25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question before he goes away. We wish him a safe return, ls the Treasurer aware that last week President Johnson announced a big cut in all United States federal expenditure in order to combat inflation and also urged the Federal Reserve Board and large commercial banks to lower interest rates and ease what President Johnson called the inequitable burden of tight money? I further ask: Does the Federal Treasurer intend to introduce, or recommend, similar measures in Australia?
– 1 think it must be obvious that conditions in the United States are not the same as in Australia, and in no circumstances would we be contemplating a reduction in Government expenditure, either State or Commonwealth, at this stage. As to the part of the honorable gentleman’s question about interest rates, again I stress that conditions are different. The Reserve Bank of Australia is keeping a very close watch on the interest rates that are payable within the Australian banking system. I do not think that at the moment we as a Government should interfere to ensure that there is compulsion to reduce rates. Might I say to the honorable gentleman that the President of the United States did not give an order that interest rates were to be reduced but he did ask that there be co-operation in order to see that interest rates would be reduced if that were practicable.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that mail deliveries in Sydney, and indeed the whole of New South Wales, are being delayed, in some instances for several days? As this is causing considerable anxiety and loss, particularly to the business community, will the Minister carry out an urgent investigation in an effort to remedy the position?
– I know there has been some delay in sorting mail in the Sydney mail exchange. It was hoped that some electronic mail handling equipment would be in operation at this time, but unfortunately there has been late delivery of some of the equipment. That which has been received is being tested. But at the same time there has been a dispute with the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia and this matter has been before the arbitrator for some three or four months. Because of these delays we are at the moment enlisting additional mail sorters, and I hope that within a short time we will be able to overcome this problem, which exists only in Sydney.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Has his attention been directed to statements made by the Premier of New South Wales claiming that the increases in rail and bus fares, stamp duty and other taxes which will be included in the forthcoming State Budget have been forced upon the Liberal Government in New South Wales by, among other causes, the intensification of the Vietnam war? Is this claim correct, and if so, what arc the financial contributions, voluntary or involuntary, which the Liberal Government of New South Wales has made in relation to the war in Vietnam?
– I think what the New South Wales Premier had in mind was that our defence expenditure has increased by more than 34 per cent, this year - that is, by more than $250 million. He has drawn the conclusion that if we were not spending this amount on defence, part of it could be diverted to the States for their own purposes. Looked at in this way I think it is quite a logical argument and a sensible conclusion for the Premier to draw. When one looks at the charges that have been increased - hospital charges and railway charges - it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that when there are over award payments and increases in the basic wage of the kind we have had recently a State government would be hard pressed to prevent rises in these charges. These are labour intensive industries and, being such, it is almost automatic that increased costs must immediately be written into the prices charged.
– My question to the Minister for Trade and Industry refers to the new Israeli shipping line known as the “ Reefcar Express Line “. Has this nonconference line guaranteed refrigeration space between Australia and the United States of America at current freight rates until 1968? Does the Minister agree with the proposition that this refrigerated space will be used mainly for meat exports to the area or will there be an opportunity to increase trade in berry fruits, dairy produce, citrus, etc.? Finally, is the Minister satisfied that we can use this capacity and take advantage of the offer of this firm at these rates?
– I understand the position to be as the honorable member has described it. This shipping company has offered to provide refrigerated cargo space from Australia to the United States of America with a standstill of freight rates until 1968. I am told that the conference lines which currently service this trade also have indicated that there will be a standstill of freight rates until 1968. These being the facts, there is no difference as far as freight rates are concerned. T do know that the opportunity for exporting refrigerated cargo other than meat to the United States is very limited. The opportunity to sell butter and cheese, for example, is frustrated by very severe quota restrictions. I am told that whereas fruit is shipped from Tasmania, most of the fruit that would be suitable to the American trade is affected by embargo under quarantine regulations from the mainland States. So this throws the bulk of the cargo into the meat category. The trade is not concerned only with the freight rate; it is concerned also with the regularity and adequacy of the service. This is the essential justification for condoning or accepting the conference situation. This conference line is arranging a contractual obligation to place ships in position at times suitable to handle our meat trade. I think the trade will probably remain for the time being in that situation.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question to resolve some of the uncertainties left by the statement regarding the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority, made outside the House by the Prime Minister before his departure from Australia. Does the Government contemplate maintaining the Authority principally as a body which would be available to help the States on their works projects at State cost or does the Government contemplate a wider role for the Authority in which it would also undertake national development projects directly for the Commonwealth and at Commonwealth cost? What significance is to be attached to the Prime Minister’s statement that the Government does not envisage a programme of the dimensions of the Snowy project and his statement that people will not be engaged on projects just to give them something to do? Finally, is this an indication of how the Government views the need of national development? Does the Government consider that ‘ we have more skilled people in the Snowy Mountains Authority’s team than there are urgent conservation tasks for them to undertake?
– No decision has been reached yet by the Commonwealth Government about the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority; nor can this be done, of course, until we have had very full consultations with the States to gel an idea of what type of work they are prepared to make available to the Authority. For the Commonwealth Government to expend its own money on conserving water in the States would mean a fundamental change in policy. I would point out to the honorable member that at the present moment the cost of all work undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Authority is fully reimbursed by either the governments or authorities for which it undertakes the work. This applies even to the Snowy Mountains project itself. The cost of this project is fully reimbursed by the States of Victoria and New South Wales, which include in their electricity charges an amount to cover such things as interest and depreciation over a given period.
I think there is a misconception in the mind of the honorable member and in the minds of many members of the public. They seem to believe that all that is necessary to ensure the retention of the Snowy Mountains Authority is an increase in the amount of money used in Australia on water conservation. They believe that this would automatically mean that there were jobs for the Snowy Mountains Authority as well as the State instrumentalities. This is not the position. Every State has its own public works department and its own water conservation authority. These bodies are perfectly competent to undertake any job of work for which the State is likely to have a requirement, provided they have the money.
There is no doubt whatever that there is a considerable demand for the services of the investigation, research and design staffs of the Snowy Mountains Authority. When I last looked, some two or three months ago. at the list of work being undertaken by the Authority, I found that there were 32 projects all told, covering South East Asia, Borneo, New Zealand, New Guinea and every mainland State of Australia. There is no doubt that the services of those sections of the Snowy Mountains Authority are in demand; but it will not be until we have had full consultation with the States that we will know exactly what the future of the Authority is to be.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. Is the honorable gentleman aware that in the Dunolly telephone district in Victoria subscribers were informed as early as April of last year that, as a result of an increase in the number of subscribers in the district, telephone rentals would be increased by some 50 per cent, as from 1st May of that year? ls the PostmasterGeneral in a position to tell me why the increased rentals were not charged to subscribers until July 1966, when, instead of being increased by 50 per cent., the rate was in actual fact increased by some 260 per cent.?
– This was due to an error within the accounts section of the Department, and I regret it. Subscribers had been informed that the rental would be increased. When they received the accounts in question, none of them asked for an extension of time in which to pay. I can only assume, therefore, that they had put aside sufficient reserves to meet the increased charge, even though there had been this unfortunate delay of 12 months in rendering the accounts.
– I ask a question of the Minister for National Development. The honorable gentleman will have noticed that reference has been made in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales to the delay or the difficulty in securing the approval of the Joint Coal Board or the Commonwealth Government itself for new regulations shown to be necessary by the fatal fire in the Bulli coal mine a year ago and the subsequent judicial inquiry. I ask him: When were the suggested regulations first discussed with the Board? Has the State Government yet asked the Commonwealth Government to make the regulations under the Coal Industry Act?
– There has been no undue delay on the part of the Commonwealth in this matter. I understand that the report was received by the State from Judge Goran some time in April - I think about the 27th April. The State Department of Mines started to prepare the necessary regulations and it approached the Joint Coal Board on 2nd August with a 30 foolscap page draft of suggested amendments to the regulations. The Joint Coal Board took a fortnight looking at this. It then had discussions with the Department of Mines, and these discussions showed that it was necessary to alter the draft. As a result, work was put under way. We have now received the altered draft and I understand that very shortly it will be possible for the Premier to approach the Prime Minister and get a decision on this matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Social Services been called to a letter in which it is correctly stated that a married couple of pensionable age may own their own home and car without this affecting their pension, but in which it is incorrectly stated that when the wife is below the pensionable age the value of her share in the home owned in their joint names is held to be capital, thus reducing the man’s pension? Will the Minister state the correct position so that other pensioners in a similar situation will not be misled?
I can mention that this letter appeared in a prominent place in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ this morning.
– The honorable member has already explained to the House, in posing his question, that part of the letter which is, in fact, inaccurate. Where a home is owned jointly by a husband and wife, even though the wife might be younger than pensionable age, the total value of the house is discounted for means test purposes in assessing the eligibility of one of the married couple for pension purposes. The operation of the means test, of course, as the letter stated correctly, does completely discount the value of a home, a car and certain personal possessions. These things are not taken into account for the purpose of assessing a person’s entitlement to a social service benefit.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has his attention been drawn to the 20th annual report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board which states that it now costs a little over SI. 90 to ship a carton of apples to the United Kingdom and that this represents 80 per cent, of the f.o.b. value of the product? This is probably the highest impost on any primary product exported from Australia. Is this causing the Government any concern, and what steps are to be taken to remedy the situation? Is the apple and pear export industry in danger of extinction?
– The Government is very concerned at the financial state of affairs of the Australian apple and pear export industry. I am aware of the points brought out in the annual report of the Board, and referred to by the honorable member. The high proportion of the landed value of the fruit represented in freight is, of course, this year largely accountable for by the fact that the value of the fruit has been disastrously low in the European export markets. This produces the extremely high percentage figure mentioned. Nevertheless, in any circumstance the freight rate is so high as to be of grave concern. The Apple and Pear Board, as a member of the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee, negotiates with the shipper interests and, so far as we are aware, the profits of the shipping lines are not high.
Although we are what one might call a non-maritime nation, we have been trying to discover by what means we may mitigate the necessity for the shipping companies to impose such high freights. In this respect we have followed two courses. First, following an analysis of shipping from Europe and Britain to Australia, my Department has proposed to the shipping interests that there appears to be great scope for the conference lines to rationalise their services to enable a ship to make more voyages in a year. I am glad to say that the work done by my Department has completely convinced the European and United Kingdom conference lines that there is an opportunity for them to get more mileage out of a ship each year. Action is in hand and, in some cases, has already been taken to achieve this objective. This should lead, if not to a reduction in freights, at least to an abatement in the recurring increases in freights.
Secondly, I took the initiative in convening a meeting in Canberra of representatives of the main shipping lines of the world, and all Australian port, rail and road transport authorities. I proposed to them that we should try to convert to containerised transport. That conference was so highly successful that representatives of some of the principal shipping lines announced there and then that they would set about immediately converting to containerisation. I know that orders have been placed overseas for the production of containers and for the building of new ships, and that plans have been put in hand overseas for the provision of new port facilities. Of course, it is up to us to do the same at this end. The action which has been taken will be of benefit.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that Australia is still officially at war with Germany, having failed to sign a peace treaty in 1945, have we frozen German assets in this country valued at S2 million? Are steps being taken to unfreeze these assets?
– Although we have not signed a peace treaty with Germany officially, in 1951 a state of war was declared not to exist. Since that time certain German assets have been under the control of Commonwealth authorities and year by year those assets are being realised and the amount so obtained is used in Australia for reparation purposes. Australia was one of the signatories to the Paris reparations agreement and the amount of money being paid for reparations is in accordance with that agreement. Gradually the assets are being realised, and as they are realised the sum obtained is being paid to the National Debt Commission.
– I address my question to the Attorney-General. In view of the approaching election campaign and the distinct possibility of slanderous and defamatory election advertising, will the AttorneyGeneral consider expanding the ambit of operations of the Legal Service Bureaux in order that they may give free advice and help to members who, in the midst of a tough campaign, have also to fight a dirty, defensive war against opponents trying to destroy their character, national loyalty and integrity? Does he know that already two advertisements - one by the Liberal Party in a Tasmanian newspaper and the other by a Liberal candidate in a personal circular letter - have been referred to legal men and the Commonwealth Electoral Office because of alleged slander and defamation? Will the Attorney-General take any steps to encourage State Attorneys-General, to tighten up the laws governing libel, slander and defamation, and encourage a move towards uniformity in this regard?
– The Legal Service Bureaux have always provided advice for people in the Armed Services. I understand the honorable gentleman to refer to those engaged in an entirely different type of warfare, and that is fighting the next election - fighting with their mouths rather than fighting with weapons. The processes of the law are available to anybody who believes he has been slandered or libelled. I really think that this is a matter for the person himself to pursue. If he wishes his character to be cleared, it is a matter for him to pursue the law as traditionally for centuries it has been pursued. The Commonwealth Electoral Act defines certain offences relating to documents published at the time of an election. Documents must bear the names of the people who authorised them so that somebody can be called to task for them. The honorable member asked for a tightening of the laws of libel and slander. This is not a question of tightening the laws in terms of statutory provisions. Surely this is a matter for the development of the law. If it is thought by the State Attorneys that something should be clone, any one of them is capable of listing the matter for discussion at a meeting of the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Can the right honorable gentleman say what amount has been made available to farmers from the $50 million Farm Development Loan Fund? Is the Minister satisfied that banks are in fact making loans as Government policy intended?
– 1 have had the Reserve Bank carry out two surveys to ascertain whether Government policy is being maintained or achieved and I have come to the conclusion that it is. The amount of $50 million was appropriated for this special purpose. I am advised by the Reserve Bank that the relevant figure to look at is not the amount of loans made but the amount of commitments for loans. If approvals continue at the present rate, at least half the money made available will have been committed by the end of this financial year.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. Will the Government undertake the development of the newly discovered rich mineral deposits near Rum Jungle so that all the profits will be used for the benefit of Australia? If the Government will not give this undertaking, will the Minister ensure that these rich deposits remain in Australian hands by arranging their development by the Commonwealth Government? As the Menzies Government left Australians with but a minority shareholding in our huge iron and bauxite deposits and potentially vast supplies of natural gas and crude oil, and as our biggest copper producer, Mount Isa Mines Limited, is 53 per cent. American owned, will the Minister ensure that the Rum Jungle mineral field will not become another quarry for foreign companies?
– The Commonwealth Government undertakes the mining of uranium, but, as far as I am aware, in every other field it is the policy of the Government to give private enterprise the opportunity to develop the deposits that are available. As I said recently when speaking on the Budget, we have not done badly in the development of our resources. We have retained in very many areas large sections of Australian equity. Australia is now developing at a phenomenal rate. The development would be at a very much slower rate if we were to use only our own resources and not the resources available from overseas.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask whether his attention has been drawn to advertisements which have appeared recently on certain commercial television channels and which relate to saffower growing in Australia. If not, will the Minister have an investigation made and will he, if he thinks fit, make a public statement correcting any inaccuracies in those advertisements?
– In my position, travelling as I do from one task to another, I see very little television. So I cannot say that I am up to date on that score. I have seen other advertisements attributed to a certain company and I think it would be impossible to correct all the inaccuracies contained in them. Indeed, that company posted me a copy of a bulletin in which it reproduced a photo of me in association with a quotation from an answer that I gave to a question about butter asked by the honorable member for Oxley. The company’s own statements about margarine were so related to the quotation from my answer as to make it appear that I had made the statements that were in fact attributable to the company. This, I think, is deceitful and dishonest. All I can say to the honorable member for Ryan is that it would be impossible to keep up with all the inaccuracies in this advertising campaign. Indeed, I even wonder whether I may have to refer the matter to the Attorney-General and give him a chance to deal with it.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Acting Prime Minister, by stating that during the last session of the Parliament 1 received hundreds of letters from electors asking that the Federal Government provide additional funds to meet the urgent needs of education. At present I am receiving from electors many petitions praying that the Federal Government will provide additional funds to assist in overcoming the teacher trainee shortage. Can the Acting Prime Minister say whether any assistance other than that provided for in the Budget is contemplated this financial year to assist the States in meeting their educational needs and overcoming their problems in this field?
– I sympathise with the honorable member as the recipient of so many letters on this subject. I assure him that if he were in my boots he would be receiving such letters not only in respect of education but also in respect of development, roads, ports and heaven knows how many other things. The Government’s problem is to allocate as it considers best the funds at its disposal. In this regard, the major points of discussion with respect to the allocation of funds for these purposes are discussed in the first place with the Premiers at meetings of the Premiers’ Conference and the Australian Loan Council, from which flow important decisions in which the Premiers themselves participate. Secondly, this Commonwealth Government has acted as no other Commonwealth government has ever acted in providing huge allocations of special funds for universities, scholarships and all the other contributions to education with which the honorable member will be familiar. I am not in a position, before the Budget has even been approved by the Parliament, to give him any comfort by suggesting that the ultimate provisions will be different from those made in the Budget.
– My question, which I address to the Treasurer, concerns the Commonwealth Trading Bank and its function of providing housing loans. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that in isolated instances the provision of housing loans has been used as a lever to direct to a particular location the client contemplating the purchase of a house? If I may explain by referring to a case that I know of, Mr. Speaker, I say that I understand that the client was asked to go to a certain new housing area rather than to another if the funds were to be provided. Does the Minister know of a valid reason for this action by the Commonwealth Trading Bank? Alternatively, does he condone it?
– It is not the policy of the Commonwealth Trading Bank to permit managers to decide where a person shall build or purchase a house once an advance has been made available to him. If the honorable gentleman can give me the name of the branch involved and the name of the client, I shall make certain that the position is corrected. I assure him immediately that I do not think it is a function of any of the banks to tell people where they are to live. If a person wants to buy a house and money is available to him, he should be able to choose for himself the location and the type of home he will live in.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of the criticism of migrant hostels by Professor R. T. Appleyard who claimed that hopelessly inadequate migrant hostels were disrupting the family life of migrants and that the sending of young Greek girls on their arrival in this country straight to fruit picking jobs and compelling them to live in huts adjacent to huts’ accommodating male migrants was heartless and undesirable? Is the Minister aware that these statements are the result of a seven years study by Professor Appleyard who claims that these conditions are the cause of so many migrants returning home? Is the Minister prepared to say that the conditions as described by the Professor are correct? Is he prepared to tell the House what plans the Government has to improve the hopelessly inadequate migrant hostels which, without doubt, each and every member of this House knows exist in this country today?
– I have not read Professor Appleyard’s remarks, although I did see some passing Press reference to them. It is a fact that many of our hostels are not up to the kind of standards that we should like and this is true of many other public services, for the simple reason that resources are limited. However, as the honorable member knows, there is a steady programme for the replacement and improvement of these hostels. Honorable members who have served on the Public Works Committee are acquainted with this programme. As soon as possible, and to the greatest extent practicable, we aim steadily to continue this process of improvement. There is, of course, the hangover from past years - this is inevitable in view of our circumstances - but we certainly would rather put up with some inconvenience than cut the immigration programme.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral give any information to the House regarding extensions of the Commonwealth cable system to New Guinea and to SouthEast Asia? Has the SEACOM station at Madang, New Guinea, any connection with this proposed system?
– Honorable members will be aware that Commonwealth countries have installed a submarine cable operation from London through to Sydney and are in the course of installing another system from Sydney right through to South East Asia. Within Australia this system will be overland from Sydney through Brisbane to Cairns so that it will serve both the external communications and Australia’s internal communications. From Cairns it will be a submarine cable through Madang in New Guinea up to Guam, across to Jesselton and on to Hong Kong and Singapore. This service will give excellent communications between Australia and South East Asia. Of course, Australia will also be the source of communications commencing in South East Asia, passing through Australia and going back to America and Europe. I believe that this service will prove to be of tremendous value in Australia’s relations with New Guinea and also in relations with South East Asian countries.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question on the same subject as the one he was asked by the honorable member for Watson. The honorable member referred to the control of Australian resources in metals, in natural gas and in petroleum by a number of companies which were part foreign and part Australian owned and which, because of their monopolised nature, were able to fix prices and profits which were excessive. Does the Minister consider that it would be desirable to have at least one publicly owned concern or one part public and part privately owned concern in these fields which, by competition and publicity, could reveal what can be done in the exploitation of these resources? If he considers that it would bc desirable to have at least one such company in one of these fields, will he look : t the discovery of resources in Rum Jungle to see whether it would be possible to establish a public owned or a part public and part privately owned concern to provide this kind of competition and publicity to which I have referred?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is that in the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. we have a completely Australian owned company which is very efficiently run.
– Answer the question.
– Well, it certainly is not the policy of the present Government to undertake by public monopoly what should normally be the affair of private enterprise, and, as I was saying, in the case of the B.H.P. Company we have an example of a first class company which is giving competition to overseas companies and showing what Australian companies can do.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Is the right honorable gentleman aware of the phenomenal volume of costly progaganda being disseminated by certain margarine manufacturers in attempts to arouse public opinion with a view to circumventing a recent Privy Council judgment? Will the Treasurer have the situation examined to determine whether this enormously expensive campaign, which has been described by the Minister for Primary Industry as dishonest and deceitful, can be claimed, as advertising, as a taxation deduction? I say nothing of the additional cost of the product to the consuming public resulting from this costly advertising campaign.
– As I am informed, it is only that proportion of advertising expenses which can be genuinely classified as necessarily incurred in the production of assessable income that can in fact be deducted from gross costs to arrive at profits.
– Who makes the decision?
– The Commissioner of Taxation, as the honorable member well knows. 1 will refer this question to the Commissioner of Taxation. I will direct his attention to the question asked by the honorable member for Evans. I am certain that he, having the responsibility conferred on him by Act of Parliament passed by this House, of administering the law, will do what is proper in the interests of the companies and the Commonwealth.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Which countries have so far raised with the Australian Government the question of the conscription by this Government of their nationals for service outside Australia? Have any of them indicated that they may approach the International Court of Justice, presided over by Sir Percy Spender, for a determination whether the Government’s contemplated action would be a breach of international law?
– I am not in a position to reply of my own knowledge to the honorable member at this time. I will ask my colleague, the Acting Minister for External Affairs, to assemble the information and see that it is given to the honorable gentleman.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, ls it a fact that until recently young men living long distances from drill halls were not given the alternative of joining the Citizen Military Forces when registering for National Service, but that this course is now open to them? I ask whether those who registered before this privilege was available and who then were granted deferment, which is still current, may now join the C.M.F. instead of applying for further deferment. If they may not. will the Minister consider extending this privilege to them?
– The initial statement of the honorable member for Mallee is accurate. Until quite recently it was not possible for those in some remote districts to join a C.M.F. unit. New units are now in the course of establishment. Those who live more than 25 miles from an existing C.M.F. unit, those who experience peculiar difficulties in travelling to an ordinary C.M.F. parade, or those whose work is of such a nature that it would not be practicable for them to belong to an ordinary C.M.F. unit, will be qualified to join the new units. These new units will in effect make universal the option to serve in the C.M.F. as an alternative to national service training. It may interest the honorable member if I inform him that up to the end of last month 121 applications to join these units had been approved and about 486 applications were still being processed. The other part of the honorable member’s question related to those who live in remote areas and thus did not have the option of joining C.M.F.- units at the time they registered and who have since had their call-up deferred for reasons of exceptional hardship. Consideration is now being given by the Departments to whether the new C.M.F. option might now be extended to them in view of their earlier lack of opportunity.
– by leave - In reply to a question in the House yesterday I told the House that Cabinet had decided to make legal assistance available to national servicemen through the facilities of the Legal Service Bureaux and that I would make a statement informing the House of the nature of the assistance to be made available. The Government has decided that the services of the Legal Service Bureaux should be made available in the following manner - (i). All national service registrants who have been balloted in, and hence are liable to call-up, and serving national servicemen are entitled to legal advice on their rights and entitlements in relation to protection of civil employment or moratoria;
. On being warned for overseas service in a special area within the meaning of the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act and prior to their departure national servicemen and members of the Permanent Forces are entitled to the full facilities of the Legal Service Bureaux provided in accordance with the 1951 directive of the then AttorneyGeneral. This directive is set out in “Hansard” for 8th March 1951 at page 103. In addition, the Bureaux will provide additional facilities to enable such national servicemen or member of the Permanent Forces to put his affairs in order before leaving Australia. These additional facilities are to include:
Bureaux lor a period of two years from the date of their return to Australia. This entitlement is extended for such a period to the dependants of such members of the Permanent Forces; (vi). The full facilities of the Legal Service Bureaux are to be extended to the dependants of deceased national servicemen and deceased members of the Permanent Forces who died during or as the result of service in a special area within the meaning of the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act.
Some explanation of the terms “ special area “ and “ special service “ may be necessary. Under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act a number of areas have been declared to be special areas for the purposes of that Act. These areas are Malaysia. Singapore, Brunei, South Vietnam and surrounding waters. The Government’s decision means that members of the Permanent Forces and national servicemen who have been warned for overseas service, or w’ho are actually serving, in one of these areas will be entitled to the full facilities of the Legal Service Bureaux. In addition, their dependants will also be entitled to assistance from the Bureaux while they are serving overseas.
Assistance from the Legal Service Bureaux on return to Australia from service /1 a special area will be limited to those national servicemen and members of the Permanent Forces who had been allotted to special service as that term is defined in the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act. Members of the forces, including national servicemen, who are posted to a special area fall into two categories. Some of them are allotted for special service, that is, they may be engaged in active service in Vietnam or in the Borneo or Thai border areas. Others do not see any active service during their period of posting in special areas. The Government has come to the conclusion that only those who have been engaged in special service should receive assistance from the Bureaux on their return to Australia, subject, of course, to the fact that the serving national serviceman continues to be eligible for assistance in relation to civil employment and moratoria. As I have indicated this service will also be available to their dependants. The assistance will be available for only a limited time. In the case of national servicemen it will be for a period of two years from the date of release from full time service and in the case of members of the Permanent Forces for a period of two years after their return to Australia.
Comparable benefits will be made available to dependants of deceased national servicemen and deceased members of the Permanent Forces. The extension of this assistance does not require any legislative action. 1 have already issued a directive that the officers of the Legal Service Bureaux should provide the facilities which I have described. This means that assistance is available immediately to those who qualify for it.
– by leaveThe Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) has pointed out that it is possible by administrative arrangements to extend the services of the Legal Service Bureaux, established by the Re-establishment and Employment Act, to persons who are serving in Vietnam, who have served there or who are warned to serve there, and to their dependants, and that it is not necessary to have legislative action to extend these benefits to them. I take this opportunity to suggest that attention should be given to extending those provisions of the Act which require legislative action to persons affected by prospective, present or past service in Vietnam. The Act is administered, I believe, by a greater number of Ministers than any other Act. They are the Prime Minister, the AttorneyGeneral, the Minister for Repatriation, the Minister for Housing, the Minister for Primary Industry, the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Social Services. The Act was extended to cover members of the forces engaged in operations in Korea and Malaya. It would appear, however, that the benefits of the Act are not available to persons who have served in Borneo and Vietnam. Despite the exceptional number of departments involved - the Attorney-General yesterday in answer to my question mentioned that an inter-departmental committee had been set up - I suggest that the necessary legislative action be undertaken quite quickly to extend the benefits of the Re-establishment and Employment Act to service in Borneo and Vietnam.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Consideration resumed from 13th September (vide page 823).
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed expenditure, $425,582,000
Advance to the Treasurer.
Proposed expenditure, $20,000,000.
.- Last night in the discussion on these estimates 1 heard criticism offered of the way in which the Budget statements are presented, It was said that they combine capital and income items almost indiscriminately. I must confess, as one brought up on the normal systems of profit and loss account and balance sheets with the distinction drawn between capital and income, that initially I had difficulty in appreciating why all these items are lumped together in the Budget. But I suppose the answer to this is that the Budget really is dealing with the cash flow of the Commonwealth Government. A surplus or a deficiency in this cash flow is the thing which will be of significance for the economy and is the thing which will find its complementary effect in the rest of the economy.
The Budget discloses an increase in expenditure over last year of $600 million. We have seen that defence expenditure has increased by 34 per cent. Expenditure on other items has increased by percentages varying from 6 per cent, to 12 per cent. For example, expenditure on general purpose grants and for drought assistance to the States has increased by 8 per cent. Expenditures on works and development, Territories, subsidies, immigration and education have increased by 10 per cent. So far as receipts are concerned, as the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) mentioned in his second reading speech, it is estimated that the increase in receipts from income tax and other charges and increases in profits from Commonwealth undertakings will be of the order of $318 million. If one acids this amount to the estimated deficit of $270 million one gets a total of $588 million, which just about covers the proposed increase in expenditure. This is, of course, an over simplification, but it does bring us to the point of considering where any additional expenditure thought desirable should come from.
In the debate, we have listened to member after member on the Opposition side saying that the Government should spend more on this or on that. In particular they have said that the Government should be spending much more on education, pensions and national development. It is easy to make these claims. Provided the object looks desirable - all three of those 1 mentioned are desirable - the claim that we should be spending more seems plausible. But, if you vary this Budget where is the additional money to come from? There are only three possible sources. You can increase taxation, increase your borrowing, or increase your deficit. But immediately you touch any one of those three things you are affecting the Budget as a whole and the effect which the Budget as a whole will have on the economy. The Budget is a complex economic instrument which in its total effect is very important to the economy as a whole, lt would be completely irresponsible simply to claim that more should be spent on, for example, national development without then going to the Budget and saying where you will make the adjustment and then considering what will be the effect of that adjusted Budget on aggregate demand, on employment and so on.
I should like to look for a moment at these three possible sources of increased money for the Commonwealth Government. The first is taxation. I suppose it is elementary that if you increase taxation you will take away from the people spending power and saving power. That is to say, you will reduce aggregate demand. It is also elementary that if you do this production will fall and employment may fall. At the present time it is obvious that the economy requires not any reduction in aggregate demand but rather an increase. This would seem to point to the desirability of a reduction in taxation, not an increase. In this situation the Government has, in fact, left tax rates virtually unaltered and I suggest to honorable members that this decision is sound.
Take the matter of borrowing. There is. of course, a marked difference between external borrowing and internal borrowing. If you borrow overseas, when you come to repay the borrowing - indeed, when you come to pay the interest - you will deplete Australia’s assets. There must he a depletion of Australia’s assets to finance the payment abroad. On the other hand, if you have domestic borrowing there is no depletion of Australia’s assets; there is only a transfer of assets. In other words, if Australian citizen A lends money to the Commonwealth by means of Commonwealth bonds, he will be paid by taxes collected from citizens B, C, D and so on. In fact, he will pay some of it himself in taxes. Citizen A. himself, will be contributing to the payment of interest on his bonds and their ultimate repayment. This is only a transfer of assets. For this reason domestic borrowing is generally better from the point of view of the effect on the economy than is external borrowing.
What is the position at the present time? So far as external borrowing is concerned, the Treasurer has indicated why he is not borrowing largely abroad. The estimate of total net borrowings for the year is §150 million, which is $100 million less than last year. So far as external borrowing is concerned, the Treasurer has pointed out that interest rates current abroad range from 6i per cent, to 7i per cent. In point of fact, it would be almost impossible to borrow abroad at an interest rate of 6i per cent, unless we issued at a discount; so that the effective interest rate would in fact be at least 7 per cent. Australia’s overseas debt, as at 30th June 1966, was $1,504,677,000. The papers accompanying the Budget show that this has been raised at favorable rates of interest. The “ Commonwealth Finance Bulletin, 1 965-66 “, No. 4, at page 25, shows a break-up of the average rates of interest which we are paying, divided into sterling, United States dollars, Swiss francs, Deutchmarks and so on. Our sterling loans show an average rate of interest of 4.3 per cent, and the United States dollar loans show an average rate of interest of 5 per cent.
In passing, one can only express appreciation of the skill which has been shown in the past with Commonwealth borrowings. However, when we face the prospect today of borrowing abroad and paying 7 per cent, or more, it is clear why the Commonwealth Government has felt that this is not a year in which Australia should borrow, but rather a year of high rates of interest when we should be meeting repayments of loans and restricting our borrowing.
I come now to domestic borrowing. At 30th june last, the figure for outstanding loans was §9,134,465,000. The Budget papers show that on those loans we are paying an average rate of interest of 4.43 per cent. The problem with domestic loan raising is a slightly different one. The question here is rather whether we can get the money - whether it is available in the Australian economy, which is limited. The Government, in its assessment of the position, can estimate fairly closely in advance how much it is likely to get from insurance companies and superannuation funds, governed by the 20-30 rule, and, to a lesser extent, how much it is likely to get from banks or brokers.
This is a matter of judgment. If we decide to raise more than the market can readily give us, two consequences flow. First, we are competing with the private sector for scarce funds, and this may be regarded as undesirable. Secondly, we may have to improve loan conditions in order to attract the money; that is to say, we may, in particular, have to raise interest rates. But once we raise interest rates on domestic borrowings, this increase goes through the whole economy, through the hire purchase companies and so on. It is, therefore, easy to appreciate why the Government has made the decision it has to keep net borrowings to the figure of $150 million in the present Budget.
– Surely interest rates cannot go higher? They are over 7 per cent. now.
– That is one consequence. I point out that we would be competing with the private sector, which also has recourse to the domestic market. The third way of increasing Government funds is by deficit budgeting. This represents the gap in cash flow between receipts and expenditure. In practice, this is covered by treasury bills. As 1 understand the position, the Commonwealth Government issues treasury bills to the Reserve Bank. The term is three months and the rate of interest 1 per cent, lt is a short term method of closing the gap. The effect of deficit budgeting is, of course, an expansionary one on the economy, whereas surplus budgeting is restrictive.
The deficit of §270 million as proposed in this Budget is a very substantial one by our standards, and I have not heard any honorable member suggest that it would be wise to budget for a substantially greater deficit than ,n is. 1 suggest that what the Government has done is sound because it has found its position restricted in these three avenues. The conclusion is that, however desirable additional expenditure may be, it would be unwise to change to any substantial extent any of these three factors. Government members, of course, are no less capable of appreciating the desirability of spending more on pensions, education or national development than we Opposition members, but I suggest that the difference between us is that the Government appreciates the responsibility that the Budget has as an instrument affecting the economy to a large degree.
Most honorable members opposite have spoken as though they were unaware of the need to rethink the whole Budget if we alter to a substantial extent such items of expenditure. One honorable member opposite, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), did indicate last night that he was aware of this effect on the Budget, but he dismissed it almost out of hand. He said, in effect, that the Budget is primarily a means of raising the revenues which we need to do the things that we want to do. He went on to imply that, as part of the area of the economy in Australia is governed by State governments, our instrument for controlling the economy through the Commonwealth Government is imperfect. I suggest that the implication to be drawn from his speech, therefore, is that we are wasting our time in using this method and that we might as well raise the extra money and spend it as we want to do. To my mind, this attitude is wrong.
The things which are at stake are too important for us to make such an approach to the Budget. The things at stake are steady growth, stability in the economy - we do not want a stop-go type of process in the economy; we want to keep it moving steadily and we want to prevent inflation from occurring - and the maintenance of full employment. Over recent years, the Commonwealth Government has succeeded to a remarkable degree in promoting growth with stability. Indeed, during the recess, when I was overseas, I spoke with financial people in London and New York and found in them a degree of appreciation of Australia’s handling of its economy. Our reputation for the capacity with which our economy has been handled over the last few years is very high overseas. It would be wrong to adopt the philosophy of the Opposition - of simply spending more on these items - if, in doing so, we ran the risk of throwing away those basic things which the Government has so far, by its use of the Budget, ensured for Australia.
.- In April 1962, the then Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) announced to this House the details of the arrangements that had been made to enable the private banking institutions to lower the rates of interest payable on fixed deposits and to carry out a number of other operations highly profitable to those banking institutions. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ estimated that the additional value of those operations to the banks would be over £2 million a year. Prior to receiving these advantages, the banks were paying dividends of between 9 per cent, and 12 per cent. They are again increasing charges to the public. In a leading article published yesterday, the “ Melbourne Herald “ had this to say -
BANK CHARGES GO UP, TOO
Higher charges, effective on October 1, are announced by all the banks. With the many other recent and impending increases in costs, they add to the growing burdens of the individual and of business.
The banks say they cannot absorb all their own increased pay and other costs on their present incomes and still give’ adequate service to their customers.
A rise in the fees for some bank services may not be surprising. But the percentage of some of the increases, up to 20 per cent, looks high. Automation has grown rapidly in routine banking business. It has now been coupled with decimal currency, which was expected to increase efficiency and to simplify banking. lt is disappointing that these factors have so far failed to offset higher bank charges.
The banks say they cannot absorb their increased wages bill and other costs on their present incomes and still give adequate service to the public; but what do the balance sheets of the banks reveal? In 1961 the aggregate net profits of the private banks were $13.9 million; in 1962, $14.3 million; in 1963. $16.7 million; in 1964, §18.7 million; and in 1965, §20.4 million. So they had an increase in their net profits of §6.5 million in five years. During that five year period the additional amounts they received as a result of the arrangements that were made in 1962 was about $20 million. The dividends paid by the banks in 1965 ranged between 10 per cent, and 12 per cent. The amount transferred to reserves in 1961 was §1 million, and the amount written off bank premises in that year was §990,000. The amount paid to reserves in 1965 was $3 million - an increase of S2 million in that five year period - and $1.5 million was written off bank buildings - an increase of $510,000. The increase in those two items was $2.51 million in the five year period.
After payment of all costs the banks still made enormous profits*- profits that have increased since 1961, when they were about $14 million, to about $20 million in 1965. This is an increase of $6 million, or 33i per cent., in their profits. The banks maintain that they cannot meet their increased costs and increased wages bills from these fabulous profits and still give an adequate service to their customers. I have an article which appeared in yesterday’s Melbourne “ Age “ referring to the increased bank charges that are to have effect from 1st October. The fee to maintain a current account will go up from 50c to 65c a quarter and the charges for ledger activity and collection of cheques will rise. The article suggests that these increased charges are justified because there will be a $20 million rise in payments to bank employees next year. I do not know where they get this figure of $20 million additional pay to bank employees. In 1965 the payment for directors’ fees and for salaries of employees was about $70 million, but it is contended that payments to employees will be increased by about one third next year. The basic wage goes up by $2, or 20s., on £15 a week, but the banks, by some process of arithmetic, conclude that they will pay an additional $20 million for wages on a current wages bill of about $70 million. However, as the article in the “ Herald “ points out, the spread of automation and the introduction of decimal currency will lower the administrative costs of banking institutions.
My point is that this Government, which will not provide adequate social service payments and opposes increases in wages on the ground that such increases will cause inflation and bring about rises in costs generally, is permitting the banks to make such profits. The Government claims it has succeeded in stemming inflation. What type of payments by the people of this country increase inflation? If an employee receives a higher salary because he produces more, the production of a greater quantity of goods means that to that extent inflation is prevented. But when increased costs are paid to a banking institution which is given power to levy increased tolls on the community by way of interest charges they do not result in increased production, because not one blade of grass extra is grown, not one more house is built, not one more machine is made. This type of expenditure is most inflationary, yet the Government takes no action to curb it. Why does the Government do nothing? Because the banking institutions are organisations in which the Government members are financially interested. The predatory rights of the banking institutions are more important to this Government than are the rights of other sections of the community.
If we can believe the Government, we are living in an age when this nation is in danger from Communist hordes in the north. So dangerous is our position that against their will we have to conscript men and send them to fight overseas. So dangerous is our position that for the first time in our history we have to take the aliens who come to this country and who are not naturalised and fling them into the forefront of battle. Yet a Government that has to do these things to safeguard the security of this nation allows the private banking institutions to make such profits. In 1965 the Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd. paid a dividend of 12 per cent, and the Bank of Adelaide, the Bank of New South Wales, the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd., the English Scottish and Australian Bank Ltd. and the National Bank of Australasia Ltd. all paid dividends of 10 per cent.
They pay these immense dividends when they are putting into reserves greater amounts of money than ever before; when they are providing, as depreciation upon buildings, greater amounts of money than ever before. If our position is dangerous, then it is the duty of the Government to see that the private banking institutions do not have an unlimited right to exploit the people of this community.
I put it to honorable members: Should these institutions which, after all, are merely money lenders, be allowed to pay a dividend of 12 per cent., or even 10 per cent., after putting into reserves such large amounts and after providing so much for depreciation on buildings, when this country is fighting for its life? Of course not. The profits these banking institutions are earning are exorbitant and the Government, by allowing them to earn these exorbitant profits, proves that it has no desire to curb inflation, to spread the sacrifices that are necessary to preserve the security of this country or to promote Australia’s development. Instead it permits this wealthiest section of the community, whose contribution to the economic life of Australia is merely the lending of money, to obtain these excessive returns.
The Government should take immediate action at least to ensure that the new charges which are to operate from 1st October next shall not be permitted to operate. It would do well also to consider carefully the amount of profit that the private banking institutions of this country should be permitted to earn.
.- I wish to refer to two subjects relating to the estimates of the Department of the Treasury. One concerns a matter that I have advocated for very many years, namely, that donations to the Murray Valley Development League be regarded as deductions for income tax purposes. Many other organisations which are anxious to develop the Valley, and other members of Parliament who represent areas along the Murray River, have also raised this matter but so far we have not been able to get anywhere with it. The last time I mentioned this subject in the House was on 10th May 1966. I directed a question to the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in these terms -
As the Treasurer is no doubt aware of the excellent work of the Murray Valley Development League in furthering the objective suggested by its name, I ask: Will the honorable gentleman give urgent consideration to approving contributions to the League as deductions for income tax purposes? Will he submit my request for inclusion in the pre-Budget discussions?
May is about the right time to bring up these matters, not the day on which the Budget is presented, although certain people do come along then and want it changed. I raised this matter before the Budget discussions so there was plenty of time for it to be given full consideration. The Treasurer replied -
The honorable member, amongst others, has convinced me, as I am sure he has convinced other Ministers, of the very valuable work being done by the Murray Valley Development League
A conference of the Murray Valley Development League was held in Adelaide. It was attended by the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) representing the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). I am told on good authority that the Prime Minister sent a telegram congratulating the League on its great work. I cannot cite the exact wording of the telegram but the phrase “ on its great work” covers the subject matter of the telegram. Having regard to all these laudatory remarks about the League, I am wondering why the Government cannot grant this request for a taxation concession and so assist the League to obtain more donations.
Most of the members of the League are not paid for their work. They are men dedicated to the task of bringing the Valley up to date by developing it. The League has a secretary and one or two paid officials. Its work is done in regions along the Murray. As its name suggests, the League aims to develop the Murray Valley so that our primary production will be increased. It is ever watchful for things such as an increase in the salt content of (he river, a matter which has been so much in the news lately because it will deter increased production.
There has been great disappointment that no provision was made in the Budget for this taxation concession, and I am today expressing that disappointment on behalf of thousands of people in this great fertile valley which, I believe, has a greater potential for production than any other part of Australia. In addition, amenities such as rail transport and schools are bandy. Tn fact, it is a place ready made for development.
I now wish to discuss estate duty. As honorable members know, the Commonwealth Government is not now in the land tax field but it is in the probate field. On previous occasions I have mentioned in the House the result of inquiries 1 have made into this matter but today I want to raise it again and perhaps add a little more emphasis to the way in which valuations are made for probate purposes. I shall refer to Victoria because I know that State best. My inquiries have revealed that the Commonwealth Government accepts the State Government’s valuation in respect of small estates, but it sends its own valuers, who co-operate with State valuers, in the case of a large estate.
I believe that the State valuations in Victoria do not give the man on the land a fair deal in the matter of probate duty. The valuer learns the price at which land in the area has been sold recently and on that price he bases his valuation of the property in question. If land in the area has been sold at $60 or $80 an acre, even though it may have been bought 10 or 15 years before for something like $8 to $16 an acre, the valuer bases his valuation for the district on the recent sale price. Normally, farm properties remain in a family for two, three or perhaps more generations and every time the main member of the family dies the estate loses a good deal of money in probate because of the high valuations which are made. But the land is not sold. The family has held all title to it and it seems unfair that property which may have been worth $8 or $16 an acre some years previously should later be valued at $60 or $80 an acre for probate purposes on local sale levels.
A good deal is made of what is called unearned increment, the advantage a primary producer obtains from the value of his land going up, but I would say that 85 per cent, of primary producers do not sell their properties. They are like a man in business who does not sell his shop but keeps it for future generations to carry on. A farm property is held for generation after generation, so the fact that the value of the land has increased from, say, $1.6 to $80 an acre does not do the primary producer much good. Instead, he has to meet continually increasing costs and prices.
If he were to sell his property he would establish his wealth. But what would happen if every primary producer decided to sell his property? The Australian economy would soon be in a very chaotic position. What makes the sale value of the land so high? Why does the primary producer not keep the price of his land down so that estate duty will apply only to a lower valuation? This is completely out of the hands of the primary producer whose property continues in the family for generations.
Certain primary producers bring about the rise themselves. Very few would be in this category; they would be perhaps less than 10 per cent. What happens is that a primary producer who wants to set up some sons on the land buys an adjoining property. He may be willing to pay $10, $20 or even $30 an acre more than the norma! value for an adjoining property that he can work with his own home property. By using the same machinery, he can work the whole at a much cheaper rate than a new landholder could work the property he bought. This is a fictitious value if it is applied as a valuation to all the district land in the way that I have described. More than this comes into the valuation. A person in a city who has a very large income can buy an underdeveloped property in the country. By developing the property, clearing it and preparing seed beds and beds for pasture, he can get a full deduction from his income in the year of his operation. If the income is tremendously large, the effect is that this person can pay anything up to twice as much for the land as can the man who has only enough money to buy the property and work it and who has no other income at all. Taxation deductions do not assist the man with no income.
The combination of these factors - the farmer who buys the adjoining farm, the man with the big income who buys a property and one or two sales of land at high prices for various reasons - results in the valuation to which I am objecting. A property can be valued only on its productive capacity or potential productive capacity. It cannot be valued on anything else. During years such as the present year in certain areas of Victoria and last year in drought areas of New South Wales, the income of primary producers falls to a very low level and may be nothing at all. But the valuation of the land for the purposes of probate goes on. In a question in this place, I asked whether the Minister would investigate the position and whether the Commonwealth Parliament would give a clear lead by pointing to the anomalies of the system. In doing this, we would give substantial assistance to the main element in our national wealth, primary production. It would eliminate what many people truly regard as an anomaly in Australia’s taxation system.
.- We are now discussing the estimates for the Treasury. This is the first Budget brought in by the present Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), who is the third Treasurer of this tragic Government. The Government’s policy has had disastrous effects in many areas and particularly in the last two years has led to economic stagnation in areas such as education, social services, health and medical benefits, local government and housing, if I may mention just a few. But the most tragic result of this Government’s policy has followed its lack of control of foreign investment. The Government, little by little, has been selling the heritage of our nation every year. On the one hand, the Government spends $1,000 million on defence - defence that arises from the fear of invasion of Australia by the peoples to our north. On the other hand, it sells our heritage to foreign investors.
I want to discuss some statistics relating to the inflow of foreign investment to Australia, f will deal with the period from 1st July 1950 to 30th June 1965, which is the latest information available in the Government publication “ Annual Bulletin of Oversea Investment, Australia “. The total inflow of private overseas investment to Australia from 1st July 1950 to 30th June 1965 was $4,163 million. This includes undistributed profits of overseas owned companies operating in Australia of some $1,316 million. The net new capital inflow was $2,847 million. It is interesting to note that the undistributed profits do not come in from other countries but in fact are profits made in Australia on the products of foreign owned companies here. These companies include the profits in their cost structure so that they can enhance the development of their industries and enlarge the wealth they have accrued here. The total income payable overseas from the earnings of foreign owned companies in Australia during the 15 years from 1st July 1950 to 30th June 1965 was $2,810 million. This was made up of the §1,316 million of undistributed profits - this is a complicated affair, but it is a matter of a book entry - and dividends paid overseas to the parent companies of $1,494 million. This gives a gross balance of inflow over outflow of §1,353 million.
I will examine the tax savings made by overseas companies during the period I have mentioned. Until 1951, Australia had an undistributed profits tax of 2s. in the £1 or, in present day terms, of 10c in the $1. Abolition of this tax has meant a saving to foreign owned companies of $131 million during this period. Then there was a tax saving under the double taxation agreements that we have entered into. Most of the foreign investment coming to this country comes from North America - the United States of America and Canada - and the United Kingdom. A double taxation agreement was entered into with the United Kingdom in 1946. We can do no more than make a conservative estimate of the tax saving because all the details are not available. However, on a conservative estimate, investors in the United Kingdom have saved some $220 million on the $859 million repatriated to the United Kingdom since the double taxation agreement was entered into. The tax saving to investors in the United States since we entered into a double taxation agreement with that country in 1953 has been some $80 million on the $439 million repatriated to the United States in dividends.
In 15 years, we had a net capital inflow of some $1,353 million. If we take into consideration the tax saving, arising from the abolition of undistributed profits tax and from double taxation agreements of some $431 million, the real net inflow is reduced to something like $900 million. That is what this Government actually gained from the inflow of foreign capital over 15 years. This overseas investment, like a cancer, has already eaten into the ownership and control of Australian manufacturing industry by taking control of some 25 per cent, of our manufacturing industry. Every day, foreign capital gains control of more and more of Australian industry. The Deputy Prime
Minister (Mr. McEwen), who is Leader of the Australian Country Party - the tail that wags the dog - has said that foreign ownership is taking a little more of our heritage every year. One could well ask: “ When will this leader of part of the coalition start taking some action instead of just using words? “ Over 15 years during which the present Government was in office, there was a net new capital inflow of some $900 million. This included about $494 million of portfolio investment. So the amount was reduced by more than half. Actually, only about $400 million of new capital came into this country and was invested in bricks, mortar and machinery in the 15 years. What has that $400 million accumulated to at present? The “Australian Financial Review”, in its issue of 14th March 1966, reported on a Government survey of foreign investment in these terms -
Eight hundred and seventy two companies in Australian manufacturing industry, with total assets of $6,086,697,200, are partially or wholly owned overseas.
Imagine that. This relatively small investment has now accumulated to a total of more than $6,000 million worth of investment in Australian companies. The “ Australian Financial Review” continued -
The firms that are 100 per cent, overseas owned have assets totalling $3,355,055,500. . . .
Those figures show how the growth of wealth has enabled foreign investment to take control of Australian industry. We on this side of the chamber are greatly concerned as to what should be done about overseas investment in this country. What can be done? How can we control overseas investment? How can we prevent the taking over by foreign interests of long established, successful manufacturing industries? How can we prevent our oil, gas and mineral supplies from falling into the hands of persons who are not responsible to the Australia people? These questions are now being asked not only by Opposition members but also by a wide section of the Australian people. There is a growing nationalism in this country. It demands that we ensure that our national heritage remains under the control of Australians.
We on this side of the chamber, even though we are Socialists, will join with Government supporters and anybody else in proposals to bring forward progressive legis lation to enable Australia to curb and control this cancerous growth that is eating more and more into our heritage. We on this side have never said that Australia does not need foreign investment. We have said that it may be needed. But it must be planned. We have said that we do not want indiscriminate foreign investment in this country. We all know that for many years the present Government has wanted only to fill the gap between export earnings and the cost of excessive imports. This is its only aim and it does not care what kind of investment it gets as long as this gap is filled. Under the double taxation agreements, it gives tax concessions to North American and United Kingdom investors who put their money into portfolio investment. Those concessions are just as great as if the investment were in essential, basic industries designed to help us build up our exports or to replace imports. It is my belief that we should immediately abolish these double taxation agreements. Each case should be treated on its merits. We should examine any proposal for the investment of overseas capital in Australia to see what the investment is needed for. There should be some planning. A national planning economic committee should be established to determine the kind of foreign investment that we need. Unless proposals such as these are adopted, we shall continue to lose more and more of our national heritage. Today’s issue of the Melbourne “ Age “, under the heading “ Riches under the Earth “, contains an editorial in which this passage appears -
How are all these new riches to be developed, in what priorities, and under what kind of control? The time has passed in which they could be allowed to develop haphazardly.
This editorial dealt with the great mineral finds near Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory. For far too long, we have given away our national resources. We have ample precedents to examine and to guide is in this matter. We know the history of developments that have taken place in Canada. When I was there last year, I read in the “ Toronto Daily Star “ an account of a proposal by an American economist. Professor Chamberlain. The report was in these terms -
He proposed that American corporations setting up subsidiaries in Canada should be required to divest themselves of ownership at the end of 25 years, accepting payment in bonds of the subsidiary.
The report went on -
Professor Chamberlain’s idea has a good deal of merit. It would not halt the takeovers of Canadian businesses which have caused so much concern in recent years, but it would prevent the gradual accumulation of American ownership to the point where all Canadian industry was under foreign control. Moreover the substitution, after an interval, of bonded indebtedness for direct ownership would be an almost desirable change. Bonds can be paid off from earnings of the enterprise; but ownership is permanent. Indeed one reason why the U.S. itself has been so free from foreign economic dominance is the fact that British and European capital which helped develop the country in its early days was mostly in the form of bonds and mortgage loans rather than direct participation in business enterprises.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Drury). -Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) spoke about the effects of estate duty on primary producers. I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to the effects of very generous concessions that are available to primary producers, lt is an unfortunate fact that these concessions operate in a regressive fashion, so that the primary producer with the largest income receives the greatest benefit and the smallest producer with the lowest income receives the least benefit. This weakens the competitive position of the smaller producer or the producer who is just starting in the field and 1 think it is something we should look at very closely. Small holdings, if looked at in one way, may be regarded as being uneconomic or as superfluous in an age of large acreages and costly machinery, but I do not believe that they are. There is a certain social advantage in having small holdings, in having people living on something a little better than subsistence farms, because it is these small holdings that sustain country towns which, in themselves, form focal points for decentralisation.
We need decentralisation in Australia. If wc are to destroy or allow to be destroyed the small holdings the country towns will dwindle away. There will be less employment for the local people. The towns will gradually decline and become ghost towns and our chances of achieving an effective decentralisation of our people throughout the continent will be reduced substantially. So 1 believe that we should look at this problem of the regressive effect of farm concessions. A number of very worthy and valuable concessions are available and are being availed of at the present time, but they have little or no effect on the man on the small holding or the man who is just starting as a primary producer. I believe the remedy for this is to design a form of concession which is based not upon the level of income but upon the particular utility which is required. For example, our greatest need on all properties, large and small, is for the conservation of water and fodder. 1 do not believe that any landholder is making maximum use of the concessions which are now available.
If we could make a concession to landholders on a double basis, that is, if twice the cost of the improvement were allowed as a taxation deduction, this would help the man on the small holding. Certainly it would benefit also the large primary producers, but it would have a definite effect upon those who had a very small income because a double concession, similar to the concession which we are now offering to exporters, would reach the man on a small income and would make it attractive to him to go in for this type of improvement to his property. This would be a national asset, strengthen his competitive position and enable him to thrive and increase. Australia is not the only country which recognises the need to maintain small holders on the land. Other countries pay particular attention to this aspect of primary production and the rural scene generally, especially the countries of Europe where every incentive is given to primary producers to remain on the land. Whether their holdings be large or small, they are given very attractive concessions and bounties to enable them to keep going and to survive as producers. I do not suggest for one moment that we should enter this field of bounty payments - I believe that would be disastrous - but I do suggest that we could offer the inducement of a double taxation deduction for farm improvements. I refer particularly to those improvements which are involved in the conservation of water and fodder.
.- There has been some discussion here today by honorable members on this side of the chamber on the problem of foreign investment as it amasses in this country. Certainly there does seem to be a very real need for a more enlightened and much wider debate on the subject. It seems to me that one of the first things that Australians must do is to get rid of the complex that only foreign investment can develop major projects in this country. From what I can see of the situation - and there is plenty of evidence to substantiate this view - Australia is quite capable of providing investment for major national projects from local sources on a considerably larger scale than it has so far been prepared to attempt. Indeed, without even an attempt to enlarge the volume of investment available from local sources, it is quite obvious that one of our problems, which the Government refuses to face up to, is the direction of this investment - where it goes - and the resultant effect that it has within the economy. It is most important that Australians realise this, and that they get rid of this inferiority complex which is being encouraged and fostered by what amounts to a lazy economic policy formulated by the Government.
We know that the Government likes to maintain that this is a free enterprise economy and we know also that one of the last things the Government wants to do is to interfere with any sort of investment. It completely rejects any proposition for an economic planning commission or an economic ministry which would advise the Government on projections for economic development in the future. Indeed, if I may mention this by the way, I believe we have probably come to the stage where this business of a yearly budget should have passed. We should have come to the stage where we should be proceeding in terms of five year plans and reporting regularly to Parliament every three months or six months, or whenever necessary, on the direction of the economy and the adjustments which have been necessary to sustain direction in economic growth. But the matter that I want to speak of particularly is this mythical quality which has developed about foreign investment in Australia, the myth that we cannot go it alone, we cannot do it ourselves.
– Why not show us how it can be done?
– We have to let the overseas investors take control of the country. There are all sorts of people who have this kind of view - members of the Cabinet and members of the Ministry, such as the Minister for Territories who shows an abundant lack of knowledge in this field. If he is prepared to sit down a while and listen he will go away better informed. However, sending him away better informed would probably be a difficult task. What we must realise is that Australia can do it. If India, which is supposed to be an underprivileged country - economically it undoubtedly is - can launch into projects for establishing steel works, on the basis of the hiring and firing of technical knowledge and can get four steel works fully operative since the last war, why cannot we do it?
I have raised this subject in the House. I have even raised it in questions to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). Honorable members will recall that his reply was a delightful exercise in sidestepping the real issue. But this attitude of the Government is important. I refer to its lazy approach of letting foreign investment come in to provide the sort of investment for which we should be prepared to save so that we preserve the future of this country instead of selling our heritage at 6d. a ton as has happened in the case of minerals, or frittering a little bit away at a time or, to put it in rather startling terms, selling the flour mill or the biscuit factory each year to keep the economy going. That was said by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Country Party, who says one thing when talking to Country Party congresses when he runs into some redblooded rebellious gentlemen there who want something done in Australia, but says little in this chamber. He is remarkably reticent when he comes into this chamber and finds that if he wants to keep the plums for the Country Party - if he wants to achieve some of the illogical and outlandish propositions that he puts up as an answer to the economic needs of this country - he has to be a little quieter here.
The things we must realise are what we have done in this country. Already we provide 90 per cent, of our investment locally.
In fact the report of the Vernon Committee of Economic Inquiry brought out the fact that investment in Australia was the equivalent of a little more than 24 per cent, of our gross national product, and that domestic savings represented about 23 per cent. The shortfall which apparently had to be filled from outside sources was less than 2 per cent, of the gross national product. Should this not stimulate us? Should this not be the sort of thing which encourages us to look about for ways in which we can raise the money locally to foster as much as possible our own investment?
More than 40 per cent, of all manufacturing company assets are owned by overseas interests. We find that key industries like pharmaceutical industries, telecommunications, chemical industries, mineral extraction industries, to mention a few of many 1 have listed here, are owned to the extent of more than 70 per cent, by foreign investors. Should we not be concerned about this sort of development in our economy? Should we not be concerned that so much economic power is going into the hands of people outside this country whose only interest is in terms of the balance sheets of the particular undertakings in which they have invested, and who are not concerned about the individual welfare of the people of this country?
One of the possibilities we should look at, as I mentioned in my speech on the Budgel, is the establishment of some sort of Commonwealth investment corporation, a corporation with the independence of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. This is necessary because it could act in the way of a capital issues body to see that capital goes to areas in which it is most needed. Obviously the corporation would be managed on sound commercial lines. I will refer to this further if time permits. In Canada today there are proposals for the establishment of an institution of this kind. What we have to aim at in Australia, of course - and a Commonwealth investment corporation would achieve this - is to widen and improve the quality of the capital market. A corporation could do this through the diversion of funds to sectors which are at present finding it difficult to rely on the capital market. We have to see that we do get economic growth on a greater scale than that which is operating at the present time.
The Vernon Committee pointed this out. We must expect by 1974 or 1975 to achieve a moderate growth rate of 5 per cent, per annum and an investment rate of about 26 per cent, of the gross national product.
So the challenge is there. If we want to achieve something worth while we have to start acting now. One of the first problems is the provision of funds for this sort of investment corporation. How are we going to encourage savings and increase investment? In fact, of course, we do have a high rate of savings. I have already mentioned 23 per cent, of the gross national product. But there are countries like Japan which have more than 40 per cent, of the gross run iona I product going into savings. We have to face the situation that is developing. We have to achieve a better growth rate through higher investment and achieve as much as we can internally. This calls for some sort of positive action on the part of the Government, and, because of the calibre of some of the spokesmen for the Government on economic matters, it is difficult to conceive of this kind of action being taken.
There is a modest way in which we could start, and this has side considerations which would be, I think, quite beneficial. We could encourage some kind of statutory savings bonds. The importance of these would be that young people could have their savings placed in statutory bonds at attractive interest rates, computed on a compound basis. The money could be repaid to them on marriage or at a specified age. If people required their money for some urgent purpose it could be made available to them on application. The obvious benefit here is that young people getting married would be assisted with the provision of capital to cover the deposit gap in respect of housing, or to provide deposits for furnishings.
Another method, of course, is to impose a tax on company profits. I suggest that we should pay particular regard to the fact that in 1964-65, according to the national income statement, as I interpret it, total company profits would have been of the order of $2,000 million. A tax of 10c in the $1 would have raised about $209 million for investment. This would be of great assistance in the community in helping to establish various industries, helping to develop our natural resources - and here let me return to something I mentioned earlier: If India can ‘hire and fire technical know-how, surely we can. I am not suggesting, incidentally, that this is a sort of panacea for all problems of investment. There would be some cases in which we would need to have overseas investment, but this would greatly minimise the necessity, and this should be one of the objects of the Government.
What are the objections to this kind of tax? It may be said that a tax on the profits of a corporation would affect its savings, affect its industrial expansion and growth and so on. 1 believe that one of the problems at present is that there is too much reinvestment in some industries. There is too much evidence of salted away reserves and of various organisations by-passing the capital market and by these policies starving the growth sectors of the economy. There is the other consideration that because of these salted-away reserves, some people who indulge in these practices are able to avoid the effect of monetary policy which has been prescribed by the Government. Again I pointed out that the size of profits is not necessarily an indication of technological efficiency. Monopolies give a good example in this regard. Monopoly profit is not profit, or risk profit anyway; it is a straight out tax on the community. This problem of monopolies is pointed out in Dr. Helen Hughes’ work “ Australian Iron and Steel Industry”. The trouble with monopolies is that they become institutionalised beds of inefficiency. They put the brakes on the generation of more wealth and more growth in the community by the selfish way in which they amass and hold on to the wealth of the community. Of course the main objections to the tax I have suggested would come from wealthy shareholders in these large companies, and some of those shareholders sit on the Government benches.
There is another recommendation I would like to make. When we talk about these monopolies and oligopolies and the way in which they are building up their reserves and their undistributed profits we should give consideration to a capital gains tax. ft might not raise a very great amount - I have heard one suggestion that it would raise probably no more than Si 00 million a year - but at least it would have the salutary effect of putting the brakes on the way In which wealth is generated by a few wealthy shareholders in giant sized corporations for themselves, for the perpetuation of economic power in the hands of a few and for the benefit of those few. The answer to the objections is that if these industries are so efficient they will attract investment from the investment corporation by the way in which they operate, by the way they present their prospectuses on the open capital market.
There is one point I want to make at this stage in relation to my argument that we need more encouragement for investment in the important sectors of the community which are growth sustaining and which to some significant extent are being starved at the present time. I refer to the present topheaviness in the tertiary sector of the economy, involving more than 60 per cent, of our work force. In the early 1950’s this sector involved 43 per cent, of total investment, while at present it covers about 55 per cent, of total investment. When I talk of the tertiary sector I am talking in terms of the milk-bar section of that sector. The Canadian Government is acting to develop the economy of the country by establishing a Canada Development Corporation. Walter L. Gordon, the Canadian Minister of Finance, recently made a statement on this subject in which he said -
Some new vehicle is needed for channelling Canadian savings into equity holdings on a large scale, a vehicle which will supplement and round out the efforts of existing institutions - including the life insurance companies which hitherto have been hesitant about investing in Canadian equities.
Canada is a capitalist country and this is the representative of a capitalist government talking. Should we regard my proposal as too radical? If the Government does not do it the private banks will do it and they will concentrate more of the economic power in their hands. Already they have far too much.
It seems to me that discussions on matters like these are urgent discussions and that action should be taken by the Australian community. If the Australian community does not act soon it may find itself in the unhappy situation of Canada, where control of the economy lies beyond the Canadian Government and in the hands of foreign investors. The challenge is here for Australians. The answers to the problem of raising greater domestic investment are available. We ought not to be so lazy; we ought to act in the interests of Australia and the future.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to take up the time of the Committee for only a few minutes to make some comparisons between what the Government promised and what it has done. It is worth while to examine, at this time when the Treasury estimates are under discussion, what the economic, financial and taxation policies of this Government and its predecessors back to 1949 have brought to Australia in comparison with the pledges that were made. Government supporters are always pleased to say, when talking about prosperity, economics and things of that nature, that in 1949, for instance, there were so many motor cars whereas in 1966 there are so many more. They have applied the same argument to television sets and other products. Using that basis, Government supporters try to show that the country is much more prosperous now than it was in 1949, completely overlooking a number of other factors involved.
Having used that argument over the years, Government supporters - from backbenchers to Ministers - will not mind if I apply the same yardstick in the field of taxation and show that the people are being taxed as never before in comparison with the time when Labour was in office. This is happening under a government that was pledged to reduce taxation and prices. When the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) introduced this Budget he sent his political colleagues in New South Wales and Victoria into a tail spin. I will show why they should have gone into a tail spin, and I will show just what has happened in the field of taxation administration, which we can discuss today when considering the Treasury estimates. In 1948-49 when Labour was in office direct taxes collected amounted to S576 million and indirect taxation to $501 million, making a total of direct and indirect taxes collected of $1,077 million. Since that time - under a government, mind you, that says it has restored stability and made the conditions of the people much better - direct taxation has increased to $2,684 million and indirect taxation to $2,347 million, making a total of $5,031 million. That is an increase of roughly 400 -per cent, in direct and indirect taxation.
– What about per capita?
– I am just using the Government’s type of argument about prosperity, and applying it to taxation. I shall give the per capita figures and they will frighten the wits out of even the tolerant honorable member from up around Southport.
The amount of direct tax per head collected in 1948-49 was $72. Now, under this Government, it is $234. There has been an increase of about 300 per cent. Indirect tax in 1948-49 was §62 per head. Now it is $204, or an increase of roughly 350 per cent. Direct and indirect taxes per head of population between 1948-49, when Labour was in office, until the present time, have increased from $1.34 to $438. Those figures ought to give the Minister his answer. If we apply the yardstick of prosperity that is frequently applied in relation to the number of television sets and cars in existence now as compared with 1949, the position is that roughly every person in the community is three or four times worse off under this Government because of its imposition of taxation. What 1 am about to recall might be old time, or it might not, but I ask honorable members to look at the battered old pledge of the Liberal-Country Parties in 1948-49 and what was promised to the people. The antiLabour parties said: “ You have lost half your savings, you have less than half the money value you think you have. Which will you have, Chifley and Socialism and £1 worth between 9s. and lis., or Menzies and Fadden and £1 worth £1?” Every person today knows that because of the tax rates imposed by the Government and because of the Government’s financial policy £1 today cannot buy £1 worth of value, but is 50 per cent, less in value than it was in the time of the Chifley Government.
Let us look at the average man’s rate of income and consider how he is suffering under the present Government. A man in the average wage category in 1949 would have had an income of about £460 per annum and would have paid £10 in tax- 4s. a week, or 2 per cent, of his income. Today the average wage has risen three times in money terms - from less than £9 a week to more than £27. A scale I have here shows the amount of income tax payable by a man with a wife and two children at incomes normally three times higher than in a previous table that I have. I have not the time to quote the figures from these tables but they show that the tax payable, as a percentage of income, increases from 3 per cent, on incomes ranging from £750 to £1,500 to 21.6 per cent, on incomes ranging from £3,000 to £6,000. That is broadly what the position is. Today’s average wage earner with an annual income of $2,800, and deductions of $600 for his wife and two children, leaving a taxable income of $2,200, would pay $262 a year in tax, or $5 per week. Under this Government nearly 10 per cent, of his income goes in tax. Whilst it is difficult to maintain that a man in 1966 with three times the income of a man in 1949 is in real terms no better off, what the comparative tax figures show is that in the middle income ranges the family man is more heavily taxed than is sometimes thought.
The married man on $35 a week - only marginally above the basic wage - pays $ 1 .50 a week in tax, a sum which exactly cancels out the child endowment his wife receives for their children. Added to this inequity - or iniquity - he has probably to pay $1 a week as a so called voluntary contribution - conscription, of course - for medical and hospital benefits. In 1949 a similar man would have virtually been free of income tax. It would be interesting to hear the Treasurer explain this away to the people of Australia. How could he convince them that today they are better off when a man is paying 10 per cent, of his average wages in tax, in addition to impositions for social services, health benefits and a number of other things?
I should like the Government to show also how having increased taxes by up to 300 or 400 per cent, it has given any benefit to the average person in the community. I have not taken into consideration the fact that the pensioner pays the same rate of excise on cigarettes and tobacco as persons on higher incomes, nor have I taken into consideration the fact that the pensioner pays the same rate of sales tax as the man who gets SI 0,000, S20,000 or $30,000 a year. There is no more iniquitous tax in this country than sales tax. It is imposed on every person irrespective of his income. Because of the policies it adopts the Government reduces still further the standard of living of those I have mentioned who are rearing families. These policies, of course, are loaded against people on small incomes with only their labour to sell. Why is it that Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., General Motors-Holden’s Ltd., Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd. and other companies making unlimited profits have never had an excess profits tax imposed on them, as this Government promised it would do as far back as 1949? Without doubt some people in Australia “ never had it so good “, but there are a lot of people who, economically, have never had it at all. We are gradually getting to the stage under this Government’s taxation policy where a huge section of the community is wealthy and another section is poverty stricken. The people in the latter section will go to the wall if this type of taxation policy is to be pursued.
Then we have a further pattern of development in respect of taxation. What has the Treasurer dons in regard to the States? Sir Henry Bolte and Mr. Askin - men of the same political faith as the Treasurer - have been outspoken against the Government’s policies as announced by the Treasurer, which we are debating at the moment. As yet i have not heard the Treasurer give in this Parliament a detailed statement showing any fallacies in the arguments of Mr. Askin and Sir Henry Bolte. If these gentlemen have no case, if they are putting up fallacies, why does not the Minister come into the open and say so? What would he have said if Labour Premiers had spoken like that? He would have said that they were playing politics, that they had sent their States bankrupt and were now trying to put all the blame on to thi Federal Treasurer. But he has not said that. He has criticised the arguments, but at the same time he has refused to give a detailed statement of any fallacies in those arguments put forward by people of his own political faith. What is the result of the policy he has forced on the States? The Askin Government has now increased charges all round. Hospital charges are going up by 33i per cent.
Transport charges are to be increased by 10 to 14 per cent, and in a wide field tax increases are being levied in both New South Wales and Victoria which will further cripple persons who have only small incomes and who are already paying exorbitant taxation under this Government. 1 do not condone the wild and extravagant promises made by the Liberal Parties in New South Wales and Victoria because, like their counterparts in the Federal Parliament, they could not care what they promise as long as they get into power. The fact that they cannot honour their promises only proves that their teachers in this place - the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and his predecessor - taught them to promise anything, get what they could from the public in the way of votes, and to hang wilh the pledges on which they were elected. The fact that they are now hoist with their own petard, as it were, is no reason to take it out on the public of New South Wales and Victoria. There is no reason for the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) to wipe aside the arguments advanced by the Premiers and let the people of New South Wales and Victoria suffer for the shortcomings of a policy which, as I have shown, is exorbitantly increasing taxes and in every way forcing the States and other bodies to increase charges.
One could deal at great lengths with what has happened under this Government to the purchasing power of money. One could deal also with the matter of taxation and show how everything possible is being done to protect those people who do not want protection - the very wealthy interests in this country - at the expense of people in the low and middle income groups or retired or superannuated persons. 1 could not let the occasion pass without putting on record my comments and without supporting the many sections of industry, the trade unions and others, who have deplored the unfortunate and disastrous policy being followed by the Government in the matter of taxation. I do not profess to be an economist but it always amazes me that when we seek the abolition of the means test, for instance, the Government or the Treasurer will say that it cannot be done - that to do so would mean increasing taxes, that it would cost too much. Yet almost overnight we find in the Budget defence expenditure increased by S252 million, out of the air as it were, with no increase in taxes. It has always amazed me how honorable members opposite can produce the money for the protection of the people who send them here and how they can produce it for war and destruction, but when it comes to a matter of giving workers better conditions, increasing pensions or abolishing the means test, they raise the old cry: It cannot be done. 1 say to the people of Australia: It is time you elected a government which, in peace, will give protection from economic suffering as it gives security in wartime. 1 would like the Government to explain how it can produce these funds for everything except essentials for the people in the low income group, who really want assistance. The Government can find money for a bounty on superphosphate production. It can make such a bounty payment retrospective. But it cannot make concessions to that section of the community which most needs them. There is nothing but increased taxes, rising prices and less purchasing power for those who have to live on wages and fixed incomes. For this the Government deserves to be condemned.
– The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) asked what happened back in 1949. Honorable members well know that in 1949 the people of Australia chose the policy of Menzies and Fadden rather than Chifley’s policy. They have been very pleased in their choice and have continued to show their confidence in that choice on a number of occasions since 1949. We know what will happen when the people exercise their right to choose in a few weeks time. The policy of the Australian Labour Party has been to increase taxation, particularly direct taxation. This policy will be pointed out to the people in the weeks to come. So if there is any question as to which party in this Parliament advocates the highest level of taxation, particularly direct taxation, we know the answer: It is the Labour Party, led by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell).
The debate on the estimates has ranged far and wide. I want to deal only with those matters that relate directly to the estimates under discussion. Some important matters were raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). He asked a detailed question concerning Division No. 584, item 08, which relates to the payment for statistical services under the Bureau of Census and Statistics. The honorable member wanted to know why the proposed expenditure this year is $2,062,900 compared with an expenditure last year of $240,467. The increase is attributable to the census which has just been taken. Payments to the field staff this year are estimated to be $1,883,000. The honorable member will see also under item 02 of subdivision 1 that salaries and allowances have increased from $1,050,194 last year to $1,850,000 this year. That increase also is attributable to the census. I trust that this information answers the honorable member’s query. A more important query was in connection with the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. The honorable member used such terms as hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo and chicanery - all good terms.
– I did not say chicanery.
– Not this time. The honorable member made the accusation that the Treasury had tried to tuck away this item so that it took some elucidation; that it needed a mind with the ability of the honorable member’s to find it. If the honorable member looks at page 1.01 of the Estimates he will see how we tried to bring this item out very clearly as a separate matter in the summary of the Department. The proposed expenditure of $369,476,000 has been clearly shown and is clearly segregated from other aspects of this Department’s expenditure I do not think there has been any attempt to hide it. In fact, as I said in my speech on the second reading, now more than on any other occasion the Government has endeavoured to present all these figures as clearly as it possibly can.
I stress that these amounts have to be placed before the Parliament. Therefore they have to be part of the vote of a responsible Minister. Where else than in the Department of the Treasury could this item be shown? In his Budget Speech, the Treasurer made it clear that these were estimates only and not in the same realm as departmental expenses. But they have to be shown in some part of the Bill, and to my mind this is about the best way of dealing with them.
– The estimates for the Department of Social Services do not include the provision for age pensions. This expenditure is not regarded as an administrative aspect of the Department of Social Services. This is the criticism regarding the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. It is in no sense part of the administration of the Treasury. lt is part of the mechanism, if you like, of fiscal and monetary control.
– The point is well taken but in segregating the item in this form we have tried at least to demonstrate that this is rather separate from the other part of Treasury expenses.
– It is not separate enough.
– We have not yet succeeded in meeting fully the honorable member’s complaint, but at least we have made our point. On the general matter of debt management raised by the honorable member - this is important - soon there will be a debate on the National Debt Sinking Fund. That may be a better opportunity to range freely than in the debate on these estimates. For the time being I will leave that matter there.
The other important points were raised by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). He dealt with two matters: First, he asked whether a Keynesian system of monetary management could work in a Federal system. This is an important subject. I cannot deal fully with it now, but I would like to say that the reason why the States impose additional taxation is only to meet additional expenditure. Therefore, to a certain extent, this is only a matter of transfer payments and does not have the same general effect on the overall economy as does the Commonwealth Budget. I would say also that, even taking the figures submitted by the honorable member for Yarra, the effect of this State taxation is rather marginal, compared with the overall effect of the Commonwealth Budget. Finally, State governments have to balance their Budgets each year; they have no recourse to central bank credit. The Commonwealth Government has sole recourse to central bank credit, whether it budgets for a deficit or a credit, and therefore has the ultimate task of managing the economy. I think on these three grounds we can say that a Keynesian system can be worked effectively in this sort of Federal system.
– But there is a penalty on the States having a deficit. It is a fairly severe penalty, and one which does not apply to the central government.
– Yes, but at least the thing does get taken up over a period. If it is not taken up immediately, in the one year, it is corrected in the following year.
– Generally it is the immediate point that is the critical one.
– Yes, but even on the figures in the table incorporated in “ Hansard “ by the honorable member for Yarra, it will be seen that the effect is marginal and that the case presented by him was rather exaggerated. The other point that 1 thought was important was whether the mechanism of monetary policy can control inflation. I would say first that I do not think the honorable member for Yarra was quite fair to the House when quoting from the report by Mr. Gardner Ackerly. If he had gone on to quote further from that report, which I think was an economic report to the President of the United States of America on 27th January of this year, he would have mentioned this further comment by Mr. Ackerly -
The basic precondition for price stability is a fiscal-monetary policy that deters total demand for goods and services from outrunning potential supply.
If he had examined the whole of the report he would have seen that the role of a fiscalmonetary policy in controlling inflation was the central point. It would have been much better if the Committee had been given the full story instead of the rather slanted one placed before it by the honorable member for Yarra.
Despite the remarks of the honorable member, the fact is that over the last five years or more the rate of growth of inflation in this country has been much less than has been the case in most of the other countries with which we are trading. I suggest that the terms of trade have run a little more in our favour because the nation that is best able to control the rate of growth of inflation is the one that improves its ability to trade with other nations. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it is quite clear that over the last few years the fiscalmonetary policy adopted by this Government has been much more successful than that of many other nations in controlling the rate of growth of inflation.
Finally, if the honorable member for Yarra was expounding the policy that is to be advocated by the Labour Party at the next election, if his Party proposes to submit to the electorate on November 26th a policy of prices control and wages control, I hope he will remember what happened to the Labour Government that was in office prior to 1949. There was prices control then, and with prices control went rationing, manpower control and manpower direction. Remembering the way in which the people of Australia threw the Labour Government out lock stock and barrel in 1949, I shall be very surprised if they vote for such a policy this time.
– Do not forget that we had been in the throes of a war not long before then.
– Does the honorable member recall that the Labour Government kept petrol rationing in operation until 1949, claiming that it could not be removed. But it was removed within a few weeks of the coming to office of this Government, and we have had no trouble with petrol supplies since then. Mr. Chifley, however, said it was impossible to remove petrol rationing. Honorable members opposite certainly have very short memories. I think I have dealt with the major points raised concerning the Department of the Treasury.
The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) raised two interesting points relating to taxation. I have not the time to deal with them now, but I shall see to it that a letter is sent to him explaining the position and outlining the reasons why the Department look the action that it did.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, 810,526,000.
.- I wish to take this opportunity to raise a matter for which the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department make no provision, and I am grateful to the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) for coming into the chamber to listen to my submissions. They relate to a matter that is seldom, if ever, raised in any Parliament of Australia. I think the main reason for the silence on this matter in the State Parliaments and in the National Parliament is that, in the main, politicians tend to ask: “ Are there any votes in this? “. 1 do not believe that any votes are to be gained from raising the matter with which I intend to deal.
Many honorable members will be aware of the steps that were taken by the United Kingdom Government last month to amend the Criminal Justice Act of that country, due to an upsurge of crime there which, 1 submit, is on a par with the upsurge of crime in Australia, in the eastern States in particular. Because of this upsurge of crime in Australia, there is an overpowering need for the Commonwealth, through the Attorney-General, to give leadership to the States by amending the legislation relating to juries in criminal cases in the Australian Capital Territory and other Territories under the control of the Commonwealth Government. I submit that the legislation should be amended to provide for the acceptance of majority verdicts of 10 to 2 by juries in criminal cases. To support this submission I quote the following extract from the journal “ Statist “ of 1 2th August 1966-
The case for majority verdicts (the Bill will require a majority of 10-2, after a considerable period of retirement by the jury) is overwhelming. At present jurors are only too accessible to interference by or on behalf of the prisoner, and even without this, the occasions when prejudice against the police, or in favour of motorists, enables one or two jurors, possibly with convictions, to hang the jury instead of the accused are only too well established. The reform is a necessary change that retains the safeguards of the jury system and will reduce the number of guilty men who escape. It will avoid the expense of a retrial when juries are unable to agree (and retrials do not always take place in less serious cases), diminish the interference of outsiders, and reduce the pressure inside the jury of one obstinate member on the majority - which can secure acquittal because of the general desire to agree. And the verdict of 10 good men and true (the minimum size of a jury even today) seems as likely to protect the accused as 12 (though the Bill must sort out the problem of the majority required when the size of the jury is reduced).
We all are aware that the latter part of this quote refers to occasions when the size of the jury is reduced, possibly because of a serious illness in a juror’s family. The courts in our States have the right to reduce the number of jurors who arc deciding an issue when this is agreed to by defence counsel and the Crown prosecutor. In Australia today, particularly in the eastern States, crime is getting out of hand - if it has not already got out of hand. In today’s “Daily Telegraph “ is an editorial headed “ More Police to Beat Crime Wave “, which refers to the shocking incidence of crime in New South Wales. In today’s “ Australian “, in an article headed “ Don’t Fight a Bandit, Police Warn “, the following appears -
Armed robbers should not be attacked and no attempt should be made to cut off their escape, a senior police lecturer warned in Melbourne yesterday.
I believe that the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) should do as I suggest. He should not be a wheelbarrow - and I do not say this offensively - and have to be pushed. He should stri’ke out and give leadership, as did the previous Attorney-General with his modern divorce legislation which met with the overwhelming approbation of Australian citizens and was commended in many countries. I believe that if our present AttorneyGeneral were to heed my suggestions he would receive similar commendation for introducing an up to date amendment to legislation governing juries and for following a pattern that the United Kingdom Home Secretary, Mr. Jenkins, proposes to establish in the autumn session of the House of Commons. 1 have taken the opportunity of raising this special matter for which no provision is made in the Estimates, because I believe it to be of vital interest to all law abiding Australians and of particular concern to the Australian Capital Territory and other Territories of the Commonwealth. Juries are empanelled on criminal cases. It has been an age old British tradition for a person on trial for an indictable offence to be tried before a jury of 12 of his fellow men. The verdict has always had to be unanimous. Organised crime in Australia, particuarly in the eastern States, has reached such proportions that legislatures should seriously consider my proposals. I hope that every member of my own Party will agree with what I suggest. My proposal is reasonable, practicable and, above all, brimming with common sense. Each day the newspapers have headlines about bank holdups, safe breakers getting away with thousands of dollars and masked men holding up shopkeepers. I believe that 80 per cent, of these crimes can be described as organised crime. The action I suggest should take place as soon as possible, even before the forthcoming Federal elections. It would bring credit to the Government Parties if they were to initiate the reform. I suggest that a 10 to 2 jury verdict should be acceptable. The bill forecast by the United Kingdom Home Secretary is regarded as the biggest and most wide ranging measure in this field since 1948, when other legislation was introduced by Mr. Chuter Ede. I ask for a 10 to 2 jury verdict to eliminate malpractices, the nobbling of jurors and obstinate jurors who could not make up their minds about anything. The Opposition in the United Kingdom Parliament has indicated that it will support the proposed bill generally.
We all know that organised crime in the United Kingdom has reached an all time high. The same can be said of the position in Australia. Possibly on a per capita basis serious crime in Australia may exceed that of the United Kingdom. A day or two ago we were reminded in the Press that four police officers have been shot to death in the United Kingdom in the last three weeks. We are all aware that two professional criminals, Ryan and Walker, who escaped from Pentridge Gaol in Victoria, were responsible for killing two decent law abiding Australians before their recapture. These two professional criminals bitterly contested their cases. I think that if figures relating to criminals charged with indictable offences were available to the community, people would be astonished to see how often the charges are reduced to lesser charges. I believe this is done to enable Crown prosecutors to obtain convictions rather than have to suffer nincompoop juries acquitting persons of serious crimes and letting them go free despite the overwhelming evidence that the Crown may place before the court.
– I have more faith in juries than in some judges.
– That may be so, but the honorable member is not referring to criminal court juries. In his book “Courtroom “, Quentin Reynolds points out that astute criminal lawyers are able to choose some jurors whom they know will agree with submissions made by defence counsel. This type of thing has been going on for ages, but legislatures do not touch this subject because there are no votes in it. Under the jury system in Australia and in Great Britain at present it is possible for persons with criminal convictions to sit on juries and adjudicate on other criminals. It is most unlikely that they would return a verdict for the Crown. Time will not permit me to develop fully the case I intended to put to the Parliament. Experts know that many guilty men have been acquitted of crimes because of graft and coemption that is rife in the United Kingdom and, to a greater extent than most people realise, in Australia. The big fish, or the principals in crime, are seldom found guilty by juries which are not locked up overnight, because this gives evil people an opportunity to approach a jury and bribe or intimidate it. As the Jaw in New South Wales now stands, it is not an offence to approach a juror during the progress of a trial unless the person so doing is knowingly aware that that juror is sitting on a trial, so immediately a person who approaches a juror is rebuffed by the juror saying “ I am sitting on that trial and I cannot discuss it “, the contact man invariably replies: “ I am sorry. I did not know you were sitting on the jury”. Of course nothing can be done about it.
I hope the Attorney-General will give serious consideration to the submissions I have made and will follow the example set by the United Kingdom Government. I congratulate the British Labour Party and its Home Secretary, Mr. Jenkins, on formulating the proposed legislation to permit jurors in criminal trials to return a majority verdict of 10 to 2. I urge the AttorneyGeneral to initiate similar legislation in the Australian Capital Territory as soon as possible and thereby show leadership to the States. I have no doubt that his action will meet with the overwhelming approval of all decent law abiding citizens in Australia.
.- I wish to speak today on the subject of legal aid. I believe that our legal system at both the State and Federal levels has the respect of the community. Our judges are men of capacity, integrity and independence, and our legal profession observes the highest standards. Occasionally there are lapses but these are exceptions and the profession itself deals drastically with them. Yet there are complaints about the operation of our legal system which stem, 1 think, from a view held by members of the community that legal proceedings are too expensive. Although our courts are open to everyone - everyone is equal under the law - the fact is that legal proceedings are so costly that only governments, large corporations or wealthy individuals, or those who are so poor that they proceed with the assistance of legal aid, can undertake them with a completely easy mind. Ordinary people such as you and I could hardly afford to risk incurring liability for a large amount of costs because we might jeopardise ourselves, our position and our families.
It may be that this has always been so, but 1 think today we are more conscious of weakness in our legal system. Our duty is to find a remedy. Lawyers should be giving urgent attention to the matter because if a suitable remedy is not found to correct the position there is a risk that a remedy may eventually be found which may encroach upon the independence of the legal profession. The Law Council of Australia is aware of this problem and it has arranged a seminar on this subject to take place in Melbourne on 1st October, lt is to be hoped that the Council will adopt an imaginative approach because I think the time has come for lawyers themselves to produce a workable scheme of legal aid which goes beyond anything so far provided even by those States which have comparatively recent legislation on this subject, particularly Victoria and Queensland. The scheme should be such that assistance will be available not only to the needy poor but also to the average citizen.
However, one thing is clear. The legal profession in Australia, which numbers only about 6,500, cannot carry the burden of this expense on its own shoulders. I have read on occasions articles which have suggested that lawyer’s costs are too high. The implication is that if these costs were reduced law could be made cheaper and placed within the reach of all. The fact is that although the cost of all types of services has increased greatly over the past 30 years, legal costs have risen much less than have other costs. For example, in 1937 the basic wage in Sydney was £3 10s. or $7. In 1966 it was $33.50. It has increased four, nearly five, times. On the other hand, the scale of fees charged, for example, by a junior barrister in New South Wales in a Supreme Court action has risen from 24 guineas in 1937 to a range of between 42 and 54 guineas in 1966. That is to say, it has doubled or, at the top of the range, only slightly more than doubled notwithstanding the fact that staff and the other expenses of lawyers have increased in the meantime in proportion to the basic wage, that is, by over four times.
As I see it, the financial status of lawyers, over this period in relation to the rest of the community, particularly having regard to the impact of income tax, has fallen substantially. There are, of course, exceptional cases but J am speaking of the large bulk of the legal profession. One of the difficulties about this is that if costs for lawyers are reduced further the likely result is that the legal profession will cease to attract its share of first class recruits. Unless we want in the future a third rate system administered by third rate people, we should not look to this as a solution. The real answer, I think, is that the provision of a satisfactory system for the administration of justice is ultimately the responsibility of governments. They assume responsibility for providing court buildings, for paying judges and officials and in general for providing for the administration of justice. I suggest that they will have to assume more and more responsibility in the future for the actual working of the legal system. One way to improve it would be to provide an adequate system of legal aid.
The problem which I raise this afternoon is not peculiar to Australia. It exists in the United Kingdom where an imaginative approach has been adopted in the Legal Aid and Advice Acts of 1949 and 1960. I am not suggesting that we could transplant that system straight to Australia. I do not think it would suit us entirely, but these schemes in the United Kingdom are designed to enable every citizen, whatever his financial position, to consult a solicitor of his own choice and to obtain advice on English law as soon as any legal problem arises. After that, the services of a solicitor and, if necessary, counsel are made available to him in connection with proceedings in court. This service is provided not only for those who can afford to pay for it entirely out of their own resources but also for those who cannot afford to do so.
The Law Society in England is charged with the administration of this scheme under the general control of the Lord Chancellor. The funds for this scheme come as to part from contributions which are required to be made by people according to their means; as to part from costs awarded in proceedings. In addition, the Government makes grants directly to it. The legal profession is paid not by the client but out of this fund.
Within the last month or so New Zealand has also introduced a system of legal aid which, to some extent, is based on the United Kingdom system. The States of Australia have been looking at this matter and, as I have said, Victoria has a fairly up to date system. The Queensland system, which is largely based on the Victorian system, was introduced by an act passed in 1965. The New South Wales Government is at present engaged in conferences with the Bar Association and the Law Society in that State with a view to introducing a new system.
I suggest to honorable members that this is a field in which the Commonwealth should give a lead. The position in the Australian Capital Territory is not satisfactory, although there are some provisions for legal aid. For example, the New South Wales Poor Prisoners Defence Act is applied and there is a provision under the Judiciary Act which enables assistance to be given to a person charged with a breach of a Commonwealth act. The rules of the Supreme Court of the Territory provide for some persons to obtain assistance, if they are not worth more than $50 in all. But in general, there is no legal aid system of the type that I suggest is needed at this time. I should perhaps mention that recently there was a provision - I do not think it is intended to be anything more than a stop gap - which enables people in the Australian Capital Territory to obtain some assistance in matrimonial causes. Here applicants for assistance approach the Attorney-General’s Department which in turn must approach the Treasury for approval. Some approvals have been given under this provision, but it is a system that takes some time and cannot be regarded as anything beyond a stop gap measure.
For people who engage in Commonwealth proceedings - for example, proceedings in State courts exercising Federal jurisdiction, whether under the Matrimonial Causes Act or some other act - no provision at all is made by the Commonwealth for legal aid. lt is true that there is a Commonwealth Legal Service Bureau that will give advice and assistance, but this is limited broadly to ex-servicemen. So it is that the Commonwealth really is lagging behind the States in this matter, and I suggest that the position will become even more acute if the Federal Superior Court, which was approved by Cabinet minute some years ago, is put into effect. Here we will have another increase in Commonwealth legal proceedings and again no provision for legal aid, unless some new scheme is introduced.
I suggest that there are features of the United Kingdom scheme which are worthy of consideration, although it would need to be adapted to our situation. What I suggest is that it is desirable that the Law Council of Australia, which is holding a seminar on 1st October, should be encouraged in its deliberations on this matter in the hope that it will produce a new scheme. Indeed, it would be helpful if the Commonwealth itself could take some initiative in the matter. I should say that a new scheme need not necessarily require the expenditure of Government money by direct grant. It has been found that this is necessary in the United Kingdom. If it is necessary here, so be it. In Victoria and Queensland, as I understand it, some financial assistance is obtained by providing for the use of interest on trust funds held by solicitors. If this were not paid into the funds, no interest or income would be available for clients on whose behalf the trust funds are held. This scheme is being considered in New South Wales. Whether or not it is an appropriate source of revenue may be a matter for debate. While I do not underrate the difficulties of providing a workable and modern scheme of legal aid, I do suggest that this is a real weakness in our legal system, that it is important and of some urgency and that a practical solution needs to be found.
.- Last year, according to the Social Statistics on Divorce for 1965, there were in Australia nearly 8,500 dissolutions of marriage. I think we all should be alarmed at this; it is an extremely high rate of dissolved marriages in this community of ours. The total number of children affected by these dissolutions of marriage is also worthy of the exercise of our minds. Nearly 11,500 children are affected by these broken homes. In 1959, the Government introduced the Matrimonial Causes Act. I intend to make it clear now that had I been here at that time 1 would have voted for the Act. But I have some concern that the Act does not make enough practical provision for reconciliations. It makes some provision, but a little later I intend to offer some suggestions about the way in which the problem of broken marriages ought to be handled.
Approaching the problem in a legalistic manner has many shortcomings, not the least of which is the restriction of legal procedures. When a person goes into a court, the legal system seems to proceed on an almost mathematical basis. Certain events have happened in the past and now lead to a certain conclusion. Some enjoyable discussions - enjoyed by legal people - take place on points of law. But really I do not think that this gets to the heart of what is essentially a personal and social problem concerning human beings. Looking at this high rate of divorce, I believe that John Selden, if he had been alive today, would have been quite perplexed. After all, he did warn us -
Marriage is a desperate thing; the frogs in Aesop were extreme wise; they had a great mind to some water, but they would not leap into the well because they could not get out again.
As one jurist has pointed out, there are now some easily accessible ladders constructed on the side of the well.
We must be more responsible about providing reasonable opportunities for people to dissolve their marriages. We must believe that it is incumbent upon us to ensure that every effort is made to save marriages before they reach this final and more or less irrevocable stage. The royal commission that inquired into divorce in 1953 in Great Britain referred to the fact that the way the marriage laws are constructed at the present time they are heavily weighted in favour of the least scrupulous, the least honorable and the least sensitive, and that nobody who is ready to provide a ground for divorce, who is careful to avoid any suggestion of connivance or collusion and who has a co-operative spouse, has any difficulty in securing a dissolution of the marriage.
When one sees how frequently divorces are given, one must realise that this is not good enough for our society. We cannot afford to have this high rate of broken marriages in our community, with the psychological maladjustment that develops in the thousands of children who are the unfortunate victims of the broken homes. The parties go into the legalistic proceedings as contestants and a slanging match follows. The husband and wife each try to paint the other blacker than he is. The wife tries to paint the husband as the worst of all offenders so that she may get what she considers to be a reasonable amount of maintenance. The husband paints the wife as the worst type of person so that he can avoid as much as possible the levy of a high maintenance payment. So really our present judicial system does not make any real effort to get on top, significantly anyway, of this problem of the breaking of homes.
Rule 15 of the Matrimonial Causes Rules made under the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1959 provides that solicitors approached by parties in such proceedings must advise them of certain requirements under the Act. The Rule requires that, if there is any chance of reconciliation, the parties ought to exploit it, that they must be advised of the existence of marriage guidance organisations and so on. I understand that about 7 per cent, of the cases referred to the marriage guidance organisations come from legal sources. I suppose that this is better than nothing, but it is not a very big percentage and I am sure that it is not a large percentage of the people who go to solicitors. Probably quite a few solicitors are not as responsible in explaining the Rule and endeavouring to direct the parties to marriage guidance resources as they should be. Mrs. Anna Frenkel, who, in addition to being a marriage counsellor, is a Sydney lawyer, writing in the journal “ Marriage and Family “ in June of last year, on this point had this to say -
However, as practice has shown, referrals from the solicitors are very rare: they feel that, if reconciliation were possible, the client would not be in their office; that the referral would mean a delay and (fairly enough) a loss of income; consequently, the solicitor’s certificate is reduced ici a mere formality. As to referrals from the divorce courts, we had the total of three in 1964 in all the Councils in Australia, and not a single one resulting in reconciliation.
It is too alarming to think that there is such a poor response by solicitors and such a low success rate achieved by the actual referring of cases. Section 14 of the Matrimonial Causes Act provides that the judge in a divorce action, if he believes that there is some chance of reconciliation, can hall proceedings and arrange for steps towards reconciliation to be taken. Since the Act was passed in 1959. action has been taken under the terms of this section in 15 instances, and has been successful in only two. Better two than none, but two is not many.
Finally, on this point, 1 would like to point out what is apparently the attitude of some of the justices who have to preside in these cases. The “ Australian Journal of Social Issues “, in its issue for the autumn of this year, stated the views of a lawyer who declared -
In fact, the conclusion is difficult to avoid that it is largely the frustration resulting from having to treat these cases on largely a material or contractual level rather than personal and social level makes what should be an interesting and constructive area of law into the type of drudgery which, as one Judge remarked, is the kind of work Caligula would have given to his horse to do.
This sums up my point that recourse to the courts is the end of the road, anyway. Tt is the last resort. When people indulge in this slanging match, this competitive approach, trying to blacken the character of one another, as most often happens, unfortunately, there is little chance of real reconciliation being achieved. The reconciliation propositions that are embodied in the Act and the Rules, while worthwhile, do not go far enough.
Is it not time that we thought in terms of a family council instead of legalistic procedures? Is it not time that we kept the participation of lawyers and legal people to a minimum? These are human problems. These are social problems. If people knew that family council establishments would be available, staffed with skilled social workers and psychologists, and that clinical and advisory methods would be used instead of litigation, one could hope for a much higher rate of success in effecting reconciliation than is achieved by going to lawyers. The high cost of legal action in matrimonial cases is in itself the sort of thing that engenders resentment between the two contestants in disputes of this sort and aggravates the entire development of situations. If these matters were handled in family councils in private where people could discuss their problems with trained professional workers skilled in the fields appropriate to this kind of advisory work, we could hope for more success. Much more valuable advice could be given. One could argue, as the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) may, that in fact this is what goes on when cases are referred to the Marriage Guidance Council. But this is not being achieved to the degree that we had hoped would be achieved as the law stands. I have quoted the view expressed by Mrs. Frenkel. I have heard in Australian Broadcasting Commission news broadcasts, and read in the Press, reports that the Church of England clergy in Great Britain have prepared a report on this specific point that the whole concept of handling matrimonial causes in legal courts is in itself the cause of failure to effect reconciliation in marriage cases. lt seems to me that one of the problems in our society is that we always start at the end instead of at the beginning. For instance, before the Matrimonial Causes Act was passed, our attitude was that we came into these matrimonial issues as tied arbiters and that divorce was available after certain legalistic preliminaries had been gone through. We say that the law now provides for an attempt at reconciliation. But this is starting at the end and trying to work back to the beginning. Surely the beginning is to be found in the early years - the formative years - of young people. Perhaps if we were more responsible in our attitude towards sex education, there would be fewer cases of personality maladjustment. If we embarked on a sex education scheme in an enlightened fashion, we would encourage development free of anxiety, guilt and other psychopathological manifestations that are really the causes of so many breakdowns in marriage. I am certain that, if we were not so parsimonious in our provision of funds for trained social workers, we could do much more to help the erring couples in our community.
Sound sex education is a most important thing and we should be considering it at present. We should provide responsible, balanced sex education for seniors in the schools so that they will be able largely to bypass the giggling, inquisitive, embarrassed stage that so many young people go through because of the peculiar emphasis that we give in our community to the subject of sex. We find that the authorities shy off any suggestion that sex education should be provided in schools. But only yesterday, when I picked up one of the daily newspapers, I found an excellent example of the way in which we give our young people an unbalanced education in this subject. I saw in the newspaper a fairly lengthy discussion on, I think, silicone injections for some bare topped female frug dancer in an American nightclub to develop the size of her bust. We read this sort of discussion in the daily Press, but it seems difficult to get a responsible, objective and informative discussion on the subject of sex in the places where it would count. The senior forms in schools are certaLnly one of those places. Young couples embark on the most important enterprise of their lives when they marry. Yet they go into it as complete amateurs. There is very little provision in the community for education, training and discussion groups for young people, apart from what is provided by church organisations. But these reach very few.
Recently, I read in a Penguin book entitled “ Sex in Society “ that one of the problems relating to broken marriages is that we are encouraged to select our lifetime mate on the basis of criteria that we would apply in the cattle market. I am certain that this does not apply to all couples, but the emphasis that we place on the purely physical considerations in married life, as highlighted in the newspapers and so many other media of communication, gives a warped appreciation of the values that should apply in married life. After all, enduring happiness in marriage is based on much more than these physical considerations. There is in marriage deep spiritual and personal experience that lasts beyond all these physical associations. It is values of this type that we ought to be encouraging our young people to appreciate. It is of no use to start at the end and work back to the beginning. We ought to be starting at the beginning now.
We should not be so parsimonious in the provision of funds by the community for marriage discussion groups and marriage counsellors. I live in Ipswich, 27 miles from Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. To my knowledge, there is no marriage Guidance Council in Ipswich. This is shocking. There is not even one full time social worker there to deal with the problems of the various families of the city. This also is shocking. We are far too mean in our approach to the important considerations of social welfare and far too generous in the things of less importance that, in too many cases, cause a warped appreciation of values in the community and upset so many of the standards on which a persevering and firm married life can be developed. In conclusion, I suggest to the Attorney-General that he ought to confer with the State Governments to see whether the Matrimonial Causes Act can be amended to provide for the establishment of family councils of the kind that I have proposed.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Failes). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. McMahon, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I have already foreshadowed in my Budget speech that the Government proposes to modernise and simplify some of the provisions of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1923-1959. I explained that such a change is long overdue and that there would be an advantage in timing it to coincide with the introduction of decimal currency. It is also relevant that the present
Act ceases to operate after 1972-73, so that a fairly early re-examination of its provisions is inevitable in any case.
The main effect of the Bill which I am now introducing will be that a new base date of 30th June 1966 will be established for the calculation of annual Sinking Fund contributions. In addition, a more meaningful definition of Commonwealth debt liable to these contributions will be adopted. Commencing this year, annual Sinking Fund contributions of 4 per cent, will be made from Consolidated Revenue in respect of appropriate outstanding and newly created Commonwealth debt, thus enabling this debt to be paid off in full over a period of 25 years. These arrangements will apply only to that portion of Commonwealth debt which should logically attract Sinking Fund contributions. There is clearly no need to make Sinking Fund contributions in respect of Commonwealth debt raised to finance advances from Loan Fund which are repayable to the Commonwealth, such as housing advances to the States. The repayments of these advances are automatically channelled into the Sinking Fund and thus already provide sufficient funds to redeem the original debt in due course. Nor is there any need to make Sinking Fund contributions in respect of Commonwealth debt which is being repaid from sources other than the Sinking Fund, in accordance with the provisions of the original borrowing Act concerned. With certain qualifications, both of these exemptions from Sinking Fund contributions will continue as before.
What I have said so far is in essence all that we are setting out to do in the new Bill. However, as the receipts of the Commonwealth’s section of the Sinking Fund in 1966-67 will be only $43 million under the new legislation, compared with $120 million in 1965-66 under the old legislation, honorable members are entitled to a detailed explanation of the Government’s reasons for proposing this change.
Let me make it clear that, while I shall at times be mentioning very large amounts of money, the actual transactions are entirely internal to the Commonwealth’s accounts. Whether we transfer $43 million or $120 million to the Sinking Fund this year from other sections of the public account, we will still have the same com mitments to the public in respect of redemptions and repurchases of Commonwealth debt. We will also continue to honour our undertakings to the States to assist them with the financing of any redemptions of their own debt which they are unable to meet from the Sinking Funds. I can assure honorable members that the proposed reduction in Sinking Fund contributions this year played no part at all in the policy decisions which we took when framing this year’s Budget. Our estimated net cash result for the year would have been exactly the same whatever amount we decided to pay into the Sinking Fund.
These remarks may help to put the proposed changes into their correct perspective. However, while the new legislation has little bearing on the overall financial policy of the Commonwealth Government, it does represent a fairly sweeping revision to the arrangements which have previously applied. I think, therefore, that I should in the first place outline the provisions of the original Act so that they can be compared with the provisions envisaged in the new Bill. The original Act was introduced in 1923. It established the National Debt Sinking Fund, which was to be applied towards the redemption of maturing Commonwealth debt, but not State debt, and to the purchase on the market of other Commonwealth debt when appropriate. The necessary funds were to be provided mainly from regular annual contributions from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and from repayments of advances previously made from Loan Fund.
The Act also sets up the National Debt Commission to supervise the operations of the National Debt Sinking Fund. The Commission now consists of the Commonwealth Treasurer, as Chairman, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Secretary to the Treasury, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department, and a representative of the States - at present the Victorian Director of Finance. I arranged for details of the proposals to be discussed at the meeting which the Commission held in Sydney late last month. The Commissioners have also been given the opportunity of examining the Bill in draft form, and have had no comments to offer. It is, of course, tha responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to decide what provisions it should make for Sinking Fund contributions. Nevertheless, it is pleasing to note that, after years of experience, the Commissioners still appear to be satisfied with Commission procedures generally.
By virtue of the Financial Agreement, the National Debt Commission has since 1928 also been responsible for the supervision of the individual sinking funds established for each of the six States, which now form part of the National Debt Sinking Fund. Contributions to the Sinking Fund in respect of Commonwealth debt are determined by sections 9, 9AA and 10 of the present Act. These contributions are summarised on page 21 of the report of the National Debt Commission for 1965-66.
The simplest exposition I can give of the main requirements of the original 1923 Act, as revised in 1930, is as follows: In the first place, repayments of advances made out of Loan Fund were to be channelled back into the Sinking Fund, where they would be available to discharge debt equivalent to the amount of the original debt raised to finance the advances.
Secondly, an annual contribution was payable from Consolidated Revenue of i per cent, of the amount of other debt outstanding in June 1923, together with a similar percentage of “ net debt created “, as defined in the Act, in each financial year from then onwards. These payments were to be supplemented by a further annual contribution of 5 per cent, of the total contributions paid since July 1930. Because of the accumulative effect of the additional 5 per cent, contributions, and of certain other payments made in relation to the period 1923-1930, total receipts of the Sinking Fund should have been sufficient to provide for the retirement of each portion of the debt over a period of fifty years.
Thirdly, similar contributions were to be made in respect of Commonwealth debt raised overseas, except that section 10a of the Act required that the Australian currency payable was to be calculated on the basis of the “ mint part of exchange “ ruling in 1930- that is, SUS4.8665 = £A1. or SUS2.4332 = SA1. The actual rate at present is SUS1.12 = SA1, so that these contributions have therefore been insufficient to retire the full amount of overseas debt.
Fourthly, various other receipts of the Sinking Fund such as reparation moneys, interest on the investment of certain Sinking Fund moneys, etc. were to be treated as an offset to the amounts otherwise payable from consolidated revenue.
This was the position in 1930. Apart from the insufficiency of contributions in respect of overseas debt, it would have been expected that the original 1923 arrangements would have lasted the intended period of 50 years without any undue difficulties.
Since the early 1930’s, several developments have tended to build up the balance in the sinking fund to unnecessarily high levels. 1 shall now outline some of these developments and describe briefly the action which the Government proposes to take to deal with them. The earliest development was the introduction of internal Treasury bills in 1931, as a temporary “ internal “ investment of cash balances in the Commonwealth’s Trust Fund. The practice arose of paying annual sinking fund contributions on the comparatively minor amounts of these bills outstanding from year to year - only $21 million were on issue in June 1939 - even though the Commonwealth scarcely needed to make annual sinking fund contributions over a period of 50 years on short term debt owing to itself. The amount of internal Treasury bills outstanding at June 1966 had risen to $682 million. The Government has now decided to dispense with sinking fund contributions on these securities. I may add that internal Treasury bills are normally redeemed out of the proceeds of issues of public Treasury bills to the Reserve Bank, and that normal sinking fund contributions automatically become payable when the latter bills are issued.
War service homes advances were financed out of Loan Fund up to 1930-31. It was therefore logical for the National Debt Sinking Fund Act to provide that repayments of the advances should be directed to the Sinking Fund in the same manner as other repayments of advances originally made from Loan Fund. Since 1931-32, war service homes advances have been financed from Consolidated Revenue, except for 1950-51 when they were again financed from Loan Fund. Repayments of the advances have nevertheless continued to be directed into the Sinking Fund. The total amount of the advances financed out of Loan Fund was $90 million, but repayments to the Sinking Fund have already totalled $307 million. The Sinking Fund thus has received $217 million over the years for which no equivalent amount of debt was created in the first place. The Government now proposes to channel war service homes repayments into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
An amount equivalent to $197 million was appropriated to the Sinking Fund from Consolidated Revenue in 1951-52. The National Debt Sinking Fund (Special Payment) Act 1951 provided that this amount, and the interest subsequently received from its investment, would not reduce the amounts otherwise payable to the Sinking Fund. The Sinking Fund was accordingly provided with substantial funds additional to those necessary for the redemption of Commonwealth debt.
The Government has now decided that the residue’ of the original investment, now $77 million, should be regarded as an offset to the total amount of outstanding debt, and that the amount of debt attracting sinking fund contributions should bc reduced accordingly. The Government has also decided that the interest received from this investment should reduce the amount otherwise payable from Consolidated Revenue, as is already the case with other investment income.
Since the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve was established in 1955, it has cancelled $1,379 million Commonwealth securities, including $152 million Treasury bills, but sinking fund contributions are still being paid on this debt because of the lack of suitable provisions in the National Debt Sinking Fund Act. The Government has decided that sinking fund contributions in 1966-67 will only be payable on debt actually outstanding at 30th June 1966. Whenever the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve cancels debt in the future, total sinking fund contributions over the next 25 years will be reduced by a corresponding amount.
One result of contributions to the Sinking Fund being in excess of its requirements for debt redemption is that the Commonwealth has been able to give valuable assistance to States in their own debt redemption problems. For some years past, amounts available in the States’ separate Sinking Funds have seldom been sufficient to meet the States’ proportionate share of redemptions of maturing Commonwealth and State securities. The Commonwealth has agreed to treat vast amounts of these redemptions as redemptions of its own debt. Since 1953-54, the Commonwealth has redeemed from its own Sinking Fund more than $330 million maturing securities additional to its proportionate share.
This has resulted, of course, in an accelerated reduction of the debt of the Commonwealth and, together with the other developments 1 have mentioned, has led to a position where current sinking fund contributions are a far higher proportion of the debt logically attracting such contributions than was envisaged in the original legislation.
It is somewhat ironical to find the Commonwealth criticised at times because) its debt is not increasing as fast as that of the States - a situation which, toy the way, is not the case with Commonwealth non-war debt. One reason why Commonwealth debt is not increasing faster is that the Commonwealth has been prepared to use its accumulated funds to redeem debt which would have been the- responsibility of the States if they had sufficient funds available in their own Sinking Funds.
I now come to a determination of the amount of debt outstanding at 30th June 1966 which should logically attract percentage sinking fund contributions. The total amount of Commonwealth Government debt then outstanding was $2,463 million, including oversea debt converted at current exchange rates. This amount excludes $682 million of internal Treasury bills, for the reasons I have already indicated. The following amounts need to be deducted from this figure -
The only change in principle from the present arrangements is the adjustment for investments of the Sinking Fund. This leads to a figure of S773 million - actually $773,554,000- for the debt outstanding at 30th June, 1966 on which the Government proposes to pay flat annual sinking fund contributions of 4 per cent, over the following 25 years, thus providing sufficient funds for this debt to be completely discharged during that period. Before adjustment, the amount of the annual contribution payable will be $30,940,000, as set out in clause 9 of the Bill. In addition to this amount, the Sinking Fund is expected to receive approximately $12 million during the year as repayments of advances originally made from Loan Fund. The amount of $30,940,000 will be reduced by interest received during the year on the investments of the Sinking Fund, and the actual contribution from Consolidated Revenue has been estimated at $20,125,000.
The next step is to determine for 1966-67 and later years the amount by which Commonwealth debt liable for percentage sinking fund contributions has been increased or decreased as the result of each year’s operations. This figure is obtained by deducting the following amounts from gross borrowings for .the year, other than Treasury notes and public and internal Treasury bills:
New loans raised to finance repayable advances.
New loans for which other repayment arrangements have been made.
New cash or conversion loans raised to refinance existing loans.
Redemptions of debt during the year by the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Cancellations of debt during the year by the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve.
Any additional amounts paid into the Sinking Fund during the year under the authority of clause 11. of the Bill, which corresponds to Section 9a of the origi’nal Act.
For the purposes of these calculations, borrowings arranged during the year through the issue of public Treasury bills and Treasury notes are treated on a net basis, but the underlying principles are the same. The net amount calculated for the overall movement in outstanding debt will be adjusted for increases or decreases during the year in the Australian currency equivalent of outstanding oversea debt due to an adjustment to oversea exchange rates. The final figure for each year will either represent a net creation of debt or a net reduction of debt. In the former case, additional contributions of 4 per cent, of the amount involved will be paid into the Sinking Fund over the following 25 years, and in the latter case, Sinking Fund contributions over the following 25 years will be reduced by 4 per cent, of the amount.
Before I proceed further I would ask honorable members to note the following main changes contemplated in the Bill -
Honorable members can rest assured that the reduced amount now payable to the Sinking Fund will be adequate to retire all outstanding debt, and all newly created debt, in only half the time which was intended under the existing legislation. There is no cash benefit to the Government as a result of this proposal. We will still have the same liabilities to the public each year for the redemption and repurchase of debt whatever we pay into the Sinking Fund, and we will continue to honour these in full.
The new Bill will repeal the various National Debt Sinking Funds Acts, and also the National Debt Sinking Fund (Special Payment) Act 1951. It did not prove practicable to revise the existing National Debt Sinking Fund Act. Nearly every section of it would either need to be repealed or would now require major or minor adjustment, if only because of the passage of time. In particular, the original Act was introduced before the Financial Agreement, and the limited reference to that Agreement in sections 7 and 18a of the Act is now scarcely sufficient to provide for the responsibilities in respect of State debt which have been assumed by the Commission by virtue of the Financial Agreement.
While it will not be practicable for me in this second reading speech to refer to every change made in the new Bill compared with the present Act, it may be helpful to honorable members if I list a few of these changes which I have not already mentioned. Clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill outline the constitution, functions and procedures of the National Debt Commission, with, I think, more clarity than sections 5 and 6 of the Act, without making any substantive changes to th2 previous arrangements. Clause 7 now makes it clear that the National Debt Sinking Fund is a combination of seven separate sinking funds administered on behalf of the Commonwealth and the six States. Clause 13 provides that conversions from foreign currency to Australian currency for the purposes of the Act shall be at a rate ascertained by the Treasurer in such manner as he considers appropriate. This replaces the provisions of section 10a of the Act, where conversions were to be made at the 1930 “ mint par of exchange “. The Treasurer has been given discretion in this case because of the difficulity of defining in legislation exactly which exchange rate would be appropriate for the conversion into Australian currencies of all foreign currencies likely to be concerned for many years to come. For the present, I shall authorize each of these conversions to be made on the basis of the par rates published by the International Monetary Fund, except that, in the case of Swiss francs, the equivalent of the par rate, calculated from their gold content, will be used.
There is no clause in the Bill to replace section 13 of the Act, which requires that every loan prospectus issued by the Commonwealth shall undertake that Sinking Fund contributions in respect of the loan concerned will be paid into the National Debt Sinking Fund in accordance with the Act. One difficulty here is that the Commonwealth can scarcely give a formal legal undertaking that appropriate sinking fund contributions will be made by State governments in respect of their portion of the debt. Also, some loans are issued without a prospectus. However, it is obviously in our interests that suitable references to the National Debt Sinking Fund should be made in Commonwealth loan prospectuses and similar documents, and the present practice will naturally be continued. It could be said, in fact, that one of the main reasons for having a National Debt Sinking Fund in the first place is to be able to give an added assurance to subscribers to Commonwealth loans, both in Australia and overseas, that the Commonwealth will honour its debt liabilities. Compared wilh sections 17 and 18 of the Act, clauses 15 and 16 of the Bill give the Commission clearer powers in the application of Sinking Fund moneys and slightly wider powers in the investment of these moneys.
Clause 17 permits the Commission to accept, at prices other than par, securities which the Treasurer has accepted in payment, of estate duty. These securities are at present limited to special bonds. The provision is necessary to cover the case of special bonds being applied to the payment of estate duty at prices above par, by virtue of their redemption provisions. Section 16, of the present Act requires that any such purchases by the Commission should be mace al par. Clause 19 makes some consequential changes to other Acts which contain references to the National Debt Sinking Fund which are no longer applicable. References to the National Debt Sinking Fund in other legislation, which have continuing force, will apply equally to the new Act by virtue of section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act.
As I have said before, this Bill is essentially simple in its approach. Nevertheless it opens up to parliamentary scrutiny a most complicated Act which dates back to 1923, and a segment of Commonwealth and State finances which may have been somewhat of a mystery to many honorable members. I am accordingly introducing this Bill immediately prior to my departure overseas to permit those honorable members interested to have a few weeks to study the Bill before the debate is resumed after my return from overseas, if that is the wish of the House. In the meantime, my officers will be available to explain any aspects of the new proposals which are not clear from the Bill itself or from this second reading speech. I have pleasure in commending the Bill to honorable members
– Before the Minister sits down would he give consideration to preparing, as is done in the income tax legislation, an explanatory memorandum. This is a highly technical matter. Whilst it is true that we can consult Treasury officers I doubt whether that is the satisfactory method.
Mr. McMAHON__ What the honorable member would like is a document setting out the clauses of the Bill and. opposite, an explanatory note of what is meant?
– I will have that done.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1966-67. In Committee.
Consideration resumed (vide page 872).
.- I want to revive representations I have made on numerous occasions in the past for the appointment of a Commonwealth ombudsman. In the last day or so the Parliament and parliamentarians have been concerned with the intrusion upon their powers and rights by the bureaucracy and by Cabinet. What I am aiming to raise tonight is the matter of the protection of the rights of the ordinary man. Parliamentarians, I submit, can do much to bring before Parliament the grievances of their individual constituents, but I feel that this is not enough. Unfortunately my view was not shared by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, when I raised the matter with him on a number of occasions. On 1 3th October 1964, answering a question thatI had placed on the notice paper, he said -
In expressing my view on (he appointment of an “ombudsman” or similar authority in Australia, in reply to a question on notice published in “ Hansard “ for 10th September 1963 I said that citizens with administrative problems or individual grievances had ready access to their own senators or members of Parliament who made many representations to Ministers and Departments and, in practice, secured many necessary adjustments; Parliament itself always had a watchful eye on the protection of civil liberties. I said that I saw no reason to create a special official or department.
I am hopeful that with the change in Prime Ministers and some of the ministerial changes that have occurred, there may be second thoughts on this matter. There is increasing evidence that other countries equally as democratic as ours have made such an appointment as I seek or are in the course of considering making such an appointment. As I proceed. I hope to be able to indicate to the Committee what we on this side understand by the office of ombudsman.
I think the need for such an appointment, as distinct from the definition of the office, was probably as well described by Lord Shawcross as by anybody. Lord Shawcross is a very eminent British jurist. In 1961 in an article entitled “The Citizen and the Administration he wrote -
With the existence of a great bureaucracy there are inevitably occasions, not insignificant in number, when, through error or indifference, injustice is done or appears to be done. The man of substance can deal with these situations. He is near to the establishment; he enjoys the status or possesses the influence which will ensure him the ear of those in authority. He can afford to pursue such legal remedies as may be available. He knows his way around. But too often the little man, the ordinary humble citizen, is incapable of asserting himself.
This is true. Every parliamentarian will vouch for the fact that many citizens are denied justice either outright or because of delay in receiving justice. Every one of us here these days attends to many of the cares and problems of our constituents. Some people would assert that parliamentarians are becoming too pre-occupied with what arc called “ parish pump “ or “ parochial “ problems. This may be so, but I would be one of the first to assert that it is very desirable that members of Parliament should come into contact with their individual constituents and their problems as much as possible, having regard to the other commitments of their parliamentary office. I personally can think of no better way of making an intelligent assessment of the difficulties of the ordinary citizen than by talking with those who have problems.
But having said that much, I agree that the amount of constituency work of this kind that one has to do - it seems to be ever increasing with the complexity of government and the extension of government - precludes a member of Parliament from doing, for example, all the reading that he would like to do. I know that this is true in my case and I have no doubt that it is true in the case of every one of my colleagues in this place. It is obviously true that the roles of Parliament and of government are reaching out into every segment of our society. Once upon a time, under the old system, Parliament had a purely regulatory function. It regulated what people did. It prohibited them from doing certain things. It laid down laws as to how they could or could not act. Its function was regulatory, but these days we see Parliament in the Federal sphere as an extension of government into the provision of positive measures for the community.
Our welfare system of social services, health benefits, public hospitalisation, public education, legal services and a host of other things is part and parcel of government today. In recent times we have seen government going into the field of helping to place people in employment - a tremendously important function in our society. In recent times in this country we have had added to government the task of absorbing thousands of immigrants into the community and making all kinds of provisions for them. This is an extension of government that is very important. We have had a further extension of government whereby even under Tory Governments, or Liberal-Country Party Governments, we have seen the intrusion of government into enterprises such as banking and airlines.
With all this extension of government has come law. Law cannot be so specific as to cover all the kinds of situations that can arise, so, inevitably, flowing from this law and regulations and delegation of power to lesser authorities comes a good deal of discretion in the hands of those who are sometimes called “ bureaucrats “ but whom I prefer to call public servants, being appreciative of their service to the public. But with all this extension of government it is inevitable, as Lord Shawcross pointed out, that injustices will occur; that people will be denied their rights, sometimes not deliberately but purely because of omissions that are in no way deliberate or vicious. In this exercise of discretion one has to deal with personalities. One has to deal with the variability of human personality. One person at any time can have contact with a whole variety of persons. What I am trying to make out is that the extension of governmental activity has given rise to ever so many more opportunities for the ordinary citizen to be prejudiced in the exercise of his rights by the operations of administration and government. This kind of danger has been recognised, as I have said, by a number of governments overseas. In answer to a question by me on 26th April of this yeal, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) said that ombudsmen or some officers equivalent thereto had already been appointed in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, West Germany and New Zealand. Since then the United Kingdom Government has decided to set up what is called a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. He will in fact carry out many of the duties that we are thinking of when speaking of an ombudsman. In my own State of New South Wales the present Liberal-Country Party Government has referred to the Law Reform Commission which has been set up, as one of its initial tasks, the investigation of the possibility of establishing an ombudsman in that State.
Of course, there will be some who will say that people have their rights at Jaw, but those of us who were sitting in the chamber before the sitting was suspended for dinner tonight heard an eminent Queen’s Counsel, the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) speak of the need for the provision of greatly increased legal assistance for people who cannot ordinarily afford it. I submit that this is yet another aspect of the problem of the appointment of an ombudsman.
As my time is running out, let me get on to what an ombudsman might do. The actual prescriptions under which the ombudsmen operate in the countries to which I have referred vary, but there is a good deal of sameness about them. An ombudsman is an officer who can go into any government department or to any statutory authority and pursue the grievances, or alleged grievances, of the ordinary citizens. He can call for any files that he wishes to examine. Ordinarily he does not prosecute, although I think that in Sweden the ombudsman does have that right. In most other countries he does not have it. He can examine problems. He uses his persuasive powers with the authorities, to let them see that the citizen for whom he is acting has been denied his rights or that his entitlement should be expedited. Just imagine any one of us, as parliamentarians, doing as the former Prime Minister suggested we could - taking the opportunity of investigating every individual grievance that now comes our way, as well as those of people who do not yet know that they can ask a parliamentarian to assist them.
Imagine any parliamentarian having the time to go into departments to make representations in connection with individual grievances. Take repatriation matters as a classic example. Each repatriation case could involve long hours of work.
Such an officer is thought of as an impartial person appointed by the Parliament. He is not a bureaucrat. He is appointed by the Parliament and is directly responsible to the Parliament. He has to make an annual report to the Parliament. That in itself is a discipliner of bureaucracy or the public service about which I have spoken - the knowledge that a citizen can go to such an officer to have his problem investigated and, if finality cannot be arrived at, the officer can make a report to the Parliament elucidating the complaint which, in his mind, warrants the Parliament’s consideration. This seems to me to be a very valuable service. As a matter of fact, it has been found to be so in every one of the countries in which such an office has been established. They all had misgivings or fears that the ombudsman would trespass on the rights of Parliament and parliamentarians, that he would trespass on the rights of the public service, but not one of those misgivings or fears has in fact been found to be warranted. As examples of the support this idea is receiving, I mention that the South East Asian and Pacific Conference of Jurists, at a meeting in Bangkok in February 1965, made a declaration that in the light of experience in Scandinavia and New Zealand consideration should be given to the ombudsman concept as a means of individual redress and better administration. I might add that this conference was attended by more than 90 legal representatives from 16 South East Asian countries and Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand’s action in appointing an ombudsman was praised by the International Commission of Jurists. So there is very good and eminent support for this concept.
As to the public, gallup polls have indicated overwhelming support amongst the Australian community for the setting up of such a watchdog of the ordinary citizen’s interests. I am not suggesting that he will be the only custodian; he will be yet another part of the machinery that ought to exist in a democratic society, with its expansionary government activity, to protect the rights of the ordinary citizen. A gallop poll report published in February 1965 showed that two out of three persons interviewed supported the idea of an ombudsman. People, irrespective of their political loyalties - Liberals equally as much as Labourites - declared their support of it. Various newspaper editorials throughout Australia have likewise given support to it.
I therefore put the suggestion to the Attorney-General and ask that he carry it to Cabinet. Probably it has never yet been brought before Cabinet. 1 think that hitherto the matter rested with the former Prime Minister. I ask the Attorney-General to give serious consideration in the Commonwealth sphere, with all its ramifications, to granting this further protection of the interests of the ordinary citizens in our Australian democracy.
.- 1 agree entirely with the submissions made by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). The matter that I propose to raise now is the one about which I was speaking shortly before the suspension of the sitting when the time limit imposed upon me did not permit of my putting the case as fully as I wished to do. 1 was emphasising to the Committee, and to the AttorneyGeneral in particular, the necessity for the Commonwealth, in the interests of the community as a whole, to give some leadership to the States by amending the Jury Act to permit of the acceptance by a court of majority verdicts of 10 to 2 by juries sitting on criminal cases.
In further support of my submissions, 1 propose referring to various documents which I have obtained from the Parliamentary Library. One contains a statement by the eminent jurist referred to by the honorable member for Barton, a former Attorney-General in the United Kingdom, Lord Shawcross. Before doing that, I submit that acceptance of jury verdicts by a majority of 10 to 2 in criminal cases would not increase the risk of innocent persons being convicted - something which no member of this Parliament would like to see. We all know that participants in organised crime live very lucratively, paying very little or no tax. Organised crime has become an industry in Australia, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, as it has in Great
Britain. It is increasing daily. Decent citizens are becoming disturbed not only by the growing number of crimes of violence and the increasing instances of gang warfare but also by the growing proportion of company frauds, insurance swindles and frauds by such financial racketeers as H. G. Palmers, the Latec interests, the Reid Murray company and the Korman group, just to mention a few who defraud decent citizens of hundreds of thousands of pounds. This has happened to people in the Hunter electorate in the Newcastle district. These are only a few of the racketeers who have imposed upon the community.
The requirement of a unanimous decision by a 12-man jury gives racketeers and criminals greater opportunity of avoiding conviction. It is difficult for the Crown to obtain a conviction against the professional participants in organised crime because of their ability to utilise their ill-gotten gains to employ the most skilled criminal lawyers and to make social contact with persons who could eventually become members of the jury of 12 which was empanelled to try them. These are realities, and presently I will recount to the Parliament some of the happenings in Great Britain.
I suggest that a similar pattern is being followed in Australia, with interference to juries in criminal trials. When a jury disagrees - and I know that the lawyers in this Parliament from New South Wales can bear me out in this - the Crown seldom puts the accused up for retrial. It certainly does not do so when juries have disagreed twice. Should an accused person be tried twice and on each occasion the jury division be 11 to 1 in favour of conviction, this would mean that 22 persons would have agreed to convict and 2 would have disagreed, yet the accused goes free and a not guilty verdict is recorded. So justice is defeated as the law now stands.
Is it any wonder there is a breakdown in the morale of an efficient police force when this sort of thing happens - and a breakdown has now occurred in the New South Wales Police Force as well as in the Victorian force? 1 agree entirely with a recent statement by Mr. Frank Laut, the secretary of the New South Wales Police Association, which appeared in the “ Daily Mirror “ of 9th September. Mr. Laut is most conservative in his speech. He is not a stage man like some politicians who seek Press headlines from day to day. He is a conservative nian and he says that in his 40 years of experience in the New South Wales Police Force he has never known morale to be lower. I agree entirely.
– It has gone to pieces since the honorable member left the force.
– Probably, and this might be a contributing reason; but as I am not a stage man 1 refrained from mentioning thai. I. believe that a similar situation exists in Victoria, but an amendment to the legislation, such as I have suggested, would help remedy the situation, ls it any wonder that Mr. Laut emerges from a long silence to speak as he has done? I wish Frank Lau would make more statements like this to arouse public interest in this matter of uncontrolled organised crime. It is a pity that it should be left to a backbencher of this Parliament to raise this matter when there are so many eminent lawyers here who could have done so. We know that among the opponents of my proposal would be some members of the legal profession. Despite the fact that there are many decent men in the legal profession, many would object to such a proposition because it would affect them where it hurts most - in the hip pocket nerve which is the most delicate nerve in the human system. At present some lawyers tell professional crooks that their fee will be so much for getting them acquitted. This situation has been going on for centuries and it is time some lawyers supported my submissions.
– A lot of ears are burning.
– Yes, the truth often hurls. What I say now, I say with reluctance. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who is the alternative Prime Minister of Australia, had an attempt made on his life. One of my submissions is that constant publicity in the Press about the success of organised crime may well have inspired this young hoodlum - who is now in his rightful place - to take the action he did against the Leader of the Deposition at the Mosman Town Hall not long ago. Members of the Government are laughing. I think it ill becomes the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), a man I have always respected, to make jests out of an attempt on the life of the Leader of the Opposition. Certain members of his Party join him. Members on this side of the Parliament would not laugh at any attempt made on the life of anyone from the Government side. Is this the attitude that honorable members opposite take on serious matters?
– When the honorable member reads “ Hansard “ tomorrow he will realise why we are laughing.
– Let me refer briefly to the law in Scotland governing juries. In Scotland a simple majority verdict of 8 to 7, in a jury of 15, is sufficient to sustain a conviction. Scotland also has a verdict of not proven, when one third of a jury disagrees with the remainder. I do not ask for more than a majority verdict of 10 to 2. Such a majority verdict, as opposed to a unanimous verdict, should not be accepted until a retirement of, say, two hours by a jury. This would afford plenty of time for argument and would enable one group of jurors to convince the other group of jurors on a verdict. I do not believe such a change in our present legislation would imperil the position of innocent persons. There is nothing more frustrating to the police and those who try to assist them to find, after long hours spent in gaining sufficient evidence to arraign some managerial criminal or crime boss, that their efforts have been brought to naught by the nobbling of a juror.
On this aspect I should like to refer to a recent debate in the House of Commons when legislation proposing a majority verdict for juries was suggested. One member said this -
There was recently a terrible case at the Court of Criminal Appeal - and 1 mention cases which have been spoken of in public so that 1 may not be accused of attacking innocent men - which was reported in “ The Times “ and in which the Court itself spoke of four successive unsuccessful attempts to “ nobble “ members of a jury and said that the fifth attempt had obviously been successful, because the man on the fringe of the case had been convicted, while those more dangerous criminals against whom there was overwhelming evidence had been acquitted.
The members of the British Government are much more responsible and public spirited apparently than this Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales State Government.
I remember - and I remind honorable members of this incident - that following the Liquor Royal Commission in New South Wales six to eight hotel keepers were committed for trial for the most blatant case of perjury that had been heard in New South Wales. These men, with strong influential social contacts, plus healthy purses derived from ill gotten gains, were able when they were indicted to escape retrial after the jury disagreed. After the Crown arraigned about four of these men and no convictions were obtained, charges were not filed against the others. The wealthy section of the community invariably is able to tamper with juries or is able to wield sufficient influence to get one juror out of twelve to dissent from the verdict of the other eleven jurors, and enable accused persons to go scot free.
I have never believed that there is a law for the rich and a law for the poor, but I will take some convincing that there is not administration of the law for the rich and administration of the law for the poor. I tell honorable members that I believe there is. Acceptance of my proposal would help the Crown to obtain proper justice against the influential, nefarious and professional criminal who is able to find weaknesses in the present law. At one time - it would be perhaps eight years ago - hardly 50 per cent, of persons standing trial at the Sydney Quarter Sessions were convicted, despite the fact that magistrates had found that there was sufficient evidence to place those persons on trial. That kind of thing is heartbreaking to law enforcement bodies. Big fish are allowed to escape. As Clarence Darrow says in his book “ Attorney for the Damned “, the wealthy and the privileged need never be afraid of being successfully prosecuted in a criminal court.
I said earlier that I would refer to the opinions of Lord Shawcross and Lord Dilhorne, two of England’s most eminent jurists. They have advocated changes in the jury system in Great Britain and have suggested that the Scottish system be adopted by which a majority verdict may be returned. Lord Dilhorne and Lord Shawcross were interviewed by Robin Day and a report of that interview appears in the magazine “The Listener”. Lord Dilhorne is reported as saying -
I would think myself that justice would be done if we adopted a majority of, say, nine in this country out of the twelve, and that would mean a great safeguard against intimidation of jurors or corruption of jurors because four would have to be corrupted for the efforts that are being made to corrupt to be successful.
Lord Shawcross agreed entirely with Lord Dilhorne’s remarks. Both these eminent jurists agreed that the Judges’ Rules should be amended to prevent professional organised criminals from escaping justice as happens in Great Britain and in Australia. Organised crime here has reached such proportions that the legislators should be alerted to do something about it before it becomes any worse. I believe, Mr. AttorneyGeneral, that you will give serious consideration to the submissions I have made to the Committee tonight.
.- I shall occupy only about five minutes in referring to the Legal Service Bureaux. My remarks are a follow up to my question to the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) at question time today relating to a very serious development in advertising for the forthcoming election. This will not take place until about 1st November but already we have had a foretaste of what Labour members and the Labour Party can expect. The propaganda I have in my hand is a sample. One document is an advertisement which appeared in a Tasmanian daily newspaper and the other is a personal letter by a Liberal candidate in a Sydney electorate.
– What about Kim Beazley?
– He does not come into it. My question to the Attorney-General today was in these terms -
In view of the approaching election campaign and the distinct possibility of slanderous and defamatory election advertising, will the AttorneyGeneral consider expanding the ambit of the operations of the Legal Service Bureaux within his Department in order that they may give free advice and help to members who, in the midst of a tough campaign have also to fight a dirty defensive war against opponents trying to destroy their character, national loyalty and integrity?
Then I mentioned the two advertisements to which I have referred.
– The one from Tasmania is libellous and will be dealt with.
– Yes, that one will be dealt with. It has been put in the hands of a lawyer and of the Commonwealth Electoral Office in Hobart.
– Who authorised it?
– It is not authorised, lt does not have to be authorised at this stage. In reply to my question the AttorneyGeneral was very courteous. I appreciated thai. I realised that he could not do very much in a practical way about it because these offences have occurred in a State and the State law operates. Unfortunately the law of libel is different in every State. That is one of the craziest things I know of in this country. 1 do not know why we cannot have uniformity in the law of libel as we have with marriage and divorce. If we could get uniformity with those two tricky subjects, why cannot we launch a plan, through the Attorney-General, who did a good job on several other important matters, to get uniformity in the law of libel? Why not get a bit of sanity in the present crazy laws?
I want to refer to the work of the Legal Service Bureau and to stress the fact that it directs its efforts towards ex-servicemen and serving members of the Australian forces. Strange to say, it is under the control of the Attorney-General and not the Repatriation Department. After question time today the Attorney-General made a statement outlining in a very comprehensive manner the ways in which the Government will help national servicemen and other ex-servicemen with advice on many subjects, some of them very personal and some of them very difficult. I appreciate this expansion of the work of the Legal Service Bureau, but at this stage of the debate on the estimates I make an urgent and sincere appeal to you, Mr. AttorneyGeneral, to consider including within the proposed expansion of the work of the Bureau the protection of ex-service members of Parliament who will be libelled and have their characters assassinated in the coming election campaign. I am asking you to think about that suggestion at this time. You have introduced many new ways in which assistance is given. Let us consider why you cannot include the giving of free advice to all ex-service members of Parliament. There are dozens of them. The present proposal relates purely and simply to ex-servicemen and serving members of the forces. I want it to include all members of Parliament.
In reply to my question today the Attorney-General said that what 1 suggested could not be done, but I am asking him again now to take some action to protect ex-service members of Parliament at least from this vicious advertising campaign. To take out a writ costs a lot of money. One has been issued today by an honorable member on this side of the chamber as a result of the personal letter to which I have referred. That indicates the seriousness of the matter. We will be faced with a good deal of expense, not only in relation to the election campaign but also now in defending our loyalty to our country. The expenditure involved in conducting an election campaign is great enough but now we are faced with this wretched additional expenditure. In my opinion it is outrageous that a political opponent who cannot fight a campaign cleanly can smear one across the nation, can smear one’s character, integrity and loyalty to one’s country. I am not an ex-serviceman but I am appealing to you, Mr. Attorney-General, and the Legal Service Bureau on behalf of the ex-service members of Parliament. The Bureau has done so many other things for exservicemen. Why not expand its activities to cover the people to whom I have referred? If you did, you would be protecting probably one-third of the members of this Parliament because not less than 30 per cent, of them are ex-servicemen.
I appeal to the Attorney-General to bring a bit of humanity into this sordid business, at least on behalf of the men who fought in the last war and even in the First World War and who have to stand up and defend their integrity and loyalty to this nation against a vicious lowdown opponent and his organisation. He cannot win an election in a fair fight so he sneaks up a dark alley and stabs you in the back with a charge of disloyalty to the nation. I will read the last line of this wretched advertisement.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Chairman. If a writ has been issued in relation to the advertisement I suggest to the honorable gentleman that he refrain from reading the letter.
– The writ is being issued on the personal letter, not on the Press advertisement. The writ that has been issued relates to the letter and I have not quoted from it. I will quote from the newspaper advertisement. It is not authorised. The last line is -
A vole for Labour is in effect a vote for the Vietcong.
That is absolutely a vicious, low down, dirty attempt to smear the Australian Labour Party and all its candidates, including me. 1 ask the Attorney-General what he intends to do about ex-servicemen who face that sort of charge. He has a chance now, by a simple addition to the statement he made today, to protect the ex-service members who will be faced with this kind of filthy propaganda.
.- I want to direct the attention of the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) to what I believe is his duty in implementing section 47 of the Repatriation Act. I am minded to bring this matter before the Committee because the AttorneyGeneral’s predecessor, who is now the Chief Justice, said that, if cases in which it appeared that the appropriate provisions of the Repatriation Act had not been adequately applied were brought before him, he would give serious consideration to them to see what could be done. In this instance, as the Attorney-General is, I presume, the protector of the laws of the Parliament, I want to direct the attention of the Committee to a case in which it appears to me that justice has not been done under section 47 of the Repatriation Act.
I will not mention the gentleman’s name, but the circumstances were roughly these: In the First World War, the applicant for -repatriation benefits served at Seymour in a Light Horse reinforcement unit. In the course of training exercises, he was injured on manoeuvres in such a way that before many months had elapsed he was classed as medically unfit and passed out of the Service. Most honorable members will be aware that First World War records were not very well kept. In a large number of cases, Service records did not show the ailments, injuries and so on from which the people suffered. In this instance, the applicant for repatriation benefits had been injured and had become disabled to such an extent that after seven or eight months he was boarded out of the Army. The evidence, as far as I can find it, from a witness of the incident is adequate. There is no doubt that the man entered the Service medically fit and that he was discharged from the Service some eleven months later medically unfit. There is ample evidence that he was physically incapacitated by some form of hip injury, which, throughout his life, has become progressively worse. He is now an elderly man and in recent years he has become totally incapacitated. At any rate, he can no longer move freely. He is on crutches.
– Order! Quite frankly. I think that the matter now raised by the honorable member for Wills would be better raised during the discussion of the estimates for the Repatriation Department. I appreciate the point made by the honorable member when he began to speak, but I think that, if he desires to discuss the matter with the Attorney-General, he should do so but not during the stage of the Committee discussions we have now reached.
– With respect. Mr. Chairman, the point I make is that section 47 of the Repatriation Act lays down special terms for consideration by the Repatriation authorities and that the Attorney-General is the keeper of the law. If a case has passed through the various echelons of Repatriation and it is no longer of any use to put the case before them, the only recourse is to appeal to the Attorney-General. 1 have given the background of the case. I referred it to the Attorney-General previously and I received his anwer the other day. The section of the Repatriation Act to which 1 have referred, section 47, states - (1.) The Commission, a Board, an Appeal Tribunal and an Assessment Appeal Tribunal, in hearing, determining or deciding a claim, application or appeal, shall act according to substantial justice and the merits of the case, shall not be bound by technicalities or legal forms or rules of evidence and shall give to the claimant, applicant or appellant the benefit of any doubt -
Sub-section (2.) amplifies this provision.
I think it is properly the function of the Attorney-General to have some machinery at his disposal so that he can give full consideration to matters such as this. Yesterday or the day before I received the AttorneyGeneral’s answer to my representations. Unfortunately, the terms of his answer are not much different from those that come from the Repatriation Department. The AttorneyGeneral should have somewhere in his Department someone with the special facility for examining the implementation of Commonwealth acts. The AttorneyGeneral should be, or perhaps is, the protector of the acts of the Parliament and the man to whom one must look for this kind of action. That is why I raised the matter on this occasion.
– I was about to say to the honorable member for Wills that in the circumstances, without being taken as having created a precedent. I would let him make the point if he did not go into too much detail.
– Thank you, Mr. Chairman, but that was the point I wanted to make to the Committee. The AttorneyGeneral, as the legal officer of the Parliament, ought to be the protector of the acts of the Parliament. I would think that section 47 of the Repatriation Act - there may be others - should be under his constant and close scrutiny. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has just remarked, the Attorney-General is the Parliament’s legal ombudsman.
.- 1 want to direct a question to the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). A few nights ago I raised in the Parliament a question relating to what was reported to me to be a visit by the Commonwealth Police on a constituent of mine named Shelley. He had sent out a letter in an envelope on which was written some uncomplimentary remark about the Government’s policy on Vietnam. The visit to him was made by two people whom he said were Commonwealth Police. Subsequently, thanks to the efforts of the Attorney-General, a Superintendent of Police in Sydney rang me and assured me that they were not Commonwealth Police. He was concerned that the people who had called had given their names and had conveyed the impression that they were Commonwealth Police. He said that he had tried to correct the position but had found it impossible to do so because the people who had called had scared the daylight out of the elderly lady who was resident at the address. Consequently, when his men called, she was too frightened to allow them to enter the place and it had not been possible to explain the position to her. We can understand this lady’s attitude. She is evidently elderly and somewhat disturbed by the visit that had previously been made.
The Attorney-General has written to me and told me that he has been assured that the people who visited my constituent were not Commonwealth Police and in the circumstances he considers that the matter has been finalised. That is all right, and I accept his assurance. But someone called. They were not ghosts. The names of the people who called were given and, if they were not Commonwealth Police, they must have been investigation officers from the Postmaster-General’s Department. If investigation officers from that Department called and frightened these people to such an extent that they will not now allow others to enter the residence, the matter should be referred to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme). I would like to know why a simple slogan on an envelope merited a visit by two persons who frightened the daylight out of the mother of the person who posted the letter. The Attorney-General has been assured that these people did not represent themselves as Commonwealth Police. It would be very serious if they did.
The more disturbing aspect is that, if people write an uncomplimentary remark about the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) or the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on an envelope, they will be visited in their homes and subjected to certain charges and interrogation as to their reasons for writing the remark. On almost every sign near a railway station in Sydney one will find written the most uncomplimentary remarks about nearly every politician in the country, regardless of the side of politics to which he belongs. Apparently, the slogan on the envelope was somewhat disturbing because it touched on a matter concerning which the Government is at present suspicious, vulnerable and frightened - the question of boys being sent compulsorily to Vietnam. The fact that this remark discrediting the Government’s policy on that issue appeared on the envelope evidently was thought by some authorities in some Commonwealth department to merit investigation of the slogan that was written on the envelope, i have no doubt that, as I was told by the Superintendent of the Commonwealth Police Force and as the Attorney-General assured me, there was nothing wrong in what was written. But let us take the matter a step further. The person who sent the letter and wrote on the envelope is a temporary employee of a government department. He now feels, as a result of the call made by the police officers, that he may not receive a permanent appointment in the Public Service when an opportunity for such an appointment arises.
I have investigated the matter and very reputable people in my district have told me that the writer of the letter and his mother and family are reputable people of good character and that there is no reason to doubt their loyalty or to think that they are lacking in the qualities that make good citizens. I speak tonight not to make any great criticism. I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will assure me that he will pass on to the Postmaster-General the full facts of the case for investigation to ascertain, first, why the persons who called at the home of the gentleman in question bothered to do .v secondly, whether they represented themselves as Commonwealth police and scared the daylights out of his mother, and, thirdly, why a simple slogan uncomplimentary to the Commonwealth Government and expressing a sentiment that is shared by thousands of people should cause this interrogation of the person concerned. I hope that the Attorney-General can reassure me on this matter. I have not since heard from the person involved, but I am sure that 1 shall and that he is only waiting on the result of the report made by the person who called at his home. Evidently, the person who saw his mother put the fear of God into her. In the circumstances, that was not justified.
– Mr. Chairman, the matter just mentioned by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) was raised in this chamber during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House on an earlier occasion. As 1 recall what the honorable gentleman said at that time, he stated that the envelope was covered with slogans. Indeed, he made the point that wherever there was space in which to write, something was written. Tonight, he said, in effect: “This poor chap just wrote a simple slogan on the envelope “. He cannot have it both ways.
– I was referring to the letter that I got.
– The honorable member cannot have it both ways. This is something about which he is quite relaxed, 1 am sure. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) is not present, and I shall bring the matter to his attention. We all know that the sorting officers in the Post Office do a magnificent job of sorting letters. 1 would not like to hazard a guess at the number of articles posted each day in Australia, but doubtless it runs into millions. 1 believe that when, as frequently happens, a person addresses an envelope in such a way as to make it impossible for the sorter to tell where to direct it, the person who addressed the letter is reminded in a perfectly reasonable fashion that he should not address letters in such a way. This is conjecture on my part, and I know that the honorable gentleman understands that. I shall pass on to my colleague what he has said, but I am sure that the honorable member is not anxious to pursue the matter quite so far as he seemed to want to pursue it a few moments ago if one were to judge by the manner in which he spoke.
I now turn to the matter of juries, concerning which the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) made what he described as his two submissions. Before dealing with that matter, I want to say that I was delighted to hear him say. when he chastised me, that he had always respected me. I assure the honorable member that I have always respected him. He commands, I believe, a considerable measure of affection in this place. What he did not understand was that my laughter was occasioned not by his recital of the attempted assassination of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). What brought my laughter bubbling out was that the honorable gentleman, quite inadvertently, used the words “ the Leader of the Deposition “. The use of that description was just a slip of the tongue and that was what occasioned my smiles and laughter. 1 assure the honorable member that, like him, I regard the attempted assassination of one of the political leaders of this country as quite disturbing. So I accept the honorable gentleman’s rebuke. I am sure that as I have explained the cause of my laughter, he will understand the way in which it was intended.
On the matter of juries, the honorable member for Hunter said that I should give a lead to the States in providing for jury decisions by a majority vote. Anything that I might try to do would certainly not give a lead, because majority verdicts are already accepted in two of the States and in the Northern Territory.
– In which States?
– In Tasmania, the State to which the honorable member belongs, and South Australia. As this matter has been raised and as it is of interest to a number of people because of the publicity occasioned by the English proposals, I think it would be desirable for me to put on record in “ Hansard “ just what the situation is. South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have provision for majority verdicts. Those provisions differ. The decision of 10 jurors in non-capital cases may be taken after four hours in South Australia and after two hours in Tasmania. In the Northern Territory, in non-capital cases, a verdict of nine of the jurors may be taken as the verdict of all after 12 hours. In capital cases in South Australia, a jury unable to agree after four hours may be discharged, but where it is competent for the jury to bring in a verdict of manslaughter and, after four hours, 10 of the jurors agree that the accused is guilty of manslaughter, the verdict of those 10 shall be taken as the verdict of all. In capital cases in Tasmania, after disagreement for six hours, the verdict of 10 jurors is sufficient for a verdict of not guilty, or not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.
Sir. the fact is that I can scarce give a lead when two of the States have already adopted majority verdicts and the Northern
Territory provides for them. With some trepidation, a proposed ordinance was drawn up last year for the Australian Capital Territory long before publicity was given to the move in England. That proposed ordinance was sent to the A.C.T. Advisory Council for examination. One of the proposals embodied in it was provision for majority verdicts. The Council made it perfectly plain to both the Press and me that it objected violently to the acceptance of majority verdicts to convict. It was prepared to accept majority verdicts to acquit but not to convict. Provision to that effect, however, would not achieve the purpose that the honorable member for Hunter had in mind when he spoke of the nobbling of juries. I submitted the same provisions to the Law Society and the Bar Association in the Territory, the Faculty of Law at the Australian National University and the Crown Prosecutor for the Territory. All considered the matter and only the Crown Prosecutor supported the proposal for majority verdicts. The other three opposed it. I accept the honorable member’s proposition that I should give a lead. But, insofar as a lead can be given, the matter is one for consideration by the parties who are affected in the A.C.T. As for individual States, those States which have not at this present time majority verdicts have plenty of opportunity to consider whether they would have them without requiring any lead from me.
The next matter I deal wilh is one raised by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), who I regret is not in the chamber at the moment. He made what I may say was an interesting speech. At the end of his remarks he spoke of sex education, but he led himself through to that point by reference to marriage guidance. It seems to me that he rather had those subjects in inverse order. It would seem to me that the education should commence at the earlier point.
– Sex education comes before marriage.
– This is true. There is in the constitutional power by which the Matrimonial Causes Act is passed power to provide for marriage guidance. This power has been used since the Act first came into force. In 1961 $73,000 was paid in subsidy to the various marriage guidance councils. The estimates for this year provide for $1 83,000. 1 cannot put the increase readily into mathematics, but it is well over 100 per cent. The subsidy has climbed from 573,000 to $183,000 in about seven years.
– Seven and a half years.
– Yes. That is a quite significant amount. It is true that the marriage guidance councils would like more and it is not unreal that they should want more. They would like to have more fulltime marriage guidance officers and more fulltime counsellors. This system has its difficulties because marriage guidance must be something which is close to the people to whom the guidance and counselling are being given. Persons in this occupation must be experienced and very sane. The marriage guidance councils are most meticulous in their selection of people whom they will train for this purpose and whom they will permit to be counsellors.
My attitude is that marriage guidance counselling has a very real place in the community and a place which must grow. But marriage guidance counselling at the door of the court, so to speak, is far too late in a great majority of cases. The marriage guidance counselling must come much earlier. One of the difficulties of having marriage guidance counselling earlier is in persuading those people who are in need of it that it is not unusual to receive marriage guidance counselling. The fact that a person receives marriage guidance counselling docs not mean that he is mentally deranged or even slightly mentally deranged. I believe that as time goes on the whole concept of marriage counselling will become far more acceptable by the community and, as it becomes more acceptable, so it will achieve more results.
– What about the family court concept? This is what I was coming to.
– The family court concept of which the honorable member speaks has been tried in the United States of America and in some parts of that country it has been successful. In other parts it is criticised. There is growing up quite a skilled body of professionals in this whole field of marriage relations. Some support the family court while others oppose it.
– Probably the lawyers.
– No, not the lawyers; I am talking about the professionals in that field. The lawyers are not in that field at all. In any event, I think I can reach the concluding point that I want to make on this issue by saying that marriage guidance counselling is highly desirable, but that it could be what might be called the middle income groups who resort to it. It should carry through the whole range of the community and not be something which is used as an analysist’s offsider.
Perhaps the only other point that I should mention is in relation to the proposals by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) that the Legal Service Bureaux should be enabled to provide advice for the ex-service members of the Parliament. This is not a possible proposition. The provision of the advice of the Legal Service Bureaux flows from a repatriation obligation, but I do not know that it would be possible that members of this House, in the pursuance of their parliamentary careers when they are at risk of being libelled or slandered, should have recourse to a repatriation type facility of the Legal Service Bureaux. In my view that would be quite an improper decision to be taken. Equally, of course, it would be most undesirable to separate servicemen and ex-servicemen in the Parliament as to who could get advice and who could not.
– Has the honorable gentleman anything to say about the ombudsman idea?
– As to that point. I was most interested to hear the way in which the honorable gentleman presented his case. In almost all circumstances he used the term “ these countries that have adopted it “ and his whole tendency, perhaps unconsciously, was to give the impression that there were a great number of countries which have adopted this scheme. As I understand it there are three or four Scandinavian countries, West Germany and New Zealand.
– And Great Britain.
– Great Britain is about to adopt that scheme. The number of countries with an ombudsman is only a handful; it is not a great number. For my part I find it rather difficult to believe that a need for it has been established in Australia within our Federal system or. putting aside the Federal system, either for the Commonwealth in the Federal sphere or for any of the States. However, the States will make up their own minds. There has not yet been established a need for it, in my view. The honorable gentleman has asked me to consider his proposition, but really it is not a matter that comes for my consideration; it is a matter of policy which is a broader thing than just a law officer’s problem.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) mentioned section 47 of the Repatriation Act and a letter that he received from me. I assure the honorable gentleman that before that letter was signed and sent to him 1 gave the matter very close consideration. I went through the relevant file very closely and I came to the clear conclusion that, notwithstanding the somersaulting of the onus of proof which section 47 achieves in benefit of the soldier, I could not come to the conclusion that there had been any misuse of section 47. The letter was signed by me only after very close consideration.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Proposed expenditure, $28,720,000.
Department of National Development.
Proposed expenditure, S3 1,168,000.
.- I refer to the Department of National Development. One is faced, when making inquiries concerning this subject, with a rather peculiar set of circumstances. If one approaches a State one is told that it has no money; if one approaches the Commonwealth one is told that it has no jurisdiction. Meanwhile, of course, the people have no development. A State will say that the money for a project must come from the Commonwealth, but the Commonwealth will say that such is not its concern. We heard it stated in the House today that even in the matters of the activities of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority the States must eventually repay the money which has been expended. This is rather a peculiar situation. Most of this money - in fact all of it - until recently has been paid out of revenue. It is money that has already been secured from the taxpayer as a Federal taxpayer. Now the State taxpayer, who is the same individual, has to provide the money again to refund it to the Commonwealth.
It might be pertinent to remind the Commonwealth that when Federation took place the States handed over for free all the property that was needed by the Commonwealth. Post offices and customs houses were handed over. No charge was made for them by the States. Now charges are levied by the Commonwealth on the taxpayer so that the Commonwealth may derive what it considers a reasonable return on the capital involved in business undertakings such as the Post Office.
How does this principle of “ no money in the States and no jurisdiction in the Commonwealth “ operate? I can cite the case of the Nathan Gorge Dam in Queensland. The construction of this dam was approved by the State Parliament on 2nd October 1928, quite a time ago. The project has been debated, inspections have been carried out and it has been reported upon on many occasions. It has been planned and anticipated and hoped for. It has been the subject of petitions and preparations. But it has not been built. We are prepared to do anything about it but build it. The procrastination that goes on in connection with these proposals is almost beyond belief. What is the result of it? By the time the State has prepared reports and submitted them to the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth has arranged for further inspections, surveys and reports, the people who made the original inspection for the State have probably retired and another lot have taken their places and again reported on the project. Some of these schemes in Queensland have been reported on as many as 10 times. As I have said, we get everything done but the actual construction.
There is much controversy today about the proposed Nogoa Dam in the Emerald district of central Queensland. There have been public meetings, there have been protest meetings, there have been approaches by the State Government, by the local authority and by groups of local authorities. We were told that no approach had been made to the Commonwealth so that the Commonwealth could not do anything. Well, approaches have now been made to the Commonwealth but this has made no difference; there is no money - not for this project.
– It is not in the honorable member’s electorate?
– It is not in my electorate. In fact it is in the electorate of one of the honorable member’s colleagues. We do not care where it is or what type of politics is espoused by the member representing the particular electorate. The important point is that the nation needs development. Perhaps it could do with a bit better development in some forms of its politics, but we will leave that aside for the moment. The point is that we want development, and it cannot be carried out unless the money is allocated. If the State has not got it and the Commonwealth will not provide it, what do we do? We go on indefinitely, as we have gone on in the case of the Nathan Gorge Dam for 38 years, with nothing being done beyond hammering in the survey pegs. This is what will also happen in the case of the Nogoa Dam. So far there is no money for it, although it has been proposed for the last ten years.
Are we going to establish some form of priority for these projects? At least this would give some indication when we might expect to get a particular job done. But there is no list of priorities. It is apparent that the only method of establishing priorities is to blindfold somebody and let him stick a pin in a list. Even so, it is a peculiar fact that only the smaller projects are decided upon. Of course decisions are made in favour of some of the bigger projects in what we .might call the more settled areas of New South Wales and Victoria, and the reason for this is pretty obvious to us who live in the more remote areas: There are just not enough of us. We have not sufficient influence where the decisions are made. There are millions of people living down here but there are only 174,000 living in central Queensland, so we get nothing. Is there any significance in the fact that not one single £1 has ever been granted by the Commonwealth Government for a major water conservation project in the whole of Queensland? Surely Queensland is unique in this respect. When are we going to see a change?
– After 26th November next.
– Yes. if there is a change of government perhaps the policy will change. At the moment we see no light at the end of the tunnel at all. Let me cite the case of the proposed Yaamba Gap Dam on the Fitzroy River. With one dam there we could impound twice as much water as there is in all the 17 dams that have been built in the Snowy Mountains scheme. The water would be backed up for 120 miles. It would form one of the largest artificial fresh water lakes in the world. This is a job that could be done, and the cam would supply water for industrial purposes, domestic purposes and rural purposes. But all we get arc polite replies from the departments concerned, State or Federal. The State simply says “ No money “ while the Federal Government shrugs its shoulders and says “ No jurisdiction “ - and, as I said at the beginning, we get no dam.
When we in central Queensland have complained along these lines previously we have been told: “ You have the development of your mineral resources “. The development of our mineral resources is not carried out by the Government but by private enterprise. In other words the Government is prepared to develop anything if someone else will pay for it. There is something else we should not forget when we are talking about the money invested by those who are exploiting the mineral resources. We are told that the plant being constructed in Gladstone in my electorate for the precipitation of alumina from bauxite will represent an investment of $104 million. As far as Gladstone is concerned it represents nothing of the kind, because more than $80 million of this is being spent in Japan and America to buy equipment. Only a few millions will be spent on the installation of it, so Gladstone will not get the benefit of all this investment because the money is not being spent there.
So far as the exploitation of our mineral resources is concerned, we are on the high road, as I have said before, to the development of the greatest collection of holes in the ground that the world has ever seen. If honorable members go to any town in Australia that has become a ghost town following on the exploitation of its mineral resources they will get a picture of what is likely to happen in central Queensland if the development of the area is left entirely to the exploiters of mineral resources. When the minerals have been taken out all that will remain will be a number of ghost towns. We want something better than this. The only development worth anything to this country is development that brings permanent settlement, and we can get that only by developing rural industries. This is the kind of development we need in central Queensland, and today in Australia, which is the driest of all the continents, we must look after our water conservation. We must take steps to see that the available water does not flow wastefully into the Pacific Ocean. We must see that it is saved and is available for use in the development of the land.
We are now told, of course, that the Snowy Mountains Authority is going to be made available. But what is the use of making the Snowy Mountains Authority available as an administrative organisation to Queensland or to any other State if the finance to enable it to operate is not also made available? This is a rather important aspect of the matter. About S50 million a year has been made available to the Snowy Mountains Authority. Will this amount continue to be made available each year to this Authority to enable it to develop other parts of the country? If it is not, who is going to pay for this development? Is the Government going to say to the States, in effect: “ You can have the assistance of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority if you pay S50 million a year “. We already know that the States have not got that amount to spend. There is not a State Government in this Commonwealth that has that much money available to hand over to the Snowy Mountains Authority. If we had the money in Queensland we would be very willing to take over the services of the Authority. This House can rest assured that there would be plenty of work for the Authority to do. It is idle for anyone to say that there is no developmental work to be carried; it is there to be done. The Authority is in existence, but as far as the States are concerned the money is not.
As I have said before, if we do not undertake the type of development that brings people into these areas we are not, in effect, developing them at all. It is important to develop them from the point of view of industry, but it is also important to do so from the point of view of defence. One of the best methods of holding Australia and of making it obvious to everybody concerned or interested that we are going to hold it, is to put population into the northern areas. It is possible to attract people by mining operations. We know that this is so. At Mount Isa many thousands of people are living in an arid area, but if honorable members go into the Mount Isa or into the Mary Kathleen area they will see what has been done by way of water conservation on a small scale in connection with agriculture. This work was undertaken purely for the purpose of supplying fresh vegetables for the local population, but what can be done in almost any portion of Australia if we care to conserve our water, should be obvious to everybody. Water is all-important. You can have land, you can have the people available and you can even have the money, but if you do not conserve the water you will get no results at all. lt was stated to me in Alice Springs by a member of the staff of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation that all that was wanted there was water. I saw lucerne three feet high that was grown with water brought from 45 feet below the ground. One of the experts said that by Lake Eyre the soil was so fertile that if you threw a bucket of water on the ground you had to step back smartly or the grass would grow up the legs of your trousers. There is nothing the matter with the ground or its ability to produce. The trouble is that we do not conserve the water we have. More than half the water that falls on this continent falls north of the 26th Parallel, but the amount of water conservation that has been undertaken is practically nil. If this portion of the continent were supplied with water for agricultural purposes it would carry a greater population than the southern portion. lt is no use anyone saying that Europeans will not live in the north. If honorable members travel along the coast of Queensland they will find that in all of the areas engaged in sugar production the population is predominantly European. We have the people, we have the land, we have the ability to do the job. All that we need is water conservation. The conserving of our water must be done on the basis of national development, and it must be financed by the Federal Government. The Commonwealth simply must find the money or there will be no development. It is idle to say to the States: “ This is your jurisdiction “. It is almost as idle for the States to say they have not got the money. That is merely begging the question. There must be co-operation between the State Governments and the Federal Government.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable members time has expired.
– I listened with great interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray). A discussion on priorities for national development, education and many of the other areas in which people have a special interest is, 1 think, of great importance in a democracy - particularly a developing country such as ours that is trying to develop a continent - as it does ensure that we use our resources and our capital to the very best effect. The discussion on the relationship of the Commonwealth and States in the field of national development has tended - on the part of honorable gentlemen on the other side - to ignore the constitutional problems. In many areas of national development great progress has been made as a result of co-operation and understanding. Worthwhile projects have been established as a result of cooperation and discussion between the Commonwealth and the States. There comes to my mind a debate we had during the last sessional period on the planting of softwoods. We had the example of the Australian Forestry Council bringing forward a plan which will ensure that in the year 2000 we should be self sufficient in softwood timber.
Discussions are taking place on the conservation of water, which was one of the subjects mentioned by the honorable member for Capricornia. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), who is now at the table, has said in answer to questions and in public statements that these discussions are going on at present with the States with regard to the future use of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. J think that the honorable member for Capricornia tended to ignore the cost of conservation, lt is agreed that it is essential that we conserve water, but he tended to ignore the cost of conservation and the use to which the products grown by irrigation could be put. He tended in my view to over simplify the position. He also made no mention of the work that has already gone on in this field by way of beef roads and the very vital work that has been performed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other bodies in the development of tropical pastures and grasses such as Townsville lucerne. Incidentally, the present varieties of Townsville lucerne are being grown in the higher rainfall areas of the north, that is, in the belt that receives more than 30 inches; but already with the development of new varieties of Townsville lucerne there, I believe, are 15 or 20 strains some of which grow very well in the lower rainfall areas, even down as far as the 15 inch belt. If these varieties are grown they will open up millions of acres of drier country and will allow a greater increase in production. The honorable member also called for the development, or intensification of the development, of primary industries in order to attract population to these areas, but he tended to denigrate the development of our minerals, which I believe is one of the most exciting stories in Australia today. What we are developing and selling in minerals is infinitesimal compared with the resources we have. How much wiser it is to develop these resources today and earn income from them which will generate industry and other effects, lt will be many years before we see the ghost towns that the honorable member spoke of.
I intended to speak tonight mainly on the C.S.I.R.O., because the report that was tabled recently pointed out that that organisation is now in its fiftieth year. This is an event that I hope will be suitably celebrated next year because of the tremendously important results in the development of this country that the Organisation has brought about. It has been said as recently as a few years ago that the value of the work of the C.S.I.R.O. per annum to the Australian economy has been three and one half times as great as the amount we have spent upon it. In the 50 years that it has been in existence we have spent about S200 million on the C.S.I.R.O. So that the value of the organisation to the economy is worth about S700 million per annum for Australia. I think it is fitting, as the organisation approaches its 50th anniversary, to record these facts in this Parliament.
In its early days the C.S.I.R.O. was primarily concerned with agriculture. Since 1937, and particularly during the war years, it has devoted an increasing part of its activities to secondary industry until today it is engaged about 50-50 on research into secondary industry and primary industry. I compliment the executive of the organisation on its excellent annual report, which shows a great understanding in the general review section of the problems we face as a country in the development of our scientific resources and our attitudes towards science. The report particularly refers to our growing maturity and understanding in the development of what has been referred to as a policy for science. In the report, matters of concern to the executive are discussed. The first is the matter of recruitment of staff. The second is the effect on the operation and administration of research projects of funds established under the auspices of, for example, the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Meat Board. The third is the use of knowledge gained by the C.S.I.R.O. in industry. The fourth is the problem of buildings. I think it is a good thing that the organisation has raised these matters for public discussion.
Let me deal with the matters in turn: As regards staff, Australia is going through a period of immense growth in its universities. In the last 14 or 15 years the number of universities in Australia has increased from 8 to 16. The number of students attending universities has almost trebled. This growth has placed great pressures on the training of people and the use of highly trained people. The C.S.I.R.O., to a certain extent, has suffered from this situation. It has been claimed in some quarters that the C.S.I.R.O. has suffered from a brain drain. This is not true because as the report shows, the C.S.I.R.O. has been able to recruit a large proportion of its staff from overseas. We are a net gainer of staff. But by 1970 the situation could well be altered. As reported by Dr. Ross and others in the last December and March issues of “ Vestes “, at present we have a shortage of Doctors of Philosophy, but by 1970 we may well have a surplus. In the intervening period these people are being used by the universities as they grow. The C.S.I.R.O. is suffering to a certain extent today but it is able to get staff from overseas. By 1970 its difficulties should be overcome. As regards technical staff, I think the Government’s activities in establishing colleges of advanced education and providing scholarships for technical education will ensure within the next five years or so a steady flow of people with the necessary technical training.
I think it was wise for the C.S.I.R.O. to refer in its report to industry funds, because the bodies concerned with these funds are statutory bodies. This is a matter for public discussion. The C.S.I.R.O. is represented on each of the committees administering the funds. I am sure that wc can arrive at an effective relationship between the committees, which in effect arc making grants in aid to the organisation. As regards buildings, in recent years there has been a great increase in building activity, as is mentioned in the report. Undoubtedly it will take a number of years to catch up with requirements, but progress is being made in this field.
I think the three years of this Parliament have been an historic period for Australia. During the life of this Parliament we have seen the inauguration of the Australian Research Grants Committee. We have seen the establishment of colleges of advanced education. Wc have seen legislation to provide finance for secondary science blocks. We have seen the provision o grants to the States for technical training. We have seen the granting of an extra 16,000 scholarships each year at all levels of education. We have seen a massive increase in our universities, not merely in terms of buildings but also in terms of numbers of students. We have seen the development of new research schemes, such as the one in relation to the meat industry for which legislation was passed last year. Wc have been told that a scheme for research into the poultry industry will come before the Parliament later in the session. Together with the scheme for grants to secondary industry for research as mentioned in the Budget this will be of major importance to secondary industry. The
Government has announced plans for increased extension services. We have seen a continual increase in the work of the C.S.I.R.O. and in allocations to it. All this is indicative of a planned approach for the development of science and research. The Parliament can take great credit for its greater understanding in this important field of research - a field that we as a nation may well depend upon in the next generation or so for our future.
There is in the community a much greater understanding of the needs of science. 1 commend the C.S.I.R.O. for the excellent seminar that it arranged earlier this year when British science writers were here to try to induce newspapers and journals in this country to take a greater interest in the dissemination of scientific matters to the community. As Vice-Admiral Rickover of the United States Navy said in an excellent paper published in “ Nature “, unless democracy and the people in it can understand technology, democracy must fall. I commend the C.S.I.R.O. on its 50 years of very valuable work for Australia.
– The contrast between the proposals of the Liberal Party and those of the Australian Labour Party for the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority has become much clearer today, lt now appears more definitely than before that the Liberal Party proposes at most a back room role for the Authority, which is to be maintained at most merely in nucleus form and only as a skeleton of its former self. There is not much life in a skeleton. While the Government’s intentions still appear shadowy, even in this very limited respect, the Minister’s statement to this Parliament today, when considered with previous governmental statements, indicates no more than a skeleton role for the Snowy Mountains Authority in the future - and not even this role for certain. The one thing that is certain is given in the Minister’s own words today. To use his words -
No decision has been reached yet by the Commonwealth Government about the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority.
No decision whatever by the Commonwealth Government about the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority, after 17 years.
On the other hand, the Labour Party’s policy is to maintain the Snowy Mountains Authority in full as a tremendous continuing force, tackling the immense tasks of national development which challenge the people of this continent. With a Labour Government, the Snowy Mountains Authority will be expanded into a national conservation authority. Its scope will be widened and it will be given full opportunities in the fields of investigation, design and construction alike. There will be an essential place for every man of the Snowy Mountains team in this way: As men complete their part in one task, a corresponding part in a new national task will be ready for them. For the investigation teams there will be new investigations into new projects and for the design teams there will be the designing of new projects. Therefore, as the construction teams complete their existing tasks, new construction tasks will be ready for them.
The great work of national development initiated by the Chifley Government will go on, because the original conception of Ben Chifley was that the Snowy Mountains project was to be the first of a succession of national conservation projects. Men who are still in this Parliament, men who are my colleagues as members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, were my colleagues in the Parliament then and were Ministers in the Chifley Government which established that concept - a concept which has remained the concept of the Labour Party ever since, and is so today.
For years now a part of the policy to which the Labour Party has pledged itself is the maintenance and continuation of the Snowy Mountains Authority, with a wider role in the national developmental task as a national conservation authority. Under a Labour Government, it will be full steam ahead for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, if you will excuse that mixed metaphor, Mr. Deputy Chairman, and a full opportunity for every member of that great Snowy Mountains team to take his part in the development and conservation tasks of this nation. As the Minister knows, up till today I have given the Government the benefit of every possible doubt in this matter.
– Very generous.
– I have been very generous, for a reason. I have wanted lo encourage the Government. J have refrained, as every member of this Parliament will know, from attacking the Government for its long delay in announcing its plan for the Authority’s future. Like the members of the Snowy Mountains team, and like the citizens of the Snowy Mountains area, 1 have been extraordinarily patient and long suffering with this Government. 1 have overlooked its failures to tackle this question of the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority. 1 have encouraged it and urged it continually to do better. I have raised the matter time and again in this Parliament ever since 1958, month by month, session by session, year by year. I have taken deputation after deputation to successive Ministers of National Development - or Ministers of no national development, as they appear to be - and at question time 1 have kept the Minister’s attention directed to this matter of the future of the Snowy. He has told me time after time that the Government has this matter under active consideration. He has said: “The honorable member can be assured that the Government has this matter under active consideration and thai ar. announcement will be made as soon a possible “. Today we have an announcement. Using the Minister’s own words, that announcement is: “ No decision has yet been reached by the Commonwealth Government about the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority “. That is the result of all the Government’s alleged active consideration.
I have endeavoured to arouse the Government from its lethargy and inertia, I have treated it with the utmost forbearance and tolerance up till now. But time is running out. Therefore, 1 make a final appeal to the Government now to improve upon the dismal statement which the Minister has made today. I warn the Government that unless it makes a clear and definite commitment of a full continuing future role for the Snowy Mountains Authority the people of the area will give no support to the Government candidates on November 26th. If the Government wants support for its own Eden-Monaro candidates, it will have to give support to this cause in which the people of Eden-Monaro are so deeply concerned and interested. The Government cannot expect to take everything from the people of EdenMonaro and give absolutely nothing in return.
– lt might take their present member.
– lt still has time to do that, but time is running out. If it wishes to give its candidates, Liberal Party and Country Party alike, any chance to win the seat from me, I urge it to bestir itself even now. Both Liberal Party and Country Party candidates would join me in this plea to the Government. Both of them are condemning the Government for its failure in this matter. So I say to the Government: “ Give them at least a sporting chance.” No-one likes to see them struggling around the electorate, carrying the impossible burden of the Government’s refusal to maintain the Snowy Mountains Authority in a national developmental role after its present task is completed.
– That is too generous.
– No, not too generous; 1 have nothing but the welfare of my electorate at heart. I would like to see both parties go to the election with a clear pledge to the Australian people that this great organisation will be maintained and its role expanded and widened, so that this matter is taken out of the realm of party politics. 1 am giving the Government that eleventh hour opportunity, and I am warning it that if it does not do this it can expect no support from the people of EdenMonaro. I hope that my words will not fall upon deaf ears.
I turn now to the Minister’s statement to the House today. He said that the Government can make no decision about the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority until it has had very full consultations with the States to get an idea of the type of work they are prepared to make available to the Authority. In other words, in the Government’s thinking there is no future for this Authority except to the extent that the State governments will make work available to it. Of course, the Commonwealth knows that the State governments have not got the money to do that. Then the Minister made this extraordinary statement -
For the Commonwealth Government to expend its own money on conserving water in the States would mean a fundamental change in policy.
It is the taxpayers’ money, by the way. This is a clear statement by the Minister that the present Government will not itself engage in any water conservation work in any part of Australia except in a Commonwealth Territory, such as the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The statement that for the Commonwealth Government to expend its own money on conserving water in the States would mean a fundamental change in policy can mean only that the present Government is fundamentally opposed to any further projects such as the Snowy Mountains project and that the present Government would never have initiated the Snowy Mountains project, because that project means, of course, expenditure of Commonwealth money on water conservation in a State. This is the exact thing that the Minister describes as being fundamentally opposed to the policy of the present Government.
Already the Snowy Mountains project, built with Commonwealth money, has provided for the conserving of sufficient additional water to justify an expansion of irrigation based on an increased annual supply equivalent to 500,000 acre feet to the Murrumbidgee and 300,000 acre feet to the Murray. These figures will increase to 1,100,000 acre feet and 800,000 acre feet respectively- as the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt) well knows - when the Blowering Dam and the Jindabyne Dam are completed in 1968. Yet the Minister says that that work is fundamentally opposed to Government policy and that his Government would not as a matter of policy undertake any such future work.
The Minister went on to say that the full cost of the Snowy Mountains project is reimbursed by the States of Victoria and New South Wales, who include this cost in their electricity charges. In other words, the Minister is saying that Commonwealth money is not involved; that the States are already reimbursing the cost of the Snowy Mountains scheme. The fact is that all the money provided for the construction of the Snowy Mountains scheme - every penny of it - has been provided not by any State but by the Commonwealth. The total provided by the Commonwealth to date is $574 million. Accumulated interest on advances amounts to a further SUI million. Revenue from charges for electricity to date has been $16 million of which $15 million has been paid to the Commonwealth Treasury. In other words, so far the reimbursement has been $15 million out of a total expenditure of $684 million, yet the Minister says, as the justification for his Government’s policy of inaction, that the cost of the Snowy Mountains Authority is fully reimbursed by the States of Victoria and New South Wales. This is clearly a misstatement of the position.
It is true that an immense revenue will come to the Commonwealth from the Snowy Mountains project. Within a brief time $30 million a year will be coming into the Commonwealth Treasury as a result of the project. By the time the scheme is completed in 1972 $50 million a year will be coming into the Commonwealth Treasury. Therefore, there will be available an amount equal to the sum that the Commonwealth is now spending on the Snowy Mountains project every year, and it will be available for further Commonwealth developmental works, if the Commonwealth Government will use it. If this Government will not use it, a Labour government will certainly do so.
.- After defence, I suppose the most important problem lacing the Government today is national development. If we hope to hold this country, or if we are to be entitled to hold it, we must develop it as quickly as possible. Unquestionably we have made tremendous advances over the years. When, we realise that as yet we have only 11 million people what we have done constitutes a ^wonderful record. I remember what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said at an Australian Citizenship Convention in Canberra. It was quite different from what he has been saying, recently in other places. He said that no government could have done more to develop the north of Australia than the present Government has done. He said this, and it is on record.
This is a dry country. Australia is the driest continent on earth, yet we have made it attractive. It was bypassed for thousands of years because those living in countries with much higher rainfall felt that nothing could be made of Australia, but we have made it attractive, and we have made it blossom like a rose. We need three things desperately in Australia. We must have more people here to develop, lt is a tremendous task to get the right people - people who will not create problems within this nation. We need finance, and obviously a nation of only 11 million people cannot provide tremendous sums that are needed to develop the country efficiently. Above all, we need water, because without water there is no life. Our rural development depends on water. Our very civilisation depends on water. If we are to build this country as we must build it, we must increase our export income. To anyone who has studied the position it is perfectly obvious that this must be done. Sir John Allison, who is Chairman of the Export Development Council, said that if we are to increase our export income to the degree that is absolutely necessary to maintain our present rate of progress the only place to which we can look in the foreseeable future for this tremendous increase is our rural industries. Members on this side of the House believe in balanced development. We realise that if we are going to have the population necessary for the prosperity and development of this country we must built up our secondary industries; but there is only one way in which we can afford to pay for these new industries and that is by earning more export income.
We have seen tremendous expansion in our irrigation areas. We have seen what irrigation has done to increase our foodstuff production and consequently our exports; but irrigation is not the only answer. I have heard men who should know better say that if we had a large number of dams we would not have lost great numbers of stock in the recent drought. Anybody who knows anything about irrigation, and is honest about it, knows that the economics of irrigation insist that land under irrigation must be used to the limit of its ability to produce. This means that when a drought comes the irrigated land is fully involved in carrying stock or producing crops and is of very little value in saving stock from the broad pastoral are&s. Irrigation is an excellent thing, but it is only part of the story. If we are going to save the large number of stock so vital to our economy then we must do something more than increase our irrigation areas. We have to conserve every drop of water we can in this dry continent. We have to reticulate water where possible for stock purposes, for domestic purposes and for the inland towns and cities that we have and hope to have. We have also to make it possible for the individual land owner - who, after all, has been the pioneer and the backbone of this country ever since it was first settled - to put in his own water supply to make his stock safe in drought. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation officers have told me on more than one occasion that in the pastoral areas of Australia far more stock are lost through water shortage than through fodder shortage. Anybody who knows anything of our inland areas knows it is very true that stock find great difficulty getting out of the water to feed and back again to the water. This is how most of our pastoral land is depleted.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) has told us how important is the work that has been done on the Snowy Mountains but he did not tell us that the Snowy Mountains Authority was set up initially as a hydro-electric authority. Its prime purpose was the production of electricity by hydro power. It became secondly a water conservation authority. Like him, I realise the tremendous job it has done and I agree with him that it would be a tragedy to lose the services of the skilled and experienced personnel at present engaged on it, but he and others have gone much further and have made a political football of the future of the Snowy Mountains Authority.
Does any honorable member think that any government which has a sense of responsibility would maintain permanently an institution which was set up for a special purpose merely for the benefit of its employees and to get a few more votes? That is virtually what the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has said. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went much further. He went into part of my electorate and said: “When 1 am Prime Minister the Snowy Mountains Authority will be a permanent institution and every one of you will have a job for life “.
– Did he say that?
– He said that in my electorate. The answer lies not merely in retaining the Snowy Mountains Authority as a permanent institution. The answer lies in the use of the experienced personnel in a way which will be of value to this country. As J have said, water conservation and national development are vital to this nation and 1 believe there are many ways in which the personnel of the Authority can be used. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition choose to refrain from advancing any programme showing how we can use this personnel. They merely say *’ Retain the Snowy Mountains Authority as it is knowing full well in their hearts that this is neither practical, sensible nor possible. They know just as well as we do that if they were to advance a proposal the Commonwealth could not implement it without the co-operation of the States. The States are sovereign entities and the Commonwealth cannot dictate to them.
Some months ago my colleague, the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan), put forward a proposition which could be the beginning of the answer to the use of the personnel of the Snowy Mountains Authority. He suggested the setting up of a river basin authority. We visualise a number of river basin authorities with perhaps a national conservation authority holding a pool of personnel who would plan and work on land suitability and that kind of thing and aid the States in the establishment of water resources throughout the Commonwealth. I believe that suggestion has tremendous possibilities. I urge the Government to lose no time in implementing the undertaking the Prime Minister has already given that he will meet the States as soon as possible and work out a sound and practical scheme to absorb those very useful and experienced members of the Snowy Mountains Authority. I believe that here and now the Commonwealth Government should give some indication of where we will go with this kind of organisation.
As the work on the Snowy Mountains is completed, let us set aside at least part of the money we are now spending and establish a national conservation authority, something that may be expanded, developed and made worthwhile. Let us not merely carry on the Snowy Mountains Authority as it now exists. As I have said before, there is any amount of work to be done - investigation work, selection of sites for dams, planning for water and land usage and so on. We have seen some terrible failures in the past. We know what happened at Humpty Doo when governments went in without sufficient experience or planning.
A tremendous amount can be done. Water conservation is not the only target. Wonderful things are happening in Australia. As one moves around this vast country of ours one can see what is being done in developing areas like Esperance, in clearing the brigalow land, in mining the mineral resources in Western Australia and Queensland. There are unlimited possibilities and this country must have a wonderful future but we must realise that we need to plan far ahead.
We have these vast mineral resources in the northern parts of Western Australia and we hope in the future to process them but we are faced with the lack of power. There is no site in the north west on which we can set up a hydro-electric plant and obtain power. There is no coal in the area which we can use to generate power. J know that at present the Department of National Development is considering tidal power but it is confronted with enormous problems. I believe that the use of atomic power is not so very far away. Not many years ago we were told that it would be 50 years before we would be using atomic power. Recently the time was reduced to 25 years, and now people are talking about it being even less than that. One day we will suddenly realise that we can use atomic power in many more ways and much more cheaply than we thought possible. We have the land in this country on which could be produced sufficient food to feed half the world. We could make use of the water that is available, desalinate sea water and use atomic power to process our untold mineral resources we are still discovering.
– But that is very costly.
– lt is at present, but so were many other things initially, such as hydro-electric power. The cost of atomic power is being reduced every day and I believe that in the very near future its use will be an economic proposition.
A great deal more remains to be done in the development of roads. A section of the Snowy Mountains Authority could be used to put in developmental roads, and not only in the north of Australia. As I have said over and over again, there is a need for roads right here. There is a need for a road to what could be the food producing area for the whole of Canberra. I am talking of the Canberra-Tumut road. At present we must travel 120 miles from Canberra to Tumut, but this distance would be reduced to 70 miles if the proposal for a new road were implemented. But it has been shelved over and over again. The new road is needed urgently, lt would provide an outlet to the south and allow the people of Canberra to enjoy the tourist facilities and the lakes and mountains of southern New South Wales, and would enable food, timber, canned goods and a thousand other products to be brought into this vast and growing city.
A tremendous job of national development remains to be done. Great things have been done already but I believe much more must be done. I can think of no more exciting, more challenging portfolio than that of the Minister for National Development. I know that the Minister has a tremendous job on his hands. His portfolio is not an easy one to administer and 1 congratulate him on what he has accomplished. I appeal to him to do what he can to bring the States together as quickly as possible and formulate some worthwhile plan to use the talents and experience that we have in Australia now.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Drury). - Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In the space of the last two sessional periods the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt) has attempted to attribute something to me which I have never said. The only difference this time is that he did not mention me by name but previously he said: “ I remember the honorable member for Dawson saying that if there had been five or six major dams in Queensland there would not have been any drought losses. That was one of the most stupid statements I have heard.”
– Mr. Chairman, I take a point of order. The name of the honorable member for Dawson was not mentioned in the speech of my colleague, the honorable member for Hume. I do not think there is anything to his explanation. Opposition members are objecting, but I insist upon this. His name was not mentioned at any time during the speech of the honorable member for Hume and he has admitted this himself.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! I think the test is whether the honorable member is reading from the “ Hansard “ record. Is that so?
– The only difference was that he did not mention my name.
– On the point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman. I push this point of order further, because I do not think on this occasion the honorable member for Dawson has any backing to his claim to have been misrepresented. He is reading from a daily “ Hansard “ of some weeks ago and this has no relevance to the speech just made by the honorable member for Hume.
– I did not mention his name at all tonight.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! I point out to the honorable member for Dawson that he must confine his remarks strictly to the point of personal explanation on which he rose. He is out of order in referring to other matters that have gone before this debate. I ask the honorable member for Dawson to confine himself strictly to the point of explanation.
– The honorable member for Hume implied that I made this statement. His remarks tonight were almost word for word with those he made before.
– I rise on a point of order again, Mr. Deputy Chairman. The honorable member for Dawson is completely out of order. I repeat once again that the honorable member for Hume did not mention the name of the honorable member for Dawson in his speech.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! The honorable member for Dawson has not as yet spoken in this debate. If he wishes, he may use this opportunity to speak in the debate.
– He is making a personal explanation because of an inference.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member for Dawson rose and assured me that he had been misrepresented. I understood that he assured me that he wanted to make a personal explanation because he had been misrepresented. The honorable member for Dawson is entitled to speak on his claim that he has been misrepresented, but I ask him to keep to that point, unless he wishes to use this opportunity to take his IS minutes to make a speech in the debate.
– The point of explanation is that the honorable member for Hume knows full well that the reference he made is to me.
– I again take a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman. The honorable member for Dawson has a tremendous imagination, and I congratulate him on his imagination. The fact is that his name was not mentioned tonight in the speech of the honorable member for Hume.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! I point out to the Committee and to the honorable member for Gippsland that the honorable member for Dawson has not yet spoken in this debate. He has a perfect right under Standing Orders to use this opportunity to speak for 15 minutes in the debate. lt will then be a matter for other honorable members to controvert what he says, if they so wish. The honorable member for Dawson rose originally to make a personal explanation. 1 leave it to the honorable member for Dawson to decide whether he should exercise his right to speak for 15 minutes in the course of this debate. He has not already spoken in the debate and he has the right to do so. If he wants to exercise his right to make a personal explanation, I suggest that he be a little tactful and keep his remarks to the point of explanation.
– To clear this matter up, what I said is in “ Hansard “. I said -
We also see the absurd paradox of millions of acre feet-
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I believe that the Standing Orders should be observed strictly. My point of order still remains.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! I rule that if the honorable member for Dawson wishes to continue speaking, he may speak for 15 minutes. I think he has gone rather beyond the point of a personal explanation.
– On the point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman, I remind you that on five occasions the honorable member for Dawson has attempted to make his personal explanation. He has not said more than half a dozen words when five times the honorable member for Gippsland has risen to take a point of order. Now, without being allowed to say more than six words at any one time, you say that he has gone beyond the point of a personal explanation. The honorable member for Gippsland has gone far beyond the point of decency in his repeated interruptions. I suggest that the honorable member for Dawson has not had any opportunity to make his personal explanation.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I suggest that it is a simple matter for you to rule whether, on the words already uttered by the honorable member for Dawson, he is genuinely seeking to correct a misrepresentation in this debate. It has been made clear, both by himself and by honorable members who have raised points of order, that his name was not mentioned. I heard the speech of the honorable member for Hume but I had no idea of the person he had in mind. I could not possibly connect the honorable member for Dawson in any way with the remarks of the honorable member for Hume. I suggest it is a simple matter for you to say whether in fact the honorable member for Dawson has been misrepresented, and the evidence is pretty clear that he has not been. That being so, whether or not he wishes to take part in this debate is irrelevant.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! A certain amount of time is being wasted and we could be getting on with the business of the Committee. I think perhaps I was a little at fault in the first instance in allowing the honorable member for Dawson to make a personal explanation, because he had not already spoken in the course of this debate,
At the time 1 allowed him to commence, I was not aware that he had not already spoken in the debate. However, as he has not spoken earlier, strictly under Standing Orders he is not entitled to make a personal explanation. I think the best way out of the difficulty is for the honorable member for Dawson, if he wishes to do so, to continue his remarks and for this to be regarded as a normal speech of 15 minutes under Standing Orders in this debate.
– I take a point of order. The honorable member for Dawson does not wish to speak to the estimates for the Department of National Development.
– How does the honorable member know?
– I have spoken to him. He does not wish to speak to these estimates tonight, but he wants to make his personal explanation. He has informed the Committee that he has been misrepresented. You. Sir, have given him the call and he would have exercised his right but for the continued interruptions of the honorable member for Gippsland.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! I think the point 1 must emphasise is that the honorable member for Dawson has not so far exercised his right under Standing Orders to speak for 15 minutes in this debate. This was not known to me at the time he sought to make a personal explanation. He was not strictly entitled to make a personal explanation.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, do you rule that he is not entitled to continue with a personal explanation which you called on him to make?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- My understanding was that the honorable member for Dawson had already made a speech in the debate, but I am told by the Clerk that that is not so.
– Do you rule that he cannot continue with his explanation?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - I understand that, as he had not spoken, his personal explanation strictly was out of order. However, as we have already embarked on the matter, I think in fairness to the honorable member for Dawson we ought to give him another chance to make his personal explanation.
– I wish to make clear what I did say. I said -
Wc also see the absurd paradox-
– I take a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman. 1 must appeal to you, Sir. I refer to your ruling given a few moments ago that the honorable member for Dawson cannot make a personal explanation because he has not spoken in this debate. Now you are being more than tolerant in permitting him to refer to a daily “ Hansard “ of some weeks ago that has nothing to do with this debate. 1 appeal to you, Sir. I do not believe that the honorable member for Dawson is entitled to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! I point out to the honorable member for Gippsland that 1 did not rule that the honorable member for Dawson was not entitled to make a personal explanation. 1 understood that he had already spoken, and I was under a misapprehension when I accepted his right to make a personal explanation. It was I who was at fault, because I was under the impression that the honorable member had already spoken in the debate. However, the Deputy Clerk tells me that this was not the case. I accept any blame that there may be, because I permitted the honorable member for Dawson to rise to make a personal explanation.
– On your ruling, Sir-
– He is standing over you, Mr. Deputy Chairman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! I repeat that I accept the blame for a misunderstanding about whether the honorable member for Dawson had already taken part in the debate. If he had spoken earlier in the debate as I thought was the case, he certainly would have been entitled to make a personal explanation. I called him inadvertently, thinking that he had already spoken earlier in the debate. I accept the responsibility for letting him make a personal explanation.
– Speaking to your ruling, Sir, I submit with great respect that the honorable member for Hume at no time in his speech mentioned the honorable member for Dawson.
– I wish to take a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! We may deal with only one point of order at a time.
– I submit with great respect that my colleague, the honorable member for Hume, at no time in his speech mentioned the honorable member for Dawson.
– I wish to take a point of order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! Let us have one point of order at a time, please.
– I submit to you, Sir, that therefore the honorable member for Dawson is not in a position to say that he has been misrepresented by the honorable member for Hume.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I ask the honorable member for Gippsland to resume his seat. I have already made a full explanation of the position. It is due partly to a misunderstanding by the Chair. As I have said, I thought that the honorable member for Dawson had already spoken in the debate and that he wished to make a personal explanation about something relating to the speech that I believed he had made. I point out to the honorable member for Gippsland that he is taking up a lot of the Committee’s time. I have already allowed the honorable member for Dawson to rise to make a personal explanation.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I wish to put this to you: It has been the custom in this place - I have seen it observed many times - that when a member rises to make a personal explanation and, from what he says or from anything else, it is clear that he has no real point on which to make a personal explanation, the Chair, as has happened frequently, rules him out of order ,and instructs him to sit down. With the greatest respect, I suggest that this is the proper course to follow now. The honorable member for Dawson has no personal explanation to make, and the correct course for you, Sir, is to rule that he has no point on which to make a personal explanation and that therefore he should not be heard.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! I have already given a ruling on the point of order taken by the honorable member for Gippsland. I understand that the honorable member for Scullin now wishes to take a point of order.
– The point of order that I wish to take is that, in the position that has arisen, honorable members opposite have either to move that your ruling be dissented from or to accept it. That is the proper procedure under the Standing Orders.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! There was a slight misunderstanding earlier. 1 have already ruled - and I accept responsibility for so ruling - that the honorable member for Dawson may make a personal explanation.
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, what 1 said was made very clear in “ Hansard “.
– On what date?
– This happened in Dawson. 1 said -
Wc also see the absurd paradox of millions of acre feet of water flowing down to the coast of Queensland into the sea.
– I take a point of order, Sir.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! The honorable member for Gippsland will resume his seat.
– I continued -
This water flows through areas which have been stricken by drought for the last two years. . . . The losses that have occurred in the sugar cane and cattle industries in these areas alone exceed the cost of the construction of major water storages. . . . We should be able to provide the funds for water conservation in these areas where we have proven and established industries.
At no stage did I suggest any of the things that the honorable member for Hume, as he well knows, attributes to me.
– I wish to take a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - .Order
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to refer to an article that appeared in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of 9th September. The opening paragraph, which, I think, pretty well sums up the situation revealed by the article, reads -
There was surprise this week when it was reported from Darwin that two Americans had beer) able to win by ballot the leasehold over a big Northern Territory pastoral property.
The article was written by one of the most senior journalists in this country - Mr. Stan Stephens. He was referring to one of three blocks resumed from the huge Alexandria station in the Northern Territory near the Queensland border. Before coming into the House, 1 informed the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) that I intended to raise this matter.I am pleased to see that he has been courteous enough to come along to hear what I have to say. I hope that he can give me a satisfactory answer. The three blocks range in area from about 1,500 to 1.700 square miles and are capable of being developed to a grazing capacity in good years of up to 1 5,000 head per block.
– Each one?
– Each one,I am told on reliable authority. But whether the potential capacity is 15,000 or 5,000 head, the general tenor of my complaint is basically the same. The important thing is yet to come. There were something like 60 applicants for these three blocks. Many of them - indeed, one could say most of them - were Australians or Australian companies. However, about two-thirds of the applicants were rejected by the Land Board, leaving only about 20 applicants who were permitted even to enter the ballot. One of these applicants was a company formed by Messrs. Wise and Snyder from the State of Montana in the U.S.A. It so happens that these two gentlemen are also directors of the Delamere River Ranch Pty. Ltd., which owns Delamere Station in the Northern Territory, a property of about 2,000 square miles. I do not know the names of the other 19 who were left in the ballot and who were lucky enough, therefore, to be given a chance of winning this block, but I do know that this American company was kept in the ballot while Australians with the qualifications - and I emphasise “ with the qualifications “ - and who could comply with the conditions were being rejected. These people to whom I refer were successful in winning 1,724 square miles of this property known as Benmira.
Mr. J. H. Kelly, of Canberra, a former officer of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, who has spent 20 years studying the Northern Territory, has described the
American acquisition in typical Australian terms. I think he spoke for every Australian when he said that this ballot was a grave national scandal. He went on to say that the property had been given away, not sold, to overseas investors when it could have been made available to an Australian. “I regard this development as being deplorable “, he added. He said, further: “ However, I don’t blame the Americans for seeking the land. I blame the Northern Territory Administration for giving it to them.” Mr. Kelly said that offhand he could pick half a dozen Australians quite capable of developing the property.
Twenty per cent, of the total area of pastoral leases in the Northern Territory is controlled by overseas interests. The area they control in the Northern Territory comprises something like 60,000 square miles of the best country. 1 cannot understand, therefore, how a foreign owned company, which already owned a large area of Northern Territory land, should have been allowed to enter the ballot at all at a lime when reputable experienced Australians with the means to finance the development of these properties, and with every qualification to enter the ballot, were rejected and given no chance of obtaining these properties.
– They were not even in the ballot?
– They were not even allowed to enter the ballot.I now want to refer to two of the Australian applicants whose applications to enter the ballot were rejected by the Land Board. The first is Mr. Cecil J. Milton, whose case has been explained to me by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). Mr. Milton is an Australian who was born at Charters Towers. He has spent all his life in the pastoral industry in north Queensland, except for six years that he spent in the dairy industry in the Nambour district. He was reared on Allendale cattle station near Ingham. Later he bought Zig Zag station north west of Townsville. He was able to meet the requirement of finding $40,000 for financing the development of this property. Notwithstanding these qualifications Mr. Milton was excluded from the ballot on the ground of “ insufficient relevant experience “. That was the phrase used by the Land Board. Well, if two Yanks from Montana who do not intend to live here for more than three months of the year can qualify as having the necessary experience, while this man who was reared in the cattle industry in Queensland is told that he has insufficient relevant experience. I want to know what is meant by the term “ insufficient relevant experience “.
– It means all the way with L.B.J.
– All the way with L.B.J. - here it is again; this apparently is the policy even to the point of giving away our land. This is a disgraceful and scandalous denial of an Australian’s right to a ballot for a piece of his own country. We ought to protest against this.
I am sorry that time does not permit me to go into the full details or this case. 1 shall move on to another. Mr. P. J. Browns also applied for a block, and he informed the Land Board when he made his application that he had assets to the extent of $85,864 which he would have been prepared to realise on for the development of Mount Drummond, another part of this estate. He has had a wide experience in the industry. In his application he told the Land Board that he had spent 25 years as an owner and manager of grazing properties in the northern areas of South Australia and that during that time he had engaged widely in cattle dealing, cattle raising and studying related subjects such as cattle diseases and climatic conditions. He went on to give further qualifications which indicated that he was a highly desirable applicant for this block. On 18th July he received a telegram saying that the Land Board had excluded him from the ballot for Alexandria Downs blocks and that if he wanted to protest against his exclusion he should follow a certain procedure. He protested against his exclusion.
On 21st July he received a letter which stated officially that he had been excluded from the ballot for a lease on the ground that he had not had sufficient relevant experience. Here again is the magical term - “ sufficient relevant experience “. He replied on 4th August saying that for more than 25 years until 1965 he had been in the cattle industry. He said -
South Australia. Two such properties were involved for most of the period and, being situated in the northern areas of the States, the working of them entailed a long and continuous association with dealing in and fattening and marketing of cattle as well as sheep grazing.
I have made a private study of cattle diseases and the subject of cattle raising generally by way of supplementing the practical knowledge of these things naturally gained over such a fong association with pastoral activities, and f have kept closely in contact with developments in the industry over a long period of time.
I have also closely studied comparative climatic geographic and pasture conditions over different areas where the pastoral industry is carried on in Australia, and the consequent variations in the methods of carrying on the industry from area to area due to the differing climatic, geographic and pasture conditions, and in particular I have followed closely the fortunes of the industry in the Northern Territory over the last few years of difficult conditions.
I feel that a long association wilh pastoral activities, particularly as full time owner and manager in the field, has given me considerable and very valuable experience on the capital investment and development side of the industry, and also in the field of profitable production quotas and successful marketing techniques. In particular, I have already prepared fairly detailed estimates and figures for the first stages of development and stocking of the property based on the requirements which will attach to the lease and in the light of costs and conditions generally in the industry. Having in mind the capital resources which I personally have available-
There is a letter from the Commonwealth Development Bank stating that it is prepared to assist him further - . . I feel that the orderly and profitable development of the property under my management would be assured.
My plans for working the property would, of course, include the employment of some highly experienced stockmen whose assistance in the day to day running of the property would no doubt be a relevant factor in its successful development under my management.
In response to that letter explaining clearly that he had the necessary experience, he received from the Land Board a curt reply which stated that his exclusion from the ballot had been confirmed. Messrs. Snyder and Wise have-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- This Parliament is deeply indebted to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde
Cameron) for directing the attention of the citizens of Australia to the ghastly operations of American interests in relation to the parcelling out of our land to people from another country. Our pioneers have demonstrated to the whole world that we are capable of developing any type of land in any part of any climatic zone in Australia. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has given a practical and vivid instance of how people from another country are able to obtain, by virtue of money, a right to land which is the birthright of the descendants of the pioneer settlers of Australia. Only recently it was announced in the Press that Sir William Gunn, who is a director of the Commonwealth Development Bank, a director of Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd.which incidentally is based on foreign capital - and who is also the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board, had been a party to, or played some part in, selling five vast pastoral properties situated on Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.
We have now two outstanding instances of the very practice that a Minister in this Government has protested against, namely the quarrying of the resources of Australia by foreign interests. I want to affirm that I have no personal antipathy to Americans as such. I admire the marvellous things they have done for mankind in many ways. They are at least related to us in racial origin. But the first priority - first, last and all the time - in regard to ownership of land and the exploitation of land must reside in, and be the right of, Australian citizens and Australian born people. If what has been happening continues, this Government can be held up only as a Government more interested in introducing the mighty dollar and going all the way with L.B.J, than it is in going all the way with capable young Australians, sons of the farmers, sons of anybody, who have demonstrated over 150 years of land settlement in Australia that they are able to develop land and exploit it for the benefit, first, of the Australian people, and, secondly, of the people of the world who are prepared to buy our products.
If honorable members want an outstanding example of the capacity of young Australians to do this sort of thing let them look at the Minister for Territories (Mr.
Barnes), a mighty young Australian whose ancestors, possibly, pioneered the very country which he has inherited and has made an outstanding success of developing. Is the Minister prepared to say that there are not other young Australians of later generations also able, if given the opportunity, to achieve the same success as he has achieved? I know that the development of land - and the honorable gentleman knows this too - particularly in our arid areas of Australia, requires vast aggregations of capital. But is it to be said that the Reserve Bank of Australia is so incapable of realising the potentialities, possibilities and profitability of land which is to be developed and which will return a profit in the production of beef and many other primary products, that it is not able to finance the necessary capital equipment? I register my protest. I stand forthright, first, all the way with Australians and Australia, and, next, all the way with those who are our good friends everywhere around the world.
– I appreciate the action of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) in advising me that he intended to raise this matter because obviously it is of great interest to Australia. He has made two points. The first is that an American owned company has obtained the leasehold of this land. Secondly he has made his own evaluation of the applicants in the ballot for the land. I will answer the last point first because he devoted most of his time to it. I think that it is difficult to evaluate the rights of an individual who comes in and puts his name in a ballot. Who should evaluate a man’s right to come in? Should it be the Minister, the honorable member for Hindmarsh or any individual who comes along?
Is it not right that we should appoint a land board which has experience in these matters and which will take a completely impartial view? This is what we did. We appointed a completely independent board. It comprised a Northern Territory pastoralist, a top Northern Territory agriculturalist and the chairman, who was an officer of the Administration. I think that this was a particularly fair setup. I do not think that anyone can quarrel with it. If we have individual judgments as to who is fit to enter into a ballot we will get into all sorts of troubles. I believe that this is the Australia wide attitude to ballots. In every State where land is to be balloted, a land board is appointed to evaluate the rights of the particular individuals.
The first point which the honorable member for Hindmarsh raised referred to foreign owned companies. So far as the conditions of entry into these leases are concerned, there is nothing to prevent a foreign owned company which is registered in Australia from coming in and making an application for a lease of land in the Northern Territory. A land board has to accept this fact. The conditions were laid down in 1963 by an ordinance of the Northern Territory. This fact has to be accepted. I do not see how in a practical way we can prevent a company from making an application for a lease of land. Are we to vet a company’s shareholding? The shareholding could change. We could accept a company with an Australian shareholding and allow it into the ballot, but it might sell its shares. This is an administrative difficulty. I do not think that you could prevent a company from entering into a ballot. It would be a complete injustice.
These areas require extensive capital resources ranging from $80,000 to $100,000. This is a very substantial amount of money. If we are to limit it to one individual, we are going to keep out a lot of small men who might club together, form a private company and enter a ballot. So we cannot bar companies. Are we to prevent American companies from coming to Australia to develop these areas? I personally feel that we should not. How many should we let in? How much of our land should be foreign owned? i do not think we have yet reached the stage where we should take measures of the kind suggested. If we are to prevent foreign owned companies from owning land we have to prevent them from owning anything else in Australia. I do not see how we shall develop this country if we do these things. We need vast amounts of capital in Australia.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that surely the Commonwealth Development Bank could supply the companies with funds. But we require the Development Bank to provide vast sums of capital for our own people. We require a tremendous amount of capital to rehabili tate the landholders in the drought areas. These are the things we must take into consideration. I remind honorable members that the leases in question are for 50 years. These are not freehold areas. The leases have covenants for development. Portions of the areas may be resumed at any time for agricultural purposes.
This overseas capital is being invested in some of the most remote areas of Australia - areas in which our record of pastoral development is not very good. The honorable member for Lalor referred to the northern end of Cape York Peninsula. What have we done with that area over a number of years? We had pastoralists going there in the 1860’s. There is a marshy area about 1 00 miles south west of Darwin which we did little with for years, but two Americans experienced in this type of land worked wonders there. Delamere Station was bought from two Australians who thought they could do better elsewhere with the money they were offered. The two Americans to whom the honorable member for Hindmarsh has referred are investing their capital and knowhow. We must welcome these people who are game enough to have a go.
– Like Humpty Doo.
– No-one objected to tha Americans losing $1.5 million in Humpty Doo. The two Americans in question are ready to back their opinions with cash. If we had prevented American interests coming to this country we would not now have here the Santa Gertrudis cattle. The Americans brought the breed here and popularised it. The Government cannot be a party to preventing experience of this kind coming into Australia. We welcome these people.
These are difficult areas. They are part of the great Alexandria leasehold area. About 4,000 square miles of Alexandria has been wiped off, but the same number of cattle run on Alexandria as ran before those 4,000 square miles were removed. This shows what the owners of Alexandria thought of the area. This is not easy land to develop. I know a little about it. Great capital resources and experience will be required to make a success of it. If any company or individual can make a success of these areas and run 15,000 head of cattle on each of them, a great deal will have been achieved to assist not only the Northern Territory but Australia as a whole.
.- In South Australia in the last week two rather unusual happenings occurred. The first was the burning of the United States flag by a small section of the Adelaide University. I think honorable members will agree that this was a pretty disgusting demonstration. lt attracted a lot of comment in the press from ordinary decent Australians. I do not wish to harangue or deal with this topic further.
The second matter 1 wish to deal with briefly did not excite the same amount of attention. It was a small demonstration extending over five or six days by a group of five or six university students outside the South Australian Parliament House in Adelaide. I must assume that the group consisted of the same five or six students who held a demonstration with placards and hand bills and what have you, purporting to be against the holding of an election in South Vietnam. Perhaps we are used to these sorts of demonstrations. We have seen them in other Australian capital cities. 1 hasten to point out before I go any further that the University of Adelaide has a very high record for responsible thinking.
– No, it has not.
– Its students even came out in favour of our involvement in Vietnam. I believe it is the only university in Australia that did so.
– So did the University of Queensland.
– I am sorry if I have offended anyone. At least the Adelaide University students declared themselves from the word “ go “. There was a difference in this very small demonstration. I stopped and spoke to them quite plainly. 1 asked: “ Why are you against the process leading towards democracy in a nation like South Vietnam? “ They said straight away: “ We have been authorised by a member of Parliament - of the Australian Labour Parly to produce-
– It is not rubbish at all. They said: “ We have been authorised to produce facts if we are challenged which prove that this is not a democratic election and not part of the process towards democracy in South Vietnam “. I suggest to the House that this brings up a very different matter. Those of us who have been to South East Asia - and that is the majority of us - and who have attended seminars on democracy and economic development, know very well that in any South East Asian country today, and in any underdeveloped nation that is emerging, democracy is only a degree of democracy in our judgment, but in the judgment of those people it is a real step forward.
The interesting feature of the demonstration to which I have referred was that this small group of university students evidently had behind them a prominent member of the Opposition today putting ideas forward and backing them in their judgment that this was a process that did not lead towards some semblance of democracy in South Vietnam. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) this afternoon produced a statement that he said was libellous. I certainly would not go along with that statement, and I make that plain. The statement purported to say that a vote for the Australian Labour Party was a vote for the Vietcong. I do not blame the honorable member for becoming a trifle excited. But, Mr. Speaker, when it is quite apparent that a group of students has been egged on by a member of the A.L.P. in this way. can I be blamed or can you be blamed - I am sorry to put you in a difficult position - or can anyone else be blamed for thinking that the Vietcong is trying to stop an election in South Vietnam by any terror tactic it can produce, and in South Australia a futile attempt to stop the same sort of thing is made, backed as far as I can see by a member of the A.L.P.?
– Name him.
– I am not naming him. for reasons that will be my own. I have approached him. I have told him of my intention to speak on this matter tonight. He has the chance to explain himself or to say that what the students told me is incorrect, if he wishes to do so. The point I make tonight is that unfortunately for the Opposition, once again another connection is established between a line of action in another country - in this case by the Vietcong - and parallel action in Australia, evidently helped and prompted by an active member of the Opposition. I shall sit down at this point, but I make the suggestion that an explanation is due, because I and other people cannot be blamed for wondering what on earth is going on when this sort of thing happens today in a country such as Australia.
– The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) has indulged in the usual smear that somebody in the Labour Party has instigated a group of students at the Adelaide University to burn the American flag.
– He did not say thai.
– That is what he said, and it is untrue. That is the smear. He did say it. He started with that, and the whole purpose of his speech was to try to smear some unknown member of the Labour Party for insulting the Americans. We of the Labour Party created the American alliance and we did it against the hate and campaigning of members of the Country Party and members of the Liberal Party at the time.
– That is not correct.
– The Acting Prime Minister knows that there were members of the Liberal Party here in those days who sneered and who protested vigorously about Curtin inviting the American President to send General MacArthur here. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), who was in charge of a Press unit in the gallery in those clays, knows this full well. We created the American alliance, and we want to maintain it. If there is anything that the honorable member for Angas has to say, let him be specific, let him name the person, let him make the charge, and we will answer it.
I will not let him get away with the idea that the Adelaide University has a high reputation for fair dealing, lt has nothing of the sort. 1 was there in 1947 to address the university students. There were a number of people in the engineering faculty in those days who were similar to those in the crowd in Melbourne who threw everything they could at me the other clay when 1 was talking about the campaign against world poverty. This miserable crowd in the Adelaide University in those days pulled a Nazi flag across the floor of the auditorium. As a result of this the then President of the Students’ Representative Council, Mr. Jacobs, moved a vote of thanks to me, and the Governor of South Australia sent his aide-de-camp to invite me to dinner at Government House that night. They were insulted, and they thought I was insulted too. Let nobody give the Adelaide University credit for more fair dealing than there is in many other universities. I am not in favour of any antiAmerican demonstration by anybody. I am the only member of this Parliament since Federation who has American blood in his veins. 1 had an American grandfather.
I come back to the charge made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). Like the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), I know something about Alexandria Downs. I have been on it. It has an area of 11,000 square miles. It is not far from the Queensland border. It is on the road to Frewena, going down towards Tennant Creek. I also know something about Vestey’s properties, as does the Acting Prime Minister. Vestey’s have done very well out of Australia. They placed claims with the Commonwealth after World War I and World War II, and the Commonwealth paid them $600,000. I think it was very generous to pay that vast sum.
There has been a lot of trouble over the Northern Territory through the years. The Labour Party is and has been very fearful about the takeover bids that are occurring and that have occurred in the past. It is true that about 25 per cent, of the leaseholds of the best lands in the Northern Territory are now in the hands of foreigners. It seems strange that the Minister for Territories should, in effect, contradict what his own leader has said about selling out a bit of the farm every year to pay the rent. We are going to pay more and more. It is not only American and British interests, but Chinese interests too-
– This is leasehold.
– Yes, of course it is, and the best of the leasehold land in the Northern Territory is passing more and more into the hands of foreigners. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has said that we should give preference to Australians.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should amend the ordinance?
– Yes. Australians should be first always. 1 have been told that the people who won this ballot have a 50 years’ lease and they are now urging the Minister to give them a lease for a further 50 years, making a total of 100 years.
– That is speculation.
– Knowing these people as 1 think I do, that is what they would do. Some of the best and the most famous properties in the Northern Territory are owned by foreigners. The Elsey station, where Mrs. Aeneas Gunn wrote “We of the Never Never “, is now in the hands of a company that is owned by Sir William Gunn.
– They are famous but they are not very profitable.
– As 1 said, Sir William Gunn owns that property now. There is a lot of Chinese money in that property. I have examined the share register, and I know that the addresses given include a post office box at Kuala Lumpur, another in Singapore and another in Hong Kong. They might all bc very decent people.
– These are British subjects.
– They might be British subjects. What I object to is that more and more of this land is passing into the hands of foreigners. There is a big Chinese content of capital in Tipperary Downs. The same is true of other properties too. We think that the ordinance ought to be amended and the principle ought to be established that, if an Australian company or an Australian person has the money to put into the property, that company or person ought to have first preference. We say that Australians should come first and foreigners second. The case cited by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, which involves a” man named Milton, shows that the Minister has not explained fully why this man, with all his years of experience in Queensland and the Northern Territory, should not have been admitted to the ballot in preference to the Americans.
– I do not examine the applications. The Land Board assesses them.
– I accept what the Minister has said. We think the Minister ought to have the responsibility. Wc do not trust the Land Board. We think the Government ought to lay down a principle and give land hungry Australians, of whom there are plenty, an opportunity to settle in the Northern Territory rather than let in foreign companies which in our view are here not to develop Australia but to exploit it. What is said in relation to agricultural leases applies also to mining leases and everything else. We now have the Japanese coming into the northern part of Western Australia and into Queensland. They are getting almost everything at bargain prices. We are selling our heritage. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who is the Acting Prime Minister, is quite right when he protests against the policy of his own Government. We think there ought to bc an alteration of the policy. The sooner it comes the better.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I sought to do the reverse of what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) accused me of doing when he said that I was smearing a section of the Opposition, or indeed an individual. I aimed to keep out of the realm of hypothesis what was told to me by a group of university students. I have had a yarn with the person concerned. No doubt he will get a chance to reply, if he feels like it, at a later date. I just want to point out by way of explanation. I hope I did the opposite to smearing.
– I rise to speak because of what has been said about the Alexandria Downs transactions. I happen to have some historical knowledge and association with Alexandria Downs. I was the Minister for the Interior in 1937, 1938 and 1939 when the Northern Territory was within the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior. At that time the Alexandria Downs lease was about to expire. From memory, this property comprised about 11,000 square miles. The owners of the property came to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, and he sent them to me. Their request was that the Government renew this gigantic lease of 11,000 square miles. In accordance with the policy of the Government of the day I advised the lessees, whose lease was expiring, that the Government would not re-lease the property to them but that it would re-lease part of the property and would subdivide the remainder so that Australians who wanted land would have a chance of getting it. The files of the Department would show that this was the position.
The Government changed, and the Labour Party came into office. Alexandria Downs was put up for lease at a time when the Northern Territory was being threatened by the Japanese. There were only two applicants - Vesteys and the former owners - and the Labour Party departed from the policy that I had laid down, and which my Government approved, and gave the lease of 11,000 square miles to the former owners for 50 years, half of the lease falling due in 25 years, which is now. In case that was not good enough, a further 600 square miles from the adjoining Rocklands property was added to Alexandria Downs to give an area of almost 12,000 square miles.
– That was done in the middle of the war when there were only two applicants.
– It was in the middle of the war, when nothing should have been done, yet a lease of almost 12,000 square miles was given to this company against the policy of the government of which I was a member, and certainly I think against the best interests of the Northern Territory.
– Was it an Australian company?
– Yes, an Australian company. I do not run away from statements I have made about foreign ownership in Australia, and 1 have adhered to these views in the House; but I make it clear that I see a real distinction between ownership and leasehold. There are gigantic areas in northern Australia which rich Australians have been unwilling to spend investment money on developing. I have been over these areas in Cape York Peninsula and from Wyndham through to Borroloola. Tremendous areas have remained undeveloped by my fellow Australians. If this is to be the state of affairs then I have no unwillingness about seeing friendly Americans coming in here with millions of dollars to invest, and spending them at risk, as was done in the Northern Territory rice project - that tremendous failure which involved an expenditure of$11/2 million before the Americans conceded failure. This surely is developing the country, and if they do this with more success as they are already doing in the Northern Territory, in parts of north western Australia and in Cape York Peninsula, and the land falls back to the exclusive ownership of the Crown at the end of 50 years, then I regard this as in line with a legitimate policy of developing Australia.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.45 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
son asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply -
b asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1, 2 and 3. The export of copper scrap from Australia has been banned since 20th December 1965.
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Pty. Ltd., Cockatoo Island, Sydney, New South Wales. 2 No. Type 12 Destroyer Escorts - (1 No.) Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Pty. Ltd., Cockatoo Island, Sydney, New South Wales. (1 No.) Williamstown Naval Dockyard, Williamstown, Victoria. 1 No. Charles F. Adams Class Destroyer -
Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Michigan, United States of America. 4 No. Oberon Class Submarines -
Messrs. Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. Ltd., Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland. 20 No. 100 ft. Patrol Boats- (10 No.) Evans Deakin & Co. Pty. Ltd., Brisbane, Queensland. (10 No.) Walkers Ltd., Maryborough, Queensland.
September 1967. 2 No. Destroyer Escorts Type 12 -
June 1969 (Williamstown)
August 1969 (Codock). 1 No. Charles F. Adams Class Destroyer-
September 1967. 4 No. Oberon Class Submarines -
June 1969. 20 No. 100 ft. Patrol Beats-
The first is due for delivery early 1967 and the remaining boats will be delivered progressively until final delivery in 1968.
The estimated cost of the ships in most instances includes provision for other implications such as spare gear, reserves and outfits of missiles and ammunition, test equipment, etc.
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
In addition to the enrolments itemised there are 708 non-indigenous students in the Territory enrolled with Australian Correspondence Schools.
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The latter recommendation, which is supported by the Australian Medical Association, has been published in the Journal of that Association.
A pharmacist dispensing a prescription so endorsed would list the active ingredients on the label.
Up to the present time, only Victoria has introduced legislation to implement the recommendation in respect of medicines dispensed by count (i.e. tablets, capsules, etc.). No legislation has come into force in the other States, but it is understood that relevant legislation is likely to be introduced in Tasmania very soon and that most of the remaining States are considering the recommendation.
Relevant legislation for the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory is currently under review and the Council’s recommendation will be given full consideration in the course of that review.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount of tax would be payable on dividends of (a) $5,000, (b) $10,000, (c) $20,000 and
$50,000 (without any deductions being allowed) received by (i) an Australian resident in Australia, (ii) a United States resident who is an investor in an Australia company, (iii) a resident of the United Kingdom with Australian investment and (iv) a West German resident who has investments in Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Income tax payable on dividends in the circumstances indicated in the Question is shown in the Table attached. The rates of tax used are those for the financial year 1965-66. These rates apply to the taxable income derived by individuals during the year ended 30th June 1966; by companies during the year ended 30th June 1965.
It has been necessary to make certain assumptions. These are stated at the foot of the Table.
It will be understood that the Australian taxes shown in the Table would be payable in addition to the normal company tax payable by the Australian dividend-paying company on the profits out of which the dividend is paid.
The current rates of company tax are as follows -
Public company - 37.5 per cent, on taxable income up to $10,000; 42.5 per cent, on the balance of taxable income;
Private company - 27.5 per cent, on taxable income up to $10,000; 37.5 per cent, on the balance of taxable income.
Where a dividend is paid by an Australian company to a non-resident shareholder, whether an individual or a company, tax on the dividend is generally payable in the country in which the shareholder resides. This is so even though Australian tax has been paid on the dividend. In most instances, the country of residence of the shareholder relieves double taxation by allowing a credit for the Australian tax on the dividend.
In the generality of cases, the Australian and United Kingdom taxes in respect of one dollar of profit derived by an Australian company and distributed to an individual shareholder taxed at the standard rate in the United Kingdom would amount to approximately 66 cents of which Australia receives more than51 cents. The gross tax would be more in any case where United Kingdom surtax was also payable.
It has been assumed for the purposes of this Table that the question relates to -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660914_reps_25_hor52/>.