27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors of the State of South Australia respectfully sheweth:
That Charles Martin, a 24 year old graduate in Building Technology is in Cadell Prison, in South Australia for failure to comply with the National Service Act, an Act which offends the conscience of many electors who are not directly touched by its provisions.
That his failure to comply with the Act waa done as a matter of conscience, and that hrs imprisonment must therefore cause concern to all electors who oppose the National Service Act, and the decision to send conscripted troops to Vietnam.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will repeal the National Service Act, and cause Charles Martin, and all others imprisoned under it, to be released.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth
That the Australian Capital Territory Pharmacy Ordinances 1931-1959 Section 46, Sub-section (1) states that ‘A person shall not publish any statement, whether by way of advertisement or otherwise, to promote the sale of any article as a medicine, instrument or appliance for preventing conception’.
And that this infringes upon each individual’s right as a human being to all available information about contraceptive devices in order to help prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the words ‘or for preventing conception’ be deleted from Sub-section (1) of Section 46 of the Australian Capital Territory Pharmacy Ordinances.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the Division of Sturt respectfully sheweth:
That the determination as to which young men are required to undergo compulsory military service under the National Service Act 1951-1968 ls arrived at by a ballot system, based upon arbitrary grounds as to their date of birth.
And that this procedure providing for selection by a method of chance ls an unfair and arbitrary imposition on the human rights of a minority and discriminates against certain of the young male persons in the community in favour of others solely by reason of their respective dates of birth.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that Section Twenty-six of the National Service Act 1951-1968 be repealed.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully sheweth:
That there is a likelihood that education in the Australian Capital Territory will in the foreseeable future be made independent of the New South Wales education system:
That the decentralisation of education systems throughout Australia is educationally and administratively desirable, and is now being studied by several State Government Departments:
That the Australian Capital Territory is a homogeneous and coherent unit especially favourable for such studies.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that a Committee of Enquiry, on which are represented the Department of Education and Science, institutions of tertiary education, practising educators, and the Canberra community, be instituted to enquire into the form that an Australian Capital Territory Education Authority should take, the educational principles and philosophy that should underlie lt, and its mode of operation and administration. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. Has the right honourable gentleman noted that the rate of growth in real personal consumption has fallen consistently, over the last 15 months for which information is available, from 4.8 per cent to 1.6 per cent? Has this decline occurred in conjunction with a reduction of new orders which obliges 7 out of every 10 manufacturers to operate below capacity? Has it occurred, moreover, at a time when unemployment stands already at the highest level since 1963 and is increasing at a monthly rate of 6.6 per cent? In the light of these latest ominous indications does, he affirm the relevance of a budgetary strategy designed ‘ to increase still further unemployment and further reduce demand? Will he. now modify this budgetary strategy in an endeavour to minimise the additional damage which it has already begun to cause?
– If the gentleman who prepared the substance of the question for the honourable gentleman had gone right into the facts I think he probably would have come to a totally different conclusion. What we have to worry about in this country is the rate at which inflationary pressures exist and the action that has been taken by the Government to see that those inflationary pressures are reduced. To give an example - -
– You are not worried about it?
– The honourable member will receive the answer in a few moments if he can remain calm for a second and if he is capable of understanding it. Let me mention that today the Commonwealth Statistician issued some, figures relating to the wholesale price index of building materials. In the.’ course of the year those’ prices have gone up by about 6 per cent. This is the kind of difficulty that this country faces. Unless we can solve the problem it will create difficulties for everyone - for the pensioner and the wage earner, and for the export industries. Indeed, it starts to create real problems for the people whom we want to see gainfully and profitably employed.
– ‘What about jobs?
– On the question of jobs, if the honourable members reads the document that was issued by the Department of Labour and National Service this morning he will see that the actual reduction in the. number of registered unemployed was 2,455, which constitutes roughly 1.1 per cent, or, in seasonal terms, 1.3 per cent to 1.4 per cent of the work force. This is not an abnormal figure for this time of the year. If the honourable member looks at the number of job vacancies he will see that vacancies increased by 1,461.
– Where were they? In the country?
– -If the honourable member looks at the document he will see that the number of registered unemployed in the country areas is not significantly different from that in the city areas. I thank the honourable member for the interjection. So we have to look at all these problems in a single context. Let me go a little further and say that the Government, while it knew that it had to restrain those inflationary forces caused by wage increases, at the same time was most anxious to ensure that it did not add demand inflation to wage inflation, and framed its strategy accordingly. The whole of the Budget strategy has been based upon that concept. 1 believe that honourable members should know - it is high time this was said and emphasised - that if ever there was a Budget which gave abundant opportunity for action to be taken quickly - and action which would have more or less immediate effect - it is this one. First of all we have a domestic surplus of $630m. If it was felt that demand had to be strengthened, of course action could be taken immediately. If it was thought that in monetary policy, whether it happened to be in the total supply of money or otherwise, action should be taken, it could be taken immediately. The Treasurer, the Minister for Labour and National Service and I have made it more than clear that if it were felt that action were necessary we would not hesitate to take action. We do not think that that moment has yet arrived.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that this country is one of the most favoured nations for overseas investment. To maintain the confidence of investors both local and from overseas is it essential to have a stable economy backed by a government whose political integrity indicates security for funds Invested? In view of certain criticisms and doubts recently published and the confusion caused by the recent adjustments of international currencies will the Treasurer keep the people and this House fully informed at frequent intervals of the Government’s attitude to the problems as they arise?
– Australia has, I am glad to say, good reserves, and with the high level of our reserves we are able to face the international monetary problem with confidence. The second point to make is that we have a strong resilience, an underlying strength, in our economy, and no matter what may be said that remains true upon all the indices that can be examined. In these circumstances, with Australia as a country which is hungry for capital in order to develop the resources that we have, we welcome the inflow of capital. Furthermore Australia is a country which attracts investments from all over the world simply because of the strength of our economy, the stability of our government and the assurance which the investors overseas believe will be there for their investments in Australia. As the honourable gentleman knows, I am sure, a statement was made by me at the weekend in which we released capital transfers into and out of Australia. We will of course, through the Reserve Bank, be keeping a surveillance on the inflow of capital to Australia, for while we welcome long term capital we do not want to have capital of a speculative kind which could create problems for us and even be harmful. As there are opportunities to see clarity emerging in the international situation I will of course make statements for the information of honourable members.
– I also desire to direct a question to the Treasurer. Has he examined the statement by Professor Colin Clark in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 5th May in which he indicates that interest and dividends paid to foreign investors are now rising at the rate of $100m a year? Has he further examined the statement by Professor Clark that we are short by $900m a year on our overseas balance of payments? Does Professor Clark’s submission validate the situation I described in my recent question to the Treasurer on foreign investment, and does it also validate the concern expressed by the right honourable member for Higgins in his articles in the ‘Sunday Australian’ in relation to foreign investment? Finally, in view of the lifting of foreign exchange curbs, to which the Treasurer has just referred, and in view of widespread fears of an inflow of inflated foreign currency for speculative purposes, will the Treasurer immediately order a review of the whole range of present policies which seem to many of us to be taking us hell bent to the international pawn shop?
– The tail end of the question is quite an irresponsible comment and has no warrant. I regret that it is indicative of a failure to understand the principles with which the honourable gentleman is wrestling. It should be clear to all honourable gentlemen, and it should be clear not only to the broad Australian public but also to those people overseas who have money to invest, that Australia welcomes the inflow of capital to assist in the development of our resources. That is our policy and it remains our policy. I have no doubt that that policy pursued is in the great interests of the welfare of our economy and of the Australian people.
I do not have a clear recollection of what was in the article by Professor Colin Clark which, I think the honourable member said, appeared on 5th May. I remember that at the time I did read it. I think therefore I should not try to discuss it particularly but should deal just with the concept. The concept, as I see it, is that as money comes into Australia for the development of our resources it benefits the whole of the economy. What the honourable gentleman says is that the cost of that capital will be too great. Well, this is a matter of judgment. 1 do not think that it is too great. I think that the benefits that we obtain from it are manifest in the development of the infrastructure of our economy over the years. We are in 1971 in a new decade. But in the decade of the sixties we had in Australia growth of which we could be proud. We had a real growth with a broadening and diversity of our manufacturing capacity and exports of our manufactured goods. We had in those days a tolerable inflation rate. I use the word tolerable’ deliberately. We did not like that inflation, but it was tolerable. All this points to the reality of the combination of the resources of Australia, both physical and human, with the hungry attitudes that we have to use capital for the development of those resources. I do not share the view that was implicit in the question asked by the honourable gentleman.
– Has the Minister for Defence been advised of details of a recent accident in the United States of America involving an Fill aircraft, whilst that aircraft was flying low at high speed on tactical reconnaissance training? Further, does the Minister have any information for the House about the operational wing of Fill aircraft based at Upper Heyford in England?
– I am informed that the accident to which the honourable member refers was not caused by any fail.ture of the -aircraft itself, but. was one which could have happened to any fast low flying aircraft. Apparently, what happened was that this plane was on terrain following radar and was coming in at about 1,000 feet at some SOO knots when it struck an extremely large bird. The bird went through the windscreen and the canopy and severely injured the navigator. The pilot disengaged the terrain following radar and found the nose dipped forward at about 30 degrees. As he was finding some difficulty in controlling the aircraft he ejected successfully.
This problem of birds is associated with aircraft which are low flying at high speed. There have been problems of ingestion of birds into engines and also problems of windscreens being broken by collision with birds. In fact, I informed the House that on one occasion one of the tests that was undertaken when the TSR2 was being manufactured in England was to fire at near sonic speed dead chooks .at the windscreen to see whether or not it broke. I have been speaking to the Acting Secretary of the United States Air Force, who is in Australia at the present moment, and he has said that this windscreen is being looked at at the moment to see whether there are ways in which it can be strengthened although it is believed - and I believe, to the best of my knowledge anyway - that this is the first occasion on which this has happened to the FI 1 1.
The Fill came back into operation some 14 months ago. There are now 340 of these aircraft flying and, of these, I think 79 are on operation in Europe with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces. They are giving extremely good and reliable operation performances. The tests which Australia insisted should be undertaken before we would make our final decision on the Fill are proceeding and I believe that, towards the end of this year, these tests will be far enough advanced for the Government to make a decision on the future of this aircraft.
– I ask the Minister for Social . Services a question. Is the Minister aware of any financial difficulties now being experienced by benevolent and church homes in all States, particularly in Tasmania? If so, what is the magnitude of these problems and what proposals does he have in mind to obviate them?
– I am aware of these problems because some representatives of the homes saw me quite recently. I am unable to give the honourable member information about the methods of meeting these problems because they lie mainly within the domain of my colleague the Minister for Health. I am at present in the process of discussing this matter with him and I shall discuss it further.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I understand that recently Japan made an announcement relating to beef and veal imports in 1971-72. Will the Minister inform the House as to the nature of the announcement and give some indication of the prospects for our beef and veal exports to the Japanese market?
– Imports of beef and veal into Japan are controlled by a global quota as well as by tariffs and an import levy. Japan recently announced its opening global quota for the year ending 30th March 1972 of 14,000 tons and if it follows normal procedure there will be a follow-up quota of the same amount resulting in an annual quota of 28,000 tons or 16 per cent more than the quota last year. This is certainly welcomed by Australia mainly because we have been supplying something like 80 per cent of Japan’s global quota of beef and veal. I believe this performance may be improved with the new refrigerated container shipping facilities now operating between Australia and Japan. These facilities should enable large volumes of high quality chilled beef and veal to enter that market.
The Japanese market offers enormous potential for Australia’s beef industry. A slight increase in consumption per head of population in Japan means an enormous additional requirement for that country. The Japanese consume annually about 6 lb of beef per head compared with 90 lb per head in Australia. If there is a one lb increase in consumption per head in Japan the additional requirement would be 50,000 tons. We expect that with increased living standards in Japan and with the pressure for further liberalised trading relations there will be an increased availability for the export of Australian meat to that country. All in all the opportunities for Australian export of beef to Japan look reasonably encouraging.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the Minister tell the House why he departed from the practice of his predecessors by not issuing on 8th September - SEATO Day - a statement to commemorate the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, an organisation which the Government, at least hitherto, has regarded as the cornerstone of Australian foreign policy.
– There has been a practice in the past of taping a message on SEATO Day. This year this was discussed and it was decided to send a statement. We did in fact send a statement, along with other governments. I do not know whether the honourable member has missed it but we did make a statement on this occasion, and this was the procedure followed by other interested governments.
– I refer the Prime Minister to a question I asked in this House on 30th October 1970 concerning the release of Commonwealth land on the Sydney Harbour foreshores. I now ask him: Can he tell me what the present position is with respect to the negotiations between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales concerning the release, for recreational purposes, of land bordering on Sydney Harbour owned or occupied by the Commonwealth?
– Recently a decision was made by the Commonwealth that 550 acres of land on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour would be released to the State Government for recreational purposes. The Premier of New South Wales already has been informed of the proposed leases and the conditions under which the land will be released. The freehold will be retained by the Commonwealth and a leasehold will be given to the State Government. This will be done in order to ensure that the land is kept for recreational purposes and also to ensure that if at any time the Commonwealth does need the land for temporary defence purposes it can be resumed for those purposes. Also I have in preparation a letter to the Premier of New South Wales informing him of the conditions of tenure, the size and shape of the land that is to be released and various other matters of an administrative kind. I will let the honourable gentleman know as soon as that letter has been sent and 1 will also give him any further details that 1 have available.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and I at least give him the credit of believing that industrial unrest is not solved by creating large-scale unemployment. But I point out that the actual unemployment at the end of August was nearly 62,000 and, when seasonally adjusted, was 75,000, representing a potential weekly loss of 2i million to 3 million man-hours. Is he concerned about the loss of man-hours arising from unemployment as he apparently is concerned about the loss of man-hours arising from industrial unrest? Will he consult with his colleagues, the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Treasurer, because it does seem that the strategy of the Budget is not working out successfully so far as the labour market is concerned, as is indicated by the widening gap between the number of unemployed and the number of unfilled vacancies? For instance, in the categories of semi-skilled and unskilled-manual, there are 27,610 males unemployed and 6,500 vacancies.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is asking a long question which contains a good deal of information. I would ask the honourable member to shorten it.
– I suggest, > Mr Speaker, thai it is an important question. Will the Prime Minister particularly note that there are at leasts 2 sorts of unemployment - that arising out of rural depression in certain areas and that occasioned by lack of business confidence in urban areas? Would he agree also that the impact of the increased pay-as-you-earn taxation deductions which are to operate from the end of October will be demand-depressant, and will he even contemplate at this stage not imposing the additional 21 per cent levy?
– As to the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I am glad he has asked it because I omitted to mention certain factors which were raised in the speech by the Leader of the Opposition. The simple fact is that disposable income has increased by 14 per cent this year compared with last year and that savings over the last 2 quarterly periods have increased by something of the order of 56 per cent and 64 per cent respectively over the corresponding quarters of 1970. This illustrates in a very dramatic way the proposition that was put in this House by my colleague, the Treasurer, that the Government was fearful of the fact that demand inflation could emerge and superimpose itself on top of wage inflation. 1 concede immediately that that has . not. happened. Consequently we have not had the very dramatic rise in demand, and the very dramatic rise in inflationary pressures that could have emerged if .demand had taken the course that it might have taken. I want to make it clear to the House that as a former Minister for Labour and National Service for 8 years and consequently extremely sensitive to trends in employment I watch these figures with the greatest diligence. If I feel that they are getting to a point where remedial action of any kind has to be taken I will, in consultation with my colleagues, ensure that remedial action is taken immediately.
I point out one other factor to the honourable member who mentioned 2 types of unemployment, one associated with the rural industries and the other with the secondary industries in the cities. I believe that if he looks at the figures he will set that not only is there structural unemployment but he will, I am sure, remember that when I was the Minister I took om a document relating to the anatomy ol employment and I think we could gain from those figures associated with the 61,848 registrants today that a large proportion of them - I do not want to mention the proportion because my memory does not permit me to be explicit enough - are people whom it is difficult to employ particularly under conditions such as we find existing at the moment. Nonetheless I impress on the House, as I want to impress it on the Australian people, that these factors, together with the increase in average earnings, are the 2 sets of figures we will look at with great care. If we feel that action has to be taken I assure honourable members we will take it quickly to ensure that our policy of full employment is maintained.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and concerns the plight of Pakistani refugees. While acknowledging what the Australian Government has already done and the honourable gentleman’s reluctance to convey the impression of intruding into the domestic arrangements of 2 sovereign nations, can the honourable gentleman be persuaded to ask explicitly of the High Commissioners for India and Pakistan in Australia whether any specific assistance can be given by Australian charitable bodies which are deeply concerned about the plight of these people? In particular, would the honourable gentleman ask of the 2 High Commissioners whether there is any need for milk biscuits to be supplied to children who, I understand, are dying in their thousands from stark starvation?
-I am aware of the deep concern of the honourable member for Moreton in regard to this matter. Certainly the Government and, I know, the people of Australia share his deep concern at the tragedy of the refugees from East Pakistan. I will not go over what has already been debated and fully stated in this House as to the efforts which have been made not only in the area of aid up to the present time. The House will be aware that this Government was the third in the world on the scene to supply aid of $lm and we have since given $500,000 worth of rice. We offered wheat but those concerned did not want it at that stage because they had some in store. We have been taking steps to try to get at what is really the origin of the conflict in East Pakistan. We have assisted the efforts made by the United Nations and also some attempts made under the aegis of the Commonwealth of Nations; they are both Commonwealth countries as we are. The Prime Minister has also made efforts to deal with this matter in personal correspondence.
But I come to the substance of the honourable member’s question, which is the current situation. The problem is so large with over 8 million refugees - more than half the population of this country - that it is clearly one that we cannot cope with alone in any real sense. We are endeavouring to work with other countries and with the United Nations in dealing with this problem. We have it under the closest review. We are constantly in touch with the 2 Governments, particularly when we are arranging aid which is being administered by the Government of India. We are closely in touch with that Government as to the precise requirements on the ground and the facilities for handling aid when it arrives. I will take up the particular question which the honourable member has raised. But I assure the House that at present we have this under very active consideration.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is it true that 40 or more of the staff in the Engineers Department of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Cairns are to be transferred to a southern city? If it is true, how can the Postmaster-General justify this action when he supports the policy of decentralisation - or does he? Does he realise the position of these men and their families in having to sacrifice their homes at forced-to-sell prices so that they can purchase homes, if possible, at their new destinations? ls Cairns to be administered federally from Townsville as seems to be the policy of the present Country-Liberal Party in Queensland?
- Mr Speaker, having regard to your desire that answers, to questions should be short, I think this is a matter appropriate to a statement in the House which I expect to make during this week, if I am given permission.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Does he recall that last night in the House I advocated that all rural telephone subscribers be granted the privilege of local call charge, where at present it does not apply, to their nearest centre where medical and general facilities are available abd that it be irrespective of zone boundaries? Does he know that this would give them only a fraction of the privilege now enjoyed by city subscribers in regard to telephonic communication? Will he give this suggestion consideration?
– This is a matter that has received departmental and my own consideration for a lengthy period. There are problems associated with it. There are some people who have the requirement that he suggests but who, because the nearest town happens to be in the direction in which they do not want to make their calls, prefer- to go in another direction. They tend to insist that they be given this facility to the area of their choice or the town of their choice rather than to that which is nearest and which makes the facilities available.
Other problems associated with it mean that in many areas the distance would be over 100 miles and the provision of the facility is not considered reasonable having regard to other subscribers in the system. In addition this facility would mean a considerable increase in the capital required to provide additional channels. As the honourable member will appreciate, the resources available to the Post Office year by year are limited. In fact, last year we were unable, out of the resources we had, to meet the demand which the public made upon the Post Office and the same situation could develop this year!
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question which is in part supplementary to that asked by the. honourable member for Moreton. Is it a fact that the leader of the largest political party allowed to operate in Pakistan, Mr Ali Bhutto, has issued a warning to President Yahya Khan that his party will not support any constitution imposed by the army? Is lt a fact that this could open the way for a possible confrontation between the two men similar to that between the gaoled Mujibur Rahman which led to military action and open rebellion in East Pakistan? I ask the right honourable gentleman: Has he any information of further developments in this matter?
– I did read a statement that Mr Ali Bhutto had informed President Yahya Khan that his party would not be prepared to accept an enforced solution which deprived the people of their right to- vote in a properly conducted democratic election. I think it is proper that on an occasion like this I should inform the honourable gentleman and the House that I have written to President Yahya Khan on at least two occasions. On each occasion I have stressed the strong desirability of ensuring that civil rule was restored not only in West Pakistan but also in East Pakistan as soon as it was practicable. I have also asked that he exercise magnanimity and compassion in the trial of Sheik Mujibur Rahman that is now proceeding before a military court. In other words, we have taken strong steps to ensure that President Yahya Khan knows of the feelings of the Australian people and of this House and that we expect him to act in a rational and compassionate way so far as the Sheik is concerned.
I have also taken action to write to the Prime Minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi, and T have asked her again to exercise the greatest restraint to ensure that notwithstanding the provocation that she might think exists, no action is taken that could lead to a confrontation or, for that matter, could lead to war between Pakistan and India. Coming back to the question of Sheik Mujibur, from the information I have received I believe that the representations made by the Australian Government and by other governments have had some impact in West Pakistan.
– Did the Minister representing the. Minister for Health see recently in the . ‘National Times’ a report which claimed that a high proportion of doctors were not observing the common fees? ls this correct?
– 1 have seen the report in question. It is the worst piece of beaten up misinformation I have seen for a long time. The latest figures - that is, the figures for the March quarter of 1971 - available to the Department of Health concerning the observance of the common fee indicate that the proportion pf medical services charged at or below the common fee was 78 per cent in New South Wales, 76 per cent in Queensland, 87 per cent in South Australia, 88 per cent in Western Australia and 70 per cent in Tasmania. 1 have no reason to believe that these figures have changed since that time. Indeed, the events that have taken place since that time - that is, the increase in general practitioners fees, accompanied by an increase in benefits - would seem to suggest that the figures should remain at least at that level.
– I think you left out Victoria.
– The honourable gentleman says that I left out Victoria. I did so because so far the funds in that State have not been able to provide the information. They will provide it for the first time, I think, when the next quarterly figures are given.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Does the honourable gentleman recall his predecessor assuring the House on 2nd February last on the
Minsec affair that: ‘There cannot be any diminution of Australian ownership of mineral resources held in the companies concerned unless … in normal general stock exchange trading some shares were bought, as they might well be, in the normal way by overseas buyers’? Does he recall the former Deputy Prime Minister saying on 5th May last year, on the Australian Industry Development Corporation Bill: 1 know of no important country, other than Australia, where the government exhibits an indifference as to whether its national resources or production are owned in whole or in part by overseas interests? Now that rutile and zircon holdings of Minsec have passed into Canadian hands and the Australian holdings in Robe River have already partially passed into overseas hands, will the Prime Minister act to fulfill his predecessor’s assurance and Sir John McEwen’s hopes for the AIDC Bill?
– I do not remember the answers to the questions or the statements made by my colleague to which the honourable gentleman refers. I regret that, but I do not remember them. Previously in this House 1 have made a statement relating to Robe River. Prior to the date on which the liquidator put the shares up for tender I was informed by members of an Australian syndicate that they would be bidding for the shares and that they felt there was more than a reasonable prospect that they would be able to buy them. That was a hope that was entertained not only by them but also by me. Regrettably when the shares were submitted to tender by the official liquidator, who I pointed out in this House was an official not of the Commonwealth Government but of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, the bid by the Australian interest obviously was not high enough - I have not made inquiries into this - and the liquidator himself decided that he would let them go to the highest bidder in the interests of the shareholders and the creditors of the corporation. This may have been regrettable, and I think this feeling is shared by my colleague, the right honourable member for Higgins. I read his comments in one of the Sunday newspapers. If the honourable gentleman had some kind of solution that he could have proposed or that I had known of 1 would have tested it. What I can say is that if the Australian Industry Development Corporation had felt it wanted to make additional funds available to the Australian interests to permit them to buy the shares and provided it and the would-be purchasers felt it was an economic proposition in the long run to purchase the shares at a higher price than that offered by the American interest, that was something that was within their joint power to do. I regret their decision. I did listen attentively to what was said and I felt reasonably certain until the last moment that Australian interests would buy the shares in Robe River.
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has told the House that he will initiate negotiations with Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and South Korea to try to stem the flow of low cost imports of woven shirts and knitted outer garments from these countries. Is the Minister aware that in. 1970-71 we exported to those 4 countries goods worth more than $83m in excess of imports from them and that our exports included well over $110m worth of primary produce? Will the Minister assure me that the future of this valuable export trade will not be jeopardised by the pathetic attempt to prop up an industry that is already being subsidised at the rate of $40m a year by she exporters of this country who in the end always pay the price for tariff protection?
– I think it is a somewhat negative attitude just to disregard Australian industry, the investment that has been put into it, the people who are employed by it and the communities that depend upon it without giving consideration to the international factors that apply, particularly in the field of textiles. There is a fermenting and tormenting situation in relation to international trade in textiles. All developed countries are finding it extremely difficult to maintain their own textile industries against those countries which have a very low wage structure. To protect their industries - not absolutely or completely but to give them reasonable protection - these countries have had to devise ways and means of introducing either quantitative restrictions or voluntary restrictions upon imports into their countries. As 1 have mentioned in this House before, 11 developed countries have been able to negotiate arrangements with some of the countries the honourable member mentioned to restrain imports into their countries.
In the case of cotton textiles there is an international cotton textile arrangement. Some countries have agreements with the low-wage producing countries in order to restrain the volume of cotton textiles coming from those countries. For instance, I believe that the United States of America has 57 agreements relating to cotton textiles with different countries so as to protect its own industry. Australia will try to negotiate arrangements with those countries which are affecting it by their low-priced textiles which are coming into this country. I have not mentioned the countries. The honourable gentlemen assumed which countries might be giving us trouble, and we think that some of these are the countries concerned.
But the Government will not be cutting back on the amount of trade. Quantitative restrictions have already been operating in this area for the past 3 years, as a result of the temporary protection given by the Tariff Board’s Special Advisory Authority. What we hope to do is negotiate voluntary restraints which will operate when the new Tariff Board recommendations are applied in 18 months time and allow those concerned growth on the Australian market, while at the same time being able to rationalise and reorganise our own textile industry so that at least the efficient sector of it can be maintained.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I think that 1 have been misrepresented by a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition concerning Mineral Securities Australia Ltd. I think that this is so. I do not believe that I did give an undertaking or an assurance that the shares in the various Minsec subsidiary companies could not and would not be sold to overseas owners. My recollection of what occurred is that when Minsec ran into trouble a number of industrialists from abroad and from within Australia met with me, and arrangements were made for a considerable sum of money to be lent to Minsec, or at any rate to be used so that those creditors of Minsec who held shares in the Minsec’s subsidiary companies as security could be paid off. The ownership of those shares would then return to Minsec, and Minsec would be in a position where it could sell them gradually and without pressure on the market in the ordinary stock exchange ways. I think there is a slight difference between that and the suggestion that, under all circumstances, assurances could be given that what has happened would not happen. May I conclude by expressing my pleasure that the Prime Minister has made it clear that I have at least one constant reader?
– Pursuant to section 78 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 1971, I present the thirty-ninth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964- 1966, I present the report of the Council of the Institute for the year ended 30th June 1971 together with the Institute’s financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) - by leave - agreed to:
That Mr McLeay be discharged from attendance on the Committee of Privileges and that in his place Mr Jarman be appointed as a member of the Committee.
Debate resumed from 9 September (vide page 1085), on motion by Mr Snedden:
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 view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘the House condemns the Budget because (a) it breaks the Prime Minister’s pledge to Parliament on taking office to bring into effect for 1971-72 a fundamental review of social services and of methods for adjusting them, (b) it contains no proposals to balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government and (c) it produces no programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security’.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), which reads:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘the House condemns the Budget because (a) it breaks the Prime Minister’s pledge to Parliament on taking office to bring into effect for 1971-72 a fundamental review of social services and of methods for adjusting them, (b) it contains no proposals to balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government and (c) it produces no programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security.’
There is no point in my appealing to members of the Government Parties on the first ground of the amendment that I have just read. I am sure that the honourable gentlemen opposite are completely inured to broken pledges and conflicting statements made by successive Prime Ministers in recent years. In fact it would appear from the events of the past 6 months that we have reached the nadir in political leadership and public credibility. The traumas associated with years of leadership struggles culminating - in the circumstances surrounding the accession of the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) certainly have destroyed any finer feelings in honourable members opposite and certainly have deadened any nerves that would respond to an appeal on the ground of broken pledges. The in-fighting and the insecurity engendered by a string of ministerial changes and sackings associated, as they have been, wilh leadership at once vacillating and contradictory have destroyed their responsiveness and cowed them into submission.
The country is crying out for concerted action. Instead it receives changing administrations. The country is crying out for vision at the top. Instead it receives vacillation. The country is crying out for integrity at the highest level. Instead it receives intrigue. The country desperately needs leadership for country people. Instead it is given the Country Party. The people cry out for bread and the Government gives them a stone. Therefore, though the plight of people reliant upon social services is extreme, there is no hope of any help from the Government. Perhaps there is nothing more urgent than a fundamental review of social services and of methods for adjusting them; yet while a pledge has been given, it will not be realised this side of an election.
Since pensioners are given a stone instead of bread, with complete equanimity by honourable members opposite, we will have to appeal to them on the remaining 2 grounds of our amendment. Firstly, the Budget contains no proposals to balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government. Honourable members opposite may be inured to the plight of people reliant upon social services and be equally inured to the nadir reached in public credibility under the leadership of recent Prime Ministers, but surely they must be aware of and concerned about the present condition of State and local government indebtedness. The situation is one about which our Leader has been sounding warnings for some years, lt is a situation that he pronounced as urgent and becoming grave some years ago in his speech on the Budget at that time. The inclusion in his speech of matters directly Tei a ted to local government at that time drew scorn from members of the Government; , yet now we find people at almost every level of society recognising the need foi direct assistance from the Commonwealth to local government bodies. Local government bodies themselves are becoming increasingly perturbed about the situation that most of them are confronting.
In Western Australia steep rate increases last year have been followed by further steep increases this year in many towns and shires. Rural councils are faced, too, with diminishing incomes due to the rural debt. Many farmers and townspeople cannot afford to pay council rates. The new State Government of Western Australia has conducted an urgent survey of shires to establish the extent of the problem and it is preparing to act to alleviate the condition that exists. Yet the present State Government has a record State deficit which it inherited and which has to be reduced. At the same time the State Government of
Western Australia has to correct what the present Minister for Lands and Agriculture, Mr H. D. Evans, termed as the compass condition of the previous Government, which always seemed to be pointing north.
The new State Government in Western Australia has created a portfolio of decentralisation under which it has set up a committee to examine problems in the Albany region and another committee to examine problems in the Collie region. As with other rural areas, a need exists for policies to assist with education for country children, employment for country people, for rural reconstruction and for retraining schemes for people forced to leave farms or affected in other ways by redundancy. All these matters are urgent and do require early attention.
Because State governments already face crises in health, education and other fields, contributed to in no small part by the indifference of Liberal-Country Party Federal governments, an urgent need exists for the closest liaison between State and Federal governments to meet the problems that currently exist and that are developing. As the need is urgent and as no provision is made in this Budget that even suggests that the Government recognises the problems - far less is intending to meet them - I ask honourable members opposite to support the amendment moved So ably by our Leader. I ask them to read carefully his speech and the Australian Labor Party platform and, having done so, to vote with the Opposition to carry the amendment. We can discover then the will of the people on the multiplicity of problems which have grown up under successive anti-Labor governments.
Secondly, I appeal to them on the third ground of our amendment, that is, that this Budget produces no programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security. The reason for the validity of this ground probably was revealed when the Prime Minister was interviewed by Time” magazine. Having answered all the questions for which he had been able to make preparation, he was asked: ‘What of the future?’ Whereupon, the Prime Minister shuffled through his papers in much the same way as he shuffles minis terial portfolios, and came up with a little less– nothing. He revealed himself as a man tied to the past with absolutely no vision for the future. His party is devoid of a vision, let alone any plan, for the future. Thus, we have a Budget that provides nothing even in the short term that could be construed as a programme for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security.
One of the Government’s more able and energetic Ministers - the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) who is at the table at the present time - has, as he has said, prepared a scheme for improved social welfare. It would seem that there is one Minister who has sat down to come to grips with one of Australia’s most pressing needs. Yet he is the Minister who has the most tenuous hold on a place in the Ministry. The Prime Minister resolutely refuses to allow him to present his scheme to Parliament.
On the question of the failure to provide for economic strength, we have the Prime.. Minister’s .own statement that we can expect 100,000 unemployed by Christmas. We have the steady growth towards that figure which has been quickened since the presentation of the Budget, and we have the recently published report of the ACMA-Bank of New South Wales survey all of which, coupled with the recession in primary industry, reveals the ineffectiveness of Liberal-Country Party governments and their economic policies.
Yesterday, I asked the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) to contact the Minister for Decentralisation in Western Australia with a view to discovering ways in which the State and Federal governments might encourage industry in country areas. I believe that the need to examine the things that the Leader of the Opposition has been saying for many years about urban development and cities is urgent. I believe that, in this area, as in the area of local government and Commonwealth financial arrangements the Leader of the Opposition has provided an important stimulus to Australian thinking. We need encouragement to be given by both the State governments and the Federal Government to all industries and bodies that can create the conditions that will lead to the growth of towns within country areas, so that employment opportunities might be created in pleasant, wellplanned, decentralised regions, while at the same time stemming the flow of people into capital cities that will become increasingly more unpleasant and more smog’ bound. 1 believe that the south western part of the State of Western Australia lends itself well to such a plan if one were proceeded with. The region is serviced by the ports of Albany in the south and Bunbury in the west. AH of the State’s butter fat, most of its milk, coarse grains, vegetables, meat, most of the State’s timber, all of its tin and coal and most of its beach sands, etc., are produced in the area. The main towns of the region include Bunbury, Busselton, Collie, Manjimup and Albany, all of which could provide the nucleus for development and decentralised industries. 1 hope that the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the State Government, will examine prospects within the region and perhaps make it a testing area for policies of decentralisation.
I might say to the Minister for Trade and Industry that, by contrast with the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), I believe that Country Party members are the greatest stumbling block in the way of decentralisation. I know that they talk about it often. I also know that they have been in government for 20-odd years without doing anything about decentralisation. During most of those ‘ years, their Ministers have held the portfolios directly related to that area of responsibility. I believe that they publicly stand for decentralisation but privately resist it to enable them to hold country seats. Therefore, I hasten to inform the Minister for Trade and Industry that the electorate of Forrest need not be precluded from consideration on that ground. The Country Party receives only 10 per cent of the vote in the Forrest electorate.
In the interim, I believe that the Government should act swiftly to see. that no child is precluded from attending school or university because of the financial circumstances of its parents. In country areas today, people are experiencing the greatest difficulty in maintaining children at schools and universities away from home. In the interim, too, I believe special measures should be implemented to reduce telephone and telegraph costs between country areas and cities. I ask, too, that the Government act with expedition to bring down measures to provide opportunities for retraining and re-establishment for all persons affected by redundancy or debt.
I believe that the circumstances confronting us in Australia today more than for many years call for statesmanship. I believe that statesmanship is the quality most lacking in the front bench opposite and that the problems confronting us at the moment require extraordinary measures. I commend to honourable members opposite the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I commend to them the thought that they, because of the needs of the nation and because of the total lack of competence within the leadership of their Government, should take necessary action to obtain a mandate for one leader or another in this place. Stability in Government, I submit, will be found only in that way. Honourable members opposite can demonstrate their statesmanlike qualities by voting for the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister announced in my electorate that he wished to hold an early election. Let him seek a mandate on this Budget and on his record. Let honourable members opposite grant him his wish by voting on this occasion for the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I must thank the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwan), for his kind references to me. I hope that there was some sympathy in his voice when he referred, mistakenly I trust, to my tenuous hold on office. I shall do my best to endeavour to disappoint him. The honourable member referred to the fact that not everything that the Government would have liked to do is in this Budget. But he did not refer to the facts which very properly have limited the ability of the Government to get into this Budget the things which it would have liked done. Those limits come from the sense of responsibility which informs every action of this Government and which contrasts so notably with the irresponsible proposals brought forward by the Opposition.
Nobody could deny that the honourable member for Forrest was high-minded. His sentiments are impeccable. But the tragic thing is that he himself, unknowingly perhaps, is associated with a Party the impact of whose policies must make it impossible to do those things which he would desire. At question time today, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) pointed out the different kinds of forces which could lie behind an inflationary situation. He distinguishes between demand inflation and wage inflation. These are, of course, related although the relationship is not simple. I think that we perhaps might have a look at the first principles concerned. In any economic system, demand must be limited to the goods available. If there is an effective demand over the short term for more than the available goods the system must react. In a slave system like the totalitarian system the reaction shows itself in chaos, fearful repression and deprivation. This, of course, is the history of Soviet Russia with its ferocious discipline. In a democratic system the reaction is milder but still unpleasant. It goes by the name of inflation. The system equates demand to available goods by raising prices. This is something which we do not want to happen but it is at any rate better than the kind of ferocious discipline which is the only’ alternative when demand outruns supply.
For Australia and for this Budget the limiting factor on progress is the need to control inflation and, of course, inflation involves a lack of balance between supply and demand. We can meet it from one side of the equation or the other, that is, by reducing demand or by raising production. As honourable members will know,the relationship I have spoken of is not a simple one. It is complicated by the variations in propensity to save and the ways in which stored ability for demand can come through fluctuations in the amount of credit available, the decision of depositors to withdraw money from the bank or to put money into the bank, and many other related factors. The matter is not simple but in general it could be said that demand is a function of incomes. I say this subject to the qualifications I have made.
The overwhelming component of demand is wages. However, there is the other side to inflation - the side of which the Prime Minister spoke earlier today during question time. There is also wage inflation which can send prices up even though excess demand may not be involved in the process. In the old days classical economists thought that money wages would not tend to rise in times of slack demand and that an excess demand was necessary in order to push up money wages. This was a simple assumption which is certainly untrue under present arrangements. Let us have a look at the things on the cost side which send prices up and overwhelmingly they are wages. Behind this process, as I have previously said, are the 2 engines - the big engine and the small one. The small one is the tendency of companies to try to maximise their profits. The big one is the tendency of wage earners to enforce wage demands faster than the increase in productivity.
I think it is worth while, for the House to look at the comparative size of these 2 engines. The wages and salaries paid in Australia total a little more than $ 18,000m a year. Company profits are only one-sixth of that amount - $3,000m. Almost half of those company profits is paid in taxation so that company profits very largely support social services. More than a quarter of those profits go into reserves where they build up the capital goods on which increased productivity in the future must depend. When one looks at these 2 engines one can see that overwhelmingly the one which pushes up prices and costs is wages.
Now let us have a look at this matter. I ask the House to consider the position from the 1970 June quarter to the 1971 June quarter. During that time average weekly earnings rose by about 13 per cent. They are now $90 a week. In the same time prices rose by only a little less than 5i per cent. Company profits remained static; indeed in that 12 month period they receded a little. Therefore we can see in point of fact - this is quite clear from the figures - that wages are leading prices and it is because of the inordinate increase in wages that prices are going up as fast and as far as they have been. It is because of this that the Government has to be wary of adding to the demand side.
It is the tendency of wages to rise so inordinately which is hampering the desire of the Government to increase such things as social service benefits. I have heard members on the opposition side say ‘Look, if wages are controlled by . the Arbitration Court why should prices not be thus controlled?’ As I have already pointed out, wages are the overwhelming components of costs; profits mean very little in terms of costs, and this is on the. figures. But there is a complete logical fallacy behind the argument of the Opposition in this particular case. Members on the Opposition side say that wages are controlled and therefore we should let prices be similarly controlled. But the fact is that wages are nol controlled. The Arbitration Court does not set a maximum wage; it sets a minimum wage. There is nothing to prevent, neither should there be anything to prevent, the payment of a wage over and above the declared minimum wage or the declared wage with its margin for any particular calling. These over-award payments are made and the very fact that they are made shows conclusively that there is no control of wages. There is no control as to how high wages can go. There is a control as to how low they can go, and this is set by awards. It is quite common now for over-award payments to be substantial.
Yet nobody is suggesting that there should be minimum prices. When you talk about controlling prices you are not thinking of minimum prices. Indeed the Government has taken steps to reduce the capacity to declare minimum prices by outlawing such things as resale price maintenance. When we talk of prices control we mean exactly the opposite to the sense in which we use the words in regard to wages control because we are talking about maximum prices, not the minimum ones. This confusion between maximum and minimum seems to be at the root of a good deal of the confused thinking on this matter by members on the Opposition side. But this is really not the whole story or even the most important part of the story. Let us think of the production side. If productivity can be increased, money wages can be increased without increasing prices but unfortunately, in the community, there has been organised sabotage of production and this is one of the most important things that must be considered. ,
The machinery of trade unionism^ which has had its. good features and has played its part, is now being manipulated and abused in a way which has never been seen before, even in the times after the Second World War when a Labor government was last in power. We now have the technique of the rolling strike - a strike which is deliberately meant to disorganise production. One section in a factory will go on strike on Monday and Tuesday and the next section on Wednesday and Thursday; the trains in Sydney will stop for half a day; the concrete mixers will go out one week and the builders labourers will go out the next. This is being run to an organised plan in order to sabotage production. I believe it is being run by people who have a vested interest in bringing the Australian economy to its knees. It is not being done in order to improve the conditions of workers. Indeed, the effect of the process is to worsen the workers’ conditions, because every time production is reduced the standard of living of all Australians is reduced. Every time the construction of buildings is prevented, the housing shortage increases. Have the people who want houses received any benefit from the present building strike? Of course not. Did the people in Sydney receive any benefit from the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board strike? Of course not. These strikes were deliberate. They were strikes against the workers, with the workers being manipulated by a number of people who have no good intentions either towards the workers or towards Australia.
The rolling strike is a political strike. I remember the words of the infamous Ernie Thornton who, by ballot rigging, long preserved his position in the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia. He said: We made strikes our business’. They were the words of an avowed Communist who gained control of a union and used it in order to bring down production. The strikes were not made in order to improve the standard of living of workers. That is not why they made strikes their business. They made it their business in order to bring Australia down. It is only recently that this technique has received its perverted escalation in the technique of the rolling strike. It has been elaborated and is now being made the instrument of these people who are working against the workers and against Australia. They are using the strength of the workers to destroy the workers. It is a pathetic thing that in this situation the Opposition finds itself on the side of disorganisation and indiscipline.
– That is a shocking thing to say.
– It is not only a shocking thing to say; the shocking thing is that it is true. On no occasion has the Opposition come out strongly against this kind of thing because unfortunately - I know that no member of the Opposition likes to hear this - the Opposition is dependant upon the trade union movement and the left wing in the trade union movement is so considerable that members of the Opposition dare not say what they think. I ask members of the Opposition to consider the words spoken by their Leader quite recently. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said that the time for confrontation is ended. What could this mean? It must mean that confrontation should be superseded by arbitration - by negotiation. This is right. But, if this is so, both sides must agree to accept the arbitrator’s decision. If there is not to be confrontation, there must be law. But what has been happening in the last 3 or 4 weeks when militant factions in the unions have brought on their confrontations in the building industry, in the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board - which is a government instrumentality and not something which could be accused of making profits - and in the New South Wales railways a couple of days ago? What happened when these confrontations were brought on by the people, some of whom, at least, support the Leader of the Opposition? Did we hear anything from him? We did not hear a word. If he had been an honest man he would have said to his own people: ‘The time for confrontation is past; you must go to the negotiating table*. But we did not hear a word from him because, whether well intentioned or not, we havehere a frightened man who does not dare stand up to the forces which he himself has helped to call into being. These forces are not aimed at the prosperity of the workers or at the progress of Australia. They are, to some degree although not entirely, being directed by people whose aim is to destroy both.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I shall not say very much about what was said by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). His sentiments are well known. He is regarded as one of the ultra conservative people in the Government who is forever defending profits but who, on the other hand, makes a wholesale condemnation of wage and salary earners as being the arch priests and the architects of the price inflation which exists in the community. Of course, I did not hear the Minister have a go at the doctors when they were threatening to withhold their services unless the Government gave way and provided them with the kind of financial inducements that they required; I did not hear the Minister or any of his cohorts in the Ministry decry the farmers who marched down the streets of Melbourne because the Government was refusing to give them the kind of support to which they thought they were entitled; I did not hear the supporters of the Government deride the airline pilots when they wanted a salary increase. It is the ordinary wage earner in the community who is the butt of all Government attacks. Similarly, at the outset of his speech I heard the Minister say that it was the Government’s sense of responsibility that prevented it from doing all that it wanted to do in this Budget. I suppose it was that same sense of responsibility that has prevented the Government from giving help to thousands, of elderly people in nursing homes who are paying upwards of $30 a week and it was the same sense of responsibility that prevented it from providing assistance to kindergartens to help mothers with children in such places while they go to work.
I should like to say something about a few items in this Budget. I want to talk about the spending slump and the Budget’s misguided strategy. I want to make a closer examination of the factors influencing prices. I should like to say a few words about the neglected nationwide survey of educational needs and, if I have time, I should like to talk about the lack of Government planning in this nation. To my mind, the general view of the Budget seems to have been aptly expressed in an article written by David Lowe and published in the ‘Sunday Australian’ on 12th September.
He said, amongst other things: Our whole economic growth potential is being shcakled to deal with one internal structure problem - cost push inflation
Later the article stated:
Mr Lynch says it requires a change in manage ment attitudes. More to the point it requires a change in Government attitudes. Government is the job of governments, not of business.
All the commentators that I have read in recent times are indicating to the Government that it is about time it made use of those powers that have now been confirmed by the High Court, in devising more effective means for controlling the price structure as well as other elements in our national economy. I have indicated that I regard this as being a very misguided budget strategy and that view is supported by what is a friend, I suppose, df the Government - the Australian Industries Development Association. In its recent bulletin for September 1971 it said in part:
Everybody remembers 1960-61, of course, the year of the great credit squeeze - fiscal measures overkilled the- boom that was well on the way to petering out. In 1971-72 the Budget sets out to dampen excessive demand that is not there.
Among the facts cited in support of this view is the fact that personal consumption expenditure at constant prices increased by only 2.7 per cent in 1970-71, the lowest increase, I might remind the House, since 1965-66 when it was 2.6 per cent and the same as the increase in 1960-61, a year of depressed economic activity. So in fact there has not been any upsurge in personal consumption so what is all this story about inflation being caused by such factors. Matching this there has been a decline in private investment expenditure. The same body as T quoted a while ago - AIDA - says:
Business must bc alarmed at the Government’s fiscal measures.
It goes on to say:
Increases in company tax, in Post Office charges -
I am sorry the Minister for Social Services is leaving the House because he would see in his own budget measures some of the real roots of inflation - in excise duties on motor spirit and other fields can only add to the escalation of costs and prices throughout the economy.
It does not require any great sophistication to recognise that if we build into a budget these extra taxes and charges we must expect that they will have an effect on the price spiral. The Commonwealth statistician’s figures show that in the 6 months to December 1971 it is expected that new capital spending is expected to rise by only 7 per cent as compared with 18 per cent in the previous 6 months to June this year. This prompted the economist for the ‘Australian’, Kenneth Davidson, to make this remark:
So far- and I think we should all take notice of this in view of what the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) had to say today - most of the statistical evidence which has emerged since the Budget has pointed to a steeper downturn in the business circle than the Government expected.
He went on to say:
This is likely to show up in an even higher level of unemployment than the Government had planned as a result of the deflationary, Budget.
Then we got the news yesterday that unemployment increased by over 7 per cent during the last month. It now stands, on seasonally adjusted figures, at 75,000. It is expected that if this trend continues unemployment by February next year - not a long time away - could reach 120,000. We have to remind ourselves that approximately 180,000 young people are about to leave school and will be in the market seeking jobs. From my personal observation around the place - having youngsters of this age group myself - jobs will be a lot harder to get during the remainder of this year. Even those who are already soliciting jobs for the Christmas vacation are finding them ever so much harder to tie up than they have been in previous years. 1 want to say just a little more on this business of price inflation. The Minister, of course, was all out to indicate - as were plenty of other Government supporters - that increasing wages were the real cause of inflation in the community today. While the Government has been preoccupied with slamming wage earners for their’ alleged part in causing inflation it has had preciois little to say on the influence of the finance industry in Australia in recent times. Why should it say anything about the finance industry - the hire purchase companies, the extra-banking institutions in the community? They are well known for their financial support to the Liberal Party so why should the Government criticise them? But let us just have a look at the recent profits of some of the bigger of these financial institutions. The Commercial and General Acceptance Ltd set a commanding lead in the 1970-71 profit stakes by a 40.5 per cent jump in net earnings over the previous year. Custom Credit Corporation Ltd - another big one - had a profit gain of 31.3 per cent. Associated Securities Ltd increased its profit by 30.2 per cent and the Australian Guarantee Corporation Ltd by 25 per cent. IAC (Holdings) Ltd, the other one of the big 5, has not yet disclosed its profit because it does not balance its books until December. Just from these few examples we have some indication of where price inflation derives in this country today. It is not all a matter of wages and salaries.
The link between these big institutions and various private banks is well known. The question is: How long will it be before the Government takes steps to bring these extra-banking institutions under the same controls as apply to banking? Dr Harold Bell, the economic adviser to the Australian Mutual Provident Society and a very respected economist in our community, in a paper titled ‘Desirable Developments in Economic Management in Australia’ in June this year said, amongst other things:
In total, however, and especially having regard to associations with multi-national corporations or large international financial groups,, the quasi banking structure outside the inner circle of the officially and directly controlled banking structure and authorised money market is now a highly significant element in the Australian economy.
Dr Bell went on to say:
While these operations are inevitably affected by monetary policy there is. lacking that directness of control that applies to the . official banking and money market structure.
In other words, these big financial institutions are setting a hot pace in profit making in the business of dispensing finance in our economy and, of course, anyone knows that a rise of 1 per cent or even half of 1 per cent in the rate of interest as it pervades Tight through the economy can add greatly to our cost structure. Of course, there was not a word about that from the Minister. Dr Bell went on to spell out the need for more information about the amount of short term hot money pouring into Australia. He said: . . it is fair to say that in some important areas of activity the paucity of satisfactory information stems largely from reactionary inertia.
In other words, a Tory conservative government here has a policy of ‘hands off the big financiers’ whether they be local or international. Dr Bell went on to say that Canada’s study of its situation of international hot money pouring into the country puts our meagre official sources of information to shame’. That is just the position. We do not know what is the effect of this finance, and this Government could not care less how these big financiers are exploiting the Australian community.
The previous Prime Minister the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) made no bones about what caused a steep rise in the consumer price index for the last December quarter. He claimed that about 42 per cent of the rise was due to budget increases - this is last year’s Budget we are talking about now - in excise on cigarettes, wine and petrol, and in telephone rental charges, postage and so on and yet we get a repeat of it in this year’s Budget. Then the Prime Minister gets up and says: ‘Does the Opposition know what causes inflation?’ The Prime Minister may well look at what his predecessor had to say about the effect of budgetary increases and these regressive forms of taxation and charges for public services. On 23rd February of this year a very eminent person who ought to be acceptable to the Liberal Party - the Liberal Premier of Victoria no less - was reported in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ as saying that a 6 per cent wage rise granted by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was a contributory factor to inflation, but not the only cause. Sir Henry Bolte said:
I would place interest rates ahead of wage rises as a cause.
He went on:
If there hadn’t been a 7 per cent bank rate, there wouldn’t have been a 6 per cent wage rise.
This put the finger right on a basic problem of the Australian economy today. The simple fact is that this Australian economy has the highest, or nearly the highest, interest rates in the world. It is no wonder that hot money pours in here. The Government takes credit that it, as a so called stable government, is attracting this kind of investment. Of course the Government will attract that kind of money if it is prepared to leave the Australian economy wide open.
I would now like to turn to one other important matter that was not mentioned in the Budget - that is the nationwide survey into education needs in Australia. This survey, honourable members might remember, was to cover the needs of both government and non-government schools in primary, secondary and teacher education for the 5-year period from 1971 to 1975. It was estimated as a result of this survey that there would be required from the Commonwealth over this period an additional $ 1,443m to bridge the gap between the needs of the 6 States and their anticipated funds likely to be available to meet those needs. As I have said, we have to remember that this estimate referred only to primary, secondary and teacher education. It said nothing about pre-school education, education of the handicapped or technical education. The sum of $l,443m refers only to the government sector of state education in Australia. There was a survey of the requirements of nongovernment schools but so far, for some unfathomable reason, the Commonwealth will not reveal what the survey showed would be needed by them over the 5-year period. The Commonwealth now claims that as a result of adjustments in the financial arrangements between itself and the States at the last 2 Premiers’ Conferences, the States have been provided with enough extra finance to meet the needs as measured by the survey. As yet the Commonwealth has provided neither the Parliament nor the public with any information or analysis to back up its claim. It should be done at once.
With the assistance of the Parliamentary Library Legislative Research Service I have endeavoured to analyse the position from such information as is available. Because of the number of assumptions that have to be made, in the absence of definite information, it is almost impossible for me to know whether the gap between educational needs and anticipated State finances can be closed. At least in respect of capital needs - school buildings, equipment, land and so on - it seems most unlikely on the analysis I have made that the States will have anything like the necessary funds available oyer the 5-year period. That would require an estimated growth in capital funds of almost 28 per cent. But Commonwealth capital grants to the States in 1971-72 amounted to only 4.5 per cent. One has to remember that $722m was the estimated extra capital requirements over the 5-year period. Another $722m was the extra recurrent expenses required.
Here again 1 remind the House that I am talking about only the government sector. Neither Parliament nor the public, as I have said before, has ever been told how the huge deficiency in anticipated capital and recurrent funds, amounting to $ 1,443m, was to be met. It could have been in 5 equal instalments over the 5 years. If so, the Commonwealth was being asked to provide $228m extra for state education in each of the 5 years. If that was the proposition, then the new CommonwealthState financial arrangements will go nowhere near meeting that target in the first couple of years. I remind the House that it is a 5-year period.
The other alternative is that the extra funds required would be on a statistically projected scale upwards. The research shows that in this case the extra funds needed in 1971-72 would be something of the order of $65m to $70m. This would be probably a manageable amount. But by 1975 the amount required would have progressively risen to about $570m extra for that financial year. If this is to be the pattern of assistance to state education it will be in dire trouble from about 1973 onwards. As a matter of fact if is already in dire trouble. This situation applies to government and non-government schools.
It must be remembered also that in all the calculations it has been assumed that the States will maintain the high priority that they have given in their budgets to education over recent years. There can be no guarantee of that because the States have been saying that they have been driven to make a high proportion of their funds available for education to the neglect of so many other sectors of their economies. In fact the basic assumption in estimating these needs over the next 5 years is that the States would increase their allocation by 10 per cent each year. It was in spite of that growth of expenditure from the State’s own resources that they estimated that another $l,443m would be needed from the Commonwealth.
As I said, this calculation takes no account of the non-government schools; it does not take any account of those other sectors of education which I mentioned. As a matter of fact, the strong indicators are that the State governments are not in a much better position to meet these extra requirements of education. If this was not so, why would the States be making great increases in taxation and charges that they themselves are making? Why would they, for instance, increase payroll tax by 40 per cent, hospital charges by 50 per cent and sometimes more, and transport charges by over 50 per cent? Why would they introduce new taxes? All of these things indicate that the States are probably in little better condition now to meet these massive needs of education than they were before the recent financial agreements.
I conclude by saying this: This Budget does nothing to correct the basic economic and social imbalance in our society that is typified by flourishing financiers amid squalid schools, pensioner poverty and rural rot. After 22 years of LiberalCountry Party coalition governments our national legacy is one of car-choked cities, a continuing and increasing drain of people away from the countryside into overcrowded urban areas, exorbitantly inflated land prices in’ a continent with land literally to burn, usurious interest rates that rank among the world’s highest and growing government sponsored inequalities of opportunity that increasingly favour the privileged as against those whose only inheritance is need and want.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– When the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) spoke during the Budget debate last week he referred to those who relished playing the role of prophets of gloom. I gave some thought to whom he was referring and I think, with all kindness to the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds), that we have found one. One, of course, has an interest in the future of the Australian nation as a complete entity, but in the time allotted to me I would like to deal with the Budget measures applying to the rural industries and the control of inflation.
In a country such as Australia where the annual Budget is used so predominantly to control both the direction and the rate of growth of the national economy, it is a most delicate operation to frame a Budget which will achieve just that purpose. The proper rate of increase in demand in a growing population is required to keep up economic growth - and importantly to maintain full employment of labour, which up to the present time has provided this Government with a tremendous record. At the same time the Budget must refrain from encouraging further cost increases with resultant higher prices. It is almost impossible to specify correctly all the causes of the cost and price inflation which exists in Australia at present.
Again, it is practically impossible to apportion correctly the degree to which each separate cause contributes to the end result. But it is all too clear that cost and price inflation is now running high. This is seen in the fact that in the last financial year the average weekly earnings rose by over 10 per cent compared with 8.9 per cent in the previous year. The consumer price index rose by 4.8 per cent as against 3.2 per cent the previous year and by the last June quarter the rate of increase in prices was over 6 per cent.
What is certain in my mind is that the effects of inflation fall heaviest on 2 groups of people. The first group comprises that growing number of the population who are on a fixed income. I refer mostly to those people who rely on superannuation and life savings in the form of bank deposits or insurances, to people on pensions and to people who rely on investments of principal at fixed interest rates. The second group comprises those people who, irrespective of the economic climate in which they produce their goods for sale, must take for their produce a price over which they themselves have no control; a price which the buyer elects to pay. Of course, this second group is made up largely of primary producers, and their state of prosperity has a very direct bearing on the trades, professions and services which depend on the primary producers for their standard of living.
But there is another growing section of the economic community in this group, and that is the manufacturer who depends on the export market for disposal of the bulk of his goods, or all of his goods, just as the primary producer does. The amount of manufactured goods being sold overseas ls growing, and it must be encouraged to grow; and as the total grows 1 see help at hand for the primary producing communities. In the parliaments of the land - and I refer to all parliaments - it is only too well known that the representatives of the primary producer are outnumbered. But as exports of manufactured goods continue to expand there will be a gradual increase in the number of parliamentary representatives who will represent more and more export income earning capacity within their areas. As no country can survive for long without trading internationally, surely this expansion of a trading potential in manufactured goods will lead to the breakdown or the blurring of the line which has existed during Australian history between the primary producer and the manufacturer, and to the blurring of the distinct picture of exports dominated by primary produce, and imports substantially made up of manufactured goods, partly manufactured goods and raw materials for manufacture. Surely this must lead to greater attention being given by both management and labour to the relationship between wages, salaries and conditions, on the one hand, and productivity, on the other hand.
One cannot tell primary producers, as a body, much about this factor because they have had to contend with it for all their working lives. Before the great trade drives of the 1960s when manufacturers depended largely on the home market, costs were loaded on to prices with comparative ease, and with success. But with open competition on international markets continuing to develop and with competition against cheap labour countries, as we have heard today in replies to questions, the manufacturing industries - again management and labour alike - will have to follow the economic path which the primary producer knows so well - the one demanding a constant watch on the relationship between cost and productivity. We know that the primary producer has done this and, as 1 often have said in this House previously, he has done it so well over the years that he is an acknowledged world leader in efficiency. In fact, it was only efficiency and expanding production which have allowed the primary producer to offset rising costs, particularly over the last 10 to 15 years. One of the effects of that, which we see in our statistics, is that there has been a 30 per cent increase in capital investment in rural industries in that period. Low world prices for some primary produce and unfavourable climatic conditions, particularly in States such as Queensland, coupled with cost price inflation, have once again led to a marked recession in rural areas.
At this stage I should like to refer to the Budget speech of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) last week, which I thought, when it is studied, gave an excellent answer to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). He referred to sustained economic growth, particularly to a 30 per cent growth in the work force over the last 10 years; to, increased national reserves, which I think , are now at a record level; to full employment; and to an economy with enormous and exciting potentialities for future growth. As a representative of a primary producing area I was disappointed that in that speech there was only one phase which referred to rural industries. The Prime Minister spoke in general about assistance to rural industries, in a speech which lasted 26 minutes. I know that all subjects cannot be covered in one speech, but I think that rural industries rated a little more mention than that. 1 took note of 2 references towards the end of the Prime Minister’s speech. He said:
There are some people who seem blind to our economic progress, and the real nature of our problems. They relish playing the role of prophets of gloom.
Further on he said:
People who talk in this way seem to be mesmerised by the immediate problems of the day.
I am sure that that remark was directed at the Opposition and at the knockers in our community generally. I am not blind to the magnificent progress of Australia in many fields. T am not blind to the real nature of rural problems, either. There is a difference between being a prophet of gloom and putting forward hard, cold, unembellished facts concerning the economic problems of the people whom one represents. If I am mesmerised by these immediate problems, I think I can still distinguish between the every day parochial problems of a section of the community and the present problems of the rural community as a whole, which, if they are not corrected, will turn into a first class national economic smash, and a social smash as well.
I refer here, for instance, to the reasons which brought to Canberra last week a deputation from the central west and west of New South Wales. It comprises busy men, and men connected with local government, from 4 electorates: Calare, Darling, Gwydir and Riverina. All of them are facing the same problems. They referred to deficiency payments for wool; to the ‘rural crisis’ - and I am using their words; and to the need for the provision of more funds for the rural reconstruction scheme, for long term finance, for rehabilitation, for assistance to local government for the relief of unemployed persons in their areas, and for assistance with rating, tariff, freight and inflation. These were the matters about which the deputation came to Canberra to speak. Unemployment exists; it is not yet big in rural areas, but it does not have to be big in country towns to have a substantial effect on the economy of those towns. That is the backdrop against which this Budget has been framed.
So at the one time this 1971 Budget is stepping up the Government’s long established practice of providing compensation payments for primary producers and is adopting or continuing practices which are designed to minimise growth in cost and price inflation. Make no mistake: There has been a great lift in assistance to rural industry. I think that enough assistance has been provided to indicate that the Government recognises the very serious difficulties which face primary industry. In the wool industry there is continued support of the Australian Wool Commission and its own price averaging plan. There is the provisio of deficiency payments, which, was a most significant decision. They will have favourable effects not only on the wool growers but also on country towns in general and on all who make up the rural community. As one who exerted all the pressure he could and who expressed all the thought he could before the Budget was for mulated, I congratulate the Government on this move which will provide not only economic assistance but also some relief in terms of time to primary industry.
I can go on and refer to rural industry in general without going into great detail. An amount of $40m has been provided for rural reconstruction and an amount of $10m, which is not a large amount, for the Australian Development Bank to be used for farm build up purposes. There has been a continuation of the provision of super phosphate subsidies and of assistance to the dairy industry. Legislation concerning the apple and pear industry has been promised. All in all, the Budget provides S275m for rural industries, which I think is 32 per cent more than was provided last year.
Returning to the primary producer, the position for him is very different this time. He has found himself in this position on several occasions previously, lt is almost inevitable that there will be peaks and troughs in the level of rural prosperity. But the difference this time is that on previous occasions the primary producer has had the rest of the community following up and down in the peaks and troughs of prosperity with him. The reason for that was that the total national economy was so dominated by the return from rural exports. But now we have what some people term a split level economy with the primary producer and that large group on fixed incomes in straitened circumstances and, generally speaking, the remainder of the community doing very nicely. Most secondary industries are working at full pressure. There appear to be ample markets. There is difficulty in maintaining a steady and experienced work force. Tertiary industry and the services are absorbing all the labour which is available to them.
The anti-inflationary measures which are introduced in this Budget commence with the act of budgeting for a bigger surplus than last year. This year the surplus will be $630m. Public authority spending has been restricted. The emphasis here has been to try to curb demand inflation. Departmental spending has been pruned. The projected longer term planning of departmental estimates is a most beneficial move. In raising revenue the income tax field has been used rather than sales tax. Indirect taxes have been avoided and this, of course, is to prevent their being just another addition to the consumer price index. The Government is to limit the growth in the number employed full time under the Public Service Act. All these measures are anti-inflationary and all have been made public but some of the critics seem to have forgotten them.
Outside the Budget, but very’ appropriate to any discussion of measures to combat inflation, the Government is reviewing the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act in an effort to find the means of giving economic considerations more weight in arbitration cases. Those were the Treasurer’s own words. This is not aimed at any section of the community and it is certainly not aimed at the wage earner because what body in the community is more affected by economic considerations. It is the wage earner just as much as management and the investor for whom continued provision of job opportunities in a sound economic community is so vital. While speaking of Government measures to combat costs and prices it is as well to recall the Government’s announcement of an impending major review of tariff levels to be carried out by the Tariff Board. There is reason to believe that when this review is completed lower levels of protection in most instances will apply. But for the beleagured primary producer who not only needs relief from cost pressures but needs them urgently, the results from a tariff review are, in my opinion, bound to be slow. I cannot see what can be done about this at the moment but I draw attention to the fact that in the recently introduced Tariff Board Bill there is provision for another member to be appointed to the Board as well as provision for the use of one member Boards. So it is apparent that the Government and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) are aware of the need to do all possible to assist the Tariff Board to expedite its review.
I have referred to the relief to the wool industry through the deficiency payment scheme. The wool industry in its newly found cohesion and solidarity will realise that this deficiency payment is not a full answer at all. It has been approved for only 12 months anyway and it is only part of the answer. The industry must reta.n its cohesion so that its leaders can devote every effort to making the necessary changes or the changes which it is hoped will open the required gap between the cost of production on the one hand and the prices received on the other, and to making these changes in the time which can be secured for the industry by those in this Parliament who are battling for the industry. Despite’ the millions of dollars which this Government provides for rural industries in this Budget, such as $40m for rural reconstruction and $10m through the Development Bank for farm build up, the long term credit arrangements for the man on the land are not solved. I know the Government is working actively on this scheme through the Rural Loans Insurance Corporation but it appears that at this time it is not a goer. The Government cannot wait much longer on this. If nothing is available through traditional lending channels the Government must come in through its own lending authority. We hear talk of a mortgage bank and this type of thing but I fee] there are enough instrumentalities already. For instance there is the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. What is needed is a policy direction and capital.
If the rural industries continue on their present trend without further sustained effort to provide the remedy required the position will right itself, but the process will be painful and destructive to many. It will right itself the hard way. We must surely have passed the point in commercial and human relations where we can tolerate drastic and explosive solutions to economic problems. Our current problem concerns Australia’s greatest export earner. Management and labour seem to be squarely confronted and the bard line appears to be predominant. Surely there, should be more effort towards conciliation in the nation’s interest. It will mean moderation on the part of industrial forces. It will call for the exercise of tolerance, reason and understanding on ali sides. I call for these things before it is too late for this nation. I support the Budget proposals. .
– The presentation of the annual Budget is properly a time for national accounting, ft is a time when the Parliament is entitled to examine the record and achievements of the government in office over the previous 12 months. Where a government has been in office for a considerable period it is also a time when the Parliament and the people are entitled to examine what has been achieved during that period. In the past 12 months one of the major achievements of the Government has been to destroy completely any confidence which existed in the Australian community in the Government’s ability to give sound leadership and to provide constructive thought on the problems of the nation. Another major achievement of the year has been the number of promises made by the Government during the Senate and House of Representatives election campaigns which have been deferred and which for all practical purposes have disappeared from the public record.
It is quite obvious that many of the promises made by the Government and many of its statements in its platform for re-election in 1969 had and still have no meaning. In any field which we like to examine we can truthfully say that this Parliament and this Government are no longer in command of the nation’s affairs. We have a day to day situation where we are not even sure who will come into the Parliament tomorrow as Prime Minister, let alone that we will have a continuity of the policies of the Government. When a change in the Prime Ministership took place earlier this year we were told that the new Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) had a mandate because it was the party which was elected to govern and not an individual. If we accept that and accept what the previous Prime Minister put forward as election policies on behalf of that party we have to reject the projected theory that the new Prime Minister had the right to repudiate policies on which the Government sought and obtained its mandate.
In this debate today, as has been the case over a considerable period of time, the major emphasis of most speakers on the Government side of the House, particularly the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), has been that for all the ills of the nation there are no other villains than the people who belong to trade unions. The Minister for Social Services used such phrases as ‘organised sabotage’ and ‘a deliberate campaign to destroy the national economy’. He projected his own belief that there is a trade unionist behind every tree and a Communist under every bed. In what can be described only as something closely approaching hysteria, he attributed every ill that has ever been heard of in Australia to those people who, according to his point of view, are trying to destroy the national economy and the nation. He said that it was in their interests to do so. I find this difficult to understand.
It is my belief that the millions of people who belong to trade unions in Australia are responsible people, people whose major interests in life are to provide themselves and their families with a decent standard of living and to live at peace with the community, without taking a very active part in politics - most trade unionists do not take a very active part in politics - without making excessive demands on the community but expecting from the community that which they have a right to expect in a society with a standard of living as high as the Australian society has. It appears that Government members do not agree with this. They do not agree that those people who work for their wages are citizens of equal standing with those who operate businesses or make their money by financial manipulations, by nefarious practices or by manipulating the stock exchange. The latter are the goodies, according to the Government. They are the people we ought to respect; we should not respect the people who produce the goods that create the wealth of the country because they are trying to destroy the economy of the country.
A campaign has been directed, mainly by members of the Australian Country Party, at creating fear in the rural sections of the economy about the prospects of a reduction in the working week. The people who work in the rural sections work a 44- hour week and not a 40-hour week. The people who are engaged in production in our community, who produce the national wealth, work a 40-hour week. Those people who are engaged in service industries, tertiary industries and those industries which are able to operate only because of the productive capacity of people in business and management to work in other areas, in the main work less than a 40-hour week. Apparently, if a third of the employees work less than a 40-hour week the nation’s economy will not be destroyed. Only those people who create the wealth in the community will not be allowed to have the benefit of the additional leisure that a reduced working week would create.
One-third of Australians now work less than a 40-hour week, but they are not people who are engaged in production. The crime of those people who would seek to reduce their working hours is that if they reduce their hours the other sections of the community which already have these benefits may well find themselves in difficulty maintaining their situation. Over a long period the Government has been subject to fits of hysteria. Over a few weeks or a few months an hysterical situation has been built up by Government members in relation to some section or other of our national activities. Some of it has been totally irrelevant and some of it relevant. Al the end of such a period we usually have new legislation passed through the Parliament as a matter of urgency. Last session we had a law and order Bill, the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Bill.
In 1967 the Defence Force Protection Bill was passed. Back as far as 1961, in one of the great hysterias of all time, we had amendments to the Crimes Act. Those Bills were all forced through thus Parliament in such a way as to give the impression that unless they were passed the whole nation would grind to a stop. They were forced through the Parliament with the belief expressed by the Minister for Social Services paramount in Government thinking, that the nation was about to be destroyed. It is interesting to realise that no people have been charged under the amendments to the Crimes Act in its first 10 years of operation, even though it was found necessary to guillotine the Bill through the Parliament because it was so necessary for the national security. To my knowledge, no-one has been charged under the provisions of the Defence Force Protection Act, despite the fact that people deliberately flouted the Act and deliberately broke the provisions of the Act and brought that fact to the attention of the Attorney-General.
The Government acted in plain, common hysteria designed to divide the nation.
That was the basis of those Acts. More recently a similar campaign has been mounted about secret ballots. Government members, quite obviously acting under instructions, have tried to create hysteria about the need for secret ballots before strikes. Unfortunately, someone had not done his homework; but someone else had, and he exposed the fact that the provisions for secret ballots already exist under section 45 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act but they are not applied. State governments friendly to the present Commonwealth Government, governments of kindred spirits, are also providing for secret ballots. But in no dispute involving those State governments where federal awards were involved have any of those State governments ever requested that a ballot be taken.
It seems to me to be somewhat hypocritical and irresponsible for a government to profess that the provision of this type of legislation would be the end-all and solution for all industrial problems when those provisions already exist and that government has not had either the capacity or the will to use those provisions or request their use. 1 suggest that the basis of the whole proposition is political and that little or no real effort of responsible government has been involved. Trade unionists are people who work for their living. If they lose a day’s work through strikes or for any other reason they lose one-fifth of their week’s income. They have no way at all of recovering that income. It is a permanent and total loss. I can assure the House that people who are involved in this sort of situation are not easily talked into striking. They are not easily talked into losing the margin over the bread line which they have.
Many Australian industries pay very low wages which nowhere near approach the figures for the national average male wage so often quoted by Government members. About 70 per cent of Australians earn less than the average male wage, and a good proportion have a take home pay which is less than half that amount. So to lose onefifth of one week’s income in a high price, high interest economy such as we have is not a step to be taken lightly. We have heard much talk about inflation. We are told by the Government often enough that the solution to inflation is for those people who work for their wages, and only those people, to accept a situation in which they will cease to have rising incomes, in which no increases in their incomes will take place in future. If only the wage earners would stop asking for wage rises all of the nation’s problems could be solved, Government members say. It may be more true to say that if we had an effective Government in this country the nation’s problems would be on the way to solution. But it is not true to say that if wage earners were to reduce their standard of living progressively, as advocated by the Government, their problems would be solved.
I think we should have a short look at some of the inflationary actions which have been taken by the Government. The Budget this year does not contain payroll tax. It is not a budgetary item because it has been transferred to the States. But in Victoria payroll tax this year has increased by 75 per cent. That is not a bad increase in a tax which is known to be inflationary and which is known to increase costs by at least double the amount they normally would increase.
Hospital charges in Victoria have increased by 50 per cent. This increase is not likely to affect those people who do not get sick but it is a tragic situation for persons who do, even if they are able to afford to cover themselves with health insurance under the scheme which was introduced by the Government. We were told at the time of the last election that this scheme would involve a very small increase for contributors. Hospital benefit contributions in Victoria have increased by one-third, substantially above the increases which have taken place in wages, I suggest. The cost of telephone calls is going up by 20 per cent and the cost of stamps has risen by 40 per cent in 12 months. Interest rates have risen 20 per cent in 2 to 3 years. Is the Government suggesting that these actions, which it has taken itself, are not inflationary? These costs have to be borne by wage earners in greater proportion than by most other sections of the community, and wage earners have less capacity to recover increased costs than do most other sections of the community.
During question time today the Prime Minister indicated that a substantial pro portion - he made it sound as though it was more than a small proportion of those persons unemployed - were in fact unemployable. If one takes the trouble to look at the eastern States of Australia and examine the particulars concerning persons who are in receipt of unemployment benefits and examine where they are located, the only conclusion one can draw is that the Prime Minister thinks that the people who live in non-metropolitan areas are mainly unemployable. I would not subscribe to that theory for one moment. These are the facts: Those people who are beyond doubt proven to be unemployed and who are in receipt of unemployment benefit in the metropolitan areas in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland total 4,326. In the same States in nonmetropolitan areas 9,603 persons are in receipt of unemployment benefits. This is more than double the number in the 3 capital cities of those States, despite a population differential which would amount to at least three to one in favour of the capital cities.
Is it suggested that there is not a crisis in non-metropolitan employment in the eastern States of. Australia at least? 1 have not had time to do the calculations for the other States. Is it suggested by anyone in this House that we can pass off a problem like this just by saying that most of these people are unemployable anyhow? There is not one shred of evidence in the Budget or in any statement made in this Parliament which indicates that the Government is prepared to take any action or is contemplating taking any action to promote industry and employment in non-metropolitan areas. It is not only the unemployed persons who suffer in this situation. The business people in the communities and the communities themselves suffer because the wages which are paid to people are the wherewithal upon which the economies of these non-metropolitan towns exist. Unemployment benefits are a cost, and it could well be economically feasible that the expenditure of the amounts of money which are being paid in unemployment benefits to promote the development of industries in these areas would be an investment which would yield a profit in years to come. That is of course if the Government’s policy is to promote employment in these areas and if it is not a fact that the Government’s policy is to hamstring inflation by creating unemployment. That has always been a theory of conservative economics - a theory which I would hope that the Government rejects but which its current attitudes would suggest that it does not reject.
Finally I raise one other matter that should have arisen in the Budget but which did not. lt is not related to the other matters that I have spoken about. I refer to the problem of nursing care for aged persons. There has been no increase for a number of years in the level of aged persons nursing home subsidies wilh the result that the burdens and the problems associated with this have grown tremendously in magnitude. Those people who have sons and daughters who are able to maintain them are fortunate but the sons and daughters are placed in the position that whilst they are maintaining their parents they can make no claims for tax deductions on the amounts which are expended. Therefore they must carry a double burden in this field. No old people want to be a burden on their children and no children want to sec their parents in circumstances of need. I think that humanitarian considerations alone would demand that action be taken in this field as soon as possible. The costs of nursing home care are rising alarmingly. The provision of assistance at government level is not rising. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and I believe that the Budget for 1971-72 is a document of which this Parliament cannot be proud.
– Ever since the postwar immigration scheme was launched by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), to whom I pay tribute, it has been accepted as axiomatic by both sides in this Parliament that the national interest requires the effective control of the size and structure of the migrant inflow. Similarly, it has been accepted that this control, if it is to be exercised effectively, necessitates suitable provision for the encouragement by the Government of the types of migrants which Australia needs and who either could not or would not come here without this encouragement and assistance. I say has been accepted’ because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in his speech on the Budget with his penchant for trimming his policies to the prevailing fashions of the patio intellectuals, has become an advocate not of control but of laissez-faire in immigration, because this is what natural migration, open migration or sponsored migration is. The Leader of the Opposition who would introduce controls and planning into virtually every aspect of our economic and social life, has become an advocate of laissez-faire in immigration. 1 have no hesitation in rejecting such an approach as totally opposed to the best interests of Australia. Such policies wrongly assume that the sum of migrants’ individual interests necessarily equate with Australia’s national interests. No responsible Australian Government could accept this. No responsible Australian Government could abrogate its responsibilities by allowing the size and structure of the immigration programme to be determined by the unco-ordinated decisions of thousands of individuals here and overseas. And this essentially is what advocates of natural migration and similar policies would have us do. These objections apply even more strongly to proposals that we confine ourselves to the sponsored migration of relatives and close friends of persons already here, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested. Migration of this kind is important, but our national interests cannot be treated as an occasional byproduct of consanguinity.
What in fact would be the effect if proposals of this kind were to be adopted? The result would be to cut assisted migration from Britain by more than 60 per cent and virtually to eliminate migration from Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Switzerland, the United States of America, the countries of Latin America and other sources of what are, by any standards, first class immigrants. That would be the effect of what the Leader of the Opposition advocates.
Had assisted migration been restricted to sponsored cases in 1970-71, instead of 120,000 assisted migrants, Australia would have received fewer than 33,000 assisted migrants. Of these, 23,000 would have come from Britain, some 5,000 from Yugoslavia, fewer than 1,500 from Italy, fewer than 1,000 from Greece, perhaps 800 from Malta and only isolated cases from other countries. We would have gained only 12,500 migrant workers compared with the 55,000 who actually arrived. The proportion of dependents to workers would have been significantly higher than in a more broadly based assisted programme. Instead of 100,000 assisted migrants this year, we would, under these circumstances, be fortunate to receive 25,000. We would gain 30,000 fewer workers than provided for in our present programme for 1971-72, including a large proportion of professional workers, tradesmen, and others with occupational skills needed in Australia. AH this would be the result of what the Leader of the Opposition advocates on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. In fact, the greatest single reduction in assisted migration in 1971-72 will be from Britain, but this reflects that Britain continues to be our major source country, and the overall reduction in the programme will be spread fairly broadly across all countries.
We have decided quite deliberately against proportionate reductions. Instead, we have been careful to ensure scope for the sound growth of new migrant sources - particularly the Americas - while at the same time maintaining viable levels of activity in the traditional migrant countries. These are responsible decisions made by a responsible Government. They are aimed at meeting present circumstances and present needs without prejudicing our future prospects. To suggest that the role of the Commonwealth Government should be confined to assisting migrants sponsored by friends or relatives already here, or even to abandon assisted migration totally, is worse than foolish. Indeed, the intemperate nature of some recent attacks on immigration, and even particular migrant groups, can be described adequately only in terms of the legal definition of fraudulent misrepresentation. These attacks have involved statements made ‘recklessly, carelessly, not caring whether they be true or false’. Other, honest, criticism sometimes arises from misunderstanding. But where criticism has substance - and whatever its source - the Government will act on it, as it has in the past.
To advocate, as the Leader of the Opposition has done, a totally passive role for the Commonwealth Government in the field of immigration is completely unrealis tic. lt would be inconsistent with the spirit and intent of our agreements with other governments. It would “ effectively preclude the broadening of our migrant sources. It would, as the figures 1 quoted earlier showed, restrict the flow of migrants in source, in numbers and in skills. It would effectively deny Australia the opportunity, so vitally important today as in the past, of making good serious deficiencies in our own work force. The proposal of the Leader of the Opposition has about it all the warm hearted, logical appeal of a policy of national economic euthanasia. Parenthetically, I make the point that to confine our immigration programme to sponsored cases would effectively preclude Australia from accepting refugees who, with few exceptions, are wholly Government sponsored. Critics of the Government’s policies also forget that immigration is not an end in itself. But, as in the past, the immigration programme - and particularly assisted migration - will continue to be directed towards our major national objectives through its influence on the size and structure of our population.
Immigration is only one part of an overall population situation, only one of several components of population change. It is, however, the factor most effectively influenced by Government action and for this reason provides the principal means of giving effect to population policies. But the social, economic and demographic effects of the components of population change - births, deaths, immigration and emigration - vary quite substantially. Changes in the immigration programme cannot entirely offset the consequences of changes in other population, and work force, factors. Neither is natural increase and immigration the mutually conflicting possibilities which they are sometimes represented to be. Indeed, an increased birth rate as an alternative to immigration, as sometimes advocated, is neither feasible nor relevant to Australia’s needs.
Migrants add immediately, and disproportionately, to the work force, whereas births represent a deferred addition some 15 years to 20 years hence. The 1966 census showed that migrants had added 38.3 per cent more to the work force than they had added to the population served by that work force. In contrast, natural increase imposes an immediate net charge on the community, while its reinforcement of the economy is, of necessity, deferred. This does not mean that natural increase is not important to Australia. It is. But natural increase and immigration are not mutually conflicting alternatives. They are not identical substitutes. They are desirably and essentially complementary elements of population growth. I could give many other examples to illustrate this point. Migrants particularly reinforce the younger working age groups. In 1969-70, the latest year for which detailed figures are available, 47.4 per cent of settled arrivals were aged between 20 and 39, compared with 27.6 per cent of the Australian population. They are a significantly young group; overall, the average age was only 23.3 years compared with an average age of 30.9 years for the Australian population Migrants in fact contribute disproportionately to the support of both the youth of Australia and our aged. They have no’ received the full credit which is due to them for this. Indeed, some critics would have us believe that migrants are ‘costing’ us more than they contribute and that migrants lower our living standards. Yet we are traditionally a country of immigration and. on recent international studies, both our achievements and our prospects in terms of living standards are amongst the highest in the world.
Turning from these particular points to broader issues 1 point out that the fact is that a population with the best possible combination of social, economic and demographic features is something of an illusory objective. The most that we can reasonably ask of immigration is that it improve the situation which otherwise would exist. We cannot expect improvement in every specific respect and must always assess the overall balance of advantages and disadvantages. It is foolish, and indeed dangerous, to regard immigration as some kind of economic and social ‘wonder drug’ which will overcome all our problems. But it is, of course, just as foolish - and just as dangerous - to regard immigration as the sole or principal cause of these problems. One group seeks to resolve problems by bringing in more migrants. The other seeks to resolve them by bringing in fewer migrants. In fact, the essential purpose of the immigration programme is, as I said before, to contribute towards our major national objectives through its influence on the size and structure of our population and work force. To date, our population objectives have been conceived essentially in terms of rates of growth. This is an entirely valid concept, and important for many purposes, particularly in the field of economic planning.
More recently, we have added to the objective of desirable rates of population growth, the additional criteria of desirable population levels for Australia. We do not see these desirable population levels as constants, as the old ideas of an optimum population implied, but as variables over time. Moreover, we consider it essential that they should be related to the structure of future Australian populations and, in particular, take into account their concentrations and distributions. It is against this background that Australia’s immigration programmes are being developed. To provide this information, the Government last year commissioned a population study at the Australian National University. The purpose of the study is to provide the clearest possible indication of the effects on Australia of various levels of population growth, ft will examine the economic, social, ecological and other effects of various levels of population at specific points between now and the end of the century. This information will be used by the Government, together with other considerations, in determining the size and structure of future immigration programmes.
The purpose of the study wil not be to determine a specific rate of population growth or specific levels of population towards which the Government’s policies should be directed. The responsibility for a matter of such major importance will remain - and very properly remain - vested in the Government. The study, which is being financed by my Department, is of such complexity that it will take 3 years to compete. Another major study is being carried out at the university of Sydney under the aegis of the Commonweath Immigration Planning Council. This study is concerned with establishing the costs and benefits of immigration under existing Australian conditions. It involves the application of recent advances in econometrics and the use of computer technology on a quite substantial scale and is expected to take 2 years to complete.
A third study - a longitudinal survey of the experience of some 10,000 migrants during their first 3 years in Australia - is being undertaken by the research staff of my Department. Like the cost benefit analysis, this survey is being carried out in association with the Immigration Planning Council. By any standards, these are substantial and important undertakings.
In conclusion I would remind the House, that as previously announced and for reasons then given, the Government has decided on an immigration programme of 140,000 for 1971-72. This is 30,000 fewer than actually arrived last year and 40,000 fewer than originally planned for 1970-71. I would stress that the programme for 1971-72 has been shaped to meet present circumstances without prejudice to future needs. The advantages tend to be fairly immediate; the disadvantages long-term and less apparent. The Government, unlike the critics, has taken both into account. Even in the short term however, a smaller immigration programme is not going to be some kind of universal panacea. It does not provide a solution to the whole broad range of economic, social, demographic, ecological and other issues currently under public discussion. Most certainly, also, the decision to set a smaller immigration programme this year was not, and is not, intended by the Government as a convenient substitute for action by others in their particular fields of responsibility.
There have been calls for a breathing space. But nations are not built by deep breathing exercises. Had it been their decision, our cautious critics, amongst whom apparently must be numbered the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and some of his colleagues, would have abandoned the first settlement of Australia, if they had ever possessed the courage to attempt it. In determining the immigration programme for 1971-72, the Government has acted with the courage of responsibility. It has taken full account of present needs and given clear recognition of its obligations to the future of the nation.
– At the outset I would like to correct the misinterpretation and distortion of the policy of the Australian Labor Party on immigration as given by the Minister for
Immigration (Dr Forbes) a few minutes ago. The policy of the Labor Party as enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is not that relatives of people already in Australia should automatically be admitted to this country, as was implied by the Minister, to the contrary. Our policy is that priority should be given to relatives of people already here. Surely this is a sound social and humane policy. I am very sorry that the Minister has taken it upon himself - I do not know whether it was deliberate - to misinterpret our policy.
I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in respect of this Budget as I believe the strategy of the Budget is completely out of step with the economic trends in Australia today. Here we have a Budget which provides for a surplus of $630m and plans to dampen down economic activity and employment at a time when business and economic authorities, such as the survey by the Bank of New South Wales and the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, released only last week, have warned that the current turn-down in employment and industrial and commercial activity could be expected to continue at an increasing rate. We also have the employment figures released by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) only yesterday which show that unemployment is growing at a monthly rate of 6.6 per cent after allowing for seasonal factors.
This Budget also does not take into account the world currency crisis brought about by the announcements by the United States Government 2 days before the Budget was introduced, which could have a dramatic effect on this country’s trade and capital transactions. It is extraordinary that this question was not even mentioned by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech, and is indicative that the Budget was already out of date before it was introduced into this Parliament. Once again we have an example of complete lack of long-term planning such as occurs in other countries and there is no doubt that revision of Budget strategy will have to be introduced in the next few months if a rapid growth of unemployment and reduction in industrial and commercial activity is to be avoided.
One of the reforms missing from this Budget which is a vital necessity to Australia is the allocation of special grants to the States specifically earmarked to assist in development in the perimeter areas of the great cities where the growth in population is fast outstripping the capacity of the States and local government to meet the developmental needs of those areas. I instance, as an example, the far western suburbs of the metropolitan area such as Blacktown, Mount Druitt, St Mary’s and surrounding areas where there is a drastic need for new schools and other educational facilities in both the primary, secondary, pre-school and university areas, including the establishment of a university in the western suburbs. These districts also need special assistance for transport to remove the chaos which exists on the rails, local government finance for the provision of roads, footpaths, kerbing as well as community centres and playing fields in an area which has probably the youngest population in the whole of Australia and where our future generation is being brought up. I submit that an immediate revision of this Budget should be instituted and that part of the $630m surplus should be used to provide special grants specifically earmarked to the perimeter areas for the projects I have just mentioned.
I now touch on that section of the Budget dealing with allocations to the Joint Defence Space Research Facility at Pine Gap. as I believe its implications are of very great importance to Australia and that members of the Australian Parliament and the public should be taken into confidence and told just what this facility means to this country. No doubt honourable members will have seen recent articles in the Press indicating that it has now been revealed by an American scientist named Phillip Klass, that the Pine Gap establishment is a top security United States base which is one of two vital links in a satellite system protecting the United States against a nuclear attack. As far as I can find out, these articles have not been denied and accordingly it would seem this base now places Australia in the forefront of a possible nuclear attack. I raise this issue as I am one of the few members of this Parliament who applied for permission to enter the research block at Pine Gap and was refused. This is difficult to understand as I have no doubt I would have been screened and the screening would have shown that, prior to entering this Parliament, I was Assistant General Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party and could hardly be called a security risk. In fact, over the years I have been a particular target of the Communist Party because of the positions I have held in the Labor Movement.
I will tell the House the story’ of how this refusal came about. On 18th May this year I was in Alice Springs and I called in at the office of the Joint Defence Space Research Facility as it is called as it was common talk around Alice Springs that the facility was along the lines now revealed by Phillip Klass. I introduced myself to the American who was manning the office and told him 1 wanted to be shown over Pine Gap and briefed on its purpose. He immediately rang through to the base, which is about 18 miles from Alice Springs, and in quick succession we were transferred to three different officers. Obviously, my request had caused quite a panic. Finally, ( found myself speaking to Mr Lindsay Snooker, who was the Australian representative in charge at the facility, the American being Mr Lou Bonham. Mr Snooker told me he could not grant permission for me to enter the base and that I would have to obtain it from Canberra. T pointed out to him that I was going out to visit an Aboriginal reserve that afternoon and asked him to contact Canberra on my behalf. He undertook to do this. On calling back that afternoon, Mr Snooker told me that an officer in Canberra had said I had to apply in person to the Minister for Defence, and that his personal request to the Minister would not suffice.
– Did they know you were a member of the National Parliament?
– Yes, they were fully aware of it. In other words, every possible barrier was being put in my way.
Fortunately, I had my FMA card with me, so I asked if the Minister was at his office, 1 was told he was and accordingly I immediately rang through to the office of the then Minister for Defence in Canberra. He was not there, but I spoke to a member of his staff who told me that she would make contact with the Minister and ring me back later that night at my hotel.
– Of course, there would have been no difficulty for an American Congressman.
– No, there would not have been. It would have been much different, but I will touch on that in a few moments. Within 10 minutes a call came through from Mr Snooker saying that the Minister had now given approval for me to visit the base but on the restricted basis that I could not enter the research block. I asked him what this meant and what could I see and he said: “Well, we have the messing facilities, the accommodation blocks and the offices etc’ I do not recall whether he mentioned the toilets and showers. I asked whether this meant 1 could not find out the purpose of the facility and see how it operated. He agreed that this was the case and asked me whether I still wanted to go. I told him that I did, as I was not going to be placed in a position where it could be said that I had refused to visit the facility.
– That is what they would have said.
– Yes, that is correct. That is what they wanted. 1 was picked up the next morning by Mr Snooker and taken out to Pine Gap. Both he and Mr Bonham treated me very well but in answer to continual questions as to the purpose of the facility and what type of research or activity was going on, I was told their orders were that they could not tell me. The only thing they would say was that it was ‘electronic research into outer space.’ I was also told that the facility had no relationship whatsoever to nuclear research or defence and, of course, that is contrary to what has now been revealed by Phillip (Class. I saw the messing facilities, the office, the showers, the accommodation and so on but I was not allowed inside that so-called research block which had a very high wire fence around it.
I believe that the time has come for the Australian Government to cease being so secretive and to be completely honest as to the purpose of this installation and other installations around Australia which involve joint activity with another power. I believe that Australian Parliamentarians and the Australian public have a right to be told its purpose and the dangers, if any, to Australia of an atomic attack. I also believe it is a ridiculous situation that we have to learn of the purpose of this facility from scientific writers in the United States and not from our own Government in Australia, and it also should be remembered that United States Congressmen are given the right to visit any defence or research establishment associated with their country’s defence, including bases in another country. In other words, they can do it, but apparently members of the Australian Parliament cannot do it. This project was entered into by this Government during the period of Harold Holt’s betrothal of LBJ when, as we all know, he went all the way with LBJ. It is indeed serious for Australia that a foreign base should be placed in our country which could bring about an atomic attack on this country, and I call upon the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) immediately to give a statement to the House outlining the purpose of this facility and the impact it can have on Australia’s future.
Another issue which must be tackled by this Government is the provision of tax deductions in respect of education expenses for students in employment. At present, an employed student cannot obtain any taxation relief in respect of all the fees and books he or she has to provide to further his or her education. This places an undue economic strain upon a person who, because of that person’s economic circumstances, has to improve his or her educational standard on a part-time basis. The refusal to grant such individuals taxation concessions discourages them from undertaking tertiary education, whereas we should be giving them every possible encouragement as they are educating themselves under very difficult circumstances. This is another item which surely could be assisted by the extraordinary $630m Budget surplus, which obviously must be revised in the near future.
I wish now to deal with the increase in prescription costs under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme from 50c to $1 as this is another strike at the family - the very section of our community whom we should be helping and not hindering. Some pharmacists have brought to my attention the fact that this increase in respect of many prescriptions will mean free medicines to the Government and not to the patient. I will give some examples of this. The price to the Government of paediatric suspension, a penicillin preparation, is $1.71 and therefore the Government will now pay only 71c of that cost. Forty tablets of 300 mg sulphadiazine cost SI. 09, or a cost of 9c to the Government, whereas 100 amytal tablets of 15, 50 and 50 mgs cost 80c 95c and and $1.07 respectively, the first two involving a profit to the Government, Die Government will also make a profit out of 40 tablets of 500 mg sulphadiazine at a cost of 96c as well as out of 100, 15 mg and 30 mg phenobarbitone tablets at a cost of 59c and 68c.
– Have you checked these figures with a pharmacist?
– I have checked these with pharmacists and I have rechecked them through the research service of this Parliament. The same applies, incidentally, to other types of phenobarbitone tablets. In other words, it is free medicine for the Government and not for the patient.
– It applies to 800 different items.
– The honourable member for Prospect has just said that it applies to 800 different items. As I said, this is another assault upon the family which will particularly affect my electorate which, as I mentioned earlier, probably has the youngest average population in Australia and has more couples bringing up the future generation of this country than most other areas, and I submit that a part of this Budget surplus should be used to reduce the cost of prescriptions to the patient. The point made by the honourable member for Prospect, that it covers 800 different prescriptions is a point made by a doctor.
With regard to the currency crisis it seems to me that the Australian Government is confused as to what action it should take in regard to Australian exchange rates. Australia’s bailee of payments at this point are very high and despite assurances to the contrary, one cannot but suspect that there is a considerable amount of hot money within those balances and that there is likely to be a lot more hot money entering this country in the months to come in anticipation of an appreciation of Australian currency. Therefore, the anticipation of appreciation must bring about considerable speculation in respect of our currency and, at the same time, such an appreciation would place our exports, particularly our primary exports, at a decided disadvantage on world markets.
In fact - the Country Party should be interested in this - as we now have surpluses in wheat and wool, there is a strong argument for depreciation of the Australian dollar so that these commodities which are generally invoiced in Sterling or United States dollars, would be able to sell more cheaply overseas when invoiced in a foreign currency. In other words, devaluation would mean that our exports would be placed in a better bargaining position on world markets vis a vis the exports of other countries. It would therefore seem that we are in an invidious position in that, if we allow our exchange rate to appreciate we will be encouraging speculation in our currency and on the other hand we will find our surpluses in wheat and wool more and more difficult to sell overseas unless we depreciate. We therefore cannot help but have a look at the exchange system being operated by Belgium, that is, a 2-tier rate. I believe this issue has to be given greater study by the Australian authorities and the Australian Government - the proposal being that we depreciate in respect of our trading transactions and hold our rate in respect of our capital transactions. This would mean dearer imports, but this could be overcome by tariff adjustments. It should also be remembered that, whilst it is difficult for France to maintain a 2-tier rate because of the nature of her settling arrangements, it would be very much easier for Australia where we have a sophisticated exchange control.
Finally, I wish to make a particular appeal for the invalid and widow pensioner with a family. I think most people will appreciate that any person who is bringing up a family in circumstances where, for example, in the case of a widow pensioner the husband has died possibly at an early age because of a heart attack or something of that nature, the widow is placed in a most invidious and difficult position. Her responsibilities are not doubled; they are more likely trebled. Yet under the social service framework instituted by this Government the woman is almost invariably forced to go out to work to keep her family at a time when her responsibilities within the home and her need to be in the home are greater than they ever were before. I think the time has come when, in the interests of humanity and in the interests of those young children who have to be brought up with the attendant requirements of education and the rest, the pension for a civilian widow with a family should be immediately reviewed by the Government. This is equally applicable to the invalid pensioner who has a family to bring up. It applies also to the age pensioner and the widow who does not have a family but it applies particularly to the civilian widow with a family and the invalid pensioner with a family. I appeal to the Government to have a good look at the humanity of the case for those 2 sections of our community when this review of the $630m surplus in the Budget - which must come - is made.
– At a time of economic strain this Government has not hesitated to take effective measures to correct the inflationary trends which had become apparent in the economy. We have been presented with a responsible budget by a responsible Government. The approach of the Government to the affairs of this nation stands in marked contrast, I would submit, to the actions of the Labor Party and its friends and allies of the trade union movement, whose irresponsible and divisive actions have become increasingly apparent since Mr Hawke became President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. They reached a climax with the cancellation last week of the South African cricket tour.
Before the South African rugby tour in July, a Gallup poll showed that 85 per cent of Australians felt the rugby tour should proceed and only 9 per cent that it should not. Because of the threat of violent demonstrations a similar Gallup poll showed that now 23 per cent of people questioned felt the cricket tour should be cancelled, but 63 per cent - or 2 out of 3 Australians - despite the threats of violence, still wanted the cricket tour to continue. Had the tour gone on it is obvious that the demonstrators were prepared to use violent means to prevent it. Many, including police and innocent spectators, may have been injured or even killed. All things considered, the cricket Board of Control undoubtedly made the only decision open to it but the Australian people have been held to ransom. It has been a sad day for democracy and a notable victory for the organisers of confrontation, and this unfortunately will prove to be only a prelude. It is only the end of the beginning of confrontation politics in this country.
During July, while Labor members, together with unionists and left wing students, were protesting about the internal affairs of South Africa - the vast majority of them never having seen the situation there - T spent 3 weeks moving freely throughout that country. 1 would like to make it plain that I do not agree with the policy of apartheid as practised by the South African Government, particularly that section which is commonly known in that country as petty apartheid, nor would the policy of separate development be my answer to the problems facing the various races of South Africa. But unlike the Opposition I would not presume after only a 3-week visit to tell the South Africans how they should run their country.
Problems are always created when differing races are thrown together by circumstances and the problem is not unique to South Africa. We are all aware of the position in Britain and America and this is the reason that previous Australian governments, including Labor governments, have maintained a restricted immigration policy. Of course, the present Hawke-Whitlam axis has changed Labor’s policy in this regard and Australians may well have similar problems if a Labor government with an open door immigration policy ever comes to power. I must say in all fairness that I did not see one black or coloured South African who was underfed or who did not receive the best of medical treatment. They have their own universities and educational facilities and a massive rehousing scheme is in progress.
Whilst in Cape Town I watched an intricate heart operation on a 35-year-old coloured South African and saw the treatment which black South African heart patients receive. It was equal to any that a white man would receive in Australia. Noone could ever accuse South Africans of being guilty of the crimes against humanity of which the Russians or the Communist Chinese have been guilty. Yet those who protest so strongly against anti-Communist South Africa were strangely silent when the Moscow Circus and the Russian Ballet visited this country early this year. One must have a short memory if one forgets what the Russians did in Hungary or Czechoslovakia, or the present persecution of the Jewish people, the Baptists and other minorities in the Soviet Union. One must have a short memory indeed if one forgets what Communist China did in Tibet or the suffering that Chinese weapons and supplies have caused the people of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
It is here that we see clearly illustrated the double standards practiced by the Labor Party. Whilst I was in South Africa the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), together with other Labor and union leaders, were in Communist China talking to Chou En-lai. I do not criticise them for this. As Churchill once said, it is ‘better to jaw jaw than war war’, and if we can talk to Communist China and Communist Russia in the hope that we can influence them to change their aggressive policies then so much the better. But at least the Labor Party could be consistent. At the same time as it advocates increasing dialogue and trade with Communist China, the Labor Party has called for a complete boycott of all trade, diplomatic, sporting and cultural relations with anti-Communist South Africa and Rhodesia.
Surely if it is right to talk to Communist Russia and Communist China to change their policies - and I believe that it is - then surely it is right to talk to antiCommunist South Africa if we think it should change its views on apartheid. The Labor Party cannot have it both ways. Surely if it is right to play ping-pong against Communist China in the hope that the contact will make for better relations, then surely it is right to play rugby or cricket against antiCommunist South Africa in the hope that the contact will also make for better relations. But one gets used to these inconsistencies from the Labor Party. I suppose it cannot be avoided in a party which must put forward one policy for the electors and at the same time put forward a policy to satisfy its extreme left-wing supporters.
But what 1 am most concerned with is the increasing threat to the civil liberties of the average Australian posed by the activities of the demonstrators and the unions. During the period I was in South Africa I received no mail from my family because the Australian Postal Workers Union refused to handle mail to South Africa. The 12 letters my wife wrote were delivered to my home after my return to Australia. Throughout the time I was away I had no idea of how my wife was coping with our young family. I resent very strongly the action of the Postal Union in using this sort of tactic and I wish to register my protest in this democratically elected Parliament. 1 believe that if the Australian public want to watch a football match or a cricket match they should be free to do so without threats of interruption or violence.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) has stated that the cost of police protection in Canberra for the 3-day Springbok Rugby Union tour was $43,700. One can but guess at the total cost to the Australian taxpayer of maintaining law and order against the demonstrators. But the cost to the taxpayer does not stop at just ensuring that Australian sports lovers can watch a football match if they so please. Just recently the taxpayers were up for repainting the walls of the South African Embassy for the second time since the police guard was withdrawn last month. I have been told that guarding the South African Embassy has been costing the Australian taxpayers $1,736 a week. How much the pensioners would like the money spent on controlling demonstrators to be applied to social services. Recently John Sorell wrote an article in the Melbourne Herald’ which was headed: The shiver of fear hits embassy staff’. I shall read the first few paragraphs of this article which state:
South African Embassy families are living in terror in Canberra.
They are being harassed, abused and threatened by anti-apartheid student groups.
It’s been a month’s long nightmare,’ the embassy’s information officer, Mr John Lotter told me. ‘My wife, Betsie, has been nearly driven out of her mind.’
They even rang up my 14-year-old daughter and told her she would be pack-raped’, he said.
Embassy officials have been followed, their car tyres let down, their house walls daubed with paint, their gardens uprooted.
Truckloads of gravel and sand, wreaths, cement mixers. TV sets and filthy letters have been delivered to embassy, staff homes.
Carloads of students drive past at night yelling abuse.
These then axe the tactics of our so-called idealistic demonstrators. No wonder they are despised by the vast majority of Australians. It is only natural that if the average Australian wants to watch a football match and finds protestors physically trying to prevent him from doing so, violence may break out. I know that the Labor Party has made cooing noises dissociating itself from violence at demonstrations.
– 1 rise on a point of order. Is it right for the honourable member for Deakin to make reflections on all of those who opposed the tour and to insinuate that they were involved in the sort of incidents which he has just been describing?
– Order: There is no substance in the point of order.
– 1 am well aware that certain members of the Opposition interrupt a speech when they realise they are not getting very good publicity from it I have no doubt. No doubt the honourable member who raised the point of order will try this again to cut down my time. The Australian electors can draw their own conclusions from these tactics. As I said, 1 know they try to dissociate themselves from violent action by the demonstrators but 1 say to honourable members opposite: ‘Once you align yourselves with these people it is difficult to wash your hands of the consequences. If you play with dirt some of it is sure to come away on your hands and it is only natural that the Australian electorate will consider you culpable’. The electors will use the only means available to them and they will vote against the Opposition at the next election.
Since Mr Hawke was elected President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions with the support of the extreme left wing we have seen a complete reversal of the policy of his predecessor, Albert Monk, who steadfastly held that there should be no involvement by trade unions in purely political strikes. There are inherent dangers when one country endeavours to dictate to another country how it should run its internal affairs. Yet Mr Hawke seems to believe that he can sit in his office in the Tades Hall in Melbourne and not only dictate to Australians whether or not they should see a particular sporting event but also to dictate to other countries how they should run their affairs.
Before the rugby tour he threatened international airlines with the loss of their franchise in Australia. He threatened a ban on the internal airlines if they dared fly the Springboks. He threatened a ban on services and refreshments to hotels and motels in which the Springboks stayed. What son of a democracy does he think this country is? He took this action in defiance of the wish of 85 per cent of the Australian people that the rugby tour should go on and in defiance of the decision of the duly elected Government that the tour should go on.
Is it any wonder that the Australian people fear the power that this man has taken unto himself? If we claim the right to dictate how the South Africans should handle their internal problems, cannot other countries by the same premise place boycotts and sanctions on Australia because they might claim that they do not like the way we treat our Aboriginals or that they do not like our immigration policy? Australians would be the first to object to such a situation and one cannot blame the South Africans for reacting in a similar way.
The friendship of South Africa is important to Australia. With England going into the European Common Market it is not only important that we sell wheat to Communist China, about which the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has such an obsession, but it is also important that we find new trade outlets elsewhere, including South Africa. The actions of Mr Hawke and his unions and the actions of the demonstrators are hardly likely to win us friends in that country. But there are other reasons why Australia needs a friendly non-Communist government in South Africa.
The Cape route is our main trade lifeline with Europe. Establishment of Soviet naval bases on a Communist African shore or a government in South Africa sympathetic to the cause of Communist powers would enable our economic jugular vein to be cut if the Communist powers decided to step up the Cold War, and we must have short memories indeed if we forget the Russian blockade of Berlin. Communist China has troops and engineers in Tanzania ostensibly to build a railway line, and Chinese Commuist subversion, terror, investment and influence in Zambia, Uganda, the Congo and Guinea are a continuing threat to any hopes of African democracy. It is not surprising that Russia and China would like to have a black dominated government in South Africa over which they could exercise the same strong influence as they do in other black African countries. So white antiCommunist South Africa must be got rid of, and it is aimed to do this in 2 ways. First, South Africa must be discredited in the eyes of the world, and the Communists are using South Africa’s policy of apartheid to achieve this. Their second tactic is to employ terrorist activities similar to the ones which they themselves have found so successful in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Whilst in Rhodesia I held in my hands a Chinese mortar and other weapons captured from the terrorists, which were exactly the same as those I had seen and held in my hands in Vietnam which had been captured from the North Vietnamese. In South Africa I saw photographs of Mao Tse-tung, the little Red Book and various travel documents which proved that terrorists had been taken from Africa to China, Russia and Communist East Europe for training in terrorist activities. I have photographs here which clearly prove this, and I can show them to any honourable member if he wishes to see them later. We as Australians will ignore these things at our peril. It is true that South Africa does not have democracy in the form in which we practise it in Australia, but then neither do Russia and China and half the other countries of the world. There is no doubt that the result of the introduction of one man one vote in South Africa would result in immediate black rule for that country and many fear that this would be followed by inter-racial slaughter and inter-tribal slaughter, such as has happened in the Congo, Biafra and other African countries.
In any event, there undoubtedly would be in South Africa a government over which the Communist powers could exercise greater control than at present, and I submit that this would not be in Australia’s interest. That the new regime would be a dictatorship seems likely as none of the African states, once given democracy, have retained it for long; most are now dictatorships.
South Africa has decided on a policy of separate development as an answer to its problems. It would not be my answer, and it is the exact opposite to the policy we are implementing in New Guinea. But New Guinea is not our country. We can walk out and leave the people of New Guinea to work out their own solutions to their problems. But to the white people of South Africa the Republic is their country; the ancestors of some have lived there approximately for 400 years. They cannot leave without migrating to a foreign land. They think that they have found a solution to their problem, and it is their problem. If they are wrong they will suffer, not us. After spending 3 weeks in that country I would not presume to tell the people how they should solve the problem. How much less competent to do so are Mr Hawke and other left wing demonstrators who have never bothered to make the effort to go to South Africa to see for themselves.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m. (Quorum formed.)
– This Budget is a rather savage one from all aspects as far as the people are concerned. A number of speeches have been made in an endeavour to indicate that the Government is operating on a sound basis, that there is no problem with the economy and that this is a credit to the Government which has been in power for the past 22 years. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has endeavoured to say that this is a good record, that it is something of which the Government is proud. Yet if we look at what might be termed his own financial statement - the Treasury Information Bulletin - as recently as July last we find a comparison between the present period and the previous 12 months. We there see in relation to unemployment that there has been virtually an increase. We now have the startling figures that as at 31st August last there were 61,848 unemployed as against 47,000 unemployed a year earlier. In that same statistical review it can be seen that bank credit liquidity has virtually tightened and that the number of houses completed has decreased. On page 36 of the Bulletin it says:
The numbers of houses and flats completed in the June quarter of 1971 was 34,078, 7.3 per cent less than in the corresponding quarter of 1970.
And so it continues right through the financial statement issued as recently as July last showing that there has been a general rundown of the economy, a general tightening of the economy, that bank loans are fewer, that fewer houses have been completed and that unemployment is greater. What are the remedies? The Prime Minister says that things will improve. It may be that the number of unemployed will go to 100,000 but that will not be too bad because it is seasonal and we will be able to cope with the situation. In one of the Prime Minister’s speeches he referred to the bad decision made by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in December last when it granted to the wage earner - the lowest unit in the economy as far as the Treasury is concerned - a 6 per cent increase. When wc look at the profit margins of companies over the past 12 months we find that many have been greater than 6 per cent. Why is it that the Prime Minister and the Treasury, with all the statistics at their disposal, have never once referred to the decision made by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Why is it that they merely castigate the Commission and, in fact, insult it? Honourable members might recall that when the Prime Minister was reminded that he had suggested that members of the Commission had no integrity he denied it. But it stands in black and white in Hansard of 18th February 1971. The Prime Minister then said:
So the Commission must have its integrity and its authority re-established. This is a problem that must be looked at by the Government.
He said that in February 1971. Recently we had the present Treasurer (Mr Snedden) saying there is an outrageous inflationary trend occurring because of the very heavy demand made for wages which was unjustifiable, was causing tremendous pressure, which should not be encouraged but should be discouraged. The Prime Minister on the 7th of this month said that the real problem in the economy virtually is that the 6 per cent given by the Arbitration Commission in December last should not have been given. Let us place on record what the members of the Commission said when they granted the 6 per cent wage increase in December last. They said:
As to the form of the increase we are conscious of the desirability of doing what we can for the lower paid workers but we are also aware of the problems which might arise . . .
They then went on to say that in dealing with the lower paid worker they wanted to give him justice. They said:
Making the best value judgment we can we consider an increase of 6 per cent to be economically sustainable and industrially just. This percentage will be applied to the award wages and salaries of all adults, male and female, though not to the minimum rate for adult males which we deal with separately. … we emphasise that the above percentage is a percentage increase of award wages and not of wages actually paid.
They then went on to say: . . we are prepared again to give the minimum wage earner special treatment and to increase the minimum wage by (4.00 per week. For instance, the figure in the Metal Trades Award for Sydney will be $47 JIO per week . . .
We know full well that no family can live on that and the Commission, I would say. had every right to say that the 6 per cent increase was economically sustainable and industrially just. We should bear in mind the fact that the percentage was related only to the award and not to over-award payments. As I have endeavoured to illustrate by way of questions, municipal employees in my electorate did nol get 6 per cent at all; they got about 1 .5 per cent. Why? The simple reason is that they are presently getting over-award payments. Those overaward payments were taken into consideration and deducted from the 6 per cent increase. Some really got only a 50c or Si increase. How is it then that when the Treasury is unable to cope with a situation it blames the situation on the Arbitration Commission? Why is it that the Prime Minister said that members of the Commission lacked integrity? Honourable members should bear in mind that the Commonwealth gave evidence before the Commission and submitted its figures. Surely its case would have been strong enough to support what has been said by the Prime Minister. In the final analysis of the situation members of the Commission said:
Figures before us indicate that every increase of 1 per cent in award wages will increase the national wages bill by approximately $120m per annum. On that basis the 6 per cent we have decided upon will add about $720m to that bill.
A fair statement. Those figures were derived from the evidence submitted to the Commission. The Commonwealth itself was a party to the case and must surely be bound by the decision. But the Government castigated the members of the Commission in February and has continued to do so up to the present time for the outrageous decision they made and has said that they should not have granted this 6 per cent increase because of the dreadful result it has had on the economy. The real issue is that we are not grappling with the situation, whether it be cost-push or demand inflation. As honourable members who represent electorates like my own know, the people have a real struggle to live. If we look at the cost of living as it affects them we will see tremendous increases but this Government is not really interested in them. If we look at the Consumer Price Index at a time before the Commission made its decision we will see a very heavy increase in the housing group, particularly in rental accommodation. We will see that the greatest increase, particularly in Sydney, is in the housing index. That cannot be denied. Rents are skyrocketing and people have to have accommodation and on that basis we can say that a good portion of the average wage goes on rents. I think it was at the time of the Chifley Government that some investigation was made as to what was a fair percentage for a worker to pay in rent and it was said that rent should certainly not exceed one-quarter of his income. In many cases in my electorate people are paying almost half their income in rent. The Government professes to be interested in the pensioners but when it increased pensions it did not say that there would be a means test which would result in many pensioners being denied the increase. These are the people existing in circumstances of real poverty. In my electorate alone there would be 300 people receiving food from the Meals on Wheels organisation. Somebody has to go around and give them a meal. Somebody has to contribute voluntarily by preparing the meal. Admittedly the Government makes some token contribution, but it is nowhere near the actual cost. If the people concerned said tomorrow that they could not afford the time to provide these meals, what would happen to those 300 people? That number could be multiplied 3 or 4 times because there are many people who do not wish to avail themselves of that facility and to signal the situation of poverty in which they find themselves.
Let me refer to the affluence side of the situation. I do not particularly want to attack what I might term an Australian company, but I will mention it. I refer to Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd which controls steel and other products. When that company increased the price of steel by 7 per cent all the Treasurer could do was wring his hands and say: “This is dreadful. I am very worried about it, but obviously they had to do it in the course of their cost structure.’ Admittedly BHP is not making as much profit out of steel as it is out of oil. Some figures furnished to me indicate that the net profit for the BHP group for the year ended May 1971 totalled $69.2m, of which $22m was contributed by Hematite Petroleum Pty Ltd which covers the oil and gas operations. The rate of profit on issued capital and reserves for Hematite was 38.6 per cent compared with 6.7 per cent for the BHP group.
Let us look at what has been termed in this debate the very small profit given to the shareholders. I have had a look at the statistics relating to BHP shareholding. Anyone who was fortunate enough to be a shareholder in that company, say, in 1960 and who had 1,000 shares would have gained a further 1,360 shares if he had taken up the bonus issues made since then.
– What is the matter with that7
– There is nothing the matter with that at all, but what right has the worker to those shares? None. He is being penalised for a percentage. The ordinary dividend on BHP shares, calculated as a percentage of net profit, after tax, was 55. 8 per cent last year. I take this opportunity to say to the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) who is interjecting - he is a wealthy man, interested only in profit and not interested in the worker - that 1,360 shares have been virtually given to a present shareholder on the basis that he was a shareholder in 1960. As the result of the industry of the. workers those 1,360 shares are worth $19,040 today. That is not a bad result from the workers in that company.
Let us look at what happened the other day when we were talking about the control of companies by foreign investors. The Prime Minister said that it is thought to be a good thing for us to have a capital inflow. Of course, he is the Prime Minister who favours high interest rates and says that having a high interest rate is the way to control an economy. He said that this will dampen down enthusiasm. But what it means is that the capital inflow accelerates. Last year, admittedly, there was a direct investment of $42 lm, which we would think was good. But the actual amount paid out on that and other previous investments was $543m and there was an undistributed profit of $286m. So we are slowly getting into a desperate situation.
The figures show that the undistributed profit plus an amount of money already remitted is $829m, and all we received as new money was $421m. Let us take the last 3 years, to avoid isolating one year The amount of new money in that period was $ 1,143m. The amount of income paid in that period, and the undistributed portion, totalled $2,222m. In other words, it was about double the previous amount. Al this accelerating rate it will not be long before we remit overseas twice as much money as comes in. This is supposed to be a good thing from the point of view of capital inflow. I think it goes without saying - in fact many speeches have been made about it here - that from the Australian point of view the important thing in protecting Australian industry is to have an Australian shareholding. It is very important to encourage the worker to have a share in the business. If he is not able to buy the shares, why cannot the Australian Industries Development Corporation and other subscribe to them for him? Why can he not have a share in the dividends?
Another interesting matter that has been highlighted as being a way to handle inflation is the investment allowance. I do not necessarily support it, but it was encouraged by the Treasurer as being the panacea to cure all ills that occurred in the 1961 recession. In 1962 the investment allowance was introduced by the present Prime Minister as being one way to overcome unemployment. That allowance has been done away with now. lt is interesting to look at what might be termed the credibility of the Treasurer or the Prime Minister in relation to the gloomy predictions that are always made to see whether they can be related to any prior announcement.
In June 1968 the present Prime Minister, who was then the Treasurer, painted a gloomy picture. He said that we have to look at the danger signals that are emerging and to live within our means. He went on to say:
In respect of plant and equipment - and on this, of course, depends the improvement in our productivity - we did design the Budget so as not to have any increased burden placed upon the manufacturing industries. … Up until the early part of the financial year investment in plant and equipment was not increasing al the rate we wanted it to increase but in the December and March quarters there has been a change and we think it is now running at the rate of 3 per cent higher than the corresponding period of last year. 1 do not think any of us would want those figures to turn down.
Now he has done away with the allowance, which is an incredible result when one thinks of the Treasurer of 1968 talking about the investment allowance and saying that it should be encouraged. This is typical of the 2 attitudes of mind that he has adopted. In February 1965 the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), when he was a senator and the Minister for Works - we did not realise he held that portfolio until recently - was asked in a debate whether Australian industry and mining were in danger of foreign domination. On 17th February 1965 he said that it was not. He said:
There is no real problem. If you have a look at the overall content of Australian industry you will find only a percentage of it is controlled by foreign investment.
The real issue is that, when one looks at the percentage of this control one finds that foreign interests own a lot of the major factors. The right honourable member said these things although he admitted that he did not know much about it. At the seminar at which he spoke he was attacked by no less a personage than Mr J. G. Wilson, who is the Manager of Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. I am delighted to know that that firm is iri my electorate, but I do not think that its management would be voting for the Labor Party. Mr Wilson said: 1 am dismayed with what Senator Gorton bas said. i will show you in this seminar that the percentage is enormous - oil exploration and production 85 per cent, telecommunications 83 per cent, bauxite 75 per cent, iron ore except BHP 75 per cent, pharmaceutical 97 per cent.
Those figures relate to foreign control of our industries. Mr Wilson made these very valid points. He almost deserves a knighthood for it. He said that one of the disadvantages of foreign control is that the interests of the foreign investors do not necessarily coincide with Australia’s interests. If you have got a worldwide organisation interested in maximising profits this can be harmful to Australia, he said. Some foreign countries impose on their Australian subsidiaries restrictions which are detrimental to Australia - for example, restriction on imports or exports. Australian mineral resources controlled by foreign companies are not necessarily exploited in the best interests of Australia - for example, iron ore, bauxite and mineral sands. Few companies in Australia under foreign control undertake research work because they prefer to do it overseas. These results are adverse to Australia, Mr Wilson said. He then went on to make a number of other points.
The situation is that in 196S the then Senator Gorton said that there was nothing really wrong. More recently he said that there is a lot wrong now and we have to do something about it. He gave the example of Nabarlek. The uranium result at Nabarlek is not as good as we thought. Nobody is able to find out how that happened. Remember that the taxpayer through this Budget subscribes $8.6m as a subsidy for petroleum exploration. The Bureau of Mineral Resources, in other words, virtually pinpoints where these assets are. The Nabarlek deposit allegedly was found by a nurse who lives in Darwin. It is known that the reserves and the value are there. It is a matter of someone being directed to the point where they are. In the main the person who goes there is the foreign investor. He is the one who gets all the gain and we stand here and applaud him for allegedly helping us.
Our Bureau of Mineral Resources should be taking an active part in developing these resources, not just finding them and saying that they are there. Look at the tragedy of Woodside Oil. A gentleman came along to see us recently and said: ‘In Rankin No. 1 there is a tremendous deposit of natural gas. We need money to exploit it. We asked Mobil Oil whether they would give us the money and they said they would give us Si 5m but we could not take that money up because we have a partner, Burmah Oil, which is virtually an offsider of BP, another big interest in the petroleum industry. They have said that we cannot take that money up because they want a 50.3 per cent control of the company’. This is what will happen. He says that if this company gets control it will never really develop this deposit against its own interest and in competition with its oil wells elsewhere. Is this not a tragedy for the nation? From the point of view of a Budget why is it that we are not promoting Australia’s natural wealth and promoting at least the worker. The waiting list for housing commission homes is expanding. There are not enough homes. This is a real tragedy, a real indictment. From that point of view this Government no longer deserves the confidence of the people.
– I rise to speak on this Budget with very mixed feelings. I am not certain what sort of a financial structure its architects set out to design, and what I see I like but yet fear. I know that everyone, especially farmers, desperately need a break from inflation. But I also know that it is electorally disastrous to provoke substantial unemployment. I believe that this Budget will put a brake on inflation, but I also believe that it will be electorally dangerous to hold the damper on the economy till the end of the financial year. It will be good economics to give the economy a boost before then, and I think the Government will do so. Therefore I am satisfied with the Budget in tha overall sense.
The economists whose statements I read agree that inflation at this moment is not due to too much demand for goods. Cost pressures, they say, are responsible, especially wages, cancellation of by-laws, and some indirect taxes. The Budget works by cutting demand. and so one can argue that it has missed the point. However, the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has explained that he expects the cost inflation to be fortified by demand inflation. The Budget, he says, should prevent this. In more general terms, a bit of unemployment in the cities should give pause to the unions. It will be more difficult to back wage demands by strike action. Jobs will not be so easy to get, and the rank and file factory workers will not want to take the risk of strike action.
I think cost inflation will get quite a jolt, and this is all to the good. The thing that worries me is that the Treasurer might be acting just a little too statesmanlike. We might be cutting off our nose to spite our face. For the first time since Chifley, we have a Prime Minister who has a liking for and an understanding of economics. He is even one up on Chifley as he has been fortunate to have university training in this subject. We want to keep it this way for many years to come, and I believe we will. I want to see the economy put back into position the very moment that the Budget has bitten deeply enough into inflation. We need a Labor government like we need a hole in the head. Members of the Australian Labor Party sound really good until we look at all their policies put together. When we do this they add up to a national disaster. To pay for their promises, they would have to tax the living daylights out of any Australian who through hard work, study, or taking risks has lifted himself above the average. I do not know anyone who would not like more money spent on the underprivileged or on education. But I know many who fear that Labor will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs by trying to do too much too soon. It will dangerously reduce the job opportunities for those who wish to work. The people who work the most in this country are those who work for themselves or are senior employees - the doctors, lawyers, farmers, grocers and the responsible executives in business and so on. If you tax away their incentive for hard work they will just coast along. In one fell swoop you have destroyed the motive power pulling the country. We must never allow a rookie mechanic to tamper, all by his little self, with a pretty delicate piece of machinery. Labor has no experience. It is committed to too many expensive promises. It is too hamstrung by internal hangers on. For these reasons it could not govern. For the sake of the welfare of Australia, this Government has no right to place itself at electoral risk.
I think there must be and will be a boost before next August. Tax cuts next August will be too late - that is if I read my Budget Papers correctly. In one of the supplementary statements the Treasurer tells us all about the long delays before new tax measures start to make their presence felt. If it works one way it must also work the other way. Therefore, if unemployment mounts, we must put the engine into forward gear well before next August.
I want to say something about assistance to the farmer. I really hate to call it assistance. Actually it is compensation for all those years of invisible subsidies to manufacturers. Farmers paid and still pay much of the tariff. They pay far more than their fair share of that $2,700m annual subsidiary to secondary industry. The compensation to primary industry has admittedly gone up by $64.5m, although I think, as does just about everyone else, that the wool grower will require more than the $60m which is budgeted for. One thing I find very interesting is that the increase in overall compensation to the wool industry, as budgeted, is really less than people imagine. This is because last year’s emergency assistance has been withdrawn. The net increase is therefore only $42. 5m as budgeted. The biggest growth item in the field of compensation is expenditure partly designed to eliminate those to be compensated. The spending on general rural reconstruction and dairy reconstruction goes up by $44.5m - a significant increase.
Wheat industry stabilisation payments are expected to be down by SI. 75m. This has no connection with the current international wheat prices. The Government pays the Australian Wheat Board only when a pool has just about been finalised. This takes a few years. The budgeted expenditure on wheat stabilisation is therefor a piece of history. An unhappy situation is portrayed in the figures on fertiliser bounty. Expenditure on this item is due to fall by 82.75m. On the other side of the ledger we have the brand new $3m plan for apple and pear stabilisation. This industry is deeply troubled. The European Common Market developments will treat it unkindly. Even though this matter is more a question for Tasmania and Victoria it illustrates the universal plight of the agriculturalist in this country today.
Before leaving the question of the difficult rural crisis and the problems of bringing relief to this disaster area, I would like, in the short time at my disposal, to devote some time to a consideration of the proposed deficiency payment scheme for the 1970-71 wool clip. Perhaps its more accurate title would be the temporary cost compensation scheme. It is interesting to note that approximately 3 million bales of the Australian wool clip can be categorised into 16 different basic groups of types. These 3 million bales embody from the best to the worst types of merino wool, embracing fleeces, pieces and bellies. It is within these 3 million bales that the hard core of the Australian merino sheep industry exists. If we are to look at any form of compensation for the wool industry, there must be some foundation on which this protection can be firmly based. Firstly, it should be said that the scheme outlined by the Government does not have such a base and is designed not as a real protective measure, but merely as a temporary palliative. Indeed, the scheme has been designed to operate on the premise that on the one hand there will be a realistic price support afforded by the Australian Wool Commission while on the other hand a deficiency payment will ensure a firm national level for the whole clip. The big squeeze will be on the wool buyers. They will be the meat in the sandwich. Mr Deputy Speaker, how long will this situation remain workable? Hopefully I will suggest that, for one basic reason, it will not last long.
Wool as an apparel fibre is far from the ultimate in processing simplicity. It requires many and varied processes to bring it to a satisfactory level in the end product. It is quite unlike man made fibres in this regard. AH of the world’s leading textile apparel processors are well aware of this fact and clearly do not need any added discouragement in the use of wool. I would suggest that continued pressure by agencies of the Federal Government aimed at forcing a false value into wool will inevitably lead to less confidence in the future of wool generally. This should not be taken to refer to deliberate actions against buyers, but more specifically at actions which give growers of wool a completely false grasp of the true situation. The present cost compensation or deficiency payment scheme, I feel, does follow this path by encouraging production in a general sense to achieve the highest possible average price at auction, (indee the present free auction system of marketing this scheme will prove far from satisfactory, even in the short term, to wool users. But perhaps even more importantly still, it will prove of less value to the future of pure merino wool production in Australia. It is a well accepted fact that the downturn in production of better types of merino wool was not precipitated by rising costs. Rather it had its beginnings within the auction sale room where a slackening in demand for all wool weakened competition for the better types available. It followed that the lower the wool market came, the poorer the competition for these better types became. Growers can hardly be blamed for following this trend by compensating for their lower returns with higher stocking rates from more average types of sheep, and short-cut methods of flock management.
In plain terms, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Government’s proposed system of deficiency payment will certainly not promote the production of better types of wool and will rapidly drag the merino wool industry down to the level of its overseas conpetitor producers. Australian merino wool had a distinct advantage and still retains a slight advantage for its fine characteristics. Textile processors are clearly finding already that the product they once bought with confidence now has only limited advantages over other fibres. To my mind the only corrective measure which can be employed to retain confidence in the large scale use of wool is a compensation scheme offering sufficient incentive to all growers for the production of higher quality better grown wools. If the proposed deficiency payment scheme is implemented under the methods already indicated by the Government any long or short term intentions directed at eventually acquiring the entire clip may well find insurmountable problems and in fact this plan could make the task of acquisition an extremely dubious proposal. I believe, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the Government has every reason to institute immediately a complete acquisition concept to all wool, regardless, so that while we still have an industry it can be put into a more economic and stronger competitive position, with the benefit of central direction and the proper incentives to present a quality wool. If we do not take this course it may well be that even after this present costly and heartbreaking experience - in, say, 18 months or 2 years from now - the production of merino wool will be fragmented into an irretrievable position.
Now, Mr Deputy Speaker, may I turn to another matter which is causing me the gravest concern. It is a very serious and rational reservation which I have about this Budget. I refer to the failure to increase financial aid to independent schools in the face of very steep rises in teachers’ salaries as well as quite substantial increases in other costs. The failure to increase assistance is false economy. It not only could, but most certainly will, result in closures of Catholic schools. It will accelerate the enrolment of Catholic children in State schools simply because parents will be unable to pay the higher fees which must be levied to keep the independent schools semi-solvent. During the last 8 years, Mr Deputy Speaker, I have maintained a firm and consistent attitude on this matter and not, sir, on account of any philosophical bias. Supporters of State aid say that they pay through taxes for a system of education which they do not patronise. They pay again for the system of their choice. This they regard as inequitable. Opponents of state aid argue that Catholics are free to enrol their children in State schools and if they elect not to do so then they must be prepared to pay again. No one can pronounce either argument as being completely wrong. My view is the practical one. Take secondary pupils, for instance. This year the annual cost of educating one secondary pupil in a State school will be about $600. Total grants from Commonwealth and State Governments, together with tax concessions, barely cover a third of this amount. So any student who is forced out of a Catholic secondary school and into a State one costs that State about $400 a year extra.
Mr Deputy Speaker, it makes no sense at all to court fiscal disaster by engaging in financial brinkmanship with the hard pressed Catholic education system. There is a perfectly sound and unexceptionable financial argument for a substantial increase in Commonwealth assistance to independent schools. It would be economically irresponsible and indeed politically ridiculous not to do so in the next Budget and sooner should the opportunity arise. A convocation of Cathlic bishops in Sydney some 3 weeks ago went on record as criticising this serious budgetary omission. Anyone with the slightest doubt about this financial plight ought to do the rounds of the parish schools in his electorate. It takes a lot for a mild-mannered and highly respected churchman - such as Archbishop Young of Tasmania - to come out as he did the other week after the Tasmanian Budget was presented and to say the things that he said. With the Tasmanian Catholic school system in tatters, the State Government raised its grants by $4 per pupil per annum. It was given ample documentary evidence on the scope of the problem but it chose to ignore this quite blatantly and with total recklessness and irresponsibility. This extreme provocation had a predictably explosive sequel. The Archbishop said that he would close some schools. He further stated that the selection of these schools will be deliberate and judicious. I quote from a newspaper report of his remarks:
The impact will be felt in politically sensitive and crucial areas’.
All that I can conclude, Mr Speaker, is that the Premier of Tasmania has taken leave of his senses. He must have the most highly developed suicidal tendencies in Australia, apart from being an utter political amateur and fiscal mismanager. He will be annihilated at the next State elections and I would not risk a dollar on him, Mr Deputy Speaker, even if he starts at 100 to 1. Treasury advisers and economists must have told the Government how much the Commonwealth saves by keeping Catholic schools afloat. I am completely confident that the next Budget will give this the recognition it deserves. I only regret again that this Budget did not do so.
Perhaps. Mr Speaker, this is another matter which the Government could do something about before next August. What concerns me deeply about this Budget is the continued growth in departmental spending. Despite all public statements implying the contrary, we have a mushrooming bureaucracy. As one who is concerned with efficiency, I recommend a thorough housecleaning in this area of government. I am sure the whole place is riddled with people looking after people, that is, people employed because someone has to control people employed. I know that grass roots supporters of both the Liberal Party and the Country Party have little love for Public Service empires - great bottomless pits working under cover of secrecy.
Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, it is appropriate at this time to look back over our shoulders and to note the things which we have achieved and which have happened since the introduction of the previous Budget. For me the most exciting event has been the long overdue recognition that the Tariff Board is a body of men who knew what they were talking about and that the recommendations made in their annual reports were matters of substance and vital to the wellbeing of the Australian economy. This was one of the things of which I dreamed and said: ‘Why not?’ 1 welcome with open arms the decision of the Government to implement the Board’s recommendation that there be a general review of the whole tariff structure. I pray that the Board will be reconstructed and developed in such a way that this work may proceed as a matter of great urgency. I plead that economies on Government spending be not used as an excuse and a subterfuge to delay further and frustrate this essential basic economic reform. I note the departure from the political scene of the high priest of protection and the general acceptance of the abandonment of the futile philosophy of protection all around. I recognise as of academic interest only the question of whether the philosophy failed because of the departure of the high priest, or whether the high priest departed because of the imminent failure of the philosophy. I look back on my Budget speech of almost exactly 3 years ago with the thought that perhaps the effort and thought put into it were not, after all, just another wasted exercise.
I pause now, Sir, to think of the exporting industries on which we rely so heavily for the wealth on which our prosperity depends, and to my own State of Western Australia which has paid so dearly as a result of the over-generous protection given to the industrial complexes of eastern Australia. I anticipate with great expectancy the revival of growth and discovery of further export potential of Western Australia, with an invasion of even more export markets with basic commodities, competitively priced, and produced against the background of a sane cost structure. 1 do not despair of the future, either immediate or long term, and believe that adversity will bring to the surface again those desirable characteristics of the great mass of Australian people; and the things of real value in our way of life will again assume their rightful place.
– Few, if any, sections of the community have welcomed this Budget. Employer organisations, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, pensioner organisations, health organisations and individuals all have voiced strong criticism. Some newspaper headings which have appeared since the Budget was announced described the Budget as: ‘Overkill - 71 style’: ‘The Budget that Missed the Point’; A Political Non-event - This Year’; ‘An Anti-Inflationary Budget - What a Laugh’; A Mini Budget Later to Correct Government’s Economic Overkill’. The 1971 August issue of the official journal of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia heads its comments with ‘Excessive Restraint on Private Sector Demand’. The Associated Chambers of Commerce certainly could not be regarded as a supporter of the Australian Labor Party but in this journal its states:
There will be widespread concern in business at the prospect of a severe credit squeeze later in the financial year due to the excessively large Budget domestic surplus combined with the maintenance of restrictive monetary policies foreshadowed by the Treasurer. Under such conditions, the impact of monetary restraints will fall hardest on the small and medium sized businesses which do not have the capacity to borrow overseas.
It further states:
In the present economic climate and in looking at the immediate prospects ahead, the Budget will be judged as unnecessarily severe and its strategy wrongly orientated.
For those reasons, amongst many more, the Opposition has moved an amendment to this tragic Budget. All honourable members on this side of the House are completely dissatisfied with the approach of the Government to our national problems. The strategy of this Budget will put undue strains on the economy. Already we have predictions of large scale unemployment and the figures are beginning to show that those predictions are correct. The Budget will cause an increase in costs and further pressures for wage and salary adjustments. Over 40 per cent of additional taxes will be gained in customs and excise duties and this will have a direct impact on the costs of goods to the community. Postal charges will have the same effect. All of the things I have mentioned will create severe pressures on commerce and industry. There will be economies in business expenses and in the enterprises generally. Staff will be dismissed and prices will rise. The ordinary people - the workers of Australia - will suffer by unemployment and a decline in their standard of living. The people on fixed incomes and the people who will be unemployed will suffer most.
I now turn to unemployment. The figures for unemployment and unfilled vacancies at the end of August show a disturbing trend whether expressed in absolute or seasonal terms. At present unemployment is greater than it was 12 months ago and the number of unfilled vacancies is fewer. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) in a recent statement said:
At the end of August there were 61,848 unemployed registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. … A year earlier there were 47,257. . . . Unfilled vacancies at the end of August totalled 34,673 compared with 42,538 at the end of August 1970.
This trend has been evident at least since the previous Budget was introduced. The tragedy is that the Government refuses to acknowledge this fact. It clings blindly to the prejudice that all that is wrong with the economy is the greed of the wage earner. Reality shows, however, that all the wage earner has been able to do is to hold his position and to gain a very small amount of increased productivity that our stagnant economy has achieved. The Government tries to show that because of the total unemployment decline from July to August conditions are on the improve. This is a travesty of the situation. In the same statement the Minister for Labour and National Service said:
The decrease in the number of registered unemployed - this is from July to August - was 2,455 or 4 per cent which compares with an average decrease of 5,000 or 10 per cent during. August in the last 3 years.
Total unemployment should now be declining in the expectation of Christmas trading, but it is not. Job vacancies are not rising as they should be. Figures show that on aggregate there has been more unemployment in non-metropolitan areas than in metropolitan areas in the last few years but in the past few months the increase has been in the metropolitan areas. Conditions in rural areas can be blamed for unemployment in non-metropolitan areas and a decline in business activity and confidence must be blamed for the increase in metropolitan areas. Throughout Australia nearly two-thirds of all male unemployed - 27,000 out of 41,000- are in the semiskilled or unskilled manual category. This points to a definite danger. I believe it is time the Minister for Labour and National Service had a look at the figures and placed the real facts before the Parliament.
In his first speech as Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Liberal Party of Australia the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) boasted of a reduction in income tax by the previous Gorton Government. Five months later, in August of this year, not only did income tax rise by 2i per cent but also company tax. Increases have been placed on cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, petrol, distillate and aviation fuel. For the second time in 12 months postal and telegraph charges have been increased and the charges under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme have been increased by 100 per cent. They rose from SOc to $1 a prescription. In making these increases the Government has given absolutely no consideration to the person who is chronically ill and who may regularly need 2 or 3 prescriptions. Neither has the
Government given any consideration to the family man with a chronically ill child. Common justice demanded that special cases should have been given some concession. I suggest that a sliding scale in the payments for pharmaceutical prescriptions should have been introduced. An appropriate scale could be $1 for one prescription; $1.50 for 2 prescriptions; and $1.75 for 3 prescriptions if those prescriptions were produced to the chemist at the same time, lt would cost the Government very little to implement such a scale and it might provide some relief to people with above average chemist expenses.
The costs of hospital and medical funds are now almost beyond the reach of the average wage earner. Public ward coverage for a family will cost 82c a week or $42.72 a year; intermediate ward coverage will cost $1.28 a week or $67.72 a year; and private ward coverage will cost $1.52 a week or $79.20 a year. It must be remembered that to this expense must be added the cost of a medical benefits coverage - 80c a week or $41,60 a year. So the hospital coverage for an intermediate war, plus the medical benefits coverage will cost $2.08 a week or $109.32 a year. In many instances that amount must come out of the wages of people who are earning less than the minimum average weekly wage. Every pharmaceutical prescription on the free list will now cost $1 instead of 50c. Earlier this afternoon the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) gave some interesting facts on the price of drugs to the Commonwealth. In many instances the $1 chargs will more than recoup that cost of the drug that will be supplied by the chemist. This is a deplorable situation. We are dealing with the sick of our community and the families of our community and a better scheme for public health in Australia must be introduced.
I turn now to the subject of education. I appreciate that both sections of our dual education system are in urgent need of funds, classrooms, schools, teachers and teaching equipment. Several of my colleagues already have mentioned the needs of the Slate education systems throughout Australia and I am in full support of the arguments that they have advanced and of the efforts that they are making to get an emergency grant made by the Commonwealth to the State education systems. I should like to devote my time to the question of the extra assistance that is needed by Catholic schools in city and country areas. These schools are catering for children of parents who are not amongst the affluent members of our society. The type of school that I have in mind is primary school in my electorate. Secondary schools are also in a similar position but I shall quote only the one case. In this school, enrolments have increased from 483 pupils in 1969 to 607 at present. There are .15 classes but there are only 12 classrooms. More than 100 migrant children are attending special classes in education and to provide for these children there are 1 1 lay teachers as well as religious teachers. That parish has had to obtain from the bank $96,000 in order to provide the 3 extra classrooms that are required urgently. The system of per capita payment to independent schools was announced in the 1969-70 Budget. In August 1969 the then Minister for Education and Science sa’d: lt is our policy to seek to work out ways of assisting independent schools so that, relying on their own efforts and supported by governments, they will be able in the future to provide places for that proportion of the school population which in the past has sought education in independent schools. It is also important that the independent school system be able to develop in the future, not only in quantity but also in quality, more or less in line with the development of government schools.
I should like to remind you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the Parliament generally that that statement was made only 2 months before the 1969 Federal elections. Since that election, no extra assistance has been granted to independent schools throughout Australia. The 1970-71 Budget has been and gone and the 1971-72 Budget has recently been presented and the rates of $35 per annum for each primary school pupil and $50 per annum for each secondary school pupil which were introduced in 1969 still remain the order of the day. Noone can argue that these rates have not been drastically reduced in value since they were first introduced in January 1970. Despite the promises of this Government, it has done nothing in the 1971-72 Budget to alleviate the problems of the Catholic schools throughout Australia. There are approximately 1,781 of these schools in Australia. Many of them are in a similar position to the one that I described which is in my electorate.
I ask: What would happen to the education system in Australia if only a quarter of these 1,781 schools were to be closed at the beginning of the 1972 school year? It is no wonder that the Catholic bishops of Australia issued a statement after a conference in Sydney in August this year. I “shall quote the statement in its entirety because it is a statement which has been made after due consideration by leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia. I am certain that it has been made as a warning not only to the Commonwealth Government but also to the governments of the Australian States. The education system must collapse if a proportion of the Catholic schools in Australia closed their doors after giving due notice to the States that such would be the case. The statement reads:
The bishops assembled in conference view with grave concern the Federal Budget’s failure to make provision for increased subsidies for independent schools. The well known spiralling costs of education are due largely to increases in teachers’ salaries which have come into operation in the past 12 months. As a consequence the healthy impact of Federal per capita grants operative from 1st January 1970, has been offset in very great measure.
In view of the Federal Government’s proclaimed objective to keep the independent schools flourishing, it might have been expected that the very steep increases in costs incurred during 1970 and 1971 would have been matched by increased subsidies.
The Federal Government has before it the results of the nation-wide survey of educational needs, 1971-1974. Conservative estimates as to the needs of both government and independent schools over this 5 year period cannot but cause grave anxiety to all Australians. Certainly there is an urgent need for long range financial planning by both Commonwealth and states. Long range planning surely must include some provision for growth in subsidies to match inevitable growth in costs, apart from the growing needs due to increasing population and educational requirements.
The bishops are deeply concerned at the increasing financial burdens falling upon parents, many of whom, for conscientious reasons wish to enrol their children in independent schools.
The Commonwealth’s increasing involvement in the whole educational field is well appreciated as well as the Government’s efforts to bring relief in certain areas of the community’s needs.
Likewise, it must be recognised that serious problems confront the Government by reason of a somewhat precarious national economy.
However, it surely is valid economics to provide increased subsidies in relation to increased costs in favour of those citizens whose voluntary contribution to the nation’s welfare provides education for 22 per cent of Australian youth. Failure of this large scale voluntary effort in whole or in part could only result in vast increases in public expenditure for which the taxpayers will be called upon to foot the bill.
I suggest that that is a temperate statement and it is a statement that has been made after due consideration. I think it is one that deserves the due consideration of this Government. I have great pleasure in supporting the amendment that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to this tragic Budget. (Quorum formed.)
– I have known the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) for a number of years. I believe I know him well enough to say that the honourable gentleman will not sit down and sulk if I excuse myself from replying to his speech in particular. But I listened to the honourable gentleman with what I. hope he would describe as, customary courtesy.
– Rapt attention.
– No, not rapt attention. There was an odd burst of boredom here and there but I listened with courtesy. A lot. of what he said, of course, would meet with approval everywhere in this House. I would cull out but one argument which the honourable gentleman advanced in the matter of education to say something about, and that is the matter of State assistance - describe it how you will. Looking at the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) I would have hardly described him as being the most boisterous supporter of aid for independent schools, but I thought the honourable gentleman was almost going to have a fit. But then somebody came along and hit him with what I suspect was a tranquillising dart and no fit came upon us. It was a great speech that came from the honourable member for Lang but I am wondering if I may remind him of the fact that a few years ago there descended upon the politics of France a gentleman rejoicing in the name of M. Poujade. He had a simple but sturdy policy - the abolition of all taxation. M. Poujade had a colourful but regrettably very brief career in French politics, but this is the point, this is what I want to talk about as far as this Budget is concerned. We can pick out from both sides of the House or - if you will excuse the metaphore - from the semicircle of th House, ideas galore and they are all fine, but they all call for money. I do not know whether I was nurtured in a peculiar school - I want to put honourable members at complete ease and at the point of utter advantage as far as I am concerned - possibly it was an odd school but I am convinced of one thing, and I think the Australian people have got to come back to this: There is nothing, but nothing, in this world that one can get for nothing.
– What about the measles?
– This is very, very true, but you might happen to get the mumps; just think of that. I want to say something about the Budget, and in particular about the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The Budget as a Bill provides for an expenditure - and I hope honourable members will forgive me quoting figures-
– So unlike you.
– Quoting figures 1 said, nothing else. The Bill provides for an expenditure of S8,654m.
– A fair bit of sugar.
– Now look, Bluey. The grants to the States will account for $2,93 lm, social services - taking in repatriation and health - $2,095m, and defence $l,252m. If we add the 3 items together they come to $6,278m. It does not sound very much citing it like that, but I just want to put it in this form.
– Where is the money coming from?
– 1 am indebted to the honourable gentleman for his interjection. Those 3 items, grants to the States, social services and defence account for 72 per cent of Budget expenditure. To put it in sharper terms, for every $1 which the Government proposes to spend 72c will come under those 3 headings. I leave to one side the remaining 28c. I just want to ask my honourable friends opposite would they cut back on the grants to the States. There is a deafening silence. Of course they would not cut back. Indeed, if honourable members opposite were to listen to the speech of their Leader, and occasion ally some of them did - 1 suspect by accident - he would kick it up. As far as social services is concerned-
– Who is your leader?
– At feast we do not follow him out of curiosity. As far as social services are concerned - taking, for example, the speech of the honourable member for Lang - the Opposition would boost expenditure on them. What about defence? I suppose all of us in our hearts would like to think that one day we will arrive at the stage when not a cracker will be spent on defence. But is that day yet within our reach? I suspect it is not. These are the 3 items and they account for 72c out of every $1 we spend. The Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment. In a general sense it seeks, as I say, to spend more money. That is a proposition which is pretty easily tested. For example, he calls for a fundamental review of social services. 1 would put this view to honourable members opposite-
– That is what the Prime Minister said.
– Contain yourself, please, I am not going to hurt you. I would gaily walk down Queen Street, Brisbane, with you any day of the week.
– No queen streets with you, lad.
– You have a far keener perception than I was ever prepared to venture. The second thing the Leader of the Opposition calls for, in his own language, is a balance of the finances of States and local government. And then, of course, he concluded the amendment with a splendid lament. Honourable members have read it, and it should be carved in granite. He said that the Budget produces no programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength or national security. That is a splendid aggregation of slogans. But no person I am sure, least of all the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), would gainsay the fact that the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition calls for more money to be spent. I readily concede this: In political terms the speech of the Leader of the Opposition last week, or a week ago, or a fortnight ago - time becomes a little irrelevant in this place does it not?
– In your case, yes.
– At least I will be no unhappy anachronism such as the honourable member for Robertson.
– Try to be relevant.
– Well, I will. Look, if a seminal idea ever entered the mind of the honourable member it would be a plain case of promiscuity. The Leader of the Opposition made a superb political speech. lt was worth votes galore. As I sat here his speech had charm and sweetness and it was alluring. One found it difficult to resist. If one closed one’s eyes the Leader of the Opposition’s speech could almost send one out one’s mind. I know that some honourable members might say that I had not far to go but that is a matter of opinion. The honourable gentleman reminded me tremendously of the siren on the rock. It is all very fine for him to describe my distinguished leader as Tiberius on the telephone. But there he was. the siren on the rock and his singing was absolutely superb in terms of getting votes.
I want to say to the Prime Minister and to the Government - bless them, and I mean that in an ecclesiastical sense, too - to look in terms of the electorate they have to outdo, they have to surpass, the music of Orpheus. I am not suggesting to the Prime Minister that he should follow Odysseus and tie himself to the mast; nor am I suggesting that he should plug up the ears of his followers with wax; but I am saying to the Government that in sheer political terms the moment of truth has arrived when the policies of the Opposition - of the Leader of the Opposition - must be identified for what they are - thoroughly spendthrift. This has to be made quite clear.
– Are you happy with your taxation system?
– Well, you know, the brisk fact about the amendment moved by your leader is that he did not venture one proposal to cut back any expenditure whatsoever. Not one. What the honourable gentleman in fact called for was for more government expenditure in every imaginable field. We can take a lot of examples. I refer to a conspicuous one, when he spoke about what he was pleased to describe as the negative Liberal attitude to the federal system; the Liberal inability to operate that system. There are 2 clear inferences there. The first one is that he has an affection and regard for the federal system. That would be the joke of the year, would it not? I want to say to Sir Henry Bolte that if he falls for what the Leader of the Opposition says, being one of the most devoted supporters of the federal system, he will turn up at Rosehill on Saturday with the expectation of picking every winner, and I do not think that is on.
The second inference is this: That the honourable gentleman is quite prepared to spend more money. The fact of the matter is that the Australian Labor Party is dedicated to the destruction of the federal system. For my part, I do not want to embarrass any of my colleagues. There are some who sit in the State parliaments and some indeed who sit in this Parliament who want to refight the battle of federation. That is a battle that was fought and won 70-odd years ago and they want to fight it again today. But the colonies became the States under the compact of federation. However, the Leader of the Opposition is dedicated to destroying the federal system. The other inference to be drawn from what the Leader of the Opposition said in that collocation of words was that more money must be spent in the public sector. 1 want to put quickly to the House 2 short propositions, which I hope are shorn of political involvement. 1 know that this would distress honourable members opposite and 1 will tell them what they are. The first is this: The imperative in the Australian economy today is that inflation be halted. Inflation must be halted and we should not speak about it as being tolerable. This country for many years now - for 20-odd years - in my view has been trying to do too much with too few resources.
– Who for?
– Ah, for the benefit of this country. I believe that the Australian economy today is very much in need of a breathing space. But every time the Government is called upon to spend more money it means that resources - material and intellectual resources as well as resources of skill and initiative - have to be diverted. Every time a member of this Parliament gets up and says that so and so should be done and that we should build a dam here or put something there -
– Shove this here.
– Yes, that is right. Shove this there and it would cheer us all up if that happened to the honourable member. Every time this is done honourable members join in the clamour of contributing to the prime cause of inflation in Australia.
The second proposition that 1 put and which is allied to the first is a concomitant, of course, that the greatest single contribution to inflation in Australia is government spending. By government spending I mean Federal Government spending and State government spending. It seems to me to be an exercise in futility to implore the Federal Government to cut back its spending while at the same time the States go on their way and say: ‘Look, we need more money for this and more money for that’. This brings me to the simple thesis that I want to propound. I think it is about high time that the Government - and I hope this is understood - put the axe into the immigration programme.
Opposition Members - Oh.
– All right, I just want to say this to honourable members opposite: Growth for growth’s sake is a spurious and dangerous national goal. Today this country should be insisting on quality in everything that it does. It should be insisting on quality in the people it brings into this country, quality in our performance and quality in our production. Those who work with their hands or work with their minds must come to apprehend one simple inescapable fact - that is that productivity is not some long latin derived word. It is word that has a significant meaning. The quality that must go into our effort, no matter where it may be, is of the utmost importance to this country. That is the thesis I propound. To bring people to this country today under a migration programme to demand of them a contribution to the Australian economy, and to demand of the States and the local government authorities roads, schools, hospitals and sewerage for them is to ask for things which in the short term are desperately nonproductive. I do not say this through any absence of command-
– What: The migrants? Come on Jim.
– No, please, I do not say this in any sense of showing a lack of compassion. All of these things do not produce in the short term - but in the ultimate, yes. What this country needs after 20 years of a quite unrivalled migration programme is something of a breathing space. We will find it harder and harder to get migrants to come to Australia. I believe that we are entitled to ask that those who come here will make a contribution to the Australian economy and will make this contribution quite readily. If we are to take the view that we will have development in terms of people as long as we have the numbers; if we are to desert excelsior as a national objective, then I believe we will demolish the quite sterling effort which this country and its people have contributed and built up over the last generation. That is the thesis. I do not know whether it is popular or not, but surely some of us occasionally can be brought to accept the idea that this is after all the national Parliament and that no matter how unwelcome views may be, we should not become allergic to them, we should be able to tolerate them.
– You should join us.
– If I were to go over there I could lead the honourable member in a far better way than he is being ted under the present leadership, and I do not think that he is too keen following his Leader at the moment, either. The last thing I want to say is that under the immigration programme we have placed a tremendous burden on the States and on local government. This is a burden which of course they have not borne without complaint. It is one thing, as I say, for the Commonwealth to cut back on its expenditure, but it is the essence of futility to say: ‘We will cut back and the States can go no their way.’ That is the argument I put. We all hope that this country will gain greater strength. I think it is about time that every person in Australia realised that this is a country which has one economy. One cannot identify the Australian economy as being 6 economies and to speak about the State of Queensland as having a Queensland economy, finishing when one gets to Coolangatta. That seems to me to be one of the absurdities of the twentieth century. This is one nation which has one economy and one people. In the general sense we have one faith, and if we have both the will and the purpose we will have one splendid end,
– Replying briefly to a couple of points raised by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), 1 point out that he himself has said that the economy of this country is not just one of quantity for quantity’s sake, but one of quality. If he reads the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) he will see that this is exactly what we are seeking. When he says that the Australian Labor Party is dedicated to the destruction of the federal system or of federation, obviously he has not read our policy, which provides for decentralised control and social control. To give him a small example in the field of health, we want regional administration of health services. We do not want the sort of thing that we have in repatriation, which is centralised control.
My main theme tonight is, firstly, on inflation and secondly, on the care of our space ship earth. Reference to these two matters is mostly sadly lacking in the Budget. Among those who have been blamed for inflation are consumers, wage earners, financiers, land developers and governments. I want to show why the major blame must be laid at the door of the Federal Government and the faceless financiers who direct it, and that the least blame should be laid at the door of the consumers and wage earners. Today’s Australian Financial Review’, which is a daily newspaper from the staid Fairfax stable, scotches the idea of scapegoating our arbitration system, which is still something admired by other countries. For example, wage arbitrators must take into account the productivity of the worker, the profitability of the industry and the paying capacity of the consumer. It is no good trying to lay blame on the arbitration system. Since he has been sitting down with Mr Robert Hawke and others besides his Cabinet colleagues, a remarkable change has come over the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) in this regard. Like the arbitration commissioners and unlike most honourable members opposite, he now realises that wage earners are not the sole agents of inflation. In fact, they are usually its victims because in general the arbitrators can award what they consider a just return for only one moment of time. They do not restore wage justice for the intervals between the setting of those awards.
I realise, of course, that pensioners, farmers and others who have no way of enforcing their demands or of appealing to arbitration, except through the ballot box, will not be very sympathetic with people who want to achieve awards and increases in their rates of pay by collective bargaining. In particular, rural employers will resent gains for those employed in rural industry. But the employees have suffered the same relative lowering of incomes, along with their employers, and they do not even now, and they will not in the foreseeable future, enjoy the benefits of a 40-hour week. I return then to the editorial in today’s ‘Financial Review’, in which the editor dismisses the suggestion of a wage freeze as a curb to inflation because in Great Britain this measure turned out to be a trick. Although there was a freezing of company dividends, profits were still rising unchecked and were salted away in the form of tax free capital gains.
I therefore make my first specific criticism of the Budget. It fails to plan for Australia’s economic strength by imposing a graduated selective capital gains tax. The example in Great Britain is one well worth following. For example, for administrative simplicity in that country no return on capital gains is required for investments under £500; they do not have to be declared. There are lots of ways in which this system can be streamlined and made effective. In fact, most developed and many of the developing countries now have a capital gains tax, and so should we. This would really be getting at one of the causes of inflation. Tt would not hurt anybody and it would not create hardship. In fact, it would do much to alleviate the hardship suffered by social service dependants, whose plight has been brought so much to the fore in this debate by honourable members on this side of the chamber.
As for a capital gains tax applied to land developing, there should be consultation with local and State authorities which wish to emulate Canberra by applying a community betterment land tax or by they themselves entering the land development industry, as the New South Wales Government now appears to be doing under pressure from its Labor Opposition. All of these matters should be considered in consultation between the 3 levels of Government. This would eliminate the nature of the major cause of inflation and the scandalously high price of land which has been caused by an artificially created scarcity of land and shameless exploitation by private enterprise under the laissez-faire policy, mainly again of the Federal Government. In fact, not only does the Federal Government fail to help the States and local authorities in this regard; it is even walking out on its obligation to posterity in the Australian Capital Territory by alienating public land here.
I turn my attention now from speculators to financiers. There is also the grossly inflating effect of crushing interest rates. It is true that the Government recently has made low interest loans available to farmers who have been rejected by the banks, but there have been precious few of these loans. Very often farmers are not considered to be viable. There is still a reluctance to use revenue grants for public works which are not carried out by the Commonwealth itself, lt is all very well to use revenue money for Commonwealth public works, but this cannot be done in the States. The States are made to pay the money back to the Commonwealth with interest. Local authorities also have to pay back to the Commonwealth, or to whoever lends money, the full amount of the loan plus interest. This is interest on investments which very often are not bringing an immediate profit but which are returning more revenue to the Federal Government. The Commonwealth charges the Queensland Government, for instance, 6 per cent interest on a loan to build a power house which will be responsible for much of our aluminium and other export earnings.
The Commonwealth charges the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority interest on revenue money which is spent to build up the Snowy Mountains scheme. The Authority must pay this back to the
Government with interest. Yet this is a scheme to ensure cheap power and more irrigated farm land in our most populous States and the Australian Capital Territory. We force the States and local authorities into the loan market for funds for health, houses and schools instead of realising that these are national assets which should be paid for out of national revenue when it is available. Eventually these projects must be paid for that way. Some orthodox economists protest that governments must be restrained in essential building by clamping these interest charges on top of the capital cost; otherwise, we are told, the Government will overspend and create shortages of labour and materials, building costs will skyrocket, and there will be increasing use of overtime, insufficiently skilled labour on this type of work and overaward payments. This argument can hold water only if there is competition with luxury building. Of course, if we allow luxury building to continue unchecked it will result in perfectly sound and valuable and roomy banks and insurance offices being pulled down so that buildings of greater prestige may be constructed. These new buildings are air conditioned and half empty.
Where did the money come from for these buildings? This is the cry that has been thrown across this House: Where will we get the money to rebuild the dilapidated and overcrowded schools and offices where kiddies sit on their ports in the lobbies or in an office because there is no school room available; where there are people in hospital beds in corridors with the head of one bed touching the foot of another because there is no money for hospital buildings? What about all the problems with housing young families and old people? The Government says: ‘Where will we get the money?’ I suggest there would be precious little doubt where we could get the money if we stopped building some of these empty skyscrapers, these prestige buildings, and pulling down good buildings with many years of life in them. The people who are struggling to pay off the interest on schools, houses and hospitals to governments are the same people who buy the insurance, the same people who have their homes and household effects in hock to the banks and the hire purchase firms owned by the banks and provide the money for them to build skyscrapers. It is the same struggling people who are providing the capital to build these useless, redundant and luxury buildings.
A government which cannot see this or which washes its hands of the situation when it is vitally involved in banking and interest policy, in homes and. hospitals, in schools and in the general infrastructure which depends on public finance is not fit to hold office in the 1970s. We should be placing tax, interest and lending restraints on the replacement of buildings which are demolished during their- useful life. We should require the custodians of the savings of our citizens to make a minimum percentage of those savings available at minimal rates for public works and in times of unemployment or when we are using excess resources - resources such as wool which is over supplied- or when there is an excess of production as there is at General MotorsHolden which is retrenching workers. There should be no cry that there would be inflation by the use of central government finance for public works to use up this excess capacity; these surplus resources.
The Commonwealth Bank should enter the field of hire purchase finance for approved types of investment in open and free competition with the private finance houses and with the trading banks but charging half the rate of interest that is now charged under hire purchase for essential goods such as household effects and the family car. The cost of the Labor Party’s proposed national health and superannuation insurance scheme could be met by measures like this and no-one would object to the small compulsory premiums which would replace the very high premiums that are currently required for voluntary health insurance. Where there is a shortage of money and when the argument is used that we must use large interest rates because money is in short supply - and this is what we will be told in a few months when there is a recession - it is time to take notice of Milton Friedman of Chicago who suggests that we should start to issue money at the same rate as the growth of our national products so that we do not have these unrealistic and enormous interest rates. There is an almost total want of a government plan to shepherd Australia’s scarce resources.
This is the second point 1 want to make: There is a shortage of resources on this planet which vitally affects Australia. This was tragically revealed in the Prime Minister’s reply to the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) when our first citizen spoke in this House of the fallacies of Thomas Malthus and Dr Ehrlich. This Dark Ages thinking has shocked leaders of thought throughout the nation. If they had only known the Prime Minister was thinking so far back in history would the Father of the Year award not have been kept for Sir Macfarlane Burnet who has agreed with Dr Ehrlich on the need to reverse our festival march towards universal squalor? If an award had to be given to the Prime Minister it should have been the order of the three witless monkeys. He sees no warning, hears no warning and speaks no warning of the evils we are creating. He is blind to the protein starvation in Bengal or treats it as a mirage. Sir Paul Hasluck in the more lowly job of Minister for External Affairs promptly sent 15 times as much money to India during the Bihar famine as this Government has sent in aid for the world’s greatest disaster in Bengal. Our voluntary organisations have raised almost as much as the Government forwarded. New Zealand has done better.
Our Prime Minister cannot hear mothers weeping for the one infant in two who dies before school age; so he treats them as mere moving pictures - dramatic hallucinations. He does not read of the near half of the world’s population which does not go to school or of the steady rise in world illiteracy; and as a result we still rely mainly on private schools in Papua New Guinea. Who will follow the imaginative lead of Kemal Ataturk who brought the alphabet to Turkey and made the people hold up their heads and say ‘We can read a newspaper’. In his VIP aircraft jetting to the sprawling sores of Sydney he does not see the rape of the countryside by the affluent urbane minorities of the world. He is unaware that Americans who represent almost onesixteenth of the earth’s people gobble up one-fourth of the earth’s steel and fertilisers, two-fifths of its wood pulp, over a third of its fuel, a fifth of its cotton and a tenth of the farm land outside their own shores. As we exploit less and less rich mineral ores experts are predicting a ten-fold increase in the prices for at least 9 base metals in a few years.
The mushrooming greed for powerproducing fuel is creating a heat disposal problem. New York’s power supply company has stopped its Sim a year urging of people to use more electricity and has switched to a ‘save a watt’ campaign. By 1980 it states that it will be running out of mainland cooling water and will have to build ocean floating nuclear stations. Some may say: ‘Why worry if we can get one hundred times as much energy from fast breeder reactors or fusion plants burning sea water? We can support 10 billion people, desalinate the sea to get the water and mine low grade ore in granite.’ This is true. We will probably be mad enough to do it. But this will most likely raise the earth’s atmospheric temperature by 3.5 degrees centigrade. Most likely it will melt the polar ice caps. Most likely it will flood most of earth’s cities. In less than a century dust bowl farming has doubled earth’s wastelands. If honourable members think it cannot happen here they should ask the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) how the building trade is doing in the rural west of his electorate. If he looks at you blankly it is not because he is now a member of the Country Party; it is because there are not many buildings left to see out there in the dust bowl.
If all the arable land on earth were cultivated we would be able to feed 3.7 billion people at European standards. That is what the earth’s population will be next year. From there on starvation will be inevitable. It will be increasingly the rule whatever we do short of reducing earth’s population. If this is disproving Malthus, I would like to know what proof of his theories would be required. The vaunted green revolution has barely slowed the slide. The world needs a population policy. That is why I asked in my question on notice what this Government will do in response to the call from the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Will we join countries like Finland, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States in massive aid to countries with their population planning?
I do not have time to discuss the backward thinking that has come from honourable members opposite, particularly the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman), who can see in apartheid only a sort of brotherly love. I have not had time to go into a hundred and one other things in relation to the Budget because I think that this matter is more important and more urgent. The most disgusting thing that has come forward in this Budget session has been the answer given by the Prime Minister in question time when he said that he thought it would not be worth reading Dr Ehrlich’s books because he had heard too many of these prophecies when he was a student 22 years ago.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I propose to deal with the area of my responsibility, which is Papua New Guinea. This year’s Budget makes provision for Commonwealth aid of an economic nature to Papua New Guinea amounting to nearly $131m. This aid will enable the Government to meet Australia’s obligations for the economic development of Papua New Guinea. It has become fashionable to emphasise political development as Australia’s main task in Papua New Guinea. In many ways this is understandable. It is an area in which every one regards himself as an expert. But in the long term Australia will be judged by the way it has performed the more complex task of economic development.
When I became Minister eight years ago and paid my first visit to Papua New Guinea I concluded that we would have to do more towards economic development and do it quickly. An education system was well on the way. Many of the country’s health problems were being met. A system of local government was drawing the people into active political participation. The course was already set which was to lead the House of Assembly to its present position as the authentic voice of the people. AH this was gratifying. But I took the view then, as I do today, that if selfgovernment and independence were to mean anything at all to the people of Papua New Guinea they must not be too dependent economically on Australia and other countries. The country had to build up its capacity to pay its own way. A World Bank mission reported in 1964. The Australian Government accepted the Mission’s production programmes as a working basis for planning. It formulated plans to increase Papua New Guinea’s productive capacity. These plans have since been incorporated in a development programme published in 1968 and revised this year.
As I told the people then 1 was guided by a sincere desire to do everything I could that would best further the progress and prosperity of the country. At that time agriculture was the chief activity. The economy was to a large extent dependent on the production of copra, rubber, coffee and cocoa. The timber industry was in the early stages of development. Manufacturing industries were of minor significance. Mining was declining. Commercial fishing was insignificant. Telecommunications were unsophisticated, if not primitive. The people relied heavily on costly air transport for freight. Revenue collected by the Administration was low - less than half the amount of the Commonwealth grant. Rightly. I think, we gave a new direction to Papua New Guinea’s progress to nationhood. In the last 8 years economic progress there has been nothing less than remarkable. There have been substantial increases in primary production. The basic range of agricultural crops has been extended. Rural production has been diversified. A whole range of new industries has been introduced.
These new industries have included oil palm which is expected to generate exports valued at S7m a year by 1976-77; tea production which is expected to exceed $6m by 1974-75; cattle which has made substantial progress over the last 5 years. The national cattle herd increased by 15,000 head last year to 103,000 of which 14,000 are owned by indigenous farmers. These figures will be doubled in the next 4 to 5 years; rice which is making steady progress and will continue to develop under the stimulus of a seed improvement programme and improved storage and pest control measures. Papua and New Guinea’s forestry and fishery resources have been researched and promising new large-scale industries are now in sight. Only last month an agreement was signed for the establish ment of a SI 2m forest products industry in Madang. Papua New Guinea waters have substantial resources of skipjack tuna. They hold out the promise of an integrated industry involving catcher boats, shore-based freezers and a cannery processing complex.
Manufacturing has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. In the past 7 years manufacturing output has more than trebled. New industries now make glass bottles, fibreboard containers, cigarettes, fibreglass products and metal roofing. Mining is now becoming a prime source of export income and public revenue. Exports of copper concentrates from the huge Bougainville project will more than double Papua New Guinea’s exports in 1973-74, the first full year of concentrate production. Total Administration revenue from the project is expected to amount to between $200m and $300m during the first 10 years of exports. At the same time Papua New Guinea’s economic infrastructure is being strengthened and expanded. The provision of transport and communications services is costly and must therefore be carefully planned. The Administration has been assisted by international consultants under contract to the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme and by loans from the Bank. As a result many major road projects have been undertaken or are under way. When the present stage of the telecommunications programme is completed in June next year, Papua New Guinea should have a system that will cater for all traffic offering at that time and be a sound foundation for future growth.
On top of this the Administration has established the necessary institutional framework for promoting economic development. There is a Development Bank, institutions for tertiary and technological training, and machinery for planning and co-ordinating the country’s economic development programmes. Large scale foreign investment has been essential to the development of Papua New Guinea. The indigenous people simply have not had the savings to act on their own. Everywhere I have been in Papua New Guinea I have heard the same plea for economic development - for more roads, new businesses, new crops to make rising standards of living possible. Without overseas investment there would not have been any modern economy for the people of Papua New Guinea to participate in. This foreign investment has been subject to policy guidelines. It has also been associated with the increasing participation of Papuans and New Guineans in the economy at all levels. They have derived many advantages - through employment, the contribution of taxes to Administration revenue, training and the ownership of equity. The participation of Papuans and New Guineans in economic development has been a cardinal point in our policy.
The proportion of commercial, agricultural and pastoral production controlled by Papuans and New Guineans is increasing and is expected to reach 46 per cent by 1974-75. At present the Department of Business Development is giving regular assistance to 300 indigenous businesses. New fishing projects will provide an important new base for training Papuans and New Guineans and for servicing indigenous fishing activities. The Development Bank has an active policy of seeking indigenous borrowers. The number of Development Bank loans to indigenes increased from 422 in 1967-68 to almost 2,000 in 1970-71. The amount of indigenous loans increased from $678,000 in 1967-68 to $2.4m in 1970-71. A Bill before the House of Assembly will authorise local government councils to give preference to indigenous applicants for trade stores and similar licences to conduct small businesses. Legislation to restrict the entry of certain categories of non-indigenous workers is also before the House of Assembly. The Investment Corporation will acquire equity for the people of the country in selected major overseas business enterprises operating in Papua New Guinea. Business concerns themselves are responding to the Government’s wish for greater indigenous participation in the economy. The record of Bougainville Copper is but one example. On behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea the Administration has acquired a 20 per cent equity interest in the Bougainville project. In addition, 14,000 shares in the company are held by landowners in the area. The recent share issue of Bougainville Mining Ltd of one million shares offered in Papua New Guinea was 300 per cent over-subscribed. More significantly, however, 75 per cent of these shares were allocated to indigenous people and organisations. In short, indigenous participation in economic as well as social and political aspects of the development of Papua New Guinea has increased significantly. Policies designed to further increase such participation will continue to be implemented.
Our record in Papua New Guinea has been a proud one. The Commonwealth contribution has been generous and well directed. Total economic aid over the 8 years to 1970-71 was $7 16m. The advice of recognised international experts has been sought at every stage. The result has been an increase in Papua New Guinea’s financial self-reliance. Internal revenue in 1971-72 will provide about 36 per cent of total Administration expenditure in Papua New Guinea compared with about 25 per cent in 1963-64. From a country almost entirely dependent on a limited range of agricultural crops Papua New Guinea has been transformed into a country which in the period 1965-66 to 1969-70 had a rate of growth of 10 per cent per annum for the whole of the economy - an achievement equalled by very few other countries. Gross monetary sector product increased from $142m in 1963-64 to $450m in 1970-71.
I would be the last to deny that Papua New Guinea, like all developing countries, still faces many problems. But I have confidence in its capacity to overcome them. We can see beyond the problems of today to the broader prospects ahead. It is unfortunate that the enthusiasm and energy of the people are not being accurately depicted. Much of what we read about Papua New Guinea is clouded by pessimism. Such a view is not only harmful. It is incorrect. Papuans and New Guineas everywhere are participating in and, indeed, taking increasing responsibility for their own affairs. They are truly shaping their own destiny. The record of achievement in economic development shows how they are doing so. It is an achievement that should give every reason for confidence in the future.
– The speech which we have just heard from the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), well presented and well delivered as it was, does not dispel from my mind the very serious doubt that Papua New Guinea is still held in the minds of Australians as a colony and is treated as such. I make one very brief comment on the speech that the Minister made. He said that there are 103,000 head of cattle in the Territory and then he proudly announced that 14,000 of these cattle are owned by indigenous people. In other words a little over 10 per cent of all the cattle in the Territory are owned by the local people.
– What about the shares in Bougainville?
– That is another question and it probably bears as much investigation as the matter on which I have just made a brief comment. I support the amendment moved so capably by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Many honourable members on the Government side of this House have endeavoured to justify the Budget proposals introduced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) but they have had a very hard road to hoe. The Budget quite naturally has attracted the attention of writers, expert and otherwise, outside this Parliament. I would like briefly to quote some of these people. One writer says:
The Treasurer and his advisers have been mesmerised by the spectre of over demand. Instead of combating inflation, the Budget will encourage it and blow more ill winds on an economy which ls already sick.
The same writer in his article goes on to say:
The whole price rise cycle is put in train again . . . there will be more industrial disputes over wage claims when people find their take home pay reduced and demand more money
Another journal states:
This is an unimaginative and vague Budget. The Treasurer has looked to traditional sources such as company tax, personal income tax and excise duties to service additional Commonwealth Government spending.
Those quotes are not from radical trade union journals but are the considered opinions of such an august body as the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce as published on the front page of its journal Commerce News’ dated 20th August 1971, and of the President of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales as printed on the front page of ‘Manufacturers’ Bulletin’ dated 20th August 1971. The points made by those leaders in commerce and manufacture are well taken.
The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech under the heading ‘The Budget Strategy’ said:
Although cost increases and the price increases which follow them may be due, in the first instance, to increases in wages and other cost elements, they are without doubt stimulated and made possible by conditions of strong demand for resources. Hence, if resistance to such cost increases is to be stiffened, as it must be, there has to be a sufficient degree of restraint on potential demand for resources, particularly in those sectors where it is obviously running too high.
The Treasurer, as that passage from his Speech indicates, obviously considers inflation to be a serious matter. Elsewhere he speaks of wage increases as being a very serious contributor to inflation.
Whilst the Treasurer may be of the opinion - and I defend his right to have an opinion - that wage increases are the sole cause of increasing prices, 60 per cent of all taxpayers - that is, those who earn $60 a week or less - hold a converse opinion. They are quite correct in their assessment that it is essential to pursue wage claims in order to maintain their existing standard of living. That standard, may I remind the House, is not a luxurious one. An illustration of the standard of living provided by $60 a week would be the attitude adopted by the Housing Commission of Victoria which will not sell a house to a person whose weekly income is below $70 a week because of the inability of that person to service the debt on the house. So if the Treasurer is correct in his assessment somebody other than the producers of goods and services - remember that the 60 per cent of taxpayers earning less than $60 a week are the producers - is receiving substantial increases in his income, and those increases are being mysteriously transferred back to production costs.
In fact, this Budget is contributing as much as any other factor to the aggravation of the difference between income and expenditure of the average family. It has attacked the average family in every way. It has increased taxation, fares, postage, telephone charges, the cost of a television licence, the cost of cigarettes, hospital charges and many more areas that are expenses to the family. Perhaps that is the true strategy of the Budget. The tactics are clear: Needle the unionist until he fights for his rights; then batter him into submission.
The arguments advanced by the Government and its spokesmen are meaningless, but the Government obviously sees a necessity to bolster its rapidly falling stocks by espousing the gigantic untruth of wage rises causing price rises as a sort of artillery piece to be used against those bad lads, the trade unionists of this country. The Treasurer speaks vaguely of strong demand for resources. He would lead us to believe that the populace is demanding more than can be supplied to it.
This poses the question: What is the community seeking so avidly that it is in short supply? Weil, those for whom 1 speak, that is, those who work to create the goods and services, have simple tastes. The things that they require are not in short supply. Supermarkets are well stocked with food. They do not queue for bread and milk. Clothing is not rationed. When they can afford it. they can purchase furniture, household goods, electrical appliances and even motor cars from stock. All goods and services are readily available to those who can pay. Sellers are in competition with each other to sell. One night’s viewing of any commercial television programme or the scanning of newspapers will advise of the many sellers who wish to sell. provided that the worker is able and willing to pay the exorbitant prices asked for land and dwellings, he may buy these off the hook, as it were. The Associated Chambers of Manufacturers and the Bank of New South Wales report that 72 per cent of Australian manufacturers are operating below capacity owing to an insufficiency of new orders. Therefore, where is this great demand which is causing our monetary problems? Far be it from me to have the temerity to challenge the knowledge of the Treasurer, but he has lost me and 1. am sure a number of Australians with his jiggery pokery which is dignified by being called a Budget.
The aorta of this whole exercise seems to be, in order of preference: Mr Hawke, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the trade unions which make an invaluable contribution to the development of this country and the members of the trade unions who can proudly and rightly be called the backbone of this nation, lt is understandable to me and, 1 am sure, to my friend Bob Hawke, that the
Government and especially its spokesmen on industrial matters should mount a virulent campaign against a person such as he. He is under attack as an individual, not as the holder of the office of President of the ACTU. The reason for that attack is fairly obvious. His ability, tenacity and sagacity are a threat to the ivory tower of capitalism in this country. I will never cease to be amazed at the statements, innuendos and speculation on trade unions and the internal affairs of trade unions by people whose very words condemn them as being totally ignorant of the matters on which they profess knowledge.
There was a great deal of falk a short time ago about productivity. Those who have not yet realised the truth are still bandying this nice sounding word around. Those who have come to realise what productivity is have at least understood the fallacy of blaming any lack of productivity on the workers. The annual report for the year ended 30th June 1971 of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales was delivered by Mr A. J. White. Tt is reported in the ‘Manufacturer’s Bulletin’ of 17th August 1971. It lists matters for the attention of the Government. Amongst other things, Mr White mentioned:
Governments can help by:
Using their taxing powers to encourage productivity growth, for example through an investment allowance on equipment that is specifically installed to improve efficiency or to increase sales volume through export.
Increasing special allowances for spending by companies on approved research projects that will raise productivity.
Changing any laws or regulations that add to costs without giving any benefits to the community.
Through the whole of this address, the knowledgeable man who gave it, Mr A. J. White, seemed very clearly to lay the blame for lack of productivity where it really exists: This is in lack of organisation by the managers and not by the workers. So let us have an end to this prattling which such dedicated conservatives as the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) periodically deliver in this House. Let ns be real. Let us take an adult position and use the resources of government and parliament to examine and initiate financial situations and set about solving them.
It is very interesting to hear the questions and answers in this place on unemployment. The Leader of the Opposition forecast an unemployment figure of 100,000 in the speech in which he moved this amendment. This statement caused Government members to engage in the favourite pastime of ridiculing the Leader of the Opposition. But again they found that they had a tiger by the tail when the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in his speech confirmed that figure of 100,000. But let me put another point of view. Let me put a comparison. The unskilled manual worker is a pretty good barometer for the employment field. He is the last to find work and the first to lose it. Taking the statistics for Victoria and comparing the position in July 1970 with the position in July 1971, we find that in 1970 in the unskilled manual category there were 303 vacancies for men and 2,483 men seeking those vacancies; or 8 men seeking each job. In July 1971, there were only 176 vacancies but 3,279 men were seeking them. In other words, 18 men were looking for each job that was available. The figure of 8 men a job in 1970 had risen to 18 men a job in 1971. The picture for Australia in percentage form was even worse. In July 1970, there were 3 men seeking each job in the Commonwealth. A year later, in July 1971, that number had trebled. Nine men were seeking each job. This is an alarming trend. The Budget seems to make every endeavour to give impetus to that trend, apparently to satisfy the conservative philosophy of controlling the economy and disciplining the unions by creating a pool of unemployed.
Honourable members opposite are mesmerised by the magnitude of figures and frequently they have cited the fact that 2 million man days are lost each year as a result of strikes. However, no effort has been made to explain the reasons for those strikes. The only exception would be when the Minister for Labour and National Service answered a question recently and had the decency and honesty to acknowledge the share of guilt that lies with shipowners and their representatives in relation to stoppages on the waterfront. I suggest that an examination of all disputes would not absolve the employers from responsibility.
Two million man days were lost last yea/ through strikes. We have an estimated work force of Si million people and that means that each working day 5i million man days of work are performed. If you really want to see figures of gigantic proportions you can multiply 5± million by 250, which is approximately the number of working days in a year, and you will obtain the number of man hours available each year. But rather than go through that arithmetical exercise suffice to say that 2 million man days represents about 3 hours work per worker per year. Good heavens, such a minute amount of work would be lost by each worker in a year simply by losing 4 minutes from work each week.
Let us continue with our little excursion into the strange land of arithmetica. With 75,000 people unemployed, we are losing 75,000 man days each day so that in less than 5 weeks 2 million man days - this seems to mesmerise honourable members on the other side - in production has been lost. Another facet overlooked by Government supporters is the industrial accidents that take place. I do not think it is generally realised that 14,000 people are injured every day through accidents at work. By multiplying 14,000 people by 250, representing the working days in a year, we get a loss of 3 J million man days a year lost because of industrial accidents. That is half as many man days again as are lost through strikes. This is- truly a frightening statistic. Let me remind honourable members that many disputes and many man hours are lost to production, if you like, because men refuse to work in unsafe conditions.
The Builders Labourers Union, which was one of those unions attacked in this House today, is very conscious of the safety of its members. It is not the only union that is so concerned about its members. Again I would say to the Government: Cut out politicking and get on with governing. The great cry recently was the need to hobble the activities of progressive unionists by insisting on secret ballots before workers went on strike. ‘Good show’ said the band-waggoners, ‘let us do it.’ But there always has to be a spoil sport. Someone read the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and found section 45. He found that he already had the power to do what he wanted. It is like the boy who picked up a snake: he had hold of it but did not know what to do with it. Section 45 of that Act reads:
The sooner this Government and its supporters realise the disservice they render to the community and the lack of political mileage they gain from attacking the unions the sooner someone will take the helm and steer our nation on a firm course.
The Budget allegedly does something to correct the situation so far as pensioners are concerned. The sum of $1.25 plus the 50c granted earlier this year sounds marvellous. Honourable members opposite have praised it greatly, but they are not pensioners and they do not have to maintain themselves on this pittance. The increases were hailed and justified by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) by comparing them with payments made in the 1940s - politicking again instead of giving the facts. Pensioners have a right to live at a standard of living comparable with the contemporary society and not with some previous standard of living, certainly not one of almost 3 decades ago.
A comparison with the average weekly wage as a yardstick shows a different picture. It shows a decrease in value from 25 per cent of the average weekly wage in 1946 to 18 per cent in 1972 - the lowest for 26 years. What a disgraceful and sordid story. Pensioners are in a dreadful plight. This fact is known to the Australian Labor Party but what about the position of other fixed income earners. Their situation is little better. There are many other things which should be brought to the attention of this House and undoubtedly they will be by my colleagues during this debate.
There is only one other matter I would like to refer to and this was raised by the Leader of the Opposition when he moved his amendment. He spoke about Commonwealth assistance for local government authorities. I have been in this Houselong enough to become cynical towards this Government’s understanding of governing. Local government revolves around nothing else quite so much as finance. Government is finance and public finance is Government, and this applies to the third level as much as it applies to the other two. Local government spends a good deal of its time planning permanent works. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works is now paying 58.3c in every dollar of revenue to service its loan commitments. If this situation continues much longer there is no doubt that the Board will, like local government authorities in Victoria and in other States, shortly be raising revenue simply to service debts at very unreal interest rates. Towards this end I place the blame fairly and squarely at the feet of the Government. The Government is responsible for this high rate of interest. It is responsible for the neglect of this area of government. It is time that this Government made some endeavour to do something about the situation.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– I move:
That the Committee of Privileges, when considering the matters referred to it on 7th and 13th September 1971, have power to send for persons, papers and records.
The Committee in undertaking its inquiries wishes to have this power granted to it and in accordance with practice the motion is proposed for the concurrence of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Orderl I have received advice from the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) that he has appointed Mr Bury and Mr Staley to be members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in place of Mr McLeay and Mr Street.
Bill presented by Mr Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill, with 2 other taxation Bills 1 shall shortly be introducing, results from the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, at the June Premiers’ Conference, for the transfer of pay-roll tax to the States. These Bills give effect to the transfer itself, and are being introduced now with a view to their speedy passage in order to facilitate the transfer of the pay-roll tax to the States. This is necessary because of the State governments’ budgetary planning.
At the June meeting the Commonwealth accepted the States’ need for some greater flexibility and freedom in revenue-raising. The Commonwealth also indicated that, after careful consideration, it had confirmed its previous conviction that it would not be advisable to re-open the field of personal income tax to the States. Nevertheless, it accepted the view previously expressed by the States that they needed access to a new area of growth taxation to assist them in financing the services which they provided. In these circumstances, the Commonwealth offered, and the States accepted, the transfer of pay-roll tax as a useful addition to State resources for revenue-raising purposes. The Commonwealth made it clear that the transfer of pay-roll tax would have to be accompanied by an offsetting reduction in the financial assistance grants payable to the States, although the extent of the reduction will, for various reasons be less than the addition to State revenues resulting from the imposition of pay-roll tax.
I shall be introducing separately, as soon as possible, what is therefore to be regarded as complementary legislation to give effect to the reduction in the amount the States would otherwise have received in the financial assistance grants for 1971- 72, and I shall explain in detail at that time the precise arrangements which we have come to with the States in that re spect. I should also make it clear that, while payroll tax is being transferred to the States, the Commonwealth will continue to operate the export incentive scheme so as to give exporters the same benefits, based on the existing rate of 2½ per cent, as they now enjoy. Separate legislation to provide for this will also be introduced in the near future.
I turn now to the purposes of the Pay Roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Bill. Under the Agreement reached with the States, the Commonwealth will cease to impose payroll tax except in relation to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory; all States will bring down legislation under which they will impose and collect their own payroll taxes. The date the Commonwealth will vacate the payroll tax field will coincide with the date of commencement of the legislation imposing the tax in each of the States and in the Commonwealth territories. Provided the legislation to give effect to the agreement has been enacted by the Commonwealth Parliament and by all State Parliaments in time for it to be done, it is proposed that the payroll tax will be effectively transferred as from 1st September 1971, enabling the States to receive the first of their monthly payroll tax collections in October 1971.
The main purpose of this Bill is to terminate the operation of the Commonwealth payroll tax levied under the provisions of the Pay-Roll Tax Assessment Act 1941-1969 and the Pay-Roll Tax Act 1941-1966, thereby clearing the way for the introduction of separate payroll taxes for the States and the Commonwealth territories. Following its enactment, the measure will commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation, the proclaimed date being 1st September 1971 or the first day of a subsequent month. The Bill provides that the existing Commonwealth payroll tax will cease to apply from the day immediately preceding the proclaimed commencement date.
The Bill proposes also to terminate the payroll tax export rebate scheme with effect from the close of the 1970-71 financial year. I have already foreshadowed the later introduction of a separate Bill to provide a system of direct grants based on exports until 30th June 1973 when the present rebate scheme was due to expire. To facilitate the transfer of the tax to the States, the Bill contains provisions to authorise the Commissioner of Taxation to furnish information to the authorities who will administer the State payroll tax laws. The provisions of the Bill are explained in detail in an explanatory memorandum being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is the second of 3 taxation Bills resulting from the agreement reached at the Premiers’ Conference to transfer payroll tax to the States. The Bill contains provisions for the administration, assessment and collection of pay-roll tax in the Australian Capital Territory (including Jervis Bay) and the Northern Territory and will come into operation on the date fixed by proclamation as the commencement date of the Pay-Roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Act 1971. The Commissioner of Taxation will be responsible for administering the payroll tax in the Commonwealth Territories.
The provisions of the bill affecting the liability of employers to tax have been modelled on the liability provisions of the existing Commonwealth payroll tax law. They are substantially uniform with the corresponding provisions of the legislation proposed to be enacted by each State Parliament and will set out the basis of liability to payroll tax in the Territories while preventing double taxation of wages by the Commonwealth and the States. Broadly stated, an employer will be liable for tax under the provisions of the Bill on wages paid or payable for services rendered Wholly within the Territories, and on wages paid or payable in the territories unless those wages are for services rendered wholly within one State. Under the present Commonwealth law, an employer who is liable for payroll tax is required to lodge returns of wages paid each month and to pay the tax due on each return. A statutory exemption from tax of wages up to $20,800 per annum, equivalent to $1,733.33 per month, is allowed.
With the entry of the states into the payroll tax field, the overall exemption allowable to an employer will remain unchanged at $1,733.33 per month. An employer who is liable to lodge returns under this Bill and is also liable to tax in one or more States will be entitled to claim a proportion of the overall exemption against the wages liable to tax in the Commonwealth Territories. This proportion will ordinarily be ascertained by comparing the wages payable in the Territories with the wages payable throughout Australia. To meet the case of employers whose monthly wages fluctuate above and below the exemption level, the Bill provides for an annual adjustment of the tax payable by an employer, in line with the existing Commonwealth law.
The provisions relating to the collection and recovery of tax and other machinery provisions of the Bill substantially re-enact the corresponding provisions of the Commonwealth payroll tax law. However, the objections and appeals provisions have been modified to bring them into line with the relevant provisions of the income tax law. An employer who is dissatisfied with a decision or assessment of the Commissioner will be allowed 60 days for lodgment of an objection, instead of the present 42 days, after service of notice of the decision or assessment. Similarly the period within which an employer may request that a decision by the Commissioner on an objection be referred for review by a taxation board of review will be 60 days instead of 30 days as under the present law.
The Bill contains the usual provisions imposing obligations of secrecy as to taxpayers’ payroll tax affairs on the Commissioner and his officers. At the same time it will authorise the interchange of information with the payroll tax authorities of the States and will permit the disclosure of information to the Commonwealth Statistician for the purposes of the Census and Statistics Act. The Statistician and his officers in turn are bound by the secrecy provisions of that Act. The technical features of the Bill are dealt with in the explanatory memorandum circulated to honourable members and I therefore do not discuss these details at this time. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to impose the pay-roll tax payable by employers in the Australian Capital Territory (including Jervis Bay) and the Northern Territory, and to declare the rate at which the tax is to be paid. The Bill proposes that tax be payable at the rate of 2i per cent of the wages subject to tax under the provisions of the Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill 1971, after deduction of the statutory exemption allowable in accordance with that Bill, The rate is the same as that at which die existing Commonwealth pay-roll tax has been imposed and will apply as from the commencement date to be proclaimed for the purposes of the Pay-Roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth Tax) Bill 1971. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Assistance to Refugees by Member - Social Services - Joint Defence Space Research Facility - Locust Plague
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
Thai the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer to an action taken by one of my Party colleagues, the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun). However, I hasten to point out that the honourable member is completely unaware of what I am about to say and I believe I can safely presume that he would not want me to mention the matter because this action was not taken to obtain publicity or self-aggrandisement. The honourable member for Kingston, as all would know, is a medical doctor. During the major epidemic of cholera in Bengal, particularly among the refugees from East Pakistan, he spent 3 J weeks in that country rendering a medical service, treating the afflicted and doing everything possible to prevent the spread of this killer disease. The honourable member would, of course, have used a return travel warrant from his home city of Adelaide to Darwin. However, the cost of the air fare from there to India and all other incidental expenses was borne by the honourable member, although from what I have heard reliably it is the intention of the South Australian branch of the Australian Labor Party to assist in meeting a portion of the cost at a later stage. Such meritorious action is, I believe, worthy of the highest commendation. It shows the honourable member as possessing a desire to assist in such humanitarian work of this nature without expecting or wanting one cent in payment for his services. I repeat that this is not a put up job to obtain political advantage or publicity tor the honourable member for Kingston as I can assure the House that he did not even tell me of his worthy action in the first place. The information came from another source. In addition, the honourable member had no idea that it was my intention to mention this matter as I have done tonight.
I should now like to refer to a very serious anomaly which exists in respect of the supplementary allowance of $2 a week as applicable to those pensioners employed in sheltered workshops. I will quote one case which 1 believe fully illustrates this anomaly. An adult female invalid pensioner who is mentally retarded is employed in a sheltered workshop in Redern Street, Redfern, which the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) opened some time ago. The case in question was referred to me by a relative of the invalid pensioner and confirmed by the manager of the workshop. This person receives $2.50 a week as an employee in a sheltered workshop. This workshop does an excellent job for these people. It keeps them fully occupied and I should say it is one of the finest institutions in my electorate. But the fact is that by receiving this $2.50 a week in effect she receives only 50c a week supplementary pension. If she did not work in the workshop she would receive $2 a week supplementary pension. In other words, she is working for 50c a week. I believe it is incumbent upon the Government to do something about this.
I know the Minister is sympathetic towards this section of invalid pensioners but this anomaly should be placed before Cabinet for review so that these people may be exempted from the means test which is applicable in relation to the supplementary pension. We all know that the maximum income allowable, including the $2 a week supplementary pension, is $3 a week. Hence, by earning $2.50 a week she would receive a supplementary allowance of only 50c a week. I do not think that there would be any honourable member in this House who would oppose a Bill which was brought in to exempt such people from that particular section of the means test which is applicable in relation to supplementary pensions.
– A lot of nonsense has been spoken recently about the Joint United States-Australian Defence Space Research Facility at Pine Gap as a result of a book written in the United States of America. I would like in particular tonight to answer charges that were made last Thursday by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House. Unfortunately, I did not realise at the time that he was going to bring up this matter. The honourable member for Sturt claimed that the Opposition now believes in the existence in this country of, and I use his words, bases of a type that we should not have here. He claimed that these installations will not add to the defence effort of Australia and that their only purpose in the scheme of things is connected with the American defence system. Finally, the honourable member for Sturt asked for someone on the Government side of the House to inform the people what is happening at Pine Gap. Let me now inform honourable members of what can be disclosed.
Pine Gap is a joint defence space research facility. It is manned jointly by Australia and the United States. Australia has access to all the results of research undertaken at Pine Gap. The Australian defence representative from the staff of the Chief Defence Scientists, Department of Defence, shares with the United States Department of Defence’s Chief of Facility in the joint management of the project. Results of research activities are made available to the Department of Defence, Canberra, as the Australian co-operating agency. About 50 per cent of the 460 employees at the facility are Australians. As Australians gain experience in the skills involved in the research activity, a steadily increasing proportion of suitably qualified local employees will replace Americans in professional and semi-professional positions. It is the policy of both partners to select Australians for employment wherever suitable candidates are available.
I must stress that the facility is entirely defensive and it cannot initiate offence. Members of the Government with a ‘need to know” are fully conversant with the activities of the facility. Some Australian officers with the need to know have full access to all areas of the facility. Federal and Northern Territory members of Parliament may enter with prior permission but certain areas are restricted to those with a need to know. This Government is satisfied that the programme of work at the facility is compatible with the best interests of this country and of our partners.
Certain people both inside and outside this House ask why there should be any security at all there. The result of this questioning is constant attempts to penetrate security at Pine Gap by sections of the media and certain honourable members opposite. Let me make it quite clear that the installation at Pine Gap is a part of the free world’s defences. The security of this country is helped by its research programme. Premature disclosure of classified information could only be prejudicial to Australia’s defence interests.
The honourable member for Sturt claimed that we can only suffer as a result of our association with the United States of America. I believe completely the opposite. We are a small nation and have sought the assistance of powerful allies by treaties to improve our defence capabilities. Treaties give advantages, but they also impose obligations for us to undertake our fair share of defence preparations if we are to expect assistance in our hour of need.
The agreement on Pine Gap was tabled in both Houses of the Federal Parliament. It is an agreed activity under ANZUS. I had thought that the Opposition favoured the ANZUS agreement. But does it? Where does the ALP really stand on the matter of defence bases and facilities? The ALP policy, as determined by the recent Launceston conference, is quite ambiguous. The ALP seeks to get the best of both worlds by having a bit each way. Let me quote the Labor Party policy. It states:
Labor is opposed to the existence of foreign owned, controlled, or operated bases and facilities in Australian territory, especially if such bases involve a derogation from Australian sovereignty.
Labor is not opposed to the use of Australian bases and facilities by Allies in war time, or in periods of international tension involving a threat to Australia, provided that Australian authority and sovereignty are unimpaired, and provided that Australia is not involved in hostilities without Australia’s consent.
The tenure of these bases and facilities by other powers should not be of such a character as to exclude properly accredited access by authorised Australians charged with the duty of evaluating Australian defence policy, whether members of the Australian Parliament, defence departments or armed services.
So we are left in the dark as to whether a future Labor government would close down these bases or simply disclose their general purpose. In either case, the defence of Australia and the free world would be adversely affected.
Some members of the Opposition believe that the House should be told everything about all our defence installations and that the people should then have the opportunity of deciding which ones they would be prepared to have. What utter nonsense! Do the Russians tell us, or their own people, what is happening at Plesetsk or Tyuratam? . Does the Chinese Government tell us, or the Chinese people, what they are doing at Lop Nor?
– Where is that?
– In China. Do we, or should we. disclose to our potential enemies the performance of our latest aircraft or ships? If we do not disclose these, why should we disclose military secrets about our defence establishments? What the. honourable member for Sturt is really saying is that he is almost a complete pacifist and therefore he does not believe in a nation arming itself or in our making defensive agreements and alliances with our friends and allies. It has been claimed by certain members of the Opposition that if any base were associated, either offensively or defensively, with American nuclear strategy that base would automatically have a high priority for nuclear attack. The Government does not believe that any individual target in Australia would be singled out for nuclear attack in any situation short of a global nuclear war - the ultimate catastrophe which the Government’s policy of co-operation with trusted, peace-loving allies would assist in preventing.
I and other members of the Government who have a ‘need to know’ are fully conversant with activities at joint bases and are completely satisfied that the programme of work being done is compatible with the best interests of this country and of our partners. I have no intention of either confirming or denying speculation about the purposes of the joint space research facility in Australia. Such action could only help to reveal details of the highest national security.
– I enter the adjournment debate for a specific purpose but I must say, following the remarks made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), that my colleague the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) at present is in Adelaide on unavoidable urgent personal business. I know that he would like to have been here to deal with the Minister’s reply. I want to say this on behalf of my absent colleague for no-one would be second to him in his dedication to the country or in his desire to serve it. In fact, the honourable member served this country in a fine and distinguished capacity in the greatest moment of challenge that it has ever had. I think he shares with many members of the Parliament resentment that he read in a book that none of us has read and published in the United States of America by a man of whom we have never heard, about an installation in Australia about which we know very little. I think this was. the criticism that the honourable member made, and I make it myself, because I do not have the information and neither have my colleagues. I make that point as a prelude to a statement which I think will bring the Minister for Defence slightly closer to me. In fact, we have neighbouring electorates. 1 am delighted that the Minister for Defence is here because I did refer this matter today to the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock). I am delighted also to see that he has now joined us in the chamber.
A fresh disaster faces the hard pressed rural sector in New South Wales and Victoria. A massive plague of locusts threatens to crops and farms damage totalling many millions of dollars. If the plague is allowed to strike with full force it will mean literally the financial end of many people in the front line of their attack. It is for this reason that I appeal for the urgent intervention of the Army which has the manpower and the means to move into the threatened area. I have already asked the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) by question on notice to apply himself and his officers to giving aid to the efforts of New South Wales and Victorian authorities. The urgency is such and the information now so precise and definite that there has been a call for at least Army help and, if necessary, some of the resources of the Royal Australian Air Force. Officers of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and of the Pasture Protection Boards in the areas of Balranald, Hay, Deniliquin, Jerilderie and Narrandera have confirmed and pinpointed the extent of the menace.
Hatchings have already begun in the egg beds spread through the 20,000 square miles of the south west region, touching on my electorate and the electorate of Darling. State specialist in locust control, Mr Max Casimir, has told emergency meetings of officers and landholders that nothing can now stop the eggs hatching this spring - there is enough moisture in the ground now. Compounding the problem is the fact that in the region concerned we are experiencing uniquely a drought, semi drought and a good season. This means that we could be faced with progressive hatchings of the winged hordes. They are already emerging. The South West Plague Locust Committee headed by Mr George Hanna of Hay is already moving to coordinate the counter-attack. Shires have put their bush fire brigades on the alert and authorised use of equipment but councils without money just have not the cash to do all that needs to be done and bush fire brigades depend on volunteers. A headquarters, office to co-ordinate the counterattack will be established at Griffith; several thousand gallons of lindane spray are being provided by the State Department of Agriculture; and I understand Victorian authorities are contemplating the formation of an air force to pursue the counter-attack over the Murray into New South Wales.
I mention these things to show that there is no lack of effort by all concerned but the very magnitude of the problem has to be understood. In a square foot there are 180 egg pods, each capable of hatching hundreds of locusts. Once the locusts take to the wing there can be up to 100 million locusts in a fair size swarm covering a square mile. But at the critical stage for attack - the crawling stage - there can be up to 3 million locusts to an acre. So ground control is more effective and cheaper, and we want to hit them now. Some locusts are emerging now. In the next 2 or 3 weeks they will all be out - the first 7 or 8 days is critical - and then they get into marching bands. They will not reach the winged stage until midNovember. If we let them fly and lay eggs the plague will be strengthened by further hatchings in January and autumn.
The weakness in the situation is the fact that the Act under which all must work places the full responsibility on landholders. This is where the Army is needed. Nearly all the properties are without labour; some of up to. 60,000 acres have no-one outside the family left working on them, while others of more than 100,000 acres in extent have perhaps one man only. The days when the areas themselves could produce their own army and their own supplies from their own numbers and resources have gone with the rural depression. The Army can move in with the necessary manpower; the Department has the spray and equipment; the Pasture Protection Boards have the supply lines; and a command has been set up to co-ordinate the attack. Yesterday the Chamber of Commerce met at Griffith and adopted the following resolution:
That this Chamber view with grave concern the imminent threat of a massive plague locust outbreak on the MIA and the districts north and west of Griffith and the potentially serious effect on the economy of this region:
It then submitted that in view of the probable shortage of manpower to combat the expected outbreak while the hoppers are in the crawling stage, it supported any move to secure the help of the Army and Royal Australian Air Force units and aircraft. To help again it has called on the Wade Shire, which is the most closely populated shire in the State, to appeal to the people to volunteer assistance where possible and to the farming community to volunteer assistance with suitable equipment and manpower. I mention these matters to show again that there has been complete mobilisation of sentiment, of opinion and of the units within the region. So there are volunteers from the irrigation areas, and there are beds of locusts surrounding the irrigation areas at Merriwagga, Yenda and Warburn. The challenge is clear. The danger is imminent. The need for Army and perhaps RAAF help is vital at this time and I hope that it will be given. This is one occasion on which honourable members from both sides of the chamber would be happy, I am sure, to vote unanimously for a military operation, and I would hope that perhaps this might be possible in view of the threat to the entire economy in vital regions of both States.
– In a civil emergency the resources of the Army may be used to assist the civil authorities in their task of dealing with the emergency. I think it is also fair to point out that care must be exercised to ensure that the resources of the Army are not exploited, that they are used only when essential. Many emergencies are in fact predictable. The one indicated by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), which concerns grasshopper plagues, probably falls into that category. On other occasions there are droughts, and so on. It should be normal in these cases for the State authorities to seek assistance through the normal channels. I do not want to sound as though I want to bog down with red tape, but the honourable member is dealing with Government instrumentalities and calling for their assistance. Therefore, I think he would agree that what he has done tonight is to alert me and the members of this House to the problem, as he sees it.
I am sure that the granting of a request for Army assistance would, in normal cases, be one of the last measures adopted, but it may well be, as the honourable member says, that we are coming to that situation. If we are, this would be what could be described only as a form of State civil emergency. 1 do not want that to sound too high, but this is the normal descriptive term that is used on important occasions such as this. As honourable members will be aware, there are procedures, to which I have just referred, laid down for requests of this nature to be channelled through the State authorities on to the Army. I have taken note of what the honourable member has said. I do not want to surround it with red tape. I know that he wanted to point out and to alert me to this position. He in turn knows that the request could be made through these normal channels. The Army is prepared to act, as I say, generally as a matter of last resort and provided it is within its facilities and capabilities to assist. Having just heard the honourable member’s speech I am not in a position to assess whether this is so in this situation at this juncture. However, when the request comes through from the responsible authority, I will examine it as thoroughly as possible.
– The matter which 1 want to raise in the adjournment debate is causing great concern to 2 of my constituents in particular. A number of other constituents have been ringing my office - and rightly so - expressing their concern about this matter. It involves the Department of Social Services, and I am grateful that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) is present in the chamber to hear what I have to say. I did what I thought was the courteous thing and got in touch with his office to let him know that I was raising this matter. I particularly want to refer to an article which appeared on the front page of the ‘Newcastle Sun’ on Friday, 27th August last. Apparently the Sydney newspapers do not go in for this type of publicity. This article points out, in my view, certain frailties in the Government’s social services legislation. The woman the article concerns, has been in touch with my office on several occasions and I have spoken to her on the phone. Her husband is an invalid pensioner, but because of an increase in her meagre salary her husband’s pension has been reduced from $16.90 to $9.20. This couple is treating the matter very seriously. They are Mr and Mrs Vincent Waters of Prospect Road, Garden Suburb, and they are thinking seriously of having their 30-year old marriage annulled because of what they and hundreds of thousands of other Australians consider to be shortcomings in the social services legislation under which a wife’s income affects her husband’s invalid pension. The headline of the newspaper article is: ‘After 30 years their choice is . . . Marriage or Pension’. The article shows a photograph of the Minister for Social Services and beside the photograph it states:
Memo to the Minister: These are the sort of problems that could have been debated last night.
The article continues:
A Newcastle couple will seek to have their 30- year-old marriage annulled unless a full invalid pension is restored to the husband.
The article then quotes their names and continues:
The Department of Social Services has advised 65-year old Mr Waters that his invalid pension will be reduced from $16.90 to $9.20 as a result of an increase in his wife’s salary.
His wife, 54-year old Mrs Marjorie Waters, is the manageress of the Cardiff Railway Workshop canteen and has an average ‘take home pay’ of $91 a fortnight.
The Department has also advised Mr Waters that he is no longer entitled to Commonwealth subsidiary benefits such as telephone rental concession, pensioner medical service and reduced radio and television licence fees.
He has also been told to return to the Department his pensioner medical service entitlement card and bis pension and transport concession fare certificate card.
The article continues: 1 married Vin because I loved him and I still do’, Mrs Marjorie Waters said tearfully today.
I idolise the ground he walks on but we are prepared to annul our marriage, if necessary, to get justice.’
For the past seven weeks, Mr Waters has been a patient in Roy,al Newcastle Hospital suffering from a fractured right leg.
He has been an invalid pensioner since he suffered a severe injury to his left hip in an accident in May, 1969.
The couple have one child, a married son who is serving in the RAAF.
Mr Waters received word of the Department’s decision on his pension from his wife in hospital today.
He said he was ‘both shocked and disgusted.’ i have to be kept by my wife because I can’t work myself,’ he said.
How would you feel if you were in the same position?
I think honourable members will agree that a man with any moral spunk in him at all must be reduced to a feeling, in real Australian language, that he is a bludger on his wife.
-Order! Although the word is not unparliamentary, it is completely undesirable for words such as that to be used.
– Well, a sponger. 1 withdraw my first word in view of your remarks.
-I did not ask the honourable member to withdraw it. 1 just suggested that it should not be used.
– What is meant by the word 1 first used is more generally known than the meaning of the word I have used in substitution. I would say that it is fitting to the situation, but in view of what has been suggested I will withdraw the word. However, Australians regard a person as such and he gets a feeling that he is an impost on his wife. He feels that if he wants a packet of cigarettes or a glass of beer he has to depend on his wife to buy them for him. This breaks down his morale, distresses him mentally and militates against his recovering normal health. I display to the House the photograph of this man which was taken at his bedside in Newcastle Hospital. Probably the Minister for Social Services has special powers under the Social Services Act to relieve the great mental strain of this couple so that they will not go ahead with their intention to have their marriage annulled in order to get what might be regarded as proper justice from the Department of Social Services.
I make no complaint against the administration of the Department’s officers in Newcastle. I have found Mr Beazley to be a very courteous and co-operative man but apparently he is following out the instructions of the Government and the legislation of this Parliament for which the Minister and his Government are responsible. This man’s pension has been reduced from $20 to $9 which virtually would not buy cats food, and we know that that is reasonably priced. I hope that the Minister will bring some degree of satisfaction to this couple -who should not have these worries at their time of life. Mr Waters is over 60 and his wife is 54. From what I gather he has been an outstanding Australian citizen, an honourable, noble and highly regarded man. He is embarrassed to think that his pension has been reduced because of his wife’s earnings at the canteen at the Cardiff railway workshops. I know the Minister will give sympathetic consideration to this matter and do whatever is in his power to take the mental load off this distressed truly Australian couple.
– I consider it was proper for the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) to draw to the attention of the House the fact that locusts or grasshoppers are breeding prolifically in his electorate. As the member representing a very large area of country just over the river from the Riverina electorate I am greatly concerned about the locusts breeding in his area. I have been reading about what has been happening there in the last month. I read that the locusts were breeding there and probably would take wing in a month or two. Once they take to the wing they know no boundaries in electorates, even though the boundary between the Riverina and Mallee electorates is our greatest waterway, the River Murray. I compliment the honourable member on bringing this matter up in the House tonight and I offer him every support possible.
The Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) replied to the honourable member for Riverina who suggested that aircraft of the Army or the Royal Australian Air Force may be necessary to spread insecticides. This may become necessary. On quite a few occasions the RAAF has taken a great part in rainmaking attempts in Victoria and other States of Australia. If these aircraft can be used in attempts to produce rain in order to make the grass and the crops grow I think it is just as important that they be called in again to save the grass and crops from locusts. On the Mallee side of the river and in parts of Riverina to a lesser extent the great dried fruits industry flourishes. Once the locusts start moving they eat everything that is green and a lot of things that are not green. They will devour everything in their path and devastate the whole countryside. Anyone who has not seen them in full flight does not realise that. I have seen them in full flight in the western district, even right into the electorate of Corangamite. I have seen a great flight of them run into a plantation of trees. They whirled round and round. One had a job to get through them in a motor car.
Honourable members must realise what a gigantic menace the locusts are to primary industry. At the present time, primary industry does not want any setbacks, lt needs all the help possible. I support the proposition that every help possible should be given to prevent the locusts getting on the wing. As I have already mentioned, rain making planes have been made available chiefly by State governments. Perhaps the first place to try to get help would be from the New South Wales and Victorian Governments if the locusts got on the wing. Everything possible should be done. The Minister for the Army said that he did not want red tape to come into it. I can assure him that I do not want red tape to come into it.
The aim is to kill the locusts in their breeding grounds in the Riverina electorate. We do not want them in Mallee or in any other part of Victoria. When I refer to the breeding grounds in the Riverina I do not mean to imply that that is just where locusts breed and nothing else happens. 1 know that it is a very prolific area. Not only would the places that the locusts fly to suffer but the whole of the Riverina would probably be under great stress if the locusts started moving. The honourable member for Riverina stated how many millions there are to the acre. I do not think for one moment that he was exaggerating. This is a real menace. As he is on the spot in the electorate, I hope that he will keep in close touch with the problem and bring it up in the House again when necessary at which time he will be absolutely sure of getting my full support-
– I rise this evening to answer the criticism levelled by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) against the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) who raised a matter of public importance in this House last Thursday night when he referred to the joint defence space research facility, as it was called I the Minister for Defence, at Pine Gap. On 3rd September 1971 the ‘Australian’ referred to revelations about this matter in the United States of America. The article is headed: ‘Nuclear bullseye in the dead Centre’. It reads as follows:
Australia’s silent Centre is now a target in global nuclear warfare - a giant ‘sounding board’ in the US cold war with Russia and China. The United States has been, quietly buttoning Australia into its global nuclear arc while, ironically, beginning to withdraw US troops from Asia. But its Australian arc remains very much ‘go’.
The United States, in fact, has at least 28 secret bases in Australia and its territories - all planted during Australian Government evasions and protestations of ‘joint control’. They include Pine Gap (approximate cost $200m), near Alice Springs.
This evening the Minister said that he would not give out any information about this matter. It is well known that this article was written by a very reputable and well-known journalist, a Mr Philip J. Klass who is a correspondent for the ‘Aviation Week Space Technology’ in America. Everything that this writer discloses was available in publications in the United States. There was no secrecy at all there. Yet this Government shrouds the matter in secrecy in this Parliament. The Minister for Defence said that the honourable member for Sturt wanted to raise the matter because he is a near pacifist. Surely in this day and age we have to take the secrecy out of government and we have to inform the people whether bases or installations are to be established in Australia that could threaten mankind. If this is an early warning system in defence of the United States it could involve Australia in a nuclear war. Fear has been built up. The United States and the Soviet Union have enough explosives to kill and overkill mankind 25 times. The honourable member for Sturt asked this Government to inform the people of the problems that could arise. The Australian’ disclosed that there are at least 28 secret bases. We know about the North West Cape base because we sought details about the purpose of the base.
– What is secret about that?
– At the time it was to be secret. The Minister who interjected was not a member of this House then. From March 1961 to 1963 I asked questions. All by the time evasive replies were given. We were trying to seek information and details about that base. Eventually it was disclosed - in journals again - that continuing messages had been sent from the United States by high frequency signals to that base. One of these messages could be an instruction to fire. There they were transferred to a very low frequency and sent to submerged submarines. Each submarine had 16 Polaris missiles. These missiles were not directed against military targets in southern Russia or China but were a population deterrent. If it were good enough for the United States to fire missiles at Soviet and Chinese cities, probably those countries would retaliate. I have no doubt that in the event of war our cities would be under threat.
Let us take the hysteria out of it. Let us take the name calling out of it. We are at least moving a little towards rational discussion. We should be taking the jingoistic attitude out of this fear complex about having to watch the Chinese and where do we draw the. line. Do we have a fight in Vietnam or a fight on our shores mentality? Do we bring out the propaganda, which has been brought out previously by the hysteria of the Liberal Party, of a good old digger in a digger’s hat drawing a rickshaw containing an Asian with a nice blonde Australian girl? That mentality is out. Let us deal with this matter on a rational basis. If there are installations in Australia that may embroil us in a nuclear war or may be a target in a nuclear war, we have no guarantees. The Minister spoke about a joint defence space base. I would like him to give to the House any information which he has. We are entitled to know how we share the responsibilities of this joint defence space research facility. My Party wants this information. We want the secrecy taken out of it. We want to know what our responsibilities are. My Party at its recent Federal Conference carried a decision dealing with Pine Gap and Woomera in these terms:
Conference protests at the Federal Government’s refusal to inform the Parliament and public of the general purposes and possible consequences of the joint defence installations and facilities at Pine Gap and Woomera. It deplores the Government’s action in not offering or agreeing to deny access to Australian members of Parliament. Conference also protests that the full details and implications of the proposed Omega communications stations have also been denied to the Parliament and people.
This was a decision made at the last Federal Conference of my Party in Launceston. We are asking for information and details. We are asking that the secrecy be taken off. If these details are written about, talked about and explained in American technical journals it is good enough that the Australian Parliament b informed of the details. That is what we are seeking. All that the honourable member for Sturt sought was information. We do not want government by secrecy. We want to know what is happening. We want to know what our country is being involved in. We do not want to start any name calling or hysteria. All we are asking in simple language and in a low tone is: What is the Government doing in this year of 1971? Is it still a government of secrecy or are we to be informed of the details an J implications of matters in which we may be involved? That is all that the honourable member for Sturt wanted to know - nothing more, nothing less. But no information has been given to this House.
– To a certain extent I agree with what the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) has said in respect of the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster). I can accept his description of the honourable member for Sturt as innocent, lacking experience and only wanting to know certain things. I think the honourable member for Sturt is a simple minded lad.
– Simple in the nicest manner, Mr Speaker.
-Order! I ask the honourable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it but what I was implying was simple in plain, ordinary, everyday, good terms. If I have to withdraw that I will say that he is not. I do not say the same thing of the honourable member for Reid. Over the years in this House we have listened to the honourable member for Reid speak on just about every defence installation within Australia and every defence commitment beyond Australia, and the views that he has propounded are, I think, clearly known to the Australian people We know also the repu tation of the honourable member for Reid in respect of the Moratorium marches and the various protests. They seem to have been all in the one direction. But I like this low posture of the honourable member for Reid now. The honourable member is saying: ‘We simply want to know what the facts are’. In fact what he is saying is: ‘We simply want to know what is beyond the walls. We simply want to know the secret information’.
– Well, why shouldn’t we?
– Not only do the honourable member for Reid and the honourable member for Wills want to know but also Australia’s enemies and the enemies of the United States of America want to know.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills is interjecting again. When he was out of his seat I requested him to refrain from interjecting. I warn the honourable member for Wills.
– lt may be just coincidence that many of these countries overseas with whom, in certain circumstances, we may be in conflict are spending thousands and thousands of pounds in trying to find out this very information. How considerate and how wonderful if, just on the bland assurance of a member, of Parliament on the other side of the House that he must be given this information because it is his right, the information is made available. 1 know that the majority of the members of the Opposition do not want to know. They realise that they are not entitled to know. If the honourable member for Reid was prepared to say: ‘Although we do not give away our defence secrets and although the United States does not give away its defence secrets, my friends in the Soviet have told me everything, every location of their Polaris missiles, every site of their weapon bases and everything about their satellites that are flying over the earth at this time’, that would be a different matter. Do not let anyone be naive enough to think that satellites do not have a defence capability and a defence effectiveness.
Now that we have his Leader’s joy with China - the honourable member himself spoke about the hysteria of the Western world in watching the Chinese - should we no longer watch the Chinese? Is that what he says? Are we to hand the information to the Chinese on a plate? Is that what he is asking us to do? As I said last week - I am s:;re the honourable member for Sturt accepted it - if we want friends and if we have defence agreements with friends, we surely must accept some responsibility and a quid pro quo because we, as a small nation, are not yet able to stand by ourselves without friends. If the quid pro quo is that we have on our land weapon research establishments, satellite observation facilities and so on, that is something that we have to accept and something which I am sure the people of Australia are prepared to accept.
I challenge the honourable member for Reid and the honourable member for Wills to argue that aspect and to have it included in Labor policy. Reference wars made to resolutions passed at the Labor Parry’s Federal Conference. I remind honourable members that it was the Labor Party’s Federal Conference which, during or just after the last war, placed embargoes on its own members visiting the Woomera Rocket Range because Labor was not prepared to allow them to create unrest and to do the other things they may wish to do at this particular time. It is too easy. I find it incredible that the honourable member for Reid, the honourable member for Wills and other honourable members opposite should say: ‘Tell us everything about every defence establishment and every secret that we have with our allies’. For how long would we have allies if we did that?
The honourable member for Reid talked about a learned gentleman in the United States who has written a book. One could quote statements made in the Australian Press, half of them woolly minded and half of them so wide of the mark that it does not matter, but the honourable member proclaims that anyone who agrees with his viewpoint must necessarily be right and must be a man of distinction. I do not know whether the honourable gentleman saw the ‘Four Corners’ programme at the weekend. I did not appreciate particularly the fact that the subject should have been put on the ‘Four Corners’ programme because I did not think it was a particularly good theme, but it must have been most disappointing to the honourable member for Reid and the honourable member for Wills to hear scientists in the
United Kingdom, the United States and in other countries endorse the fact that there is a necessity for tracking stations to track the satellites of the Soviet and of other countries which are operating in our air space. They played down the fact that Australia would be a prime target, that we would go into oblivion and that we must tell the people. In my opinion, half of the art of some members of the Opposition is to endeavour to terrify the people and to take away from the people the urge to resist. They have asked that all information be made available to them. If that were done, 1 have no doubt that that information would be passed on to their friends.
Before we all pass on 1 should like to hear the honourable member for Reid ask one day that the Soviet Union make available all information about its defences. I do not think he would deny that he goes to the Soviet Embassy. I am quite sure that the honourable member is persona grata there. He was rather upset that he did not go to China on the great mission. I say: Let him go; let him ask the Chinese exactly what their defence secrets are and what their provision for the defence of their homeland is; and let him bring that information back to the Australian people. Then we will give him greater credit for genuine concern for what is happening in this country at this time. Members of the Opposition are saying: ‘We are playing this in a low posture. Do not let us have any hysteria. Just give us all the secrets. Give us the plan and we will be able to tell you whether it is right or wrong.’ I would not give to some members of the Opposition a plan of the public toilet at Frankston because I do not think they would be able to restrain themselves from handing it over to somebody whom they felt they could impress.
Mr UREN (Reid)- 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been misrepresented in many ways in the speech by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). I will deal only briefly with one. In fact, most of the allegations made against me by the honourable member were false.
I want to deal specifically with one allegation. It concerns what the honourable member said in 2 phrases. In one phrase he said that my criticism was directed only one way, meaning that I never criticise the Soviet Union. He also said: ‘Let me one day see him oppose the Soviet policy*. Both statements are false. If the honourable member wants an examination of that, it is in the records of Hansard. When the former Minister for External Affairs and former honourable member for Forrest, Mr Gordon Freeth - the present Ambassador to Japan - introduced his infamous new Government line on the proposed Soviet security treaty in the Indian Ocean, etc., in 1969, I was the first in this Parliament to place on record strong criticism of our linking ourselves in any way in a security treaty with the Soviet Union, just as I criticised our involvement with the United States of America in Vietnam and our involvement with the United Kingdom in the Malaysian-Indonesian crisis.
– I rise to a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid has pointed out where he was falsely misrepresented.
– No, I do not think he has, with all respect.
-Order! That is not a matter for the Chair to judge. The honourable gentleman is quoting an instance to prove that he was falsely misrepresented. I suggest to the honourable member for Reid that he contain his remarks and not debate the matter.
– I am not trying to debate the matter.
-I am just suggesting to the honourable member that he do not do so.
-I thank you, Mr Speaker. The other aspect is in regard to my opposition to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. You, Mr Speaker, were away with me with the Inter-Parliamentary Union when I had a close association with one of the senior officials of the Czechoslovakian liberal government. I was one of the first to protest - and I protested probably more strongly than most other honourable members in this Parliament - against the Soviet invasion. Let me say that I have never accepted an invitation to any Soviet function since the day of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In fact, I informed the Russian Ambassador by letter that I would not accept any invitation to the Soviet Embassy until I thought the Soviet Union had changed its policy.
Mr JESS (La Trobe) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– 1 do, indeed. I do not consider that I said at any time that the honourable member for Reid supported the Soviet Union. I said that 1 would be impressed if-
– I rise to a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– I wish to take a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– I did say that if the honourable member was prepared to obtain from the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China details of their instruments and weapons installations he would be more impressive.
– Mr Speaker-
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented.
– No. I wish to speak in this debate.
-I call the honourable member.
– I will be very brief. There are several points that the honourable member for La Trobe (Mi Jess) half made. I take one point. He certainly would not give anybody the plans for a toilet at Frankston. He would try to sell them at a profit. The facts in regard to our bases are these: I personally believe that the establishment of foreign bases on Australian soil is a piece of national treachery. Australians must retain absolute control of their own sou, their own rights and their own future. It seems to me the issue on foreign bases in this country is this: First of all we are placed under ransom by the foreign policy of a foreign country. The decision as to whether a base in this country will come under attack will be made by somebody else and it will be a decision over which we can have no control. The second point relates to this question of secrecy. While it might be all right to keep secret whether the Government intends to raise pensions it will not really matter to the community in the long run whether it knows. Of course people like to know. But on all these issues of foreign policy this Government is dealing in matters of life and death for perhaps the whole nation and therefore the whole nation must be taken into its confidence.
Nobody is suggesting that we want to know some final details of scientific achievement which put us in front of everybody else. We want to know what we are committed to with Pine Gap and every other base. We want to know the final terms upon which these bases are permitted. We as members of this Parliament want to know every possible detail about them. 1 have sat in this Parliament while 3 Ministers have held the portfolio of Minister for Defence. They are the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) who is temporarily and currently the Minister for Defence. Each one of those honourable gentlemen in the portfolio as Minister for Defence has apparently had some mystic capacity to know these things and not betray the country. The right honourable member for Higgins a few months ago was entitled to know all these things. It was quite safe for him to know everything then, but now that he has been placed on the back bench that capacity has been lost and he is no longer to be trusted. It is all nonsense.
The honourable member for La Trobe pays the people of Australia little compliment. He pays the members of this House little compliment. On this question of the United States alliance he brought out the old furphy that we cannot look after ourselves. I believe we have a greater capacity now to look after ourselves than has ever been developed or is ever likely to be needed. I have no faith whatsoever - and I say this as emphatically as anyone may like - in the constitutional processes of the American system. The United States alliance would not necessarily be of use to us when the chips are down. I believe this Government has placed us in a position where we are completely helpless as the creatures of someone else’s foreign policy. This Government is not prepared to take the community into its confidence and it is denying its duty to the community. I said from the word go, before the North West Cape base was established, that I believe the establishment of foreign bases in this country and the alienation of our territory to another country is a piece of national treachery. And the honourable member for La Trobe is one of the guilty parties.
Motion (by Mr Scholes) negatived:
That the question be now put.
– Let me assure the honourable members for Sydney (Mr Cope) and Hunter (Mr James) that I have listened very carefully to what they have said on the matter of social services and I shall give their remarks serious consideration. I really rose tonight to put the record straight because I feel that the honourable members for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and Reid (Mr Uren) had seriously misrepresented their colleague, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster). Both of those honourable gentlemen said that the honourable member for Sturt had done nothing more than protest against the secrecy. The Hansard record shows that that is not true. I draw to the attention of honourable members page 1085 of Hansard of 9th September, where the honourable member for Sturt is reported to have said:
A Mr Klass has gone on record on that programme and has spelt out in quite clear terms what we on this side of the House have suspected because of what we know and because of what we have picked up in certain American journals, that is, the existence in this country of bases of a type that we should not have here.
That statement goes far beyond the view that the honourable member for Riverina and the honourable member for Reid have put in this House tonight. I will not quote at greater length from the speech of the honourable member for Sturt. The passage I have quoted shows and the rest of his speech confirms that he did not protest simply against the secrecy; he protested against the bases.
– And so he should.
– I am indeed indebted to the honourable member for Wills who a moment ago in this chamber openly took the same line. Let me correct the honourable member for Reid and the honourable member for Riverina. 1 will rot accuse them of trying to cover up for the honourable member for Sturt. Perhaps he, like the honourable member for Wills, would say that he does not need to cover up and knew what he was saying. However, it is important not to allow any misrepresentation of a man in this House, even by his colleagues. I know nothing about the Pine Gap base except what I have read in the Press. I have read the book and the statements of Mr Klass and on that basis - and that is the only basis for the remarks of honourable members of the Opposition - let us try to analyse the position.
Mr Klass has said that the Pine Gap base is used to get information about a possible sneak attack by the Soviet Union upon the United States of America, or indeed, upon us - a sneak attack from anywhere. This then is a base, if Mr Klass is right, to keep the peace and not to make war. If there is one thing more than another which is likely to lead to war it is the belief by the Soviet Union that it could launch a sneak attack and get away with it. The one purpose of this base, if one accepts what Mr Klass has sard, is to prevent a sneak attack by the Soviet Union on one of us. It is a base to keep the peace and not a base for aggression, if Mr Klass is right.
Since the only information that honourable members of the Opposition had was what Mr Klass had said, they are coming out openly in favour of aggression by the Soviet Union. They want to help the Soviet Union to perpetrate aggression. The only purpose of the base as set out by Mr Klass is to prevent the Soviet Union from launching a sneak attack upon us or upon the United States. I put it clearly that honourable members opposite have not considered the facts. They have spoken at random. In point of fact, whether they know it or not, they have tried to encourage the Soviet Union in aggression. This is what they have done. It is clear on the record although they may not have understood what they were doing. I think that the country should realise that the judgment of members of the Opposition - I will not say they are knaves - is so fallacious as to show that they are dangerous people ever to have power in this country.
Having said that, let me advert to another matter which is distinct from it but somewhat connected with it. 1 refer to an occurrence in this House last Thursday night, 9th September. It will be remembered that the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) said that no Labor man in this House had supported the Cuban revolution. When I pointed out that this was not, in point of fact, correct, he made a personal explanation. I should like to quote that personal explanation, which appears on page 1094 of Hansard. The honourable member for Sydney said:
In the first place, when I rose lo order while the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) was speaking I did not say but I did mean to say in this House’. It was a Party decision in regard to this matter. No member of the Opposition spoke in this House in support of Castro. If he had, he would have been dealt with by the Party, lt was a decision of the Party.
Here is a clear admission that there was a division in the ranks of the Opposition on this matter. Some supported Castro and some did not and, again, that stands on the record. But what happened in caucus? A decision was made to cover up. Members of the Opposition were not permitted to express their views in this House although they could do so outside the House. There was a caucus decision to conceal the existence of a real left wing policy in the Labor Party. This is the kind of thing that is happening and it is something of which the country should be wary. In the Labor Party there are forces which are very real but which can be concealed by a caucus decision. The honourable member for Sydney has revealed a most serious matter - the way in which a caucus decision can be used to cover up the real motives, the real sentiments and the real leanings of left wing members of the Opposition. I think that the House and the country should take note of what the honourable member for Sydney has said and just what that implies.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (11.43)- I shall try not to keep the House too long, but 1 want to support the statements which have been by the honourable members for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and Mallee (Mr
Turnbull) regarding the seriousness of the locust plague. I thank the honourable member for Riverina for mentioning my electorate. However, there are a few things that the House should know about the seriousness of this plague. It would be true to say that the main hatching is probably in the Riverina district but I want it to be known that there are similar hatchings in my electorate. The honourable member for Mallee seems to think that the greenest belt in Australia is along the River Murray. I can assure the House that at present the area along the Darling River from Wentworth to Bourke is the greenest part of Australia. Some time ago, there was a large bushfire in my electorate and a call was made on the Australian community for some support. Of course, the bushfire had almost burnt out before people outside the immediate area came to the assistance of this area. I hope that assistance will not be lacking on this occasion in connection with the locust plague. At this time we do not expect the Army to come into the electorate because I am told that, to a large degree, the people there can contain the situation if they receive some financial support from the Government.
Honourable members must remember that a lot of these people have gone through a very severe drought. They wanted their area to be declared a drought area but, unfortunately, the New South Wales Government delayed for so long that they had to put their stock on agist ment. They received no support from the Government which would enable them to pay for the transport of their stock. They brought it back under the same conditions because the Government said that the stock was not there when the area was declared a drought area. I hope that a similar situation will not apply in relation to this locust plague. If the plague moves into that area the situation will be serious enough but the plague will go a lot further into Australia than many people think it will because this area is now the greenest part of Australia.
Not very long ago there was a flood through the Paroo River and the Wilcannia district. There is still a lot of water there but as it recedes the herbage is coming up. The electorate is like a large turf oval. Honourable members can understand what will happen if this locust plague is allowed to develop. When the authorities are looking at the position in the Riverina district I appeal to them to investigate parts of my electorate because people there are the hardest hit in the rural crisis. At the present time, many of them cannot afford to restock their own country. They have cattle on agistment. I think this plague would be the final blow. I do not want to delay the House. I hope that the authorities will have a look at this matter and see that my electorate is not forgotten.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.47 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Nuclear Power Reactor: Jervis Bay (Question No. 3574)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The evaluation study prepared by Bechtel Pacific Corporation on the tenders received for the proposed nuclear power reactor at Jervis Bay contains a considerable amount of proprietary Information. Several of the tenders were made and received on the basis that this information would be kept confidential. I regret I am therefore not able to make the study available to the honourable member.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No. 2843, namely, that boiling water reactors and pressurised water reactors, which are the 2 main types of light water power reactors, can be. built today with reasonable confidence in their safety, reliability and performance. I pointed out in my answer to the honourable member’s question No. 2843 that it is not possible to say whether a reactor system is ‘fully proved’ without knowing what the honourable member understands by this terminology. The same comment applies to the honourable member’s use of the term’proven’ in the present question. The question of how many reactors it is necessary to have operating and for what length of time to provide for ‘adequate development’ or to establish a system as ‘proven’ is a matter of technical judgement.
asked the Minister for Ship ping and Transport, upon notice:
In regard to (a) the Commonwealth Railways and (b) each of the State railway systems can he state what was the (i) total debt as at 30th June 1971, (ii) amount paid in interest for 1970-71, (iii) rate of interest, (iv) extent of increase or reduction in capital debts during 1970-71 and (v) total value of assets as at 30th June 1971.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information sought for the financial period, ending 30th June 1971 is not yet available. The honourable member will be supplied with the information when the reports for 1970-71 are available.
Hume Weir (Question No. 3924)
asked the Minister for
National Development, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Secretary of the Albury-Wodonga Flood
Committee has written to the River Murray Commission along the lines referred to in questions 2, 3, 4 and 5. I would stress however, that at that time, 2nd August, release of additional water would have involved some risk to future supplies in the River Murray system.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Fisheries Research (Question No. 4018)
asked the Minister for
Primary Industry, upon notice:
What was the (a) subject, (b) location, (c) cost and (d) purpose of fisheries research conducted by his Department in 1970-71.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The subject, location and purpose of fisheries research conducted by my Department in the last financial year is shown in the attached table. The cost of this research cannot be estimated since, for the most part, it was borne by normal Departmental expenditure and separate records have not been maintained.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
What discussions have taken place between Commonwealth and Queensland officers, what changes have been made in Commonwealth and Queensland legislation and what administrative changes have been made by the Commonwealth and Queensland in respect of fisheries in the Gulf of Carpentaria since his predecessor’s answer on 15th September 1970.
Mr Sinclair: The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Discussions between Commonwealth and Queensland fisheries officers took place in Brisbane during April and June 1971 on current developments in the Gulf of Carpentaria prawn fishery. In addition, senior fisheries officers from both Queensland and the Commonwealth were present at an open meeting convened in Cairns during December 1970 to discuss with people in the industry the future management and development of the fishery. Discussions also took place between fisheries officers at that time.
The honourable member will be aware of the contents of the Fisheries Bill now before the House and of its general relevance to the management of the northern prawn fishery. The Queensland Minister for Primary Industries has informed the Queensland Parliament of his intention to introduce an amending Fisheries Bill but the timing of that Parliamentary action is of course a matter for the Queensland Government.
The Fisheries Act 1970 is now in operation and will enable the Queensland Government to legislate to licence plants processing fish for export. I understand that appropriate provision for this will be included in the Queensland Bill.
The administrative procedures outlined on page 1170 of Hansard, 1970, continue to operate, the only variation being that boats carrying fish taken by other boats are no longer restricted by their Commonwealth licences to landing their cargoes at specified places but are free to land them at any place for subsequent transport to a processing plant. This is in accordance with the policy of facilitating the efficient and economic operations of the prawning industry.
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
What progress has been made in setting up the international arrangement for narcotics control between Australia, New Zealand and the countries of South East Asia.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The honourable gentleman will recall that I mentioned in a reply to a similar question last session that we were experiencing considerable practical difficulties in arranging a meeting of Ministers.
We have experienced similar difficulties in arranging a meeting of officers with a venue which would be convenient to countries within South East Asian region. Because of this we are now looking again at the possibility of holding a meeting in Australia later this year.
In the meantime a meeting of the Narcotics Commission is to be held in Geneva. While Australia is not represented on the Commission it is proposed to send observers with a view to being involved in those matters of particular interest to
Australia. I understand that there is likely to be strong representation at the meeting from countries within South East Asia. Discussions at the meeting will no doubt point to what action might best be taken collectively by countries in the region to combat the drug problem.
Overseas Investment in Australia (Question No. 3233)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Immigration: Social Workers (Question No. 34S7)
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
When the scheme was introduced in July 1968, it provided for a total of 32 brants. 33 agencies have been approved to receive a grant, two of the agencies employing social workers on a halftime basis only. In July 1971 the number of grants was increased by six to a total of 38. The allocation of these additional grants is now being considered. Currently twenty-eight social workers (including the two employed part-time) are employed under the scheme.
The following list shows the agencies approved to receive grants under the scheme, the dates when initial appointments were made and information concerning replacements.
Separately the Department has an establishment for 19 social workers, of which 17 positions are filled. These positions, with the exception of one based in Canberra and one in Wollongong, are in State capital city offices of the Department.
The social workers appointed under the grant scheme are situated in metropolitan and urban areas only.
Applying the current social worker establishment approved under the scheme to the 1966 census figures, the ratio of grant scheme social workers to the overseas born population in metropolitan and urban areas was:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
What is the current requirement on commercial . television stations for the televising of programmes of Australian origin.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The requirements for Australian content in the programme of commercial television stations determined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board are as follows:
Current Requirements -
Following a review by the Board, new requirements as follows are to come into effect from 20th September 1971.
for the purpose of calculating the percentage of programme transmission time occupied by programmes of Australian origin mentioned in (a) and (b) above, special credits will be applied to the following types of programmes’.
As from the introduction of new requirements on 20th September 1971, credit loadings will no longer be allowed for British Commonwealth programmes and repeats of Australian drama.
Papua New Guinea: Education (Question No. 3663)
asked the Minister for
External Territories, upon notice:
When will he table the Weeden report on education in the Territory of Papua New Guinea.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The members of the Advisory Committee on Education, Messrs W. J. Weeden, C. E. Beeby and G. B. Gris presented to me on 30th October 1969 their report on Education in Papua New Guinea. The report was tabled in the House of Assembly on 11th November 1969.
Recently Mr W. J. Weeden prepared for me an advising on the future role of the Australian School of Pacific Administration at Mosman, New South Wales. It includes consideration of the future location for teacher training of Australians for service in Papua New Guinea. The Government will be considering the future role and activities of the School in the near future in the light of Mr Weeden’s advice and that of the Commonwealth departments and Papua New Guinea authorities involved, and its decision will be announced as soon as possible. This report is in the form of a private advising to me.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The matter referred to is one which falls within the authority of the Ministerial Member for Education in the House of Assembly for Papua New Guinea. The Administrator on the advice of the Ministerial Member for Education has provided the following information:
The Ministerial Member for Education advises Dr Everingham that he will have an assessment made of the value to linguistic and ethnological research of the work ‘Sobraniya Socineniya’ appearing in Hemisphere, August 1971. The possibility of getting a translation done will be examined if the translation is considered warranted.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
When is it anticipated that the low powered television stations programmed to be erected at Woomera and Ceduna in South Australia will come into operation.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The proposed national television stations at Ceduna and Woomera are among 38 stations to be established in the seventh stage of television development. The whole task is one of some magnitude involving in many cases the provision of special relay links to the stations concerned. A great deal of work has been done in regard to technical surveys of the areas concerned, selection of sites and determination of operating conditions, but the completion of the remaining phases, including the ordering and installation of. equipment, will of necessity take further time. It appears that it would not be possible to complete the Ceduna and Woomera stations before mid- 1 973. However, the whole project is being advanced as quickly as possible, and I hope to be in a position to release, at an early date, a full timetable of possible completion dates for all stations, based on present expectations.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Postal Department: Adelaide Mail Exchange (Question No. 3927)
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
How many, companies were registered in Norfolk Island at 30th June 1971.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
How many students is the Commonwealth sponsoring in 1971-72 and what fees did it pay to educational institutions in 1970-71 under the -
Commonwealth Co-operation in Education Scheme
Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan
Australian International Awards Scheme
South Pacific Aid Programme and
South East Asia Treaty, Organisation.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
On what occasions has the SEATO Council considered the international disputes in which Pakistan is involved.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Discussions within the SEATO Council are confidential to the member governments, except to the extent that they are outlinedin the communiques issued by the Council
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 September 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19710914_reps_27_hor73/>.