26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– the absence of the Minister for the Army my question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that Australian Army transit personnel, and occasionally members working part time in Saigon, are billeted in a brothel, the Dong Klalh Hotel, Cholon? Is it also a fact that Army personnel proceeding on leave to Australia after completing their time in Vietnam do not receive zone allowance for the leave they accrue in Vietnam? (Honourable members interjecting) -
– This is important. I think lt is very serious.
– The honourable gentleman will ask his question and shall not enter into a discussion with other honourable members.
– Does the zone allowance cease on the day they leave the country? Army personnel were paid this zone allowance when on leave from New Guinea. Is it a fact that personnel from any place other than Sydney, on completion of their time in Vietnam, must travel by train on leave from Sydney to their destination unless they are prepared to pay the difference between rail and air fares? This is policy in Australia but a bit hard cm servicemen returning from active service.
-Order! The honourable member shall not make comment.
– I was not quite sure that the honourable gentleman was directing his question to me, but in the absence of the Minister for the Army who would certainly have the details of these matters I would not like to give him a categorical yes or no answer to a mix of questions of that kind. I will look into it and see that the honourable member gets an answer.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the 18993/69-Jt- (24J speech made in Melbourne last Friday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is the Labor Party’s official spokesman on defence matters? If so, has the Prime Minister noticed that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition described the Labor Party’s programme as a ‘crash policy on defence1? In view of the Labor Party’s undertaking to withdraw Australian forces from all friendly South East Asian countries, abandon national service, endanger the ANZUS Treaty, cancel the Fill contract and so on ad infinitum, is it accurate to describe such a policy as a ‘crash defence programme’ or should we use the past tense?
– Yes, my attention has been drawn to the speech about which the honourable member asks me, not the Press reports of the speech but the actual context of the speech itself. It does in fact indicate that Australian troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam without consideration for what may be the requirements of our allies, but be withdrawn within a very short time, that national service training would be immediately abolished, that there would be, in the event that the government’s military advisers advised us that the Fill was the best plane for our purposes, a repudiation of that acceptance and of that advice and that there would be a withdrawal immediately of all Australian forces, including air and naval forces, from the regions in our north. I do not know whether the tense one should use about describing that is ‘crash’ or ‘crashed’. I would have thought myself that the proper description of it would rather have been a ‘crash no defence’ policy.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister or to the Minister for External Affairs, whoever is the appropriate Minister. Have the reports that the Thai Government has invited the American Government to withdraw its military forces from Thailand been drawn to the attention of the Minister? Has any similar invitation been made by the Thai Government to Australia? If it has not been made, can he explain why the attitude of the Thai Government would be different in the case of Australia?
– I will reply to this question. There has been no suggestion that any Australians who happen to be in Thailand - and there are relatively few of them - should be withdrawn. Discussions have been going on between the American Government and the Thai Government, which are a matter for their own concern, related to the movement of American troops in and through Thailand. But there is no similarity between the size of the American force in Thailand and the relatively few Australians who might be there.
– I refer to legislation which provided for the issue of a new type 50c piece to replace the present coin of that denomination with effect from 6 months after such enactment. As I believe that this period has now elapsed, can the Treasurer give the House any indication when this new issue may be expected and, secondly, can he say how far arrangements have progressed for the issue of the special minting of this new coin to commemorate the bi-centenary anniversary of Captain Cook’s landing in Australia?
– As to the regular SOc coin, approval has been given already to the design of Mr Stuart Devlin for a twelvesided coin. I will try to make arrangements this week for a copy of that coin or one of the original dies to be put in the Parliamentary Library so that the honourable members may have a look at it. I do not know the exact date when minting will commence or when the first issues will be made. I will find out and let the honourable gentleman know, as far as I can. As to the coin commemorating the bi-centenary of Captain Cook’s landing in Australia, I will find out when the coin is likely to be issued and will let members of the House know.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: The date for the Federal election having been set for 25th October, does the Department of the Interior intend to adhere to its original intention to issue notices for payment of the new sewerage rate during the month of September? Will those who choose to pay the ‘lavvy levy’ by cheque be required to pay the Se stamp duty on the cheque?
– I do not quite see the connection between the sewerage rate of $10 per house in Canberra and the date for the election being fixed as 25th October. As for the details as to the payment of stamp duty on cheques for the payment of sewerage rates, I will obtain the information and let the honourable member know.
– The Treasurer will be aware that the Government is giving considerable encouragement to education in all its fields, particularly to universities and to colleges of advanced education, and as a result many adults are entering many courses. To give further encouragement and to enable these people to improve their competence and earning power, will the Treasurer consider allowing the cost of their education, including text books, as deductible items in their income tax returns?
– The honourable gentleman referred to colleges of advanced education and to universities, but an enormous amount of assistance is also being given to teachers colleges, libraries, science blocks, pre-school teacher training and many other activities relating to education. If the honourable member cares to look at the Budget figures he will see that the appropriations for education this year are considerably higher than they have been in any other year. When added to what has been done by the States, it can be seen that a mammoth series of actions has been taken to ensure that we get better educational standards in this country. As to the sense of the question asked, taxation boards of review have commonly drawn a distinction between expenditure on education which is designed to fit a man for a profession - which comes under the heading of capital expenditure - and on education of a kind that is designed to keep a man abreast with the latest developments in his occupational profession. In the first case taxation deductions are not allowed. I understand that in the second case they may be allowed. During the course of Budget discussions officers of my Department did look at reform of the kind suggested by the honourable gentleman but it was considered that we had gone far enough, and against the background that we are having a comprehensive look at the total taxation structure we felt that consideration of this matter could be deferred to a later date.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Did the honourable gentleman receive a telegram at the beginning of the month from the honourable member for Mitchell alleging that certain unnamed and unspecified Australian Broadcasting Commission employees had stood to gain between a quarter of a million dollars and half a million dollars in stock exchange speculation in ten pin bowling shares, if the ABC had gone ahead with the telecast of a ten pin bowling contest? Has he investigated these claims or had these serious allegations investigated, and is there any evidence to support the claims of the honourable member for Mitchell? If there is no evidence, will he take this opportunity to clear ABC staff of this generalised and well publicised allegation which appears to be part of a deliberate campaign to intimidate the ABC?
– It is true that I received a telegram from the honourable member for Mitchell but I think I am correct in saying that there was no suggestion of an amount of money which might be gained by certain employees of the Commission in connection with investment involving ten pin bowling clubs. The complaint of the honourable member for Mitchell related to a rumour which was apparently current at that time that there was to be developed a new competitive type of programme on the ABC involving the use of ten pin bowling alleys, as I think these institutions are referred to, but when the General Manager of the ABC, who was overseas at the time when this was under consideration by the programme people, returned to Australia and was informed of this potential programme he decided against it on the basis that it was undesirable, in his view, that the ABC should in any way be associated with this type of programme. Inquiries which he made revealed considerable reaction from the staff to any suggestion that members of the staff were involved in any Investment in ten pin bowling alleys which would have figured in the projected programme.. So I think I can confirm to the Leader of the Opposition that nobody on the ABC staff stood to gain in relation to” this programme. In any case, the programme was cancelled by direction of the general manager.
– I direct to the PostmasterGeneral a question relating to problems associated with communications between Western Australia and the” eastern States, in particular the microwave link which I hope will be completed in the near future. Can the Minister indicate when this link will be completed? Can he give us up to date information?
– The principal items of equipment required for the east-west microwave link were ordered from a British company. We believed that these items would be delivered at an early date and that the link would be completed by November of this year, but 3 or 4 months ago I announced that there had been a 6 months delay in the delivery and that while I could not guarantee a completion date for the link the delay in completion would be of this order. I believe that the link will be completed some time early in the first half of the next financial year. I regret the delay, but it is completely out of the hands of the Post Office. A protest has been made to the British Board of Trade and to the contractor in the United Kingdom. I understand that they are considerably disturbed that British industry should have let Australia down in this way.
– I ask the Prime Minister to tell the House why Commonwealth Government departments refuse to co-operate with public servants who are members of credit unions and who wish to have authorised deductions made from their salaries. Does the Prime Minister know that the State departments in New South Wales facilitate this excellent form of thrift which provides a source of loan finance? Will the right honourable gentleman, while there is yet time before the election, take action to correct this petty, paltry policy?
– I have no information on the question which the honourable member has asked me, but I will make inquiries to see what the situation is and whether it is as he states it is and get in touch with him in due course.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. He will recall the strongly political speech made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh last week when he was given leave to make a statement in reply to a statement made by the Minister. The honourable member for Hindmarsh said that many potential migrants were now losing their desire to come to Australia because of the housing situation. I ask whether the Minister has any evidence, as I have, that many new Australians are now showing a lack of desire to bring their relatives to Australia following the Harradine case because they fear victimisation of the worker.
– It is certainly true that the honourable member for Hindmarsh departed from his usual lofty objectivity in relation to immigration matters and introduced into a statement by leave, in a way which I thought was rather a departure from the practice of the House, the question of housing for migrants. He then proceeded to make a host of most extraordinary, inaccurate statements which he then had the courtesy to give me leave to correct. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to correct them. As everybody will know, housing at the present time is at an extraordinarily high level. The approval rate for the last quarter was running at almost 150,000 per annum. So the honourable member was wrong.
The mention of the Harradine case is rather interesting. The honourable member for Perth, when asking his question, said that he had evidence of people not bringing their relatives to Australia for fear of victimisation of the worker. I do not think it is for fear of victimisation of the worker but for fear of victimisation of the workers1 elected representative in Australian Labor Party politics. That would seem to be where the difficulty lies. It is most appropriate that the question should refer to the honourable member for Hindmarsh. After all, he has been engaged in internecine warfare between the elected representatives of the workers and the President of the Australian Workers Union. Unfortunately, he has had to have recourse to the courts over a period of time, and one would have thought that he would have been the man in the Labor movement most anxious to protect the position of Mr Harradine. Unfortunately he was not, and it was quite extraordinary that the honourable member for Hindmarsh found himself in the corner of the Leader of the Opposition who, having supported Harradine at the last Executive meeting, found that it was much better to leave this man in the cupboard, along with a lot of other skeletons of the Labor movement.
– Is the Prime Minister still of the same opinion - and I hope he is - as expressed by him in Queensland, that the Great Barrier Reef should not be placed in jeopardy by drilling for oil? If he has changed his mind because of legal obligations, will he see what the Commonwealth Government can do to legislate to remove any legal bars that may allow to take place action which would be detrimental to the Barrier Reef?
– I believe that the Barrier Reef, being one of the great wonders of the world, should not be in any way endangered and should not in any way run the risk of having its ecological balance disturbed, or in other ways put in jeopardy. There were a number of leases issued, as the honourable member will know, by the Queensland Government before the introduction of the arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States for off-shore petroleum. On entering into the arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States on off-shore petroleum, the existing leases which the State had given were protected. That is the situation as it stands at the present time. But I can only repeat what I said before, and which I say to the honourable member now, that anything which in any way would seem to endanger the Great Barrier Reef, not only on the question of drilling for oil, is something which should not, as far as legal possibilities are concerned, take place.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Was the requirement by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that a defined quota of Australian made television drama programmes shall be shown in the prime viewing time of 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. introduced to promote the development of an Australian television industry? Is the recent ruling that reruns can be counted equally with first run showings for quota fulfilment against the spirit of the Board’s own requirement? Will the Postmaster-General take steps to see that the original intention is restored in order to protect viewers from tedious repetitions, but more particularly so that the work opportunities and earnings of Australian authors and actors are not jeopardised?
– The Australian Broadcasting Control1 Board has always desired that there should be the maximum Australian content in television film. But it is to be appreciated that this is not an industry which can be built up overnight. In this regard the Board has, by degrees, increased the number of hours required of stations for the telecasting of Australian produced programmes, whether they be Australian scripts or programmes including Australian actors. But I think lt has to be appreciated that surveys which have been made show that only one-third of the potential audience in fact watches television when a programme is shown for the first time. Having regard to this situation, the Broadcasting Control Board believes that there is an unnecessary cost, if the other two-thirds of the potential audience is not given a subsequent opportunity to view that same programme. This applies to imported films in the same way as it applies to the reshowing of Australian produced films. I believe that there cannot e any serious objection to this policy nor, under those circumstances, to the inclusion of these programmes as Australian productions within the times set down by the Board.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. It concerns the leases which the Queensland Government has pur ported to give to drill for oil in the neighbourhood of the Great Barrier Reef. I ask the honourable gentleman: Are these leases in areas in which in the view of Chief Justice Barwick and Mr Justice Windeyer in La Macchia’s case the Commonwealth has full responsibilities?
– These are permits to explore; the companies concerned have not reached the stage of establishing the presence of oil and asking for licences. These permits were confirmed under the joint legislation. They extend over - this does not apply to a very large number of permits - a greater part of the length of the Reef. This, of course, is well outside the 3-mile limit although at certain points the distance might be within the 3-mile limit of a particular island which forms part of Queensland. Therefore, it is difficult to give just a simple answer. I would say that it would be partly within the area covered by these two judgments and partly outside it.
When the joint off-shore agreement was negotiated both the States and the Commonwealth were maintaining their claims of jurisdiction. They just simply did not resolve the conflict; they pooled their resources, whatever those might be.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the Downing proposals for a nationalised superannuation scheme and the Scotton and Deeble proposals for a nationalised health scheme would involve increases in taxation under the guise of contributions? Is it a fact that the method of taxation proposed would be regressive in nature? Further, is it a fact that both these schemes appear to have been adopted by the Australian Labor Party as being in accordance with its Socialist objectives?
– I think there is no doubt at all that the scheme proposed by Professor Downing would in fact require a very considerable increase in taxation.
– That has not been adopted by the Labor Party.
– Perhaps if the honourable gentleman waited till I finished answering the question he would have no need to interject and interrupt. I was asked about the Downing scheme and said that it would undoubtedly involve a considerable increase in taxation, whether that taxation were disguised by the name of compulsory contributions or not. It would involve taxation of the wage or salary earner rising to quite high sums - for example $182 for those earning $90 a week. It would involve the imposition of a 6% pay-roll tax on employers, thus raising prices generally and that rise in prices applying to all those in the Australian community. It would also, of course, bear very heavily on the self-employed person who would under the scheme be required to provide not only the employer’s contribution but also the employee’s contribution. So there would be no doubt whatsoever that this would involve considerably increased taxation and would, if it were implemented, require that any benefits then paid were also taxed. But whether or not this scheme has in fact been accepted by the Labor Party is by no means clear.
– It has not.
– I see. The Leader of the Opposition so far has either through inability or through fear, placed neither before the House nor the country what particular scheme would be adopted, but has indicated that it would be based on this Professor’s scheme. All we know for sure, judging by the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition on the Budget is that if the Opposition were to be elected it would then appoint a committee from outside to tell it what it ought to do because presumably it has not worked out what to do yet.
– We are going to get your Sir Leslie Melville to do it.
– I am informed by the Leader of the Opposition that what I have said is completely correct because he is talking about getting Sir Leslie Melville to tell him what to do. So they do not yet know what they propose to do. So they have no plans on this at all, or else they will do what they hinted at, and that is adopt this proposal with its extremely high taxation incidence. The same, of course, applies to the proposals concerning health. The only point, however, I would want to make here is that those who may have heard a statement issued or read a statement issued by the Leader of the Opposition that people would get full coverage without paying more than $100 a year should not be taken in by that announcement because in fact it is not true. What they would get under the Scotton and Deeble scheme is coverage only up to public ward accommodation. Any further coverage, which could properly be described as full coverage, would have to be paid for by additional contributions. As I understand it those additional contributions would no longer be able to be a deduction from income tax. In conclusion I would say-
– That is not true.
– Well, you have not adopted that scheme either. Apparently they have not adopted the Scotton and Deeble scheme either.
– We have adopted it. They are tax deductible.
-Order! This cross chatter across the table should cease. The Leader of the Opposition understands the forms of the House. If he wishes to use them he has the opportunity.
– If in fact the proposition is that in order to get full coverage extra contributions will have to be paid, I do not think that can be argued with. But this claim that those extra contributions will be tax deductible - well I will accept that if that is what the fact is but it is undoubtedly true that the statement that full coverage would be provided under the basis of the scheme is not so. I would say in answer to the question I was finally asked that this is adopted for the purpose of providing mammoth Socialist provisions and without choice, that it was adopted for that specific purpose and that that is probably the only purpose it would serve.
– ils the Attorney-General aware of the existence of a statement of defiance of the National Service Act, bearing the signatures of between 2,000 and 2,500 responsible Australian citizens, including academics, clergymen and others, in which it is suggested that they are prepared to advise reluctant young Australians eligible for conscription not to register? Is this action by these responsible Australian citizens a violation of Commonwealth criminal law? Will the Attorney-General indicate to the House the action he contemplates?
– My attention has been drawn to the so-called act of defiance. Indeed, my secretary received one or two people who presented a document which carried some signatures. This matter is being considered. My preliminary look at the document indicated that it had been very carefully drawn - whether with or without the help of Queen’s Counsel I would not like to hazard a guess - in order to ensure that any prosecution launched upon it would fail. The position with this type of case, which I meet quite frequently in my office, is similar to that in which a man says, perhaps to my officers or to me: I have committed bigamy’. That is an allegation of law and no prosecution may be launched in respect of it unless an inquiry is made to ascertain the facts - what his first marriage was, its date, whether his wife is still alive and whether he has had a second marriage. My experience has been that when inquiries are made the answer comes back: He has never been married.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Interior and refer to the frequent occurrence of extreme cyclonic weather conditions off the east coast of Australia such as those which have occurred in the last couple of days resulting in tragic loss of life and the loss of an Australian National Line vessel. Will the Minister consider the possibility of establishing, in the long term, weather watch ships off the east coast of Australia as part of Australia’s forecasting system?
– The Bureau of Meteorology put to me on a previous occasion a proposition that we ought to have off-shore weather forecasting stations and I have before me, at the moment, a proposal for a floating off-shore weather bureau that can send signals up to 2,000 miles. This is a piece of machinery built by the General Dynamics Corporation.
– Oh no, not them!
– Despite the laughter from the Opposition, this fact does not, in my mind, decry the value of the object. I understand that Sweden also has developed a similar floating off-shore meteorological bureau that sends signals to a land base. Both of the propositions put to me unfortunately cost a great deal of money and before I put anything to the Government on them I want to be sure that they will tell the story in the way that we want it told.
– Does the Minister for Social Services remember saying, when introducing the State Grants (Deserted Wives) Bill last year, that the purpose of the Bill was to help mothers in the first 6 months of desertion because in that period desertion may be difficult to establish and, in that sense, the general rule of thumb principle should not be relied upon? Is the Minister aware that in New South Wales the rule of thumb principle is being applied vigorously by State and Commonwealth departments alike and, in view of this, will he undertake to examine the facts and especially why a 21-year-old Newcastle mother of three children, one a spastic child, has been refused a pension and has been allowed only $12 a week by the State authorities until court charges against her husband have been finalised? Will he, as an act of compassion, request his officer in Newcastle immediately to grant the woman a pension, at least until it has been proven that she has no entitlement under section 62 of the Social Services Act?
– I think that the honourable member did quote correctly what I said in the House some time ago. I am not, however, aware of the details of the particular case he mentioned. If he will be good enough to let me have the details after question time I will most certainly have the matter examined.
– Can the Minister for National Development briefly detail to the House what stage Commonwealth-State negotiations have reached in respect of Dartmouth Dam? Furthermore, is he aware that the Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly is continuing to paddle two canoes by insisting that both Chowilla Dam and Dartmouth pam be built at the same time, and now finds himself in mid-stream with both the people and his electorate confused? Will the Minister consider explaining to the South Australian Speaker that South Australia has not been left out but stands to gain more by the building of Dartmouth Dam-
-Order! The honourable gentleman will be out of order if he criticises the Speaker of another chamber. I would suggest that the honourable member ask his question in the correct form.
– Yes, Sir- and so silence supposition and shortsightedness once and for all?
– As I mentioned in the House - I think it was last week - financial agreement has been reached between the four governments concerned with the River Murray Commission under which the Commonwealth will provide about five-eighths of the total cost, some of this under repayment. All the States have agreed to accept these terms. I believe that the proposed amendments to the River Murray Waters Agreement are in the hands of the States. If they are not, they will be very soon. Once these have been agreed to the amended River Murray Waters Agreement will be placed before the four governments concerned.
I have noted the remark of the honourable gentleman, to whom the honourable member for Adelaide alluded, that he would either vote for two dams or none at all. Of course, it is quite obvious that if he continues with this attitude and if he sways a majority to support him there would be no dam built at all. This would be to the great detriment of his own State, which has negotiated what I believe to be a remarkably good agreement for that State. Under it, South Australia will achieve an increase annually of 250,000 acre feet, the first increase made since the River Murray Commission was set up in 1915. Not only will it receive additional water under that agreement; but, if there are restrictions - and there will be virtually no restrictions once Dartmouth is built - it will also receive under the proposed amended agreement one-third of the water available in a period of restrictions whereas at present it receives only three-thirteenths. It would be a tragedy for the State of South Australia and for the Commonwealth generally if any action were taken by any person which denied South Australia the additional water it will get for the same cost as it would have had to pay for completing Chowilla. If Chowilla had been completed, of course, much less water would have been available for distribution.
– I would like to ask the Minister for National Development a supplementary question. Has he seen a statement published by Sir Thomas Playford in which Sir Thomas has strongly condemned the proposition to build a dam at Dartmouth instead of Chowilla, as was originally agreed upon unanimously by the four governments and the four parliaments? Did he see the very telling remark by Sir Thomas Playford that the advantage of having a plentiful supply of fresh water in Chowilla as compared with Dartmouth is that once the water gets to Chowilla it cannot run upstream?
– I have seen a number of statements made by the ex-Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford. I have corrected a number of them, because they were incorrect. If the honourable member had read a statement I made in particular in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’, he would have seen that some statements made by Sir Thomas Playford on the various merits of the two sites were completely inaccurate. South Australia is guaranteed under the River Murray Waters Agreement a fixed share of the available water. It is at present guaranteed 1,254,000 acre feet per annum. Under the new agreement it will be guaranteed 1 ,500,000 acre feet. It does not matter where that water comes from; it will be made available to South Australia. Water in any storage in the River Murray is the property of the River Murray Commission. It is not the property of South Australia and it must be divided according to the agreement. Undoubtedly South Australia realises this, and it was because of this that there was unanimous agreement in the River Murray Commission that the ideal place for the next storage on the River Murray was at Dartmouth.
– Has the Prime Minister studied the Scotton and Deeble proposals for a compulsory health insurance scheme for Australia? is his recollection that these proposals do indeed stipulate that income tax concessions would be withdrawn on net medical and hospital! expenses? In the light of the denial of these facts by the Leader of the Opposition, could he provide him with material to enable him to revise his knowledge of the scheme which is so vital to Labor’s health proposals?
– I have in fact studiednot in great depth, but nevertheless I have studied - the Scotton and Deeble report. Indeed I have a copy of it here with me. It points out that the principal elements of the scheme, which are set out on page 11, include ‘withdrawal of income tax concessions on net medical and hospital expenses and contributions to voluntary insurance organisations’. What that means is that anybody who seeks to secure more than the very minimum coverage which the scheme proposes and seeks to make insurance payments in order to get better cover will no longer have those insurance payments treated as tax deductions, which is what a moment ago I stated in this House. Now, we are informed by the Leader of the Opposition that he has adopted this report. We are also informed by the Leader of the Opposition that it did not involve, as it does, the withdrawal of taxation concessions on payments to voluntary health insurance schemes to get better coverage. I do not know how those two statements can be reconciled, but I think perhaps the Leader of the Opposition, let us say, had made a mistake.
– By leave, I would point out-
– What is by leave?
– I will ask a supplementary question. 1 ask the Prime Minister: Did he not refer in his earlier answer about tax deductibility to amounts spent in intermediate and private wards of hospitals above the amount which is paid to public wards? Was it not to that that he was referring?
– In answer to that question, the answer is no and I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition did not listen more carefully. What I was referring to was the undoubted fact that the scheme as proposed provides not for full coverage, as we were told it did, but only for minimum coverage and that those who wished to provide better coverage than public ward coverage, which is minimum coverage-
– Full public ward and comparable
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition has asked his question
– Full public ward coverage which is minimum coverage - and that those who sought to get better coverage by providing insurance to go into intermediate wards or into private wards and who for that purpose paid contributions to voluntary funds to give them this excess over the minimum coverage would no longer be able to have those contributions as tax deductions.
– They could deduct the full-
-I have already told the honourable gentleman earlier in question time that if he wants to make a statement he knows the forms of the House and I am sure the Government would not deny him his rights under the forms of the House.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In the question asked of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) stated that I had accused Australian Broadcasting Commission officers of making up to $400,000. I have asked my secretary to read the telegram to me. I informed the Postmaster-General that the ABC was about to promote a ten-pin bowling scheme costing thousands of pounds. I said that there was not much culture here and that I was further advised that ABC officers were buying shares. I received a letter from the Postmaster-General on 8th August 1969 stating that the Family Bowl - that was the name of the promotion - had* been dropped and that there was no evidence of ABC officers buying shares. My informant tells me that ABC officers did-
– The honourable member will be out of order if he continues to debate the matter.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, the coastal freighter M.V. Noongah’ (1,673 deadweight tons), owned by the Australian National Line, departed from Newcastle at noon on Saturday, 23rd August, bound for Townsville, carrying a cargo of 1,481 tons of steel products. The ship was manned by 9 officers and 17 men. There were no unusual features associated with the loading and she left with all cargo below hatches, properly stowed and lashed, in accordance with usual custom.
At 3.55 a.m. on Monday, 25th August, an urgency message was received by Sydney radio stating that the ‘Noongah’, in a position 12 miles north-east of Smoky Cape, had a list of 12 degrees which could not be corrected. This message was rebroadcast by Sydney radio to alert ships in the area by means of the auto-alarm system. The Department of Shipping and Transport search and rescue organisation was immediately informed and the Royal Australian Navy, police and Smoky Cape Lightstation were alerted. At 4.37 a.m. the ‘Noongah’ broadcast a distress signal which stated that the ship was being abandoned and the radio watch was closing down. This message also was re-broadcast and the Royal Australian Air Force was asked to have an aircraft in the area as soon as possible. The Royal Australian Navy, the Department of Civil Aviation and police were notified.
The nearest ship, the ‘Lake Boga’, some 30 miles to the north, diverted to the Noongah’s’ last known position. The Navy advised that the HMAS ‘Hobart’ and the HMAS “Vendetta’ which were exercising at sea in the vicinity of Sydney were proceeding to the area. The ‘Lake Boga’ arrived at the ‘Noongah’s’ last known position at 8.20 a.m. and two life rafts were sighted by the RAAF Hercules aircraft at 8.37 a.m., 22 miles southwest of the Noongah’s’ reported position. A Japanese tanker, the ‘Koyo Maru’, which was in the area, was directed by the Hercules to the life rafts. One man was picked up from one raft at 9.35 a.m. and the second from another raft at 10.28 a.m. Three merchant vessels steamed into the area about this time, and the Navy ordered HMAS ‘Derwent’ and HMAS ‘Yarra’, then in Sydney and Jervis Bay, to the scene.
At 2.00 p.m. the Department requested that the HMAS ‘Hobart’, which had now reached the vicinity and was off Port Macquarie, take over co-ordination of the search action by surface vessels. At 3.50 p.m. the merchant vessel ‘Meringa’ picked up 3 men from a raft 8 mites off Tracking Point, and one body was taken aboard HMAS ‘Hobart’. At approximately 4.00 p.m. four Navy Tracker aircraft joined the RAAF Hercules and remained on search until dark. One Tracker, the destroyer HMAS ‘Anzac’ and three minesweepers entered the search area during the night. At daylight today, four RAN helicopters continued the search, covering the coastline from Port Stevens to Coffs Harbour. The Tracker aircraft and one Hercules then resumed the air search between Crowdy Head and Sugarloaf Point and 20 miles to seaward. HMAS ‘Queensborough* left Sydney for the search area at 8 a.m. today, and two other naval patrol craft are scheduled to proceed to the area when the weather abates. The police, assisted by the Army, are carrying out the coastal search from Smoky Cape to Harrington Inlet.
It is expected that the ‘Koyo Maru’ and the ‘Meringa’ will land survivors at Brisbane today or tomorrow and the Australian National Line’s Marine Superintendent is proceeding to Brisbane to meet them. According to preliminary information from survivors, the ship went down rapidly by the stern and probably took the two life boats with her. I regret to have to say that, as the men have now been in the water since 5.00 a.m. on 25th August, it must be concluded that the chances of finding further survivors are receding. The weather in the area was and has continued to be extremely bad. As an indication of conditions at the time, the ANL ship Jeparit’ which passed through the area some hours earlier suffered damage to the ship’s side when heavy equipment which had been correctly stowed and lashed down in the hold broke loose fastenings welded to the ship.
Since the search and rescue operation commenced, my Department has received the utmost co-operation from all concerned and the search is continuing. In accordance with usual practice in matters of this kind a departmental officer, Captain A. Pearson, Nautical Adviser, has been appointed by me to conduct a preliminary investigation. This will commence in Melbourne tomorrow, Wednesday 27th August. On the basis of Captain Pearson’s report the terms of reference for a court of marine inquiry will be determined.
I should like to assure the relatives of those who are still missing that the Government, and I am sure all members of this Parliament, share their anxiety and distress at this time. We join with them in the hope that the search may yet locate those still missing. Direct contact has been made by the Australian National Line with relatives of those on board the ‘Noongah’ and I have asked the Line to maintain that contact in the light of further developments.
– by leave - On behalf of the Opposition I join the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in extending sympathy to the relatives of those men who are missing. 1 would like to make a few short observations. When one realises that only 42 minutes elapsed from the first urgency message until the time it was radioed that the radio watch was closing down it is obvious that something went seriously amiss very quickly. I would like the assurance of the Minister that, when the preliminary inquiry is completed, at least a report and the terms of reference of the inquiry will be submitted to Parliament so that comment can be made by honourable members. I ask the Minister to give that assurance - that is, of course, assuming that the Parliament is still in session.
– II could not give the honourable member the terms of reference now because they will have to be determined, but obviously they will be published in the Parliament and I imagine that they would then be the subject of comment.
– If the House is still sitting will the Minister submit a further report on Captain Pearson’s findings?
– I will not guarantee to submit to Parliament Captain Pearson’s report. This will depend on the nature of the report. But the terms of reference will be made known to Parliament and if it is desired it will then be a matter for open debate and discussion.
– <I am pleased to have that assurance. There is not a great deal that can be said about the matter at this stage.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the Report relating to the following proposed works:
Engineering Services to Neighbourhood Unit No. 4 at Casuarina District, Darwin.
Ordered that the report be printed.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1969-70 Second Reading (Budget Debate)
Debate resumed from 21 August (vide page 624), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Whitlam had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House is of opinion that the Budget is inadequate in that -
it increases taxation and health and housing costs for families,
it makes no considered and comprehensive approach to the needs of all schools;
it ignores the problems of capital cities and regional centres;
it defers further development projects and urgent rural measures, and
it neglects industries based on Australian natural resources and defence requirements’.
– The mediaeval poet Dante has assured us that divine justice judges the sins of the warmhearted by a different standard from that on which it judges the sins of the coldly calculating. I think it is about time that the Department of External Territories, as a Department which commits the sins of the coldly calculating repeatedly, had a few things said about it in this House. I believe that the episode which occurred at Bougainville is the end of a long series of similar actions by the Department of External Territories. I remember when there was a stir at Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land concerning the taking over of an area that had been inhabited by an Aboriginal tribe in the interests of mineral development we appointed from this House a select committee to go and hear the grievances of the people.
I am not dealing with the merits or demerits of the Yirrkala situation at the moment. I am dealing with the demeanour Of the Department. In those days the Department of External Territories controlled the welfare officers. It was perfectly clear that the good relations which existed between the Aboriginal people and the welfare officers were used to the detriment of the Aboriginal people. The welfare officers who came before us as witnesses were totally Ignorant of the intentions of the Commonwealth Government in relation to the Gove Peninsula. Those who care to look at the minutes of the evidence will find that one of the most eminent of them told us that it was obvious that the Aboriginal people knew more about the intentions of the Commonwealth Government than he did. Welfare officers had been fluttering around the locality as professional reassurers but were possessed of no intelligible information that could be passed on to the Aboriginal people. It is perfectly clear that up in Bougainville the kiaps or patrol officers were fluttering around the locality as professional reassurers but were possessed of no accurate information as to the intentions of the Commonwealth Government.
The unkindest cut of all for those of us who played a part in the formation of the Committee that investigated the position at Gove and Yirrkala was that the parliamentary select committee itself was used as another instrument of departmental deceit of the Aboriginal people concerned. We brought down our recommendations, none of which was implemented. The people came before us for the first time and the Commonwealth heard their opinions. Many of them could not speak English and spoke through interpreters. In their own language they were great orators. They said all that was in their hearts. They believed they were speaking to this Parliament and the Commonwealth Government. It was all set out in a carefully formulated report, and all that happened was that it was a device which enabled them to let off a bit of steam. Nothing that secured any of the things in which they were interested, except possibly some sacred sites, occurred.
I want to say this without any sense of wanting to attack anybody, because I believe it would be highly dangerous to indulge in mere attacks: The official representatives who sit in the Parliament in Port Moresby spend their time dividing the people, and they are very largely unconscious that they are doing it. Their automatic reaction in any sort of situation that arises in debate in the House when the official view is under attack is to play ofl1 one set of people against the other and in particular to mobilise the grievances of the highlanders to hold at bay the requests of what one might call the coastal intellectuals. Someone asks for a school or hospital or for some other facility to be built on the coast, and automatically one of these official members - the quicker they are cleared out of that Parliament the better - rises up and says: ‘If they get that, you fellows in the highlands who have much greater needs will not get what you want’. They spend their time mobilising the highland vote.
The British did this sort of thing in Nigeria. The conservative Moslems of the north were much easier for the British colonial administrators to get on with than were the Ibos of the south. Only 2% of the people in the north were educated, compared with 70% in the south. In the colonial days officials would depend automatically on support from the north in any sort of conflict that arose with the Ibo people. We need hardly to emphasise what the consequences of that are today in Nigeria where a tradition of division was disastrously developed in the colonial era. This is not something that I am saying behind the backs of the people concerned. Having sat in their Parliament for 4 or 5 days, I said to a number of the administrators who sat as official members in that Parliament: ‘It seems to me that you spend your time here fanning division’.
We say that we hope to build a united Papua and New Guinea. The whole gravamen of Government policy is to build a united Papua and New Guinea. The whole purpose of Government policy is to do that, but we cannot do it if we fan divisions among the people. We may pretend as much as we like, but the careful selection of nonBougainville police to go with tear gas and truncheons to deal with the Bougainville people is a utilisation of tribal division, and it is something that may be well and truly calculated to heighten and aggravate the secessionist tendencies that already exist on Bougainville and the aspirations of the Bougainville people that with the coming of independence Bougainville and Buka might be in entirely separate countries from the rest of Papua and New Guinea.
After all, there is not a shred of history that supports their association with Papua and New Guinea. Between 1882 and 1884 Lord Granville, the British Foreign Secretary, and Prince Bismarck, the German Chancellor, or their agents, made a series of agreements dividing the colonial areas. The Solomon Islands were divided between Britain and Germany. Buka and Bougainville were given to Germany. The rest of the Solomon chain Went to Britain as a protectorate, and it remains a British protectorate to this day. We seized the German colonies in 1914, and that seizure was consummated in 1921 under the Treaty of Versailles, when it was assigned as a mandate to us. Had the British administered British New Guinea jointly with the British Solomon Islands then no doubt the Solomon Islands would now be part of our area of Papua and New Guinea, but by an accident of colonial history the Germans did administer Buka and Bougainville, which are not part of New Guinea but part of the Solomons, with their colony of New Guinea and they came over to us as a mandate.
The people up there are not entirely ignorant of the history of our country or our country’s associations with that island. The greatest scandal in Australia’s relations with the Pacific islands related to the seizure of people from Bougainville by the ship ‘Carl’ in the days of blackbirding. Seventy of them were shot in the holds and thrown overboard next morning in a dead or dying condition because the Bougainvillians then resisted being recruited for labour in Queensland.
There were consequences of this. If we really like to look at the colonial history of the area we find that Britain’s relations with Queensland in this period of time were very similar to Britain’s relations with Rhodesia today. But there is no history of association of that area with New Guinea that has any explanation other than the convenience of the colonial administering power. If we desire that the resources of Bougainville should be shared with the rest of New Guinea, we would be well advised to handle the whole situation in a way very different from that in which we are handling it now.
I interpret the statement that has been made by the Minister for External Territories to mean that there has been a reversal of policy. I was lying in bed with one of the several versions of the ‘flu when the debate on this matter took place in this Parliament. It made my blood run cold to hear the Minister justifying the use of tear gas and batons in that situation on a people who have very great dignity. I will not go into the constitutional law involved: I do not know it. But I think that it is highly doubtful that we can treat the land of a mandated territory in exactly the same way as we treat Crown land. That may be resolved in the High Court in the future. I thought it was a quite pathetic manifestation of the bankruptcy of the Department of External Territories in its thinking when, with the people not responding and not selling their land at a price satisfactory to the Department, the Department through its agency, the Administration, decreed what the price should be and then sent in force to batter the people into submission. At each end of the archipelago of New Guinea it appears the same philosophy operates. At the end administered by Indonesia they wanted a pre-arranged result regarding a decision of the people in what you might call some sort of an election. Those who were not prepared to go along with it were battered into submission. At the other end of the archipelago they wanted a pre-arranged result regarding the price of land. Those who were not prepared to go along with it were battered into submission. It was a disastrous mistake, and if the Government has retrieved it, T congratulate it.
But there are a number of other things about the administration of the Department of Territories in this area which have converted me to the view that the quicker independence comes the better. I was a gradualist in the past. Now I want to see Independence as fast as possible, because fi this is the kind of administration we are going to get, then the steady poisoning of relationships is all that will ensue, and it would be much better for early independence to come. The authority of Port Moresby over this island of Bougainville is something that we should be careful to nurture and not to undermine. At the moment we are undermining it. After all, one can draw an analogy between Nauru and Bougainville. Both happen to have rich resources. Let us suppose it had been our policy to add Nauru to New Guinea for administrative reasons, and then to put the proposition to the Parliament in Port Moresby: ‘You will get certain royalties for the revenues of New Guinea from these sales in Nauru.’ Let us face the fact that that would be a deduction from the wealth of the people of Nauru. The people of Bougainville are asked, in the interests of the rest of New Guinea, to which their adherence is pretty tenuous, to make a deduction from whatever royalties and benefits they get out of the possession of copper in their island. If the Parliament at Port Moresby passed the laws which shared out these benefits in a country with a highly integrated national sentiment, there would be no doubt about it. No-one here from Western Australia suggests that somehow or other we should sit and treasure the iron ore of Western Australia. But this is Australia with a different concept of nationalism.
The nationalism of these people in Bougainville, who are still tribal, very largely, is pretty tenuous. What they are having indisputably demonstrated to them is that their association with the Parliament in Port Moresby is an economic loss in a policy sustained by a sudden eruption of violence. After all, their area is bigger than Tonga, and the population is just as great. The people of Bougainville have more economic viability and independence than Nauru has. Everything that we do in relation to them ought to suggest to them the benefit of the association with the rest of the Territory. What is happening now ls to suggest to them that their association is a loss, a brutal loss.
I want to turn from the situation in the islands to the north and to deal with the issue that has arisen because of the statements of the Soviet Ambassador. The Soviet Ambassador has expressed a concern at the expansion of Chinese influence southwards and has seemed to indicate that there may be a common interest between the Soviet Union and Australia in containing Chinese expansion into South East Asia. I am not concerned at the moment with being anti-Soviet or pro-Soviet, but simply to assess, to the best of my ability, the facts of Soviet policy. Let me first state a belief: I bel’ieve that if China adopted a policy of southward expansion she would have the Soviet Union’s support. That she has not got Soviet Union support at the moment is because China has not adopted a policy of southward expansion in the deployment of her military forces, but instead has raised the border question with the Soviet Union.
I have studied criticisms by Chiang Kaishek of the policy of Mao Tse-tung, and he complains that Mao Tse-tung has ceded territory to Burma, to Nepal, to Pakistan and to Mongolia which Chiang Kai-shek regards as Chinese territory. I believe that China has been isolating in recent years the one border question - the border question with the Soviet Union - and there are ideological reasons for this. Are we dealing with the Soviet Union, a revolutionary entity alone, or are we dealing with something called ‘Russia’, which is pursuing certain historic Russian objectives? If the Soviet Government, as a revolutionary force, believes in the reversal of everybody’s imperialism; if it believes, as it did believe, that the British should get out of India, Burma and Ceylon; if it believes in the liquidation of colonialism; then obviously it also believes in the reversal of the imperialism of the Czars and in the relinquishment, for instance, of 600,000 square miles of Chinese land annexed after 1858. When the Chinese keep raising this subject and talking about the new Czars, they are seeking to establish in the Communist world that Soviet policy is Russian nationalism - the subordination of other countries to Russian nationalism. They do not use the expression ‘Russian nationalism’ within the terminology of Marxist jargon. They speak about great power Chauvinism.
The end of this eastern border dispute would set the Soviet Union free to deal with Romania, Albania and Yugoslavia, exactly as it has dealt with Czechoslovakia. The eastern border question, requiring the Soviet Union to deploy considerable forces along that border, weakens the pressure of the Soviet Union in Europe - a fact that General de Gaulle recognised. The Soviet Union’s economy is undergoing certain stresses. She wishes to equal the United States in prowess in space, and that is a very expensive process, requiring the diversion of a lot of resources. To justify her occupation of the Siberian border lands she is directing a very considerable capital expenditure towards the development of the Soviet border lands. Then she has to maintain the military defence of those border lands, and she has deployed there missiles, in sites mainly located in Mongolia, directed at Chinese nascent nuclear areas in Sinkiang. She also has to prepare militarily for brush fire wars. In the face of new developments in the United States, she is apparently deploying a very considerable part of her capital in the development of what is known as MIRV-multiple intercontinental re-entry vehicles; the kind of intercontinental missiles which break up into 9 or 10 missiles, each designed to ‘home’ to a particular target. They are very baffling to counter and they are becoming the super weapons of the future.
Then the Soviet is trying to maintain her economy at levels that will equal the United States. All of these things have ended any breath of economic liberalism in the Soviet Union. They demand a tightly and rigidly controlled economy. China, on the other hand, is worth analysing, too. The Chinese still appear to take revolution seriously and they are involved in a tremendous internal dogmatic dispute. It is regarded as superlatively important that a country should have the correct doctrines. After all, we ought to understand this from the history of our civilisation and from our religion. This has not come to China through religion because there is no particular religious history in China. It has come to China in the modern age by way of a refined dogmatic dispute on Communism.
The Soviet border question proves that Soviet leaders are simply revisionists and that Russia wants land. We ought not to forget that Khrushchev said that China will solve her population problems in one or two directions - either in Siberia or in Australia. He added that he hoped it would be in Australia. At the moment there is no sign in China’s policy that she has done other than learn from Russia.
The whole history of Russia is that one deals with the border State next to one. What Czars had in 1742 was a small kingdom of White Russia around Moscow. They steadily built this up until they reached the Pacific. While the British were building a steamship empire in the nineteenth century the Czars built a railway line empire that finally reached the Pacific. But the Czarist policy was precisely imitated by the Soviet government when it dealt with Czechoslovakia. Have the Soviets annexed since the war Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia? So did Peter the Great. Have they a fleet manoeuvring in the eastern Mediterranean? So too did Czarina Catherine the Great. Have they annexed eastern Poland? So too did Czarina Catherine the Great. Are they disturbed at liberalism at their western border in Czechoslovakia? So too did every Czar intervene every time the liberal constitution in Poland appeared to be threatening autocracy.
All these things suggest to me that if the Soviet Union can do to China what she has done to Czechoslovakia there are two consequences - the Soviets immediately become enormously more powerful in Europe and also in Asia. Their diplomats now carefully study the genuine experiences of certain countries, as in the case of India which experienced Chinese invasion in 1962. The Russians study the obsessions of certain countries. For many years Australia was obsessed with yellow perils. We would be far more inclined to regard China as a menace than we would be to regard Russia as a menace. The Soviet Union is developing a tremendous influence over Indian policy through Indian fear of China. I believe it is making a bid to develop influence over our policy through Australian fears of China.
In the last 5 minutes of my speech I would like to say one or two things about defence. We have had a number of elections fought on defence and the tragedy of this Parliament is that both foreign policy and defence are nothing but issues for party political propaganda. This is a very dangerous practice because we can end up convincing ourselves. If one convinces oneself of something that is merely propaganda and not fact then one has done oneself a great deal of harm. The first thing we need to do is to look at the facts, and to look at them steadily. Australia is a bit like New Guinea; we have always had a cargo cult. By this I mean that we believe some great power will bring us security.
When I was first elected to this place there was something or other called the empire that was to bring us security. The defence of India by Britain between 1941 and 1945 undoubtedly took a great deal of the pressure of Japan off this country, certainly much more than did some episode called the Battle of the Coral Sea. But apart from that time the whole history of Australia was that it come to the defence of Britain. Britain was never called on to come to the defence of Australia. I say that we are ten times more likely to be involved in war because of the United States - we already have been in Vietnam - than the United States is likely to be involved in a war because we are. Therefore, we do not have to be quite so abject as we have been in imagining that a big cargo of security is being brought to us by Britain and the United States and now, God help us, a big cargo of security might be brought to us by the Soviet Union, vis-a-vis China.
We have said at successive elections that defence is utterly vital. The Fill aircraft was utterly vital. I do not want to go into all the old gibes about the Fill; I just want to come back to the essential facts. In 7 years we have not had it. If we are teetering on the brink of great danger an aircraft on the drawing board is not a powerful piece pf defence equipment. On this aircraft defence expenditure to the tune of $170ra has been incurred, but the aircraft has not arrived in Australia. According to the political propaganda of the Government the defence situation is terribly important and terribly critical. Yet for 7 years it has been content to be without this aeroplane. Oh, I know the Government has Canberras. I think that the Canberras are quite adequate for our neighbours. This ls why a lot of the propaganda about this plane has been a bit unnecessary.
It may be that for most South East Asian countries a fleet of Spitfires would be a very good form of defence. In fighting and strafing infantry in jungle warfare this aircraft may be better adapted than very high speed aircraft. But the fact is the Fill is not here.
We had the extraordinary statement last week by the Navy that ships had been bought which were not wanted or which could not be used. We then had an example of the morale or the efficiency, or whatever it is, in the Navy which led HMAS Melbourne’ to two tragic accidents which put her out of action for months and which call into question the whole method of training that is used by the Navy in regard to manoeuvres that are held at sea.
I am not surprised that the Government has turned to social questions and has strengthened its policy in the field of social services for the coming election because there is a growing cynicism in the Australian community in respect of the difference between genuine concern of Communism and the use of Communism as a weapon for political defamation. There is a difference between a genuine concern about defence and falling over oneself to acquire the type of aircraft or something else that can be declared statistically to be present or dangled before the electors at election after election with no real knowledge of what the price is to be and with very grave doubts about the efficiency of what is to be bought. If, in the coming election, we are to have a return to reality, it will be very welcome in the Australian community because reality is what the Australian community needs.
– I have a reluctance to be discourteous to the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), and for that matter to most people, but I am bound to express my astonishment at the speech that he has just made. I do not want to diminish in any shape or form the importance of the future of Papua and New Guinea. Nor do I dismiss lightly the conflict between the Soviet Union and China. I emphasise the word ‘conflict’. It is, in my judgment, a dialectical conflict. The dialectic conflict is just as basic to Marx-Leninism as Euclid is to mathematics.
Neither do I treat lightly the matter of defence. I will be saying something about this subject later.
My astonishment lies in regard to the fact that as far as the Budget as an economic programme is concerned, the honourable gentleman did not refer to it. I can understand his reluctance to do this. I would understand his reluctance more if I had the knowledge that he listened to his Leader’s speech last Tuesday evening, because the speech of his Leader last Tuesday evening was extraordinary. I will be moved by the spirit, of course, to say something about that speech before I conclude my remarks. First may I say something about the remarks of the honourable member for Fremantle?
He referred to the divisiveness within Papua and New Guinea. He spoke of the incidence of tribalism. All this is conceded. But I think in regard to Bougainville the honourable gentleman must bear in mind that the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea, made up of all of these people - representatives in one way or another - unanimously approved pf the Bougainville project. What is the Australian community to do now? It has set itself the task of bringing these people to self-government. It would seem to me to represent a strange kick in the face now to say to them: ‘Of course, you have made your decision unanimously with respect to Bougainville, to have it developed, but we will veto it’. I submit to the honourable gentleman that that would be a strange volte face. Again I think the honourable gentleman is indulging in at least a little mild hyperbole when he seeks to denigrate the effort not by this Government but by all Australian governments with regard to Papua and New Guinea. I think this has been a substantial contribution. This year the Australian taxpayer will find, by way of direct grants for the administration of Papua and New Guinea, some $96m and other government departments that channel funds into the Territory. This is not to be sneezed at. Even the most vigorous critic who has gone to Papua and New Guinea has been persuaded to go away conceding that a worthwhile effort is being made there.
I want to come to the Budget and to the speech delivered last Thursday evening by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr
Whitiam). The House will recall that he spoke for about 70 minutes. I have no complaint about that. I have no particular complaint about the syntax of his speech. Neither have I a complaint about the manner and style with which he read it. Indeed, I thought he would have done credit to John Geilgud. But I may offer one or two views about the contents of his speech. What struck me about it was the fact that there was something in it for everybody. He used the brush vigorously. Some of the hues of colour were not particularly to my liking. His canvas was a broad one. Everything seemed to go on it. He spoke of national government on one occasion, State government on another and local government on another. I confess that for my part it was a little confusing on occasions, but everything was there. He even made a classical reference to ‘Alice in Wonderland’, which delighted me no end. I thought his reference was strange, but what struck me as being particularly strange was the extraordinary emphasis which the honourable gentleman placed upon urban development - upon local government affairs.
I hope that nobody will misunderstand me: I have the utmost respect for those involved in local government affairs. They contribute voluntarily and in a very fine way to the welfare of this country. But one could be excused from being amazed at the emphasis given in the National Parliament to local government affairs. I think I took a charitable view of the honourable gentleman’s speech. Of course, I do this instinctively. Let me tell the House of the conclusions I reached. The honourable gentleman has decided that if the worst comes to the worst he can try himself out as a municipal mayor. This may be depressing and upsetting to the honourable gentleman but let me cheer him up. I think he would cut a most striking figure in mayoral robes, with a chain around his neck, although I am bound to say that there would be some difference of opinion as to how heavy the chain should be.
This extraordinary speech running over all of these matters is in the ultimate a most significant speech as far as this country is concerned. Putting charity which, as I have said, is my instinctive reaction to the speech, to one side and taking a realistic view of it, there is only one conclusion to reach. It is that it was the speech of a convinced centralist. Make no mistake about that. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition, speaking on behalf of the Australian Labor Party last Tuesday evening, was the speech of a convinced centralist and the speech of a committed Socialist. That is my proposition.
– Hear, hear)
– I am delighted to hear from the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Was it a yawn or was it an expression of approval of what I said?
– A yawn.
– There it is, in typical pose. The proposition I put forward is that the speech of the Leader of the Opposition is that of a convinced centralist and a committed Socialist. I will, I believe, prove my allegation to the hilt. The honourable gentleman has laid claim to ambitious programmes of housing, health, education and urban development. He has spoken about setting up a national schools commission. He spoke about setting up a national health insurance commission. These are the effects of what he had in mind. The four matters to which I have adverted are fields in which the States in Australia have conspicuous and primary roles. Where do the honourable gentleman and his Party fit in as far as those roles in these fields are concerned?
The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) pointed out in a down to earth, common-sense way the practical difficulties of running a national schools commission. He pointed out to the Leader of the Opposition - apparently this has not yet penetrated, but in this place on occasion messages take a long time to be delivered - that there were thousands of schools throughout Australia but only a mere handful of universities. This was a notable and clear distinction and nobody would argue it. But this did not stop the Leader of the Opposition and his Party. He put forward all of these proposals. I want to ask the Leader of the Opposition and all my friends opposite, members of the Australian Labor Party: What if the States in Australia rejected the proposals put forward by the Australian Labor Party? Are we now being put in the position where the leader of a party purporting to be a national party contends that proposals on a national level may be advanced unrelated to any existence of power? One cannot point in the Australian Constitution to any head of power that gives to the Labor Party or any other party power related to urban development.
– After listening to the speech last Thursday evening of the right honourable member for Melbourne I think I know what the Papal Knights will do to him. They will take his lance away and break it. There is no head of power in the Australian Constitution relating to urban development so what the Leader of the Opposition or the Labor Party proposes is to get this power in some other way. How is the power to be obtained? I venture to suggest that what the Labor Party has in mind is what it has always had in its policy, which is contained in this book I hold bearing on the cover a photograph of what I am assured is the Leader of the Opposition. But when I look at the photograph from one angle is reminds me of lunar country - country over which Armstrong and Aldrin walked. In this platform will be found the establishment of a supreme economic council in Australia and the destruction of the States. There is nobody in the Labor Party who can deny that.
The programme of the Australian Labor Party is to destroy the States. The programme advanced by the Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday night was plainly in support of the destruction of the States. Let no Premier in Australia, no shire chairman in Australia and no parent, teacher or doctor in Australia be under an illusion about this. The programme put forward by the Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday night was an all powerful Canberra programme. To use the felicitous words of the Red Queen in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, what the Leader of the Opposition said was: ‘All the ways around here belong to me.’ How does the Australian Labor Party propose to get all power for Canberra? I think the perceptive observations of a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir John Latham, are very much to the point. Sir John was speaking in respect of the first uniform taxation case and his words are as pertinent today as they were then. People considering the policy of the Australian Labor Party should bear in mind the warning that Sir John gave 27 years ago. He said:
Thus, if the Commonwealth Parliament were prepared to pass such legislation (excluding the States from all tax fields and making grants conditional on Commonwealth satisfaction with State policies), all State powers would be controlled by the Commonwealth’-
– Hear, hear!
– There it is: The right honourable member for Melbourne, the former distinguished Leader of the Australian Labor Party, agrees with this. Sir John continued: a result which would mean the end oi the political independence of the States.
– Hear, heart
– Again my right honourable friend affirms what Sir John said. He also agrees with the proposition that this is the policy of the Australian Labor Party. Sir John Latham continued:
Such a result cannot be prevented by any legal decision. The determination of the propriety of any such policy must rest with the Commonwealth Parliament and ultimately with the people. The remedy for alleged abuse of power or for the use of power to promote what are thought to be improper objects is to be found in the political arena and not in the courts.
Once all power is brought to Canberra by using grants conditional upon the States giving power to Canberra, to use the language of the right honourable member for Melbourne: ‘You cannot unscramble the egg’.
– Hear, heart
– My right honourable friend affirms this. I am indebted to him for confirming what I am saying, because there should be no doubt in the mind of any person about this. Any businessmen who today may be tempted to support the Australian Labor Party with its new Leader, so called - support it financially or with their votes - should have a second look at the programme of that Party. Those in the States who are tempted to complain about their treatment by the Commonwealth should examine exactly what has taken place. This is the programme of the Australian Labor Party, this is the programme as spelt out in the speech by the Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday evening. Having said that, the thing that then struck me as being curious in the extreme was that the Leader of Opposition advanced the argument that the States are badly off. He seeks on one hand to destroy the States and seeks on the other hand to complain about the position. I suppose it had to happen sooner or later. The honourable gentleman must be about the only undertaker in history who has also held himself out as the organiser of wakes.
What is the position of the States? Let us consider development, and I use the words of the Leader of the Opposition. Looking at the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) he said: ‘to defer development’, ‘to deny’, to delay’. This is the language he used. All right, he has used it and the burden is upon him now to put up with what he has used. He made the charge that there has been a deferment of development. I want to take one State as an example, and that State is Queensland, and I want to say to the honourable gentleman that if he says there has been and there is no development going on in Queensland he sees very little of that State.
Was the construction of the enormous Mount Isa complex - free enterprise admittedly - a deferment of development? I know that honourable gentlemen opposite would burn it to the ground if they had their way - at least economically. They would like to see it under State control. It represents something which is economically and politically abhorrent to them; but was the construction of that enormous complex a deferment of development? Was the announcement by the Chairman of Mount Isa Mines Ltd of extensions to activity in that area a deferment of development? Was the $35m provided by the Commonwealth by way of assistance to the Queensland Government to rehabilitate the Mount Isa railway line a deferment of development? Was the $ 19.1m or $ 19.5m by way of loans to the sugar industry to tide it over difficult times a deferment of development? Was the $20m for FairbairnEmerald Dam a deferment of development? Is the announcement of $235m for Queensland roads in the next 7 years deferment of development? Queensland, per head of population, gets twice the amount under Commonwealth aid roads legislation that
Victoria gets. Is this a deferment of development? Is the provision of money to establish beef roads in Queensland to open up the cattle industry in a way which 20 years ago would have been regarded as quite impracticable a deferment of development?
Wherever the honourable member goes, be it to Gladstone to see the alumina plant pr to Townsville to see the copper refinery, there is development. Every time he lands at the Brisbane aerodrome he can see the oil refineries that have come into being there. Is this a deferment of development? If the honourable gentleman looks at the last general revenue grants by the Commonwealth to the States - and these apply to Queensland as well as to the other States - he will see an increase of 10.8% over the general revenue grants for the previous year. Is this a deferment of development? When, in 1965, the formula for the general revenue grants was agreed to and an extra $2m was added to the base - a suggestion made by the Commonwealth which will, up to the end of the next financial! year, have meant $37m extra to Queensland - the Queensland Premier of the day, Sir Francis Nicklin, said:
We are delighted with the arrangements that have been made and we are most agreeable.
Is this a deferment of development? The honourable gentleman draws a long bow but, of course, I suppose this must be almost his daily habit. However, when he talks about a deferment of development he is talking about something about which, with great respect, I suggest he knows very little.
I know that the political profligates within the Australian Labor Party, or for that matter elsewhere in the community, are silly enough to want to spend millions of dollars on schemes and projects without first probing and testing their economic feasibility. I have had such proposals advanced to me, and no doubt will have them advanced again.
– What is wrong with a power house for central Queensland?
– The honourable gentleman who interjects would be a classic case in point. I suggest that he would be silly enough to want to put up a Si 00m dam at Clara’s Creek Crossing and then try to pay for it with shin plasters.
– I referred to a power house.
– The honourable gentleman mentions a power house. It is reasonable that he should, but does he expect any person to spend an enormous sum of money without first determining the economics of the proposal? This is the economic profligacy, the political profligacy, of which I speak. The Labor Party, by and large, is riddled with nut schemes. So was the Socialist government in England in years gone by. We had such governments in Queensland. The only thing they could run successfully in Queensland was a hotel but as far as anything else was concerned - butchers’ shops, housing and the rest - they were all dismal failures, all representing the basic understanding of the Australian Labor Party on economic matters.
Having said that, I want to turn to one or two other charges that the Leader of the Opposition made in his speech, because they are interesting charges. He twitted the Treasurer and the Government about depending for inflation upon the accuracy of their estimates. That is the effect of his language. I thought it was a bit tough to make that charge. If we take a conservative approach to all the proposals that have been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition in his speeches and add them up, we will find that they come to a figure within cooee, as it were, of $650m. This is what he proposes to add to the Budget. How does he propose to get it? He has said that this is an inflationary Budget What sort of Budget would the honourable gentleman describe it as if another $650m were added to it? Or does the honourable gentleman propose to get the $650m from the Australian taxpayer? Here again is a revelation of the lack of understanding of basic economic matters by the Australian Labor Party. That charge, I think, can be dismissed quite swiftly because there is nothing in it at all.
The second charge he made concerning the Government related to defence matters, and I want to say something about this because it is important and it is relevant to the speech made by the honourable member for Fremantle. The Leader of the Opposition has said that nothing has been done about regional defence arrangements by this
Government. That, simply put, is plainly untrue. This Government has done a great deal about providing for regional defence arrangements. The most notable, of course, is the ANZUS agreement. But through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to ask the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), who is sitting at the table and who is leading, for what it is worth, the Opposition at the moment: What is the attitude of the Australian Labor Party to the joint Australian-American bases that have been constructed in this country? All of these bases - Pine Gap, Woomera and North West Cape - were constructed pursuant to the ANZUS agreement. What does the Australian Labor Party propose to do about them? The silence of the Labor Party on this issue rivals that of the shearing shed after the cut out [Quorum formed]
I was just observing that the silence of the Australian Labor Party after I asked what Labor’s attitude would be to the Pine Gap and Woomera bases was a silence that rivalled that of a shearing shed after the cut out. I was about to say that we could not even hear the swish of the casuarina tree on the old galvanised iron when I did indeed hear the swish of the pepperina tree on the old galvanised iron. The honourable member for Hindmarsh rose to his feet and called for a quorum. I ask the spokesman for the Australian Labor Party to say where they stand on this issue or for that matter where they sit or where they lie on this issue. Where are they going? Does the honourable member for Hindmarsh say that Labor will dismantle the joint AustralianAmerican bases at Pine Gap and Woomera? Come on, speak up. I will not eat you. Cannibalism has not come back to this country.
– What about the Standing Orders?
– Well, possibly later in this debate we will hear from the honourable member. But we should hear from the Leader of the Opposition on this issue. Where does he stand? Or is it that he will now try to build up a reputation as being the great shuffler of Australian politics? I think the Australian people are entitled to know where Labor stands on the issue of these bases and I challenge Opposition members to say before this House rises to meet the people of Australia where they stand on the issue of these two bases.
To sum up, I point out that I have spoken about the action of the Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday night in committing his Party to a policy of complete centralism. Let Mr Askin, Mr Bjelke-Petersen and Sir Henry Bolte and all the other Australian Premiers beware. The Leader of the Opposition has said the gun is loaded and he will blow the States out of existence. He wants all power for Canberra. Like the Red Queen in ‘Alice in Wonderland’, he wants to be able to say: ‘All the ways around here belong to me.’ I have spoken about the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has little capacity to observe what is going on in this nation. He has ignored the tremendous surge of developmental programmes, especially in Queensland. I have spoken about the political profligacy - I would like to say something else - that grips the Australian Labor Party in its approach to basic political and economic problems. I have spoken about the fact that the programme of the Australian Labor Party is a policy of plain inflation. All these factors added together must surely amount to 1he plainest of warnings to the Australian people that when they go to the polls on 25th October they should ensure that the cold, clammy hand of socialism is not given an opportunity to guide the affairs of this country.
– The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who has just concluded his speech, is a lawyer. Until I heard him speak today I had always thought it rather strange that amongst legal people he was discussed exclusively in terms of a remarkable reputation as an economist but amongst economists he was not even discussed. I have definitely established as a scientific fact that in the speeches of the honourable member for Moreton there is an inverse relationship between the quantity of entertainment and the quality of fact that he provides. Of course, today we were generously entertained. His flamboyance seems to me to be the flame out of a politician about to die politically.
My friend and colleague, the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), is hurriedly searching for some figures for me on Commonwealth grants per capita. The honourable member for Moreton will be interested to discover in a report, after his ‘sterling’ defence of the Commonwealth’s allocation of finance to the States, that Queensland fares fairly poorly. In comparison to South Australia, which has a smaller population, Queensland received inferior treatment. I sincerely trust that the electors of Queensland will have drawn to their attention that here today the honourable member for Moreton made a vigorous defence of this discriminatory and, I submit, quite immoral treatment of the State of Queensland, of which he is an elected representative. One would have expected that the honourable member for Moreton would have stood in this House today and made a strong plea for a fairer allocation of the finances of the Commonwealth to the State of Queensland.
It is not good enough to talk about Queensland’s potential for development. We know it has this potential. Our task is to harness that potential through planned development projects. It is only a few months ago that the Department of National Development brought out a report on the natural resources that exist in central Queensland, which is represented by my colleague the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham). It detailed all of these natural resources and the implicit capacity of this area for development to a major industrial complex for the Commonwealth of Australia, not just the State of Queensland. Repeatedly, as each area of natural resources is dealt with in this report one discovers that there is a requirement for the provision of cheap and sufficient power if in fact this secondary development is to take place, and so my good friend, the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), was quite justified in drawing the attention of the honourable member for Moreton to the fact that central Queensland needs some sort of power complex and that this sort of dillydallying which we have thrust upon us by the Federal Government, which continually defers decisions on important national development and then suddenly, hurriedly and in a state of panic makes a rush decision at election time on some major development project, is not sufficient.
We need some sort of rationally linked arrangement for the development of the Commonwealth of Australia. Central Queensland and, indeed, the north of Australia should not have to wait until a few weeks before the election until the panic buttons are pressed, until the people like the honourable member for Moreton give us a display of a flame-out of a dying politician concerned about just what is going to happen when retribution arrives on 25th October. The needs of communities are things which should be met and should be met on the basis of priorities, not distributed as some sort of political pay-off as elections approach. My friend the shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), in fact was quicker than my colleague the honourable member for Brisbane and has shown me a table of Commonwealth payments to or for the States per head of population. Now let me hear the honourable member for Moreton raise bis voice strongly in the stentorian tones we know so well and admit that he is wrong.
In the Commonwealth payments to or for the States in 1969-70 at page 65 of the document - the pages of the honourable member’s document may still be joined together- one discovers these per capita payments: Queensland $97.39; South Australia, not a claimant State but one with a small population, a smaller area and nowhere near the available resources for development that Queensland has, receives $107.22. Western Australia receives $142 and even poor little Tasmania receives $172.48. Why can the honourable member for Moreton not stand up and defend the State which he represents? Why must he come into this House and make some sort of apologia for the Federal Government and the completely unfair treatment it is handing out to the State of Queensland? The fact is that our State for so long has had, by any sort of indices which one cares to gather, a poor performance, an inferior one in terms of economic growth compared with other States. The rate of personal consumption, the rate of average increase and the population rate increase - all of these and a whole range of other data which one could use as some sort of guideline indicating the sort of growth we are getting in the States - indicate that Queensland has not been receiving returns commensurate with other States of somewhat similar standards of development. Here we have South Australia receiving over $107 per capita while Queensland received only $97.
These two States, of course, have a greater need than the more developed States of New South Wales and Victoria which are well advanced in their development and have a lesser need for the sort of regional development which is so necessary in a far flung State such as Queensland. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) on many occasions has directed attention in this House to the critical position in which our State finds itself so regularly because we do not have enough water and because we find that the only time when we can get action from the Federal Government in the provision of major national development undertakings is a few weeks before the election. We could not get any reaction from the Federal Government on the Nogoa Dam at any stage when we advocated that it should give serious consideration to this project. Of course, it is understood that any decision which is made must be made on the basis of a cost benefit analysis, but we could not get any responsible reaction from the Federal Government until a few weeks before the 1967 Senate election date, and then suddenly there was virtue discovered in this project as indeed there was virtue discovered in the second stage of the Ord River dam scheme in Western Australia.
– You seem to be obsessed with getting more for Queensland.
– I am certain that even the honourable member for Hindmarsh, although he comes from another State, supports me for he has many times supported Queenslanders and the State of Queensland in their desire and in its desire to obtain a fairer return of public funds for the development of that State. But let me move to more important things. Let me move away from the honourable member for Moreton. He will be dealt with by the electors of Moreton and by George Harvey, the Labor candidate for that electorate, in a few weeks’ time. That will be sufficient reprisal for his lack of advocacy and loyalty to Queensland. Let me return to the document we have before us, the
Budget, and the grand exaggerations of neither the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) nor the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) fail to obscure the fact that this Budget is bathos, not epic, a mean wine in a cheap gourd. When one looks at it one discovers that the Treasurer has fared rather badly overall in this Budget.
The document before us represents no rational response to the forbidding warnings of the Treasurer, made during most of the first 7 months of this year, that the economy was fully extended and bordering on a difficult inflationary period. Indeed, one can see the Treasurer, unhappiest of all that unhappy lot of political saltimbancos in the Cabinet, deeply sighing - with apologies to Alice’s mock turtle - ‘Once I was a real Treasurer*. It would be too unkind to discount him completely after the pathetic futility of his struggle against the grand chameleon policy-making practices of the current Gorton period. After all, even if he did fail he at least tried to stem the tide. He did fight against the welling pressure of the profound sciolism of Gortonianism and he did survive, which is a remarkable feat in itself. What he and the Prime Minister - but more especially the Prime Minister, for one seems to detect reservations on the part of the Treasurerare now claiming, after the allegation that Australia’s economy was tightly stretched right at the peak of an inflationary trouble spot, is that in fact there is a deflationary element built into the Budget because the domestic surplus amounts to $500m or $300m more than was the case last year.
The first thing I put up to honourable members on this is that by withdrawing this amount of public expenditure a decision has been made by the Federal Government that there will be fewer miles of road laid somewhere this year; that there wilt not be as many school rooms built in the State of Queensland, as well as in other States, as there should be; that teachers’ wages will not be higher, as they should be; that there will be fewer law enforcement officers in the country and the city, where they are needed; that the hospital building programme and the facilities which go with it will suffer and the general arrangements for the development of a health policy must in some way be cut back because clearly this decision - and I mention these as only a few instances - is the result of what happens when there is a cutback of public expenditure. So the decision has been taken in Australia by the Federal Government - God knows who gave it this sort of authority because the decision is an immoral one, I submit to honourable members - that enough investment has not been taking place in the public field and sp it is quite unreasonable to cut back in this area.
There are many more areas of grave need, even of poverty in the public sector, which need attention from the Federal Government, but the claim on this Budget is that because the domestic surplus is $500m that there will be a reverse multiplier effect, as it is called, that there will be this withdrawal on money from the economy and a general tightening up, and this will have a braking effect on the movement of liquidity in the economy and pull down the head on the boom which is well developed. But there are grave errors in the Government’s arguments and it is moving on to very dangerous ground. The Government knows it full well because this Budget, mean as it is, is nevertheless some endeavour to ransom time from the public in the hope that the Government will be returned and in the New Year effect its real purpose. This Budget is totally incompetent to handle the economy of this country successfully for the next 12 months. It is completely beyond the capacity of this Budget as it is now designed to hold in check the internal problems of excess liquidity, the tremendous buildup in the velocity of movement of cash in the economy and, at the same time, to handle the external pressures which are developing on our external accounts. Let me point this out by referring to loan raisings.
The theory of public loan raisings is that by raising this money from the private sector - from consumers, companies or small investors - money is taken out of the private sector of the economy. The Government can put it back into the public sector as works, it can hold it in reserve that is, freeze it. If the Government freezes the money, the theory is that this takes it out of circulation and reduces the amount of liquidity and there is a multiplier effect in the reverse fashion which cuts back the overall movement in the economy.
But, in fact, the Government will move into serious problems this year in the area of loan raisings. The amount of non-official holdings of securities maturing this year is about $486m. That is nearly double the amount that matured last year. As this last year came to an end, we were moving into dangerous or difficult waters. By the end of the year, non-bank holdings of securities had increased less than at any time since 1964-65. Clearly, the evidence is that the non-official finance organs are finding official securities an unattractive asset. The tendency is to move away from this area of official investment into the broader area of non-official asset holding. Of course, this decrease in non-official bank holdings as securities means an increase of liquidity in the community. This is the endemic problem that confronts the Government today.
The July cash and conversion loan saw new cash proceeds only slightly greater than the redemption of maturing securities. Much of this volume of money, probably most of it, will be reinvested. Nonetheless, from this total volume, a great deal will be withdrawn and pumped back into the economy, into the private sector, and will be adding to the pressures of liquidity which give the Government so much concern. So, we have this rather unbalanced approach by the Federal Government at this time to this problem of clamping down on investors in the public sector and doing virtually nothing about the private sector. Oh, certainly I know that the Federal Government is using monetary policy by lifting the bank rate. I wish to come to that in a minute. It is a particularly ineffective policy with the structure of the economy at the present time.
I have mentioned to the House the problems that we will run into in internal loan raisings. Make no mistake about it, these are very serious problems for the Government to be confronted with. But equally as serious is the problem that we will be confronted with on loan raisings on the overseas market We are in a happy position with the United States loan market because our payments and credits will about balance. But maturing non-United States loans plus other payments which have to be made this year will amount to $200m. Last year, we had to meet 896m only. So, there is a substantial increase here.
We are confronted with this situation at a time when there are severe reservations about whether the overseas loan market in fact will be able to meet our overseas requirements. Indeed, the Treasury itself was pessimistic enough on this matter to say in Statement 4 at page 31 of the documents appended to the Budget Speech that:
There may, therefore, be net repayments overseas in 1969-70, in contrast with the net borrowings of $142m in 1968-69.
On that basis, the amount to be financed in Australia would be greater than the estimated deficit of $30m.
Clearly, the Treasury does not believe that the economic policies of the Government as outlined in this Budget will be competent to handle the affairs of this country over the next 12 months. If the deficit of $30m will not be enough to cover that amount which must be raised in Australia because of the deficiencies of the overseas loan markets one interprets quite responsibly that the deficit will need to be even less than $3 Om. In fact, the Government will need to be working in the direction of a surplus.
But, oh, no - not at election time. At election time, the Government can tell any sort of fairy tale, just so long as it gets the votes. It does not matter if it churns out a few miserable, inadequate dollars for the pensioners who are battling the system and trying to make ends meet. It does not matter if the Government short-changes the needs of the public sector of the economy or if it does nothing about the terrible inequity that exists in our tax structure, the burden of which falls so heavily on the middle and lower income groups. It does not matter if the Government does little about these matters or if what the Government does is quickly eaten away by the inflationary trends built into the economy, just so long as it gets through the election. This is the philosophy behind the design of this Budget by the Government. It is the Budget after this Budget - the one in February, if the country is unfortunate enough to have this Government returned - which will be the tight one and the real one that will determine the growth of this country during the remainder of 1969. This is not an exaggeration.
– We will not bring in a Budget like that.
– I base my assessment on a careful analysis of the economic propositions put forward in the Budget Speech, by interpreting the statements attached to it and by reading the report of the Reserve Bank. I do agree with the honourable member for Hindmarsh that a stringent supplementary Budget - a credit squeeze type of Budget - is avoidable. On being elected as the Government on 25th October, Labor would act promptly to put the economy in order, to allocate resources efficiently and to develop a system of economic policy making which would contribute a consistent growth trend.
– What would the honourable member do?
– If the honourable member will seek an extension of time for me I will tell him. Otherwise I have too many points to cover. However, I suggest to him an elementary need for an economic advisory council - advisory, not a compulsive factor - for the development of the economy. This council would link the overall development of this community and would see that our resources were more rationally distributed or allocated in the economy than they are at the present time. We would not have this ridiculous, ad hoc approach to the granting of tariffs which bears no relationship to the rational needs of this economy if we are to talk in terms of balanced development. We have a need for a more responsible approach to the granting of subsidies within the Commonwealth.
Let me quote this as an example: Last year over $400m or about 2% of the gross national product went out as direct subsidies or grants or concessions through taxation to industry in this country. Primary industry, in the case of the direct grants and subsidies, attracted about 75% of this allocation of public finance. I am not quibbling about all of this. But the first thing that I object to is the ad hoc and capricious way in which the Government allocates these funds. The second thing to which I object is the clear fact that a great deal of this money - not all of it but certainly a great deal of it - is granted to perpetuate inefficient sectors and inefficient industries in the economy. Is the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) seeking to justify the perpetuation of a producer on a shaggy, hungry ridge, where he will never make a quid, by taxing some other sector of the economy to hold him there? What sort of economic responsibility or moral sense of justice and responsibility is that?
– What side is the honourable member on?
– Let me give the honourable member a quick example of what I mean. We have two industries, A and B. In total those industries give 100 points on a scale of social satisfaction. Industry A rates 80 points and industry B rates 20 points. Industry B is fairly stagnant because it does not have a growth factor as a result of its deficiencies one way and another. So, to encourage the development of B, we lax A and we take 20 points from A and put them into B as a subsidy in some form. We find that we have reduced A to 60 points on the scale. But because of its poor growth factor B has increased to 25 points only. So, the total social satisfaction stands now at only 85 points, 15 points lower than it was before. This is a simplified example of the sorts of errors into which we can run if we willy-nilly go into this practice of distributing tariffs and subsidies and other forms of support to industry without a careful analysis of their needs, their contribution, their economic viability and their capacity to form linked economies within the overall economy.
I regret that I have been diverted. Let me return to what I was saying. I was speaking about the problems which the economy will run into. An additional problem which the economy will be confronted with in the current year will arise because overseas investment is not expected to be as high as it was last year. It is a well established fact that this country relies rather heavily on overseas investment. The rate last year declined from that of the previous year. The trend at the moment indicates mat there will be a further decline in the rate of investment. There is no doubt there will be some fall-off in imports as a result of the decline, because a lot of this investment is represented by an inflow of imports in the form of capital equipment for development. Regardless of this decline there will nevertheless be a substantial outflow in the form of return on previous investment, of service debt.
In any event, because of the problems I am speaking about and because of the problems that we will have in maintaining a balance in our external account - and I do not believe we can do so with the sort of economic policy which is defined in this Budget - at a time when liquidity is pushing up hard in the economy and multiplying at quite an unexpectedly high rate, and as a result will generate demand problems, there will be a build-up in demand for imports, and this too will add to the problems on our external account. It is of no use to say that this will be taken up in the economy. It cannot be taken up by the current Budget. Last year we were lucky. We were lucky in that much of the rural sector which had been flattened rather badly by drought was able to pick up with better seasons and there was a 2% contribution in the total contribution to the economic growth rate last year from the rural sector as a result of this pick up. Consequently increased demand could be somewhat absorbed by this sector. But the rural sector will be pretty well flattened out in the current period, and anyway, as I will mention in a few minutes, that sector is not without its own problems. Much of the growth rate represented by that rural sector can only be termed ‘printer’s money* because the production has gone into stock. Indeed the level of farm stock accumulation increased from .5% of the gross national expenditure in 1967-68 to more than 2% last year. So here is another reason for the problems that we have. To keep a sector of industry operational the Government is printing money which is not being backed by goods being exchanged in the economy, and therefore adds to inflationary pressure.
A further weakness in the economic structure of Australia is the development of the non-official finance sources. Of course there are the hire-purchase companies. In the recession of 1961 those companies which were operated by banks were able to increase their profit earning rate, in spite of the credit squeeze, while the other companies had their profit rate considerably contracted. A more significant factor in the non-official money market is the movement of money between private corporations, which is done on a non-official basis and is completely outside the area of control of the normal monetary policy of the Government.
Now I come to a point which 1 mentioned earlier, the weakness of monetary policy in Australia. It is estimated that between $ 1,000m and $ 1,500m is moved in this non-official monetary market in any year. On an average that is more than three times the statutory reserve deposits which the banks have to hold in the Reserve Bank and which are part of monetary policy. We know that a certain proportion of the assets of private banks and the Commonwealth Bank is frozen by the Reserve Bank, and the theory is that this reduces their capacity to lend on a multiplying reverse scale if there is a call-up, and increases this capacity if there is a reduction in this demand. Here we have one sector in the economy with no control over it at all, completely non-official and moving huge aggregations of money, between $ 1,000m and $ 1,500m a year which is, as I said, more than three times the statutory reserve deposits held by the Reserve Bank to control our monetary system. This sort of activity must undermine any monetary policy which is operated by the Government. Of course the largest companies are the ones involved in this - life offices, the Broken Hill Pty Company Ltd, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, pension funds and funds for seasonal surpluses, or inactive funds, but at any rate these organisations are able to thumb noses at the monetary restrictions of the Government.
In 1953, 35.7% of Australia’s assets held by all Australian intermediaries were held by trading banks. By 1966 the proportion had been reduced to 25%. This gives an indication of how people have moved outside the normal official monetary sector, which can be controlled by the Government, to this other sector. Of course there will be speculation at a time of optimism as we have at the moment with the boom at full pelt. There will be higher interest rates. We will have organisations which will continue to lend money across the board, one to the other through non-official intermediaries, and which will completely circumvent the aims of the Government to control the economy through monetary policy. The only people who will feel the force of monetary policy control will be the small business people, the lower income groups, the middle income groups, the neglected people, the people about whom this Government cares little. Let us make no mistake about this. Quite clearly we do have problems coming up in the national economy.
At statement No. 1 attached to the Budget Speech reference is made to the private sector, personal incomes, consumer spending, spending by wage and salary earners, private investment and the State sector. The statement speaks of all these moving ahead more strongly this year. Let me refer the writer of that statement back to sanity. Let me refer him to the remarks of the Treasurer in the Budget Speech when he said at page 23:
There is a clear possibility that excess demand, helped by excess liquidity, could upset the balance of the economy.
On the facts which I have put before the House it clearly will upset , the balance of the economy, given the deficiencies of the Budget, and quite clearly the Government has an ulterior motive in mind. I repeat that if this country is unfortunate enough to have this Government returned to office we will see early in the new year a supplementary budget, a stringent one, a credit squeeze type of budget. The only way to avert this is to have a government which recognises the deficiencies in the Budget. Here comes the guilty man now, the Treasurer. These are deficiencies for which the Treasurer and the Prime Minister must be held responsible. Unfortunately I have outlined only a few of them because of the limited time in which I may speak on this Budget. They are deficiencies which are rectifiable but which are being evaded by this Government, and which will prove costly to the community, if this Government is returned to office.
– I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on his ability to meet ever-expanding demands on the Commonwealth Budget from economic growth and without resort to tax increases. Bringing relief to the areas of greatest need with minimum risk of inflation is the hallmark of sound administration and good financial management.
Defence aspects of the Budget are important at this time for two reasons. The Budget is presented on the eve of a Federal election at which, quite properly, defence will be an issue. It follows a conference of the Australian Labor Party which obliges the Opposition to advocate policies which, I believe, will weaken the very foundations of this country’s defence. Something ought to be said about them. Despite a possibility that hostilities in Vietnam might be in their closing stages, the left wing of the ALP is reported to have sought a declaration that: Australian troops should immediately and unconditionally be withdrawn from Vietnam’. But if the pose of the Labor Party, in supporting the American alliance were to be maintained, compromise was necessary and the result was a motion that: ‘On the Party becoming the Government, it will take immediate action to notify the United States Government that all Australian armed forces will be withdrawn from Vietnam’.
It will, of course, be noted that ‘immediate action’ refers only to the notification. This is a fine piece of subterfuge. But noone will doubt that Labor, in office, would immediately withdraw our military forces from Vietnam and Australia’s reputation as a dependable ally would be at an end.
Following United Kingdom withdrawal from South East Asia, this Government, with New Zealand, will maintain military forces in Malaysia-Singapore after 1971. The offer has been welcomed by Malaysia and Singapore as contributing to their security. Our association will also do much to assist the development of the growing capacity of both countries for self defence. Our military forces, visible in the area, give assurance of our interest, without which - as the Prime Minister of Singapore pointed out - they may feel obliged to turn in other directions for support with unpredictable consequences for the future. The ALP Conference decided that ‘No plans for the stationing of Forces overseas were now feasible or acceptable’. Labor, in office, would certainly withdraw our forces from Malaysia-Singapore, leaving friends and neighbours to their own devices. So ALP policy now runs counter to the Party leader’s earlier declaration that Labor was willing to leave air and naval forces in the region. With reference to the United States-
Australian defence space communications facility planned for Woomera, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), as late as April, said:
If one treats this simply as a request from the United States Government for facilities for a space communications centre on Australian soil, it would be inconceivable that this or any future Australian government would not be prepared to negotiate such an agreement. It is right to cooperate with the United States in using the advantage of our size and site for communications and research tn the space age. It is right to allow Australians to acquire and expand their skills which are basic in the new age that we are entering. It is right to seek a new lease of life for Woomera. It is right that this should have been made a joint project.
That is a fine speech and I thank the honourable gentleman for it. But the ALP Conference opposed the existence of foreign owned, controlled or operated bases and facilities in Australian territory. It is a subterfuge to regard the Woomera facility as foreign owned and to draw a distinction between that and a joint project. If Labor becomes the government, it is not unreasonable to assume that it will move for the closing of joint defence facilities on Australian soil. An indication of how far out of touch the Opposition is with the electorate - and even with its own followers - is to be found in the gallup poll of only a week ago. The poll reported that 74% of Australian public opinion approves the proposed defence facility at Woomera. No less than 68% of declared ALP voters were also in favour. The Labor Party gives lip service to the American alliance and claims attachment to the ANZUS Treaty. But it would leave the United States in the lurch in Vietnam, would demonstrate disinterest in the security of South East Asia, and while seeking an American assurance under the ANZUS Treaty would be unwilling to make any contribution within our competence to the objects of that Treaty. These are great matters on which Government and Opposition defence policies are sharply divided. At this stage we ought to be conscious of that division.
But let me turn to the defence aspects of the Budget. Last year defence expenditure reached $1, 164.7m. This year the estimated expenditure is $1,1 04m and the resulting 5% reduction, completely misunderstood, has been extravagantly referred to in one quarter as ‘the most notable and alarming feature of the Budget”. Equipment programmes must have their peaks and troughs. Last year was a peak in defence expenditure, which rose from $748m in 1965-66 through $950m and SI, 109m in successive years to reach Si, 165m last year. New commitments should not, and could not, be engineered to produce expenditure running at precisely the same figure year after year. We are more interested in programmes to meet our needs, not in any arithmetic of expenditure. As well, payment of SI 6m expected in this financial year under the Fill project has been deferred to later years due entirely to the late presentation of accounts by the contractors in the United States. The idea that the Government must increase defence spending year after year, or that it should maintain some fixed relationship to gross national product, is patently absurd. It would produce expenditure for its own sake regardless of need or circumstance. It would be a sure and certain way to irresponsibility in the management of our defence affairs. In addition, it would make nonsense of recent defence reorganisation, designed to strengthen the machinery of assessment of threat and the scientific examination of the kind of military equipment we need.
There is little point in having this kind of machinery of assessment if it is not used. And this brings me to defence programming. The 3-year defence programme of 1965-68 was designed to re-equip the Services and, indeed, equipment purchased under that programme is still coming into service. The forces are now better equipped than they have ever been in peacetime, with capital equipment having a life of up to 20 years depending on type. The defence situation in our part of the world is fluid, consequent upon the British withdrawal from South East Asia, the approaching end of the Vietnam war - even if no date can be anticipated - indicated changes in the United States’ attitude to South East Asia and other possible developments. It was this situation which warranted the recent ‘in depth* strategic appreciation’. We face no early threat to our security. Nevertheless, ordinary prudence demands that this should not be taken for granted.
The situation I have described calls, above all, for flexibility in defence planning. We have therefore departed from the concept of a predetermined 3-year programme. In its place we are to have a rolling programme, constantly under review, which seeks at all times to look forward for the succeeding 5 years. This may not produce the dramatic impact of the big equipment programme, but we will have a more scientifically planned programme continuously attuned to our future defence. I will shortly give some details of first approvals under this new concept. They will involve an expenditure of something like $130m for the equipment and the technical and other works necessary to support it. What is more, this kind of expenditure will lead to roughly $81m more for maintenance - spares, manpower and so on - over a 10- year period. It is easy to parade grandiose ideas about new equipment. It is very attractive. But the Government is obliged to think not merely of the initial cost but of the impact on the maintenance vote, which stretches years into the future. Considering the present well developed level of equipment of our armed Services, our strategic appreciation gives us some breathing space to do a number of quite important things. We must not become completely mesmerised by the need for new capital equipment. Throughout the defence Services today there is room for further attention to housing. Barracks, often of World War II temporary construction, need replacing. Naval dockyards need modernising. Capacity for munitions production needs expansion. At the same time, the new machinery of defence planning must be given an opportunity to work and our planning, particularly in the procurement area, must take into consideration not only the potentially rapid change in the strategic situation which calls for flexibility, but also rapid changes in weapons technology.
The defence budget provides $47. 7m for new works, in which all: arms of the Services and the Department of Supply will share. Improvements at Garden Island and Cockatoo dockyards will cost $2m when completed. We will be starting on a comprehensive programme at the naval air station at Nowra. We will be pressing on with the establishment of an army aviation centre at Oakey at a cost of $8m. There will be new works at our most important air bases at Richmond, Williamtown and Amberley. For the Department of Supply, we are making provision for stores in Sydney so that Heffron Park, taken over by the Government in World War II, can ne released for civilian occupation. The exercise will cost S3. 5m. The long overdue construction of a new government clothing factory in Melbourne will take SI. 3m. The list is not by any means exhaustive.
The last 2 months have brought approval for $26.7m worth of work which, in this year, will go to planning and will not, therefore, involve expenditure in this financial year. This includes $4.7m for the further modernisation of the naval air station at Nowra and $5.3m for major development at Laverton Air Base. Learmonth Airfield will also be developed at an estimated cost of $12m.
The provision of married quarters for the Services is a nagging problem. To June 1969, the Commonwealth had obtained - through the Commonwealth/ State Housing Agreement - 10,775 married quarters with 1,854 under construction. For 1969/70, 1,500 new houses will be commenced. In addition, there are 6,700 Service-owned married quarters with 224 under construction and 84 in the programme for this year. So that, In all, 1969-70 wilt see the availability of married quarters increased by 1,584.
Only a constant effort will keep pace with the Army’s normal capital equipment needs. In recent years, expenditure under this item has varied from $49m to $63m and, in the coming financial year, the estimate is $53. 5m, which is the full amount sought by the Department of the Army. To provide for the long leadtime items we will accord the Army the right to order ahead, so committing expenditure up to a maximum of $60m against the 1970-71 Budget.
Let me turn to the new capital equipment programme, in which, quite reasonably, the Navy is to have added attention. Some of these items were mentioned, in outline, by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech. Throughout the new programme, emphasis is being given to mobility. I shall mention three items directed to that objective. In the naval sphere, this means increasing emphasis on afloat support, enabling operational ships to remain at sea for long periods. Strategic mobility and flexibility, together with the proper mix of operational ships and support ships will give us the most effective use of resources.
In South East Asian operations, our Navy has depended, to a considerable extent, on afloat logistics support of the Royal Navy and, more recently, of the US Navy. The time has come to provide more from our own resources. To the existing afloat logistics support, consisting of HMAS Supply’, commissioned in 1955, and HMAS ‘Stalwart’, commissioned in 1967, there is now to be added a fast combat support ship which will provide a capability for at-sea replenishment of liquid fuels, armaments, stores, spares, canteen stores and provisions to units of a force under way or to combat ships in operational areas.
The operation of our forces, particularly overseas, demands a complex system of logistics support facilities, including logistics shipping. The Army’s four landing ships medium are aged and becoming increasingly expensive to operate. They are due for replacement in 1973. To replace them, an Australian-designed landing craft, which will be smaller than the existing ships, but will provide a superior and more versatile capability at reduced cost, is to be built. It is intended to acquire eight of these landing craft.
We have had under study in the defence machinery the need for improving the tactical mobility of our ground forces. Experience in Vietnam has confirmed and strengthened that conviction.
When the defence budget was under consideration of Cabinet last month, I indicated to my colleagues that I expected our study of this problem of tactical mobility to be completed shortly. I am now able to say that we have decided to acquire twelve medium-lift helicopters together with associated equipment. This will enable us to provide air mobility for an Army company group. The estimated project cost overall is $37m. What is more, in relation to our acquisition of these helicopters, we will be looking for arrangements covering Australian participation in manufacture. Nor is this the only expected development in the use of helicopters. Other projects are under active study.
The Navy anticipates a need for a multipurpose light destroyer, capable of being specialised by the fitting of weapons systems appropriate to particular primary tasks; for example patrol, anti-submarine or anti-air, while retaining some capability for all tasks. The concept provides for the development of a new class of light destroyer based on a common hull form and common machinery. Approval has been given for a preliminary design study of the patrol version with the aim of validating the general concept. Meanwhile, studies of an operational research kind are in progress to determine the optimum number and mix of types required. The cost of the design study is expected to be $680,000.
The work of hydrographic survey and charting of waters adjacent to Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is a Navy responsibility. Deeper draft ships and the establishment of new ports and shipping routes to exploit natural resources, together with the military aspects of hydrography, will generate a continued hydrographic task well into the future. In this task, HMAS ‘Moresby’, commissioned in 1964, is assisted by HMAS ‘Paluma’, commissioned in 1946, converted in 19S7 and due to reach the end of her useful life by 1972. It is intended to construct a replacement ship in Australia to come into service at that time. The new vessel will be 50% more effective than ‘Paluma’, at substantially reduced costs.
No-one will argue about the importance to Australia of the collection of oceanographic data for military purposes, such as anti-submarine warfare, or for civil purposes, such as the assessment and development of mineral resources, fisheries and the prediction of water conditions. Further, our co-operation with the British and US oceanographic authorities - particularly in the exchange of information and the development of joint ventures - calls for our continued ability to participate in military oceanographic research. The Royal Australian Navy’s present oceanographic ship, Diamentina’, will reach the end of her useful life not later than 1974. She will be replaced by a new ship to be built in Australia and to come into service in that same year.
Australia’s increased submarine fleet demands the development of new facilities for training since sea training of command teams alone is inordinately expensive or inadequate. In any case, it is desirable that much of the training should take place under controlled conditions, divorced from ship control and safety problems. These conditions can be provided by a submarine command team trainer which provides for the submariner the convenience which the simulator gives to the training of air pilots. The trainer is also useful for the development of new tactics, the evaluation of tactics and operating doctrine, and for attack analysis. It is intended to acquire a submarine command team trainer for the Navy which will be situated with the tactical trainer at HMAS ‘Watson’, thus permitting the use of some common facilities.
The Navy is to be provided with ten Macchi aircraft for pilot training. This will mean a small extension of the existing Macchi production programme for the RAAF.
I turn now to the Army’s capital equipment programme, in which a number of specialised items are included. The first of these is the provision for seventy-two 6-ton tactical carriers at a cost of $3. 173m. The M-548, as the vehicle is known, will complement the armoured personnel carriers now in service in Vietnam. We are negotiating with the United States to get technical data, specifications and drawings, together with the right to manufacture component parts in Australia. We also seek the allocation to Australia of sub-contracts for the manufacture of components for both Australian and US requirements.
Consistent with the policy of encouraging increased Australian contribution to our defence requirements, two Australian companies now hold contracts for the manufacture of pilot models of a new 1-ton general service Army cargo truck which will eventually replace the lighter Landrovers which have been in service for many years. After final selection of a design, open tenders will be called for the mass production of the vehicle, of which some 4,500 will probably be required over the next 10 years. In addition to the great benefit to the Australian automotive industry, this project should also present some first-class export possibilities.
Local industry will manufacture 1,900 manpack transceiver radio sets - type AN-PRC/77 - for the Army at an estimated cost of $2.095m. These are of advanced design and are used in the field for regimental level communications, lt is the only manpack communications equipment capable of wideband secure speech. Local production of this technologically advanced equipment will stimulate development of the Australian electronics industry. The experience gained in its production should enable Australia to compete, with better prospects of success, for contracts under Project ‘Mallard* whose development is progressing satisfactorily. The establishment of local production will provide export opportunities to New Zealand and to South East Asia.
Existing radio relay terminals are obsolescent and becoming difficult to maintain in service. They will be replaced by newly developed equipment to provide high quality, reliable, multi-channel voice communications. They will be more mobile, reliable, flexible and secure than existing equipment The new terminals will be compatible with the ‘MALLARD’ system. The Department of Supply has been engaged on a detailed examination into the possible extent of local production of equipment or components.
I mentioned earlier the proposal to upgrade and extend Learmonth Airfield. With associated development works, the Airfield will be brought up to the full standard required for the operation of modern aircraft
Two other items of interest, presently in an advanced stage of study, are a light fixed-wing aircraft for military support roles and with possible commercial application, and an advanced trainer aircraft with ground support capability. It may well be that the latter of these two proposals will commit us to joint research, development and production with an overseas manufacturer. The deepest study is necessary before commitment to a project which may exceed, considerably, the cost of purchase and/or assembly, as with the case of Mirage.
Manus Island, at the moment, offers a small base headquarters for the Royal Australian Navy in the Papua New Guinea area, limited refuelling and base support for the fleet, the headquarters and training establishment for the Papua New Guinea division of the Royal Australian Navy. It also acts as an operational and maintenance base in support of patrol craft of the Papua New Guinea coastal security force. Although the place of Australia in the future defence of the Territory of Papua New Guinea is under review, it is clear that some facilities must be replaced at Manus. These are the refuelling facilities and power generation plant. Some additional housing and maintenance facilities are being provided.
I note the Leader of the Opposition urging the development of joint production arrangements with New Zealand and members of the Five Power group- as well as the arrangement of reciprocal production’ with the United States. Both matters have been thoroughly pursued. Once again the urging comes after the event. Several months ago, we welcomed a delegation from New Zealand and reached agreement on the terms of a reciprocal defence aid agreement. A more detailed announcement will be made by both Governments. In the case of offset production arrangements with the United States, considerable headway has been made with that country’s administration in facilitating the placing in Australia of orders for quotation and production. Only in the current week, one major manufacturer is calling for tenders in Australia for production of electronic equipment estimated to cost $5m. As a further step in this direction, we are arranging for an Australian mission to visit the United States to confer with the Department of Defence and major defence and other contractors in order to expand the field of Australian sub-contracting activity.
– Not another one.
– Well, do not let us hear the honourable member complain about our not making an effort. I have shown the falsity of any claim that this year’s Budget reduces the defence programme. I have shown that the Government is alive to the ever-changing situation in our sphere of interest and has used the new machinery of defence planning and assessment to meet present and future needs of the armed forces. The lessons of Vietnam, together with the imminent departure of the United
Kingdom from South East Asia, and emerging United States policy in the Pacific, bring new emphasis on the importance of mobility for all three Services. I have shown what we are going to meet it. The Australian component of defence equipment is constantly being increased. At the same time, steady effort towards the promotion of offset production in Australia is meeting with growing success.
The defence Services of this country continue to grow in manpower. They are better equipped than ever before in peacetime. The defence organisation has been considerably strengthened. Expenditure is directed to the points of greatest need. Planning for the future is based on detailed strategic assessment.
I believe this review, and the initial - I underline the word ‘initial’ - programme I have outlined, will have the approval of all who believe that defence expenditure should be directed according to a proper assessment of the need, rather than acceptance of the quite foolish proposition that merely spending more money somehow constitutes a defence policy.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, honourable members will note with tremendous satisfaction the vigorous, robust health of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). It is particularly pleasing to see him in such splendid form. We know that this afternoon he has given a policy which he has stood by as Minister for Defence. I can only hope that some of his Cabinet colleagues have listened carefully and have heeded his words. Perhaps the Minister will change his mind about retiring from Parliament and from his position as Minister for Defence.
The Minister has shown some reluctance to discuss new equipment. I can well understand the attitude of the Minister and of the Government in respect of new equipment, particularly in view of the Government’s record in the purchase of the F111 aircraft and the fact that $185m of taxpayers’ money has been paid for an aircraft that we have not received, that has not been approved and that may come along some time in the distant future. The Minister has made his position clear. We on this side of the House take second place to none in matters of defence. The Australian Labor Party has a proud record in the defence of this country, such as that of the Fisher Administration which established the basic defence requirements of this nation, the Royal Australian Navy, the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow or the numerous other establishments connected with defence. The Commonwealth of Australia has much for which to thank Labor administrations in the defence of this country. I instance here John Curtin who, during the Second World War, took the helm of this country in desperate times and led this nation successfully to victory. This man formed the American alliance. When John Curtin spoke about joining with the United States of America and making a plea to the Americans without any inhibitions he was assailed by members on the Liberal-Country Party side of the House for adopting a disloyal attitude to the United Kingdom. As I have said, Labor will not take second place or play a secondary role to anyone in these matters.
I now want to refer to the Budget. This Budget provides for massive spending and imposes a staggering burden of taxation of the low and middle income earners. It is noteworthy for its omissions and contradictions. The Budget provides for a $825m increase in expenditure and raises this amount to $7,085m. Receipts are expected to total $7,055m so the deficit is to be $30m. When considering the Budget we must have regard to the great problems facing this country. We must have regard to trade because in recent months there has been a falling off in our overseas reserves. Also, we must consider the problems associated with the sale of wheat. All these matters pose great problems for our country, and the Budget cannot be considered without having regard to them. We must also consider the problem of pensioners. On this matter the Government has been predictable. We expected it to increase pensions in the election year but I would ask honourable members to remember that although single pensioners will receive an extra $1 a week and married pensioners an extra 75c a week, pensions today represent a lower proportion of average weekly earnings than they did in 1949. After 20 years of non-Labor administration the purchasing power of the pension is lower than it was in 1949. Surely the test of the value of the pension is the goods that can be taken from the store to the home of the pensioner.
Belated recognition is given to a section of pensioners while the urgent needs of families have been ignored. The Government has broken new ground in providing per capita payments to independent schools on the basis of the number of pupils enrolled. Additional funds have been provided for universities, colleges of advanced education and scholarships. I acknowledge what the Government proposes to do but I deplore its failure firmly to plan future targets and to remove education and welfare from the field of disputation, political wrangling and the auction block at election time. Surely we have progressed sufficiently in this country to be able to decide what percentage of average weekly earnings should be paid to pensioners and what per capita amounts should be given to independent schools and government schools without these matters becoming the subject of bartering and bargaining at election time. It is unfortunate that the Government has failed to make grants to the States for their education authorities. This is a grave omission and cannot help our cause in trying to establish a system of education in which every child in this country is entitled to be helped regardless of the school he or she may attend.
This election year Budget falls short of its objective - the political survival of the Gorton Government. I believe that the Government will fail. I believe that the people are satisfied that this Budget is a political document, not an economic statement of the fiscal affairs of the nation; that it is a document prepared by a government seeking its political survival. The failure of the Government to assist families is indefensible because the future of this nation depends on families - on the quality of our citizens, on their education and on their national attitudes. In broad terms we need good citizens. Parliament should seek to remove the need for mothers to go to work to supplement a family’s income. Too often mother is obliged to go out to obtain income so that her family may keep up with the Smiths and the Joneses, so that she may pay her way and so that her children may have a higher education and the same opportunities as those of her neighbours. Parents are frequently worried by the inadequacy of their incomes to maintain their homes at accepted standards. Taxes also reduce a family’s finances.
There is no mention in the Budget of families. Child endowment has not been increased for years. I doubt whether the maternity allowance has been increased since its inception. Surely these are important matters in the social welfare of our country. There is genteel poverty in good homes in this country and we are doing very little to overcome it. Since the Budget the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has spoken about a taxation review. I think that any change likely to take place will not be in the realm of making taxation easier on the people, for that would have been done in this election year Budget. Over the years taxation yields have increased - 119% over 10 years. In the last 10 years company tax has increased from 16.2% to 16.8% and pay-as-you-earn tax from 19% to 28%. These figures surely indicate where the burden is being borne. It is being borne by the families, by the middle income earners, by those who form the very basis, the sinews, the muscles, the life, the character and the quality of this nation.
Let me give two examples. These figures were provided by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) in his well reasoned speech earlier in the debate, but I have condensed them. A married couple with two children, earning $3,600 a year, would, after all deductions, pay $8 a week in tax. That is a staggering sum. The same couple earning $2,600 a year or about $50 a week would pay tax of $3.50 a week. This is too much for such people to be called upon to pay. I submit that people with families should be helped. I draw the attention of honourable members to our problem of building the population. We need people - we need many things in this country but above all we need people. To help get people to come to this country we have an ambitious immigration scheme. It provides generous assistance to people coming to this country. We are glad to make this assistance available, but if it is good enough to make funds available from Australian taxpayers in order to bring people into this country surely those who produce young Australians should receive assistance from the national Government. I put it to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), who is at the table, that the Government should make the changes I have suggested in favour of families. The funeral benefit has not been increased since its inception. It should be increased. To maintain his wife an incapacitated pensioner receives an allowance of $7 a week. The rate has not been increased in years. If we are rational about development of this country families must play a greater part. Their role in our development must be recognised.
Twenty years of Liberal rule have certainly not been a happy period for Australian families, nor has it been satisfactory for those who have had the burden of taxation and indebtedness in this country. The Commonwealth has been most generous to itself. Earlier today the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) spoke about the centralist policy of the Labor Party. He said that centralism would triumph for the Labor Party. In an article published on 25th August the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ showed how the United States deals with the problem. In its editorial the newspaper asked the Commonwealth Government to follow in the wake of the Nixon Administration in the distribution of revenue. I do not have time in this speech to quote all the newspaper attacks on this Government. But in an article headed Rylah Hits at Federal Policy “Muddle”’ the Melbourne ‘Herald’ on 25th June this year reported:
The Acting Premier, Sir Arthur Rylah, today condemned what he called ‘muddled thinking’ in Canberra. He was cricising the Federal Treasurer, Mr McMahon, over his statements on the need for a slow-down in State spending.
We are told that to prevent an undue demand on manpower and materials State works must slow down so that private enterprise can expand,’ Sir Arthur said. ‘This is a peculiar philosophy promoted by Canberra. It is muddled thinking.’
That is the view of Sir Arthur Rylah. Similar remarks by Sir Arthur have been published in the Melbourne ‘Sun’. The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ carries the report of an attack by Mr Hall, the South Australian Premier, with respect to the Commonwealth’s grab of taxes and its domination of the Australian political and economic scene. ‘Willis Heads Attack on Federal Government’ is the headline in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald* of 27th June. On this occasion, as Acting Premier of New South
Wales, Mr Willis launched a vigorous attack on the Commonwealth Government for its overbearing attitude on matters affecting the Australian economy.
Members on the Government side should not waste their time discussing centralist policies; they should heed the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John) who has referred constantly to the present administration being a dictatorship politically in respect of the States. The dominance of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and those near him is clearly in evidence in what has occurred in Australia recently. There is a lack of communication between the Commonwealth and the States and a lack of communication between the Commonwealth and local government. There is no understanding of the urgent needs of development. Frustration is felt by local government leaders, by regional bodies and chambers of commerce, at the Government’s failure to halt the drift from the country towns to the cities.
Since the introduction of the Budget the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has spoken of his desire to ease the incidence of income taxation. Surely this is a matter that should have received attention before now. The Budget is a discouraging document for those interested in the development of Australia. It contains no provisions for new major work programmes. I emphasise the word ‘new’. Other works programmes which have come into being have been brought forward at the time of a Senate election or some by-election or when some political issue of outstanding significance has demanded that the Commonwealth Government should act. I put it to the House that there is need for development in Australia.
The Government has failed to put a ceiling on the prices of the raw materials that are required for Australian industry. Overseas companies, let it be noted, have gained a rich reward from the quarrying and mining of our natural resources. Few nations are so blessed as Australia with such immense reserves of raw materials essential for the industrialisation of a country and the sound development of manufacturing industries. Our resources, wisely used, are vital to our nation building. If Australian manufacturers are to win world markets they should commence with a price advantage for the metals and minerals used by them. Instead of providing funds for large scale development projects for water conservation, transport facilities, power stations and industrial enterprises, the Government is content to leave the exploitation of our country and its resources to foreign owned and foreign dominated companies. It is well that we ponder this matter to see what is actually occurring. It has happened in a most serious way in respect of the price of copper.
In yesterday’s ‘Financial Review’ is a report that manufacturers plan to stabilise copper prices. This is a scandalous state of affairs, for the price of copper affects every man, woman and child in Australia. It affects every sector of the economy. Whether a person is using electricity, plumbing or an industrial machine he is affected by the price of copper. In Australia there are people engaged in the export trade who require copper for their manufacturing processes, but there is no stable price. Let honourable members heed this: Since 1st August up to the present date there have been seven increases in the price of copper. How can an industrialist plan a fixed and sound price in a quotation when the price of copper is allowed to increase in this fantastic fashion? The ‘Financial Review’ report stated:
The domestic copper price has again been lifted to a new record by the Australian Copper Producers’ Association.
The new price, up by lc a lb, is 67c a lb. It was effective from Saturday.
The domestic copper price increase is the seventh this month, and follows rising prices of the metal on the London Metal Exchange.
This should not be the situation in Australia. If we are to build up a vigorous export industry we should determine the price at which copper is to be sold in Australia. Earlier in the week the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ indicated that copper had increased in price five times since 1st August. I note with interest that Dr I. E. Newnham, head of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Division of Mineral Chemistry, has called for a set of national priorities to develop Australia’s mineral resources. Of course there should be priorities for Australian minerals. The Australian manufacturer should not be compelled to join a queue for Australian minerals at prices fixed by the London Metal Exchange. If it is good enough for the United States of America to fix prices for its minerals it should be good enough for Australia to do likewise.
Costs and prices are important items to all Australians and in this arena a government worthy of the name should make a start by reducing costs. There is no section in the community which would not profit from such action. Primary industries and service industries undoubtedly would profit as would our manufacturing industries. This would provide a great stimulus and would help our export industry. The raw material belongs to the people of Australia and they should have the first opportunity of deriving benefit from it It is important to our defence undertakings and to our defence establishment. I hope that a government, some time in the future, may take action along the lines I nave suggested. I believe that a Labor government would act promptly in protecting Australia’s interests in such matters and associated matters. The Australian people must decide whether our resources are to be used for Australian industry or whether they are to continue to feed the furnaces of our competitors with cheap raw materials. The first call must be for our own industries. I make a plea to this dying Parliament that action be taken without further delay to correct the situation.
We have need for conservation and need for development. Every time we raise these subjects we are told: ‘But we have the Copeton Dam and the Ord River scheme’. Of course we have, but the great need in Australia is for a continuing policy for water conservation. One of the major examples of the success of Labor in government was the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. This major organisation represented a major step forward in the planned development of Australia. Its achievements have won world-wide acclaim, yet tremendous tasks of water conservation, for which it was established, lack a continuing policy and programme.
In the west of New South Wales the Barwon-Darling Water Association has been formed. Other organisations have been set up. They are pleading with the Government to act in respect of the Darling River. The Government makes some funds available, but not sufficient is being done.
Many national works are calling for immediate action, but one of the most important and urgent is the Darling River system. The Commonwealth government of the future, after the election - and I hope it will be a Labor government - should give this project a high priority in its water conservation programme. The Darling River serves four of the five mainland States of Australia. It derives its water primarily from Queensland and New South Wales. It can be supplemented by the flood waters of coastal rivers on the north coast of New South Wales. The river makes a tremendous contribution to the development of Australia. This scheme would also help to deal with the problem of flood mitigation on the north coast of New South Wales. I acknowledge the outstanding work of the county councils. Their flood mitigation work has been developed over the years. These bodies at the outset received little consideration, help or encouragement from the Commonwealth Government. There is need for partnership n all these matters and I hope that when Labor comes to office in the foreseeable future it will foster co-operation between Commonwealth, State and local government authorities and between private enterprise and public enterprise and so develop in this country the type of industry that will lead to increased strength and serve to satisfy the needs of our people.
I am concerned about the decentralisation of industry’ and the lack of consideration shown to people in the country areas. Outside the dazzling lights of the capital cities, the Government is blind to the conditions that exist. It is contemptuous of the problems and the needs of people living in country cities and towns. Despite the valiant efforts of community leaders in country areas to attract new industries, to provide jobs and to halt the flow of people from the country to the uneconomic swollen capital cities, the Government refuses to act. Decentralisation, with all it connotes for the dispersal of industry and population to country centres, is only vaguely remembered by this Government at election time. What more damning evidence is there than the shameful record of the CommonwealthState Officials Committee on Decentralisation? It was established after the Premiers Conference in 1964 and since then in 5 years has met on only three occasions.
Those meetings were in the years 1965, 1966 and 1969. Decentralisation will never become a fact until governments, Federal and State, legislate to make it a reality.
Resource development, not plunder, is the basic requirement. What was done by the Chifley Labor Government in the establishment of the Bell Bay aluminium project by a partnership of Federal and State governments may well be repeated and extended. Other nations, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy, have adopted positive policies for the dispersal of industries. A prime consideration should be that industry should be established where raw materials are available. Incentives should be provided by granting such concessions as a reduction of telephone charges. Country people have to bear the burdens created by freight charges. They are called upon to pay freight when they send their goods to market and again when they receive the manufactured goods back from the city. All these factors make conditions in the countryside extremely difficult. In addition, the Commonwealth Government has not helped country areas by deciding recently to reduce the percentage of funds made available to shire councils for road construction and reconstruction. Reducing the amount of the overall grant from 40% to 29% has dealt a very serious blow to the people in country districts. Positive, dramatic action is needed - urgently needed - and the platitudinous remarks of Commonwealth Ministers on this subject are not good enough.
I close with a plea for something to be done to build the strength of our tourist industry. Perhaps of all our industries, the tourist trade offers the best opportunities and advantages for Australia. It is valuable for our internal economy, as it is capable of securing foreign exchange. We have a beautiful country with many splendid tourist attractions, and these need assistance. The old world has something to offer to the new; the new world has something to offer to the old. But all this is not enough. We must make our attractions more accessible by providing sealed roads. Money is needed for this and for works that will add to the attractiveness and enhance the beauty of Austraiian scenes. To do this, funds should be made available to the State and local government authorities for certain specified and approved works. Furthermore, those engaged in providing accommodation should be given grants extending over long periods at low interest so that they can bring their accommodation up to the standard required by overseas visitors. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). It is thoughtful and deals with the current situation.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8 p.m.
– The Budget that was brought down by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has, if it has done nothing else, completely taken the wind out of the sails of Opposition members and their confusion is evident to everybody. Not only has provision been made for tremendous improvements in social service benefits, education and many other fields but also the estimated deficiency has been almost eliminated. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) had to resort to all sorts of tactics to try to cover the confusion that prevailed in his Party. I want first to deal with education and to congratulate the Government and the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on the substantial improvement in Commonwealth aid for education in all fields. There has been an increase of 38% in the money made available for education, making a grand total of $265m - quite a large amount of money in anybody’s language. Increased payments to the States have been of the order of $!65m or 53%, and it is interesting to note that of that $165m $24.5m went to independent schools - not a very large amount as some would have us believe.
It should be remembered that in the New South Wales State school system it costs at least $330 to provide for each child and the amount provided for the independent schools is very small indeed in comparison. I agree, of course, that there is a greater need still in education, a need for much more support and much more finance. In my own State of New South Wales this has been aggravated by years of neglect by the former Labor Government and the introduction of the Wyndham scheme with practically no preparation in teacher training or in building and the present State Government has done an excellent job in endeavouring to catch up with that great backlog. But there is a very definite need for closer liaison between the Commonwealth Government and the States in regard to education. There is a need for better use of buildings and equipment. For instance, in the provision of science equipment there seems to be no proper method of requisitioning requirements, in particular for high schools. There is a very great waste of equipment at the present time and I have taken this up with the Minister on more than one occasion.
Quite a number of high schools in my electorate have been provided with very sophisticated equipment which they cannot handle and which they do not understand. Even senior science masters have told me that with the training they have been given they cannot use or understand this equipment. This is tragic in this time of shortage of funds and something should be done. A principal has told me of one ridiculous incident concerning an application for a dozen bunsen burners. He waited 1 8 months and then received 12 dozen which he would not use in many years. I do not think we can afford to accept this lack of liaison and the consequent waste. There is a tendency, too, to concentrate purely on the academic side of education. We should, I feel, give greater emphasis and status to the skilled man and the skilled artisan. For instance, I have been trying to persuade the Federal Government to support the State Government in setting up a shearing school at Cootamundra but the Government has sidestepped this issue over and over again, despite the fact that the State Government has given full support to the scheme.
I hold letters of confirmation from practically every rural organisation, the State Minister for Agriculture and the Director of Technical Education, all supporting the establishment of such a school and the State Government says that it is prepared to staff and run the school. All we need at the moment to get this very important school off the ground is some assistance from the Federal Government towards living away from home allowances but, as I say, so far the Government has sidestepped this very important issue. I do not think there is anything more important to this country than training artisans particularly in what is still our greatest export industry. I would point out before I go much further into the field of education that already the New
South Wales Government is doing an outstanding job. It is spending somewhere in the vicinity of 43% of revenue and about 33% of loan funds on education. There is a great need for more buildings. There is no question about this. There is a still greater need for teacher training, but trained teachers cannot be created overnight. This is something that takes time and I believe there is room for the introduction pf some type of crash educational training pf teachers. I know many teachers - not all, but many - who would be prepared to give some of their free time - and some teachers have quite a lot of free time - to study during their vacations, for instance, to fit them for some of the subjects which they have to teach and for which they have not been adequately trained.
I had a deputation from some teachers at Young, which is in my electorate, who pointed out to me that very few of the teachers in the high school at Young have been trained to teach the subjects which they are endeavouring to teach. I think something could be done in the form of a crash programme to help them at least until such time as we get a greater number of trained teachers. I believe that too many students are aiming at or being pushed on to academic standards which they cannot achieve, and a great many young people would be better off if they moved into apprenticeships at perhaps an earlier age. A good deal of the neuroses that we find amongst the senior classes of school children are, I am sure - and this is supported by many inspectors - due to this pressure of having to do school work that is beyond the ability of the children. I cannot stress too highly the importance of the skilled man. We all want to make swans out of our children but it is the ducks that deliver the goods and we need more of the people who can deliver the goods.
I believe that the Government has broken through in a really worthwhile manner in the field of social services, particularly with the introduction of the tapered means test. Now that it is seeping through to people just what this really means they are gratified £t what the Government has done in regard to the tapered means test, especially at the way it will help the man on superannuation vho previously was excluded from all sorts of benefits, if not all benefits. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) and the Government have made a really genuine attempt to try to cover the areas of greatest need. The general raising of pensions across the board, the lifting of the TPI pension to $2.50 a week, the raising of widows’ and war widows’ pensions, increases in repatriation and Service pensions of all kinds, increases in unemployment and sickness benefits and the free health insurance scheme for those families which have an income not exceeding $39 a week must all be of tremendous importance.
But there is one other field that I believe the Government must look at very closely, and that is the introduction of some type of dental health scheme. This is of vital importance to people with large families, particularly those on the lower income scale. Only last week I received a petition containing 712 signatures collected by one woman in a railway town in my electorate. She wrote to me on a number of occasions because of the great difficulty her family had had in trying to meet its excessive dental costs. She has a fairly large family which had unfortunately run into quite serious problems as far as dental health was concerned. I commend Mrs Schubach of Junee for the magnificent effort she made. She paid her debts but she went out and collected these signatures because she felt she might be able to help some other people in the area.
I move now to the rural industries. Anybody who has anything to do with the land knows that rural industries are going through a fairly difficult time due to the cost squeeze, and this has been given some recognition in the Budget, but not enough, I believe, because these industries have no cost plus system and no tariff wall to work behind. They have to trade on the world markets, and it cannot be questioned that Australia’s greatest industries are still her rural industries. The great rural industries have been, are today and will be for a long time to come the backbone of this nation. Without the tremendous inflow of foreign capital that we have been enjoying over the last few years, our balance of payments would be in a disastrous state today. It is interesting to note that that tremendous inflow of overseas capital is showing signs now of easing, as it must and as it will.
We will find that minerals are not the complete answer. Those of us on the land will be called upon to lift our production again to earn more export income. Minerals are not the complete answer. We have had mineral booms before although perhaps never as big as this one. A statement made by a spokesman for the Conzinc Riotinto organisation should be a warning to all Australians who have been carried away completely by the importance of minerals. That spokesman said that within 12 months his company at Bougainville probably could produce double the amount of copper produced in Australia today. Minerals are to be found in many other places. Many other countries with low wage work forces will provide minerals. We could find that this great bonanza is not all that it has been boosted up to be. Minerals can be discovered anywhere.
Another point that needs emphasis is that many of our great mineral enterprises employ little labour. Those who have seen some of the great mineral enterprises know they can load 100,000 tons of ore on to a ship using only six men. A company can operate a pelletting plant worth $28m with ten men working around the clock. These industries are not employing large numbers of people. Employment of people in this country is important to the primary producer as it is to the wage earner. There is no limit to what minerals can be produced. There is a limit to what can be manufactured. There is a limit also to good land. Good agricultural and pastoral land is limited. It is worth noting that while man lives he must eat and he must be clothed. I forecast that rural industries will come into their own again. They should not be neglected in this period of difficulty.
It is true that rural industries are very efficient indeed. Despite this great cost problem, the fact that they have no tariff wall to stand behind and do not have any cost plus system such as secondary industries enjoy, rural industries have been able to increase their production tremendously. If the policy of the Australian Labor Party, particularly a section of the ALP, was put into force, these costs would rise. If the Australian Labor Party were in power, these costs would rise tremendously. I wish to quote again something that was said by my colleague, the honourable member for
Calare (Mr England) on another occasion here. I ask, as he asked: How many secondary industries would be solvent today if they were getting the same price for their product today as they received IS years ago bearing in mind the present cost structure? That is what we have been doing. Not one of them would be solvent. But this is what primary industries have been doing. In the last 10 years, primary industries have doubled their production with a 20% drop in the workforce.
We have seen a tremendous distortion of facts by the city Press. An article in the Land’ shows what I mean by that statement. This article is by a man who is very experienced in finance and in industry as well as in the rural field. He said:
In view of the utterly irresponsible rubbish that has been appearing in some sections of the city Press about the current situation of the wheat industry and its marketing problems, growers would do well to take notice of the basic facts of the situation as re-stated by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Anthony . . .
Mr Anthony pointed out, ‘no matter what happens on the world scene … the Australian wheat grower will continue to receive $1.70 a bushel for his domestic sales, and he will continue to receive $1.45 per bushel for his export sales up to ‘200 million bushels, and he will get a first advance of $1.10 per bushel on deliveries up to 357 bushels from his next crop’.
. The stabilisation plan gives the wheal industry an assured return over the next 5 years of at least S2,000ro. No other Australian industry, primary or secondary, is receiving anything like the Government backing that is being accorded the wheat industry.
Growers need to be on guard against swallowing the guff that is being dished out by people who conceive it to be their duty to bash the wheal industry and any Government that supports it.
I think that one of the greatest examples of the distortion of the real facts by the metropolitan Press was its reporting of a recent wheat meeting in my electorate at Temora. It was a completely irresponsible report. This meeting was given tremendous publicity. What happened there? The Press said that the Leader of the Opposition spoke at that meeting. He was not there. He did not bother even to turn up. He got somebody to read his speech. That person did not read it very well either. His attitude was: Don’t worry about the pagans in Hume; just let somebody read my speech’.
The shadow Minister for Primary Industry is the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). Where was he? He was missing also. His speech was read by an aspiring politician who did not know a grain of wheat from a grain of barley. It was a good day for me when the shadow Minister for Primary Industry gave him that speech to read. A careful list of the wheat growers in the actual Temora district showed that there were only seventeen genuine Temora wheat growers there. But ISO personal invitations to this meeting were distributed in my district. The only two wheat growers at the meeting were two whom I sent to see what it was all about. Most of the people who went to that meeting were so disgusted that they left the meeting after lunch. Quite a number of those at the meeting were not wheat growers but were supporters of the ALP brought up by the Tivoli actor from Mumimbidgee.
I have said that the future of primary industry is sound. I believe that in the long run the prospects for primary industry are sound. But problems exist. One of these problems is storage. We must have more storage. We are a bit like the grocer who has no stores on his shelves. We must have more storage. Of course, we will pay for it. The growers will pay for it just as they pay for all storage costs. We must keep our heads here. We cannot have unlimited storage as I have heard members of the Opposition suggest.
Of course, the opportunists are trying to take advantage of the present problems in the wheat industry. The Leader of the Opposition is one of those who is trying to climb in. He is suddenly weeping tears of blood for the pagans. The shadow Minister for Primary Industry is showing more concern all of a sudden for wheat growers. He is the man who entered Parliament by climbing on the misery of sugar growers when the sugar industry was in great distress. He was the man who opposed all the hard work carried out by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) when he was trying to obtain a world price for sugar. When he succeeded with the result that the price of sugar has more than doubled today, the shadow Minister for Primary Industry strongly opposed and criticised what had been done.
We recall that inglorious episode that occurred in another place when the Leader of the Opposition there (Senator Murphy) tried to wreck Australia’s greatest market for wheat. I refer to the Chinese wheat market. He did not even know what it was all about when he suggested that we were selling cheap wheat to China. He did not even know that much of this wheat was second and third grade wheat that we could not sell anywhere else. I wonder what has happened about the great noise that he made? We have not heard much from him lately. Other Labor members have criticised from time to time the sale of Australian wheat to China. It is well known in the country districts that this has happened.
I wonder who this shadow Minister for Primary Industry is anyway? Is he the man who is the only spokesman on the Opposition side on primary industry? Honourable members recall the recent stabilisation Bill that was before the House. Only one speaker from the Opposition side took part in that debate. He spoke several time> in Committee. In that debate we had eight Country Party speakers, one of our Liberal friends and one speaker from the Opposition. This is understandable because not one member of the Labor shadow cabinet would have any practical knowledge of rural problems or of rural industry. They are all theorists.
– I have.
– Well, I reckon that the honourable member for Grayndler would know as much as most. The shadow Minister for Primary Industry is a former bureaucrat. He has never grown a bushel of anything in his life. He has never lost a drop of sweat in practical farming. Yet he wants to tell us what to do. The country is full of experts. Some of them are good. Some of them are not too good at all. I do not think any practical farmer would like to see the shadow Minister for Primary Industry in charge of his property. He would be bankrupt in no time.
What would the Australian Labor Party do if it came into power? I wish to issue a warning to wheat growers. I can assure them that one of the first actions of the Labor Party would be to repudiate the 5-year wheat guarantee. It would repudiate the $2,000m guarantee over 5 years. That would be the most certain thing it would do. The Australian Labor Party would wreck the wheat industry stabilisation scheme. The Labor Party has not even asked wheat growers what they want to do. I do not know what it takes wheat growers for. Are they to be taken as peasants or as pagans, as the Leader of the Opposition has called them? The Labor Party wants to dictate to the wheat grower. It wants to tell the wheat grower what it will do with his wheat. The Australian wheat growers fought for many years to gain control of the wheat industry, and they have control of it. The quota plan is not a Government plan, it is a wheat growers’ plan. It is not a bureaucrat’s plan. The Australian Wheat Board is grower controlled as are the grain elevator boards throughout the various States. They are yie organisations which drew up, in conjunction with the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation, the quota plan in the interests of the Australian wheat grower. Did the Leader of the Australian Labor Party or that Party’s shadow minister for primary industry consult the rural industries or rural organisations? Of course they did hot, because given the opportunity they would socialise the means of distribution, production and exchange and take our wheat and sell it at their price.
Just have a look at the record of the Scullin government, which sold our wheat to New Zealand. Over a period of 5 years 18 million bushels of wheat were sold to New Zealand at 9/6 sterling for the first year and not more than 5/9 for the next 4 years. At that time the world parity price of wheat per bushel was between 17/- and 17/6. That is what a Labor government did with our wheat then and that is what it would do with it again. How can the wheat grower expect sympathy from a Party which is dependent almost solely for its support on city dwellers? No wheat grower would suggest that he would hand over his hard-won independence to a Socialist Party. Mr Chifley once said: Socialism will not work without direction of labour. If I wanted to place 1,000 men in the Snowy River area I must have the power to send them there, otherwise Socialism will not work*. We should remember what a former honourable member for Corio, Mr Dedman, said: ‘We do not want to build a race of little capitalists by encouraging everybody to build their own home’ - much less own their own farm, of course. We should remember also the one vote one value proposition. Every member on the Opposition side supported one vote one value. This would destroy the representation of the country districts; it would reduce it by at least one third. Having used the wheat growers and reduced them to a race of peasants a Labor government would forget all about them.
More storage facilities for wheat are urgently required, but the wheat growers will decide where to place them and how to use them. There are plenty of generous people prepared to give away our wheat. We have again heard the Opposition, and in particular its one and only spokesman on primary industry, the shadow Minister, utter a lot of nonsense about drought feeding, suggesting that there is no machinery for providing wheat for starving stock. It is well known that any State government can come to the Commonwealth Government and get finance to provide cheap wheat for fodder, just as Victoria did successfully. The Labor Party does not even know the basic economics of feeding stock in Queensland. If you speak to any western Queensland grazier he will tell you that the quickest way to go broke is to feed in a drought because the droughts often last so long. It is practically impossible to successfully feed in a drought period in many areas in Queensland.
As a matter of fact one of my neighbours who purchased cattle up there only last week filled his transport with hay before going there but on arrival he was told that they did not want it there because it caused more trouble than enough in that the stock congregated around the water holes and there they stayed and died. The only chance of saving the stock was to move them out in small numbers so that they could fossick for food. However, this is something that is beyond the knowledge of the shadow cabinet of the Opposition which has no practical experience of these problems. One worthwhile solution to this problem is to get as many stock out of the drought area as possible before they become too weak to move.
The decision to give some relaxation in probate duty as far as the rural industry is concerned is a really worthwhile advantage to the grazier. It will be of tremendous help to the small farmer. It is not at all adequate, but at least it is a foot in the door. The superphosphate subsidy has benefited the grazing industry much more than the wheat industry because only about 24% of all superphosphate used is used in the production of wheat. The Government has given tremendous assistance to graziers and wool growers by way of research and with depreciation on plant and equipment so they can make it economically attractive to make provision for drought. This Government has to do a great deal more to encourage meat exports. Australia needs new meat markets. I would like to instance the enterprise of Conkey’s meat works which is in my own electorate. This works exports lamb during the winter months to Canada. Forty hours after the lambs are slaughtered at the abattoirs at Cootamundra the meat is available in the shops in Canada. This is the type of enterprise we have in our rural industries.
The prosperity of every country town depends on the success of rural industries and the development of new meat markets. What is militating against the development of new meat markets and what is annoying to the men in the meat industry, in particular the slaughtermen, is the restriction on slaughtering. Many slaughtermen finish at about 11 o’clock in the morning, although they want to go on and they want to earn more money. However, under union, policy they are not allowed to do so. Why do militant left wing unions object to a democratic secret ballot? The men in the industry want to have a ballot but they are afraid to demand it. Decentralisation is something which has received tremendous support in New South Wales, and it is something which is developing prosperous country towns. The town of Young in my electorate has the largest steel works outside Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. This steel works can purchase basic steel in Wollongong, take it to Young, process it, send the product back to Wollongong and compete in tender prices with the Wollongong manufacturers. That is the sort of work force that we have in the country. It is a successful work force.
Do not tell me that these people do not support the Country Party candidates. Nearly every successful country town is represented by a member of the Country
Party both on a Federal basis and on a State basis. The town of Cowra is growing at a faster percentage rate than is Sydney. What we want is encouragement and assistance in a practical economic field. When the report of the New South Walts decentralisation committee first came out the New South Wales Government on the same day increased freight by 5%. To the growers that means 10% because they will have to pay 5% increase on both incoming and outgoing traffic. We need a flat rate for telephones in country districts. This would be of tremendous assistance. It is essential to have better communications for those who are living in the country. There should be taxation on a reducing scale as one moves further out into country areas. These are the types of things that would be of tremendous aid to the country people. We want better communications and better roads.
I read very carefully the report on the Canberra to Tumut road, which is a very good report, and the only thing which I found wrong with that report is that it says that it is not economic to build a road from Canberra to Tumut because according to the Government experts the cost would be Sim. Damn it all1, the Warringah Expressway cost $3m a mile. The Canberra to Tumut road would be 70 miles long and if this road were constructed it would open up a tourist area and a productive area which would be unmatched anywhere else. Yet the Government has said that Sim is too much to spend on it.
Petrol should be brought down to a flat rate, and this is something that we have been fighting for for a long time. We need better air services. I want to point to the most successful commuter air service in New South Wales, Masling Airlines, which is based in my electorate. This airline was built up by a man who, when I first came out of the Army into the district, was head mechanic in a garage. Today he has one of the most effective and progressive airlines in New South Wales, and it means much to the district. Water reticulation is urgently needed, not only for industry in the towns but for the rural areas too, and a great deal more could be done here in providing long term loans.
This Budget is a good one, but of course it has not gone far enough with its benefits to country people. The Budget does not fully recognise the fact that we in the country areas have been struggling with a cost problem for many years, but the very worst thing that could happen from the point of view of the wheat grower would be for a socialist government to take over. If this were to happen we would lose control of the industry, costs would soar, we would become the peasants, the peons, that the Leader of the Opposition is so fond of calling us.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I consider that something can be said in very considerable measure about the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), the Labor Party shadow minister for primary industry. In my 14 years in this Parliament I have never known anyone to cause the Australian Country Party to get up and do something as the honourable member for Dawson has done. I have never known the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) to be so alive as he has been in his speech tonight. It seems to me that if it had not been for what the honourable member for Dawson has done in his submissions to this Parliament in recent years the honourable member for Hume, as usual, would have been dull and silent both in his speeches and in his occupancy of the Country Party benches. I would allow the public to be left to judge the performance of the honourable member for Dawson by the stimulated performance of the members of the Country Party who, until the honourable member for Dawson came here, hardly had any constructive submissions to make to this Parliament. The honourable member for Dawson deserves considerable credit for having caused the Country Party to get into action for a change.
I propose to analyse the Budget not in sophisticated terms but in simple terms that relate to the position of the average citizen. Whenever the Australian Labor Party puts up proposals to finance social welfare, increase the pensions, make a better health service or remove the education crisis - things that affect every section of the Australian community, city and country alike - the Liberal-Country Party leaders raise the same old chorus: ‘Where is the money coming from?’ and unfortunately they manage to persuade thousands of people who badly need Labor’s reforms that they cannot be paid for. But under Liberal-Country Party governments the Commonwealth Budget has become the greatest device for taking money from the people that has ever existed in Australia. In 1949-50, the first year of office of the Liberal-Country Party coalition, the Government took $2,487m in taxation from the people. This year it plans to take from the people $6,237m in taxation. That is not a bad performance for politicians who always want to know where the money is coming from.
The main question in Australia for Budget politics is not that of the government being able to get money; it is the question as to how the money is to be spent. This is where the differences lie between the Liberal-Country Party coalition and the Australian Labor Party. It is the internal matters - I will leave external matters for argument between the Australian Democratic Labor Party, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) - that will really concern the Australian people in the coming election. The lack of problems experienced by the Australian Government in getting money is displayed by a few figures which show that the Australian Government’s income rises far more rapidly than that of most people or sections of the people. Let us take 1959-60 as the year for comparison. If any other year were taken, the result would not differ very much. The Government’s income from pay as you earn taxation, that is its income from the ordinary people, was $546m in 1959-60 and S 1,727m in 1968-69. Or if we take an index of 100 for 1959-60, in 1968-69 the figure was 316, an increase of 216%. The LiberalCountry Party coalition did not prove as ready to take money from everyone as it was ready to take money in taxation from ordinary people.
Figures for other forms of taxation are as follows: Taxation on companies has increased by 133% as compared to an increase in taxation from the ordinary people of 216%. Customs tax has increased by 106%, excise by 78%, and sales tax by 50%, again as compared to a 216% increase in tax from the ordinary people.
Business has been taxed much less than the ordinary people. This is what we would expect from a business government The increase in the Government’s total income is well illustrated by the index of total tax receipts. They were $2,487m in 1959-60 and $5,437m in 1968-69, an increase of 114%. How does this compare with the increases that have taken place in the income of other people? In the same period national income, as an indication of the incomes of the people as a whole, has risen by only 95%, wage and salary income by 101%, company income by 111% and farm income by 132%. Farmers, of course, had a set back in 1967-68. The increases in national income, wage and salary incomes, company incomes and farm incomes do not give the exact measure of the income of every person. Some incomes have risen much faster than others, and the probability is that high incomes, because of tax evasion, tax avoidance and benefits, have risen much faster than low ones. But it is striking that the Commonwealth Government’s income has risen by 114% since 1959-60, compared to an increase of 95% in national income as a whole, 101% in wage and salary income, 100% in company income and 132% in farm income.
The more rapid increases in the income of the Commonwealth Government are built in because taxation rates increase as income increases, and income in Australia has increased because of population increase and because of increases in productivity and inflation. Having a guaranteed more rapid increase in income than any other section of the nation, the Commonwealth Government has no problem about where the money will come from. As Sir Henry Bolte recently said: ‘In Canberra they have money running out of their ears’. We would expect, because of this extremely favourable built-in advantage in finding the money, that the Commonwealth Government would be able to increase its expenditure more rapidly than other sections of the community. This is what has happened: Total Commonwealth Government expenditure in 1959-60 was $3,030m and in 1968-69 it was $6,514m, an increase of 115%. As a comparison, personal consumption expenditure has risen by only 80%. But gross private investment expenditure has done even better; it has increased by 118%. The ordinary citizen, who spends most of his income on consumption, that is buying goods and services in the course of normal living, and whose increase in expenditure over this period is only 80%, would have had fewer worries about where the money comes from if he had had enough coming in to increase his expenditure by 115%, as did the Commonwealth, or by 118% as did businesses in their investment programmes, factories, offices, banks and so on.
These increases reveal that the question is not as to where the money is to come from but how it is to be spent by the Government. This is where the difference lies between the Liberal-Country Party coalition, which is kept in office by DLP preferences at the expense of most of the DLP supporters, and the Australian Labor Party. Before we look at how the Liberal-Country Party coalition has chosen to spend money, let us look again at how it is raised. The Government raised this money by taking it at a far higher rate from ordinary citizens who pay taxation as they earn than it did directly or indirectly from companies or other business interests. In the raising of money there is a built in bias against the ordinary citizen and in favour of business. The smaller your income as an ordinary citizen and the bigger it is as a business, the more marked the bias will be. This is precisely what one would expect from a Government of this kind, made up of people who have been in business or who identify themselves with business. I refer to people who are in the Liberal Party which dominates the scene - the Country Party follows - and who obtain their funds from businessmen or from business concerns.
The question that I think we have to look at now is: How does the Commonwealth Government spend its money? I have indicated in this examination that there is no real problem in getting money in this country. There is no real problem regarding where the money is coming from. It is coming to the Commonwealth Government at a rate some 30% more rapidly than it has come to any other section of the community. There is no problem about this. The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) has experienced this kind of problem, because his charges are not escalated at a progressive rate, as the income of the Government as a whole is escalated. The question is: How does the Government spend its money? This is the difference between honourable members on this side of the House and honourable members opposite. This is really what the coming election and every other election in this country is fought on, as far as internal questions are concerned.
The most rapid rate of increase in Government spending between 1959-60 and 1968-69 was, of course, on war and defence. In 1959-60, the figure was $390m, and in 1968-69 it had risen to $l,165m, an increase of 198%. Can anyone who knows of that fantastic increase in Government spending ever again seriously ask the question: Where is the money coming from? But next to defence, as we would expect, we find the next highest rate of increase in spending is in Commonwealth departmental running expenses, where the increase was 1 83 % . No wonder the Commonwealth Government has created an establishment mind in Canberra, particularly in the higher echelons of that body, still called the ‘Public Service’. There has been a field as vast for empire building in the Public Service as the one time Minister for Supply, the now retiring Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has been able to preside over in those fields.
– Does that include business undertakings?
– No. It does not include business undertakings. Business undertakings have been favourably situated compared with some other categories of expenditure, but not as favourably situated as that. I think that this is something about which the Postmaster-General himself ought to be concerned, because he has not kept pace.
– With what?
– With the expansion of other Commonwealth departments.
– You cannot spend money lor the sake of spending it.
– No. But the PostmasterGeneral could find many things on which to spend money - not just for the sake of spending it. One only has to see what sort of services the PostmasterGeneral’s Department still fails to provide tq appreciate that, and the PostmasterGeneral would agree with that.
– Half the public telephones are out of action, and there are thousands of people still requiring telephones.
– That is right. There is no question about that, I am sure. The increase in expenditure for the National Welfare Fund was 98% in the period to which I referred, compared with the increase in expenditure of 198% for war and defence and 183% for the expansion of Commonwealth departments. Payments to or for the States have increased by a little more than 123%. But Commonwealth expenditure for State works and housing has increased by a low 61%, and even for the Commonwealth’s own capital purposes, works and services, expenditure has increased by only 71%. The rate of expenditure increase on education has, compared with these figures, been good, as have been the figures for some other forms of public authority expenditure.
But in dealing with the question: ‘Where is the money coming from?’ not only should we recognise that the Commonwealth Government has a built in device for getting money at a much faster rate than almost anyone else in Australia, except for the large business corporations, but we must not overlook the fact that the Government has, in recent years, embraced deficit financing at a rate never before contemplated in Australia. Table 1 on page 91 of Hansard of 12th August 1969 shows that in every year since 1959-60 there has been a deficit on current account. The accumulated deficit between that year and 1968-69 was approximately $3,474m. Not only this, but the deficits have varied widely from those that were estimated by the Government.
In 1959-60 the estimate was $122m and the actual deficit was $234m. In 1961-62 the estimated deficit was within Sim of the actual, but the following year the deficit was $256m and the actual $41 5m. In 1963-64 the two figures were $536m and $419m. while in 1964-65 the estimate was $5 12m and the actual SI 82m. In 1965-66 the estimate was Si 12m and the actual $255m. In 1966-67 the estimate was $533m and the actual S642m. In 1968-69 the estimated deficit was $547m and the actual was $385m. If the business men who fill the benches opposite were associated with businesses which were making estimates like that, what would they have to say about those businesses?
I do not know whether the Government regards this as a good record of estimating deficits. I do not know whether the Government considers its deficits have been in any real way a result of an anti-cyclical policy - dampening inflationary tendencies when they were expected or stimulating the economy if it were thought it would drag a bit - or whether it thinks they are, as the Treasurer suggests, the result of a growth policy. But if they are the result of a growth policy we would need to define ‘growth* in a way that does not appear anywhere in the post-Keynesian text books. If by ‘growth* we mean responding to sectional pressures for increased spending on things like defence, or for increased spending before an election to help re-elect the Government, or for more money for big businesses to invest and take over other businesses, then the Budget policy of the last 10 years has been the result of a growth policy.
But as the percentages show, the growth that has taken place has been very much greater in some places than in others - and these were the places from which pressures on the Government came. We can say therefore that the Government’s growth policy does not accord with the principles we might find in the academic text books. When growth was needed in defence or in Government departments, there was no difficulty in finding the money. Money Sowed in and deficits were ready at hand. But to make up for the deficits money had to be borrowed, and borrowing policy shows up a ready tendency to turn to the printing presses for more money. The Government has never hesitated to turn to the printing presses, for that is what is concealed in the jargon of Treasury bills’ and ‘notes’ and in references to sinking funds. The Government has also turned to other places to borrow, and this involved just as much the creation of new money by the banking system.
The Government turned more and more to the so-called institutional lenders who were able, by their banking powers, to create money to lend to the Government. Not only did this involve a money creating process to some extent, but it involved borrowing at higher rates of interest than the Government would have had to pay had it borrowed the same amount from the Reserve Bank. When the Government could not borrow enough from its institutional lenders in Austrafia - whose pressures no doubt induced the Government to borrow more from them than from the Reserve Bank - it turned to borrowing from foreign lenders. Much of this foreign borrowing was the result of the submissive way in which defence equipment was bought. The most stark example of this submissiveness by the Government was its open ended contract for the F trouble one.
But at any rate in addition to its built-in money escalator which very much answers the question ‘Where is the money coming from?’, this so-called ‘sound finance government’ that conservatives such as the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) look at with such fond eyes, turned readily to deficits when that was not enough, used the printing press when it was necessary and always tended to borrow from the more expensive private lenders than from the Reserve Bank. The net effect on inflation or deflation was probably no different or at any rate indiscernible. Anyone who imagines that Keynesian or any other kind of economic policy has been behind what this Government has done for the last 10 years is certainly naive, and knows nothing of the pressures that have come to win votes and to answer to needs of sections in a purely political context. If the Government considers it has embraced growth policy, it is a policy of irrational, unplanned growth, the result of political and business pressures on the Government and not the result of any system of priorities arrived at in the public interest.
No government has a right to extract about one-quarter of the national income from the people and to use so extensively deficit financing unless it does publicly state its plan of expenditure beforehand so that the people may have a chance of deciding whether or not it is in the public interest. Normally in the flow of income in an economy those who have the most already get the most; those who have the ability to make money get the most and this ability is often nothing but ruthlessness, self-interest or special privilege. But it is to overcome this sort of thing that has predominated under this Government that any kind of public policy about public expenditure has in fact been derived. There may be some excuse or justification when people in a poor country do not have these rights that come from this, but in Australia perhaps as many as one-third of our people do not have these rights. There is no excuse whatever in a wealthy country like Australia for this to continue. It can be changed. Poverty can be removed, and human rights can be realised in these areas by provision of money or income. But perhaps this may not permanently remove poverty or secure human rights. The best way to ensure that poverty is removed and that human rights are permanently secured is by education, to ensure that the skills are acquired to ensure that we have, in fact, a better society.
Whilst we would expect the higher proportion of children of the professional or higher executive type fathers to have an aptitude for education, we would never expect the results that have actually been found in Australia today in the distribution of education opportunities. In 1962 W. C. Radford published the results of an examination of 114,000 students who had left schools in Australia in the preceding year. He found an extraordinary disparity in the university population of students. He found that 23 times as many students were in universities from university professional type families as there were from unskilled and semi-skilled type families. He found that there are 19 times as many from the higher administrative type of families; 13 times as many from other professional type families; and 8 times as many from sales supervisory type families. Further, he found that there were 4 times as many students in universities whose fathers were salesmen than those whose fathers were unskilled or semi-skilled workers. In the case of skilled supervisory people the figure was 5 times as many. This disproportion, which in no way reflects the ability of people in this country to benefit from education, is the dominating factor in the structure of the occupational results in Australian universities. This is a fantastic figure of inequality in education results.
It is probably true that no other country of comparable development has a greater degree of inequality in the composition of its tertiary students than does Australia. This, of course, is a result of inequality, discontinuance or dropout in the course of the educational career of students. A. C. Staples recently published some results for Western Australian schools. A summary of the results can be given in this way. He found that 12,391 students began in government secondary schools in 1963. In 1967 only 2,194 were still there. This was a wastage of 82%. Also, he found that in Roman Catholic schools, 2,533 students began in 1963. In 1967 only 727 students were still there - a dropout rate of 71%. But in other independent schools - the welltodo schools - he found that 1,032 students began in 1963 and 821 were there in 1967. This was a wastage of only 20%. I emphasise: There was a wastage of 82% in government schools, 71% in Catholic schools and 20% in other independent schools. Despite this astonishing inequality, the Government has deliberately chosen a policy that will make the situation worse.
In or near my electorate the Government has provided large sums of money for Scotch College. I say good luck to Scotch College and to the people who are fortunate enough to go there. But the Government, on top of that remarkable record, has given Scotch College $100,000 for science facilities and will give it $50 a head for students in the coming year. The amount received by Trinity Grammar, which is just outside of my electorate, is $78,916. But of the government schools in my electorate, only three have received any money at all for additional facilities. Only one school in my electorate - the new Richmond High School - has facilities that the headmaster considers adequate. The others have received only a miserable $1,000 or so. Do not let anyone tell me that State governments are in a position to make up for these deficiencies because State governments do not have a penny more than they are offering in this respect.
I have noted the difference in the rate of payments made to the States. In a period of 10 years there has been an increase of 123% in the field of education as against 198% in the fields of war and defence spending, 183% increase in the spending for Commonwealth departments and so on. It seems clear if problems of poverty are to be removed and if the community is to develop a high level of skill in production and a good society, free, responsible and rational, much if not most depends upon education. But it is - not just a matter of spending more and more money on education. We must first realise that an education policy should be planned to raise those environmental conditions which are unfavourable to education. This means that more must be provided for education in areas where social and family conditions are inadequate. But this either has never been education policy in Australia, or if it has, it has failed miserably. The truth is that in education the position has been the more you have that is favourable to advance in education in your family and social conditions, the more you will be given in the schools to which you attend.
On the other hand, it is in working class or industrial areas where family and social conditions are unfavourable to educational advance that the least is provided in the schools. The coalition Government will provide large grants to private schools leaving government schools in the States so hard pressed for funds that no corresponding advance can possibly be made in these schools. This is no way to take sectarianism out of education. It is no way to take people to a progressive education policy, irrespective of their religion. This is the way to sow increasing discord between people. This is done when $50,000 is given to an exclusive private school and a few miserable dollars is given to a government school. As I said, this is no way to take sectarianism out of education. This is an affront to the mass of the Australian people. It is a policy that, if the Australian people were conscious of their interest or conscious of the kind of consideration that should determine educational policy, they would not accept for 1 minute.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This Budget is said to have been designed as an election Budget. Perhaps that is not a criticism in itself. It is a recognition, at least, that a government is responsible to the electorate which can throw it out, if so inclined, when it reaches the limit of its patience. Whilst democracy continues politicians can scarcely be blamed merely be cause they endeavour to put their best foot forward in an election year. Provided this is done responsibly, positive good may flow from it. The exercise compels the Government to consider the areas of need, to plan ahead and often to open up new paths for beneficent governmental action.
No Budget can be wholly bad. Like the curate’s egg, this Budget is good in parts. It was described in flattering terms in one of our newspapers as ‘bold, hopeful and harmless … a curious blend of political idealism and downright cynicism.’ Where is the idealism? It lies, in the view of the writer, in the expanded social welfare benefits. These we can all welcome, even if we may be critical of particular measures, or the failure to provide for others. In this respect, as in much else, the Budget bears the stamp of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), who, to give him his due, seems to have been activated from the beginning by a genuine desire to expand social services into the area of greatest need. This, I think, even transcended the natural desire - not by any means discreditable in itself - to woo the voters. Where, then, was the cynicism? The cynicism, according to the writer - he is Finance Editor of the ‘Age’ - lay partly in the cut in the defence vote, but mainly, in his view, in the way in which the moneys were to be raised, namely by a continuation of the savage tax rates on the middle income group of taxpayers. With the continuing inflation, the application of these rates, unrevised as they have been for some 15 years, takes an ever increasing bite from the income of the middle income group. This is well described as taxation by stealth. The effective rates are now said to be higher than anywhere else in the world. Thus, according to this writer, the unmentioned victim of Mr McMahon’s cleverly conceived package is the vast and faceless Australian middle class. The writer said:
They will underwrite the Treasurer’s handouts.
Every budget must necessarily represent a compromise, not only as between the competing needs of the community but also as between the needs of various departments and the views of various Ministers. But one fears that in this case the Budget represents not so much a compromise as a capitulation to the Prime Minister’s view. In particular it seems fairly clear from what one reads or is able to infer that the form of the
Budget runs entirely contrary, not only to the views of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and his Department but also to the views of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and the Department of Defence.
The Treasurer concluded his Budget speech with the words:
I think this is one of the best Budgets I have known to be introduced in the 20 years that I have been in the House.
We must allow for a little hyperbole here. The Treasurer’s loyalty to the Prime Minister and the Party has been publicly demonstrated over and over again. This is another demonstration of that loyalty. But it scarcely conceals the Treasurer’s disquiet. The day is surely coming when he and others will have to consider carefully which comes first - their loyalty to their present leader or their loyalty to the Party and, indeed, to the nation. I shall not pretend to a knowledge of economics which goes beyond what I possess, but there have been grave warnings, not only from the Treasurer and Treasury officials, of the inflationary tendency of the Budget. Others disagree with this assessment. In due course, if the warnings of the critics are correct, this situation may have serious consequences, not only for the economy but also for the very same classes of people whom the Budget was supposed to benefit. The chickens will not be coming home to roost before 25th October but there are predictions from well qualified people that this will occur early next year at any rate. We are told that social welfare and subsidy payments could be wiped out because of rising costs and prices within the course of the next year.
The Minister for Defence has declared, since the Budget was introduced, his intention not to stand for re-election, stating that his decision was taken because of his ill health. We are sorry to learn of this decision, all the more so because it is prompted by the Minister’s ill health. We do not doubt that this is an element in his decision and I feel sure that all will join in wishing him better health in his retirement. May it prove a happier time for him. But the Minister accompanied his statement to the Press conference with words which are destined to be historic and well remembered. He said:
Now and then it is necessary to make a liar of yourself in order to save a situation.
Well, as one newspaper remarked: ‘You said it, Mr Fairhall’. We can scarcely be blamed in these circumstances for speculating whether other factors besides ill health may have weighed with the Minister in reaching his decision - factors such as the long struggle to maintain the policy of forward defence to which this Government was previously committed; the conduct of other Ministers, perhaps, in relation to the Fill and the possible cancellation of it; the statement later in the week of the Budget by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) which cut across so much of what the Minister for Defence had been saying to us over the last years; and perhaps not least the cut in the defence appropriation, which is such a significant feature of the Budget; or some one or more of those matters. There can be no doubt at any rate that speculations such as these are worrying many people - certainly many people in my electorate if I may judge from conversations my wife and I have had with them since Mr Fairhall made his historic declaration.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to be moderate in any criticism I make. 1 feel I must say a few further words about this matter of defence. I cannot claim any great expertise in this field but I feel strongly that this is not the time to be making a cut in the defence appropriation. Indeed, it is rather a time at which it should be increased. We have never been placed in a position of greater potential danger than we are today. I agree that no immediate threat appears but at a time like this, when the British forces are being withdrawn and we can no longer place that unquestioning trust in the United States, its capacity or its will to defend us in all1 circumstances, it is incumbent on us to prepare for any eventuality. There are grave deficiencies in all our armed Services, of which we must be acutely aware. No longer is it possible to improvise - to build up defences rapidly - as we did in the First World War and the Second World War. We must plan ahead across many years if we are to be ready to meet the challenge when it comes. The development of strong defence forces would lend credibility to our foreign policy. We have no right to look to the United States or any other ally for its support, unless we are prepared to make a contribution to our own security at least comparable, all things considered, with that of our ally. This we are not doing and have not done.
Unfortunately we should look in vain to the Opposition to remedy this situation, la fact, if the Opposition were in power the situation might get even worse. At least there are some men in the Liberal Party who are aware of the dangers of the present policy. Whether or not they choose to say anything now, they have made their position clear in the past. My confidence that such people remain in the Liberal Party and my hope, which perhaps is a vain one - I hope not - that their views will gain the uppermost in the not too distant future are the principal reasons why I shall still support the present Government. At the same time I wish to make it clear that I and many other past or present supporters of the Liberal Party, and no doubt many others, are gravely concerned at the present turn of our defence policy. There can be no doubt in my view that those who advocate a stronger defence policy and an increased appropriation are showing a higher patriotism and a true appreciation of Australia’s needs than the present Government. Theirs may not be a popular policy in this regard. It may not be calculated to attract voters. It is nonetheless the right policy. We shall pay dearly if we fail to heed what they say. This, I am afraid, is the perennial weakness of democracy - the inability and the unwillingness to face danger or to prepare adequately against it. For the last 5 years this Government bad at least been trying to make up the lost ground. Now it is falling back in the traces again. In so doing it is, I fully believe, betraying the trust reposed in it by the Australian people.
We had placed in our hands this afternoon the ‘Defence Report 1969’. In a section headed ‘Australian Defence’ it reads:
The nations of the region-
South East Asia - are increasingly recognising that they must do more themselves to provide their own security . . Some of the broader objectives of policy may be readily identified.
The report lists among other things:
Encouragement of regional security consciousness in South East Asia, and the development of greater local defence capacity- - and - the progressive development of our defence capability.
The report also refers to the ‘steady expansion of our defence programmes in recent years’ and to our ‘existing and still growing capability’. These are very appropriate words to use and I fully agree with them. What worries me, and no doubt other people, is that the Budget appropriation seems so entirely inconsistent with the words I have quoted. So far from increasing our expenditure we have actually decreased it in almost every area except Service pay and allowances, which, of course, have themselves increased. Indeed, even the 5% reduction in expenditure does not tell the whole story. Defence expenditure has decreased by some 5% whilst the Treasurer is budgeting for an increase in revenue of some 13)%. In his speech this afternoon the Minister for Defence told us that the 5% reduction has been completely misunderstood and that it has been extravagantly referred to in one quarter as the most notable and alarming feature of the Budget. He spoke of - and I quote: ‘the present well developed level of equipment of our armed services’ and said: ‘We must not become completely mesmerised by the need for new capital equipment’. He then proceeded to list the various items which are included in the programme and concluded with the astonishing statement: T have shown the falsity of any claim that this year’s Budget reduces the defence programme’.
It is not possible to examine this proposition in detail now but I feel sure that it will not stand up to analysis. The total expenditure has been decreased at a time when our revenues are burgeoning and at the very time when, according to the Defence Report, we recognise that we must do more to provide for our own security and must see to the progressive development of our own defence capability. Let us take, for example, the expenditure on capital requirements of the three Services - ships, aircraft, weapons, vehicles and other equipment. This is to fall by almost S60m from $2 14m to $155m, a decrease of over 25%. Of course this year’s Budget reduces the defence programme, despite ali the denials. Does the Minister seriously suggest that we can ‘take a breathing space’, as he puts it? Should we not be redoubling our efforts to catch up? Are we not a long way behind our allies on any proper comparison? Should we not, in these fortunate times of affluence, take the opportunity to secure our future with all convenient speed?
Does the Minister seriously tell us that the Budget provides for all the expenditure which the Services could reasonably have wished for during the forthcoming year? This is the picture he seeks to present. Were the estimates not cut? May he not be attempting simply to put a bold face on things, in his phrase, ‘to save a situation* - a situation, that is, in which the Budget appropriation for defence seems to be entirely at odds with the strategic appreciation which has been adumbrated in his own defence Report?
I pass now to say a few words about the provision in the Budget for further state aid to independent schools. In common with other honourable members I have been receiving a stream of mail both from the advocates of state aid and those who are now advocating state aid for State schools first. Some of the letters have been in roneoed form; others have shown a considerable degree of originality. I must say that I support state aid in principle. If that loses me votes in the forthcoming election, that is a risk I shall have to take. But I think it is only fair that we should reimburse independent schools at least a proportion of what we should have had to outlay if the parents had sent their children to State schools. Now that education is becoming so much more expensive this problem is becoming more acute. On the other hand I have a great deal of sympathy for the parents of children in State schools. Some of these schools are well built, well equipped and well staffed; others are deplorably bad, despite the best efforts of State governments. In this respect I must agree with what was said by the previous speaker, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). Our concern must always be for Australian children as such, and it must be our constant endeavour to act fairly and to meet, first, the areas of greatest need. This is only a part, but probably the most vital part, of the vexed question of CommonwealthState financial relationships. There is a danger that a Federal government, having control of the purse, will make ad hoc allocations in certain areas of need, not only in education but in many other fields, perhaps in the desire to win votes, or as the case may be. These allocations then throw out of true balance allocations which can and should be decided by the States which have the primary responsibility for education and are best placed to channel available funds where they are most needed.
One cannot but feel a certain sympathy for the attitude taken by Mr Askin, the Liberal Premier of New South Wales - as such, well and favourably known to many of us. Mr Askin was reported to have said, on the day following the Budget Speech, that the Budget - and I quote him: Clearly underlines the unfairness of CommonwealthState financial relations’. He pointed out that last May he had been refused a mere $5m loan for urgently needed school buildings on the grounds that it would upset the delicate balance of the economy. Of course, he was quoting what had been said by the Treasurer. “This has proved to be complete humbug and hypocrisy’, he said. He went on to complain of the inequity of the present tax reimbursement formula, which is due to come up for reassessment next year. In all of this I believe that Mr Askin is utterly right. The whole question of Commonwealth-State relationships cries out for reform.
One thing at least gives us cause for unqualified joy, I imagine, and that is the increased provision for the arts, particularly in relation to support for an indigenous film industry, for which many people have been fighting for many years, at last not in vain.
The ‘Financial Review’ wrote the other day of the time bombs, as it called them, planted in the Budget - speaking particularly of the wheat industry credits and the loan funding problems. But there are others. The cut in defence spending, which I have mentioned, is one. The form of the State aid provisions, coupled with the deteriorating Commonwealth-State financial relationships, is yet another. The supposed inflationary tendencies of the Budget, and the snub to the Treasury implicit in the failure to take its advice, is yet another. These bombs can be expected to go off in series as the new year unfolds.
May I say, finally, that this is an historic Budget. That does not mean that it is, in all respects, a good one. The new emphasis on social welfare is to be welcomed. But it also marks a new departure from traditional Liberal policies - in its cut in the defence appropriation, its failure to give any relief to income earners in the middle bracket and, as some would say, in its financial irresponsibility. It is historic also in its divisive effects. It has already divided the Cabinet. By reason of the features I have mentioned the Budget has also confused and divided many Liberal voters. We do not need a prophet to tell us that the full consequences of this Budget will be working themselves out during the months that follow the election. They will be with us for a long time to come. Let us hope that we do not suffer too severely for it.
– It is perhaps fate that I seem to follow the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St. John) on a number of occasions. To some extent there are a number of matters in his speech with which I do not disagree. If those who are heckling him listen they may find that they have reason to disagree with me. However, I cannot but be cynical-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, may I interrupt to say that I am receiving a continuous stream of abuse-
-Order! The honourable member cannot interrupt while another honourable member is on his feet.
– I was intrigued when I heard from the Opposition cries of ‘Hear, hear’ when the honourable member for Warringah stated that there could be inflationary trends and when he stated that there could be hidden chasms within the next 6 months brought about by the Budget. I could not but be cynical when I heard the Opposition support claims that honourable members in this House should act on behalf of the people of Australia first. I think that is what honourable members said when I heard ‘Hear, hear’ coming from honourable members opposite-
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Franklin and the honourable member for Warringah go outside the chamber if they want to pursue a private discussion.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I must start again. I could not but be cynical when I heard honourable members opposite saying ‘Hear, hear’ to the very high thoughts expressed by the honourable member for Warringah, thoughts with which I agree, because I have never on one occasion during the 10 years I have been here seen members opposite applying those thoughts. Indeed, if there ever has been an issue which has had to do with security or safety of this country, no member opposite has applied these thoughts to his actions or vote. We know that one member of the Opposition disagreed with his colleagues and his membership of that Party was dispensed with. He was compelled to resign.
But let us look at the Budget, and let us remember the ‘Hear, hears’ that have come from the Opposition. Indeed if we fear that there will be inflation, increased taxation and additional budgetary requirements next year to meet the promises that the Government has made in this Budget, let us throw our minds to what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is promising the Australian people. Last week in his speech in reply to the Budget, he made it clear that it did not matter what it was, he would give it to the people. He did not state where the money would come from to pay for his promises. Indeed, when the honourable member for Warringah said the middle income group was being heavily taxed, Opposition members said: ‘Hear, hear.’ But where will the Opposition get the money to pay for all the mythical things that it says it will do? Surely it must come from the people. If there is one thing that makes me fed up, it is to hear politicians say: ‘We gave you this and we will give you that.* The blunt facts of life are that politicians take it from the people and give it back to them. There is only so much money and it can pay for only so many things.
Perhaps this is an election Budget and perhaps the Government has gone a little further than it may have liked in the economic circumstances of today. But the cost of doing this is nothing compared to the cost of paying for the promises which have come from the other side and which will come from the other side. Anybody who wishes to keep a book can price the amendments and promises that will be made when the Estimates are debated. In the debate on every Bill that has come before the Parliament in the 2i or 3 years of its life, the Opposition has said: We the Labor Party will give you this’. It did not matter whether it was golden eggs or gilded palaces; if people wanted something, Labor would give it. This is the point at which the Australian people should face stark realism. I remember that after the Budget was introduced one Opposition member said: lt is a good Budget. It is an electionwinning Budget.’
– He was pulling your leg.
– He is a friend of yours. He then turned to other participants in the conversation and said: ‘What do the people want? The things they should have, based on a stable economy and directed towards the development of the country, or the things that are handed out gratis and as bribes at election time?’ The preponderance of opinion was that a fair percentage of the people want the handouts more and more at each Budget and at each election. But thank God in this country the majority of the people realise that the most precious thing we have is a stable economy, a country that is attracting money from overseas - there are not too many of them left - and a country in which people from other parts of the world are prepared to invest their money and so create jobs for the unionists, for the little working man and for the subsidiary industries. All this can be lost if we have a carefree and gay government which says: *We will promise you everything under Fabian Socialism. Worry not, we can do it.’
I suggest to the people of this country that much of the policy that is being propounded by the Opposition for the forthcoming election has already been tried in the United Kingdom. I suggest that the Australian people should study the situation in the United Kingdom and should note the rate of unemployment and the economic chaos. Everything in the United Kingdom was given for nothing but now the responsible Cabinet Ministers in the
Labor Government there are saying that they must re-introduce some control and some means test to retrieve the British economy and to try to get the country back into a stable position.
I think the Budget is an election Budget It is understandable that to a certain extent it is intended to have an effect on the forthcoming election. But what would it have been if the Leader of the Opposition had framed it? He is not responsible. He can give the people everything. The only risk he runs - it is very unlikely - is that he may become Prime Minister and he may have to perform. The man who has no control does not need responsibility. The man who has control has the responsibility, and it is a very hard and onerous responsibility. I give credit to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) for introducing a good Budget, though I have certain reservations about it My reservations are similar to some of those mentioned by the honourable member for Warringah.
Before I come to that, let me refer to the speech made this afternoon by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), a man for whom I have great respect. He has stood out against what I believe are some of the wrong outlooks of his Party. However, it seems to .me that at election time the call is: ‘Rally round the flag, chaps. Everything is right. Let us all support the cause. Afterwards it does not matter.’ I heard him say that, if in this election the question of collaboration with Communists or Communism were not used as a bogey, that would be good. He said that as long as defence were not used just to create concern about some Communist menace, this would be good. I will give him credit. He said that he was not against reasonable and sensible concern about Communism. But I cannot understand how people can say one thing for one part of the year and then, when an election is near, take an entirely different view.
I refer the honourable member for Fremantle to the ‘Australian’ of Thursday, 15th September 1966, which published an article headed The Beazley Attack on Labor’s Foreign Policy’. In this article he sets out Labor’s foreign policy in respect of Vietnam, the American bases, the withdrawal of Australian troops and the decision not to have Australian forces overseas. He points out the similarity between this policy and the policy of the Communist Party. People in this country should not forget that we are in this part of the world, that those who have been our close allies and friends appear to be withdrawing from it and that others are coming in. The record is available for all to see. I care not - and I have said this publicly - whether the Communist Party in this country stands at an election, wins the poll and persuades the Australian people that this is the way they should live. That is the right of the Communists and that is the right of the people. But I and, I hope, the Australian people will resist as long as we can attempts to do this by subversion, infiltration, graft and the other methods that are used. We should listen to those people from other countries who have now joined us as Australian citizens and should take heed of their descriptions of the way that power was taken in their countries.
The arrogant and self-confident members of Parliament and others should be careful about saying that it cannot happen here. One day they may well hold a heavy responsibility for the safety of this country and the people in it. It is easy when one is scared and it looks as though one’s friends are leaving for various reasons, some of them understandable, to say that we must seek a compromise. But if we have any role in this part of the world, if we have any courage and any intention of carrying out what I consider is our destined responsibility, we must set an example to other people. We must show them that we are prepared to assist our friends, that we are prepared to take risks with our friends, that our close neighbours are our friends and that we will maintain troops on the ground; we will put them there at some risk possibly, but at least we will show that we are there and we will be there with them in the event of any overt aggression. But not so the Labor Party. Its Federal Conference has said: ‘No troops on foreign soil’.
– Hear, hear
– ‘Hear, hear’ says the right honourable member for Melbourne. The £,abor Party has said: ‘No foreign bases on Australian territory’. I do not hear ‘hear hear’. In the next breath the Labor Party says that it protects and supports the American alliance but, as the Minister for
Defence (Mr Fairhall) said this afternoon, how does the Labor Party support the American alliance in view of the address of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) to the Fabian Society? This is a most revealing speech indeed. He said:
In no area is the uncertainty of planning and the lack of precision more frustrating to Democratic Socialists than defence planning.
He went on:
For this reason, I proceed with my line of argument on the assumption that any Democratic Socialist Government would not dismantle the existing defence structure.
What is the assumption: It would or it would not? He continued:
A Labor Government will find that at last its members have access to a group of American defence bases whose nature and functions have been deliberately withheld from the Australian Parliament and people.
I can imagine the success some of the gentlemen of the Labor Party would be up in these areas and I can imagine the thrill that our allies would have in certain circumstances. Further on in the speech the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said:
Rather more subtly; a Labor Government will find itself in a peculiar psychological position in its relations with conservative and conventional services which have never been exposed to traditional Democratic Socialist planning and techniques.
He went on to say that the troops would be withdrawn from Vietnam immediately. This is not what is put out in the Press; this is an address to the Fabian Society by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the supposed Minister for Defence of the Australian Labor Party. Let me revert again to the Labor Party, because it is not Liberal supporters who criticise it; it is the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), and we do not have to quote his speeches again. The headnote to an article in the ‘Herald’, reads: “More will quit ALP’. This article is dated 25th June 1969. These are not Liberal supporters; these are members of the Labor Party who are quitting it because they know what goes on within. Let me come back to the question of defence and foreign affairs. I believe that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) did not intend that his reference to the Soviet Union should be taken as it has been taken by certain sections of the Press and others. I do, however, feel that a Minister for External Affairs must be careful in what he says and must be careful in his choice of words, particularly a Minister for External Affairs in Australia today. What is the situation? We accept the fact that the Soviet Union is now in the Indian Ocean, and, as I said, there is nothing we can do to push it out.
– Hear, hear
– ‘Hear, hear’ says the right honourable member for Melbourne. But that does not mean that we have to come in and acquiesce to every suggestion that the Russians put forward - and they will put forward many.
– Hear, hear
– ‘Hear, hear’ says the right honourable member for Melbourne. They will put forward suggestions on security pacts. They will put forward, no doubt, a different one to each country because there is little difference between Communist Chinese and Communist Russians. Communism is the same anywhere.
– You ask the Russians.
– I know that you gentlemen on the other side disagree and it is your right in a democratic community, but remember that it is not your right in a Communist community. Therefore let it be remembered what happened at the beginning of the last war. The Russians were going to support the allies and, indeed, were with the allies until they decided it suited their purpose to attack Finland. It suited their purpose to go with the Germans and then it suited their purpose to come back again. Let us also look at the situation in respect of Europe and let us remember the countries which we never even hear mentioned now. When we talk of the Labor Party being anti-Communist and when we talk about the Labor Party protesting about Czechoslovakia we hear these things in a very silent manner indeed. It is the same, indeed, in respect to Vietnam. When the South Vietnamese or the Americans have a misadventure it is genocide; it is murder.
– Hear, hear!
– ‘Hear, hear’ says the right honourable member for Melbourne. But when the other side does it there is a muted squeak. Let us now look at the ‘Asian Analyst’ for July 1969 in respect to the Soviet entry into the Indian Ocean and let us read what the other nations - the South East Asian and Asian nations - think. They realise that this is the first infiltration. They realise that there will be offers, that there will be a wooing of these people to break away from the Western or democratic or free nations, whatever one may wish to call them. They know that there is a risk that once one comes into the web it is like the spider and the fly, one is involved. I would suggest that we as a nation in this part of the world must realise that if we say we have already been talking or that we are already having dialogue - and I am now reassured to find that it is only on fishing or skin diving or some other small matter - that is all right, but the Soviet propaganda in Malaysia will be that ‘Australia has already been talking with us. Australia is thinking and considering coming in.’ This is what will be used in Burma. This is what will be used in other parts of the world. I contend that at this moment we must, as I say, set an example. We must increase our defences. We must say that we are fair dinkum and that we are prepared to run some risks. It will not encourage small nations in this area if they think that we are already starting to negotiate because our strong and valued friends may be leaving the area. Indeed, it will not impress the Americans because they have said that they are more likely to help those who help themselves in this part of the world. Let me now come to the statement made by the Minister for Defence. Perhaps I sympathise with him. I did not think it a very convincing speech on the requirements for Australian defence at this time.
– Hear, hear!
– ‘Hear, hear* says the honourable member for Hindmarsh. If he had his way there would not be any defence. Let it not be thought that I am criticising the Liberal Party just for the sake of it. I am not disloyal to it. I think these things need to be said and need to be done, and I would not give the Labor Party in its present state the control of this country if it was the last party on God’s earth. But I will still have the duty to say what I feel in respect of defence. The Minister for Defence said:
New commitments should not and could not be engineered to produce expenditure running at precisely the same figure year after year. We are more interested in programmes to meet our needs, not in any arithmetic of expenditure.
I would suggest that we have known that the British were going from South East Asia for a considerable number of years. I would have considered that some more extensive programming may have taken place by now.
I would have considered that perhaps a decision should have been made by now - and let it be realised that 1971 is not far away - as to a naval base in Western Australia. T think that our planning may have envisaged that such a thing as a floating dock could have been required if we did have our fleet operating in the Indian Ocean and Singapore was not available to us. We know that if extensive damage is suffered by our naval ships they have to be returned around two-thirds of the coast of Australia to Garden Island.
There are other matters that we have had time to plan. There are things that we should have bad on the slips at this time. I feel that the 5% cut in defence expenditure - frankly, I think it is greater than 5% - has been brought about because the Government did wish to give the people of Australia the social benefits that it has given in this Budget. I think that it has taken a risk. I personally do not agree with the decision. Even if it meant increasing taxation, I think the Australian people expect us to build up defence because they realise that, before long, we can be standing on our own in this area.
When we talk of capital equipment, we are now 18 months to 2 years behind on any planning programme so far as I can see in respect of defence. We have not seen the strategic assessment. But surely to goodness, what has been announced by the Minister for Defence today cannot have much relation to such assessment. I agree that we must rebuild barracks, I agree that we should rebuild Nowra. An old American igloo hut has been there since the end of the last war. Most of our barracks have been the same since the end of the last war. This rebuilding should have been done over the years. These proposals will only catch up with what has not been done in the past.
It sounds good when we talk of a feasibility study for five escort destroyers smaller than the American type, etc., which will be multi-purpose and which will have common hulls. But, when we read the statement, we find that this is only a design study that we are talking about. It will take 12 months. How long will it take for the decision to be made? How long will these destroyers take to build? How many can we ask the Australian shipyards to build? How many years will the work take? Let us not forget, because it is not stated here, that a number of our escort destroyers at the moment are almost obsolete. Indeed, unless we go further into a capital reequipping of the Navy, it will be no better off then than it is now. It takes 5 years to 7 years to build a ship. We know that the British are leaving the area east of Suez. We know the coast of Australia. We know the area of responsibility for Australia. If anyone tells me that the ships as listed at present in the defence report are considered capable of performing the tasks around Australia at this moment I think that person must be a mushroom and that, frankly, is not necessarily a commendation.
– Unless the person is a toadstool.
– If I was a toadstool, I would not be standing here. Will the resumption of an area in Sydney for civil purposes result in additional defence? These are things that we must look at. Have we the mobility to move our Army at the moment? As I understand it, when we wanted to move elements of the Australian Army to Vietnam, we thought that we had given Qantas Airways Ltd certain planes so that it could do the job. Qantas said that it could not arrange this. Furthermore, HMAS Sydney’ is coming close to the end of its effective life. Furthermore, HMAS ‘Melbourne’, even with its refit, has a limited period of life. To say that we have now the time to plan and that we are now to have a 5-year programme, I do not find convincing. I can suggest only to the Government - and I hope that it will announce this before very much longer - that when it has considered the strategic report it should announce to the Australian people that it intends to enter into a programme to buy effective defence equipment for Australia. There is a lot of detail one could go through.
– Why not make them?
– I will make them at the right time. Furthermore, I think the Australian people expect it. I do not feel at this particular time that this is a question of being disloyal to the Government at all. These are my feelings in respect of defence. Other people have strong feelings on other matters but I would suggest that this country needs to choose the way in which it is going. It needs to set the example to its neighbours and to show that it is prepared to spend money and to play its part. To cut defence will not impress the Malays, the Singaporeans or anybody else. Luck may hold with us. Indeed, it may be 10 years before we face what has been called the exquisite hour, with which I agree. But we may not. Things in South East Asia can change quickly. I would suggest that we should be prepared, and more prepared than we are now. In conclusion, I agree with the honourable member for Higinbotham (Mr Chipp) in one other comment he made in respect of aid in South East Asia. I think the point that he made was right. Our business community, our manufacturers, our leaders of industry also have a responsibility to accept a part in South East Asia. I support the Budget with the reservations that I have made. [Quorum formed.]
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I have always suspected that the attitude of the Government towards defence has been rather poor. But never in my wildest dreams did I realise just how bad the defence of this country is, after 20 years of Liberal government, until I heard tonight the speech by the honourable and gallant member for La robe (Mr Jess), a supporter of the Liberal Government, a man who has spent his whole life in studying the question of defence, who served his country well and truly during the last war and who, since he entered this Parliament, has been looked upon as one of the leading figures in defence. I think that this confession made tonight by the honourable gentleman is one that ought to be taken to heart by everybody who has the interests of this great country at heart.
I think, however, that the honourable gentleman made a very good excuse for the Government’s decision to embrace the Soviet fleet in the Indian Ocean when he said: ‘Well, they are there, and there is not very much we can do about them’. In the very informative journal called ‘Incentive’, published by Mr Maxwell Newton, Mr Newton gives information that I think ought to be read to the House and to the people of Australia. He states that: the USA made it plain at the last ANZUS meeting early this month that the Russian naval presence in the Indian Ocean was not only not going to be matched, it was going to be gracefully accepted.
This expression of intent- says Maxwell Newton - taken together with the ambiguities attending future US commitment in South East Asia, provides the Australian Government with a plausible excuse for accepting with as good grace as possible what it cannot possibly itself prevent: an extending Russian interest in influence in the Indian Ocean and South East Asia.
Maxwell Newton has endorsed the remarks of the honourable gentleman, but the Russians are there and there is nothing that the Government can do about it. So the best thing to do if it cannot beat them is to join them, and once we join them there is nothing better than embracing them, and this seems to be what the Government has done. What the honourable gentleman ought to remember and what everybody else ought to remember, including the Minister for Social Services, who, I understand, had dinner at the Latin restaurant in Melbourne on 6th August with Mr Santamaria and who was no doubt discussing with him this very matter, is that big powers have no friends. Their foreign policies are always dictated by interests and nothing else. Let us be grown up about this. Big powers have no friends. They have interests and interests only, and their foreign policies are always fashioned around their interests - and that is what is happening today.
But this is an election budget, as it has been called by so many speakers who have so far spoken in this debate. From this Budget the people of Australia can get an idea of what they can expect from a Government that has been in office for 20 long, weary, dreary years. What the Government has said in this Budget is this: Although we have been here for 20 years we want you to know that the LiberalCountry Party coalition has no intention at all - none whatever - of doing anything about the total abolition of the means test, and that we will not even consider a national superannuation scheme’. This Government through this Budget is telling the people of Australia: ‘While we are prepared to give $24m to denominational schools we will not give one single cent to the government schools which cater for more than 2 million Australian children If you elect us on 25th October the 2 million children attending government schools can expect not one single cent from us in the next 3 years.’ It says also in this Budget that it will do nothing whatever for urban development and that it has no intention of doing anything for the home builder. It does not even propose any worthwhile change in the present inadequate and inefficient health scheme. Finally it tells the wheat farmer that it has no solution to the problems of the wheat industry. Moreover - and 1 repeat - it says it will not even consider a national superannuation scheme.
The Budget has divided the Government. It has divided the Cabinet. Speaker after speaker on the back benches has indicated that this Budget has separated the Country Party and the Liberal Party back benchers from the Government. One Minister, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) has pulled out of the Government. He stated that his health prevented him from continuing. I am very pleased to see that a person who was so unhealthy 3 days ago as to resign from the Cabinet is looking so very much improved tonight. I have never seen the Minister for Defence look healthier and this is no doubt due to the great relief that he is getting from being able to part company with those with whom he has sat in Cabinet. He is sick and tired of the way the Government has shillyshallied over defence. As the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) so properly pointed out tonight, our defence is a shambles. It is a disgrace to a Government that has been in office for 20 years. Indeed, after all that time the Minister had to get out of it. There are several other Ministers who ought to go and see their doctors. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), I understand, is on the list of removals. I understand also that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) is another whose future is not very secure.
My advice is that if there are any jobs around I think these Ministers ought to take them because there is one chance of surviving, but there is none if they hang on because the next Federal election will see another government. It is high time that there was another Party in office. Look at the way in which we have been misled by this Government. The credibility of this Government has never been lower. At least we have one truthful Minister, the Minister for Defence, who on the 20th of this month was honest enough to say in the Melbourne ‘Age’:
Every now and then we make liars of ourselves to save a situation.
This of course is exactly true. In reply to the negative proposals of the Budget the Labor Party decided upon a positive and practical policy which will provide a feasible alternative to the Government’s donothing policy.
Let me now deal with the main points as I mentioned them in my opening remarks. 1 will deal first with one important matter, that of education. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said: ‘We believe in a dual system of education’. Then he immediately produced a budget which gives $24.8m to the rich private schools and to church schools and not a single cent to the government schools in which 77.39% of all Australian children are educated. Out of a total of 2,600,000 pupils attending schools in 1968 no fewer than 2,057,000 were being educated at government schools. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table which indicates the deployment of children in the various educational systems.
How can a government justify per capita payments to rich private schools like Geelong Grammar, St Peters, Prince Alfred and Rostrevor in Adelaide on the same scale as that which is applicable to the poor private schools and to the struggling Roman Catholic schools in poor working class suburbs? I refer to suburbs in my own district such as Richmond, Thebarton, Hindmarsh, Brompton and Kidman Park where Roman Catholic schools in those poor working class suburbs are at an all time low. It is a disgrace that this situation should exist when the rich and wealthy schools are getting big handouts and these poor struggling schools in the working class areas have to go without. How can the Government justify a handout equal to $35 or all primary students attending all private and church schools, rich or poor, and not a single cent to pupils attending government schools. How can it justify the use of public funds to pay $50 per secondary student attending all non-government schools and not one single cent to government high schools and technical schools? A government’s primary responsibility is to ensure the provision of a high standard universal, free and secular educational system open to the children of all citizens regardless of class, colour or creed. That is something which cannot be achieved by the Government’s proposals in this Budget.
The Australian Labor Party conference held last month decided by quite a substantial majority in favour of using public funds for financial support to private and church schools. But it also decided that where special grants were made to such schools, an equivalent per capita grant must also be given to government schools. The Leader of the Opposition and the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labor Party, Mr M. J. Young, were the authors of the resolution which decided that a Commonwealth Labor government would pledge itself to upgrade the standard of government schools, and to match any special grant paid to a private school and to church schools by an equal per capita grant to all government schools. As a loyal member of my Party, it is my duty to accept those decisions and to vote for them and defend them. That is something I have been trained always to do and I have no intention now or in the future of presuming to place my personal view above that of the combined wisdom of the majority view as expressed by the cream of the Labor movement from six States together with the six State parliamentary leaders and the four Federal parliamentary leaders.
I turn now to the means test. The Prime Minister criticised the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) because he had not spelt out the details of his plan for a national superannuation scheme. He then assumed that the Leader of the Opposition favoured the Downing scheme which, said the Prime Minister, would cost $8 80m a year. Then, having created his own Aunt Sally, he proceeded to knock it over on the score of cost The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) has stated that the Government has worked out the cost of Labor’s plan to be $650m. Even the Labor Party has not decided on the details or the specifics of its proposed national superannuation scheme, so how on earth the honourable member for Moreton is able to tell us what it is to cost is beyond me.
The honourable member for Moreton, however, inadvertently gave his support to the refusal by the Leader of the Opposition to announce the specifics of the superannuation scheme until the new government has properly examined all the proposals that have been advanced. In seeking to justify the Government’s failure to carry out urgently needed national projects in Queensland, he said:
Ho government should spend an enormous amount of public money on any proposal until it is properly examined.
But this Government has had 20 years in which to examine these projects and has done absolutely nothing. Perhaps the Parliament should not take the honourable member for Moreton too seriously, because it is quite obvious that he does not take the Parliament very seriously. His speeches are a mixture of cynical humour and nostalgic journeys into his boyhood experience in the back country. Today he talked of the swish of the pepperina tree on the old galvanised iron of the shearing shed. In his last speech he boasted of how he had exposed his ginger fringed appendage to the blacks on the Condamine. As I have already pointed out, even the honourable member for Moreton can see the need to consider properly the question of national superannuation before committing the country to such a proposal. In actual fact, what the Leader of the Opposition has clearly stated is that no responsible party should adopt any scheme without first thoroughly examining that scheme. Perhaps the Canadian scheme may suit Australia’s needs, or perhaps one of the many other proposals advanced in other parts of the world may be suitable.
The important thing is that the election of a Labor government will give this nation a government that will carefully consider all the known proposals for a national insurance scheme and which will give urgent attention to the implementation of a plan that is within our capacity to finance and that will guarantee security to every Australian citizen in his years of retirement. In the meantime, however, the new Labor government will set out to abolish fully the existing means test over the lifetime of six parliaments. Six more steps, each costing less than is provided for in the present Budget, will be taken and the right to a social service pension will be placed on the same universal basis as entitlement to child endowment, maternity allowances and the existing health benefits. If it is right that child endowment should go to every Australian citizen without the application of a means test, why should we single out and apply the means test to the superannuated Australians and those who have saved or made provision for an income in their years of retirement? In his Budget Speech the Treasurer admitted that next year’s revenue will rise by 3825m without any increase in the present rate of taxation. With an annual increase in revenue like that no-one can say that this country cannot alford social justice to each and every one of its citizens.
The Prime Minister boasted about the so called tapered means test which the Government introduced this year after being in office for 20 years and after resisting the campaign which Labor has been waging for 20 years for tha means test to be abolished completely. He has taken a small, timid, miserable step, which is the last step that he intends to take if he is re-elected for the next 3 years. What he did not mention was his Government’s refusal to grant to the new pensioners those fringe benefits now applicable to all categories of pensioners. In many ways the right to free medical attention, concession rates for telephone rent, television licences and bus fares are just as important as the small part pensions which some 200,000 people will receive under the new tapered means test. Why create two grades of pensioners, one entitled to fringe benefits and the other not entitled to them?
Let me assure the Parliament that it is no accident that the new means test is designed to deny these fringe benefits to single pensioners in receipt of a pension below $8 a week and to married pensioners in receipt of a pension below $7 a week each. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) actually intended the new entitlements to operate in such a way as to prevent pensioners from getting the benefit of fringe entitlements. His exact words in his speech are these:
Persons who become pensioners for the first time because of the introduction of the tapered means test will not, however, be eligible for membership of the pensioner medical service or entitled to any other subsidiary fringe benefits.
The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) sensed the grave injustice of this variation of the means test and sought to explain the Government’s decision by blaming the Australian Medical Association for denying pensioner medical benefits to a quarter of a million new pensioners. The plain fact is that the tapered means test was a belated afterthought by the Prime Minister to counter the widespread public support for the policies laid down by the
Labor Conference last month, and no meaningful negotiations with the AMA have been possible.
How does the honourable member for Robertson explain that such fringe benefits as concession telephone and television rates also are to be denied to the new pensioners? Surely he does not blame the AMA for that. Or can this also be explained by the fact that the tapered means test was decided upon in such a hurry that the Prime Minister did not even have time to discuss the matter with his own colleague, the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme)? The Prime Minister said:
I doubt whether the benefits of the tapered means test are even yet fully understood by the community.
He is quite right. Of course they do not understand it. The Prime Minister has decided to have an early election in the hope that the full injustices of his new means test will not be understood before election day. It is not ironic that just as the Liberal Party attacked previous Labor leaders for allegedly making irresponsible promises that were beyond the country’s capacity to meet, the present Prime Minister is criticisng today’s Leader of the Opposition for not being irresponsible enough to announce the details of his proposals before they are properly examined?
I congratulate the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) on his delivery of one of the finest maiden speeches ever heard in this Parliament. His plea for decentralisation will not pass unheeded by the incoming Labor government. It will be one of the first things that we will do on taking office after October. He criticised the present Government for its failure to deal with the urban sprawl and with the cost of land for home building, and he quite correctly observed that the Budget has done absolutely nothing for the Bendigo electorate. I also congratulate the Country Party member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) on his maiden speech. Like the honourable member for Bendigo, he directed our attention to the cost price squeeze on our rural industries. At the same time he was careful not to point out that all this has happened under 20 years of unbroken rule by a Liberal-Country Party government. In fact, the plight of the primary producers, especially wheat farmers, will grow worse unless there is a change of government on 25th October, because only a Labor government can and will solve the problems of the wheat industry. The value of the superphosphate subsidy, said the honourable member for Gwydir, will soon be eroded unless there is an improvement in the economic climate. Like the honourable member for Bendigo, he also condemned the Government for lack of interest in national development and decentralisation. Figures show that in the 20 years this Government has been in office the percentage of the Australian population living in the capital cities has increased from 50.88% in 1947 to 61.9% in 1968. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the following table which shows that the population has tended to drift to the cities rather than away from them:
The plight of primary producers, especially the wheat farmers, will grow worse unless there is a change of government on 25th October, because only a Labor government will, as I say, solve this problem. I think that there is a big difference between the approach of the honourable member for Gwydir and the approach of the honourable member for Bendigo. Like the honourable member for Bendigo, the honourable member for Gwydir condemned the Government for its lack of interest in national development and decentralisation, but unlike the honourable member for Bendigo, the honourable member for
Gwydir will go on supporting the Government’s policies that have produced the very problems about which he now complains.
The wheat industry is in very real danger of total collapse. Our silos are still filled to the brim with unsold wheat from last season’s harvest. We lost the China trade to Canada, France and other countries, mainly because we were at the disadvantage of having to compete with exporting countries which had some kind of diplomatic relation with the customer, whereas we had none. At the same time as we were missing out on sales to overseas customers, we allowed millions of dollars worth of cattle and sheep to perish in the drought stricken areas of Queensland and Western Australia, when a great proportion of these losses could have been avoided had the Government agreed to release our surplus wheat stores for stock feed. The full impact of the calamity that has overtaken the great wheat industry will not be properly understood by the wheat farmers until they begin delivery of their 1969 harvest. This is another reason why the Prime Minister decided to hold an early election. He knows that if he allowed the election to be held at the end of November or early in December, in accordance with past practice, the truth would be revealed. Farmers seeking to deliver wheat to the storage silos will then find the silos filled with last year’s harvest, and they will be told to take their wheat back to their farms and to make their own arrangements for its storage.
We cannot allow this great industry to collapse. It is still one of our main export industries. The plan formulated by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and adopted by last month’s Labor conference will put the industry in a position that will guarantee its survival). The Country Party has betrayed the wheat industry to the wealthy and more influential city interests. The Government’s tariff policy is accentuating the cost price squeeze that is slowly but surely strangling this great interest. The Country Party member for Moore (Mr Maisey) referred to the problems in these terms:
There is little doubt that tariff policy and various other activities of the Government add unnecessarily to the costs in the Australian economy . . .
However, on the Government side, it was left to the Liberal member for Corangamite (Mr Street) tor make the best case for the wheat industry. His speech exposed the Government as a mere sycophant of the powerful and extremely wealthy city interests that are being permitted to grow fabulously rich at the expense of the primary producer. No farmer in his right senses could read what the honourable member for Corangamite said in his speech on the Budget and continue to vote for the present Government. It was one of the most thoughtful contributions I have heard in this Parliament, and I regret that
I have not taken the same notice of his previous speeches as I did of the one which I heard him deliver recently. Whenever this country has been faced with a national crisis, the Australian people have always turned to Labor. They did it in World War I, they did the same in World War II, and now that the wheat industry faces the worst crisis in its history, wheat farmers will once again turn to a Labor government to rescue them from the disastrous position in which they now find themselves after 20 years of Liberal-Country Party bungling.
The Prime Minister is a man who talks and thinks afterwards. First of all he wanted a Fortress Australia. Then he said: ‘We are going to have nothing at all to do with the defence of Sabah.’ He virtually told the Philippines that it could count on our support if it decided to take over Sabah. Then he said, talking about foreign investment, that he thought Australia was like a little puppy, with all its legs in the air and its stomach exposed, saying: ‘Please, please, please, give us capital, tickle my tummy on any conditions.’ Then he changed his mind again. We have to choose between a Prime Minister who has become notorious for his habit of talking before he thinks and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) who insists on a careful examination of each problem before he will make a pronouncement upon it. We have to choose between a Government that has grown tired, arrogant and contemptuous of public demand for a better deal for health, education and the wheat industry. The Government has ignored the housing needs of the people and the need for urban development. It refuses to abolish the means test or even to examine the need for or feasibility of establishing a national superannuation scheme.
In contrast to this programme and to the record that this Government has built up over 20 years, the Opposition offers an alternative government that will match grants to church schools by an equivalent per capita grant to Government schools. On that score alone this Government deserves to be thrown out of office and the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party returned to office. Government schools are in dire need of financial assistance. Any government which ignores the needs of government schools must do so at its own political peril. Unless this Government is thrown out of office on 25th October, the parents of the two million children who attend government schools can expect to receive absolutely no assistance at all from the Federal Government for another 3 years.
The people have an opportunity to vote for a party which, when it becomes the government, will abolish the means test over the life of two Parliaments; and will consider and set up a national superannuation scheme. The people will have a chance to vote into government a party which will establish a health scheme that will ensure the full payment of medical and hospital costs without any additional cost to the contributor. They will have an opportunity to elect a government that will tackle the present wasteful, expensive and inconvenient urban sprawl, and will do something to help those who are in need of housing facilities. These are the issues which have to be resolved on 25th October. A vote for the Government will be a vote for the continuation of all of the ills that now characterise the economy and the social conditions of our people. A vote for the Labor Party will see a new Prime Minister, a new government and new ideas aimed at giving to the people of this very great country a new deal in social welfare; a new deal in education; a new deal for the home seeker; a new deal for the wheat farmer and for every Australian, young and old; and a new hope and the good life which is their right and which only a change of government can give. On 25th October the people will decide whether they want these things or whether they want the present position to continue.
– The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) spent a lot of his time electioneering in his speech on the Budget. He seemed to have a very curious idea of what this Government is doing and an even more curious idea of what a Labor government might do. He concluded his speech by saying that on 25th October the people will have the opportunity to choose between the kind of policies that are in action now and something else. Looking around Australia at the present time, I think the people will come to the conclusion that the Government’s policies and actions in this Budget are such that Australia will be able to continue on an unprecedented wave of prosperity, and that it will do this with one of the lowest unemployment records in history. We are doing it without risking inflation. This is being done with a Budget that in fact caters for a deficit of some S30m as against a deficit last financial year of $385m.
In this Budget we achieve increases in a great range of domestic matters. I will come to them in a moment. What I want to say first is that an important aspect of this Budget is that it is maintaining our defence programme. It is maintaining the rate at which we are equipping our forces and extending all our armed Services, both in equipment and men. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) quoted all the figures relating to our forces earlier today when he spoke in the Budget debate. Of course, I do not intend to requote these figures. The Minister said that our forces are now better equipped than they ever have been in peace time with capital equipment having a life of up to 20 years, depending on type involved.
Elsewhere in this speech and in other defence statements, such as the statement produced by the Minister this year for 1969, it is apparent that the numbers in every one of our armed forces are increasing. It is apparent that there has been an actual reduction in the defence vote in the Budget and that this has been caused by the pattern of purchases. It is also apparent that at this stage we not only can but we need to make a re-assessment. In line with this kind of thinking, what the Government has now done is to discard the previous 3-year bursts of planning and the intention is always to plan 5 years ahead with a constant examination of that planning. This is resulting in a reappraisal of all of our orders and our future equipment. It is also resulting in a redesign of those future orders to allow for as much as possible to be made in Australia.
These are the points that I feel that the Opposition has clouded over purely for political reasons. It is quite irresponsible, as the Minister for Defence has already stated very well, for the Opposition to regard defence simply as an item in the Budget or simply as an amount of money. We cannot equate simple expenditure with simple defence effort. The reality of the situation is that not only is our defence armament in terms of equipment and men being maintained, that equipment improved and those numbers extended in this Budget, but also our defence policy married with our external affairs policy means that we are not engaging in the kind of complete desertion of our northern neighbours that is proposed by the Australian Labor Party.
From time to time in this debate members of the Opposition have tried to make the point that America is walking out of South Vietnam and we are going to walk out too. They completely miss the point that neither Australia nor America has ever intended to set up any kind of a permanent position in South Vietnam. Members of the Opposition completely miss the point that the President of the United States, the American Government, the Australian Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Australian Government have affirmed again and again that the forces are not leaving South Vietnam until we can do so on a gradual basis on which the people of South Vietnam will be able to look after themselves. This policy is also dependent on the way in which North Vietnam varies her aggression against South Vietnam. This is a policy with which we can live. It is also a policy with which we can live in Malaysia and in Singapore.
The presence of our troops on the ground in the countries I have mentioned underlies the reality of our partnership with these nations. To desert them - to walk out as is proposed by the Labor Party - would be completely to undermine any confidence that these countries could have in us now or in the future. It is. the Labor Party that has retreated to a Fortress Australia position. Once again, it is the Labor Party that has gone back - quite astonishingly to me - to the position of saying that it will virtually immediately withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam if it is elected to office on 25th October. I believe that after 25th October Australian troops will stilt be carrying Australia’s role in South Vietnam and that that role will be carried through until it is completed. The completion of that role will not entail any permanent presence of Australian or American troops or other people in any kind of occupancy role in
South Vietnam. The achievement that is aimed for is the security of South Vietnam and the integrity of South Vietnam and its people.
Much has been made in the Press and by the Opposition of the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) on 14th August hi’ the House. In this statement the Minister pointed to what is now the developing reality of Russian interest in China. In essence, all that Russia is doing now is endorsing our view of China as a dangerous nation - a nation which could be actively dangerous in the relatively near future or, at least, in the foreseeable future; a country which, if it is allowed to get to that danger point will be very, very difficult to stop. As we have seen from a very long and hard look at history, it is much more simple and much less expensive in human life to contain a nation that is going through the kind of trouble that China is going through’ now rather than allow that trouble tq develop to a point where we have to fight a war to stop it. The presence of Russian troops on the Chinese border demonstrates the real concern with which Russia views China.
Russia is also taking an interest in pretty well every ocean, including the Indian Ocean. It is interested in assuring that China does not build up too much strength by doing what China says it will do - take over most of this part of the world. This would mean that China would head straight down to Australia. This is not to say - and the Minister for External Affairs did not say it - that therefore Russia or Communism has suddenly become something acceptable. In fact, what the Minister said was pretty well the exact reverse. He said that Australia has to be watchful but need not panic whenever a Russian appears. I do not think that it is in the nature of Australians to panic, anyhow. However, I agree that Australia has to be watchful. The Minister, on page 312 of Hansard, further said:
In judging this-
This is the situation that is arising out of the Russian interest in South East Asia - we cannot cast out of our minds the Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia and the pernicious doctrine of ‘limited sovereignty’ which the USSR attaches to other Communist states.
The Minister went on to say:
Any realistic plan for regional security, however, must take into account the possibility of a large-scale invasion or aggression from outside - and the most likely would be from China, possibly using its nuclear capacity as blackmail to support iti large conventional forces and using subversion.
Later he said: - Some reduction in United States forces has occurred and further reduction will be announced as conditions warrant. The possibility of further reductions, together with the possibility of Australian forces and those of the other allies being phased into any further reductions, will be related to the progress of the peace negotiations, the level of offensive actions by the enemy, and the capacity of the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam.
I do not see in that speech any weakening pf attitude to Russia and certainly not to China. Communism or extreme Socialism in all its forms, whether practised under Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, Stalin in Russia, or in China, is to be completely resisted by people who believe in the value of individuals and the personal integrity of individuals. It is a very great pity that in Australia we still have a party - the Australian Labor Party - which is prepared to pay lip service to the extremes of Socialism. To that extent the Labor Party is completely out of date. For Australia it is living in the last century.
I believe I have shown by reference that this Budget and this Government support a defence policy and an external affairs policy which will ensure the security of this country. In looking at this Budget, which makes considerable progress from the Commonwealth point of view and the Australian point of view in education, social services, aid to rural industries, housing, particularly for aged people, water conservation, afforestation and softwood development, we must do so with some idea of priorities. I believe that within Australia, as within any country, public expenditure in the field of education should receive the most attention and No. 1 priority. I refer to the whole field of education. It is, of course, ludicrous to propose that we should educate people without taking into account what they are to do with that education. It would make nonsense of any government policy to educate a lot of engineers and have an economy in which none of those engineers could practise engineering. In order to achieve the sort of objective criteria for making judgments on how much to spend on education I believe that we need to study the human resources of this country with the kind of objectivity that we now devote to studying our natural resources.
As the Budget indicates, we have experienced a remarkable rate of growth in Australia. We have seen a report from the Vernon Committee indicating that Australia should have as a target an annual rate of increase in the gross national product of 5%. This has been more than achieved in the 4 years since the report was brought into the Parliament. The report did not envisage the possibility of achieving such a rate of growth in such a short time. We are achieving this growth rate as a result of an input of people and capital over the past decade. No development of this kind can be achieved simply with money or simply with people. But we need to match for the future our own human resources to the challenge of developing our own natural resources. We need to pay to education the same kind of attention throughout Australia that both the Commonwealth and State governments have paid in the Territories of Australia. I refer particularly to the Australian Capital Territory. It is not sufficient merely to say that Canberra is new and that the schools and facilities available in Canberra are so good simply because they are new. The fact remains that the Commonwealth has demonstrated by what it is doing in education within the Territory of its direct responsibility the sort of attention to education that the Commonwealth believes should be paid throughout Australia. The problem now arises as to how to do this.
In proposing to make capitation grants to independent schools of $50 a head for secondary students and $35 a head for primary students the Commonwealth is helping to maintain two sections of education. It is helping the independent schools and thus relieving public schools of the considerable burden of catering, at five or six times the amounts ‘ proposed as grants to independent schools, for the children who now attend independent schools but who might otherwise attend public schools. The Premiers, particularly the Premier of New South Wales, have expressed appreciation of this move from that point of view. In addition the Commonwealth’s expenditure in education, rising to something in excess of $265m in this Budget, increasing by more than 38% over expenditure last year, is a significant contribution particularly when we recognise that although $24m is going to independent schools, $1 65m in all is going to the State governments for education. I think these figures put the matter a little more in perspective but not in perspective from the Australian point of view until we examine what the States might spend in this financial year. As near as I can ascertain - the States have not yet brought down their Budgets - the States will spend something of the order of $860m this financial year. Coupled with Commonwealth expenditure in this field this sum would raise expenditure directly on education to a figure of about $1,1 25m for Australia. For those who like to make the comparison, although I do not for a moment say it is valid, I point out that expenditure on defence this year is of the order of $l,104m. I think I have said enough about that figure to indicate where it stands in the perspective of defence and I do not for a moment want to relate the two, but it does give an indication of the scale of Australia’s expenditure in education.
We need to go a lot further. We need to regard education as an investment. We need to look at it from the point of view of public investment as well as private investment. On 15th October 1968 the House permitted me to incorporate in Hansard a table indicating the lifetime incomes of men in the United States for the year 1966 by years of school completed. With the concurrence of honourable members I again incorporate the table in Hansard.
I should like to quote the lowest and highest figures in the table. As honourable members will see, the lifetime income of men with fewer than 8 years of elementary schooling is $189,000. The scale then moves fairly evenly to a positoin where men with 5 or more years of college education earn, as an average lifetime income, $587,000, which is an increase of more than 300% above that earned by the lower educated men. This larger income is, of course, earned in a much shorter earning life, because more time has been spent at school. Three times as much money is earned in a shorter period and taxation on it is paid at a higher rate. It is difficult to calculate the true return of public money harvested by way of taxation from expenditure invested in education, but estimates range from about 9% to about 14%. This is a direct return from income tax and it does not take account of all the other benefits that accrue to a country that educates its people well.
We have a good argument from the example that the Commonwealth has provided in the Australian Capital Territory. We also have a good argument for looking closely at providing loans, underwritten by the Commonwealth Government if the banks are timid until they experience the situation, to individuals to pay for their own education or re-education at any level, and also for taking an investment view of education - to provide far more than we provide at present, to provide direct deductions for direct expenditure and to provide a depreciation on capital items, such as text books, which do depreciate. We need to take this all-round point of view in order to give education its proper place in the democratic affairs of this country. This is not going to be achieved unless the Commonwealth is prepared to guarantee minimum rates of expenditure in public schools throughout Australia. I deliberately say ‘minimum rates’ to which States or individuals can add. The Commonwealth can do this by making grants which require matching grants from the States, or it can do it by arrangement with the States whereby out of revenue payments a specific amount can be earmarked for education - an amount to which the States can add. If this were done there would be only one overall1 debate on the level of expenditure for the whole of Australia.
I have spoken of treating our human resources development with the same objectivity as our natural resources develop ment. I want now to press on, in the short time available to me, to discuss some other aspects of the Budget. In respect of social services the Liberal Party and the Country PArty have a basically different approach to the Australian Labor Party. Fundamentally it amounts to this: In our priorities for expenditure we put development of our means and our resources before social services. If there is a priority decision to be made, we are inclined to ensure that the country has the productivity to pay for social services. This is what that means. The Labor Party is very much inclined to dive overboard on the vote catching wagon of social services, or what it thinks is the vote catching wagon of social services - and I do not think it is - and then to search for the money to pay for it. History has hown that the Labor governments have been unsuccessful in this and all the records show quite plainly that the Liberal and Country Party system works a lot better. We do manage to create a climate Out of which we can get the money and pay for better social services than any Labor government has ever achieved. I think this is simply because of our attitude to the question.
The tapered means test has been contrasted by speakers opposite with their proposals to eliminate the means test completely. This is a strange position because ft would be fundamentally a Liberal Approach to abolish the means test. The members of the Labor Party have adopted this policy for reasons which they have not attempted to explain philosophically, and I would not attempt to explain them. It must be for expedience. What they have neglected to do is to look at what has happened in other countries and what could happen in this country to people who follow that policy. We have got to come back to producing the money before spend ing it. The members of the Labor Party are not prepared to do that. If they bring in this idea of eliminating the means test ever 6 years then those who depend on basic rates of pension throughout Australia are going to have a very lean 6 years indeed. But I do think that the people of Australia are intelligent enough to under stand that. The tapered means test has, however, removed something which was a terrific handicap to the rehabilitation of invalid and other pensioners. It is one of the best single moves proposed in the Budget.
In the field of primary production, the Government has sought to relieve some of the burdens carried by the wool and other rural industries. We have got to look at cost compensation. Some suggestions have been looked at. I do not have much time left in which to speak, but I would suggest that any cost compensation plan for the wool industry must be related in some way to tariff policy so that it can increase as we increase our protectionist policies and decrease as we get less protection in our tariff policy. I believe and hope that this is the direction in which we are heading.
As to housing, the Government’s proposals, particularly those for aged people, will be most welcome over the whole of the States. In regard to water conservation, I must say that the remarks by members of the Opposition about there being no projects provided for in this Budget indicate that they simply have not read the Budget. The projects are listed in the document ‘Commonwealth Payments to or for the States’ which is included in the Budget Papers. The reference to them begins at page 45. I shall not read them, but, including the proposed expenditure by the Snowy Mountains Authority, which is $2mmore than the amount provided last year, the proposed expenditure on water conservation projects is $56,547,000. Yet the Opposition says that there is no proposal for any water conservation projects in the Budget. The people who have said that simply have not read the Budget.
Something in excess of $4m is to be spent on timber and afforestation development in Australia during this year. Of that sum, $1.9m is to be spent in New South Wales. This, with developments in Eden and possible developments in Gippsland, is leading to a reawakening of the demand for Twofold Bay to be developed into the port into which it should have been developed some 50 years ago. This is a Budget which will enable Australia to grow. It is a Budget which will enable Australia to take advantage of the unique opportunity it has to provide to the rest of the world an example in developing the country with a very good distribution of income and with opportunities for every Australian.
– Naturally I support the terms of the amendment as moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). This Budget is a quite remarkable document. Its background is worth studying. The purpose for which it is introduced is the electoral survival of a gentleman who is Prime Minister of Australia by default and Who already has proved himself to be the least acceptable and the least competent Prime Minister that this country has had. The Budget is obviously of his drafting and of his determination.
One of the most remarkable features of it is that there will be additional income of some $825m. Additional expenditure, however, will be only $470m. Where does the remainder go? From what sector of the community does the greatest contribution come? It comes from the sector that will be contributing most and will be receiving least and in fact will receive nothing from this Budget. I refer to the ordinary weekly and fortnightly wage earner. In point of fact there is a remarkable coincidence between the increased expenditure that the Government proposes and the amount that will be received from pay as you earn taxation and from the various Other persons who furnish personal income tax returns. Exactly $462m will be contributed under pay as you earn taxation and by persons who render individual income tax returns. It comes within $8m of the amount that is to be handed out.
Let us examine the contributions that are made by the ordinary wage earner, the family man, the battler, the man who works in industry, who takes all the risks of marrying and of rearing a family but who gets nothing, the man who is battling his way but is confined to the limited field of social services that is made available by this Government. In the last 5 years alone, the amount raised by pay as you earn taxation has increased by more than 100%. It has increased from $990m in 1964-65 to an estimated $2,025m for 1969-70. In the same period the contributions by other individuals submitting returns- they would be the small businessmen, the farmers, the self-employed people and those in receipt of an annual stipend - have gone up by exactly 50%. Company tax has increased by 55%. So the burden is falling most heavily on those who receive least.
Just to add insult to injury, the amount collected from regressive indirect taxation has increased. The yield from excise, which is imposed on beer, tobacco, cigarettes and petrol, will be $960m. That comes from people irrespective of their ability to pay. This is the sort of tax that always commends itself to this Government, with its propensity for studying the whole structure of taxation law and for providing built-in gobbets to be relished by its friends.
This election is being rushed quite deliberately so that the Government canavoid the embarrassment of the wheat fiasco and the attacks by farmers who will suffer by the imposition of quotas and the limitation of storage. Significantly, about $600m in terms of internal revenue surplus from this year and last year is floating in the air which might be the amount that will have to be put into kitty under certain circumstances to save the Government from, embarrassment. That is most appropriate, too, because after all we are dealing with a puppet government and a puppet Prime Minister - a Prime Minister who got his office by the diktat Of the leader of a minority Party which today indirectly rules Australia and which can tell this Government that if it is necessary it will use a surplus of up to $600m to pay for wheat that will never be sold but will be consumed by vermin and weavils. Why, Sir, last year’s wheat crop will not be sold by the end of this year.
There are some entries in the Budget in respect of payments to industry, which is a euphemism for bribes to the Country Party. If similar entries were made in the balance sheet of an orthodox company the companies fraud squad in New South Wales would be in having a look at things. But it passes for good government in respect of this Government. It stinks. The Budget is an artful Budget by an artful Treasurer, but the best that he can do is to put a brave face on things. Actually, he has had to eat crow too. The Prime Minister got what he wanted and in turn did as he was told by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), who is his boss when it comes to a show down. The Government is a hagridden government. It is a government which is subjected to two forms of pressure. The other one is being well and truly applied today by the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
What has the Government to say in regard to relief for the family man? The endowment of 50c for the first child has remained unchanged since 1950; the endowment of $1 for the second child has remained unchanged since 1948; and the endowment of $1.50 for the third child has remained unchanged since 1964. The Government blathers about population increases and what is it doing to populate Australia, but what has it done in regard to the maternity allowance? There has not been any alteration since 1945. What is the Government’s answer to that? It does not have one, because it is contemptuous of the people and is arrogant in its belief that it is continuing to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes. But for the first time it is in the position where it is forced to fight an election on social service issues and it will crash in the process. The boys and girls of today are maturing earlier and are growing bigger. They need more food than children of the same age 20 years ago. But there is no limit on the prices charged for that food. There is also no limit on the cost of the clothing that they wear. With the needs of modern education they have to stay at school longer, too. But what assistance is being provided by this hard, cruel, ruthless, cynical, impertinent Government - a government which does not give a damn for the working man and his needs and never will. It knows that no votes are to be gained from the working class and therefore it contemptuously ignores the working class.
Let us take a typical case to show the raw deal that is handed out to the average working man, the average family man with a wife and two children. On the face of it, a concessional deduction of $600 or thereabouts from his taxable income looks quite good, but when one makes a comparison with the real amount of the deduction it does not look so good. Let us take a typical case. The average income of an un skilled steel worker in my electorate is 200 a year. The concessional deduction for his wife and two children is worth no more than $130. For a man on an $8,000 a year taxable income the concessional deduction is in fact worth $320. Who needs the concession most and who gets the least? The working man, of course, and that is typical of this Government, its cynicism and its cold, hard and indifferent approach to the needs of the people who are doing their best to populate Australia and who will be called on to make sacrifices both for its defence and for its development.
A couple of years ago we were honoured by a visit to my constituency from the Italian Ambassador. That gentleman in the course of his journey around the district made the comment, both at the time and subsequently to me, that one of the biggest drawbacks to immigration was the rate of wages being paid, particularly to unskilled workers. Less than a month ago we had a visit from the Italian Consul in Sydney and precisely the same comment was made. This Government of course would not lift a finger to help the needs of the working man and it is for that reason that today there is a bonus campaign current within my constituency for a general 20% rise right through the whole wage structure in the steel industry. One of the most remarkable features about my constituency is the very small percentage of migrants from Europe who have chosen to accept Australian nationality. They come into my office periodically and I always ask them whether they intend to accept Australian citizenship. The answer is invariably the same: ‘We like Australia, we like the Australian people, but the risk is too great for us to take in our old age. If we stay here in retirement we run the risk of inadequate social services. We run the risk of excessive health charges for both doctor and hospital. We can go back to bur own country and be better off.’ I speak now particularly of people from northern Europe - Holland, Belgium, West Germany and Denmark - who all look with considerable and measured contempt upon the inadequacy of our whole structure of social services.
Now, what is being offered to the pensioners? The usual pre-election bribe. As usual this Government places the needs of the pensioners on the political auction block and they are receiving the typical dollar bill from Dollar Bill. They are receiving what is nothing more or less than political conscience money. The statement was made last week - and the figures given to prove it - that over the period of 12 months there had been a 48c drop in the purchasing power of the miserable $1 that was flung contemptuously last year to the pensioners because at that time .the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) intended to have an election and, of course, he was going round and mending fences. Due to pressure from the Democratic Labor Party, which did not want an election at that time and which bluffed him out of it by the same threat as it is using today, the election was abandoned. It was lucky for the pensioners that they got something they would never have received otherwise.
Let me pass now to an entirely different matter. This is the time for election stunts and for election gimmickry. There was other window dressing for the abortive December election of last year. The Prime Minister knew that he could not go in and face the people of Australia with the outrageous subsidies that were to be given to the Esso-BHP group under the terms of the McEwen proposals. He went along and, behind closed doors and ignoring the rights of the Parliament, negotiated with them a deal which he put on this basis: You have to give way, boys, but I will give you something in return.’ He then walked into this Parliament with a piecemeal deal and said: I have saved $42m between now and 1970 and I have security for the next 5 years. There will be no further increases in the price that is to be paid for Australian crude from Bass Strait. In point of fact the deal that was made took into account productions costs, all in, including every conceivable factor and with the usual profit, provision for amortisation and the like. The production cost of Bass Strait oil is less than $1 per barrel, but the Prime Minister has given a guarantee for a period of 5 years of a price that would average out at about $2.06 per barrel - in other words, a present of $500m, which is nearly twice the amount that is to be wasted on the swing wing bomber.
One of the most remarkable features of the whole oil scandal and the whole oil mess in Australia is the reluctance of this Government to face up to its responsibilities and to exercise its undoubted constitutional powers. Reference has been made in this House in the last couple of weeks to a most interesting decision in the case of Bonser v. La Macchia. That decision made it absolutely crystal clear that the Commonwealth alone has sovereign rights in respect of off-shore oil. I quote from page 13 of the judgment of Barwick C.J., who said:
In my opinion, therefore, die territorial limits of an Australian colony at federation did not include any part of the territorial sea or the seabed subjacent to it Federation did not increase those territorial limits so mat since federation the territorial limits of a State are to be found at the low water mark on its coasts.
I warned this Government at the time when the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill was being discussed in this House that its constitutional claims would not hit the deck if ever there were a challenge. The challenge has come in this case in a roundabout fashion. There is not the slightest doubt that the whole structure of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act is nothing more or less than a house of cards which will collapse. One of the most remarkable features of the case to which I have referred was that no lesser personage than the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia appeared in court on the case and very meekly, and accompanied by the Solicitor-General for New South Wales, advanced as argument to the Chief Justice and the Bench that he and his colleague, the Solicitor-General, did not desire to argue as to the meaning of the expression ‘beyond territorial limits’ as used in the Constitution or as used in the Act, or in the expression ‘waters that are within the territorial limits of a State or a Territory of the Commonwealth’. Accordingly he asked the court not to decide where those inner limits were and where constitutionally they could be set.
What a position! The representative of the largest State of Australia and the representative of the nation - two leading legal representatives - came into court and said: Please do not tell us what our rights are; we do not want to know. We have made a deal with our cobbers and we want to maintain the fiction. To hell with constitutional rights and realities.’ What a travesty of justice. Where exactly are we going? The real position today is that the Bass Strait oil is being produced on Commonwealth territory under full Commonwealth control.
The Commonwealth and no one else but the Commonwealth has the right to grant leases and other holdings in respect of it. The Commonwealth and no one else but the Commonwealth has the right to fix the prices at which crude oil and associated natural gas should be sold. The Commonwealth and no one else but the Commonwealth has the power to make the necessary investigations into the production costs of both the oil and the gas.
A Labor government will use these powers and use them fairly. It will use them with due consideration for the undertakings and for. the commitments of the Esso-BHP group. But it will use them at the same time-r-and correctly - to ensure that the people of Australia get a fair go and that they can obtain their supplies of oil and fuel at a fair price. More than that, it will end the contemptible racket of Bolte’s bluff. Here we have the Premier of a State choosing to say: ‘You will not put your pipelines through our State until I have secured all that we need for this State in the way of natural gas supplies. In addition, you will not sell this product to any other State on terms less favourable than those on which you are selling it to Victoria’. In point of fact, he made a bad deal and finished up agreeing to pay Esso-BHP twice the price that was recommended by the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria.
There is no legal power to stop the Commonwealth of Australia constructing a pipeline from Bass Strait to the Australian Capital Territory. Neither Sir Henry Bolte nor any other power in this land could hinder the Commonwealth in the process; nor should it try. It is too silly for words. The major industrial State of Australia, New South Wales, is entitled to participate in the benefits of that off-shore natural gas. It was only a week ago, in the annual report and balance sheet of the BHP group, that it was stated that there were more than ample supplies for the foreseeable future to meet the needs of not only Victoria but also of other parts of Australia.
For that purpose, we will establish a federal fuel commission - we have the constitutional power to do it - to regulate the carriage of that gas interstate, to regulate the price and preferably to see that it is retailed either by a State instrumentality or by a local government. We will see also that the pipeline goes through the proper route so that areas such as Albury and Wagga can be supplied. We will not be privy in any way to some of the crosscurrents of the tug of war that is going on between rival parochial interests. We will end the log-jam. We will provide a Gordian solution to the problem. It is time that this was done.
This is one of the most disgraceful and contemptible chapters in Australian political history. We saw the way in which a hocus pocus approach was adopted and how a stupid, ridiculous structure has been created which is an insult to the intelligence of any self-respecting lawyer. Why, during the second reading debate of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill no less a person than the honourable member for Mackellar, who is now the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), expressed exactly the same opinion about the legislation. He said that it was wholly unconstitutional and would never stand up to challenge.
To bring the matter right up to date, we have the situation where a company in New South Wales, Alkane Exploration (Terrigal) N.L., is already acting under the terms and in the spirit of the decision in the case that I have quoted and has made application to the Commonwealth for the granting of mineral exploration rights off-shore along the New South Wales coastline. There can be no question as to what is the legal position. Before the case of Bonser v. La Macchia was heard a symposium was held in Sydney attended by the Attorney-General and many other legal luminaries. Sir Percy Spender, a retired judge of the International Court of Justice, addressed the symposium. He stated the legal position. To the letter, Sir Garfield Barwick, Chief Justice of the High Court, and Mr Justice Windeyer of the High Court gave the same ruling. They confirmed decisions of the International Court, the Canadian Supreme Court and a long standing case in the United Kingdom, the Queen v. King. What is the Government to do? Is it to bury its head in the sand or scuttle for cover? The challenge will come. The people of Australia are entitled to get oil and gas at the proper price. They should not have foisted upon them the position that the more oil and gas that is discovered, the higher the prices will soar.
In the time remaining to me I wish to touch briefly on another issue that will arise in this period of election stunting and gimmickry. I have reason to believe that in the near future a high sounding statement will be made that the Commonwealth intends to enter the field of nuclear power production. As usual, the Commonwealth will be using the most inefficient and costly means in what is nothing more than an election gimmick. The Government proposes to use a natural uranium reactor, heavy water regulated, in contravention of the best technical advice. This is to be done because the Prime Minister - God bless him - wants to use Australia’s uranium. Anyone who takes the trouble to have a look at the quarterly review of the Australian mining industry of March of this year will find in it an article by Mr A. J. Gourlay of the Department of National Development. Mr Gourlay wrote specifically on the question of this type of nuclear reactor:
The Prime Minister- a brave man - has indicated a desire that when the first power reactors are established in Australia they should utilise supplies of fuel produced in Australia. However, it is clear that domestic reserves of uranium ore so far proved are inadequate to support even a modest nuclear power programme.
Mr Gourlay makes the calculation, and supports it appropriately, that a 500- megawatt reactor would consume 2,950 short tons of natural uranium over an economic life of 35 years. The proven uranium reserves in Australia are at present only 14,700 short tons. This is the worst way in which to enter the field of nuclear power production. The Opposition acknowledges the need for Australia to acquire to the utmost nuclear technology. Last May Sir James Cunningham, ViceChairman of the British Atomic Energy Commission, came to Australia to warn the Government not to adopt this process but to use the process of enriched uranium which would give three or four times the amount of power from the same quantity of uranium. In the process of doing that, it would be necessary to buy the enriching plant from overseas. At present successful experiments are being carried out by the United Kingdom, Holland and West Germany in Holland to break the American monopoly in the field of enriched uranium.
– How do you know which one we are going to buy?
– It has been announced. Have you not read it?
– You said that you expected an announcement soon.
– An announcement will be made. There could not be a better gimmick in election terms; there could not be a worse one in financial, economic and physical reality.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. ..33
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. Sir William Haworth) - Order! In accordance with standing order 226 the Committee will first consider the Second Schedule of the Bill.
House adjourned at 11.28 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
International Labour Organisation
Conventions: Papua and New Guinea Laws (Question No. 1427)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As was indicated in reply to similar questions asked by the honourable member in 1963 (Hansard 1963, pages 1017 and 2027), the standards of the Conventions referred to are in fact substantially applied by law and practice in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The respects in which the laws and practices of the Territory still fall short of or differ from the standards set by the Conventions are listed below. In two instances the differences are minimal and the practicability of ratification is under review; conditional ratification is being considered in the case of another,
C.50 - Recruiting of Indigenous Workers Convention, 1936
The reply given in 1963 covered the main areas of difference. Closer examination has revealed that there is in addition a further point of variance in that whereas Article 10 provides that chiefs or other indigenous authorities shall not act as recruiting agents or exercise pressure upon possible recruits, the Native Employment Ordinance 1958-1967 of the Territory does not specifically preclude such persons or authorities from recruiting. Any exercise of pressure by any person upon possible recruits is, however, an offence under the Ordinance and is subject to a penalty of $200.
Furthermore, persons who are recruited under the Native Employment Ordinance 1958- 1967 and employed other than as agreement workers are not covered, as are agreement workers, by certain of the provisions of Articles 7 (3), 13 (2), 16, 18 (1), 21, 22 and 23 of the Convention.
C.64 - Contracts of Employment (Indigenous Workers) Convention, 1939
The main impediment to ratification of the Convention in respect to law and practice in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is to be found in the provision of Article 3 which seeks to limit the employment of indigenous workers under oral contract to periods of less than six months. Under present circumstances in the Territory, such a restriction is considered to be undesirable for the reason that with the growing sophistication of the Territory work force there is a trend for workers to seek employment for indefinite periods on a non-agreement basis, that is, as casual workers. Conditions of employment for these workers are still secured under the Native Employment Ordinance 1958-1967 and under negotiated industrial awards the provisions of which are binding. There are indications that the latter systems of employment will continue to replace the system of employment under agreement.
C.65 - Penal Sanctions (Indigenous Workers) Convention, 1939 and
C.104 - Abolition of Penal Sanctions (Indigenous Workers) Convention, 1955
The only areas in which there might not be conformity with these Conventions are in respect of sanctions under the Apprenticeship Ordinance 1967 and penalty provisions contained in the Public Service (Papua and New Guinea) Ordinance 1963-1968 and in the legislation relating to employment in the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary, Corrective Institutions Branch and other government statutory authorities. These sanctions and penalty provisions apply alike to indigenous and non-indigenous workers.
C.82- Social Policy (Non-Metropolitan Territories) Convention 1947
C.117 - Social Policy (Basic Aims and Standards) Convention 1962
As previously indicated, the provisions of these Conventions are already substantially applied in the Territory, the major barrier to full application being discrimination in the Public Service on the grounds of sex (Article 18). A step towards the removal of this barrier was taken recently with the decision to provide for wages parity between the sexes for performance of equal work in the case of local officers within the meaning of the Public Service Ordinance.
Although law and practice in the Territory still do not comply fully with the requirements of all eleven of the Conventions referred to in the Schedule to this Convention, the question of ratification is currently being reviewed having regard particularly to the conditional basis of ratification for which the Convention makes provision.
Current laws and practices in the Territory are consistent with the standards set by this Convention and ratification is being considered in conjunction with Convention No. 87: Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948.
The position regarding this Convention is as previously indicated,
There is now only slight variance between the provisions of this Convention and current law and practice in the Territory and a review is at present being made to determine whether ratification would be practicable. .
The shortfall of law and practice in the Territory so far as this Convention is concerned is similar to that applying in respect of Convention No. 82, that is, discrimination on the grounds of sex in the Public Service.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
– The Minister for Supply has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
However, the construction of facilities for a large proportion of these installations has been undertaken by the Department of Works or private Australian contractors. For example, up to 30th June 1969 $12.6m had been spent in Australia on the construction of United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration tracking stations and facilities.
The figures include both professional staff and non-professional technicians:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Pri mary Industry, upon notice:
What requests or suggestions were made at the meeting of Commonwealth and State Fisheries Ministers at Darwin in June for legislative or administrative action by (a) Commonwealth, (b) Territories and (c) States?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Terms of Reference - Australian Fisheries Council and the Standing Committee on Fisheries - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Rules of Procedure- Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Funds for Research, Education, Extension and Development for the Fishing Industry- Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Australian-Japanese Fisheries Agreement - Commonwealth Action
Entry of Foreign Fishing Vessels into Australian Ports - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Foreign Fishing Vessels in Territorial Waters - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act 1968- Commonwealth, Territory arid State Action
Protection of Great Barrier Reef and Gulf of Carpentaria Waters- Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Fisheries Patrolling - Commonwealth Action
Review of Commonwealth Fisheries Act- Commonwealth Action
Administration of Commonwealth Fishery Law - Commonwealth Action
Licensing of Processing Plants under Commonwealth Law - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action .
Uniform Fisheries Licensing - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Reciprocity - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Commonwealth Re-imbursement - State Fisheries Authority - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Financial Assistance to the Fishing Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Australian Participation in International Bodies - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
I.P.F.C. Delegate to XIV Session- Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Education Committee - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Southern Pelagic Project Committee - Commonwealth and State Action
Northern Fisheries Research Committee - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Gear Technology - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Environmental Pollution - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Economic Research and Statistics - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Imports of Live Aquarium Fish - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Abalone Quality Control for Export - Commonwealth and State Action
Nuclear Power in Harbour Construction- Commonwealth and State Action
Australian Agricultural Council (Question No. 1651)
asked the Minister for
Primary Industry, upon notice:
What requests or suggestions were made at the meeting of the Agricultural Council in Adelaide in July for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth (b) the Territories and (c) the States.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The following matters requiring legislative or administrative action were considered by the Australian Agricultural Council at its meeting in Adelaide in July, 1969.
Agricultural Report - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Drought - Commonwealth and State Action - Devaluation - Effects on Rural Industries - Commonwealth Action
Wheat Industry Proposals - Commonwealth and
Cotton Industry - Marketing Arrangements -
Tobacco Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Dried Vine Fruits Industry - Stabilisation
Scheme - Commonwealth Action
First Shipping Date for Granny Smith Apples -
Commonwealth and State Action
Meat Inspection - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
Reconstruction of Dairy Industry - Commonwealth and State Action
Dairy Industry Equalisation - Commonwealth
Margarine - State Action
Interstate Dealings in Milk - State Action
Imitation Milk - State Action
Poultry Industry - C.E.M.A. - Commonwealth and State Action
Broiler Stabilisation Scheme - State Action
Excess Water in Frozen Chickens - Territory and
Control of Multi-Resistant Cattle Ticks in
Queensland - Commonwealth, Territory and
Brucellosis and Tuberculosis - Financial Aspects - Commonwealth, Territory and State action
Tractor Testing - Commonwealth and State Action
Co-ordinating Committee on Pesticides - Commonwealth, Territory and State Action
XIV International Congress on Entomology - Commonwealth Action
Economic Surveys by B.A.E. - Commonwealth Action
XV Session of F.A.O. Conference - Australian Representation - Commonwealth and State Action
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
What changes in the (a) nature and (b) extent of civil economic and social ‘ assistance to South Vietnam have- occurred since his predecessor’s answer to me on 13th August, 1968 (Hansard, page 119)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
For details of economic and social assistance to Vietnam, I refer the honourable member to three publications which are available in the Parliamentary Library. These are ‘Economic and Social Aid to Vietnam’, a report of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Vietnam about all economic technical and cultural assistance other than that provided by the United States of America; the ‘Report to the Ambassador from the Director of the United States Agency for International Development, Vietnam’, about assistance from the United States of America in 1968; and the report of the Agency for International Development to the United States Congress for the proposed foreign aid programme for the financial year 1970.
A summary of the aid programmes of major donors follows:
Australia: Australian economic assistance to Vietnam in 1968-69 was $ Al, 914,000. A large proportion of this was in the form of contributions to the economic development of Vietnam; more than $A750,000 was spent on training Vietnamese in Australia and the maintenance of the three Austalian surgical teams in Vietnam was a large item of expenditure.
U.S.A Total economic assistance provided by the United States of America in the fiscal year 1969 (1968-69) is estimated to be $A558m. The project programme is estimated to cost $185m, the commercial import programme to cost 8157m. The Food for Freedom programme is estimated to be $US125m and the project programmes of the Department of Defence, $89m. The following table shows expenditures in 1967-68, 1968-69 and 1969-70 under the United States Agency for International Development programmes:
Canada: During 1968° Canada provided emergency food aid for refugees, additional training awards for Vietnamese students, and began constructing a low-cost housing complex in Saigon for refugee families. Canada plans to build 224 units for family occupancy.
France: In 1968, 400 French cultural personnel were assigned to Vietnamese schools, and 70 Vietnamese students took scholarships in France. Sixty-two French experts worked in Vietnam during 1968 mainly in the fields of public health and medical education, and equipment costing about $157,000 was supplied. To the end of December, total French aid amounted to more than 924.25m.
Germany: The major German aid project is the construction of a 170-bed hospital in Danang at a cost of about $2.8m to replace the hospital ship Helgoland which was despatched to Vietnam in 1966. Germany has given more than $US28.78m economic .arid social assistance to Vietnam since 1964. Many of the projects financed by the German Government are executed by German private organisations. ‘
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Civil Aviation: Carriers Liability (Question No. 1712)
asked the Minister for Civil
Aviation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
With the exception of one operator in Papua/ New Guinea, the domestic airlines agreed in principle with the proposal that the limits of liability be increased.
Surface Damage Caused by Aircraft (Question No. 1714)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What steps have been taken to secure Queensland and South Australian laws relating to surface damage caused by aircraft such as the other States passed many years ago.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth approached all States, including Queensland and South Australia, some time ago regarding the desirability of having uniform legislation on this subject, and the matter has also been before the Standing Committee of Attorney’s-General.
In the absence of special legislation in Queensland and South Australia on the subject, common law principles would apply to relevant cases in those Sta’tes.
Educational Television: Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers (Question No. 1736)
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Can he give any statistics relating to refugees or former refugees in South Vietnam.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
How does the present scale of fighting in Vietnam compare with its former scale on the bases of:
ammunition and armaments in use and expended,
troops arriving, engaged and leaving,
any other parameters available to him.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It will be apparent that on some of the factors raised detailed statistics relating to enemy forces and operations are not available. It would not be appropriate, moreover, to make public statistics relating to certain other aspects of enemy activities, nor to do so in respect of all statistics relating to Allied forces and operations. In any event all that I believe can usefully be said about the level of military activity was said in my statement to the House on 14th August 1969.
South East Asia: Transportation and Communication Co-ordination Committee (Question No. 1807)
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Consultations between Reserve Bank and Finance Companies (Question No. 17S9)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
At what intervals and on what basis do the Reserve Bank and the finance companies hold consultations and exchange views.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Over recent years informal discussions between the Reserve Bank and the Federal Standing Committee of the Australian Finance Conference have been held at least once a year and mostly twice a year. The discussions take the form of an exchange of information and views on economic and financial conditions and prospects.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice: ‘
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 August 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690826_reps_26_hor64/>.