to importers, growers and exporters. It has caused a great pessimism among growers, and something must be done very quickly indeed to restore confidence and make it possible for orchards to remain in operation.
It has often been pointed out that the fruit industry has to pay dearly for freight so that Australia may enjoy the luxury of regular timetables of conference lines ships, which operate on a cost-plus basis - the greater cost the greater the profit. The sooner we establish our own overseas shipping line the better it will be for all concerned, especially for people such as those engaged in the fruit industry. The cost of packing and shipping a carton of apples is about $4. Of this amount freight accounts for about SI. 90 or approximately 50 per cent. The carton itself costs 70 cents and the balance goes in commissions, local freights and storage costs. Growers who ship on consignment have to get a net return of 38s. sterling in London, which, with the addition of the exchange amounting to 9s., raises the price to $A4.70. This is the absolute bedrock price that will ensure a small profit on consignment, equal to that which the grower could have obtained on the f.o.b. basis. In England in July our Jonathan apples fetched $1.88 to $2.50 in cases and from $2.50 to $3.55 in cartons. Sturmers brought $2 to $2.82 in cases and from $3 to $3.88 in cartons, while Cleopatras fetched from $1.69 to $1.75 in cases and from $2.12 to $2.88 in cartons. Look at the range of prices - from something over $1 up to more than $3 for the mid-season varieties. As I said earlier, a return of $4.70 is the absolute minimum required to give a small profit.
Austerity in the United Kingdom coupled with the bank up of fruit caused by the shipping strike, and the increased production in other countries in Europe, Africa - in South Africa this year in particular - and South America all assisted, no doubt, to make this one of the worst seasons on record. British buyers of our fruit claim they have lost about $1 million through the slump, and many of our orchardists have been receiving debit notes for fruit that they sent. The problems facing the industry are expected to be much greater next season because British importers will not be keen to shoulder further heavy losses and there will almost certainly be an increase in shipping freights. So it is very important indeed for the wellbeing of this great industry that the Government conduct an inquiry immediately into the problems facing it, and gives particular attention to the question of guaranteeing an advance for apples shipped overseas next season.
In an editorial earlier this week the Hobart “ Mercury “ newspaper drew attention to the situation. It said amongst other things -
Consideration may have to be given to some way of providing special freight relief next fruit season.
This is putting the problem and the request for assistance very mildly indeed. Some help must be given by this Government, and given immediately, to restore confi dence in the industry. The editorial in the “ Mercury “ said also -
The Tasmanian fruit export industry, already in trouble this year, will have still more next year when shipping freight rates to Britain and the Continent rise as a result of the agreement between the shipping Conference Lines and the Federal Exporters’ Oversea Transport Committee.
The average rise for all types of freight is 6.2 per cent., but refrigerated cargoes are to be hardest hit. The official statement says somewhat vaguely that it will be not more than 10 per cent; past experience suggests that it will be little, if anything, less.
Then follows the passage that concerns the people in whom I am interested -
A 10 per cent, rise would mean roughly an extra 19c a case of fruit, or, on an export of 6,000,000 cases, more than SI ,000,000 spread over the industry. The outlook for the European market makes it unlikely that producers will be able to pass this cost on to oversea consumers. Nor, with wages rising and no relief in taxation, is there any prospect of more than marginal savings in costs through greater efficiency under the present handling system.
This is the worst season that this valuable industry has experienced since the depression years of the 1930’s. Something must be done quickly indeed by the Commonwealth Government to restore some confidence in the industry, which affects not only the people in the Huon Valley but also those in the Tamar and Derwent Valleys, and in the Mersey Valley on the north west coast. Not only the growers are affected, but also others who get their living from the industry, such as transport workers, packers and waterside workers who load the fruit. There are very many people in the various towns who are dependent on the industry for a living.
I turn now to the subject of housing. This all important subject has been dismissed in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer with a couple of lines. Despite the establishment of a Commonwealth Department of Housing, no national housing policies or programmes have been announced by the Government. The Government committed itself to a separate housing administration, as a vote-catching move about three years ago, but this development has failed because the Government knows very little about what is really wanted in the way of a national housing programme. Finance is the key to housing. We have all the labour and resources to build houses, but this great industry must continue to be subject to ups and downs, and must remain essentially of a stop-go nature, so long as the Treasurer persists in restricting or increasing the amount of bank finance available for the home building industry according to the periodic ups and downs of the economy.
It is quite true, as the Master Builders’ Federation of Australia pointed out earlier this year, that the housing sector of the building construction industry cannot bc separated from the remainder of the economy in overall budget planning, but it is not in the best interests of either the housing sector itself or the economy as a whole for housing to be submerged and lost sight of amongst other interests. The present housing authority has no effective voice in the vital field of home financing. As the former Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) admitted in this House last November, finance for housing - I use his own words - “ lies very largely outside my departmental jurisdiction “.
Planned finance is the key to the problems that face the housing industry today. The present situation is one of divided financial control between the Department of the Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the Department of Housing. This Department should survey the likely demand for houses within the next few years and should, taking into account the backlog, set a target for the industry to achieve. If necessary the Department should be expanded to enable it to carry out this task. As to finance, I agree with the points made by the Federation, when it said -
We feel the proper authority to establish finance quotas for the different sources of finance- 1 take it the Federation is referring to savings banks, life assurance organisations and the Commonwealth Government - is the Federal Housing Department and not the Federal Treasury. The Housing Department should be in sole control over all finance matters affecting the home building sector. It can never hope to iron out the oscillations in this industry until it is granted a greater measure of financial control.
These oscillations, these ups and down within the industry, are serious. The greater part of the timber produced in my State is sold in Melbourne for home building, but the market in Melbourne today is as dead as a dodo. Despite the increase in population, approvals for houses and flats in Australia declined by 8 per cent, in the first five months of this year as compared with the corresponding period of 1965. Within recent weeks about 60 people have been dismissed from the industry in my area and this is a cause of great concern. Because of the uncertainty within the industry valuable trained men seek employment elsewhere and are lost to the timber game forever. We had this trouble in 1954. We had another recession in 1958. We had one again in 1960-61. And now the timber industry looks as though it will be faced with the same type of recession once more. It is practically impossible to replace a good, trained man in the timber industry. Fortunately for these people we are experiencing a boom in the mining industry and alternative work has been found for them in this field, but housing is so important that it should not be subjected to these stop-go pressures. The time is long past for the implementation of some of the suggestions of the Master Builders Federation to provide for a well planned policy for housing in this country.
I note that the Budget makes increased provision for capital expenditure by the Post Office. This year the expenditure will be $202,700,000, or $21.5 million more than was spent last financial year. I can hope only that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) will accede to the numerous requests that have been made to him and approve expenditure for a national television relay to King Island, which lies in Bass Strait about half way between Tasmania and Victoria. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board has advised the King Island Council that the proposal to take a television signal via a relay station is technically feasible but would be extremely costly in view of the number of people who would use the facility. I maintain that the service should be provided. The 2,500 residents on the Island are just as much a part of the Australian nation as are the people who live in Sydney or Melbourne. They are taxpayers and contributors to this nation’s economy and welfare and as such are just as entitled to a television service as are other people. The provision of a television service would be a tremendous shot in the arm for the Island and would do much to relieve isolation and to arrest the drift of people away from the place. The A. B.C. provides excellent educational programmes for children, and youngsters on the Island would derive much benefit from this service, which at present is denied them.
I take this opportunity of thanking the departmental officers who ensured that the relay to the west coast of Tasmania was installed before this last winter. I make another plea to the Minister and his advisers for the installation of a relay service to King Island. The only place on the west coast that does not get a reasonable signal is the delightful port of Strahan. I would urge the Minister to contact the commercial interests to see whether the Department could not get the loan of a battery operated translator and position it on the Strahan aerodrome and other spots to see whether it is feasible to get a better signal by this means.
In the last few minutes at my disposal I wish to refer to the importance of the tourist industry and shipping. I am pleased to note that provision is made for finance to enable the building of a sister ship to the “ Princess of Tasmania “. Tourism is very important, lt has been estimated that the annual tourist increase to Tasmania is about 18 per cent, and that if this is maintained 400,000 visitors will be travelling to Tasmania annually by 1972. It has been estimated further that these people will be bringing with them $32£ million. The Tourist Council has also worked out that this sum of money could generate more than Si 00 million within the State. From this we can gauge the tremendous importance of this industry to an island State like Tasmania. Much credit for this must go to the great improvements in the shipping services that have been made in recent years, especially with the introduction of the roll on roll off passenger vehicle ferries, such as the “ Princess of Tasmania” and the “ Empress of Australia “, associated with a similar cargo vessel, the “ Bass Trader “. I should pay a tribute to Captain J. P. Williams and Mr. F. J. Mercovich, the Chairman and General Manager respectively of the Australian National Line, and to their officers for looking after this very important service that they have been able to bring to Tasmania through the A.N.L. I thank them for the great work they have done in this regard.
It is interesting to recall that the “Princess of Tasmania “ made her inaugural voyage on 2nd October 1959, almost seven years ago, and up to 30th June this year has made 2,083 crossings between Melbourne and Devonport and has carried 591,635 passengers, an average of about 87,600 a year. Before we had the passenger vehicle ferry, tourists and passengers used to come to the Island by sea on the “ Taroona “. If we look at the year 1 954 for a comparison we find that the “ Taroona “ carried 36,400 passengers that year whereas the “ Princess of Tasmania “ now carries 87,600. This represents an increase of 140 per cent, in the last 12 years in the number of passengers carried to Tasmania. This is a remarkable advance that has been of great economic value to the State. For seven years now the “ Princess of Tasmania “ has been bringing about 1,000 people a week into Devonport. This is a tremendous boom to Tasmania.
My time is running out and I should like to repeat that 1 am indeed pleased that after all the efforts by the Tasmanian Government - by a former Minister for Transport, Mr. Connolly, and by the present Minister for Transport, Mr. McLoughlin - the Australian National Line and the Commonwealth Government have seen fit to provide for a sister ship to be on the run by December 1968.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to begin my remarks by putting into some kind of perspective the matter which will occupy me for most of my time. I intend to take a long and honest look at the means test; but not before I have made this point: The basis of my approach is that we are living in a successful and, indeed, a highly successful economy. This is Australia Unlimited. There is virtually no discernible ceiling to our potential as a nation. Inside five years we have seen the lid taken off our development in the economic sense. Where once we rode on the sheep’s back, with a fearful eye cast towards the synthetics industry, we now look at a whole series of things which give us new and diverse strength - minerals, natural gas, oil and, tomorrow, water. These are either at hand or reasonably predictable. Yes, this is a favoured land indeed.
So, too, this Government can take no little pride in the fact that it has led the nation through this exciting and satisfying series of developments. The Budget which has just been brought down is truly an astonishing document; but not in the way that our desperate critics opposite would try to pretend. They are critics, Mr. Speaker, who are destitute of real criticisms, and who no longer find solace in unemployment statistics or the use of a stop-go catchcry, or the other slogans which gave them past enjoyment. Now the worst that they can deplore is that the Budget simply stays put - it is a status quo Budget. But what a wonderful place to stay put, with national growth and prosperity and employment soundly and steadily taking place despite the enormous demands of defence and the disastrous drought which is now, happily, petering out. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I simply cannot get enthusiastic about knocking down the straw men raised by the Opposition, or spending more time than that congratulating the Government on a sound economic position, and our Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on a notable first.
The matter I want to deal with in some detail is, I believe, one of very grave injustice to some of the very people who have given us this buoyant, expanding economy - the people who have pioneered and built Australia Unlimited. I speak, as it were, as a member of the board of directors of this highly successful company of Australians, to make an appeal on behalf of a section of the oldest shareholders who, I believe, are getting less than common justice. During the past year or so I have carried out a personal investigation into the plight of the people in my electorate who are deprived of their savings by the operation of our means test. I use that form of words deliberately, because it is a true description. I speak for tens of thousands of some of our best citizens.
I have scores of documented cases in my possession - letters from former school teachers, railwaymen, civil servants, parsons, shopkeepers and the rest; the ordinary folk who are the stuff of national life; people who have borne the heat and burden of the day in helping to build Australia; people who have lived through the depression years and fought and scraped to save for their old age. Today they have a little nest egg, not a huge sum but one capable of producing a few dollars a week if they have been lucky enough to have invested it in reasonably productive areas. Maybe they have a small pension like hundreds of ex-railwaymen on the maximum railway pension of about $30 a week. They have saved while others, with equal and even greater incomes, have not. They have often banked their savings to receive a miserable pittance in the way of interest while their neighbours have squandered their substance. Now these thrifty people are still being taxed to keep those who have no savings. In addition, they are told that they must support themselves out of their little bit of capital until it is reduced to the level at which they will be in near penury. This is economic injustice. Indeed it is worse than that. It is a violation of their basic personalities. Their decency and frugality are being assaulted and it hurts, Mr. Deputy Speaker - it hurts - it hurts like hell. I know because I have seen it very close to home.
Let me illustrate to the House this mad, mad arithmetic of Australia’s social services. Following the presentation of this Budget, any single retired person with less than $17,500 in savings must do one of two things. Either he must invest it to average more than 6i per cent, interest per annum - in short, he must risk being caught like so many were in the Reid Murray or H. G. Palmer swindles - or he must get rid of $13,460 as quickly as possible in order to enjoy the best income. If he is married, he is a fool to hang on to his savings if he has less than $30,770. Either he must take the risks I have mentioned to get a high interest rate or he will be worse off than a man with only $8,080. Tn short, he must find some way of divesting himself of $22,620.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, have you ever tried to advise aged persons, persons of great dignity and decency, that their life savings are an incubus, a liability, a folly, and that they should be squandered in order to obtain ordinary justice? I tried that with an aunt of mine recently and I was horrified at the way it shook her basic faith in her deepest principles and convictions. She belongs to the old school which believed that thrift was a virtue. She has a simple, deep and humble pride in independence. But she is now told that she must either live off her capital until she is within the range of the pension or spend her money on a lot of things she has regarded all her days as unnecessary luxuries. This necessity I can only call immoral.
Before I go any further perhaps I should give the basis of the figures that I have already mentioned. Here is my reasoning: A single pensioner today is able to get a full pension of $13 a week or $676 a year. In addition, he is allowed to own property up to a value of $4,040 if he has no other income. If he averages 61 per cent, interest on his capital, he receives another $262.6 a year income. Further, he now receives fringe benefits such as free medical and hospital treatment, reduced fares, concessional telephone rentals and radio and television licence fees and, in most areas, reduced or cancelled rating on his home property. If these benefits total a further, say, $200 a year, his effective income is $1,138 a year. If he had to obtain this same income of $1,138 fro n investments yielding 6i per cent, interest, he would need a capital of $17,500. Anything less than that amount would mean that he would have less income than the pensioner with only $4,040.
On the same basis, a married couple may now receive the full pension of $23.50 a week or $1,212 a year. They may also own property to the value of $8,080 which, if invested at 6i per cent, interest, would add a further $525.50 a year to their income. If their combined fringe benefits were calculated at $263, to make a round figure, their effective combined income would be $2,000 a year. In order to yield this same amount of income from capital investment at 6i per cent., their capital resources would need to exceed $30,770.
Putting the whole thing in another way, if no change is made in the present policy relating to the means test, no married man should try to save in his lifetime more than $8,080 unless he can be sure that he will be able to retire with substantially more than $30,000 or, if he is single, $17,500. There are precious few people in the lower income bracket today who have a hope of saving amounts of that magnitude, so the Government is simply saying to them in effect that they are fools to try to save and they had better just eat, drink and be merry. I cannot get out of my ears the biblical rejoinder to that policy. It is very much to the point: Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee. I submit that the present operation of the means test is not Only foolish in the extreme but that it is also destroying something in the soul of a very valuable section of our nation.
But I cannot stop there because there are some people who are even worse off. So far I have spoken only of people who are lucky enough to have their little nest egg in a form which allows them to invest it advantageously. But there are others who have put their money into property. 1 mentioned one such case in a recent letter to the Minister. A certain lady had a shop premises, including residence, in my electorate worth about $12,000. Invested at 6i per cent., this lady would have had an income of at least $780 a year. But unfortunately her premises in New South Wales were subject to rent control and her actual income was less than $500 a year. In addition, she had to meet all the expenses associated with the maintenance of the property yet she had well above the maximum amount of $10,080 permitted by the legislation to enable her to get the smallest pension and with it the increasingly valuable fringe benefits, so she was in desperate straits. This is not an isolated instance. There are hundreds of variations on this theme. The means test is administered on the basis that property is returning not 6i per cent., which is a generous enough return in all conscience, but 10 per cent, because one tenth of the capital value of such assets is added to any income to determine a person’s means as assessed.
Our ad hoc policies today have resulted in the situation I have just described. These policies might have been all very well and good in the years of the great depression or in the uncertain days of the mid-1950’s but, as I pointed out in my opening remarks, this is now a very different nation with a very different spirit. Those old policies are no longer any good for the late 1960’s. Today this eager prosperous young country needs to learn a biblical truth much older than the one I have already cited, a commandment as old as the first attempts at the rule of law: Thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
This Government will seriously under estimate the temper and calibre of the nation if it feels that Australia is not ready and willing to have the means test tackled robustly, even if it means a slight increase in the level of taxation. I go further and say that my only disappointment in the Budget is its lack of demand on Australians to share, at least financially, in the magnificent sacrifices being made by so many of our young men. We are ready as a people for a strong call, for instance, to carry out much wider programmes of aid and relief to countries like Indonesia. So, too, we are ready and willing to tackle some virile new thinking in this whole field of social services.
Now let me turn to the cost of doing the kind of thing that I have been hinting at - the cost of tackling the removal of this incubus, the means test. When the actual cost of such an assault on the means test is measured, I can only say that it appears to me to be relatively small. Look at the figures: The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) has supplied statistics recently with regard to the cost of removing the means’ test altogether at various ages. For instance, if the normal retiring age of men aged 65 years and women aged 60 years were taken, then the respective costs for each sex would be from S 105 million to SI 10 million for men and from $195 million to $200 million for women. But if, instead of 65 for men and 60 for women, the ages were advanced by 5 years, the cost would fall from a total of around $300 million to nearer $160 million or $170 million.
With these figures in mind, I have done some research into the expected decline of each group so that the cost of removing the means test altogether for men aged 72 years and women at 68 years could be computed. The result at which I have arrived is from $35 million to $40 million for men and from $70 million to $75 million for women, or, in total, a sum of between $105 million and $115 million.
But this is not the end of the story by any means because the very fact that the pension would now be paid to the complete range of persons in these age groups means that if the age allowance in taxation were adjusted there would be a very valuable and considerable return to Consolidated Revenue from income tax on this additional pension. Many people would be moved into a higher income bracket with the result that at least from 10 per cent, to 12 per cent, would be saved. The total cost, therefore, of removing the means test at 72 years for men and 68 years for women would be around $100 million.
– Is that each year?
– That is in each year, plus the additional health benefits which, if applied only to public wards in hospitals, would not be a huge sum. To give some idea of the cost of this development to the individual taxpayer. I point out that the number of persons paying income tax in the year under consideration - that is, 1964-65 - was 4,459,000. The removal of the means test would mean an average extra contribution of 43c a week or, taken on the basis of taxable incomes in the same year, it would mean a contribution of 1.1c in the dollar of taxable income. It is my firm belief from talking to a tremendously wide cross section of people that the Government would get overwhelming support for such a measure if it were to be introduced as part of the next budgetary proposals. The most recent public opinion poll available on the topic substantiates that view.
So far, I have spoken only of the bare and obvious injustices to individuals in the operation of the means test. There are far wider considerations. For instance, we are today faced with a critical manpower shortage, especially in the skilled and semiskilled groupings. These are, of course, the very population groups who are most concerned with this topic. Look at what a shortage of manpower means to Australia today. Take defence first. We are rigorously curtailed in the demands we can make on our people for military and para-military service because we have a parallel duty to ensure the stability and growth of the nation’s industry and economy. Removal of the means test at the ages I suggest would have the effect of keeping valuable and experienced persons at work for longer - or it could do so with enlightened supporting legislation. From the cost T have mentioned must be subtracted, therefore, another figure which would be the additional productivity of the nation due to this increased work force.
I have already indicated another and enormous economic factor. There are today more than one million people over the ages of retirement; that is, 65 years for men and 60 years for women. There are 800,000 men over 70 and women over 65. A considerable proportion of these are faced with the problem of too large savings. Add to this the even greater consideration that millions of people today, both young and old, who would otherwise be saving for the future, are spending their incomes on non-productive items because there is simply no point in their being thrifty. It would not be too much to say that tens of thousands of millions of dollars are involved; that billions of dollars are being used ineffectively and in a second rate manner by this nation, to say nothing of the dire effect of all this on the character, the heart and soul of the nation.
The Government says that it is concerned with the falling birthrate, and so it should be. But what working man or woman studying these facts would think it worthwhile to save? The alternative is clear. We see it in New South Wales in thousands of poker machine palaces. We see it in many other places where money is squandered. We see where women are taken out of the home. Today there is very little emphasis placed on the value of money. Why is this so? Much of the blame lies fairly and squarely at the gate of the architects of the means test. Of course, we will always need a means test of some kind to be applied to emergency social service payments. Unfortunately the poor will always be with us, and the state has an obligation to them. But they should be a very tiny proportion of the nation today. The people for whom I am pleading are not paupers; they are highly respectable, prudent and valuable citizens. They are a diminishing race in Australia, and the fault is ours.
So I make this urgent and indeed emphatic plea. I beg the Treasurer to set aside the past with all its arguments, pro and con, and to take another completely fresh look at the facts. He brings to his new and vital role in government a skilled and trained mind. He has wide experience. He has indefatigable dedication to his task. With the lovely wife who is now sharing his life, and a family experience to expand his heart, I trust he will take a little time to ponder these most sincere representations on my part because I am not only pleading for the 350,000 or so aged people who would be affected by my proposals; even more importantly, 1 am pleading for the soul of Australia and her future generations whose mental, moral and social welfare depends in a substantial way on their attitude to money and their prudent dealings with it. I leave it at that.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
.- The amendment moved to the Budget by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is most timely. He refers in his amendment, which I shall not read out in full, to the inadequate adjustments to social service payments, the Government’s failure to recognise the serious crisis in education and to acknowledge the lack of confidence on the part of the business community. I think that one of the fairest criticisms of the Budget may be found in the columns of the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “. Under the heading “ Election year - but no incentive “ the newspaper’s leader writer states -
The fact that this election year Budget offers no tax relief to citizens or any direct incentive to private industry probably will surprise not only the cynics.
Introducing his first “ baby “ as Commonwealth Treasurer Mr. McMahon has expressed disappointment that he could not do more than he has done. He has offered as his main excuse the fact that defence expenditures this year are inescapably high.
This explanation is only partly convincing because some of the defence spending this year will be “on tick” with the U.S. and will have to be met in future years. The taxpayer and industry evidently will have to hope and pray that world events will shape more favourably before they can expect any consideration.
The Budget should keep Australia on an even keel economically. But this is not because of direct incentives to Australians but indirectly because of increased Government spending. Spending will rise greatly, but tax and other revenues only moderately.
It is depressing to see a “ free enterprise “ government again depending on government spending to provide almost the entire stimulus to economic buoyancy which the Budget provides.
Certainly the “ Courier-Mail “ has damned the Treasurer with faint praise. I wish to quote briefly a few references by representative citizens of the grand city of Brisbane. I quote, first, Mr. Whatmore, the president of the Queensland Chamber of Manufactures. He said -
The Budget to the point of view of the manufacturing industry was generally disappointing and uninspiring.
He went on -
The motor industry, housing industry and durable consumer goods industries, especially, needed assistance and stimulation which unfortunately was not given in this Budget.
The Director of the Queensland Employers’ Federation stated -
The Budget, over all, will be disappointing to the private sector of industry.
The President of the Chamber of Commerce in Queensland said -
Unfortunately there has been a slackening in consumer demand which the Treasurer admits and states that this must not go too far, but it is hard to see how the vast increase in defence outlay could be very helpful in arresting the drift.
The recent basic wage increase can only result in much greater tax revenue.
On behalf of the working community of Queensland, Mr. Nolan, the State Secretary of the Australian Railways Union said that there was no definite provision for developing the country so as to increase its social standards in this age of high technical progress. The Secretary of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, Mr. Macdonald, said that a paltry dollar increase in pensions was totally inadequate for the 750,000 age and invalid pensioners in Australia. He went on to say that - lt would not restore pensions and social services eroded heavily in the last few years.
All social services, including child endowment and maternity allowances, should have been restored to their original values.
Those are just a few opinions from various sectors of the community in Brisbane regarding the failure of the Treasurer to give some lead to industry and the community at this important time when so much encouragement is needed, a time when unemployment in manufacturing industries is accelerating and the amount of overtime paid to workers engaged in the manufacturing industries is decreasing. The purchasing power of the people will be reduced during this financial year unless the Government recognises its responsibility, can put some ginger into industry and gives the encouragement that is so necessary to the manufacturing industries to promote demand and to assist the working people to increase their purchasing power.
The Labour Party is very concerned at the failure by the Government to increase social service benefits to a satisfactory degree, and the Leader of the Opposition has made it clear that after 26th November, when he is Prime Minister, Labour will recognise the Commonwealth’s responsibility to the people of Australia in the field of social service benefits, including child endowment and maternity allowances and in the fields of health and education. These are sectors of the economy which need great assistance. They have been ignored largely by the present Treasurer and the Government, but they will be recognised by the new government, led by the Leader of the Australian Labour Party. 1 want to make some reference to the rates of social service benefits proposed by the Government and point out how they are failing to meet the demands of that large section of the community which, to quote the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay), have borne the heat and the burden of the day and have made such a wonderful contribution to the progress of this nation. Truly we may regard them as the nation builders. The Government proposes to give some minor consideration to those in receipt of social service benefits. It will be increasing the rate of pension to a single pensioner by ST a week. But to those who have ventured into the field of holy matrimony and still are enjoying that happy state of affairs after having reached pensionable age, the increase is to be only 75c. This Government does not give any encouragement to people to enter into this holy state. It is a tragedy that the Government is dividing the pensionable community on this issue. I really feel that the 75c increase to be granted to a married pensioner is totally inadequate.
No increase was made in pensions over the last two years although the cost of living accelerated over that time. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission recently granted an increase of $2 in the basic wage, the first in twelve months. Let me quote from the Commonwealth Statistician how prices have risen in Australia in recent times. The wholesale prices of chemicals increased between June 1965 and June 1966 by 20.8 per cent. The prices of rubber and hides - and this covers boots and shoes - increased by 21.6 per cent. The cost of building materials rose by 0.4 per cent. Foodstuffs and tobacco rose by 3,2 per cent. Prices generally have increased in the 12 months from June 1965 to June 1966. Notwithstanding this meagre increase of 75c in the pension, aged people in the community will find it very difficult to meet the increased charges which will be passed on to them by the retail community as a result of increased costs. The Government has failed this very large section of the community. The Government’s action is a poor reward for the great work these people have done in pioneering this country, particularly in the inland areas. The Government’s action is a poor reward for those who have worked under difficult conditions in the cities - for those who, in the days prior to the Second World War. when there was not much return for Labour, gladly gave of their time and labour in the factories and developed the secondary industries which have grown to be such profitable undertakings today.
I want to make my position clear on the matter of the means test. In 1949, Mr. Menzies, the former Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Party, now Sir Robert Menzies, gave an undertaking to the Australian people that should his party be elected to govern it would immediately set up a committee of inquiry to formulate a plan to enable the means test to be abolished in three years.
– When did he say that?
– In 1949. His Government was re-elected in 1951. In 1952, as seems to be a habit with members of the Liberal Party, he conveniently forgot his undertaking to the people and introduced some other issue to take their minds off his undertaking to introduce a scheme for the abolition of the means test. I was elected to this Parliament in 1954 on a policy of abolition of the means test. Dr. Evatt, who was then Leader of the Labour Party, gave an undertaking in the election campaign at that time that, if Labour became the Go vernment, the means test would be abolished within the life of the incoming Parliament. I was first elected to this Parliament on that undertaking. However, the people of Australia did not wholeheartedly endorse the policy. Unfortunately in Victoria one or two members of the Labour Party were critical of its policy and created doubts in the minds of the people as to the ability of the Labour Party to implement such a scheme. But today those people are no longer with us. They are no longer in the Parliament. They seceded from the Party and we are happy to know that they are no longer members of it.
I believe that the means test should be and can be abolished. I hope that during my time in this Commonwealth Parliament I will see this worthwhile reform instituted. I am sure that the only party which will eliminate the means test on a planned basis will be the Australian Labour Party. The Liberal Party has had its chance to do so since .1949. lt made some minor concession in 1955, but since then it has done nothing. There is an urgent need for the elimination of the means test.
I would like to direct the attention of members of the Liberal Party to the speech made today by the honorable member for Evans. The climate today for advancing a proposal to eliminate the means test is far better than it used to be. There was a fear in 1954. encouraged by members of the Liberal Party and by some people who were members of the Labour Party but who have now left it, that if the means test were abolished less money would be available for those who had no income and who were in receipt of pensions. But I think that idea has been completely dissipated. Many more people of pensionable age are now compelled to contribute to superannuation schemes promoted by their employers in private industry and to enter into undertakings with insurance companies to ensure that when they retire they will have some superannuation income. But what does that do for them? It merely means that they are deprived of the age pension for which they have been paying taxes over many years. In my opinion, all of these citizens are entitled to live under good conditions in their days of retirement. The best thing we could do for them - for all sections of the community - would be to give a national dividend from the productivity of this country. We should abolish the means test and ensure that they live in comfort during their declining years.
I was surprised to read in the “ Sunday Mail” of 19th June this year an account of a speech delivered by the honorable member for Evans in the city of Warwick in Queensland. Warwick is the city that created a demand for the product of the poultry industry when Billy Hughes was Prime Minister. The honorable member for Evans was addressing a Young Liberals’ winter school of political science. He made a sensational statement, which I have not heard quoted in this House. The newspaper report of his speech reads -
The . . . member for Evans . . . told the school that the present basis of Australia’s Social Services policy was one of emergency measures. 1 now come to the part 1 want honorable members to note -
One man could “ blow “ his money on girls, grog and gee-gees while a second man planned and saved. Then we tax the second man in his old age to help provide for the first - what great moral thinker dreams that one up?
The honorable member was critical in that speech of the Government of which he is a supporter and which had been in power since 1949. 1 ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to bear with me while 1 quote some figures to show how the Treasurer benefits from people who, in the words of this divine and dominie from Sydney, blow their money on girls, grog and gee-gees. 1 have not been able to obtain figures showing the expenditure on girls, but 1 have been able to ascertain from the Commonwealth Statistician how much is paid by people who consume beer and spirits - these would come under the heading of “ grog “ as referred to by the honorable member for Evans. Last year, excise paid to the Commonwealth Treasury on beer amounted to $302,103,899. Excise paid on spirits in the same year amounted to $22,868,961. The total excise paid on beer and spirits was $324,972,860. Duties paid in respect of tobacco in the same year amounted to $18,051,698. The amount paid in respect of cigars and cigarettes was $199,720,192, making a total on smokes of $217,771,890. I might say that I do not contribute any thing under this heading. Total duties levied on beer, spirits, tobacco, cigars and cigarettes last year amounted to $542,744,750. Compared with that amount, I point out that expenditure this year under the National Welfare Fund is expected to be $1,019,844,000.
The total excise received by the Treasurer on the items I have mentioned - beer, spirits and cigarettes - represents 53 per cent, of the total amount paid in all social services, including invalid and age pensions, widows pensions and the whole range of benefits paid from the National Welfare Fund. I am sure that if we all reformed immediately and did not blow our money on girls, grog and the gee-gees, the Treasurer would bc very embarrassed financially. But in addition the State Treasurers benefit from these activities. The State Treasurers received $26,325,000 for liquor licences, and from the sport of kings, racing, they received another $27,370,000, making a total of $53,695,000. That considerable sum must assist the Treasurers in their very difficult jobs of trying to balance their budgets. 1 make these observations to illustrate the point that, even though people spend their money on these activities, they are making a substantial contribution to the revenue of the Commonwealth Government, and this revenue assists the Government to meet the cost of social services. So I do not think these people, ordinary men and women who enjoy life, are to be condemned for what they are doing. They arc patriotic to a large degree because they arc, without any choice, making a substantial contribution to the Commonwealth Treasury.
In the few short minutes that I have left, I want to make some observations about development in Queensland. I am very concerned at the failure of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) to make some provision for the improvement of the igloo airport buildings that grace the city of Brisbane. It is well known that over the years every Minister for Civil Aviation has left his mark on his home State by building a magnificent air terminal in the State capital. We know what Mr. Townley and Senator Henty did for Tasmania. Senator Paltridge was responsible for the construction of a magnificent airport building in Perth. The expenditure for Melbourne is so large that I do not think I can give all the figures. However, for this year the allocation is $34,423,662 for buildings and works at Tullamarine. But what is being done by the present Minister for Civil Aviation, who comes from Queensland and who represents the electorate of Darling Downs? The total amount made available for airport construction in Brisbane is S958,000 and of this $64,000 will be used for a rubbish incinerator.
The Brisbane airport buildings are of the igloo type. They were built of galvanised iron during the war years and they are shocking. Their true condition is not appreciated until they are visited in the summer months. They do not have a ceiling, and, with the sun beating down on the galvanised iron roof, the humidity and heat inside the terminal building are almost unbearable. If any city in Australia has a claim for a new airport building it is the city of Brisbane. The condition of the international terminal is really bad. The Minister, shamed into doing something, has decided to spend $40,000 on making some slight alteration to the galvanised iron igloo by putting in what is called an egg crate ceiling. An egg crate ceiling is merely a camouflage that makes people with poor eyesight think there is a ceiling there when there is not. In addition, we are to get a new snack bar and a new cocktail bar. These are the only additions to the international airport building at Brisbane.
Brisbane is the airport for the Gold Coast, which is Australia’s best earner of income from the tourist industry. Officials on the Gold Coast Council estimate that this year $70 million will be earned there from the tourist industry. But this is all we have to offer the people who come to the Gold Coast and to Brisbane from other parts of the Commonwealth. The Minister for Civil Aviation should be condemned by the people of Queensland for his inactivity in this important matter. The Minister has seen fit to recommend that an amount of $43,626,000 be allocated to Sydney for the extension of the runway and the provision of a new international airport building. So big sums are going to Sydney and Melbourne, but Brisbane must still suffer the old galvanised iron igloos that were erected by the Americans during the war years.
There is a lack of interest in development in Queensland. At the Young Liberals’ winter school of political science, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) referred to the difficulties experienced by country people when they seek employment for their children. He said -
Most of our young people have to leave their own homes in the country to get jobs elsewhere because there’s little industry in provincial areas.
I will not quote any more of his remarks, because the further I go the more he becomes condemned. I merely want to make the point that the Government is doing very little to encourage the decentralisation of industry and to provide for new industries in Queensland.
This year, the Government is providing SIO million to the New South Wales Government to enable it to upgrade the State railway line from Parkes to Broken Hill. This is purely a State line, but the grant is an absolute gift with no strings to it. The Government will make available $48,500,00.0 for the Snowy Mountains scheme. This is $6 million more than it provided last year. The scheme was initiated by the Australian Labour Party solely for the purpose of providing electricity for industry. Irrigation is incidental to the provision of electricity. Electricity is the lifeblood of industry and modern living. But in North Queensland, the Townsville Regional Electricity Board has complained that it cannot obtain enough money from the Australian Loan Council to complete the undertakings that it feels are essential to the extension of electricity supplies in the northern part of Queensland.
What have our Ministers done? Queensland has some Ministers who are very high in the Cabinet ranks. Let me outline the position. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme), who comes from the city of Brisbane, is very proud of the fact that millions of dollars are being spent on the post offices in Sydney and Melbourne. But the General Post Office in Brisbane, which was inherited from the 19th century colonial government of Queensland, is still there. All the Minister does is pull out a few partitions and put in some lino tiles. He then says: “ Look at what we are doing for you.” The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is sitting by and letting the sugar industry, the most important primary industry in Queensland, sink rapidly into bankruptcy. We know the record of the Minister for Civil Aviation. Unfortunately, time has beaten me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have a terrific record of the Government’s administration that I could bring forward in condemnation of it, but I content myself by saying in conclusion that all these things will be remedied after 26th November.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) followed the line taken in this debate by many members of the Australian Labour Party. Honorable members opposite just will not get down to the fundamentals of this Budget. I believe it is natural that they would have proposals to make. If they have, they should state exactly how they would raise the revenue required to finance those proposals. I commend the honorable member for Griffith, however, on not following the path trodden by his leaders, who submitted to the House a tremendous number of proposals on a wide range of subjects. He at least concentrated on social services and requirements at the Brisbane Airport.
I want to deal with the questions that arise in the consideration of this Budget, Sir. First, I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on the presentation of what I may describe as a most workmanlike budget. His proposals are all the more creditable, 1 believe, because of the special factors operating in this country at present. These factors have not been mentioned by members of the Australian Labour Party. First, we must recognise that we are now virtually at war. I think it does no harm not to mince matters on this score. Another consideration is that we have just passed through one of the most disastrous droughts of this century. Unfortunately, its effects are lingering on far too long. However, that is something beyond the Government’s control. Problems of world liquidity appear to become deeper and more insoluble every day. Our relations with Britain are conducted in the shadow of continued reference to the possibility of the devaluation of sterling or of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, or of both. In spite of these powerful pressures, however, the Treasurer has been able to put before us a blueprint for steadiness and stability in the economy while still holding to the pattern of continuing growth that has characterised the past five years.
I particularly welcome the right honorable gentleman’s undertaking to keep the level of private capital expenditure under close scrutiny. We have authoritative forecasts that during the current financial year the rate of growth in private investment will slacken. I hope the experts are wrong. Though we would perhaps admit that the present level is dangerously high, we would not want to see the economy lose its impetus. The Treasurer was quite right to direct attention to the lift in consumer demand that can be expected. I admit to some concern lest the increase be insufficient to make up for other diminishing demand factors. The Budget papers show that the increase in total outlay by the Commonwealth is expected to be only a little larger than that of last financial year - $475 million this financial year compared to $468 million last financial year. This is an indication that the margins are really rather thin, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I note from the table in the Budget papers which shows the changes in the major national accounting aggregates and which appears at page 30 of the Budget papers that this financial year the net increase in indebtedness is expected to increase by $155 million, compared to an increase of $32 million last financial year. This, of course, will offset the expected decline in the growth of taxation. This financial year, the increase in total charges will be $100 million less than the increase in total charges last financial year. Looking at this in terms of differentials, it seems to me that differentials provide a more accurate concept than gross figures. The underlying thinking is very sound. This, I suggest, is prudent housekeeping at a time when this is called for.
At a number of points in the Budget survey, reference has been made to the possibility of diminished capital inflow from overseas. The current difficulties in the negotiations concerning iron ore development in Western Australia, with the virtual withdrawal of one large United States company, are indicative of the world climate. The dangerous decline in world liquidity, which derives from the most complex causes, is having complex consequences, the full result of which is not easy to foresee. At least one conseqeunce, however, may not be altogether unwelcome. It seems thai a much greater effort will now have to go into the mobilisation of local funds for some of the great projects about to be put in hand, particularly in Western Australia and other States. I know that the Treasurer is somewhat concerned about the Commonwealth’s own fund raising programme. But 1 hope that his concern about this will not prevent him from encouraging greater local investment. A higher rate of investment of Australian funds in our great development projects would go far towards reconciling one to the rise in our overseas commitments that has been necessitated by the new defence programme.
At this juncture, I want to say something about defence in relation to our future overseas commitments, particularly with respect to Indonesia. As you know, Sir, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has just returned from that country and told us that he found there genuine friendliness for Australia. Confrontation of Malaysia has ended and the sole source of disagreement between ourselves and Indonesia, he said, has ceased. This is good news. On reflection, 1 believe that the Government can take full credit for the genuine and friendly feeling for Australia that exists in Indonesia at present. During the period of confrontation, a surprising number of people in the Australian community were suggesting that the Government take a hard line towards Indonesia. In fact, if we had done what some sections of the community desired, we would have sent the staff of the Indonesian Embassy in Australia packing. On the other hand, we have fulfilled our obligations to Malaysia, our neighbour in the British Commonwealth of Nations. We had a military force there, as you, Sir, well remember. The Australian Labour Party raised all kinds of objections to the presence of Australian troops in Borneo. Opposition members said that they could see all kinds of dire consequences emerging.
The important point about all this is that these consequences did not follow. Confrontation has ended and Australia has retained the respect of Indonesia. We have fulfilled our obligations to Malaysia as a member of the British Commonwealth. We have clearly demonstrated to the Singapore
Government and its Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, who, by the way, is a Socialist, as you, Sir, very well know, our belief that small nations as well as large Asian countries have rights. In fact, Sir, you will recall that these are the very sentiments that Lee Kuan Yew himself has expressed. This belief is the very reason why we are in Vietnam and one of the reasons why we differ from members of the Australian Labour Party. If Vietnam had been overrun by Communist aggression from the North, the situation in both Indonesia and Malaysia might have been different today.
Our work in these two countries has not finished. I believe. Australia alone can do in Indonesia work that might provide an admirable example for others to follow. I commend the Minister for External Affairs on his action in committing Australia to helping in building up at least one industry in Indonesia. I suggest that there is no need for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to scoff and to say, as he did a few nights ago: “ What are we doing in Indonesia? We are only sending some carbon black.” We have done a great deal for Asia in the way of external help and I think we can be very proud of what Australia has done to provide aid for other countries. But it has certainly not been enough. It never is. I believe that we should do more. But we have during the last number of years done something that I think is of great credit to Australia. However, I believe that the need for long term and ambitious plans for economic assistance to Indonesia is essential. Immediate practical assistance is most urgent. If Australia can help to get transport back on the roads and assist with industry for which Indonesia has raw material, I believe it would be sound thinking and good policy to do so.
There are no grounds yet for complacency in this part of South East Asia. The great test is in the days to come. There are very great dangers there, as we know. In a run down economy, such as exists in Indonesia, people are apt to become impatient and to create troubles. We shall have to assist in every way we can to prevent such happenings. We must do it quickly and we must lay down plans for long term economic assistance, not only, as I said, as a strong example for others to follow, but also as a means of preserving the peace.
During the last three years our Government has, under very great provocation both from Djakarta and, indeed, from within Australia, shown by its patience and its understanding that it is in an excellent position to help and influence our neighbours in Asia and, by so doing, build up a fruitful and firm friendship. I hope that those people who say that Australia should not be in Vietnam may be able to realise a little better our need for being there from what has taken place in Malaya and Indonesia. We are not fighting for the South Vietnamese only; we are fighting also for our own future. It could be a dark future unless Chinese Communist expansion designs in Asia are stopped. The situation in Indonesia, when all is said and done, was averted by only a matter of hours when there was an attempted Communist coup. If we believe that the people of our own country are entitled to be free and to govern themselves according to their wishes, we should at least support the rights of the countries of Asia to do likewise.
We did not appease Indonesia by withdrawing our troops from Malaya when that country was under threat by Communists. The Government does not propose to withdraw from South Vietnam in order to appease the Communists of that country. 1 was in South East Asia recently under my own private arrangements and, wherever I went, I found loud praise for Australian foreign policy in that part of the world. Most of this respect stems from the fact that we are a nation of our word. We are, relatively, only a small country, but in the A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. Treaties our obligations are clear and straight. These are the same obligations that we would expect to be carried out by the other signatories if we were attacked. What would the Labour Party do if it were in Government? Would it bring all troops back, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said, at the earliest practicable moment? What does that mean? We may have our own interpretation of what it means, but let me state one newspaper’s interpretation of such action as outlined by the Leader of the Labour Party. I refer to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of Thursday, 25th August, in which there appeared an article headed “ Mr. Calwell’s Policy “. The article states -
What in fact does it mean? … A nation which sends troops to a war in fulfilment of its treaty obligations or out of solidarity with its allies cannot turn round and withdraw them again without damage to that alliance and to ils credit as a nation. It may be true that the United Stales would have continued to protect Australia and to honour its own obligations under the ANZUS Treaty even if Australia had refused to send troops to Vietnam. But can anyone believe that American trust in Australia! and friendship towards Australia would not be seriously affected if, having sent troops, we were now to withdraw them again, leaving the United States to fight on alone at a time of increasing danger? Deserter is not a pretty name.
That, I believe, is a very good summary of the present position. The Leader of the Opposition has made the point that we should do nothing in Vietnam because it is an undeclared war. Australia has learnt a lot during the last eight years. During the life of the Government there have been no fewer than 164 internationally significant outbreaks of violence, none of which has been declared. There was Korea, in which no peace declaration has been signed. There was China’s attack in India; China’s campaign of genocide against India; 12 years of Communist aggression in Malaya; and there have been others. When there is aggression of the type we are witnessing today in Asia and in other parts of the world, whether war is declared or not the result is the same. The fact that we have lost good Australian lives in Asia is a matter of grief to us all. I am sure that everyone would agree with me when I say that we are saddened by the loss of these splendid men and that our sympathy goes out to those who have been bereaved.
I now want to turn to another matter of importance affecting human life. At this moment I am thinking also of another 3,000 people who lost their lives on the roads this year from road accidents and the 70,000 who have been crippled in some form or other. Accidents are now a national matter and the drain is all the worse because most road accidents involve young people who are not only valuable members of the community but who, as members, have also a long period of economic usefulness to give to this country. As the Treasurer has said, road safety is, of course, predominantly a matter for the
States. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth has for many years been contributing to the Road Safety Council. Last year its contribution was $300,000, and this year the amount has been increased by $50,000. 1 regret that the contribution is not greater. This organisation is doing good work. Road casualties are enormous and without the publicity on road safety they would be greater still.
I noticed in the Australian Automobile Association brochure distributed recently that that organisation claimed that every three hours an Australian is killed and every seven minutes a casualty occurs on our roads. This is an appalling record of death on our roads. I believe that we must do something to arrest these casualties. We are spending some §43 million on immigration each year and no less than $33 million to bring people to Australia. It is a bad investment to pay this amount o£ money in an endeavour to increase population while our chief enemy, human destruction by road accidents, is creating so much havoc among fellow Australians. I believe that we could well increase our contribution towards road safety, in spite of the fact that this is predominantly a matter for the States, as the Treasurer has rightly said. 1 should like now to refer to some remarks that I made earlier in which I said that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had thrown scorn on Australian aid to Indonesia. He said that we were very ready to offer military aid but most cautious about giving civil aid. Australia, I believe, has a good record in the field of external aid. I have said before that I do not believe we have given enough, but still we have a very good record. This Government has in fact contributed during the last 20 years, in total, no less than $840 million in external aid.
– How much?
– 1 1 has given $840 million in the way of external aid, and last year it increased the total by $121 million. Only four other countries devote a higher proportion of their national expenditure to aid for underdeveloped countries, and, unlike them, Australia is itself a net importer of capital. This country is the only one of the major donors giving all its aid in the form of gifts. All the other countries give their aid in the form of loans or with tags of some kind attached. I must confess that it sometimes appears odd to me that Australia should be giving food aid to certain countries which themselves are engaged in building prestige industries and nuclear reactors when they should be concentrating their attention on producing food.
When considering our overseas aid programme I believe the Government might well consider doing something further for Indonesia in respect of roads. We might make available some of the technicians and experts employed by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, in the same way as we have made such personnel available to other South East Asian countries. If we had Australians working alongside the local people and assisting them with their problems it would be of tremendous importance not only in helping the people to get their produce speedily to local markets but also in building up good relations with our neighbours.
The Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment which relates to a number of problems which face this country in such fields as education, social welfare and grants to the States. AU these matters, as we on this side of the House freely admit, are of great concern, but it is one thing to recognise needs and another to propose workable ways in which to satisfy them, particularly at the present time, and particularly having regard to the circumstances I have mentioned earlier. We could, of course, raise taxes. The Leader of the Opposition did not say specifically that he would do this, although on previous occasions when elections were further away than they are on this occasion he has indicated that he might do even this.
– Do what?
– I am just saying that in his Budget speech the Leader of the Opposition did not say specifically that he would increase taxes, although on previous occasions, when elections were further off than they are at present, he indicated that he might do this. To increase taxation would retard the incentive to production, as it always does in high taxation countries. The only regrettable thing about this Budget is that we have not been able to reduce taxation. The Treasurer, I think, put the position rather succinctly when he said -
It is the price we pay for growth and for security; but it is also a warning that, as a nation of fewer than 12 million people, with a continent to develop, we face strict limits on the commitments we can and should accept. To attempt more would be to overstretch our resources and capacities and bring on a chaotic state of things which could only serve to weaken our efforts and defeat our larger purposes.
– Who said that?
– The Treasurer. These are some of the things of which we must not lose sight when considering the problems that the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned with regard to education, housing and social services. First, Australia is not the only country with education problems. Those problems exist in Europe, in Asia, in almost every country in the world today. I was recently in a country in which three school sessions are held each day because of the shortages of school buildings. Housing problems are common to all countries, but in comparison to others, this country is well ahead. This is not to say that we are satisfied with the present position. Far from it. But the honorable member for Melbourne and his Party not only want improvements in the fields I have spoken of, they are also enthusiastic advocates of price control. Not many Australians who remember the black markets of 1945 will support the honorable member’s proposal for a referendum on that issue. Who wants to return to under-the-counter trading and empty shelves, with goods at exorbitant prices, when we now have an abundance of goods displayed in all shops?
As I have said, price control is not popular with Australians, lt has no hope of success unless it is coupled with control of wages. The British Labour Party Prime Minister has recently frozen wages in an allout attempt to bring about price control. Would the Australian Labour Party, if returned to power, follow the lead of Mr. Wilson? This Commonwealth Government, of course, opposes a policy of price control and freezing of wages.
Altogether there is a grand simplicity in the Budget speech of the Leader of the Opposition. As I have said, he recognises certain needs in the community but proposes no ways or means of satisfying them. One can speak as he has done when one is in Opposition, so long as there is no possibility of being called on to implement legislation to correct the anomalies. This has been a most difficult Budget for rife Government to bring down. I am sure the Treasurer has had to lock away many of his own wishes in preparing his first budget because of the realities that face this country concerning not only our defence needs but also our economic security. I am satisfied that most people have understood this and I believe that this is why the Budget has met with so much approbation. I have great pleasure in supporting it.
.- We have just listened, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to another frustrated occupier of the Governbent back benches. We have heard him supporting the Government and praising the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) for what he chose to consider a wonderful Budget. I, on the contrary, together with all other members of the Opposition and many people in various sections of the community, find myself unable to praise the Treasurer for this Budget. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) attacked the Australian Labour Party because of statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) about increased taxation. However, when Labour is returned as a government after 26th November - as it will be, because we know that time is running out for the Government and the people are at last waking up to what has been going on - we will raise additional taxation by increasing taxes on the people who can afford to pay. I remind the honorable member for Isaacs that when the Chifley Government was in office a married man with two children did not pay taxes. The Labour Party proved that this could be done and it will prove that it can be done again.
I fully support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. Before the introduction of the Budget there was much speculation in the community, primarily in industry, about the concessions that would be made to overcome the stagnation now prevalent in industry. What a great disappointment the Budget proved to be. It produced an immediate adverse reaction in business, trade union circles and pensioner organisations. It has been described as a stay put Budget, a half speed ahead Budget, a timid Budget, a courageous Budget, a disappointing Budget and a totally inadequate Budget. I would describe it as Billy’s bungling Budget. It is the present Treasurer’s first Budget, and we are pretty sure it will be his last.
The Treasurer went into great detail to describe the increase in the gross national product. He spread his figures by referring to the economy during the last five years. Of course, this was greatly misleading. History shows this Government to- be a year to year government, a stop and go government and a government without a concrete plan for the development of Australia. During 1961-62 there was a great setback. We all recall the credit squeeze that was brought on by this Government’s economic measures. In 1963-64 there was a great improvement because the Government was compelled to bow down to the pressures applied by the faceless financiers who control it. Last year the gross national product was increased by 9 per cent. This year there has been a downward trend and it has increased by 4± per cent. only. If the trend continues - and it will continue because of the difficulties that are being experienced in many industries - there will be a further decline in the gross national product. The growth that was experienced last year was soon depleted by the increases in the prices of items which help to make up the figure for the gross national product. Last year prices rose by 4 per cent. In effect, there was hardly any economic growth last financial year.
It was amusing to observe the unity within the Treasurer’s political party after the Budget was made public. The first hostile reaction came from the Liberal Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria. Askin was asking for more and Bolte did his bolt. The Premier of New South Wales has stated that as a result of the Budget, State taxes and State service charges will rise. He said that the increases were necessary because “ Mr. McMahon had offered only token assistance to New South Wales “. Sir Henry Bolte has openly criticised the Treasurer for making false and misleading statements. Sir Henry criticised the Treasurer for saying that the Commonwealth would budget for a $270 million deficit and for showing $639 million State works loans and State housing loans as debts, when these were loans that the States would have to repay at 5% per cent, interest. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) was greatly concerned at this reaction from the States. He has already discussed the situation with the Premier of Victoria and has placed the matter before his Cabinet. We know that when he returns from his overseas trip he will act as meditator in the dispute and will have a conference with the Premiers of both States.
We have also seen a lack of unity between the Treasurer and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall). For months the Treasurer has been saying that we must be flexible when dealing with finance, but last week the Minister for Defence, who is a senior Cabinet Minister, stated in this House that there would have to be considerable inflexibility. Who is right? Of course, it will be up to those honorable gentlemen themselves to settle the matter. We know that when the Treasurer introduced the Budget there was no mention of increases in taxation. We know, too, that this was to be expected. This is election year and the Treasurer had to bring in a Budget that would be acceptable to the taxpayers. However, it does not mean that there will not be any increases in taxation. The taxpayers will be called upon to pay Increased costs. As a result of the Budget, rail and bus fares will be increased. These have been increased already in Victoria and indications are that they will be increased in New South Wales. Freight charges are to be increased in both these States and as a result there will be increases in the costs of distributing food and clothing; consequently there will be further increases in prices.
Recently the basic wage was increased. This Government always opposes applications by the workers for increases in wages, but we do not see the Government trying to peg prices. Although we are engaged in a war the Government does not declare war, an action which would enable it to peg prices and peg the profits being made by big industry. All the Government tries to do is to peg the wages of the masses of this country. The recent basic wage increase has been absorbed by rising living costs. It was absorbed before the workers received it. I do not care what the statisticians say; no-one can tell the women of this country that living costs have not increased by almost §2 since the change to decimal currency.
This Budget as a whole has not received a favorable reception in any section of the community. We have seen the results of it already. People are being put off in industry. Yesterday the motor car industry dismissed 700 employees who were given a week’s notice and were told: li We do not want you “. There will be further reactions, and by the end of the year a great many more people will be seeking unemployment benefit. Yesterday the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon.) strongly attacked Marrickville Holdings Limited for manufacturing margarine in excess of its quota. He virtually castigated the firm. This surprised me, because he is a member of the Australian Country Party, which believes in free enterprise. I thought also that his attack involved other sections of primary industry. He attacked those farmers who produce safflower oil, cotton seed oil, linseed oil or peanuts - those who have been able to sell their produce and get better returns than they could get from other produce. It is hard to fathom out exactly what the honorable member wants.
I wonder whether there is unanimity within the Country Party. How can honorable members who represent areas where safflower seed, cotton, linseed or peanuts are grown support the honorable member for Gippsland, who represents an area that grows none of these products, when he castigates a well known industry? He asked the Treasurer to look at the amount spent by this company on advertising. I think every member of Parliament has received many letters from people who have been interested in the little bit of turnoil that has been going on. We know that the propaganda has come from other sections of the community as well. For instance, the dairy industry has been writing to members of Parliament protesting about the margarine quota.
– Mrs. Jones has been writing to me.
– Mrs. Jones has also been writing to a great many other people. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who is at the table, comes from a dairying area and supports the margarine quota. The company concerned is using only Australian raw materials so I do not think anyone should object to its manufacturing margarine. After all, it is an Australian industry and the people engaged in the production of safflower oil and peanuts are benefiting. The company should be permitted to manufacture margarine without a quota. The people in the community also must be considered. If people wish to eat margarine they should be allowed to do so. Because of the price of butter today many families just cannot afford to eat it. How many families with a large number of children are eating margarine? If margarine were taken off the market and they could not buy it, they would have to go without. 1 do not think that we, as members of the Opposition, can support that kind of action.
Now lel me deal with the honorable member for Gippsland, lt is obvious that he is playing politics because 52 per cent, of the dairying output of his State comes from his electorate. In I960 the dairy industry admitted to the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry that if margarine were made wholly and solely from Australian raw materials the industry would have no grounds for opposing lifting of the quota. The Australian edible oil industry has now made Australian table margarine a reality because we are now growing enough of the raw materials to produce it. In addition, the people growing the raw materials should receive a return for their labours.
By his statements in the House, the honorable member for Gippsland gives the impression that he wants to wriggle out of the specific undertaking given by the dairy industry. He is opposed to the undertaking. Which side is he on? Is he on the side of the dairy farmer? Or is he on. the side of the producers of edible oils? I ask him: Is he on the side of the people who may support his campaign and pay for the propaganda against margarine? After all, they will be the ones most affected. What do members of the Liberal Party feel? Do they feel that this kind of industry should be held back and people put out of work? Should the industry be closed down? Should the people who drive vehicles all over the State or interstate carrying loads of margarine be put out of work? Is this the attitude of the Liberal Party? Is that what the Party believes? Do we accept that the Premier of New South Wales wants to see one of his industries shut down at a time when he is battling so hard for finance? These are the questions which must be answered.
This year the cotton seed crop will be twice as large as it was last year. Only recently in the Parliament the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is Deputy Leader of the Country Party to which the honorable member for Gippsland belongs, supported the claim that locally produced materials should be used in the manufacture of margarine. If people such as the Minister support the production of margarine there cannot be any unity within the Country Party on this question. We are aware that the production of margarine is a matter for the States because a quota has been placed on it, but the company concerned is suffering an injustice. If it is prepared to use all Australian products, at least it should be permitted to produce as much margarine as is possible. Further, if people in the community wish to buy margarine, they should be allowed to do so.
It is of no use the honorable member for Gippsland trying to create a lot of dissension in the industry by turning one primary producer against another. I do not know the reasons behind his actions but it appears to a majority of members on this side of the House that that is what he is trying to do. If this is true, he is not a sincere member of this House. Marrickville Margarine is fighting for the right of the ordinary citizen in a democracy to buy at competitive prices the kind of food he wants to buy in quantities of his choice.
It is plain that the company’s actions are of benefit to the housewives and the farmers of Australia. Therefore I believe - I am pretty sure the majority of members of Parliament would share my belief - that it should be able to manufacture as much margarine as it wishes. We should try to prevent this company being swallowed up by a monopoly. We know that a certain margarine manufacturer has purchased a great many small factories and he is now skimming the cream from the milk. Is this the kind of thing in which the honorable member for Gippsland believes? Does he support monopolies and their interests? I think he is something of a jumbled up kid. I understand the Minister for the Interior supports the attitude adopted by the honor able member for Gippsland. An injustice is being done to this company and I sincerely hope that it will be rectified in the near future.
– The honorable member has the bull by the tail.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has now entered the discussion. To date he has said nothing on this subject but I know that he grows peanuts and a great deal of his peanut oil is used in the production of margarine. He sells everything that he produces to the industry so he is quite happy about the position. It is rather hard to know whether he would say anything about this subject in his own electorate.
– It was the Labour Government of New South Wales which initiated court action against Marrickville Margarine.
– I do not care who initiated it, I am telling the Minister what is going on now. He supports the Government which believes in free enterprise and which does not believe that a quota should be placed on production of any commodity. But he does not believe in free enterprise when it does not suit his party. He is not sincere. He is not fair dinkum. The Liberal Party has to go along with the Country Party because that is the only way in which it can remain in office. It has to bow down to the Country Party all the time. No wonder the Liberal Party wants to sever relations with the Country Party.
I should like now to direct my remarks to my own electorate. A great many of my constituents have to buy margarine because they do not receive sufficient from this Government to buy butter. I want to refer particularly to people in receipt of social service benefits. The Government has granted a $1 a week increase to single pensioners and widows, and $1.50 to a pensioner couple. Once again it has shown discrimination against the pensioner couple. They have received no increase in pensions for two years. Now, because this is election year, the Government has thrown out the bait to them. It is just an election gimmick. The pensioners organisations have woken up to the Government. One association has already voted unanimously to do all it can to change the Government. They are aware that they are not receiving a fair go from this Government - and they are not likely to receive one. The Government has neglected many sections of the community in its social services programme. It has given no consideration to increasing sickness and unemployment benefits, or child endowment. Nor has it done anything about easing the means test. I do not know what came over the Treasurer on this occasion. After all, we know that he will be a father later in the year and so will become eligible for child endowment. Indeed, this could place him in the field for nomination as Father of the Year, but I am certain that, because of the Budget he has introduced, he has already been marked off as a non-starter. Certainly the widow who has children is to be allowed to earn more money, but that is the only improvement in social service benefits for widows. The Government has done nothing for the great masses of the people, the ordinary people.
Over the past 17 years, this Government has done nothing about abolishing the means test for social services. It has published figures to prove that the abolition of the means test would cost the nation approximately $300 million. I agree that this is no small sum. But nobody expects the Government to abolish the means test overnight. My complaint is that the Government gives no indication whatever of any intention to abolish the means test, even progressively. Indeed, its record indicates clearly that it has no programme in mind for the easing of the means test. The many people in the community who are now receiving superannuation benefits because they have been thrifty enough to provide for their old age by contributing to superannuation funds are denied any benefit whatsoever from the National Welfare Fund.
Again, the Government has failed once more to increase the income that a pensioner may earn to supplement his pension. There are not many pensioners earning other income because the avenue of part time employment for them is slowly closing. At least those people who retire from employment and do not qualify for a social service pension should be granted a medical entitlement card once they become of pensionable age. There are many invalid pensioners in the community who, because of their sickness, have been ordered special diets by their doctors, but, who because of the paltry handouts given by this Government, are unable to buy these special foods with the result that their health is deteriorating. That is the type of treatment the people are receiving at the hands of this Government. The only direction in which the Government proposes to increase expenditure appreciably is on defence. It proposes to spend $1,000 million on defence this financial year. This represents an increase of 34 per cent, over the expenditure last year. We are all aware that the greater part of that increase will be used to pay for our involvement in the undeclared war in Vietnam.
The Treasurer spoke about our wonderful financial arrangements with the United States of America. He was elated at the fact that we are obtaining $114 million worth of equipment from the United States on credit. Of course, we shall have to meet this financial obligation in the near future. In effect, this Government has committed Australia to participation in a war that we cannot afford. As I. have said, the $114 million will have to be paid to the United States in the near future. This must mean an increase in taxation. But, of course, the Government can always introduce a supplementary budget. The Treasurer has been reading too many advertisements and has fallen for the gimmick: “ Buy now, pay later.”
It is also interesting to note that the Treasurer made no mention whatever of the payment of any instalments on the controversial fighter bomber, the FI IIA which it intends to purchase from America - that is. of course, if it finally does come off the production line. The Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) is very evasive when answering questions about the capability of this aircraft. When we spend money on defence, the Government should make every effort to purchase as much equipment as possible in Australia. This would stimulate Australian industries. But this Government’s policy is to support overseas industries in preference to Australian industries. Let me remind the Government of what Sir James Kirby said in an article published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 16th August. He was very critical of the Government. Amongst other things, he said that too much of Australia’s vote for defence equipment was spent overseas. He also said -
It is imperative that Australian industry be given a greater opportunity to supply the equipment. lt is essential., in relation to defence, that a country should have a strong engineering industry to back up its armed forces.
But what do we find? We find that this Government does not even look at Australian industries. Instead, it spends our money overseas, thus putting into somebody else’s pocket money that should be used to stimulate the Australian economy. Let me refer to one Australian undertaking that has established a great reputation for Australia overseas and earned for itself a place of the highest esteem amongst manufacturers. I refer to the wonderful achievements of the Repco-Brabham motor car. This Australian-built car, with its Australian-built engine, is making a name in the toughest and most competitive racing in the world - motor car racing. The driver, Jack Brabham, and the car are well on the way to creating a world record which will bring honour to this country. This great feat proves that Australians have the knowhow and the ability; but they must also be given encouragement by the Government of the nation.
Reverting to the question of Vietnam, 1 join with all loyal members of the Australian Labour Party in opposing the sending of conscripts to fight in the war there. This war could continue for another 20 years, which, in effect, means that this Government is committing boys who are being born today to fight in the jungles of South East Asia.
Let us see what unity there is amongst Government members about this war in Vietnam. When the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) returned from a recent trip overseas, he said that he was concerned about the latest events in Vietnam. He said: “I am concerned at the recent instability of the Saigon Government “. Does this mean that he agrees with a policy of “ All the way with L.B.J.”? Does it mean also that the Acting Prime Minister supports the Government of Saigon in its proposal to enter into a war with China? Is this the sort of government we are supporting over there? I am sure we all must be astounded to think that, after making that statement on his return from overseas, the Acting
Prime Minister could come into this House and support the policy of the Saigon Government.
We all know, too. that recently a Government senator in another place said it was wrong and unjust for us to send conscripts to fight in Vietnam. Does this indicate unity amongst Government members?
– Who said that?
– Senator Hannaford said that when speaking to the Liberal-Country League in Adelaide. He said there that he does not agree with the Federal Government’s policy on Vietnam. I repeat that he is a supporter of the Government. We know, of course, that the people of Australia have not given the Government a mandate to send conscripts overseas. How many members on the Government side would be prepared to go into their electorates, stand on stumps or on street corners and say to their electors: “ Your son should go and fight in the jungles of Vietnam “? I challenge all supporters of the Government to do that. Not one of them would be game enough to do it. They all hide behind their Government when these things are said. If they were sincere they would go out into their electorates and make these statements. The fact is that people have been volunteering for service in the armed forces, but this Government has rejected 70 per cent, of them. We know, too, that different standards of education are required of the permanent soldier and the national service trainee. Why is there this distinction in educational standards? Which is the higher - that of the national service trainee or that of the permanent soldier? Do they all use the same equipment when they are over in Vietnam? I want to know why this Government makes this distinction between educational standards. It is wrong in principle that there should be any distinction. When the Minister for the Army, who is big enough to carry a 25 pounder slung at the hip, was over there recently, all he got from the troops was the inquiry: “ When are we going home?”
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for East Sydney. First, he said that 1 and the Country Party were against Australian industry. That is not true. He said also that the Marrickville organisation was using all Australian products. That also is not true. That is proven by the fact that the company imported 50 per cent, more this year than in 1964.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Gippsland said that he has been misrepresented. He is entitled to make a personal explanation, but he is not entitled to debate the substance of what the honorable member for East Sydney said.
– Order! The honorable member is quite in order. He is explaining how he has been misrepresented.
– I can understand the honorable member for Grayndler’s interest in this matter and his interest in margarine.
– Order! The honorable member for Gippsland will explain how he was misrepresented.
– Furthermore, the honorable member for East Sydney said that I refused to allow housewives of the nation to purchase margarine. This also is not true because it is proven by the Niclson survey that margarine is available in 100 per cent, of shops in any quantity.
.- I support the Budget and oppose the amendment. Whilst this may not be a spectacular Budget it is sound, balanced and stable. It could hardly be a spectacular Budget in view of the fact that Australia has suffered probably the most devastating drought in its history. I do not want to dwell too much on matters of this nature because I intend to devote most of my time to that portion of the Budget that is allotted to defence. However, I do want to direct attention to a few incentives that have been put into the Budget to bring about greater production, particularly by primary producers. The subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers will be a great factor in bringing about additional production, particularly in sub-tropical and tropical areas where it is difficult to grow nitrogenous plants and legumes. The subsidy will help to artificially overcome that shortcoming.
The other incentive is the raising of the income averaging provision from $8,000 to SI 6.000. The limitation on the carrying forward of losses is to be removed and the taxpayer has the right to include some of the income earned in one year, which would otherwise be earned in two, as income earned in the second year. This will enable the inclusion of the proceeds of a second wool clip or the unforeseen disposal of breeding stock to be shown as earned in the second year. The taxpayer will now be able to treat these proceeds as having been earned during two years. During this financial year the establishment of the Farm Development Loan Fund ushered in a new concept in bank lending. It assists primary industries which are exposed to rising costs, varying seasons and fluctuating economic prices. It is generally considered that the initial sum of $50 million will not be sufficient to meet the needs of rehabilitation and of farm development after the drought. However, I have no doubt that as demands on the Fund increase the sum of money released will also be increased.
In areas affected by the drought private trading banks in recent months have been liberal in their approach to increasing the limits of normal overdrafts to producers; but there is some evidence that the managers of private trading banks are either unaware of the functions of the Farm Development Loan Fund or are not encouraging primary producers to avail themselves of its special long term loans. In drought areas - the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) directed attention to this the other day when speaking on the Budget - many so called substantial primary producers are fighting to pay off large liabilities. Their difficulties may have been arrested to some extent as the result of the recent rains, but it is a matter of great concern that we should see that these people, who will require enormous sums of money to re-establish themselves, receive the money that they require. There is just one other thing I should like to say in this regard. What may appear to be a great benefit in the short run may not be so in the long run. Despite the fact that the numbers of sheep and cattle are down, a far greater proportion of stock has been sold than lost through the drought. This may be a great benefit in the short run, but in the long run it may prove to be a retarding factor in the recovery of the industry. A lot of females, both young and old, that otherwise would have been kept in the industry if they had been kept alive by artificial means, have been disposed of.
One other item to which J should like to refer briefly concerns New Guinea. I am pleased that the vote has been increased by $8 million to S70 million. A great deal has been said in certain places about the indigenous people of New Guinea governing themselves. I should like to direct attention to this fact: There are 1,000,000 people in New Guinea - half of the population - domiciled in an area that had never seen a white man until a little over 30 years ago. These people are very unsophisticated politically, but basically they are very wise. They have a great fear of self government, particularly of Papua, which produces sixth in order of production in New Guinea areas. There are five other districts that produce far more and which are enjoying great prosperity. Water storage is badly needed in Australia. We need men, money and moisture. The future of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is under consideration by the Cabinet. I hope that the State Governments can see fit to use this instrumentality and thereby keep it intact.
The matter [ wish to dwell on today is the Vietnam situation. I was a member of a parliamentary delegation to that country. I. am very grateful to this Parliament for having sent me as a member of that all party delegation which, I think, might well be said to have been an advertisement for democracy. We had as members of the delegation men of different shades of political opinion, but whilst we asked penetrating questions I do not think that anybody ever asked political questions. I was fortunate enough to visit four other Asian countries later, and I talked to many Asians of all shades of political opinion - trade unionists, government supporters and anti-government people. I was not endeavouring to find an opinion which I thought was the correct one. I did not ask double dealing questions of them to which they could give only a yes or no answer. I sought their opinions and tried to be completely unbiased, because this matter is well above politics and it is vital to this country that we do not put merely our own construction on things. I found three outstanding things. Asians overwhelmingly - except for a very small minority - do not pretend for one minute that this is civil war in Vietnam. Secondly, having agreed on that, they do not pretend that there is any other force than the main force of the North Vietnamese army, backed up morally and materially by China, that has to be defeated. The third thing 1 found out was that the image of Australia has never been higher in Asia, and it has probably never been higher around the world than it is at the present time.
Let me quickly analyse the contention this this is not a civil war. In 1954, when the partition of Vietnam came about - and statistics are essentially a little bit elastic in Asia - upwards of 1,000,000 people came from the North to the South. Most of those people came because of religious suppression, but with them came a large number - this is irrefutable - of people who were sent to subvert and cause disruption in South Vietnam as opportunity occurred. Between 1954 and 1958 the economy of South Vietnam rose to heights that perhaps could not have been imagined, until in 1958 South Vietnam had an exportable surplus of rice. There is reason to believe that this caused the Communists to commence their rebellion sooner than they might otherwise have done. I grant that in Vietnam there have always been disturbances. The country has been in a state of uprising and semi-war since 1934. This state of affairs was fostered by these people to whom I have referred until towards the end of 1959 when open warfare broke out.
The second piece of evidence is that the North Vietnamese army is the main force involved. That army is being assisted morally and materially by the Chinese. We have the evidence of our own intelligence people. I was trained in intelligence work at one time. For a short time 1 was a brigade intelligence officer. I know that the first basic training given to anybody engaging in intelligence work is not to pass on any information unless he is completely and absolutely sure of the facts, because he could well bring about the destruction of a vast number of his own people. On the evidence as stated to us by a senior officer and on the information provided by the Americans and the South Vietnamese - this is not a matter of opinion but of fact - all arms captured from the North Vietnamese forces were of Chinese manufacture or manufactured in North Vietnam under licence granted by the Chinese.
Lel me refer to the allegations of opposition to the Ky Government. The Ky Government is guided by the National Leadership Committee of 20 people, 12 of whom are not military people but civilians. In my opinion these are wise and seasoned statesmen. Quite a proportion - about 25 per cent. - are professional men. There are 13 in the Ministry. We should not judge Asians by our standards when we talk of people being corrupt or immoral. They have their own standards - standards that have been handed down to them over a long time. Let us not forget that it has taken us hundreds of years ‘ to endeavour to perfect democracy and it is still far from perfect.
Let me deal with the matter of opposition by the Buddhists to the Ky Government. I have already referred to what the Buddhists told me. I spoke to quite a lot of them. It is said that they represent 80 per cent, of the population. In fact, there are fewer than H million Buddhists in the whole of South Vietnam and they represent 43 sects. There is far greater division among the Buddhists than there is in Christianity. The Hoa Haos, the Cao Dais in the Long Xuygen provinces in the south of South Vietnam are almost as far apart in basic thinking and basic practices as the Muslim is from the Hindu. They all worship Buddha and that is about the end of it. The sects that I mentioned are absolutely anti-Vietcong.
We were privileged to witness several things of note. More or less at the instigation of Air Vice-Marshal Ky, we rearranged our itinerary to witness a notable demonstration of loyalty to the Ky Government. I refer to a graduation ceremony of Montagnard youths. The Montagnards are a hill tribe. They have always been notoriously anti-authority. All their lives they have been anti-constituted authority. They were antiFrench - anti everything. But the Vietcong have so terrorised them that they have become anti-Vietcong and pro-Ky. We witnessed the graduation of about 800 boys and 100 girls who had been trained to go back and defend their villages and endeavour to uplift their lives.
I want to deal also with the position with regard to China. We need not dwell upon this matter or argue about it much because all the facts are set down in the writings of Mao Tse-tung which are readily available. They also appear in the utterances that Chinese leaders make from time to time and which they never deny. Let us remember that news that emanates from totalitarian countries comes directly from their leaders. It does not pass through any other source and risk misinterpretation, shall I say. by somebody in a free press. Quite apart from the material assistance provided by China, to which I have referred, I would be interested to know how many Chinese are manning the anti-aircraft guns in North Vietnam and how many are repairing war damage. Peking Radio, which is the strongest radio of all, broadcasts subversive propaganda to north western Thailand in five different dialects directed at the Thai tribes in the hill areas north of Chieng Mai. lt also broadcasts in Thai, so strongly that it cuts out almost all other stations, to the north western area of the country near the Laotian horder, where there is at present a good deal of activity. So there is ample evidence that the Chinese interfere in the civil affairs of other countries and try to disrupt the people.
With regard to the effort the South Vietnamese themselves are making, there are 700,000 South Vietnamese in four corps. There have been statements about tens of thousands of South Vietnamese of military age in Saigon. How anybody of responsible mind could make such a statement is beyond me. It is very difficult to determine how many people of a certain age group are in any Asian nation. The claim is hardly worth contradicting. The fact is that every boy 18 years of age and over in South Vietnam is subject to military service. Let us not forget that this unfortunate country has for years been disrupted and war torn. There are many irregularities there. In my view there are three separate phases of the war. There are the main war, the guerrilla war. and what I term the peace to be won.
I want to say something about our troops in South Vietnam who, in my opinion, are better trained than any Australian troops who have ever gone into action. They are better equipped and better supported by artillery, armour and close support aircraft, such as helicopters. They are led by men of great experience. All senior officers have seen action. These men are highly trained and, what is very notable, they have a deep understanding of and sympathy for human values. These boys measure up to the standards set by any Australian troops that have gone before them. They strongly resent being called national servicemen. One young man said to me, in front of several others: “There are none here. Sir. There are only Australian soldiers.” He meant it. Their task is very difficult because they must be about one third military soldier and about two thirds political soldier. This is an unenviable task. But I think it would not be fair to say - I am not taking anything away from them in saying this - that the conditions under which they live are not nearly as bad as they were in New Guinea and other places. It would not be good soldiering if conditions were as bad as in years gone by. But do not let us create a wrong impression about conditions in the minds of relatives.
I am certain that these boys are participating in action to overcome a threat as positive and well defined as any threat ever placed before this country. What is the object of this war? It is simply to give the South Vietnamese a better way of life? There may be a good reason for the lack of better public relations on the part of the United States and ourselves with regard to the civic aid going on in South Vietnam, It may be that information on this subject would be valuable to the Vietcong. The Vietcong have captured the minds of the South Vietnamese by terror. They go into the villages and pick out the head man - the man with any potential to assist them by providing learning, defence, or hygiene and medical facilities - and they murder him. This is how the Vietcong have captured the minds of these people.
By and large, the South Vietnamese are simple rural folk who never think above their village and seldom above their family. They are not frightfully in favour of one side or the other, but they have been captured by terror. The experiment that is going on at present is the greatest experiment in social reconstruction the world has ever known. This experiment is taking place on an organised basis. It is only in recent months that it was thought of. Formerly, the Army would sweep through and then leave the area. After it left, the Vietcong would come out of the ground or from behind their disguises. It takes only one man to wait with a gun and keep a large number of people subdued if they are not particularly enthusiastic one way or the other.
Recently another force has been trained to follow the Army. The members of this force are trained in defensive action but include a number of people able to assist in hygiene, medicine and civic affairs. They help the villagers to construct water points and better roads and to improve hygiene and the production and distribution of food. Coming behind that is ano.her organised force which is basically of the same composition but in which the administrative component is enlarged and the defence component minimised. The object of the war is to secure the country for the people. We hear talk about giving the Indonesians and the Vietnamese money. But money is of no use to these people. We must give them practical support and help them to secure their country so that money will then be of some use to them. If we send people to assist the Vietnamese without first making the country secure, they will be the prime target for the Vietcong and they will be murdered. The Vietcong would want to destroy them because their efforts would raise the standard of living of the Vietnamese and this would defeat the purpose of the Vietcong.
The war in Vietnam is, of course, a slow process. However, the main war is being won. I think everyone would agree that the situation is much better now than it was a year ago, when the war was nearly lost. We travelled 2,000 miles around the region by air, some of it by helicopter, and we saw quite a lot of the country. The allied forces are getting on top in the main war - if I may call it that. Only a bold person would set a time in which it will be won, but I challenge the estimate of 20 years. After the main forces have been subdued, the guerrilla elements will still take a lot of defeating. We should not forget that the guerrilla elements in Malaya had that prosperous country right on its knees only a few years ago. I was driven some 30 miles nor h out of Johore Baru and the driver said: “ Sir, it would not have been safe to drive along here in the middle of the day a few years ago; we would have been shot “. Eleven plantation managers were murdered within a short distance of
Kuala Lumpur. Today this is the most prosperous country in South East Asia but Communist elements are rising again. These people are determined. They have said what they will do.
I have heard the question asked: Would China be satisfied if the situation in Vietnam were stabilised? 1 will answer that. Of course, she would not be satisfied. She has said she would not be satisfied. The words of Mao Tse-tung and others have never been denied. They are authoritative. History and experience show that China would not be satisfied. But there is reason to believe that, given time, the position can be stabilised. This was made clear by responsible people in the nine Asian countries that we visited. A minority of people say that the Americans and Australians have no
Tight to be in Vietnam; that this is an Asian “war. When asked what would happen if China won, they reply that China would occupy South Vietnam, exert its control over the country and that would be the finish. That in itself would be enough. If we look at the map we can see the strategic value of South Vietnam. Communist occupation of South Vietnam would neutralise Thailand. It would give control of the Gulf of Siam, of the South China Sea and of the South West Pacific.
This issue is being debated around the world. Advocates of peace and academically minded politicians often raise the subject in the context of a larger conflict arising. But attempts to twist facts and to ignore realities can never serve the cause of peace. The war in Vietnam is a war of resistance to armed aggression. The world has this on an authority which for some people is the highest that can be cited - the President of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. We cannot afford to base a consideration of the problem on emotionalism. We must base our consideration on fact, even if this is unsavoury. It is on this basis, and on the advice of our trained military advisers, that the Government - with reluctance on the part of every member of it, I am sure - took the only possible course to meet the situation.
The problems of this troubled area will take a long time to solve. Formerly, we in Australia enjoyed substantial security because of our isolation. But now we are exposed to considerable dangers by the very fact that we are isolated. For manyyears, we were sheltered by Britain’s umbrella. But Britain’s great effort in two wars has weakened her. Some of us are inclined to forget that Britain lost one million men in World War I, when she had a population of not much more than 30 million. For two years during World War II, Britain, with the assistance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, stood up to the most efficient military machine the world has ever seen. She fought herself into a state of financial difficulty, but I am one who believes that Britain will come again. I do not think for one moment that the spirit that enabled Britain to contribute as much to Western civilization as any other nation ever did, and perhaps more, has been lost in a generation.
We are a small nation surrounded by a large number of people, the vast majority of whom share our views on the conflict in Vietnam. The Buddhists in South Vietnam have been most critical of the Ky Government. I spoke to some Buddhists and I asked: “ What is the alternative? Do you think the other people are better? “ They said: “ No. Communism is. the last thing we want. We have better governments here than theirs are. That would be the last thing.” These people favour us very much. But they are prepared to live their lives and to let us live ours. That brings me to this point: I mentioned that a new Britain will emerge. But Australia must look for the assistance and guardianship of the United States. If this is not forthcoming, we cannot survive. What can we do about the Vietnam situation? First, I think we owe a debt to mankind to try to assist the Vietnamese people. What would happen to them if the Communists did capture their country? Secondly, we are in this conflict because we are honouring our treaties. Thirdly - let us be factual - we are there because this is in the interests of our own security and the security of Australia for generations to come.
Withdrawal from Vietnam of the troops that we call national servicemen - they do not like the title - would mean that we would have to bring our entire Task Force out. We cannot maintain our Task Force at the required strength without the services of these young men. We should not forget that we are keeping our men in Vietnam for only a year and that this calls for a big turn round. This is why we need so many national servicemen, and that is something that does not enter the calculations of many people. If we withdrew our forces from Vietnam, we would be withdrawing from our obligations and seriously risking our alliance with the United States of America. If the alliance were not broken, it would be at least badly bent. I leave the people of Australia to judge the position we would then be in. The conflict in South Vietnam is not one finalising a problem in that unsettled and unfortunate country, but one which affects South East Asia, Asia as a whole, and finally and perhaps more rapidly than anyone would suppose, the economic stability and the peace of the whole world.
No-one likes war. No-one can tell me about the horrors of war. War is brutal and barbaric; there is nothing good about it. I want to say a few words about the morality of the bombing of North Vietnam by the United States of America. Which is the more immoral - to infiltrate troops by devious means into a country so that they can murder, rape and plunder the population, or, by precision bombing, to try to destroy the sources from which these troops get the fuel and the vehicles that enable them to move into South Vietnam? The United States is aiming to destroy these sources of supply. No-one can applaud either means of waging war, but we must be factual. Criticism is levelled at the bombing of North Vietnam by the United States, but the assertion that North Vietnamese troops are engaged in the activities I have mentioned cannot be refuted. The world at large knows that this is so. I am sure that every thinking person regrets the situation that confronts us. But I say to the relatives of the young men who are there - to the relatives who have moments of anxiety and moments of sorrow - that these young men are contributing to the security of Australia and, as surely as night follows day, their names will go down alongside the names of people who in the past have played their part in ensuring Australia’s security.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I did not realise that I would follow my friend, the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Armstrong), in the debate this afternoon. I would like to make a few brief comments about some of the matters that he has mentioned. I may say at the outset that I support his views on the recent visit to South East Asia by a parliamentary delegation, with particular emphasis on the co-operation of all members of the delegation with one another, regardless of their political beliefs. I believe that we who were members of that delegation achieved much for Australia in terms of a better understanding of South East Asia and of good public relations there for this country.
I agree with some of the things that the honorable member for Riverina said and 1 heartily disagree with others. I believe that the war in Vietnam is a conflict of which it can be truthfully said that all who visit the country where it is being fought can find in it support for some of their ideas and opinions regardless of how diverse ideas and opinions may be. I agree that at present the war in South Vietnam is dominated by the presence in that country of North Vietnamese forces which constitute what have been described by the Australian Government and the United States Government as forces of aggression from the North. Any person who denied the North Vietnamese involvement would he basically dishonest. On the other hand, I do not agree that the North Vietnamese involvement will be a feature of this war throughout its course. I believe that the greatest problems lie in the war of insurgency - the war being fought by the Vietcong, or local insurgency movement. This was originally a freedom movement. It is now under no small measure of Communist influence, I agree. Nevertheless, I believe that most of the people who join it regard it still as an independence movement. This movement will remain.
I consider that it is a mistake to think of the war in Vietnam purely in terms of its cold war context. One can talk about the Chinese involvement and the support that the North Vietnamese are getting from the Chinese in terms of logistics and military advice. On the other hand, if one looks at this conflict in terms of the cold war and claims that because of this cold war aspect it is not a civil war, one must in all honesty point to the enormous American involvement in terms of logistics and men actually fighting in the field. That is another argument to the effect that this is not a civil war. Vietnam had a revolution and was seeking its independence. For a number of reasons, quite apart from the Communist involvement, it is caught up in a great power struggle - the cold war struggle.
The honorable member for Riverina mentioned the influence of Radio Peking in that part of the world and pointed out that it broadcasts in a variety of tribal languages and dialects, using local music and giving its own interpretation of events. I believe that the lesson in this is that we ought to be expanding the programmes broadcast to South East Asia by Radio Australia, which is operated by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The British have a repeating station at Johore which enables the British Broadcasting Corporation to broadcast in South East Asia programmes making known the attitude of the United Kingdom Government. I do not suggest that Australia, any more than Britain does, should slant its broadcast views on the events that are taking place in the world in order to present a biased political view of the happenings that occur from time to time. But I believe that as we are deeply interested in South East Asia, it is important that Radio Australia be heard by the people there who are interested in nearing Australia’s views on world affairs. I suggest that this matter be considered very carefully by the Government in the years ahead. I know that there is a programme in hand for the establishment of a radio station near Darwin with increased power to enable A.B.C. broadcasts to achieve a wider coverage in South East Asia. However, we have to realise that our broadcasts not only will have greater range but also will meet greater competition by other radio networks. Australia ought to be in the front rank and not lagging behind.
We hear a great deal about military involvement in Vietnam and also about civil aid. But it seems to me that any efforts based on both these elements in the war will be as naught unless there is also a political initiative in the country. This political initiative can be taken only by the Government of South Vietnam itself. It is not enough for us to say that our troops are in Vietnam fighting for freedom. Perhaps we are fighting for our own freedom. Perhaps we are fighting to preserve an association with the United States of America. These seem to be the Government’s views. If we are fighting there, we should make it clear that we are fighting for the freedom and independence of the people of South Vietnam. The sort of society that emerges out of this war should not be merely antiCommunist or anti-Chinese. It should be more than a non-Communist society. It ought to be a free and independent society, governed by its own people and with a form of government of their choice. lt seems to me that one could make many reservations about the present Government of South Vietnam. I have had opportunities to discuss some of these matters before in this place. I have taken the view that I should not make any statements condemnatory of the Ky Government on my return to this country, because it has been in office only just over a year. It is the first Government of South Vietnam that has had a chance to do anything effective, and I think it is yet a little too early to judge it. There are some indications of progress and of stated intentions about future actions. However, one could rightly condemn some aspects of that Government. I believe that it ought to respect the rule of law. Some time ago, we received reports of the execution of a Chinese businessman from Cholon, the twin city of Saigon - one of a number who had been arrested for breaches of the currency regulations and for trafficking in currency. I am not quite sure whether he was at any time tried, but some days before he was shot it was announced when his execution would take place. If the Government of South Vietnam wants to win support throughout the country and develop a free society there in the face of Communist pressures, it must show that it has established law and order and that it respects the rule of law. Even while the war is going on, the South Vietnamese Government must establish the guide lines for the future society that it claims it hopes to build.
Australia has involved itself in this war in Vietnam. The honorable member for Riverina pointed out that the Australian Government is not happy about our involvement in this war, but regards involvement as a necessity. The Australian Labour
Party, of course, is unhappy about Australia’s involvement in the war and does not regard involvement in the military sense as a necessity. There are some dangerous features about this war. One is that Australia has sent a token force. I am not reflecting on the fighting capacity of the men who compose it. What I am getting at is that Australia is not a military nation, but the Government, to show that it is on side with the Americans in their involvement in Vietnam, has seen fit to send a comparatively small task force. One could discuss at length the size of this task force and its purposes. Certainly, it is better to have a task force of the present size than to have a smaller force such as we had there before, because the present Australian task force is under its own administration and is responsible for a given area of territory. Therefore, it is able to operate in the military sense in accordance with the accepted standards of conduct for which the Australian Army has become known in two world wars and in Korea.
One of the dangerous features about the situation is that we are participating in only a very minor way and that we have no real control over what, will happen in this war in the future. Australia was not consulted about the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong. It was informed only after the decision to bomb those centres had been made. In “ Newsweek “ and other United States news magazines over the last few weeks, there have been reports that the Americans are considering escalating the war, that bombing raids are now to be made in the so called panhandle area of North Vietnam and that this may foreshadow a move to cross the border and invade the southern area of North Vietnam. The danger in Australia’s position is that if this happens, our opinions, I think, will be of little consequence. We shall be there for the ride and we shall go along with any future escalation of the war by its extension into North Vietnam.
Unfortunately, not all features of the conduct of the war in South Vietnam have been in accordance with the high standards that we normally would wish to observe. This is a particularly brutal and shocking war in its conduct on both sides. I do not suggest for a moment that the Vietcong have not been guilty of all sorts of atroci ties. Obviously, they have. On the other hand, however, the manner of fighting the war adopted by the South Vietnamese Government and the Americans is extremely costly of human life. We know that until recently prisoners were rarely taken. We know that many of these men were shot out of hand. We know that there was torture. We are told that these things no longer happen. Certainly we know that that has never happened with Australians. If Australians have taken prisoners of war they have questioned them, handed them over to the South Vietnamese authorities and obtained a receipt for them which has been handed to the International Red Cross. There is no doubt that the Australian forces in Vietnam are carrying out the task which has been allotted to them in the best traditions of the Australian Armed Forces. Unfortunately this has not applied with other forces there.
If this war is going to be won and if the people of South Vietnam are going to respect their government, these standards, which are the acceptable standards for conducting a war, will have to be established by their government. There has been the bombing of villagers and the napalming. There is a lack of respect of boundaries. We know that in more recent times the United States of America has had to apologise to Cambodia for raiding and bombing a village across the Cambodian border. The Americans said they thought it was in South Vietnam. Presumably men, women and children were killed in that bombing. Presumably, if the village had been in South Vietnam it would not have been of any consequence. The apology was not about the fact that men, women and children were bombed but the fact that men, women and children in Cambodia were bombed. This is a serious situation.
The Labour Party wants to see a free society emerge in this part of the world. I would not be so foolish or dishonest as to say that there is not a military aspect of this because, obviously, one cannot argue with a man who is waving a gun at one. But there are political and other initiatives also. : think we ought to have an Australian opinion, that we ought not to say, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) says, that we are going all the way with L.B.J. If Australia is involved in this part of the world it should be clear that Australia stands for the emergence not of a puppet State in South Vietnam, not of a State which is merely narrowly anti-Communist, but a State which is genuinely independent, conducted by the Vietnamese themselves. I had the privilege and pleasure of accompanying a number of members of this House and the Senate on a delegation to this area. I hope at some time in the future - it will probably be a long time in the future - to visit this country and to see it living under an independent government of its own choice.
Before talking about the Budget 1 should like to mention some newspaper reports which appeared this morning and which purport to relate to a Caucus meeting of the Australian Labour Party held yesterday. It is not my purpose to give, here or anywhere else, reports of what I said at a Caucus meeting. But I should like to clear the air by saying that there is no difference between me and any other member of the Australian Labour Party as to the policy of the Party. While one might have, perhaps, minor differences of opinion about the application of the policy, I believe that the policy is worded in such a way as to cover any of these circumstances which might arise. Any report which suggests that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and I had a difference of opinion in the Caucus yesterday is completely untrue.
This Budget is an election year budget. In that capacity it must be the greatest disappointment to Government supporters who doubtless expected an attractive programme to woo the voters. Any appeal it has is based on a modest increase in social services and the fact that taxation remains at current levels. The proffered excuse for the stay put Budget is an increased commitment to defence in Vietnam and elsewhere. It is obvious that the Government is frightened to stimulate the economy. It is terrified of the possibility of a further credit squeeze in case a boom condition should develop. Not knowing what to do it has decided to do absolutely nothing at all. Financially in terms of political leadership, in the important matters of defence, foreign policy and the private sector of the economy, the Government and the nation are in a state of drift. The old master mariner has left the bridge and has been succeeded by the ship’s purser and the ship of state is drifting towards the horse latitudes of economic stagnation while the Government itself drifts towards the rocks of a general election.
I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and I propose in particular to deal with the subject of drift as it applies to our nation today. The first subject is social services. This important question affecting so many Australians, particularly elderly Australians and underprivileged Australians, is looked at in this Parliament too often as an accounting problem, a matter of just what one can afford. It is not looked at in terms of human values but in terms of budgetary commitments and political events of the day. The social services system that we have in Australia is basically the creation of the Australian Labour Party. It is a Socialist concept, however much Government supporters might not like the use of the word. There have been several periods of great advancement. The early period was between 1909 and 1912. Age pensions were established by the Deakin Government, which was a Liberal Government, and which was supported in office by the Labour Party at that time. The introduction of an age pension scheme was one of the conditions on which it had the support of the Labour Party. This period could be called the foundation days of our social services programme.
The Fisher Government, which was a Labour Government, in 1910 established invalid pensions and in 1912 established maternity allowances. There were no significant changes in the social services system of this country. In fact, in the light of the vicissitudes of the depression, many of the payments went down for a period of time, but there was no period of great advancement again until the Second World War when in 1941 the Menzies Government, recognising that it was losing popularity, introduced child endowment. One might say that this ushered in the second great period of advancement in social services when a rehabilitation programme for invalid pensioners was established by the Curtin Government in 1941. Widows’ pensions were established by the Curtin Government in 1942, funeral benefits by the same Government in 1943, and unemployment and sickness benefits by the Curtin Labour Government in 1944. So it can be seen that in that period, despite the fact that there was a war under way, the Labour Government had so organised the financial resources of this country that it was able, st«p by step, to establish a social services programme. That social services programme exists to this day with very little alteration, except insofar as the Government might have increased the payments to keep pace with the cost of living and the inflation.
This Government has, of course, taken some initiatives of its own. It introduced the Aged Persons’ Homes Act in 1954 and the Disabled Persons’ Accommodation Act in 1963. Both measures were introduced by the Menzies Government. The Labour Government had attempted to introduce a pharmaceutical and medical benefits scheme but had failed to secure the cooperation of the medical profession and the chemists. The legislation was introduced, but it was not given effect to. The Labour Government introduced hospital benefits in 1945. This Government - the Liberal Government - introduced a pensioner medical service in 1951 and medical benefits in 1953. These could have been provided for the people in 1945 if the medical profession and the chemists had been prepared to co-operate with the Labour Government of that time. Since then, over this whole recent period, whatever has happened in the social services field has been largely the vehicle of political opportunism. There has been no method by which the adjustments would be made to the rate of social service benefits except in the vicissitudes of election years.
By and large there has been no attempt to continue this orderly progress which was being made by the Curtin Government and the Chifley Government in this and other kindred fields and which would still have continued had Labour continued in office. This progress will be recommenced when Labour regains office in November of this year. The present Government inherited an established system of social services. As I have pointed out, it has made increases in the payments to keep pace with the in flation which is, in no small measure, of the Government’s own creation. Whilst it has made increases in the amount payable, there has been no commensurate alteration in the means test. In 1954 a person with £200 or less in property could earn £3 10s. per week. Even to this day that figure remains at $7. In 1961 a merged means test was established. This was of some assistance, but it in no way brought the social services system up to date in the light of changing circumstances in our community. Many people who provide for their old age, either by savings or by investments in property or land, or by paying into superannuation schemes, are denied that little extra which should come to them from the sacrifices they have made over the years. This is because there has been a failure progressively to relax the means test. The Government promised in 1949 to abolish the means test progressively, and although it has made the alterations I have already referred to there are many hundreds of thousands of old people in Australia who would be only too pleased to remind the Government of its dismal failure to carry out the election promises that were made in 1949.
What is needed is a complete investigation of the social welfare structure of Australia, both in the Commonwealth and in the States, with a view to determining to what extent the present system meets the needs of the Australian people and what should be done in the future. There are many things the Government could do to improve the present situation without a great deal of expenditure being involved. I may say at this stage that I have found the present Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) a great contrast to his predecessor, because he adopts a humanitarian attitude towards these matters. I am convinced that if he can persuade the hard-hearted Treasurer at some time in the future he will do a lot more than he has been allowed to do under the provisions of the Budget now before us.
Let me mention some of the changes that I think ought to be made. First, the means test is being applied in such a way that many old people who may not have a clear understanding of business affairs are afraid to earn the full amount that they are allowed to earn. We ought to encourage pensioners to earn something. The permissible amount of $7 a week may have been a lot of money in 1954, but today it represents payment for about one day’s work. A pensioner ought to be encouraged to earn something because this would not only provide him with a little more comfort but it would also provide him with an occupation. We all know of cases in which men retire at 65 and find their previously good health is whittled away because they feel that they have been cast on the economic scrapheap.
Pensioners ought to be encouraged to rent their houses. Often when a married pensioner dies the family home is left with one surviving partner residing in it and with the house falling into decay because of the shortage of money. This frequently comes about because age pensioners, particularly widows, are afraid to take in a boarder or rent a room or rent part of the house because this would mean filling in forms every six months and perhaps losing part of the pension. We ought not to look at social services purely in terms of accountancy but in terms of human values. This would certainly be the Labour Party’s approach. We ought to encourage old people to make the maximum use of their assets by renting rooms or cutting their homes up into flats. This would not only help them financially; they would benefit from companionship and they would benefit in many other ways which would help to make their old age more enjoyable.
We should also make special allowance in the means test for income received from superannuation schemes. We ought to make a special allowance for inflated property values of houses which may have been occupied for many years by an aged person who has gone to live in a convalescent home or with a member of the family. In many cases the house that has been vacated cannot be sold, perhaps for some technical reason or because there is no demand, and it becomes a charge against the pension payable because of the way in which the means test is now applied. I do not think it should be counted unless some financial return is being obtained from it.
I believe that invalid pensioners should be allowed to earn something from light or part time work. At present they are not allowed to work at all. There are many such people whose state of health prevents them from engaging in full time work, and we all know of people, single men particularly, who get on to the invalid pension and then, having nothing to do, end up by becoming alcoholics. They know that if they do any work, even of a comparatively minor nature, their pension will be taken from them. A couple of years ago a number of newspaper sellers in Brisbane who were invalid pensioners had their pensions discontinued just before Christmas because they were earning about 30s. a week, and this was contrary to the conditions under which they received invalid pensions. I think the regulations covering the invalid pensions should be amended to enable such pensioners to earn money from light work or part time work. I see no reason why they should not come under the means test provisions that apply to other pensioners.
– They can do that now.
– Some can, but I can assure the honorable member that people have found their pensions discontinued because they have engaged in such work, and I will be happy to let the honorable member see the correspondence that I have regarding this matter.
The purpose of the Labour Party in its approach to social services is not simply an economic one, it has to do with human happiness. There are many forgotten people in the social service field. There are, for instance, deserted wives. These people have to take legal action for maintenance and wait about six months before they can obtain a widow’s pension. I particularly want to refer to the position in Queensland. During that six months they have to depend on payment from the State Government. The Queensland Government has made no alteration in the amount payable since 1952. This shows a degree of callousness and a disregard for these unfortunate people of which I would not think any other government in Australia would be guilty. Between 1952 and 1957 Queensland had a Labour Government, and at the end of that period there was certainly a need for an increase in the payment to deserted wives. But now, after nine years of Country Party-Liberal Party Government, we find that a deserted wife in Queensland can receive only $2.25 for herself and $2.50 for each of her children. The Commonwealth obtained certain constitutional powers in the social service field in the 1940’s as a result of a referendum. Because it accepted this responsibility I believe it has a responsibility to co-ordinate the efforts of Commonwealth and State bodies so that people in the unfortunate position in which these women find themselves may be properly catered for instead of being used as political footballs. We should not merely argue whether they are a Commonwealth or State responsibility.
A similar situation exists in respect of de facto wives. We do not always pay benefits to de facto wives, the reason given being that we do not want to subsidise immorality. But the fact is that many women are being forced to go from one de facto relationship to another. Many, of them have simply been unfortunate, but they are good mothers and look after their children in a most creditable way.
Then there are people in special hospitals. This again is a State matter. A person goes into a special hospital and his invalid pension or other social service payment is discontinued. While this may be reasonable in the case of a person who is obviously not mentally fit to spend bis pension, there are plenty of people going through the rehabilitation process after some nervous disorder who would like to receive the invalid pension and for whom that pension would represent a great asset and a great help in their recovery. I think there is a need for a conference to co-ordinate Federal and State activities in this field and to ensure that these unfortunate people are not made political footballs.
The Labour Party believes that we should take pensions and other social service benefits out of the area of political expediency by determining initially an adequate level for benefits and making statutory provisions for adjustments in accordance with movements in the cost of living index, geared to the special needs of pensioners. Labour policy is to increase pensions initially - honorable members will hear about that in our policy speech before the election - and then to conduct an investigation of all forms of pensions in order that justice may be done to the pensioners who form an important and very much neglected section of the Australian community.
As I said previously, one could go right through the history of social services in
Australia and argue whether people are getting greater value in a particular pension or benefit than they did in, say, 1911, 1941 or 1949. But the fact remains that this is a country in which the economy is expanding. It is a little bit sick at the moment but generally speaking we have had this expansion in our economy for a long period of dme. We are told, particularly at election time, of the great prosperity enjoyed by all sections of the Australian community. It is an indictment of the Government and the Parliament and many of the State Governments that we should have this needy and underprivileged section of the Australian community composed of pensioners and other people who are subject to the various systems of social service payments.
In the social service field there has been one great period of advancement. There was the period of establishment, principally in the days of the Fisher Government. Then there was the period of advancement in the days of the Curtin Government during the Second World War. The time is now ripe for us to begin making another great step forward, to institute another period of advancement, to see that Australia’s social service benefits and pensions not only keep pace with the cost of living but expand and give the people receiving them greatly increased security and comfort as the general prosperity of the Australian community improves.
In conclusion, in supporting the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition I wish to reaffirm that I think the Government has failed to provide properly for the pensioners and the underprivileged people of the community.
.- I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) and, in particular, did I listen with interest to what he had to say about South Vietnam. I hope he will not think it a measure of my interest if I do not proceed to analyse in detail everything he said about that great issue, but I will make a fleeting observation on the matter; in particular, I will try later to put some of his remarks into some sort of setting in terms of the general policies - and honorable members will note the plurality - of the Australian Labour Party. But I content myself at this stage by saying that it must be a dreadful thing to belong to a political party, to hold strong views and to be unable to present those views for fear of some form of reprisal being effected against one. It is a dreadful thing.
– What about the honorable member himself?
– I may have strong views on a variety of topics but never on any occasion has any person on this side of the House said: “ Because you have stated those views, you will suffer”. Let me say to members opposite that the judge always pays on the first past the post, and when competition is afforded I do not sit down and sob about it; neither do I go round resorting to some of the miserable tactics of the Australian Labour Party. However, I do not want to be immediately partisan in my comments on the Budget; I just want to turn to what has struck me as being a singular feature of this debate, namely, the great variety of argument that has been injected into it.
It seems that an honorable member takes hold of a particular part of the Budget and sets out, so he says, to analyse it. Having convinced himself that that part of the Budget is deficient he immediately presumes to say that the entire Budget is deficient. This is a silly form of reasoning; if one went a little higher and stronger, no doubt one could describe it as being a fraudulent form of reasoning. I submit that what is essential in the consideration of a budget is to take the document as a totality, see the policies behind it and see what it is aiming to do; but, alas, the Opposition for the most part has not done this. Of course, it is plainly impossible to attempt to answer all the criticism, so I have culled out three arguments - and I hope the people concerned will not be offended if I exalt them by describing them as arguments - that were put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and his Deputy (Mr. Whitlam). I hope neither of them will be offended if I link them. I listened with rapt interest and attention a week or so ago when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on a television programme spoke rather feelingly about his leader. I was one, frankly, who had never looked upon the friendship as being a sturdy one - the sort of friendship that is robust and bursting with vitality. Their relationship somehow or other had always struck me as being rather antiseptic; yet here it was: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke of “ the leader, my friend “. Antony and Cleopatra. This is the sort of setting: The Leader of the Opposition plainly is Antony, and surely the House has never seen a person better cut out to be Cleopatra than the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. One wonders, musing in this vein, who will be the asp. I wonder will it be the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) perchance. Here we have a much vaunted friendship between the two honorable gentlemen, both of them heartily detesting each other and all of each other’s activities in recent times. Honorable members will see whether, in the words of Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra “, the band that seems to tie their friendship together will be the very “ strangler of their amity “. However, let us come to the three arguments.
The first argument put forward by the Leader of the Opposition which struck me as being of some significance was that the States have been neglected by the Commonwealth.
– Hear, hear!
– I am delighted to hear that my retailing of the argument is an accurate one, perceived by my honorable friend from Brisbane. The argument is that the States have been neglected. One would think that honorable members opposite were a collection of fervent Federalists who believed in the States when, in point of fact, they are all unificationists to a man. All of them believe in one central government and all of them are pledged, by dint of 30 or 40 years of the Labour Party’s platform, to extinguish the sovereignty of the States. Yet here was the Leader of the Opposition the other night bursting forth with all of the spirit of Corowa. Indeed, here is a Federalist. I have seen the honorable gentleman in many strange roles, but I never expected to live to see him in a role where he would be happily described as “ Arthur the Federalist “.
What is the truth of the matter? The truth is that there are two ways in which the States are assisted by the central government - under States Grants Acts and under the Loan Council programme. I shall make a fleeting reference here and there to both of them. It struck me as rather strange, following the Premiers’ Conference in 1965, when the new formula was accepted, that there should be such an outcry. There was admittedly argument - as no doubt my friend the Treasurer will verify - at that Conference, but the formula was agreed to by all the Premiers who attended the Conference; so, as I say, it strikes me as being rather strange that the Leader of the Opposition should try to call in aid the various arguments that have been used, I think rather unwisely and rather unfairly, by some State Premiers. I suggest that we examine the grants that have been made in the last five years. I think five years is a fair span of time for the purposes of assessment in this sort of argument. In 1962-63 grants by the Commonwealth to the States totalled $881 million. In 1966-67 the grants had increased to $1,234 million, which is an increase of 40 per cent. Do the Leader of the Opposition or any of those who follow him, nominally at any rate, say that an increase of 40 per cent, in grants over five years is mean and not impressive, because if they do I frankly am at a complete loss to understand their reasoning. In the field of specific grants the Commonwealth in the same five years has increased the amount from $215 million to $377 million, an increase of 75 per cent. Again I invite honorable gentlemen opposite, and those who say that the Commonwealth has ill-treated the States, to try to explain away that 75 per cent, increase in five years. Much has been said by honorable gentlemen opposite about Commonwealth activities in respect of universities, but the fact remains that there has been an increase in grants to the universities from $31 million to $54 million in that five year period. A similar pattern emerges in other respects.
I want to say something about the Loan Council programme, because this is important. It is a singular feature of postwar development in this country that the Australian loan market has, by and large, been unable to provide all of the borrowings required for works and housing throughout Australia, so we see that from 1951-52 up to the present year the Commonwealth has literally underwritten, guaranteed - describe it how we will - all of the Loan Council activities on behalf of the States.
So, measured in terms of dollars and cents, that activity means that for every $1 that is spent by the States in the fields of works and housing, 28c of that money has to come from revenue supplied by the Commonwealth. Is any person going to contend seriously that this is a manifestation of no concern for the States? The Commonwealth suffers the opprobrium of having to raise this money by levying taxation. If we could cut away that 28 per cent, of all taxes raised and ignore the position of the States completely, politically life would be ever so much easier. So we find that in general terms, a grand total of nearly $2,000 million has been given by the Commonwealth, out of revenue, to the States to support their loan programmes over the last 15 years. I think that that is a most impressive figure, judged by any standard.
Further - and this is the last figure that I shall use - the States’ access to loan funds in the last five years has increased from $785 million to $917 million which, again I submit, is a substantial increase. I want to intrude just one personal reflection upon the Commonwealth-State financial relations. There is no doubting the tremendous centripetal force which exists within the Federalist system. More and more power is coming to Canberra. This is a fulfilment of the prophesy of Deakin. I ask my friend the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) whether, in the few spare moments that he has, he would consider the great urgency of getting under way a constitutional convention to look at the Federalist system in Australia after 65 years of experience. It remains my strong view that, with the process of this force pulling all power to Canberra, in another 10 or 15 years there may be little left of the States.
I now turn to the second argument that was advanced by the Leader of the Opposition and by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who is Cleopatra in this drama. The Leader of the Opposition said -
The Treasurer and the Government have failed completely to face up to their national responsibilities . . .
Having made that charge, he then went on to recite a whole list of fields in which he alleged the Commonwealth had not faced up to its responsibilities. I want to settle one argument before I proceed to examine that position. Does any member of the
Labour Party say that any existing expenditure by the Commonwealth in the various service departments should be cut? I refer to the Department of the Interior, the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Department of Labour and National Service and the Department of Territories. I do not think that any honorable member opposite would say: “ We will cut this vote by $15 million and this vote by $20 million and we will make savings.” I think that to a man they would agree that the rate of expenditure in all those service departments should be maintained. Am I safe in assuming that? It is very difficult to be safe in assuming anything about honorable members opposite - politically, at any rate. They seem stunned into silence. Am I correct in interpreting their silence as being a tacit form of agreement?
Let us look at the various fields of activity in which the Leader of the Opposition made this mischievous charge against the Treasurer. First of all, he referred to child endowment. The Budget makes allowance for child endowment of the order of $200 million. The Leader of the Opposition said that this was too meagre a contribution. Let us increase it to $300 million, although that might not completely satisfy the honorable gentleman. The Budget makes provision for maternity allowance of $7.2 million. Let us be conservative, as the honorable gentleman is, and raise that amount to $11 million. The amount of approximately $254 million is provided in the Budget for health services. Again, let us err on the side of sturdy conservatism and increase it to $381 million. The Budget provides $141 million for education. Remembering all the squawks we have heard from the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) on the question of education, he would not for one moment say that the amount provided for education should not be increased to $341 million. That would meet only his immediate demands in this field.
The amount of $477 million is provided for age and invalid pensions. We will increase that amount to $750 million. Honorable gentlemen opposite affect a concern for repatriation recipients. Let us increase the amount provided from $224 million to $340 million. I shall not go through the whole gamut of the fields mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition. Finally, let us take development. I have heard what the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) has said about this Government’s activities in the field of national development. I would scarcely describe it as representing a paean of praise. I should say that conservatively the honorable gentleman would expect an extra $200 million for national development.
What is the difference between these figures? I have made a very hurried survey. It is the difference between $1,300 million and $2,300 million. This is the onus that falls upon the Labour Party. On the most conservative basis, it is proposing expenditure of an additional $1,000 million. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) made a brilliant analysis of this position the other night. If ever the Labour Party was put on the spot, the honorable member for Lilley put it on the spot the other night when he asked: “ From where are you going to get the extra money?” It is all very fine for honorable members opposite to jump in and say: “We are going to make a few adjustments to taxation here and there.” But the extra amount is of the order of $1,000 million. One wonders whether they are serious about it or whether they said it in some goodnatured way.
The honorable member for Barton is trying to interject. There is nothing wrong with him that a grease and oil change would not fix. There are three ways in which the Labour Party can raise this extra $1,000 million. It can raise it by taxation. I ask all those in favour of increased taxation to raise their hands. It seems there are three honorable members opposite who are in favour of increased taxation. Let us take the second source from which the Labour Party could raise the money. It could raise it by budgeting for a deficit. But would honorable members opposite seriously suggest that the deficit of this country should be increased by a further $1,000 million? I ask those in favour of that proposal to raise their hands. I cannot even see the hand of the emerging economic brain from Oxley. The third avenue that is open to the Labour Party in this field is to slash the defence vote, and it so happens that the defence vote of this country is of the order of SI. 000 million.
Let me come to what I believe will be the issue upon which the Australian people will reject the Labour Party at the next election. 1 refer to its attitude to the defence and security oi this country. The people will reject the Labour Party, not merely because its policy is wrong, but because the whole catalogue of its policies in this field is wrong. Let us reflect on the Labour Party, A day or two ago we had the cruel sight of an honorable gentleman being drummed out of his own Party because he belonged to an innocuous body known as the Defend Australia Committee. If honorable members opposite are so scared about this, why did they allow their 36 faceless men, meeting on the Gold Coast, to come to this contemptible decision? When it comes to the treatment of its own members, the Labour Party is as cruel as a crow.
As we all know, for years a fierce and bitter row has been going on within the Labour Party, but the Left is plainly in the ascendancy. That is why the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), who belonged to this small body of people interested in the defence of our country, was obliged to quit the Labour Party. So I say to honorable gentlemen opposite who have found it convenient to sit in silence through my speech: “ By your silence you indict yourselves. You are supporting an attitude which is thoroughly immoral and completely rotten.”
Now let me turn to the attitude of the Australian Labour Party in recent years towards defence and foreign affairs. I shall refer to the Brisbane conference in 1957. Let us see how honorable members opposite like this. The Brisbane conference in 1957 decided -
The A.L.P. is satisfied that the use of Australian troops in Malaya is unnecessary and must gravely injure Australia’s relations with its Asian neighbours. We therefore continue to oppose the use of our armed forces in Malaya.
That was the view of the Australian Labour Party in 1957, It has not changed that view. It has neither a sense of perception nor a sense of history. Then there was the Canberra conference in 1961 which came to this conclusion -
We advocate the abolition of expeditionary forces as a military requirement of Australian defence and in accordance with this policy urge the withdrawal of Australian troops from Malaya.
In 1963 “Fact”, the official publication of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labour Party made this announcement -
Labour urges effective decolonisation of the territories of North Borneo, Sarawak, Brunei and Eastern Timor, but believes that Australian influence should be used to seek that such decolonisation should be in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Organisation.
We were very glad to see the last of the former honorable member for Parkes, Mr. Haylen. In this chamber in 1961 he said -
We on this side of the chamber are assailed for saying that our troops ought to get out of Malaya. What has Malaya to do with us? Our troops are there only because of old fashioned thinking.
It is that same old fashioned thinking which is urging upon this Parliament and the people of Australia that our troops should get out of South Vietnam. This afternoon the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) said plainly, patiently and quietly that what h-.d happened in South Vietnam was no mere internal revolution but was studded, in effect, with vast political significance not only to the people of South Vietnam but also to the people of South East Asia and Australia. Yet my honorable friend is in the position that he must support Labour’s policy when the whip is cracked, and that policy provides that our troops must come out of South Vietnam. As we move along the miserable road of the Australian Labour Party’s record in this field we come to 1963. In that year the President of the Federal Executive of the Labour Party, referring to Labour’s policy-
– We do not change our policy from day to day.
– -No. The Labour Party not only makes an error but also persists in it. It permits neither facts nor argument ever to change its mind. When Labour’s mind is made up it does not want its mind confused with any enlightened thought. Honorable members opposite should stop whingeing. I have not hurt them yet. As I was saying, in 1963 the President of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party had this to say -
For years, too, the Menzies Administration has squandered a substantial portion of the defence vote to keep Australian troops in Malaya. The decent Malayans do not want our troops in Malaya and the A.L.P. does not want to keep them there.
Now I come to the Leader of the Opposition. T say to him - he may doubt this - that my friendship for him is keener and more real than is the friendship which exists between himself and his deputy. My friend is reported in the Melbourne “Age” of 4th January 1962 as saying -
The Australian Army battalion in Malaya and the Australian Air Force unit stationed in Malaya should be brought home.
Two years later, on 12th March 1963, he was reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ in this way -
The Labour Party would oppose any Australian commitment to defend Malaya or the projected Malaysian Federation.
Is not this a charming collection of sheer defeatist cowardly statements? I hesitate to use such rugged language. I prefer to err on the side of conservatism - in all manner of things. But I do not want the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the other person who makes up this splendid friendship, to escape unscathed. The honorable gentleman made a splendid forecast in this place on 24th October 1963 in relation to the TSR2 aircraft. He poses as the Air Force equivalent of “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “. He is the great poseur, the great authority on air power. This is what he said about the TSR2 -
It is a prototype which will be flying at the end of this year and which will fly across the world to Woomera next year.
Do honorable members notice the genuine ring of prophecy in the honorable member’s statement? A moment or two later he said -
The TSR2 will fly and can be delivered a year or two years before the TFX or the FI 11 a.
Honorable gentlemen opposite have been badgering - and badgering unfairly - the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) claiming that the Government’s approach to the TFX has not been sound. I have just presented a measuring stick which I submit the House and the country should use when considering the attitude of the Government and the prophecy of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition towards the TFX.
Finally, may I refer the House to what I thought was a plainly impertinent speech the other night by the honorable member for Yarra. I do not know whether the House was conscious of the fact that the honorable member then described Australian troops in South Vietnam as being part of an inefficient Australian contribution. Let me say to the honorable gentleman with no sense of hatred. T assure him. but with a great deal of warmth, that 1 thought it was like his hide to describe the Australian men who are now in South Vietnam as an inefficient Australian contribution. If he should go to South Vietnam and try to take stock of his sense of courage, I venture the view that Australian servicemen there would probably boil him, a fate to which some of us, with all our Christian charity, may be a little reluctant to condemn even him.
No doubt honorable members will recall that the honorable member proposed that a line should be drawn south from Kamchatka north of Japan and that everything west of that line should be expended. He said this was to be the line of containment. This is typical of the Australian Labour Party. The honorable gentleman is a great academician, or thinks he is - he poses in that light - but look at the policy of sheer cowardice which was advocated by the honorable gentleman some years ago. The Kid from Kamchatka believes in this great line of containment which should be drawn from north to south. I say that Labour’s policy in regard to the security of this country is a reckless one. I go further and say it is a policy distinguished by the sense of sheer cowardice which races through it. I say to honorable gentlemen opposite and to all those who will support them at the forthcoming election: You will not by any means get sufficient support to return you to government because the Australian people, whatever their views on the myriad of political issues, are now determined and pledged to reject, and reject decisively, any party which is not prepared to put the security of this country and the future and welfare of its people above and beyond party politics.
.- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) asked, at the commencement of his speech, that we consider the Budget as a totality, in other words, that all aspects of the Budget should be considered by the Parliament. For a moment or two we felt that the honorable gentleman would do just that. He discussed one or two matters in some detail and enlarged upon the needs of the people but he then proceeded *o break down those needs and to debunk them in good Treasury style. It was not surprising therefore. that the Treasurer (Mr.
McMahon) came into the chamber to hear him. For light entertainment, the honorable member for Moreton has no peer. He is excellent. He is really good. He can brighten the proceedings and on this occasion he almost excelled himself. He would have earned an Oscar but for the fact that he gave away the lighter vein for the more serious and morbid notes of tragedy. Worse than that - he introduced a tirade of abuse of members on this side of the House. That is hardly dealing with the Budget as a totality. It would have been better for the honorable member to have continued as he commenced. I understand him. I appreciate his motives. But I do not take him seriously, nor, I think, will the people outside this House.
The Labour Party will accept its responsibilities today, as it has done in the past, in respect of adequate national defence and national development. For 17 years antiLabour governments have continued in office. When the decision to proceed with conscription was taken the Government had to make a change in the Ministry. The logistics of our situation had never been carefully thought out. The necessities of supply had never received the consideration to which they were entitled. 1 proceed now to the main features of the Budget which I consider require the thoughts of the Parliament. The Budget Speech of the Treasurer was a great disappointment to many Australians. It barely touched upon, or completely ignored, matters essential to our economic security and development. The Budget will be remembered not so much for what it does as for what it fails to do. It contains no proposals to deal with costs, prices and profits. It ignores the plundering of Australia’s natural resources. The Treasurer is unconcerned at the takeover of this nation’s industry by foreign companies. Our balance of payments problems are quite forgotten, while the Government depends on an inflow of capital to cushion the effects of bad economic planning, or lack of planning. Years of drought have left the Government unmoved. A plea for a national conservation authority is unheeded.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has made it clear that his Government has no plans for the skilled scientists and engineers in the world renowned team of the Snowy Mountains Authority. Its record of construction has won world acclaim. I hope that this afternoon or tonight the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) will bring some hope to the people of the Snowy and the people of Australia by saying that action will be taken to preserve the Snowy Mountains Authority team for this nation.
The major Ord River project is a casualty of a Government incapable of national planning. Northern Australia remains neglected. It has become the expendable quarry of Australia’s unmeasured mineral wealth. To the Holt Government, decentralisation is a political catch cry and gimmick; balanced economic development and the dispersal of industry find no place in the schemes of the Federal Government. Health and housing provisions badly lag behind the needs of the people, while finance for local authorities is restricted and essential work is hampered. In the best interests of Australia the Treasurer’s first Budget should be his last. If it is the best he can produce three months before an election, what hope is there for the people should he be given a second chance? I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to condemn the Budget. I endorse the six reasons advanced by him.
The Treasurer said that a notable achievement has been a capital inflow of more than $2,500 million during the last five years. Figures issued by the Parliamentary Library research service put capital inflow over the period from 1951 to 1965 at $4,677 million. What these funds have bought should be listed. Farms, factories, flour mills, chemical industries, metals, minerals, oil and natural gas are now in the hands of foreign companies. Each should have a sign for all to see: “ Sold by the Liberal-Country Party Government of Australia.” This would identify the conduct of this Government in disposing of valuable assets to foreign companies and allowing control of industries built up by Australians over the years to go overseas. For as long as the Liberal-Country Party Government remains in office, and there is anything to sell, the sales of our nation will continue. It is true that the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has spoken at public gatherings against these practices, but apparently he is powerless, despite the fact that the Liberal Party could not govern without the aid of the Country Party. Protected by several taxation agreements, United Kingdom, United States and Canadian companies are in a privileged position. They can swallow up Australian industries which have succeeded despite the actions of anti-Labour Governments, depressions and all the difficulties associated with industrial expansion when free trade was the creed of anti-Labour Parties in this Parliament.
It is my view that all overseas companies should pay the same rate of taxation and pull their weight in financing expanding services in the fields of health, housing, social services and defence. If they prosper in this country, they should pull their full weight in the financing of its expansion and of the services necessary for the people. Australia’s little people have been slugged by both direct and indirect taxation. It is unnecessary for me to go into this matter in detail. All honorable members are indebted to the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) for his numerous contributions on the topic of overseas investment in Australia, in which he has outlined to the Parliament the great advantages accruing to companies domiciled in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, whilst we in return have little to gain because we have few investments in those countries.
The figures of capital inflow show clearly that we are buying more than we are selling; that the invisibles are affecting our financial stability. This honeymoon of the inflow of capital cannot be expected to continue indefinitely. I have some figures provided by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library’s statistical service and, incidentally, I should like to acknowledge the great service being rendered by this organisation which has recently been established in the Parliament. The figures are illuminating. They show that in the period July 1965 to December 1965 imports exceeded exports by S229 million. With invisibles, the net loss was $315 million. This is an outstandingly serious situation. As I commented at the outset, the Budget gave no indication of how the Treasurer proposes to deal with the situation. In the immediate future Australia will face a serious problem. Capital inflow is likely to be less, while the outflow of capital from profits to be repatriated to foreign parent companies will increase. The position can be met by importing less or exporting more goods. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has exhorted the people of Australia to export more. That is sound advice, and no such message to this side of the Parliament is needed; but an examination of what has taken place in recent times clearly reveals that the Government is not doing all in its power to export those things that can be produced and produced well in this country. The Government is more concerned about the plundering of our resources, the export of our raw materials rather than the processing of them into manufactured goods. By processing our raw materials and manufacturing goods, we shall be able both to satisfy a market at home and increase our exports.
Iron and steel offer outstanding opportunities today. Australia has a good record for the economical production of iron and steel, yet in the year ended 30th June 1966, Australia imported $86,725,000 worth of iron and steel products. This is an alarming and scandalous state of affairs, especially when we realise that in this country we have the basic materials and the capacity to produce iron and steel economically. We once had the proud record of producing the cheapest pig iron in the world. Yet we imported more than $86 million worth of iron and steel products during the last 12 months. This is a situation that ought to be stopped. A government worthy of its name would stimulate this phase of our development and call upon those who have franchises to export to come down to earth and get on with the manufacture of iron and steel products in this country.
Figures, again provided by the statistical service of the Parliamentary Library, reveal the following position with relation to exports and imports for several years -
If we would industrialise this country, if we would build it up and get on with the work of manufacturing iron and steel we would save this country, on the basis of the figures for 1966, $86 million a year in imports while expanding our capacity and building up our ability to export iron and steel products to the world market.
This is the sort of job that ought to be going on. I would look forward to some sort of development of that kind and would think that Gladstone and Bowen in Queensland would be ideal places at which to establish a Birmingham of the north. The iron ore ships pass those parts on the way to Port Kembla and Newcastle. The required coking coal is available up there, as are all the other resources required: but no action is taken to use them there. Queensland is unwanted. Queensland is forgotten. Queensland lacks a government here to speak for it and apparently the Queensland Government is not prepared to speak up for its own State. It is obvious that our iron and steel production capacity should be increased as quickly as possible. The Australian Government has a bounden duty to protect our economy and develop our resources, and the sooner it gets on with these tasks the better it will be for the nation.
The scramble to sell our minerals should be restrained. We should take no risks with our future industrial needs. Australia’s future should be planned as a great industrial nation and our raw materials should be sold on the principle of thinking not of next year, or ten years, or 50 years ahead but of 2,000 years and more ahead. The European countries have been manufacturing for hundreds of years, and we should be looking to the future also on the basis of thousands, not just a few years. The record of development of this country provides one of the most terrible stories in the history of Australia, a story of the failure of this Government to do the ordinary things, the obvious things, the things that ought to be done.
This brings me to another subject of very great importance, that of prices. Surely when framing a budget, if at no other time, the Government ought to do something about prices. The Australian people have been bedevilled by the insane spiral of wages following prices while profits have continued to soar, apparently without any show of concern by, but rather with the blessing of, this Government. During the war years, when we had prices control, there was little movement in prices and wages. In the seven years of war, with a heavy demand for goods and services, prices rose by only 25.3 per cent., or 3.6 per cent, a year.
Variations of prices affect most people but the main burden rests invariably on the shoulders of those who are in receipt of fixed incomes, those who are means-tested out of a pension, those living on the pittance earned from a few shares, those dependent upon a superannuation benefit, those with a few pounds put away for a rainy day. These people are bearing the great bulk of the burden at the present time. Loss of purchasing power seriously affects retired citizens of all kinds.
I have received also from the statistical service of the Parliamentary Library figures showing the movement in the consumer price index over the years from 1949-50 to 1965-66. They disclose that in 1950 the consumer price index weighted average of the six State capital cities was 66. In 1953, it was stabilised at 100. By the end of 1965, it was 135.2. Then it continued to rise frighteningly. In September, it was 133.5. By December it had risen to 135.2, and by March of this year stood at 135.4. By June of this year, it had increased to 136.5.
I have also obtained from the same source figures relating to prices paid by the man on the land. These figures clearly reveal that the overall cost to farmers increased from an index figure of 134 in 1949-50, when this Government came to office, to 193 for the December quarter of 1965-66. The total expenditure index for the farmer stood at 252 at the December quarter of 1965-66. These figures relating to the burden being borne by the man on the land are startling, yet the serious effect of these spiralling prices seems to go unnoticed and unheeded. Why, there is not one Country Party member in the Parliament at this moment while I am talking about matters affecting the man on the land and matters affecting the development of the country. That is the sort of situation we have at the National Capital.
These increases affect everybody. For example, I have before me an account which illustrates the increase that has taken place in the price of shirts. The cost of shirts has increased by up to 10 per cent, as a result of the recent increase in the basic wage. And no action is taken to correct this state of affairs. In an effort to correct the situation a Labour government held a referendum seeking to obtain power to control prices. This proposal was opposed by the members of the Government parties. They did not want control of prices. But they do want control of wages. Nor do they want control of profits. But this is typical of them because they represent the people who make the profits in this country. They do not represent the masses of the people of this land.
I wish to refer briefly to another matter which underlines the lack of control of the economy by the Government. Honorable members will remember that the price of copper was increased recently by $380 a ton. This startling increase has had a very serious effect on all sections of Australian industry and the community generally. It has affected the country’s defence effort. Copper is used extensively in various items of defence equipment, lt has affected the Postmaster-General’s Department and, electricity commissions - indeed, every person engaged in the manufacture of electronic equipment and electrical instruments. Did the Government do anything about the matter? Of course it did not. It surrendered control of the economy. It handed over control to the London metal group - the metal market manipulators in London. The matter was not decided in this country. This is the sort of government that is in office at Canberra. This Government has no regard for the national interest. Such increases distort the situation internally. They affect the balance of the economy. In the case in question the process eventually turned back on to the people. The price of electrical equipment rose immediately by 25 per cent. Was there any voice of protest on the Government side? Was there a word about the war effort being injured? There was nothing of the kind.
I have in my hand a statement that was issued by the copper manufacturers of this country, who were grievously hurt. It is true that the price of copper has fallen, but that is not because of any action that has been taken by the Minister or the Govern ment but is the result of action taken by manipulators overseas. We have no control over our own economy. The copper manufacturers, who have won contracts overseas, have pointed out that as a result of the increase in price Mr Isa Mines Ltd. will make $26,600,000 more per annum and that the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company will made a substantially increased profit. This is the sort of thing that happens under a Liberal-Country Party Government.
The statement that I have before me states that on a number of occasions the industry as a whole, both producers and fabricators, submitted to the Department of National Development and the Department of Trade and Industry that the Government ought to regulate exports of copper and copper alloy and that it ought to take the position of an independent adjudicator and arbitrate who should export and which goods were to be exportable. If this action were taken, local manufacturers could get copper at the right price, they could employ people, and they could sell the manufactured goods on the world market. Time does not permit me to deal with all those points.
I shall now say a word or two about decentralisation. This subject will be referred to by honorable members on both sides of the House during the next week or two. We will hear throughout the land that the Government believes in decentralisation. Throughout Australia there is a growing demand for the planned development of this country. Thoughtful people in all walks of life have given compelling reasons why the nation should act to end the drift of people to our capital cities. Local government leaders vie with each other to attract industry to their areas. But people in country areas are tired of the lip service that is paid to decentralisation. They are tired of the promises that are made by the Government but which are destined to be repudiated or forgotten. The stream of words on this subject that will flow in the immediate future will be very much like the flood tide of the Burdekin River rushing out to sea. Many words will be spoken about decentralisation and development, and what the Government thinks about these matters.
There are people on the other side of the House who express favorable views about decentralisation. One of them is the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). At a seminar at Orange in New South Wales he said - 1 personally regard the Australian problem of centralisation of population and industry as already quite serious. I regard it as bad, and indeed dangerous, for Australia to accept the prospect of having half of our population in Melbourne and Sydney by the end of the century. I am told that 60 per cent, of our population already lives in nine cities. . .
– Who said this?
– This was said by the Acting Prime Minister. He added - 1 now need to make it quite clear that I speak today to express my own personal views . . .
They are the considered words of the Acting Prime Minister of Australia. It is frightening to think that 84 per cent, of the people of Australia live in 4 per cent, of the total area and that by the year 2000, at the present rate of growth, one half of the people of Australia will live in Sydney and Melbourne. This situation ought to be corrected. If the Budget contains no proposals to correct this state of affairs, what is the purpose of this document? Surely it should contain some proposals to correct the situation.
Figures tell the melancholy story of the erosion of population from the country to the city and how the cities have grown at the expense of the country. This is not because country people want to leave the country areas. People will go to the country at any time in search of work whether it is to the Ord, which has been thrown into the discard by this Government, or to Rum Jungle, Mr Isa or anywhere else in Australia, including the Snowy Mountains area which has been forgotten by this Government. As I said, the figures clearly show that people are leaving country areas. The census showed that as at 30th June 1954 the population of New South Wales was 3,416,383. That figure included the following components: County of Cumberland, 1,928,891; Newscastle urban area, 181,493; and Wollongong City, 90,852. A total of 1,215,147 were living in country districts.
The population of the State as at 30th June 1965 was 4,192,648. This included the following figures: County of Cumberland, 2,485,380; Newcastle urban area, 222,390; and Wollongong City, 150,830. The total for those three areas was 2,858,600. The number of people in country districts was 1,334,048. The comparative increases revealed in these two sets of figures are as follows: For the total State population, 776,265; for the County of Cumberland, 556,489, for the Newcastle urban area, 40,897; and for Wollongong City 59,978. I am not cavilling at the fact that the populations of Newcastle and Greater Wollongong have increased. They are industrial areas; they are entitled to progress. They are doing a useful service for this country. But the great growth of population in the city area is very disturbing and ought to be corrected. It should be the subject, not of words at election time, but of action by the Government. The drift of population from country districts is particularly emphasised by what has happened in the central west of New South Wales. In that area there has barely been an increase of population, despite migration.
I can only hope that the Budget will be rejected and that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition will be carried in an effort to give justice to our people and a fair go to pensioners and others who have been denied income by the application of the means test.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) made some comments about what he called the plunder of our resources. There is no need, perhaps, for me to make the usual reply which has been made so often, because it does not matter how often it is made, I am afraid it falls on deaf ears. The first thing I would say is that it is interesting to note that Opposition members are very virulent about the importing of overseas capital for the development of our mining and other industries. Yet what happens the moment a Labour Premier gets into office in a State? He cannot get away quickly enough in order to go round the world to see what industries he can attract. Mr. Walsh from South Australia has just done this. Mr. Renshaw did it the moment he became Premier of New South Wales, and Mr. Heffron before him. On the occasion of Mr. Heffron’s trip arrangements were teed up for him to make a statement from Hong Kong so that he could say what a magnificent job he had done in attracting capital to his State. Do let us be a bit consistent about this.
Really we have not done too badly in developing our minerals. We have an enormous requirement. There are vast mineral deposits, particularly in the north west of Western Australia, and it was necessary to develop these. There were two things we could have done. We could either have gone ahead slowly at probably one third or one quarter the rate at which we are now developing the deposits in that area and retained most of the equity for Australian capital, but probably not all of it, because we would have needed some capital from overseas in order to get a certain amount of knowhow with it - or we could import capital. What has been the result of what we have done? Some of the companies up to now have no Australian equity but all of them are committed under State legislation and State regulations to offer, I think, 20 per cent, of capital to Australian interests when they are in a position to do this. I shall go through the figures for the various mining companies in the iron ore field. Goldsworthy Mining Pty. Ltd. up to the present has no Australian equity, although it has local Australian management and is committed to offer 20 per cent, of shareholding to Australian interests. Frances-Creek Iron Mining Corporation Pty. Ltd. is 100 per cent. Australian owned and the company at Mount Bundey in the Northern Territory is 100 per cent. Australian owned. The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. is 100 per cent. Australian and Mount Newman Iron Ore Company is 66 i per cent. Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd. is only 10 per cent. Australian-owned so far but is committed when it is possible, and the time is ripe, to offer more shares to Australian capital, I believe up to 20 per cent. Western Mining Corporation Ltd. is, I think, 50 per cent. Australian owned. Cliffs West Australian Mining Pty. Ltd. - I do not know whether this company will be proceeding or not - is 14 per cent. Australian owned and Savage River in Tasmania is at present 10 per cent. Australian owned.
As I have said we could do either one of two things. We could go ahead at a lower and slower rate. That might be all right for us in the south, but what about the people in the west? What about the Western Australian Government, which wants to see Western Australia developed as quickly as possible? It believes that there is an opportunity to get in now and make good sales. To go ahead slowly on the maximum amount of Australian capital that could be raised - I would only be guessing at the figure, but say $1,000 million would be required for development - would not be the right thing to do. We cannot find that amount of money in Australia, and it is no good kidding ourselves that we can. But we have improved very considerably recently the availability of Australian capital because banks, insurance companies and the like are prepared to get together now, pool their resources and make far greater amounts of capital available for just such an enterprise. Finally let me say this: Take the company that has 100 per cent, overseas ownership and makes a profit. Of course, long before it has made a profit it has had to pay wages - a large amount of salaries - to Australians who pay tax on those salaries. The company has had to pay sales tax and various other taxes on the products that it buys to develop its mine. Then having made a profit it first of all has to pay tax of, say, 8s. 6d. in the £1 and it then has to pay, if it pays a dividend overseas, a withholding tax which might be 30 per cent, if there is no agreement between Australia and the country concerned or 15 per cent, if there is such an agreement. Then over and above all this the company has to plough money back because no company that is developing mineral leases is prepared to stay the way it is; it must expand. It must develop its mineral resources. The net result is that these companies, which are assisting enormously in the development of our outback country, are probably taking home, if they are lucky, 5 per cent, on their investment. This is good money and it is very good for us to get the benefit.
There was one other matter raised by the honorable member for Macquarie with which I wish to deal very briefly. He said that we are bringing steel into Australia. I am afraid he does not realise that there are very many different types of steel. The number is tremendous; I could not tell honorable members how many. I remember going over the works of an aluminium company recently which had something like 120 different alloys available and naturally there were people who wanted to buy each of these different alloys. The same sort of thing applies to steel. You can make what steel you like but for a small country like Australia there would always be some sort of alloy of steel which is not available here and which has to be brought in from overseas. On other occasions there might be a rush requirement. However, we are making steel in Australia at an average rate of 6 million tons per annum which is good by anyone’s standards when you consider our population.
The other point made by the honorable member for Macquarie was that we are exporting iron ore and there are no plans for going ahead to pelletisation or the making of steel or storing iron. Already we have blast furnaces in three areas of Australia and another one will be starting up shortly in Perth. The companies in the north west are all committed to go into some further form of either pelletisation or production of iron ore. The ore is not exported just as iron ore. It is exported first of all as pellets and then probably as some sort of sponge iron. Two of the three big companies in the north west are committed, under their State legislation, to go into steel production. Admittedly this will be some time ahead but they have to make their plans and obtain their capita] in order to do this.
So much shortly in answer to some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Macquarie. I want to join honorable members on this side of the House who have congratulated the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon).
– Has the Government any plans for Queensland?
– It is for the Queensland Government to make plans, surely, but I can assure the honorable member that there is an area of coking coal in Queensland which has been reserved especially as an iron and steel area. At present plans have gone no further than that, but the aTea is reserved to ensure that there always is sufficient coking coal available for anyone who wants to start a plant in Queensland.
– We have enough for 100 years hence.
– It is all very well for the honorable member to say for 100 years hence, but there is a person in Australia at present who represents a company which is able to make iron without using coking coal. We would look awfully silly if we restricted the export of coking coal and finished up with all our coal in the ground and nobody wanting it. We have to be realistic in this sort of thing. At the same time we would also be awfully silly if we found we had exported the lot and had none left if we needed it. So we are making an assessment. We have very vast resources of coking coal in Australia. We are seeing to it that an assessment is made and that the States step up their drilling so as to be sure exactly what these resources are. When we have a good picture of what they are we will know what should be the optimum rate of export so that we earn overseas income from it yet do not denude ourselves of future requirements. 1 was about to congratulate the Treasurer on his first Budget and on an excellent Budget. It has been most interesting to see how little criticism there has been by the Opposition. In fact, I do not recall in 16 years in this place a Budget debate in which there was less fight from the Opposition. After all, the Germans found they could not fight on two fronts and I think that that is what is happening to the Opposition. There has certainly been no kick against this Budget because, although each one has got on to his own private hobby horse, all realise that basically the Treasurer faced some difficult decisions and the decisions he has made have been good ones.
What was the first problem? He faced, first of all, a build up of inescapable commitments which were carried forward, particularly the commitment on defence. No one on this side and few on the other side of the House would say that we do not need to spend $1,000 million on defence. Here is a commitment which followed automatically from decisions made earlier in the year, which put a 34 per cent, increase onto the defence vote. The Treasurer found himself also faced with an enormous build up in the requirements of education. It is interesting to recall that when we came into office there was no direct Commonwealth aid for education. There was a State grant, but there was no direct Federal grant. Here we are spending $141 million or $30 million more than last year and three times what we once spent five years ago. This is another problem that he faced, and there are other problems with these build ups.
One of the big problems that we face is the build up in the cost of aerodromes and airport facilities in Australia. This seems to go up almost automatically every year because we get a new aircraft and immediately it requires a longer runway and, in some cases, a stronger runway. I heard the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) this afternoon mention the Brisbane airport. My view, for what it is worth, is that people are in an airport terminal probably only for a few minutes in the day and I would sooner put up with something that was not quite up to standard there than have lavish airports such as one sees overseas, which I believe are complete white elephants. In fact, it seems to me that the poorer the nation the more exorbitant and the larger the airport that it has. I think that we have to put up with disabilities somewhere and I would sooner see money spent on schools, hospitals, roads and things like that than give a high priority to these matters. These are some of the things that the Treasurer had to face.
On top of this, of course, he was unfortunate in that in his first Budget he also had to face what was a vast drought. This undoubtedly had a very severe effect on the economy generally. In fact, it is amazing, when you come to look at it, that a drought of these proportions could have so little effect on the whole Australian scene. There was a time some years ago when we would have suffered the most severe economic penalties as a result of a drought of this size. I would not say that we have not felt it; of course, we have felt it, and some people have felt it very, very severely. But because of the strength of our economy we have been able to ride out a storm such as those which in the 1902 drought and the 1914 drought gave us a very severe depression. We have in one State alone - New South Wales - a reduction in numbers of 1 million head of cattle, 10 million head of sheep and 100 million bushels of wheat in one year. Of course, this is only the beginning of it. These are actual reductions.
Over and above that we have the fact that our wool clip is very much smaller and the railways are running at a loss because they do not have the work to keep them fully occupied. This must have a tremendous effect on the Budget. As a result, of course, there has been some drop in the economy and there is need for a stimulus. The Treasurer realised this and that there were drops in certain other areas. The motor car industry, for example, is slightly in the doldrums, but when we think of the motor car industry let us realise that two years ago production went up to a staggering height, very much higher than it ever had before. We as a country cannot live in an economy in which, whenever an industry’s production goes up to a certain level the industry is guaranteed that it will always remain there. There must be what I would call some soft spots in the economy and one is the motor car industry today. I realise that it provides great employment, but let us not forget that it is, perhaps, part of what one would call the milk bar economy.
If we have a certain amount of money to spend and we spend it on development, we build up the economic base on which the country is expanding. If we spend it on looking for oil or minerals or something like that, the whole economy expands. But when it is spent on the motor car industry - we are very glad indeed to know that people can have cars and improve their standard of living - this does not expand the base on which Australia is built to anything like the same extent.
Having said that, I would say that undoubtedly there has been a drop in motor car production, but at the same time the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. announced in its recent report that the demand for steel was up, so I think that there is every indication that at the present time things are improving. This is certainly borne out by the employment figures. The number of people registered for employment in July dropped by 2,197 to 56,000, which was a greater fall than in July of last year. The number of job vacancies in July rose by 1,550 to 34,000. By contrast, in July last year, the number of job vacancies fell. Nevertheless, there is need for a mild boost to the economy and the Treasurer set out to give the economy this boost. Let me tell the House what his steps were. The greatest step that he has taken is to plan for a very considerable deficit, the largest deficit that we have ever seen. This means that some $270 million more than is taken out of the economy will be paid into it. This obviously must have its effect on consumer durables and on demand generally. In addition to this there has been the basic wage increase which, I would say, will mean at least another $200 million available for spending in the community, after one deducts what is likely to be paid in tax and what is likely to be saved. By this action alone there will be a considerable boost to the economy. As one of the Canberra newsletters that circulate in this area stated -
The 1966-67 Budget will be good for business. It virtually ensures increasing economic activity for at least 12 months ahead.
That is the assessment of a sound person who looks at it uncommitted rather than of a person from the Opposition who wants to find some fault.
Let me go on to say what other increases are being made. There is an increase of $145 million in payments to the States over what they received in 1965-66. We all know that like Oliver Twist they have come back and asked for some more. This cannot go on indefinitely. People who are not responsible for raising funds but are responsible for spending them just cannot constantly come to the Federal Government, which raises the funds, and say that they want more. There must be responsibility throughout the whole length and breadth of government in Australia in seeing that there is not excessive waste and excessive expenditure of funds, whether by Commonwealth, State or local government. No Government can expect to get all that it would like to have.
Over and above the deficit and the increases in payments to the States, there is provision for drought assistance of $35 million. There has been a very considerable increase in expenditure on social service benefits. This year, expenditure on social services will increase by $39.2 million. The increase in a full year will be $57.6 million. For the first time expenditure under the National Welfare Fund will amount to $1,000 million. If expenditure on repatriation benefits is included, the total expenditure is $1,269 million.
Expenditure on defence and education has been increased. I have already referred to the effects of the increase in the basic wage. We look to an increase in farm income. We have been happy to see the general rain that has fallen in the last few days. We hope that this means the end of the drought or, if not, that it will significantly assist farmers. I understand that this year in New South Wales the area sown to wheat is a record. If good carry on rains fall there is no doubt that this year funds from the farming community should be very much higher than last year.
The point I make is that it has been possible to undertake all these things and yet at the same time to have a budget which makes considerable provision for development projects. It is all very well for the Opposition to pull projects out of the air and ask why we have not done this or that. As my colleague, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) said, even with normal budgetary provisions the Opposition would like to see about $800 million more spent each year before even thinking of development projects. If you contemplate expenditure of that order, in addition to the expenditure involved in development projects, you have some idea of the enormous increase in taxation that would be necessary.
Let me cite some of the ways in which we are carrying on with a vital programme of national development even at a time when we are faced with heavy commitments in other fields. First, payments to the States have increased by $145 million. Quite a lot of this money will go in development projects. This Budget is full of instances of ways in which we intend to increase expenditure on national development. For the first time, we have made a payment to the States to enable them to double their plantings of softwoods so that we may become self-sufficient in softwoods by the turn of the century. Expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme has increased considerably. The cash budget this year for the scheme is by far the highest it has ever been at $64 million. This sum includes expenditure not only on projects in the Snowy Mountains but also on the Blowering Dam. The oil search subsidy has been increased by a record amount. Under this Budget, the subsidy stands at $16 million compared with $11.7 million last year. The subsidy has played a remarkably successful part in assisting to discover oil in Australia. Already we have three producing oil fields and another very large field has been discovered. Natural gas has been discovered in vast quantities.
We have made provisions in the Budget for expenditure on the brigalow scheme. As honorable members know, we are committed to an expenditure in Queensland of $23 million for clearing and developing the brigalow land. This year the Government proposes to spend $6 million on beef roads. This amount is in addition to the $150 million a year already being spent under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, compared with an expenditure of $18 a year when we came into office. The Commonwealth is spending money on projects at Weipa. It is spending large sums on water conservation, including construction of the Chowilla Dam and the Blowering Dam. It is spending large amounts also on atomic energy projects. One could go through quite a list of projects on which this Government is spending money. So, despite having to find large sums of money for defence, education and other things, the Government has still been able to go ahead with a vital programme of national development
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) said he would like me to say what is happening to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. I do not think there is any need for me to say much on this matter because it has already been dealt with in a statement. There has been a good deal of misconception so far as the Authority is concerned. There are people who say, both inside the House and outside, that we have water running to waste in this country; that all we have to do is find more money for water conservation and automatically the Snowy Mountains Authority will have a continuing role. This is a very simple proposition but it is not true because even if we gave twice as much money for water conservation to some States as they are already receiving, they still would not use one person from the Snowy Mountains Authority.
The Authority still has a considerable amount of work ahead of it. We know that the Authority will have work to do until 1972 and will probably be engaged even later putting in some additional turbines. There is a possibility, depending on State requirements, that the Authority will be called upon to do some pump storage work in certain areas. However, this will not amount to much. When we are asked where we could use the Authority other than in its present role we look first at the Australian Capital Territory. Well, there is a dam project in this Territory, but the investigation and design work has been completed, so there is nothing there for the Authority. Any additional water for the Australian Capital Territory would come, I would think, by pipe from the Tantangara Dam. If we turn to the Northern Territory, there are some projects that could be investigated at some future date, but there is nothing there that has been closely examined and on which work is ready to proceed. If we turn to Papua and New Guinea, which is the only other area in which we could use the Snowy Mountains Authority directly, we find that there will be a requirement in the future for a couple of hydro-electric projects in the Upper Ramu Valley, but the total amount of work required on these would not be sufficient to keep an authority of the size of the Snowy Mountains Authority in the area for very long. So the obvious answer is to approach the States. It is all very well for people to say: “We will keep the Snowy Mountains Authority going.” This is Labour’s catchcry. You cannot decide what to do with the Authority until such time as the States say what they want.
The Snowy Mountains Authority has a magnificent reputation, particularly in investigation and design. A few months ago, when I looked at the list of work being undertaken by the Authority, I found that it was concerned in 32 different projects in South East Asia, Borneo, Papua and New Guinea, New Zealand and every mainland State. But most of these are fairly small projects. They are projects in the investigation stage. What we are looking for is something along the lines, if possible, of the agreement in respect of the building of the Blowering Dam, where the Authority is undertaking the investigation, design and construction of the dam for the New South Wales Government. If we could get work of this kind it would be most suitable. But we must first know what the States intend to do. Each of the States has its own authority and those authorities are very competent. The Tasmanian water authority has done excellent work in hydro-electric projects on the Great Lakes. Tasmania’s hydro-electric projects now produce twice as much energy as do the Snowy Mountains Authority’s projects, so we cannot go to Tasmania and tell the Government there to use our Authority. If we did, people who were displaced would be very annoyed. So although we want to see this great team, which has built up an impressive array of collective skills, maintained if possible, we are not in a position to ram our views down the throats of the States. We must find out what the States want. Let me conclude on my central theme: This is an expansionary Budget. It is a good Budget. It provides for continued growth of the nation in terms of population, development of natural resources and maintenance and improvement of living standards. We believe it will do all of these things.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Jones) adjourned.
– by leave - During the day of Wednesday 31st August 1966 an anonymous telephone caller rang the Australian Broadcasting Commission switchboard in Melbourne and made statements which amounted to a threat of violence to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). In Adelaide a similar call was made to the State Police Force during that day. A similar call was also made to Melbourne radio station 3UZ today. This threat was reported to the Commonwealth Police Force which, in consequence, has taken action for the purpose of preventing any harm befalling the Leader of the Opposition. The House will realise that it would be undesirable to disclose what that action is or how long it will be continued. The action of the A.B.C. in not publicising this matter until such time as the police could institute protective action is to be commended.
.- I was astounded to hear the speech delivered by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn). I expected to hear from that honorable gentleman a speech setting out his Department’s plans for the balanced development of this nation, not just in the next 12 months but in the next few years. But he merely eulogised the Government and uttered empty cliches and meaningless phrases. He read some apparently anonymous document something like the one which the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) read to the House early in his career as Prime Minister. I think the document was a rag that costs 5s. per copy.
The Minister said he had heard no criticism of the Budget. I had not intended to deal with that matter but I went out and obtained a few Press cuttings that I had in my file. I know that the previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, did not have much time for the Sydney “ Sun “ or the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ but I was interested in what those newspapers had to say about the Budget on the day after its presentation. The “ Sun “ printed an article under the heading, “ Budget, A blow to industry “. I am sorry that the Minister has left the chamber so rapidly after ending his speech. The report stated -
The new Federal Budget has disappointed industry.
Further down we read -
Director of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Mr. W. Daunt, said his industry was disappointed the Budget did not contain provisions to give a more positive stimulus to greater consumer spending.
I do not propose to read the rest of that article, but I want to refer to the comments by Sir Henry Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, and by Mr. Rob Askin, the Premier of New South Wales. Sir Henry Bolte announced that hospital fees in Victoria would increase. A report in the “ Australian “ of 24th August stated -
Hospital fees in Victoria will increase by up to 30 per cent. from Thursday week.
The new rates, announced yesterday, are:
Public wards: $10 a day, an increase of $2. Intermediate wards: $13.50, an increase of $3. Semi-private wards: From $15, an increase of $3.50.
Private wards: From $18, an increase of $4.
So, people in Victoria will have to pay $70 a week if they go into a public ward of a hospital. I ask honorable members to bear that in mind - $70 per week for hospitalisation in a public ward. No doubt we can expect a similar increase in New South Wales in the very near future, although the Government of that State might hold off until after the elections on 26th November so as not to embarrass its Federal colleague too much. But Sir Henry Bolte has not much time for the Federal boys. The Financial Editor of the “Sydney Morning Herald “ said, on 28th August that Sir Henry Bolte’s Government was considering whether it would introduce a payroll tax in Victoria. So Victorian manufacturers may be faced with not only a Federal payroll tax but also a State payroll tax.
Mr. Askin, a member of the same political party as the Federal Treasurer, stated that his Government would have to reduce expenditure by approximately $20 million a year because the Commonwealth Government was not prepared to accept its responsibility. Ever since the Curtin Government introduced uniform taxation,successive Federal governments have insisted on retaining their taxing powers. They have accepted the responsibility of raising sufficient tax revenue to reimburse the S’ates and enable them to meet their obligations. I believe that the Treasurer has brought down a very poor Budget; one that will cause stagnation in Australia and one that will create unemployment in various industries, including the building industry, the mo’or car industry and associated industries.
Let us have a look now at the stock exchange reaction to the Budget. I will refer first to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 26th August. As honorable members opposite are well aware because of their interest in shares, the newspapers print daily reports of stock exchange transactions. Being a non-shareholder, I have no such interest but I read the reports to find out what is the state of the economy. The “Sydney Morning Herald” report was headed, “Sharpest fall since May”. I do not propose to read the whole of the article but in the third paragraph, it stated -
Yesterday’s fall in local markets follows a steady decline in the last six weeks, which halted just prior to the Budget, but then resumed more steeply.
I emphasise the words “ but then resumed more steeply “. The business and investing interests of this country expected a Budget that would assist Australia’s development; an expansionary Budget; but they were disappointed. The result of the Treasurer’s Budget was a further decline on the stock market after steadying on the eve of the Budget. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 26th August reported as follows -
The Federal Budget, tabled last week, was seen by investors to offer no boost to economic growth, deepening the recent uncertainty about equity prospects.
What have the Minister for National Development and other members of the Government to say about those words - “ deepening the recent uncertainty about equity prospects “? Today’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, under the heading “ Share Market: Check the decline “ stated -
Before this rally, the index, in an almost uninterrupted plunge, had fallen 16.54 points, or 5 per cent., in three weeks.
That is what the investors think of the economy in terms of cold hard facts and cold hard cash. They have no confidence in this Government or its economic policy as the articles I have quoted clearly indicate.
I turn now to education. What is the position throughout the Commonwealth? Almost daily we read reports of disputes and work stoppages by school teachers in Victoria. Have honorable members ever before heard of teachers going on strike? We hear of boilermakers, ironworkers, wharf labourers and others in industry going on strike, but we have never previously heard of school teachers striking because of inadequate teaching facilities in their schools. In spite of the fact that such events have taken place in Victoria over the last 12 months the Government has done nothing in this Budget to rectify the position. Only yesterday about 350 New South Wales school teachers came to Canberra to lobby various members of Parliament and put the view that the Commonwealth’s allocation for education should be more than that provided by the Treasurer in his Budget.
As the result of lack of funds, anomalies are creeping into our education system to an ever increasing degree. For example, the Minister for Education in New South Wales, Mr. Cutler, recently announced that class loads in forms V and VI will increase by approximately 20 per cent. Under the original Wyndham plan it was envisaged that these two forms would be study or discussion groups rather than classes of 30 or 40 pupils attending lectures. Students would get together in groups of not more than 20 to discuss the subjects they were studying and prepare themselves for universities. This would reduce the failure rate at the universities. But what has happened? Because insufficient funds have been made available, the class loads, instead of being under 20, will be 30. Most will be in excess of this figure and only a few will be under it.
It can be clearly seen that the Treasurer has failed in his responsibility to the nation to bring down a Budget that will maintain the reasonable development of the nation, and this is most important. It can be said that, where previously there was one barometer in the community, today there are two. Previously it was always accepted that the first industry to feel the effects of a credit squeeze was the building industry. The building industry has been feeling the effects of a credit squeeze for some time right throughout the Commonwealth. Now the credit squeeze is being applied to the motor vehicle industry. I will deal briefly with both of these industries. In 1964-65, 403,700 motor vehicles were registered in Australia. In 1965-66, the figure had declined to 365,000. On a monthly basis. 33,400 vehicles were registered in July 1965 and 30,900 in July 1966. If ever there can be any justification for laying men off work in an industry, here is the justification for the motor vehicle industry since midJune 1966 laying off some 1,500 men. Today General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. has announced that 700 men employed by it in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales will be dismissed.
What explanation can honorable members on the other side give for this serious decline in employment in an important industry? It is all very well for the Minister for National Development to say that it is a luxury industry. If everybody who has a motor car today is considered to be affluent and to be enjoying luxuries, does the Minister propose to reduce their standard of living? Is he entitled to say that the Australian people will not be permitted, collectively, to buy as many motor vehicles this year as they did in previous years? Is he entitled to impair the ability of the individual to buy a motor vehicle? Is this what he has in mind when he says that the Budget brought down by the Treasurer this year was an excellent Budget?
Another factor that must be kept in mind when considering the state of the motor vehicle industry is that motor vehicles are being imported in ever increasing numbers. We should watch this position very closely. Every trade agreement that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has negotiated, with the exception of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, has been to the advantage of the primary industries and to the detriment of the secondary industries. The textile industries today are not as strong as they were previously because of the substantial inflow of textiles from Japan and other countries. Now this same position is developing with the motor vehicle industry. The Government has been able to entice overseas manufacturers to establish factories here. General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd., the Ford Motor Co. of Aus. Ltd., Volkswagen (A’asia) Pty. Ltd., the British Motor Corporation (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. and others have established themselves in this country. This has meant that more employment opportunities have been available for our people.
But what has been the result of this Government’s action? As I mentioned a moment ago, since June of this year 1,500 employees in the industry have been laid off and notice was given yesterday to 700 employees of General Motors-Holden’s. But the Government still permits the inflow of motor vehicles manufactured in other countries. I have not the time to give details of these imports country by country, but I will give the totals. In 1962-63, the value of imported motor vehicles was $17,696,000; in 1963-64, $20,487,000; in 1964-65, $31,672,000; and in 1965-66, $28,358,000. I believe that the import of motor vehicles should be curtailed, thus ensuring the maximum employment of the people in the Australian motor vehicle industry. Until such time as the Government takes action to ensure that Australian workers will be continually employed, I believe that the Opposition is entitled to castigate and attack the Government for its failure to safeguard Australian workers in Australian industries. 1 said that there are two barometers in the community today - the motor vehicle industry and the building industry. I will deal now with the building industry. It is obvious that the number of homes being built has declined. In 1963-64, 116,424 homes were built; in 1964-65, 122,791; and in 1965-66, 110,130. Everyone knows that there is a demand for homes. I will prove this in a moment or two by giving the waiting time for houses from the Housing Commission of New South Wales. I think this can be taken as a fair average for the whole of the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding the serious demand for housing in the Commonwealth today, we find that the number of homes being built has decreased alarmingly and no provision has been made in this Budget to stimulate the building industry and to increase the number of homes being built. As I said, I will prove my point about the demand for housing by referring to the waiting time for houses from the Housing Commission of New South Wales. The latest report of the Commission is for the year ended 30th June 1965. It contains this statement -
Applicants in the Sydney Metropolitan Area were being offered accommodation on a rental or sale basis whose priority dates, based on dates of application, were as follows: -
Elderly Persons’ Units - August, 1960
Elderly Couples’ Units- November, 1961
Married Couples’ Units - November, 1961
Two-bedroom Cottages or Flats - March,
Three-bedroom Cottages or Flats - January, 1962
Four-bedroom Cottages - January, 1962
So the ordinary family man who wants a two or three bedroom cottage must wait for two or three years. The poor old pensioners, many of whom are paying £2 or £3 a week just for the use of a room, must wait for four or five years.
If the Government wants to overcome the unemployment that is creeping over the country at the moment, it should give assistance to the two industries I have menboned. It should reduce the sales tax on motor vehicles and so encourage people to buy motor vehicles. This would give a stimulus to the industry. It should also make additional funds available to Housing Commissions. The information I have obtained in my electorate from inquiries I have made of building societies and the Commonwealth Bank is that the Commonwealth Bank will make money available immediately to applicants for loans who comply with the basic requirement. The basic requirement is that the applicant, for a period of 12 months, must have a monthly balance of $1,000. Building societies will also make money available immediately. It would seem that there is sufficient money available in the private sector for people who want to build homes, but insufficient people have the deposit that is necessary to bridge the gap between the loan and the cost of the house. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) may smile, but the real position is that not sufficient people have the deposit necessary to build a home today.
But let us look at the position of people who seek accommodation from the Housing Commissions. I have already given the waiting time. In 1963-64, 18,899 houses were built through this avenue. In 1964-65, 17,506 were built and in 1965-66, 14,590 were built. These figures show that there has been a substantial reduction in the number of homes built by Governments, and by Governments I mean in the main State Governments. Yet in New South Wales the demand for housing has increased. In 1963-64, the Housing Commission of New South Wales had 16,688 applicants and in 1964-65 it had 18,805. I appeal to the Treasurer to give further consideration to the housing position and to make additional funds available so that the two industries I have mentioned - the motor vehicle industry and the building industry - can be put on an even keel and employment opportunities provided. On previous occasions when requests for additional finance have been made, we have been told that the Government will not make further money available because there is a stortage of labour in the industry. That is not so today. I discussed the position with the secretary of the Building Workers Industrial Union and he told me that there was unemployment among building workers in every State. In South Australia, unemployment has reached a critical stage. I had a conference only last Monday week with (representatives of the Building Workers Industrial Union, the Plasterers Union, the Plumbers Union and members of building societies. They said that there were approximately 100 carpenters, 20 plumbers and 20 plasterers out of employment in Newcastle. If sufficient finance is available, these men could be put to work on the construction of houses or in the field of education where there is a serious shortage of buildings. I have not time to go into this matter fully but I emphasise that there is a demand for building and that the labour and materials are available. All that is required is money. If funds were provided, full employment in these industries would be assured.
Let us examine the latest figures relating to unemployment. Do honorable members on the Government side realise that this is the worst August for unemployment since 1963, which was the last year of the credit squeeze created by the Present Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) when he was Treasurer? In August 1964, 45,110 men and women were unemployed in Australia. The numbers in succeeding years were 41,021 in August 1965 and 56,823 in August 1966. There is an increase in the numbers of unemployed.
In my own electorate, unemployment is the worst since 1963. The number of unemployed in Newcastle in 1964 was 2,449. It was 1,773 in 1965 and 2,724 in 1966. These are the figures for August. So the Treasurer and honorable members of this House can see quite clearly not only that there is a need for housing and new schools and for stimulus in the motor vehicle industry, but also that labour is available and that its employment in those fields of activity would not cause inflation. It is up to the Treasurer to do the right thing and provide the stimulus for these industries.
I turn now to other aspects of the economy, and particularly to the question of wages and prices. This is a serious matter for the community because while there is complete control over wages, there is no control over prices. We have a Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which meets every 12 months and examines evidence submitted by the employers’ organisation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions the Australian Workers Union and the trade union movement generally. The unions submit evidence for an increase in the basic wage but for some reason the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission always comes down with an increase of $2 or SI. Why does it not give $2.50 or $2.30? Why does it always finish up with a nice round sum?
What Mr. Justice Taylor of the New South Wales Industrial Commission had to say last Thursday will bear close examination. He has had years of experience in the industrial movement: He has stated that the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission is unscientific in assessing the capacity of the economy to pay an award wage. Commenting on the Commissions assessment of the capacity of the economy to pay an award wage, Mr. Justice Taylor said -
It is based on very sparse information, and out of the whole of the discussion it seems to me you pluck a figure out of the air.
How often have trade union officials and members of the Australian Labour Party said those words? The Commission plucks a figure out of the air and that becomes the basic wage for the next 12 months. This question of wages and prices should be examined. If we are to have control of wages - and we have had it for many years - we should also have some form of prices control. The activities of the Commission must be broadened. More judges will have to be appointed. The staff assisting the judges will have to be increased. Economists and other qualified persons will have to be available to assess the capacity of the economy. Before an industry can increase its prices, it should have to appear before the tribunal which fixes the wages for the men and women engaged in the industry. Until we can work out such a system, we shall continue to have a disparity between wages and prices.
I want to quote some figures to emphasise this point. I have taken them from the “ Monthly Review of Business Statistics “ for August 1 966. It is not easy to get a comparison of the relevant figures. You cannot start from the same base year because various sets of figures are fixed from a different base year. To get down to a comparative basis as best I can, I have selected, as a start, June 1964, when the basic wage was increased. The latest figures available are those to March 1966. The basic wage was last increased on 11th July 1966. In June 1964 the consumer price index figure was 127. It rose to 135.4 in March 1966, and this represents an increase of 8.4 points or 6.6 per cent, in prices. Let us compare this increase with the average weekly earnings of an adult male. At June 1964 the average earnings were §52. The figure rose to $54.50 in March 1966, an increase of 4.8 per cent. In the same period, from June 1964 to June 1966, prices increased by 6.6 per cent. Yet when the Commission met to review the basic wage operative from 19th June 1964, it decided that at that time commerce and industry could carry an increase in the basic wage of only $1 a week.
The Commission examined the profits and the balance sheets of various industries before reaching that decision. But were prices retained at that level? This Government is continually complaining that Australia is being priced out of overseas markets We hear business tycoons make similar statements. They say that because of an increase in the basic wage, Australia is being priced out of overseas markets. What is the Government doing to control prices? It has controlled wages very effectively over the years. When Mr. Hawke submitted his evidence before the Commission, he clearly showed that the worker was entitled to an increase of $4.30 in the basic wage; but the workers received an increase of only $2. The Government should do something about this problem by examining the practicability of setting up a wages and prices commission, so that if we freeze wages we also freeze prices and do not unfairly freeze wages only. Such a commission could examine the profits of industry and of various companies.
In this connection I have the finance page from the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “. I advise honorable members to read the finance page of this newspaper daily; I do not recommend the tripe that it publishes in the rest of the paper. The financial columns contain some astounding figures relating to the profits of companies and industries. We find that Clarke Bros. Holdings, a Sydney based furniture maker, did not do so well and did not declare a dividend but it had an earning rate of 5.4 per cent., compared with an earning rate of 10.9 per cent, last year. Electrical Equipment, a Sydney based manufacturer of electricity transmission equipment and of telephone supplies for the G.P.O., has declared a dividend of 16 per cent. So the Postmaster-General’s Department is not a bad old milking cow after all. The earning rate of this company is 37.5 per cent. That is for last year. If you go back through the previous five years you find the company had similar profits.
Hilton Corporation, a Melbourne hosiery maker, has declared a dividend of 15 per cent, and has an earning rate of 36 per cent. So the ladies with their hosiery provide the shareholders of Hiltons with a decern old profit. Industrial Engineering Ltd., a Melbourne based engineering company, has a dividend rate of 1 1 per cent, and an earning rate of 22.9 per cent. Jaywoth Industries Ltd., a Sydney company that makes concrete blocks, has not done so well. It has a dividend rate of 4 per cent, and an earning rate of 1 1 .9 per cent, lohn Mcllwraith Industries Ltd., Australia’s largest maker of plumbers’ and builders’ supplies, stoves, &c, has a dividend rate of 15 per cent, and an earning rate of 20.4 per cent. Is it any wonder that the cost of building is so high when these companies that manufacture requirements for home building are able to declare dividends as high as 15 per cent, or more and have earning rates as high as 20 per cent, or more? Kay Corporation Ltd., a Melbourne based car rental and leasing group, has a dividend rate of 10 per cent, and an earning rate of 20.8 per cent. I have only a minute left, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I shall mention only one more company. Vanderfield and Reid Ltd., a Sydney timber and joinery merchant, has a dividend rate of 17± per cent, and an earning rate of 27.9 per cent. The dividend and earning rates of Vanderfield and Reid and John Mcllwraith Industries provide clear evidence of the reasons why housing and building costs have skyrocketed to the present high levels. J
I ask honorable members to examine these facts. I appeal to the Treasurer to do the decent thing and present a supplementary budget. He says he is flexible, but the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) says he is inflexible. I hope we have a Treasurer who is prepared to examine the economy day by day if need be and to bring down a supplementary budget that will remove the depression that is creeping over the motor .vehicle industry, provide employment for the many hundreds of building workers who are at present unemployed and, most important of all, make it possible for the many people who need housing to get it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not want to follow the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) through all the matters that he discussed. I have a special purpose in speaking tonight. I wish to record the Government’s interest, as reflected in this Budget, in the rural industries and to say something of matters that relate to the administration of my Department. The honorable member said that we have wage freezing in this country. We have no such thing under our arbitration system, which I thought was accepted by all political parties and which is accepted at least by the Government. The honorable member argues that our arbitration system creates some anomalies. It certainly does for the rural industries, because this Government has no power that enables it to control the prices paid for our export commodities. Our exports of rural products provide a very welcome addition to our national income, and our economy greatly depends on the large proportion of export income that is earned by our rural industries.
This Budget reflects the interest of the Government in ensuring the welfare of all sections of the community within the overall framework of continued economic growth and the security of the nation. From the standpoint of the rural sector of the economy, this Budget will make a valuable contribution to the continuing welfare of our agricultural and pastoral industries. These industries have a magnificent record of achievement. Over the last 10 years, there has been a marked and consistent upward trend in the volume of rural production. This was broken only last year, when the most serious drought for 20 years caused a setback in New South Wales and Queensland. Although governments can do much to assist the farmers - and this Government has done more than any other to assist them - it is the farmers’ own efforts that are the basis of the development of the whole of the rural sector of the economy. The 250,000 farmers and graziers of this country over the last 10 years, until they were hit by the drought, had been lifting output at a rate greater than that attained by producers in any other important primary producing country. Australian farmers and graziers have been increasing their productivity faster than their counterparts in the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom or even the European Economic Community.
A major factor in the continuing development of the Australian economy is a high level of imports of capital equipment and raw materials. If wc are to have continuing development and expansion in the rural sector of the economy, we must of necessity import capital equipment and raw materials. In order to pay for these imports, we must export rural products to earn income overseas. In the financial year 1964-65, exports of rural origin made up 73 per cent, of the total of merchandise exports. Although manufactured goods and minerals are now making an increased contribution to our export earnings, the sale of rural products will continue to be our major source of overseas funds.
Of necessity, I must mention the drought. Unfortunately, the financial year just ended has been marred by the severe drought conditions experienced in New South Wales and Queensland. The drought affected areas of these States have now received relief, to a greater or a lesser degree, and the prospects for the ensuing season are much brighter, though the after effects of the drought will be felt for some time to come, particularly in the grazing industry. With the ensuing shortage of stock, the restocking situation is not as happy as we would like it to be. Recognising the importance of our rural industries and the severity of the impact of the drought on New South Wales and Queensland, the Government has given, and is continuing to give, these States unprecedented assistance in their task of combating the effects of the drought.
During 1965-66, the Commonwealth gave to these States an undertaking to provide financial assistance in respect of the total cost of such measures as each State deemed necessary to relieve the effects of the drought. The States Grants (Drought Assistance) Act 1966 passed by this Parliament gave effect to this undertaking. Under the terms of this Act, a total of $14,200,000 was paid to New South Wales and $7,500,000 to Queensland last financial year. Of these sums, $5,532,000 was paid to New South Wales in the form of grants and $4,174,000 was paid to Queensland in grants. In each instance, the balance was paid to the State concerned in the form of an interest free loan repayable over eight years. In the current financial year, $35 million has been budgeted for to provide further drought relief assistance to these two States. This comprises $15 million for New South Wales and $9,250,000 for Queensland in respect of the cost of measures taken by the States to alleviate the effects of the drought, together with special financial assistance of $8 million to New South Wales and $2,750,000 to Queensland to help these States to meet budgetary problems arising from the effects of the drought on State revenues.
I turn now to tax concessions. Besides the assistance which I have mentioned and which has been provided through the States, the Commonwealth has made provision in the current Budget to assist producers in other ways. The double shearing tax concession that was granted for the 1964-65 income year will be granted also for 1965-66, and the tax concession in respect of forced sales of livestock is being widened to include the maintenance of breeding herds or flocks. Another concession is the removal of the seven year limit on the carry forward period for the deduction of earlier losses. In addition, the averaging provisions applicable to primary producers will be extended from the present income level of $8,000 to $16,000, and the overall conditions of averaging will be reviewed.
The next matter that I mention is credit. Action has been taken also to ensure that adequate financial resources are available to rural producers at preferred interest rates. The additional $50 million recently provided through the Farm Development Loan Fund is steadily being put to productive use, in part to help recovery from the drought. This, of course, can be used for restocking purposes as well. I turn now to the subject of costs. Primary producers are always vulnerable to the threat of rising costs. The previous speaker referred to the effect of costs on the worker and the consumer generally. But primary producers are very vulnerable to the threat of rising costs because the prices of their inputs are determined largely by domestic factors while their returns are influenced mainly by overseas prices over which they have little or no control.
Because of the rapid development of our secondary industries, and the necessary tariff protection afforded them, primary producers continually have to face this cost price problem. Government assistance can be provided along two main lines, namely, as direct assistance in the form of subsidies, taxation concessions, lower interest rates and so on, which directly reduce costs, and as indirect assistance through research and extension activities which enable producers to reduce costs and increase output by increased efficiency. In both of these fields, the present Government has an outstanding record of achievement. We have continued to provide incentives to producers through special taxation concessions for fencing, water supplies, land clearing and drainage, and soil conservation. This year, fencing for soil conservation has been added to the list of items on which the full capital expenditure may be deducted from income for tax purposes.
Let me deal now with the subject of petroleum product prices. Fuel costs represent always a major item of expense to farmers and graziers. After initial difficulties, the Government’s equalisation scheme was introduced last year. A sum of $9,920,490 was expended to bring the prices paid by those in rural areas more in line with metropolitan prices. In the current year, a sum of $14 million has been budgeted for this purpose. I come now to the phosphate fertilisers bounty. Australian soils in general are deficient in phosphorus, and phosphatic fertilisers play an important part not only in wheat production but also in the establishment and maintenance of improved pastures, particularly in southern Australia. In 1963, the Government introduced a bounty on superphosphate for a period of three years, in order to encourage its use as a means of improving the productivity of our farm lands. The response to this bounty has been outstanding. We have decided to continue the bounty at S6 per ton for a further three years. For the current year, a sum of, $28 million has been budgeted to cover the cost of this scheme.
I come now to deal with the nitrogenous fertilisers bounty. The Government has decided to introduce a scheme whereby a bounty will be paid on nitrogenous fertilisers. The scheme will operate for a period of three years. The proposed rate of bounty is $80 per lon of nitrogen content. This would provide a bounty of $16.80 per ton on sulphate of ammonia. A sum of $4,750,000 has been budgeted for this scheme in 1966-67.
– What has the Minister done to make sure that the growers and not the makers of the fertilisers receive the benefit of the bounty?
– I think that this will work out at from 21 per cent, to 25 per cent, of the present day costs. So, the bounty will be a considerable help in enabling the users of these fertilisers to meet their costs. In reply to the interjection from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) let me say that one of the conditions of the bounty is that this cost benefit must be passed on in full to the primary producer. I think that all honorable members would agree with that approach. This scheme has a twofold purpose. First, it will act as a cost reducing measure for industries which are already major users of nitrogenous fertilisers, notably sugar growing and fruit and vegetable production. Secondly, it will act as an incentive to increase the use of these fertilisers in cereal growing and pasture development. Research and experimentation have shown that there is considerable scope for the use of nitrogenous fertilisers in the establishment and improvement of temperate, sub-tropical and tropical pasture, wheat, winter and summer fodder crops and summer grain crops.
I turn now to land development. The recent development of new lands can only be described as spectacular. In Western Australia, about one million acres a year are being brought into production. The improvement around Esperance has received widespread publicity. There, land which was formerly sandy heath plain has been transformed into profitable pasture. This is typical of other areas in that State. The Australian Mutual Provident Society scheme in South Australia and western Victoria has rendered a large area productive. In the brigalow areas of Queensland, several millions of acres of fertile land are being cleared for beef and grain production. The Commonwealth contribution towards clearing and road construction under the agreements covering Areas I and II and the new agreement for the development of Area III will exceed $25 million.
Land settlement on a large scale occurred under the War Service Land Settlement Scheme. I think that the history of this settlement scheme is one that ought to be recorded. All told throughout Australia, 9,150 holdings were allotted, totalling over 13i million acres. New land brought into production as a result of this scheme is estimated to exceed 3 million acres. Since it began in 1945, gross expenditure on acquisition and development of land, and on the provision of credit facilities to settlers, has exceeded $400 million. With very few exceptions, the settlers have been successful. It may be said that development of land under this scheme opened up the way for further development, as in many cases it showed how successful methods could be implemented. For example, most of the know-how of the development of the lighter lands of Western Australia had been worked out under the scheme, and the techniques evolved had given a lead which was being confidently followed by many private individuals in the development of land which 15 to 20 years ago was regarded as useless. I come now to the subject of research and extension.
– Why is the Minister now evicting the soldiers on King Island?
– Order! The honorable member for Braddon is out of order.
– We are not evicting anybody.
– The Minister is evicting them from their land.
-The praise that has been given to the Government for the soldier settlement scheme and the success of the scheme stand to the credit of this Government. Recently I made a visit to Western Australia where I met no fewer than five gatherings of returned soldiers. I was given three civic receptions. The fact that there was not one word of protest at any of those gatherings is unique in political history. A Minister generally receives plenty of protests but, on this occasion, eight congregations met me and on each occasion they expressed thanks. I think that that is a pretty good record.
– The Minister blinded them with science. I will bet that after the Minister left they thought of a few things that they would have liked to talk about.
– -They were happy with the response they received from the Government. On the subject of research and extension, the spectacular development of our rural industries over the last 10 years would not have been possible without the new knowledge and new farm practices that have resulted from the investment that Australia has made in research. This year, the budget for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation totals nearly $29 million. A large part of this appropriation is directed to agricultural and livestock research. In addition, the growers and the Commonwealth jointly have established a series of research funds. Since 1955, over $71 million has been allocated for research projects in the tobacco, wool, wheat, dairy and meat industries. The State Departments of Agriculture and the universities continue to devote a significant part of their resources to problems of our rural industries. To bring about the continued improvement that is possible, the farmer needs resources, credit facilities and access to knowledge of improved methods r.s that knowledge becomes available.
There is no shortage, nowadays, of the machines and materials required for rural production and we have seen to it that key requirements like fertiliser and petroleum products are available at more reasonable cost. Additional sources of credit have been put within the reach of producers, and we have made provision for support for extension activities. I want to take a few minutes of the time of the House to speak about this aspect, as I regard the increased support that this Budget accords to extension as one of the most important and constructive actions that is being taken to encourage the rural expansion which means so much to the overall growth of Australia. I am all the more convinced of the importance of an efficient network of extension and regional research after seeing overseas, as I was able to do, what can be done by these means to enhance the technical and economic position of farmers.
Full scale Commonwealth support for extension services was first given by this Government. I acknowledge that our predecessors in government had given assistance to extension in one industry, the dairy industry, during the closing stages of their term of office. Not only have we continued and expanded this dairy industry extension grant, but since 1952 we have provided a similar grant to the States to assist them in extension work related to other industries. Since the commencement of the Commonwealth extension services grant in that year a total amount of $7i million has been provided. Commencing with this Budget, we are greatly enlarging our support for agricultural extension. We have already indicated to the States our decision to increase the grant for this purpose still further.
Last year the Commonwealth provided $1,400,000 for extension and minor research. This year we are more than doubling that figure. In the financial year just begun $2,900,000 will be granted. And we propose to step this up annually over the next few years to $5,400,000. This will be nearly four times the level that has ruled in the recent past. At the same time, we have widened considerably the scope of the grant. The Commonwealth’s role is to allocate and administer financial assistance to State Departments and other organisations whose activities further the process of extension. This process involves the flow of basic research findings, arising from investigations by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and by State Departments of Agriculture and universities, through an adaptive research phase, which in the great majority of cases takes the form of regional testing at State research stations and the propagation predominantly by State extension services of tested findings for application on farms.
What we have done is to instruct that the various grants - Commonwealth extension services grant, Commonwealth dairy industry extension grant, grants for minor research and other services, and now this new money - all be brought into a single comprehensive arrangement whose scope will embrace the support of extension, the strengthening of regional research and, equally important, the training of men for this type of work. There is an acute shortage in this country of staff adequately trained in agriculture and agricultural economics. The shortage of men with veterinary training is even more acute, especially when account is taken of the more stringent health requirements being imposed by American and continental countries and of the ever present threat of exotic diseases entering this country from overseas. The new C.S.I. R.O. virology laboratory in Brisbane will help our understanding of how to protect ourselves against blue tongue, foot and mouth disease and other diseases that could devastate our great pastoral industries. Australia needs more men trained, both at university and at diploma levels, for basic research, for adaptive testing at the regional level and for extension work itself.
The advice given to the farmers must have an economic content if it is to be effective in farm improvement. So we need men trained in farm management and rural economics. The private farm management advisers should also have access to training opportunities. And, more important, the farmer, and in particular the coming generation of farmers and farm managers, the men who have to make the day to day productive decisions, also need more training than has been usual in the past to enable them to achieve high and profitable output in an agriculture that is steadily increasing in technical and economic complexity. Our objective in making these grants is to see to it that the farmers have even better information than before and have it sooner. Knowledge is a resource like any other. In this and the next four years we expect to provide a total of over $20 million to strengthen extension and regional research. The results of investment in basic research and of this considerable expenditure on testing, training and extension will be freely available to farmers. Under the policies we espouse the farmer will be free to make his own decisions about his own enterprise for his own profit. An economically healthy, knowledgable and enlarging agriculture is a real national asset.
It is our job to bring increasingly to the assistance of farmers the skills of the scientist, the technologist and the extension worker, whose activities in recent years have contributed so much to the remarkable increase in Australia’s agricultural production. The increased funds for extension is only one of the examples of how public money can be wisely and economically made available to help farmers improve their productivity and their income. And it is one of the best possible examples, for every dollar spent in this way multiplies itself many times over, to the benefit of the standards of living of rural producers and the development of the whole economy.
The war service land settlement scheme comes under my administration. As it is now almost complete so far as allotments to eligible and qualified ex-servicemen are concerned, honorable members will be interested in a brief survey of the results. The scheme has been a successful one of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the individual States. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland undertook to provide the capital required for the acquisition and development of land and to provide credit facilities for the settlers. In these States 6,565 holdings were allotted at a total cost of approximately $200 million of State moneys. In addition, the Commonwealth made special loans to Victoria and New South Wales of $28 million for capital expenditure on the scheme. Direct Commonwealth payments to these States for the benefit of the assistance period during which settlers received a gift living allowance and paid no rent or interest amounted to $6 million and contributions to excess costs amounted to $151 million.
In the other three States - South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia - commonly referred to as “ agent States “, the Commonwealth has provided all moneys required for the scheme. To 30th June last, total expenditure from the inception of the scheme has been $205 million of which this Government has provided $185 million. When the few remaining farms in Tasmania have been allotted, 2,600 exservicemen will have been provided with farms in the three States. The majority of farms in the agent States have been provided from virgin land, thus increasing the agricultural production of those States. Recently I inspected five of the major projects in Western Australia where farms have been developed from virgin land, and was impressed by the standard and thriving nature of them. 1 met the several groups of settlers to whom I referred earlier. All of them expressed their thanks for the opportunity the scheme had afforded them and their confidence in the future of their holdings.
As honorable members are aware, lack of capital did not debar qualified exservicemen from participation in the scheme and, as most of the settlers had only limited funds to provide the necessary stock and plant and carry on funds, they have had to borrow from the credit facilities available under the scheme at an interest rate of 3f per cent.
Advances made to settlers total $92 million. This is included in the gross expenditure of $205 million mentioned earlier. It will be necessary to provide advances for some time for some settlers, but in decreasing amounts. It is interesting to record that more than $61 million of the advances has already been repaid by settlers. Amounts written off as irrecoverable are approximately half a million dollars, or 0.65 per cent, of advances made. This is an indication of the soundness of the scheme. In addition to the repayments of advances, receipts of revenue in the form of rentals and interest amount to $19.4 million. This Government has always willingly provided the funds for the war service land settlement scheme and its actions are vindicated by the success which the above figures indicate. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I believe that this Government’s record of achievements and the assistance given by it in this Budget alone should be commended as indicative of the sympathetic interest that this Government takes in the rural sector.
.- The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) referred briefly to the burden of costs that the primary industries have to bear. But he failed to give any explanation of how costs will be contained. He spoke about bounties and subsidies but they have been and are being rapidly devoured by people such as the fertilizer companies and the oil companies. Consequently, the benefit to the farmers is gradually being decreased and the farmers are being forced to bear the burden of the whole increase in costs. lt is sufficient to say that, despite everything that the Minister said about what this Government is supposed to be doing, farm income this year is $300 million lower than it was last year and is the lowest since 1961-62.
I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and, in the limited time at my disposal, to deal briefly with a few of the matters to which the Government once again has failed to give any or sufficient consideration. Because I consider that national and northern development and water conservation should be receiving positive attention and not just lip service from the Government, I intend to pursue some of these matters more particularly. In the first place, surely it must now have become quite obvious, even to the most optimistic or most gullible people, that the Government has never intended, and in fact does not intend now, to proceed with the Ord River project beyond the first stage, unless its failure to do so produces a situation that will be unfavourable to it in the political sense; in other words, unless inaction could mean the loss of scats at the forthcoming elections. My firm opinion is that that situation is rapidly approaching. Recent events have proved that to be so.
To this Government, the Ord River project and northern development generally have never been anything more than a political or election exercise. Prior to each election over the past few years the Government has either made a very small offering or suggested that there would be something to come in the future. The latter device has been used very largely in relation to the Ord River project. This project was commenced in that way and has continued in that way right up to the present moment. Even now the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) is endeavouring to throw up a smokescreen in front of the actual attitude of the Government, by suggesting that something definite will he determine-‘ and made known before the elections later this year. In doing so. the right honorable gentleman has endeavoured, by his use of words, to create an impression or to make the people think that the decision will be a favorable one. But that will be so only if the political climate appears to be changing against the Government. I am sure that right at this moment members of the Government parties can see that this change is rapidly approaching and that they are becoming quite worried about it.
If one cares to make a survey of the past practices and tactics adopted by this Government, one can only arrive at the conclusion that nothing will happen and nothing further will be heard about this project for some considerable time, unless pressure is brought to bear from certain quarters. Of course, it would be idle to look for pressure from the State Governments of Western Australia and Queensland - States in which national development and water conservation are vital factors - because both of those Governments are of the same political colour as the Commonwealth Government, and therefore are not likely to do anything, if they can possibly avoid it, that would embarrass the Prime Minister just before a general election. Therefore, the pressure must be exerted on the Government by way of the ballot box. I am quite sure that on 26th November that will be done.
As honorable members are aware, somewhere around the middle of May this year a report was issued to the effect that State and Commonwealth Ministers had decided at a meeting in Canberra that a further meeting would be held within six weeks to discuss further the future of the second stage of the Ord River project. That, of course, meant that the meeting should have been held early in July. But the six weeks grew into almost 15 weeks. It was not until the end of last week that the meeting was eventually held. But, of course, no decision was arrived at. It would be idle to suggest that the delay in either holding the meeting or making the decision was due in any way to the behaviour of the Western Australian Ministers or the Western Australian departments. Quite naturally, they wanted a decision to be made as early as possible, for the very simple reason that if it were a favorable one it would give them some time to do some preparatory work before the wet season commences in the Kimberley area.
I suggest that the delay and adjournment were quite deliberate and in keeping with the past practices and performances of this Government, and I will demonstrate this later. This is the policy that the Government has developed over quite a considerable time. It has developed this art of delay with regard to the Ord River project. There has been delay in making a decision. There has been delay in making an announcement until the Government is absolutely forced into doing so. As I just remarked, this has been simply a vote catching exercise right through. The Government endeavours to lull the people into believing that something is likely to happen in the future, but it never quite reaches the starting gate.
You will remember quite well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that in July 1963, only a short time prior to the 1963 elections, the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, made a point of being invited to open, and of opening, the diversion dam at the Ord. He had not been there before and he has not been there since. But he made sure that he was there on that occasion purely to express enthusiasm for the Ord River project and, in his very shrewd manner - 1 do not take that away from him at all - to leave in people’s minds the thought that the project would be pushed ahead with as much rapidity as possible because it meant so much to northern development generally. Of course, he also had in mind the fact that in the previous elections in 1961 the Government almost went down the drain. It would have gone down the drain had not the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) made successful approaches to the Communists to obtain their preferences. Of course, in 1963 the then Prime Minister was also well aware of the fact that northern development was not only a very popular issue but also a pretty hot issue in the northern parts of Australia.
Even so, it took a further two years before any announcement was made regarding the future of the Ord, and then the announcement was made only as a result of the Prime Minister’s being pushed into a position in which he could not afford not to do so. He could not very well continue to remain silent because it was beginning to appear - and quite correctly - that the
Government was lukewarm and was looking for a reason why it should not go on with this project. This was rather a dangerous situation for the Government, because the Ord was and still is the yardstick by which people throughout Australia measure the sincerity of this Government in relation to northern development. So the Prime Minister made a very short statement, consisting of only a few lines, which had the result of again delaying any decision, but which made it appear that the project was still receiving every consideration. Then he went on to hide behind a claim that further experience of cotton production was required before a decision could be reached. This was sufficient, of course, in some places to give the impression that the Government was still vitally interested in this project.
But that was 15 months ago, and since then the farmers at the Ord have shown clearly what can be produced in the area in the way of cotton. There can be no argument about that. But is this Government satisfied with that evidence? Was that sufficient for it to come to a decision on the matter? Of course it was not, and it has now adopted different tactics. It has taken a completely different attitude and we have had the spectacle of junior Ministers being given the role of spokesmen for the Department or for the Government. They have said - no doubt with some authority - that the area must prove that it can produce crops other than cotton, and they have tried to support this claim by saying that this is necessary to protect farmers in the event of the cotton crops failing. But this line of argument was never previously used. The farmers at the Ord had proved that they could produce cotton at the rate at which it is now being produced. The claim that it is necessary to be able to produce other crops had never before been made a major issue, and it can be considered as nothing more than another delaying tactic by the Government to avoid making a definite decision on whether finance should or should not be made available.
The Government is determined not to provide any further finance for the Ord if it can possibly avoid doing so without adversely affecting the results of the coming election. That is the fact of the matter. But now the chickens are coming home to roost. The Government has shilly-shallied and duckshoved and delayed and fobbed off the West Australian Government for so long that even the Press has been obliged to make some very severe criticism of the Government. As a result, of course, the people are becoming aware of the position and they are having second thoughts about the real attitude of the Government. This has caused considerable consternation in the Liberal camp, particularly in Western Australia.
The fact of the matter is that even West Australian members of the Government Parlies in this Parliament have never really supported this project, even though they may have professed to do so.
– What rot.
– This was made clear - and I say this to the honorable member for Swan - by a resolution carried recently at a Liberal Party conference in Western Australia, which instructed Western Australian members of this Parliament to give their full and unqualified support to the Ord River project. It would be idle for honorable members to suggest that they had always supported the project because if this had been so there would have been no question of their support for it in the future, and naturally there would have been no need for, or even any thought of, the resolution containing this instruction to them. I am reliably informed that members of the Government Parties not only vigorously opposed the resolution but also pointed out the dangers of having the resolution made known. They wanted it removed from the records of the conference, but the conference was not prepared to accept this submission and the resolution was put to the conference and was overwhelmingly agreed to.
It is quite obvious, of course, that the Government parties in Western Australia realised that their members over here were giving only lip service to supporting the project - and this, no doubt, with the full authority and blessing of the Parties - but it was also realised that a situation had been reached which could prove to be very dangerous for the Liberals throughout Western Australia and even beyond that State unless something were done to make it at least appear that the State Liberals were supporting the Ord project, even if this were not actually the case. So some bright joker threw in the resolution of instruction, which was carried and which has highlighted the actual situation and proved where these people stood previously. No doubt this would be the reason why no Western Australian Federal Minister attended the recent conference of State and Federal Ministers held last week to discuss the question of further finance being made available for the Ord. It was realised, no doubt, that the attitude or actions of Western Australian Ministers at that conference might prove an embarrassment to them, either that they might be embarrassed with State Ministers who expected their support or with their Federal colleagues who know where they actually stand. 1 am firmly convinced that the conference held last week was well and truly stacked against any possibility of a firm decision being reached. There was no chance from the word “ go “ that the Ministers from Western Australia would have any chance of success. Let us have a look at the Commonwealth representation. We had, first, the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), who has never expressed support for the Ord and in actual fact has always been looked upon as a very strong opponent of it, and who, of course has proved in his present position to be a Treasurer with a real Scrooge outlook. Then there was the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who has made no secret of the fact that he will not lend any support unless he is forced into it, and who has indicated clearly that as far as he is concerned, in the matter of cotton production Namoi comes first, second and third, and if there is any thing else going Namoi can have that as well. Then there was the other Country Party Minister, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) who would certainly not willingly support any industry which might prove successful as a producer of various kinds of oil seeds.
If this were not sufficient, surely the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hallett) made quite clear where the Country Party stood with regard to the Ord River project, because as recently as last week he had this to say when he referred briefly to the Ord -
The situation needs to be well analysed before further work is undertaken on the major project of the Ord-
He meant, of course, the main dam. He went on to say -
The economics of the scheme and the type of production-
I emphasise that phrase “ the type of production “ - to be developed must be determined before work continues.
I am quite certain, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the honorable member would have been expressing the views of the Country Party. Here again we had the change of argument, and the new argument that some crop other than cotton must be developed and proved. If this must be done, of course, the decision on whether finance will or will not be made available must be delayed for another two or three years.
The only other Commonwealth representative at the conference of Ministers was the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn). So we had a position in which at least three out of the four Ministers were opposed to the scheme and were looking for a way to avoid making a definite decision at this stage - and of course a definite decision was not made. But to keep the matter open it was decided that an announcement would be made before the election. If this is not an election exercise, a political exercise, why say that an announcement will be made before the election? Why not before the wet season, or before Christmas, or before the end of October, or before something else? The fact of the matter is that if the suggestion regarding a survey for a naval base in Western Australia takes the heat off the Ord River project we will not hear another word about it.
However, I feel quite certain that the Government has come to the end of its tether regarding delays and side-stepping definite decisions. At long last it has been forced into the position that it will lose votes not only in Western Australia but throughout the whole of Australia unless it decides to make some finance available towards the Ord River project. Of course, the Government will lose a large number of votes for other reasons. There is the question of conscription. All members on the Government side wish that they had never heard of conscription. They wish that it had never been thrown into their lap by the previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies.
So the Government is forced into the position of trying to make a recovery where that may be possible, lt has suggested the establishment of a naval base in Western Australia. I feel that the Government could also decide that it would be too risky to side-step the Ord River issue any longer, and that it will make sufficient funds available for a start to be made at least on the major dam. This great cry about the economics of the Ord River project and about the farmers having to produce other crops and prove them will pass into oblivion if it means the difference between a reasonable chance at the next election or no chance at all. If, on the other hand, the Government does not come to light with any finance for this project before the election, it means that it has scrubbed the project altogether. 1 now wish to deal very briefly with another matter which is related to northern development and conservation. Undoubtedly it will be the subject of further debate when the estimates for the Department of National Development come before us. I refer to the Government’s attitude to the Snowy Mountains Authority. According to the statement of the Prime Minister, the Government has apparently decided that before it can make any decision regarding the retention of what may be left of the Snowy Mountains Authority’s experts, the State Governments, which are concerned with national development and water conservation, will have to make quite clear to the Government the use that they expect to make of these experts, the funds they have available themselves and the funds that they would require from the Commonwealth for the purposes which they outline. The Minister for National Development in his speech tonight also supported that proposition. When is the Government going to realise and appreciate that the projects which require expert attention, both in Queensland and Western Australia, are of such magnitude that they should be dealt with on a national basis? The question as to what the States can handle and what finances they have available should never have arisen.
Let us look at projects which the Snowy Mountains team could handle very efficiently. There is port construction, water conservation, road building, power supplies, the development of natural gas resources, bridge building and many other things. Surely these people, who have done such tremendous work on the Snowy Mountains project and who could do similar work elsewhere, are not going to be lost to Australia simply because the States cannot put forward a case or cannot see their way clear to use the experts effectively. Recently in this House I heard a Government supporter raise the old red herring concerning the Snowy Mountains Authority. He said that the Stale Governments object to Commonwealth intervention in matters directly affecting the States. No doubt this would be so with some matters, but it is certainly not the position with regard to the development of natural resources or water conservation.
Surely it is not suggested that a State Government would object to the Commonwealth making investigations into certain developmental projects and subsequently pouring in finance to those projects if it thought that they were necessary. Certainly, I would not expect any objections to be raised by the State Governments. I am sure that the Western Australian Government, irrespective of the party in power, would raise no objection to the Commonwealth making a survey into and subsequently financing the deepening of the Geraldton Harbour or to its providing a sufficient water supply for Geraldton or constructing a dam on the Gascoyne River. But on the other hand, I can well imagine that any State Government would be very wary about starting any major project of development if there was a possibility of that Government subsequently being faced with an attitude of the Commonwealth similar to that which the Western Australian Government has met in relation to the Ord River project.
The other day the Minister for National Development, in reply to a question, told me that the Western Australian Government had not made any approach to the Commonwealth for funds to construct a dam on the Ord River. That is not surprising when we consider the treatment that has been meted out to the Western Australian Government in relation to the Ord River project. Notwithstanding this treatment and this Government’s general attitude to northern development, the Prime Minister rests this matter of the retention of the Snowy Mountains Authority upon the States. He has given them the responsibility for deciding what should eventually happen. But this should never be the responsibility of the States. It should be clearly the responsibility of the Commonwealth, and this Government should be big enough to accept that fact.
The Northern Division of the Department of National Development, which should be examining and reporting on all these possible and probable projects, has become a lost cause and is never heard of. This is not as a result of the outlook or attitude or activities of the people in the Northern Division, but simply because this Government is not prepared to accept or act upon the recommendations of the Division. Here again we have the old performance of this Government. It has set up an organisation purely for political purposes, with no intention of it proceeding any further. It is more than time that we witnessed some fruits of the Division’s efforts. It should be put to work to make surveys into and recommend upon projects for exploitation by the Snowy Mountains Authority.
As a matter of fact, had the Northern Division been equipped and staffed to the extend that it should have been if it was to do the work for which the Government claimed it was established, it would now have at least most of the information necessary to determine on which projects in the various States the Snowy Mountains experts should be used. There should be no need at this stage for the States to carry out investigations into or make recommendations upon what should be done. The opposite should occur. The Commonwealth should be in the position to, at the very most, seek agreement from the States concerned on certain works to be carried out. But from what the Prime Minister has said, the Commonwealth Government has very little information in this regard. If it has the information, it is playing its old game of delaying the making of a decision. The comments of the Minister for National Development tonight can only be taken as an admission that his Department has not carried out any worthwhile investigations into projects in any of the States and has no plans whatsoever as to what the Snowy Mountains team can be engaged upon in the future. It is very simple for him to say that his Government supports the Snowy Mountains Authority’s retention, but that is idle talk at this stage if he cannot place some concrete ideas before Parliament.
It must also be quite obvious that the Government has no intention of ever correcting the anomalies and injustices which exist in the zone allowance provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act, which are very important factors in northern development. For the past five years, I, in common with other honorable members on this side of the House, have raised the need for the extension of zone boundaries and also for amendments to certain sections of the Act. We have always received the reply from the Treasurer that anomalies and injustices do exist and that something will be done about them before the introduction of the next Budget. Of course, several Budgets have been introduced during this period, but still no action has been taken, nor is there any suggestion that any action will be taken. Therefore, one must come to the regretful conclusion that, while this Government remains in office, the people will continue to suffer from anomalies and injustices which could and should be corrected. If they were corrected, that could lead to a greater population in the northern areas which require increased population.
As I have said previously, both the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, and the present Prime Minister were strongly opposed to any conditions relating to zone allowances being inserted in the Act following the introduction of zone allowances by a Labour government several years ago. It is apparent that the present Prime Minister and the Treasurer hold the same views today as they did then.
I now pass to social services. The Government has again failed to make anywhere near proper provision in this regard and has really raised the wrath not only of people in receipt of social service benefits but also of those who should be in receipt of social service benefits of one description or another. The pensioner associations in various places have made it quite clear that they can no longer stand aside and play no active part in determining which party should be elected to govern. They have said very definitely on this occasion that as a result of the Government’s miserly attitude they will give their full support at the next election to the Australian Labour Party. This, of course, will help us, but it is a very great pity, and a disgrace, that these people should be forced to adopt this attitude as the result of so many of them being faced with poverty or subjected to discrimination. But, of course, that is the policy of this Government.
We will be discussing social services during the debate on the Estimates and we will have a better opportunity then to deal with this subject in a thorough manner; but let me point out now that even though the Government has granted some increase in certain classes of pensions it still has denied any increase to a very large number of pensioners, and in fact has denied any pension to a lot more people who should be receiving one. I refer to the fact that nothing was done to ease the means test. So while the Government claims credit for granting an additional $1 a week to single pensioners and $1.50 in combined pensions to a pensioner couple, a very large number of pensioner couples and single pensioners will receive nothing extra.
It is also obvious that the Government has no intention of giving any relief in sales tax other than a proposed reduction on air coolers. Its decision in this regard is due largely to the strong arguments and very good advocacy of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) earlier this year. No relief has been granted in respect of other items, such as cosmetics. Apparently this Government still believes that the retail price of powder used to prevent rash or other irritation on a baby should continue to carry a sales tax component. I am very disappointed about this, because I thought that the Treasurer, hard as he is, might have been favorably inclined at this time to remove that particular item from the list of goods which attract sales tax. Unfortunately, nothing has been done.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– This Parliament is the authority charged with the defence and security of this nation. Therefore, it is appropriate at this stage in our history to discuss our defences and to show that in these debates on defence the Opposition has been unfair to Australia. Four years ago Sukarno moved into West New Guinea. Honorable members will remember the statement that the Australian Labour Party made through some of its leading spokesmen. It went something like this: If Indonesia seizes West New Guinea by aggression, why should it not look greedily, first, at Timor, then at Papua and New Guinea and finally, who is to say, at northern Australia. 1 do not know whether honorable members remember who made the following statement -
Are the lessons of history so soon forgotten? Hitler said he had no more territorial ambitions when he gobbled up Czechoslovakia. Poor Neville Chamberlain believed him and talked of peace with honour. We all know what happened at that time.
Do honorable members know who made that statement? It was made by none other than the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He claimed that Australia should intervene in West New Guinea. He used as his thesis the idea that because we did not interfere we took on the role of an appeaser. What was the situation there? The Americans, who were our allies, refused to intervene in West New Guinea. All honorable members are aware of the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty and of our obligations as members of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, because the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) told us about them and about Dr. Evatt’s support of them. Sir Garfield Barwick, then Minister for External Affairs, said that it would be most unwise and reckless to intervene because of the risk of making enemies for 100 years of our close neighbours; that it would be wiser to wait.
However, the Australian Labour Party, with its typical flaring headlines style, urged us to use force to prevent aggression in West New Guinea and, of course, used the time honoured argument of appeasement. What happened when the Kaiser was appeased? What happened when Hitler was appeased? The appeasement of Hitler cost 16.8 million dead and 26.6 million wounded and casualties. On following it through, that is the argument of the Leader of the Opposition. The financial cost of appeasing Hitler was £121,000,000,000. Together with 16.8 million dead, that is the price of appeasement. The Leader of the Opposition, who has been listening on the radio, has now entered the chamber to cheer me on. He is the gentleman who asked: “Are the lessons of history so soon forgotten? “ Hitler said that he had no more territorial ambitions when he gobbled up Czechoslovakia and the other countries. If I remember rightly, and unless the Leader of the Opposition was misquoted, he said that we should use force in West New Guinea.
– No, I did not.
– The honorable gentleman is fair. He has said that he did not say it, and I accept his denial, but I read it in a newspaper and I thought it might have been half true. It would have been a foolish act to take troops into West New Guinea. History has proved how right was Sir Garfield Barwick and how much this country must be indebted to him because of the present situation in Indonesia. In that country the leaders of the P.K.I, have been cleaned out. I understand that Sukarno is in a bit of bother over the granting of import licences through the intervention of a beautiful woman. The head of the Reserve Bank of Indonesia is being tried for his life.
We are now being told recklessly by honorable members opposite that we should not be in Vietnam; that it is a mistake. What does the Opposition do about it? It sends four or five men at public expense to have a look at South Vietnam. Of what use was that to Australia? When they came back, they were jammed in the Caucus and went back to the 12th May decision. They might as well not have gone to South Vietnam, because they were not listened to when they returned. The honorable members opposite who have spoken for the Labour Party have not seen Vietnam, and I include the Leader of the Opposition. The chairman of the Opposition’s so called Foreign Affairs Committee is another member of the Opposition I include. They did not go to Vietnam.
– But the honorable member did.
– I went to Vietnam at my own expense. I wanted to get a clear picture. Because I wanted to get a clearer picture, I went there again. I have been told by members of the Opposition that we should not be in Vietnam. We have been told that we have not allowed for the legitimate aspirations of the South Vietnamese people.
– Hear, hear!
– The Leader of the Opposition keeps on saying “Hear, hear” like a parrot. The truth is that the Vietcong, trained by Communist cadres, were told that the South Vietnamese people would rise up and support them; give them flowers of honour, food and clothing and cheer them on. That is why the Vietcong are not succeeding. Their troops are dejected because of the hostility of the South Vietnamese people. The legitimate aspirations of the South Vietnamese people include the wish to hold an election this month.
– The date is 11th September.
– The election is to be on 1 1 th September. Already the Vietnamese people have had local government elections. The honorable member for Brisbane may have gone to some of the villages and seen the local government administration which was elected by the people. In spite of threats from the Vietcong, 4,500,000 out of 7 million people who were eligible voted at that election. Each of the hamlets that I saw had a population of about 1,000. Each of them elected a chief who would be somewhat similar to the chairman of our shire councils. They also elected a ViceChief, Psychological Warfare. These are the people who we are told have not achieved their legitimate aspirations. Under this administration they have had the first elections they have ever had in their lives.
As I have said, they elected a Vice-Chief, Psychological Warfare. Perhaps that is what we need here because, in the psychological battle, we are sometimes taken for a ride. These Vietnamese villages also have a youth combat leader, of 16 or 17 years of age. I do not know whether the honorable member for Brisbane saw them, but to my mind some of the members of these youth combat groups were the most magnificent youths I have ever seen in my life. I repeat that these are the people who we are told are not enjoying their legitimate aspirations.
Newspapers printed in English are published throughout South East Asia. Through them Australia is given an opportunity to be ‘heard. I have in my hand one of these publications. It is the “ Vietnam Guardian “. It is published in Saigon. Honorable members may recall that at least three editors of anti-Vietcong newspapers were murdered in cold blood by Vietcong gunmen. Like bank robbers, they had outside a motor car with the engine running. They poured five slugs into one editor’s chest and he died within a few hours. I do not know how be lived for that long. This is what the people who we are told are not having their legitimate aspirations realised bad to say in this newspaper under the heading of “ We are Back to Serve “ -
It is a great pleasure for us to be back among you and to have the privilege of communicating with you again. I fully realise that this pleasure may not’ be shared by all . . . who prefer to trawl on their bellies undisturbed, to betray undisturbed, to lie and to steal undisturbed, to be callous to the misery around them . . .
They went on to say -
I was so moved by many letters, telephone and personal calls from friends . . . expressing their sympathy to my colleagues and to myself. . . The purpose of this newspaper is to keep you informed about the latest events here and abroad, and especially here in Vietnam which you may want to know better in order to love more. And especially we want our foreign friends to feel that by helping and loving this country and people, they have not thrown their love away.
I emphasise that this is printed in a newspaper that is working in the shadow of death. Can honorable members say that what they are printing is not true? I mention again that three of the editors were slaughtered, and the remaining staff work under threat of death from vicious, cowardly, terrorist gunmen. Yet these people are prepared to say this sort of thing -
To those within and without this country who question the viability of Vietnam or consider our cause a hopeless one, we shall oppose a firm denial. To us there is no such thing as a hopeless cause - especially when that cause is that of the freedom of a proud people and nation - there are only those who have lost hope, either because they are ignorant of this country’s history or lack conviction in the meaning of freedom and in the courage of the Vietnamese. … As our beloved country is passing through a most trying period-
I ask honorable members to listen to these words while remembering what Labour speakers have said -
When mistrust, misunderstanding or even outright hatred tend to obscure peoples judgment, we wish to offer to all our friendly hands.
The article goes on in that vein. That is not a dishonest article; it is not untrue. The men who wrote it and the people who printed it took their lives in their hands as they di’d so. What they say is true. The situation is not as it was when the French were there and when the Vietnamese, I understand, killed 400,000 French troops. The whole country then was up in arms. These are the people who have asked us to go to South Vietnam. The situation is quite different now from what it was when the Australian Labour Party wanted us to intervene in West New Guinea. This is a case of naked aggression by Communists as part of an expansionist move to take over the world. Millions have fled from North Vietnam to be settled in South Vietnam. This aggression is part of a powerful downward movement. Just as Hitler forecast events in his “ Mein Kampf “, these present day strategists have claimed that if they could win a peasant based guerrilla war in South East Asia, the rest of the area - Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Malaya and Indonesia - would fall into their hands like a ripe plum. When the war in Vietnam started, Indonesia had the largest Communist Party in the world.
– Come off it. What about Russia and China?
– We have seen that written. Indonesia had a very large Communist Party. Part of it has now been liquidated. Do honorable members opposite think that the people of South East Asia want Communism when they kill 500,000 leaders of the P.K.I.? Is that a sign that they love the Communists? There was no protest over here. It must have been thought to be fair to do this. The Communist in Australia said: “ We did not complain, because we did not know who to complain to “ This was their reaction to a bloody and terrible massacre that occurred in Indonesia. There were no complaints, because the South East Asians were trying to get their freedom.
The same sort of situation exists in South Vietnam. The community, which is based on Buddhist sects and Roman Catholicism, will not tolerate atheistic Communism. The people do not want to lose their freedom and do not want to have imposed upon them the degradation and the dreadful economic shambles that were imposed upon Indonesia by Sukarno and his very large Communist Party. Nobody in South East Asia wants this sort of thing. Thank God our allies the Americans, with the firm resolve of three Presidents - Eisenhower, the great Kennedy and now Johnson - have come to their assistance. I heard some miserable speaker on the other side pretend that Kennedy - the man who smashed the Russian missile bases in Cuba - did not want to be in this. Kennedy made the decision to act. President Kennedy, who was assassinated, was the main man to intervene in South Vietnam. Now Johnson is carrying it on.
The Labour Party says: “ Well, we should not be there. We will withdraw the troops.” When I was in Vietnam members of the Task Force asked me this question: “ Mr. Bate, what is the matter with the people in Australia who are demonstrating against involvement in Vietnam? What is wrong with the people in Australia? What is wrong with the Labour Party? It does not understand the situation here where thousands of vicious and cowardly killers move at night from their tunnels when we are protecting the South Vietnamese people. What is wrong with the people at home? What about loyalty and honour - the honour of keeping our solemn obligations under the various treaties? “ Imagine the comfort that the kind of statements we have heard from the other side give to the Vietcong. The people in North Vietnam are champions at using propaganda. The moment a speech is made on the other side saying that we should withdraw our troops, do you think that the North Vietnamese would miss the opportunity to send this information through to the South Vietnamese people? Such speeches do two things. First, they give comfort to the Vietcong and, secondly, they terrify the South Vietnamese people, because the South Vietnamese people would go for the chop immediately our troops or the Americans were withdrawn. We would dishonor the South Vietnamese people. All these courageous villagers, with their hamlet chiefs, their vice-chiefs and the people who are doing the job would be slaughtered. Honorable members opposite know this to bc true.
The job of a Department of Information is to convince its own side that it is winning and to convince the other side that it is losing. But what is the Opposition doing? It is trying to convince the other side that it is winning and is pulling the mat out from underneath our troops. Our troops do not understand this because they are in a position where they know that they are fighting for a just cause. Of course, the Americans must get credit for the part they have taken. In previous wars the Americans have been isolationists like the Labour Party is now. The Americans would not take up their world wide responsibilities, but today the Americans are in South Vietnam trying to prevent a third world war. Honorable members can rest assured that the moment the North Vietnamese win the peasant- based guerrilla war they are on the way. They will be into Thailand and back into Malaysia. Laos and Cambodia would just go like anything and the Communists would be on the way in Africa and South America.
In the First World War we fought 10,000 miles away in Europe. In the 1939-45 war we were attacked; an attack was made south towards Australia. On this occasion no country can lose more if the North Vietnamese win in South East Asia than Australia. We have committed 4,500 troops to this war. What would happen if the Americans pulled out? I can hear the Labour Party jubilantly predicting that they will pull out first. I have seen it written that the Americans will pull out. If the Americans pull out the Communists will come right down to the tip of the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia will fall because Communist cadres are still working in Indonesia. Honorable members opposite know this. West New Guinea, the northern guard to the approach to Australia, would go like a ripe plum, and we would be surrounded. The Americans have not got a stake in this as we have. The Americans have a huge moat - the great Pacific Ocean - between Asia and America, but we are practically in Asia. You can commute between Thursday Island and New Guinea. Torres Strait Islanders move over to Merauke in West New Guinea. Australia adjoins Asia, and aircraft and ships would not be needed either. Invaders could walk or row here; they would be here.
– Cut that out.
– It is right. Torres Strait Islanders go from Thursday Island to Merauke. They go across a chain of islands. Honorable members opposite talked about appeasement with West New Guinea. The Leader of the Opposition talked about appeasement. What is the policy of the Labour Party but appeasement? This is the sort of thing that brought Hitler into power and killed 16 million people. This kind of appeasement allowed the Kaiser to go through Belgium. We remember the “ scrap of paper “. This is the policy, Mr. Speaker, of the Labour Party. It is a particularly cowardly policy because we have some of the cream of the fighting men in the world in South Vietnam. Our troops are absolutely magnificent and the training that they have had for jungle warfare is absolutely superb. They are outstanding troops. Anybody who gets up in this Parliament while these men are there and says: “ Let us withdraw them as soon as practicable “, is making a cowardly statement. That is not a defence policy; it is a policy of appeasement. That is the term which the Leader of the Opposition used to describe our attitude to West New Guinea. Of course, it means that the Opposition has no policy. We have seen and heard the confused statements that have come from the Opposition on this issue. We read what was said by some on their return from Vietnam.
One was particularly impressed with the civil aid programmes. Let us consider those programmes. The Australian Task Force has an amount of money sufficient to carry out these programmes. The troops go into villages contiguous to the Task Force area and say to the villagers: “At the request of your government, we will come in to assist you. You need a water supply. You do the work. We will supply you with some pipes, but yours will be the greatest investment. We will not do the work. You do it. If you work, you will get a water supply.” The troops go in also with food. The food is in small packages, because if one gives an Asian a large quantity of food he will sell it or, as we say. flog it. The troops take in small packets of food for everybody. Going into the villages, they say: “ We have some engineers and a bit of equipment. We will build you a school, but you will do the work. It is your investment.” In other words, they say: “ We produce the know-how. You do the work.” Then, the villagers have not an instructor; they have not a teacher. So the Australian Army produces a teacher for them. In this way they have been given water supplies, halls for assemblies, and mineral and vitamin additives for the children’s food. Because they are not, obviously, a people of very big or powerful physique, they must have food supplements of this kind. This civil aid is enormously successful but I have heard some members of the Labour Party say that the civil aid programmes have failed. Anyone who expects Asia to move at the same speed as Australia, with all the energy, verve and tremendous drive that Australians have, will be disappointed. Asia is a slow country and one has to be patient. Of course, it would be madness to withdraw the troops while the civil aid programmes are going on. This is Australia’s opportunity.
I mentioned the English language newspapers in South East Asia. In Indonesia, members of K.A.M.I. - ‘the council of sciences - said to me: “ We would prefer Australia to help us.” I said: “ Why would you prefer Australia?” They said: “ First, Australia is close to us; secondly, Australia is a small nation; thirdly, Australia has helped us in the past and many of us have been trained in Australia; and fourthly, Australians do not look down on us. Australians do not treat us as inferiors. Australians respect our religion and our customs. We would like Australia to help us.” This rs the kind of call for action that Australia has received - not a call for money, not a call for a subsidy for inefficiency, but a call for know-how, for the technological aptitudes that Australia has. Australia has no religious inhibitions. Australians have gone straight to the target in Asia. Australians have a tremendous image and reputation in South East Asia. Reading our Press, one would think that all the people of Asia believe that the people of Australia are discreditable. This is not true. I was told in Asia that Australia has the technological aptitudes to lead the Pacific. I use the word lead, because some people would not like me to use the word dominate. We have these aptitudes. The people of Asia are crying out for them. There is a long term job to be done in Asia. There is a call for Australians to help. Australians stand high in the eyes of Asians as fighting troops and as diplomats. They stand high in the commercial world as well as for their tolerance of other people and their religions. Australia stands tremendously high. There is a job for Australia to do, and we must do it.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Failes). - In accordance with Standing Order No. 226 the Committee will first consider the Second Schedule of the Bill.
Department of the Treasury
Advance to the Treasurer
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Department of National Development
Department of Customs and Excise
Department of Trade and Industry
Department of Primary Industry
Department of Health
Department of Housing
Department of Civil Aviation
Department of Shipping and Transport
Department of Immigration
Department of Labour and National Service
Department of the Interior
Australian Capital Territory
Department of External Affairs
Prime Minister’s Department
Department of Social Services
Department of Territories
Territories of the Commonwealth -
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Papua and New Guinea
Department of Works
Department of Defence
Department of the Navy
Department of the Army
Department of Air
Department of Supply
Broadcasting and Television Services.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Is it the wish of the Committee that the items of proposed expenditure be considered in the order suggested by the Treasurer? There being no objection, the right honorable gentleman’s suggestion will be adopted. The question now before the Committee is: “ That the proposed expenditure for the Parliament, §3,664,000, be agreed to”.
Proposed expenditure, $3,664,000.
– I have the honour to bring up a report from the Printing Committee, sitting in conference with the Printing Committee of the Senate, and move -
That the report be read.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Report having been read by the Clerk)-
– by leave - I move -
That the report be agreed to.
Mr. Speaker, in moving this motion might 1 say that one of the papers considered by the Printing Committee today was the statement which you, Sir, presented to the House on 17th August in connection with the South East Asia Treaty Organization conference. You will recall, Sir, that when presenting the statement you mentioned that a copy would be supplied to each member of the House. Honorable members have received their copies but the text of your statement did not appear in “ Hansard “. Sir, the members of the Printing Committee feci that it is desirable that the statement should be placed on record in a document that is publicly available. If you agree, Mr. Speaker, perhaps you will seek the leave of the House to have the statement incorporated in “ Hansard “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Statement by Mr. Speaker.
– Has the House any objection to my circulated statement of 17th August, referred to in the report of the Printing Committee, being incorporated in “ Hansard ‘”? As there is no objection, the statement is incorporated, lt is as follows -
In June, 1965, the Minister for External Affairs wrote to the President of the Senate and to myself saying that the S.E.A.T.O. Council had been invited to hold its Eleventh Meeting in Canberra in 1966 and asking whether Parliament House could be used for this purpose.
In considering this proposal which, obviously, mainly affected the House of Representatives, Mr. President and I looked at previous approvals which had been given for major conferences to be held in Parliament House and found a number of precedents for the use of this chamber.
In addition to the many regular meetings of the Premiers and the Australian Loan Council, the chamber has been used by an industrial conference in 1941, Immigration Ministers in 1946, the British Commonwealth Conference on the Japanese Peace Settlement in 1947, S.E.A.T.O. in 1957, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in 1959, and the Antarctic Treaty Conference in 1961. As honorable members will recall, the chamber was also used this year for a meeting of the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
We disregarded the meetings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Inter-Parliamentary Union as we felt that all honorable members would be unanimous in agreeing that meetings between parliamentarians should be held in this building.
In respect of the other conferences which I have cited, it was clear that, owing to the lack of any other suitable building in Canberra in which Australian and international conferences of major State importance could be held, it had long been the practice of the House, expressed through the Speaker as its spokesman, to extend the courtesy of the use of the chamber and ancillary offices for conferences of this kind. We accordingly informed the Minister that, subject to the sittings of the House, we agreed to his proposal.
Discussions subsequently took place at departmental level and in March this year I agreed that, subject to the concurrence of the occupants or, as appropriate, the Parties, ancillary accommodation in the House of Representatives be made available. Having obtained this concurrence, the rooms of certain Ministers and members, mainly in the new and old wings were allotted for S.E.A.T.O. use. Included in the allocation were the Ministerial, Opposition and Country Party Rooms and my own quarters. I feel I should record my appreciation of the courtesy of the President of the Senate in allowing me to use his rooms while I was here during the S.E.A.T.O. Conference.
Mr. President co incidentally agreed to the allocation of some rooms in the Senate.
Turning now to the main point at issue, I am sure honorable members will agree that a S.E.A.T.O. Conference, wherever held, requires special and adequate security precautions, and arrangements to meet these requirements were designed to this end only. The security areas in which guards were posted were the chamber, the new wing, the area near my own rooms, the Opposition Party Room, and the basement below the chamber. Entry into these areas necessitated identification or a pass, but there was no hindrance to usual movement in other parts of the House of Representatives or the Parliament building.
It was made clear that S.E.A.T.O. was in Parliament House by courtesy of the Parliament and, as far as 1 can gather, an appreciation of this was fully understood and expressed by the many young Australians who carried out the duties of military guard. Honorable members will be interested to know that S.E.A.T.O. ‘s own instructions to the guards laid it down that whilst security must be maintained it was of the utmost importance that no member of the Parliament or its officers should be impeded in any way or that they should be caused any embarrassment. To ensure this, a parliamentary attendant was stationed with the guards to identify members and staff who were to be allowed to proceed without hindrance.
To facilitate this, adequate and, I feel, efficient arrangements were made to issue passes to parliamentarians and staff.
Needless to say, no guard was armed at any time.
The only incident of which I am aware in which a member may have been embarrassed relates to a member who wished to enter a Party Room in the security area to inspect his mail delivery box. The guard pointed out that it was a security area but did not use any force to prevent his entry.
On leaving the room, the member informed the guard of his appreciation of the guard’s position and of his courtesy and, if I may, I would like to express my appreciation of the member’s own courtesy in the matter.
Some honorable members may have felt that they were not sufficiently informed of the arrangements made for the S.E.A.T.O. Conference and, if this is so, I am sorry. The reason for this was not a disregard of their rights and interests, but in fact the reverse, as concurrence in the use of their rooms for conference purposes has never been sought from those members who, during a non-sitting period, have a peculiarly parliamentary need for accommodation in the building. Nevertheless, the deficiency may well be corrected in the future.
Much was written in the newspapers at the time stating that there had been an invasion of Parliament House by the armed forces and that the constitutional rights of the Parliament had been infringed. I have only two comments to make. They are that the writers of the articles and, particularly, some alleged authorities outside the House whom they quoted, should have made more certain of their facts and that the cobbler should stick to his last.
I would indeed be sorry if it were thought that I, as Speaker, were other than deeply conscious of the place of Parliament in Australia and of the need to safeguard its constitutional rights and position.
The consensus of opinion of honorable members may well be that it would be better if conferences, other than those of a parliamentary nature, were held elsewhere, an opinion in which I would share. There could, however, equally be an opinion, having in mind the present circumstances of Canberra, Australia’s position as a nation, and the prestige which it enjoys, that, as far as practicable, we should meet our obligations as a host country.
If the House feels that the practice of many years should be changed, and this will be of more interest to my successor in the Chair than to myself, it is for the House to decide.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Questions on Notice - Aborigines.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I want to address a few brief remarks to a matter raised this morning at question time by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). He referred to questions that have been on the notice paper for a long time. I could not help but notice, Mr. Speaker, that the lengthy list of questions on the notice paper caused embarrassment to you when honorable members pointed out that questions being asked without notice were covered by questions already on the notice paper. This showed that there is a need to speed up the answering of questions. The Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) very kindly gave an assurance in that regard. Naturally, I do not wish to take a wrong view of this matter, but it does appear that some of the questions are being held over and answers deliberately delayed because of the forthcoming Federal election. Therefore, as honorable members desire to have answers to their questions, especially those questions that deal with subjects that will have a bearing at the election, I rise tonight to express the hope that the Government will answer the questions on notice at the earliest moment so that the information sought by honorable members will be in their hands when they want to use it for or against the Government, as the occasion demands.
I could not help but wonder at the delay in answering questions such as Question No. 1738 on the notice paper. In this question, the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) asked the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) -
What are the reasons for commencing the Dingo-Mt. Flora beef road from the Dingo end rather than from the Mr Flora end?
I do not think that that question should take more than a couple of days to answer. Yet it has been on the notice paper since 27th April 1966. One of the big problems that will confront us will arise from over seas capital invested in banking and other institutions in this country, and this is one of the matters for which the Government must answer at the forthcoming election. I can well understand why the Government wants to hide detailed information on this important subject. In this connection, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) asked the Treasurer Question No. 1764 which still remains unanswered. This was put on the notice paper on 1st May last. There has been a lengthy recess in the interim and the question is still unanswered. The honorable member for Scullin, who has an expert knowledge of this subject, asked -
Why would not the Government be able to answer that question promptly? Surely the information sought is readily available. I cannot escape the conviction that for some reason the Government does not want this information to be disclosed promptly as it might help the Opposition’s case against overseas capital taking over Australian industries. The fact that the questions have been on the notice paper for six months shows that the Government either does not want to give the information or is delaying a reply for purposes it is not prepared to reveal.
I can understand the Government being extremely sensitive on matters relating to Vietnam and perhaps seeking to camouflage the policies it is trying to sell to the Australian people. This may account for the delay in answering question No. 1824 asked by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) on 13th May 1966. This question is -
Does the Government mean us to believe that it did not know what the cost of the printing would be and that it had no estimate at the time this misguided document was distributed? Are we to beli’eve that now, six months after the pamphlet was sent out, the Government cannot give the Australian public any idea of the cost? If the cost is available, what is the reason for holding up an answer for so long? I think the Government realises that it put over at Government expense a proposition concerning the real issues in Vietnam and questions of policy which it knew to be false. I cannot but believe that this example, in common with the others, is an indication that the Government is delaying answers to some of these questions because it does not want the full information to be available to the public.
One could probably go at great length through the notice paper and find many more examples similar to those I have given, 1 suppose one of the most undemocratic questions ever asked in this Parliament was that asked by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) this morning when he sought to have rationed the number of questions without notice that members from both sides of the House could ask. I could not sit down tonight, Mr. Speaker, without congratulating you on your defence of democracy in this Parliament in answering that question. Never did I think I would see a Liberal member of a democratic Parliament so ashamed of the policy of his Government that he would try to restrict the questions asked from this side of the House.
Would it not be monstrous in a democratic Parliament like this if a member could not ask the questions that he wanted to ask? lt is bad enough to have long winded rambling answers from the Prime Minister and other Ministers designed to prevent members on this side of the House from asking as many questions without notice as they would like to ask. But now we find the honorable member for Evans trying to have questioning still further restricted by not even allowing certain questions to be placed on the notice paper. I wonder if the honorable member was put up to this by some Minister who does not want to answer questions? I wonder whether somebody sponsored the question to detract from the impression created in the public mind that there are so many questions on the notice paper unanswered that the Government is either dodging the issues or does not want to give the real facts?
I bring these matters to the attention of the Parliament because I think we should continue to press the Government to answer these many questions which are outstanding. Prompt answering of questions would give us the information desired, save you, Sir, embarrassment, and prevent undemocratic questions being asked by the honorable member for Evans and others in an effort to hide the incompetence of the Government in various matters.
.- Mr. Speaker, before the House goes into recess for a week, I would like to direct the attention of honorable members to the strike that has occurred at Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory where the Aboriginal workers are demanding better wages.
– You caused it.
– I know that there are on the benches opposite a lot of freedom fighters who want to send young Australians off to fight in Vietnam and elsewhere. Honorable members opposite might turn their attention to affairs in this country for once. Wave Hill Station is owned by the Vestey organisation, which, I am informed, is considered to be the fifth largest private company in the world. It holds six pastoral leases in the Northern Territory, totalling an area of 16,965 square miles. One of these leases comprises the Wave Hill station of 6,158 square miles. About 80 Aboriginal workers there have been pressing for higher wages. Honorable members will have noted the application to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission last year by the North Australian Workers Union for equal wages for Aborigines in the Northern Territory. The Commission’s judgment declared that equal wages should apply, but not for three years. The Aborigines at Wave Hill, along with a number of other Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory, have become very restive about this in recent months. There is no doubt in my mind, and I do not think that there can be any doubt in the mind of any objective observer who looks at the matter as an Australian, that the Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory, like those over most of Australia, have been brutally exploited for well over a century since European occupancy of their lands first took place. There is no excuse whatsoever for Vesteys, which is one of the wealthiest groups in the world and one of the world’s largest private companies, with millions of pounds worth of assets, not only in Australia but elsewhere throughout the world. This organisation is directed by people who, out of their own private fortunes - I believe this to be true - could easily meet the cost of the higher wages that the Aboriginal workers at Wave Kill are seeking. Because Vesteys is a private company and its interests are concealed in all sorts of subsidiaries, it is difficult to find out who controls the organisation. However, I understand that it is now controlled by young Vestey, who was in Australia a year or two ago. Out of his own private fortune, he could probably pay the adult basic wage to every Aboriginal employed on his stations, without even noticing the cost.
Ssr Wilfrid Kent Hughes.- Under the industrial regulations at present favoured by the Australian Labour Party, that could not be done.
– We now hear from the battler from Chisholm - the man who battles for the freedom of everyone, as long as those for whom he battles live outside Australia. He represents the finest flowering of Australia’s chivalrous spirit. He is a man who supports Chiang Kai-shek and every dictator and tyrant south of the black stump. Here is the honorable member’s opportunity to do something for his fellow Australians.
– There is no need for the honorable member to get too excited.
– Now we hear from the honorable member for Lilley, too. I hope that his interjections and those of his colleague wm be recorded in such a way as to make it possible for them to be circulated in their electorates. I believe that the people of Australia are sick and tired of the sycophancy, humbug and nonsense in which honorable members opposite engage when confronted by questions such as this and others that I bring to the attention of the House. Vesteys is one of the wealthiest companies in the world. Indeed, its ramifications extend throughout the world. For example, it owns W. Angliss & Co. (Australia) Pty. Ltd. Yet it denies just wages to 80 Aboriginal workers at Wave Hill, which is one of the largest pastoral properties in the world. I am not sure what the conditions of the employment of these Aborigines are. I know that their living conditions are bad and that their working conditions have been poor. Indeed, without going beyond reasonable limits, as observation will verify, one could apply the word “ exploitation “ to the treatment that is meted out to them.
The management of this company is dismissing these Aboriginal workers because they have gone on strike. The irony of it all is that it is reported in this morning’s Press that, as the Aborigines have gone on strike, the company will have to employ European stockmen - whatever they may be. I presume that Australian stockmen will come into that category. I have no doubt that European workers will be paid the full legal wage, but the company will not pay the same rates to Aborigines. Honorable members opposite need not take my word for the conditions under which these Aborigines work. They have only to read the evidence placed before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission last year. Rather than detain the House further tonight, I suggest that honorable members opposite obtain the transcript of the evidence and see exactly what were the conditions outlined in the evidence placed before the Commission. This evidence was quoted by Mr. J. H. Kelly in his recently published book “ Struggle for the North “. The passage is in these terms -
There is overwhelming evidence of the continued inhuman nature of industrial relationships during the 1950’s and the 1960’s, but there is a long history going back to the nineteenth century. Alfred Searcy described in 189S the relationship between black and white during the establishment of the early “ cattle kingdoms “. He says that Aborigines were never allowed on the same (homestead) side of the river. It was a matter of shoot on first sight if they did venture across.’
This is the point I am coming to -
More recently a Northern Territory cattle owner announced: ‘We are a bit lucky with the horse tailer here. If any Aborigines knock the horses about, he is into them with the whip.’ “ Transcript of Evidence “, application of North Australian Workers’ Union for equal pay in the cattle industry Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, print No. 830, 1965, p.1013.
All I ask is that instead of sitting there and interjecting because such matters are raised by a member on this side of the House, honorable members opposite apply themselves to this problem with simple humanity, honesty, decency and the egalitarianism typical of the Australian. I do not say that finding the answer will be easy. I realise that, perhaps, these people are not always of the same measure of efficiency, but the principle of equal wages is fundamental to Australian conditions. Equal employment conditions and other things such as housing are fundamental also. I raise this matter with the House tonight in the hope that honorable members opposite will assert their authority and influence to try to have these wrongs righted.
Before honorable members opposite leave, I remind them that they should take a look at the Legislative Council in South Australia which is busy, as far as I can determine, attempting to reject an advanced piece of legislation introduced there concerning aboriginal land. All I ask is that honorable members opposite assert their influence, if they have any influence that can be applied to the members of the
Legislative Council in South Australia, to have them behave in a modern 1966 manner in relation to this matter.
– Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) seemed to become very annoyed at my interjection when he made the suggestion that a certain person in England should pay extra wages for Aborigines out of his own capital. When I interjected, I was not referring to the rights or wrongs of the case. I was referring merely to the financial restrictions which have been imposed by the present Labour Government in England. I was not criticising the honorable member. I was drawing his attention to that fact. My interjection seemed to start him ofl on a tirade of abuse directed at myself and all sorts of other people whose boots he is not worthy of licking. This comes ill from somebody who treats his own country so lightly and treats in much the same way those who are fighting in defence of the freedom that he enjoys to make those statements, that he tried to get behind the enemy lines. The enemy, knowing that he was an ex-officer, treated him as a spy or a traitor.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.58 p.m. until Tuesday, 13th September 1966 at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Convention concerning Fishermen’s Certificates of Competency
Convention concerning Accommodation on hoard Fishing Vessels
Recommendation concerning Vocational Training of Fishermen
Recommendation concerning the Role of Co-Operatives in the Economic and Social Development of Developing Countries.
Japanese Residents in Australia. (Question No. 1910.)
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Short term entrants relate as a general rule to persons admitted as visitors for tourist and business purposes. In the 1965 calendar year a total of 3,262 Japanese entered Australia on visitor visas, of whom 2,214 were business visitors.
As to the long term, the rules for the entry of Asians and other non-Europeans with limited temporary residence status for their admission as: -
The figures of Japanese in Australia with limited temporary residence status as at 30th June 1966, under these headings (dependants are shown separately) were as follows -
Staff members of Japanese firms - 327 (dependants 305)
Professional, technical and specialist personnel 227 (dependants 52)
Students (as at 30th March 1966)- 23
At 30lh June 1966 there were a total of 79 Japanese in Western Australia with limited temporary residence status and with authority to undertake employment. These comprised -
Bay in pearl fishing and pearl culture operations;
It Ls possible that some proportion of the Japanese admitted in the short term on business visas were engaged occupationally in the business to which the issue of their visas related.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers -
y asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follows -
It was not known to the Australian authorities at that time that Mr. Angilletta had a criminal re.ord in Italy.
The first information that Mr. Angilletta had had a criminal record in Italy came from the Victorian Police in October 1953. In a letter to the Department of Immigration, the Victorian Police asked whether action would be taken to deport Mr. Angilletta. The police had received information that he had been convicted of illegally carrying a sporting gun, an infringement of food regulations, and robbery with complicity.
On the robbery offence he was sentenced to five years’ gaol and ordered to pay a fine of 7,000 lire. The offences dated from 1934 to 1947.
The question of deportation was considered but as Mr. Angilletta had had a clear record in Australia, the Department of Immigration advised the Victorian Police in January 1954 that the case would be reviewed in 12 months’ time.
When the case was reviewed in February 1955 the Victorian Police reported that Mr. Angilletta had not come under adverse notice since his arrival almost four years earlier.
His wife and five children had arrived in Australia in January 1955.
Mr. Angilletta was paying off a house, he was repaying the cost of his family’s fares to Australia, and he was in constant employment.
Upto the time of his death, no conviction in Australia was recorded against Mr. Angilletta.
Mr. Angilletta applied for naturalization in November 1957. His application was refused until he showed sufficient knowledge of English and of the rights and responsibilities of Australian citizenship.
Upon his achieving these requirements and after all the normal inquiries had been made, he was granted citizenship in April 1961.
There have been statements that Mr. Angilletta’s acceptance as a migrant, despite the convictions recorded against him in Italy, reflects adversely on the Department’s screening overseas. Since the inception of the post-war immigration programme, the Department’s selection procedures have been designed to ensure that any person admitted to Australia as a migrant complies with health, character and security requirements. With experience, expansion of the Department’s organization overseas, and changing circumstances in the source countries, these selection procedures have been progressively refined and improved. Today every reasonable precaution is taken against the admission of a person with a criminal record.
These facts were set out. in a Press statement issued on 21st January 1964.
b asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Papua and New Guinea: Labour Conditions. (Question No. 796.)
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
What is the name of the officer or what are the names of the officers responsible for compiling his replies to questions Nos. 731, 732, 739 and 740 on the subject of labour conditions for indigenous workers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
The replies given are my responsibility.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Why did he not give a direct answer to questions Nos. 731, 732, 739 and 740 concerning labour conditions for indigenous workers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The answers given were appropriate replies to the questions asked.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Apart from the bodies which make recommendations affecting the total of a grant paid to a particular State and which were listed in his predecessor’s reply to me on the 9th December 1965 (“Hansard”, page 3903), what other bodies advise on aspects of grantsto the States?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The following bodies advise on aspects of giants to the States, other than the total of a grant: -
The Bureau of Roads is required, among other things, to investigate and report on matters relating to roads and road transport in connection with the granting of Commonwealth financial assistance to the States for these purposes.
The National Tuberculosis Advisory Council advises the Minister for Health on (he measures to be adopted in relation to the prevention, diagnosis and control of tuberculosis and in relation to the standards of equipment and of training of personnel with respect to such prevention, diagnosis and control. (Under the Tuberculosis Act 1948, the Commonwealth reimburses the States in respect of approved capital expenditures and certain maintenance expenditures incurred for the diagnosis, treatment and control of tuberculosis.)
Two committees have been formed in each State, one to advise as to priorities to be allocated to Roman Catholic schools, the other to advise as to priorities to be allocated to other than Roman Catholic schools, with respect to the funds available for nongovernment schools from the grants to the States for the purpose of improving science teaching in secondary schools. (Information concerning these committees was provided in the reply by the former Prime Minister to the Honorable Member’s Question of 25th August 1964).
The Advisory Committee on Standards for Science Facilities in Independent Secondary Schools advises on the standards appropriate to be supported under the science facilities scheme in the case of each non-government school.
Repayments by States to the Commonwealth. (Question No. 1645.)
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is the total amount of principal and interest which will be received by the Commonwealth from repayments in connection with the (a) Mount Isa Railway, (b) Brigalow Areas I. and II., (c) sealing of beef roads in Queensland, (d) rail standardisation in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, and (e) comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The total amount which it is estimated the Commonwealth will receive over varying future periods by way of repayment of principal and interest in respect of advances made to the States up to 30th June 1966, for the projects indicated, is shown in the table below. At this stage it is not possible of course to provide these details in respect of advances that may be made in the future. The table also shows the year in which the final instalment of the amount indicated is expected to be paid -
son asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The Water Research Foundation of Australia has submitted a request to the Prime Minister for Commonwealth financial assistance to further the work of the Foundation. The request is still under consideration.
Naval Support Facilities in Western Australia. (Question No. 1896.)
b asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
As the British base in Singapore could become politically untenable, what action is being taken to establish a naval base on the Western Australian coast?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The honorable member is referred to the Prime Minister’s statement on page 342 and 343 of “ Hansard “ of 24th August 1966, which details the present position in regard to naval support facilities on the coast of Western Australia.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amounts were spent by the Commonwealth on (a) Military activities in South Vietnam and (b) economic, medical and technical aid in South Vietnam during the year 1965-66?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
In my answer to the honorable member’s question No. 1591, I indicated that the provisions of the income tax law concerning entitlement lo a zone allowance in respect of earnings in the prescribed area hud been the subject of a good deal of study, but that none of the alternative courses so far examined had proved to be altogether satisfactory. I added that the matter was being kept under review. There is nothing 1 can now add lo this answer.
on asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Although J the Commonwealth Government has undertaken to meet the cost of drought relief measures taken by the States of New South Wales and Queensland, the two States concerned are responsible for the formulation and administration of the particular measures necessary to relieve the situation of persons affected by the drought in those States. Thus, no payments have been made by the Commonwealth direct to farmers or to local authorities in Queensland. However, one of the relief measures taken by the Queensland Government has been to make grants to local authorities with the object of providing temporary employment to persons affected by the drought and to relieve unemployment in the areas concerned. The Queensland Government has supplied the following details of the grants sought by each local authority in 1965-66 and the amounts actually paid to each authority in that year -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The Commonwealth Statistician has informed me that he is currently testing certain key economic statistics to determine their suitability for seasonal adjustment, and to decide an appropriate method to use for the adjustment of each series for purposes of publication. Included among the series being tested are certain items of production, and national income and related aggregates.
National Service Training.
s.- On 26th April 1966, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) asked me a question on the rights of national servicemen who were members of a friendly society or pharmaceutical benefits fund prior to 24th April 1964, but who decided to allow their membership to lapse while they remained in the Army. The information sought was whether these persons would be entitled, on completion of their service, to rejoin the society or fund and be eligible for the pharmaceutical benefits to which they were previously entitled? I undertook to look into the situation.
I am now able to supply further information, which is as follows -
The Friendly Societies and Dispensary Movements throughout Australia have adopted the following common Rule in connection with Dispensary Benefits - “ A financial member of this Fund/ Dispensary serving in the Armed Forces of the Commonwealth shall be entitled to apply for suspension of his membership during the period of such service, and be entitled to apply and be accepted for renewal of membership, without serving further probationary periods of membership, and without loss of any membership rights existing at time of his approved Suspension “.
This rule is now in operation and full credit must go to the Friendly Societies for their patriotic and public-spirited gesture in preserving the membership rights of those of their members who serve with the Armed Forces of the Commonwealth.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660901_reps_25_hor52/>.