27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives m Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
That the immediate prospect in East Bengal is of mass starvation on a scale unprecedented in modern times.
That only quick settlement of the Bangla DeshPakistan conflict will make it possible to avert the death of many millions. We therefore urge the honourable members to:
Raise to $10m Australian aid to refugees now in India from East Pakistan.
Support all efforts to guarantee the fully autonomous development of the people of Bangla Desh.
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 petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
That the immediate prospect in East Bengal is of mass starvation on a scale unprecedented in modern times.
That only quick settlement of the Bangla DeshPakistan conflict win make it possible to avert the death of many millions. We therefore urge the honourable members to:
Raise to $10m Australian aid to refugees now in India from East Pakistan.
Support all efforts to guarantee the fully autonomous development of the people of Bangla Desh.
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 petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
That the immediate prospect in East Bengal is of mass starvation on a scale unprecedented in modem times.
That only quick settlement of the Bangla DeshPakistan conflict will make it possible to avert the death of many millions.
We therefore urge (he honourable members to:
Raise to $10m Australian aid to refugees now in India from East Pakistan.
Support all efforts to guarantee the fully autonomous development of the people of Bangla Desh.
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 petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
That the immediate prospect in East Bengal is of mass starvation on a scale unprecedented in modern times.
That only quick settlement of the Bangla DeshPakistan conflict will make it possible to avert the death of many millions.
We therefore urge the Honourable Members to:
Raise to $1Om Australian aid to refugees now in India from East Pakistan.
Support all efforts to guarantee the fully autonomous development of the people of Bangla Desh. 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 petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That there is a crisis in Aboriginal Welfare In the South West Land Division of Western Australia resulting from a population explosion, poor housing and hygiene and unemployment and unemployability.
That there is a need to phase out Native Reserves in the South West Land Division of Western Australia over the next three years.
That town housing must be provided for all Aboriginal families where the bread winner has permanent employment or an age or invalid pension entitlement.
That such housing must be supported by the appointment of permanent ‘Home-maker’ assistance in the ratio of one home-maker to every eight houses or part thereof.
That incentives of housing,’home-maker’ services and training facilities must be created in centres of potential employment for those who are currently unemployed or unemployable.
That insufficient State or Federal assistance has been made available to meet these requirements.
That adequate finance to meet these requirements can only be provided by the Commonwealth government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will give earnest consideration to this most vital matter.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully request:
That the Commonwealth Government give urgent consideration when making grants to aged persons homes that conditions of tenancy be imposed to protect the tenant who makes a donation to gain admittance to these homes which is very often their life savings.
That conditions of tenancy ensure that evictions do not take place without the intervention of an independent tribunal, such as appointed by the Minister’s Department.
That the Commonwealth ensure that these properties are not resold after a person is evicted but is let.
That all steps are taken to ensure that everyone is assured that no profit has arisen from an eviction.
That Representatives of the residents are appointed to the Board of the Home.
That Annual elections are held for representatives of the residents on the Board of Management.
That an annual audited statement of accounts is submitted to the Social Services Department and is made available to the residents of the premises to ensure that all charges made and costs are to be to the satisfaction of the residents.
That Government give consideration to a total review of the conditions of grants to ensure that protection is given to the residents of these aged persons establishments and to the management.
Your petitioners humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled would take immediate steps to ensure that these requests are met so that people who have reached retiring age can enter these premises with dignity and peace of mind, and without fear of insecurity of the future in having to establish themselves in other premises. The 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 Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-West Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.
That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.
That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.
And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray thatthe Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.
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 citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-West Tasmania,is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.
That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.
That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.
And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.
Your petitioners therefore- humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.
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 the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of State education services has established serious deficiencies in education.
That these can be summarised as lack of classroom accommodation, desperate teacher shortage, oversized classes and inadequate teaching aids.
That the additional sum of one thousand million dollars is required over the next five years by the States for these needs.
That without massive additional Federal finance the State school system will disintegrate.
That the provisions of the Handicapped Children’s Assistance Act 1970 should be amended to include all the country’s physically and mentally handicapped children.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to
Ensure that emergency finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for seventy-eight per cent of Australia’s children. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the follow ing petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth
That the sales tax on all forms of contraceptive devices is 27½ percent. (Sales Tax Exemptions and Classifications Act 1935-1967). Also that there is customs duty of up to 47½ per cent on some contraceptive devices.
And that thisis an unfair imposition on the human rights of all people who wish to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And furthermore that this imposition discriminates particularly against people on low incomes.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the sales tax on all forms of contraceptive devices be removed, so as to bring theseitems into line with other necessities such as food, upon which there is no sales tax. Also that customs duties be removed, and that all contraceptive devices be placed on the nationalhealth scheme pharmaceutical benefits list.
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 Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the sales tax on all forms of contraceptive devices is 27½ per cent. (Sales Tax Exemptions and Classifications Act 1935-1967). Also that there is customs duty of up to 471 per cent on some contraceptive devices.
And that this is an unfair imposition on the human rights of all people who wish to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And furthermore that this imposition discriminates particularly against people on low incomes.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the sales tax on all forms of contraceptive devices be removed, so as to bring these items into lino with other necessities such as food, upon which there is no sales tax. Also that customs duties be removed, and that all contraceptive devices be placed on the national health scheme pharmaceutical benefits list.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and the members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That due to higher living costs, including increasing charges for health services, most aged persons living on fixed incomes are suffering acute distress.
That Australia is the only English-speaking country in the world to retain a means test for aged pensioners and that a number of European countries also have no means test.
That today’s aged persons have paid at least 7½ per cent of their taxable incomes towards social services since the absorption of special social services taxation in income tax and continue to make such payments. (71 per cent of all taxable incomes for 1966-67 amounted to $783,082,150 and this year will produce more than $800,000,000, more than sufficient to abolish the means test immediately.)
That the middle income group, the most heavilytaxed sector of the community, subsidises the tax commitment of the upper income bracket through the amount of social services contributions collected bythe government and not spent on the purposes for which they were imposed.
That the abolition of the means test will give a boost to the economy by -
additional tax revenue from pensions
swelling of the work force, and
increased spending by pensioners.
That it is considered just and right to allow people who have been frugal, have lived their lives with dignity and have been anything but an encumbrance on the nation, to maintain that dignity to the end of their lives free from fear of penury.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to abolish the means test for all people who have reached retiring age or who otherwise qualify for social service benefits or pensions.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he knew in advance the purport of the remarks delivered by the Foreign Minister yesterday in New York and whether he agreed to their delivery in that particular forum, the AmericanAustralian Association.
– I can understand the sensitivity of the Australian Labor Party about the remarks that were made by my colleague in New York yesterday because I believe this shows the unbridgeable gap in both ideology and policy between the Labor Party and Liberal members on this side of the House in the coalition government on the question of the nation’s security. What my colleague very rightly did was to point out that we on this side of the House believe in a policy of forward defence and for that reason we will keep our troops stationed in Malaysia and Singapore. The Opposition disagrees. It will withdraw the troops. Equally too do we believe in taking part in the security developments of the whole of the South East Asian area. The Labor Party again disagrees. Consequently it has a fundamental disagreement with us on policy itself.
Secondly, there can be no doubt at all - and this fact should not be swept under the carpet - that if the Australian Labor Party had its way the naval signal centre at North West Cape would be rendered ineffective and the Americans would be compelled to withdraw from the Pine Gap operation. We believe that they are part and parcel of the essential agreements that we are making under the ANZUS Treaty. The Government’s agreements with the Americans will be maintained.
Thirdly, my colleague rightly draws attention to the degrading of the ANZUS Treaty by the Labor Party eX its last meeting in Tasmania. As I understand the position, under, I believe, Chapter 21 of the Platform and Constitution of the Labor Party the Labor Party took out that part of the old platform that said that the ANZUS Treaty is of crucial importance to the alliance between Australia and the United States. In other words, it no longer regards this Treaty as crucial to the defence of this country. We on this side of the House believe that it is crucial to the long term security of this country. I point out that the ANZUS Treaty is one between the Australian people and the people of the United States. The Treaty was passed by the Congress of the United States and is, consequently, part of the supreme law of the land of that country. It is a defence treaty and we want to retain it that way.
But, as I have said, the Labor Party wants to degrade it because it wants it to be a welfare organisation. There is no provision, either in the preamble or in the operative clauses of the Treaty, to permit this to be done. We have no doubt whatsoever that there is any prospect of this being negotiated, so we want to sustain its importance to Australia.
Now, as to whether my colleague did discuss his speech with me, no, he did not; but neither did the Leader of the Opposition discuss what he intended to do when he went to Peking. Not only did the Leader of the Opposition raise matters that concern the domestic politics of this country and try to gain the support of the Chinese for the Labor Party cause but he also insulted our allies and particularly the Japanese and the President of the United States. So, Sir, I want to-
– I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister is-
Government members - Oh!
-Order! A point of order has been raised. I call-
– He can look after himself.
-Order! I call the honourable member for Bowman.
– The Prime Minister is abusing question time absolutely. He is not answering the question. If he wishes to make a policy statement, he can make it after question time.
-The point of order is without substance.
– I have said, and I repeat, that honourable members opposite are as unduly sensitive on this matter as they are insensitive on other matters.
I finish therefore by saying that I want to indicate that the substance of what my colleague has said meets with the full approval of myself and, I believe, of all Government members. We want to sustain the American alliance.
I can make one other comment: Initially, it is true that I did state in this House that I had written to Presiden Nixon about the initial Kissinger visit to Peking. Since that date, my relationships with the President have been cordial and close and I could not want him to keep me better informed than I am at the moment.
– My question also is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the problems which have arisen at the General Post Office, Melbourne, in relation to the Freedom From Hunger Campaign. I ask the Prime Minister whether it has been possible to develop an arrangement that could be regarded as satisfactory to the majority of the citizens of Melbourne.
– On Saturday morning, I was telephoned by a member of the Canberra Press gallery and asked whether I knew about the events that had occured on the front steps of the Melbourne General Post Office in the preceding weeks. I had discussions with my colleague the Postmaster-General, who is primarily responsible, and also with the AttorneyGeneral. We decided - I believe very nearly on my direction - that the charges against these young gentlemen should not be proceeded with. But it was also pointed out to me - and this became abundantly clear - that these young gentlemen who are carrying out a very worthwhile service in a very good cause had been joined by members of the left wing-
Opposition members - Oh!
-Order! The House will come to order. There have been far too many interjections during question time this morning.
– They are obviously sensitive about this too. A direction was given that the charges were not to be proceeded with. Simultaneously it was decided that discussions should take place between officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department, Mrs Frost the President, and the Director of the Freedom From Hunger Campaign. They verified what had been said about their lack of control over the left wing elements. Two decisions have been made. Firstly, the PMG has agreed that a security collection box should be installed to permit donations to be made. This box will be under double lock so that it can be opened and supervised only by a member of the PMG Department and an official of the Freedom From Hunger Campaign. This arrangement meets with the approval of the President and the Director of the Campaign. We have found them to be responsible and reasonable people, anxious to help this very worthwhile cause of assisting refugees from East Pakistan.
I have also, as you know, Mr Speaker, asked whether provision could be made for the young men carrying out the same very worthwhile cause to be informed of the facilities that could be made available to them so as to minimise the difficulties that they might face during the vigil that they are conducting outside Parliament House. They seem to me to be very worthwhile young people and if we can in some way relieve their difficulties I think we should do everything in our power to do so.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs 2 days ago in New York which he has condoned. The right honourable gentleman will notice that the Foreign Minister warned his audience of the impact in Australia of the style and the way in which America has acted recently on some issues such as the recent airline dispute over the travel routes of Qantas Airways Ltd. I ask the right honour* able gentleman: Is the Government eminently satisfied with the handling of this matter or has it in fact in any other way, privately or properly, protested to the United States Administration about the handling of it?
– The honourable gentleman obviously has not understood what was said by my colleague the Minister for Civil Aviation. There are certain beneficial clauses in the agreement between the United States Government and ourselves that can be of marked advantage to this country. In the first place this problem has been taken out of the hands of the United States Civil Aeronautics Authority and put into the hands of the Department of State which is responsible for the overall relationships between that country and Australia. Also, we have a provision in the agreement to provide that if the estimates in schedules do not turn out to be of the order that is considered to be probable by the United States Civil Aeronautics Authority, we can take action ourselves either to cancel the agreement or to make variations in it at our discretion. In other words, there are marked advantages in the new agreement compared with the old one.
It is true that we did not get all we asked for. But who does? What I would like to point out is that I believe the officers of both Qantas and the Department of Civil Aviation did the best job that they could have done under the difficult circumstances. They were legislating under very difficult circumstances. I repeat, Sir, that you cannot always get what you want. Nonetheless we believe this to be a satisfactory agreement.
– Mr Speaker, I desire to ask you a question. Is it a fact that a Mr Thwaites has been appointed to the position of Deputy Librarian of the Parliament? Is it a fact that Mr Thwaites formerly served with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation? Is it a fact that you have received, or have you received, complaints from the Australian Labor Party suggesting that because a man has served with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation he is unacceptable to the Labor Party?
-The answer to the first 2 parts of the honourable gentleman’s question is yes, Mr Thwaites has been appointed Assistant Librarian of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. For the benefit of the House I should like to tell honourable members that Mr Thwaites was far above any other candidate for the position in the Parliamentary Library. His qualifications were outstanding. To give honourable members some idea of his academic qualifications and his suitability for the position, I think I should-
– ls this a question without notice?
-I will come to this other matter in a moment when I answer the third part of the question. Mr Thwaites is a Bachelor of Arts, with honours, of the University of Melbourne. He was a Rhodes Scholar for Victoria in 1937. He is a Master of Arts and a B.Litt. of Oxford. He was awarded the King’s Medal for poetry in 1940. His publications include The “Jervis Bay” and Other Poems’ and Poems of War and Peace’. He served with the Royal Navy in the North Sea and in the Atlantic in the 1939-45 war and in 1945 commanded a corvette with the rank of lieutenant-commander. Between 1947 and 1949 he was a lecturer in English at the University of Melbourne, and from 1950 to early 1971 he was with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I believe that Mr Thwaites’s qualifications are undoubted, and I also belive that the fact that he has been with ASIO should not prejudice him in any position that he might seek in the Public Service in which he has served for 20-odd years. He has transferred to a position at the same level.
– What was his library experience?
– I will answer that one, too, if the honourable member likes. The position that Mr Thwaites is filling does not call for him to be a professional librarian, and this applied also to the 2 previous appointees to the Parliamentary Library - Mr Fleming and Mr Moore.
– What was his previous experience in research work?
– I will answer the honourable member too. The work that he is doing in the Parliamentary Library is parallel with the work which he has done for the last 20 years. (Opposition members interjecting) -
-I have been told that the type of work which he will do in the Parliamentary Library is parallel with the type of work which he has done for the last 20 years. The position he filled in ASIO in the last 20 years was, namely, the supervision of staff engaged in research work, analysis and evaluation work, and supervision and editorial duties in relation to the production of reports and research papers. In regard to the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question, 2 members of the Opposition have seen me on this matter, but as is usual in my position as Speaker I never disclose the confidences that are placed in me.
– I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on this matter. Quite often in this chamber you have said that the Chair does not have knowledge of any question that is asked. You have stated on a great number of occasions that you have no knowledge of the substance of questions that are asked. You have stated this on a great number of occasions. Yet I question how this morning you are able to give a list of the qualifications of this gentleman if in fact it was a question without notice.
-I will be very pleased to answer that question. If I were to answer it correctly, might I say, I would have to disclose some of the conversations that I have had with members of the Australian Labor Party, and I do not propose to do that. But once you have been in this House for a little time, if you read newspapers and keep your eyes open it does not take you long to realise what is likely to come up.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister arising from his announcement this week of a welcome increase in nursing home subsidies. I ask the Prime Minister whether, in the course of considering this measure, consideration was also given to increasing the Commonwealth contribution to public hospitals especially in respect of public hospital treatment of pensioners. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth contribution of $5 a day on account of pensioners has remained unaltered for almost 5 years? Is it also a fact that, taking Western Australia as an example, this contribution now represents only onequarter of the public ward charges and about one-eighth of actual public ward costs in public hospitals? Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to statements by the Western Australian Minister for Health to the effect that from a position where the Commonwealth provided free hospitalisation for pensioners the stage has now been reached where free hospitalisation is provided by the State with merely a small Commonwealth subsidy? In view of the primary responsibility of the Commonwealth for pensioner welfare and the severely strained resources of the States, will the Prime Minister undertake to consider remedial action at an early date?
– The statement that I made in the House relating to nursing home care and the care of people requiring nursing attention was restricted exclusively to the matters that were set out in my speech and did not relate to public hospital care of pensioners. In other words, we had a very tight Budget. While I believe that the integrity of the Budget should be maintained to the maximum possible extent, I also believe that where we do get areas of real, very serious need as we find in the case of nursing homes, we will give attention to those areas immediately. But we also have had to delay for the time being - at least until more detailed consideration can be given to it - the whole problem of nursing homes and nursing care attention. I can but repeat what I said before, that my statement relates to that matter and to no other matter.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry assure the House that all possible measures will be taken to prevent the entry of synthetic meat into this country and if, as has been claimed, such a product is available here, urgent and decisive steps will be taken to prevent any further supplies from coming into Australia? Should any similar synthetic product be produced in Australia, will the Minister take action to prevent the use of the misleading word ‘meat’ in the description of this product?
– Meat is imported into Australia subject to quarantine restraints and subject to the tariff that is applicable on either a preferential or a nonpreferential most favoured nation rate. The normal requirements applicable to any imports apply to meat. No distinction is drawn specifically between a synthetic product and a naturally produced product. The honourable member’s question is directed particularly to an area of considerable potential concern for meat producers throughout Australia. In recognition of this concern the Australian Agricultural Council at its last meeting decided to draw to the attention of the Governments involved the necessity to ensure that, in labelling, the word ‘meat’ should refer specifically to the naturally produced product. For this reason there has been correspondence between me, as Chairman of the Australian Agricultural Council, and each of the member Ministers asking them to contact their governments to determine that meat’, as required by State legislation, will refer to a product produced from animals and not in any other way.
In addition, I have written to my colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise asking as to the bearing of the Commonwealth legislation <n that field. It is my belief that the area for concern in Australia is not so much the extent to which synthetic substitutes should be imported here as the extent to which in those countries to which we export meat there might be an increase in consumption. In particular, I think it is of potential worry that in the United States synthetic substitutes might take the place of some of the lean meats and meat for canning that we have traditionally exported to that country for manufacturing purposes. I think it is very necessary on every occasion possible for the Australian Meat Board and producers to ensure that they maintain the quality of their product so that there will be no basis on which those who are using this product can claim that there is reason for them to switch from the product which they now use to synthetic substitutes. I think the honourable member’s question relates to an area in which all meat producers need to be conscious of changing trends.
– I ask the Prime Minister another question concerning his Foreign Minister’s speech 2 days ago to the American-Australian Association. In particular I ask him about the warning which his Minister gave of the impact of his Government’s fortunes in the way America acted in imposing its 10 per cent surcharge on imports. Can the right honourable gentleman indicate any statement by himself or his Ministers protesting against America’s policy on this matter? Have any of his Ministers conferred with Japanese Ministers, as Canada’s Ministers did more than 3 weeks ago, on the effect that this surcharge has had on us and on our principal trading partner?
– The proper way In which this matter should be handled is by direct communication between my colleague the Treasurer and Mr Connally, Secretary of the United States Treasury. What I can assure the honourable gentleman is that there have been detailed discussions between the 2 gentlemen and that my colleague has strongly put the Australian point of view. I think we know pretty fully and pretty accurately exactly what the intention of America is and what that country is likely to do.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the Government been able to reach a decision as to the content of new legislation, other than the necessary stop-gap legislation, designed to control horizontal anti-competitive agreements and practices entered into by foreign corporations and trading and financial corporations? I also ask whether, in view of widespread public interest in this subject and the fact that legislation on such a complicated subject will inevitably take some time to prepare, he might consider when a decision is made, making a public announcement so that the public will be aware of what is afoot.
– The honourable gentleman obviously recognises the complex and difficult nature of the kind of legislation that we intend to introduce into the House in order to take action one way or another against horizontal anticompetitive practices. I can assure him that this is a matter that concerns me and my Cabinet deeply. We have asked the Attorney-General to proceed as rapidly as possible to try to prepare a Bill that we will be able to present to the House.
I am sure that the honourable gentleman would know that our first priority is to produce a viable Bill that relates to existing non-competitive restrictive practices. I will find out from the Attorney-General when it is likely to to be produced and will also ask him whether it is practicable to produce an outline of a Bill that can state the policies on which the Government will proceed in order that this could be submitted to the House and if necessary debated.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. The Minister will be aware of persistent Press reports in recent months that Australian troops have been involved in action against Communist forces in Malaysia near the Thai border. Some reports have referred to casualties and loss of life in such encounters. Has there been any military contact between Australian units and Malaysian Communists? Have Australian units ever been used in any way for internal police operations in Malaysia? What is the area of operations of the Australian unit stationed at Butterworth on a rotational basis? If these reports are without substance what arrangements can the Minister make for better Press liaison facilities at Butterworth to stop dissemination of these disturbing stories?
– I have to admit that the only Press report I have seen on this matter was contained in a Sunday journal last Sunday week and this report was erroneous almost in its entirety. It was based on the fact that there was being conducted monthly a company from Australian and New Zealand units within the ANZUK component at Singapore on rotation. It has been the intention as has been stated by me and the Prime Minister, that companies would rotate solely for training purposes around the vicinity of Butterworth and be stationed there, and that each company in turn would be doing this. There has been no engagement in the manner mentioned by the honourable member. There have been no woundings of Australian servicemen because they have not been engaged in this sort of activity. So I can say that, to the extent that this matter was discussed by that particular Press report, the report was erroneous.
The matter of public relations in regard to forces stationed at Butterworth comes under the control of the Minister for Air and he has, of course, a public relations officer there who in that particular report was quoted as giving information that there was a jungle warfare centre and that other countries were committed there. So, in a nutshell, the Australian activities in the area are confined solely to the rotation of companies. This is part of our agreement under the 5-power arrangement with our ANZUK forces there and it is for training purposes. Our forces have not been engaged in any way in the activities mentioned by the honourable member and the only article I have seen reported falsely on this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts and I preface it by referring to a statement issued by the Minister for the Interior in which he referred to the establishment of an advisory council on the projected use of Commonwealth land. I ask the Minister whether this council will be similar to the land use committees in the States? What will be the responsibilities and powers of this council? Will it deal with all Commonwealth Territories?
– The announcement by the Minister for the Interior dealt mainly with a national park in Arnhem Land. However, I am happy to inform the House that the land use advisory authority mentioned in the Press statement is now to be used in all cases in which there is a need to reconcile conservation and economic development interests. The Government proposes to refer to this body matters arising not only in the Northern Territory, which was the subject of the Minister’s statement, but also all other cases relating to Commonwealth land within Australia.
The Commonwealth proposes that the authority will be headed by an independent chairman, with some officials, and also representatives of both conservation and industry organisations. We hope that by so doing we will be setting an example in environmental matters of this nature because I am certain that in the months to come these conflicts of interest between conservation and economic development interests will be of growing importance to the nation. We believe we should set an example in reconciling these conflicting interests.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. I draw his attention to a report on the States Grant (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act 1969 and point out that of 1,433 units built in the nation only 18 were constructed in Queensland. Is the Minister concerned at the poor record of Queensland in the construction of self-contained units for pensioners? Is the Minister aware that Queensland has one in 6 of all age pensioners but is constructing units for only one in 80? Can he inform the House what action he is talcing to rectify this shocking position?
– The States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Act leaves great initiative to the various State governments which are responsible not only for the timing of construction of these dwellings and their location but for all other matters. Almost the only requirement that the Commonwealth places upon the States is that when the grants are made to the States there be an undertaking by them not to lessen their own activities with respect to dwellings for age pensioners. I have noted that Queensland has not constructed dwellings in the same manner or at the same rate as have the other States. It is not within my power to direct the Queensland Government as to what it should do but I understand that that Government has undertaken measures to speed up construction of these dwellings and I’ hope that that will be done in the near future.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will the right honourable gentle man cause investigations to be made with a view to ascertaining what percentage of trade commissioners representing Australia speak the language of the country in which they are stationed? In future appointments of trade commissioners will the Minister give high priority to ability on the part of trade commissioners to speak the language of the country in which they are to represent Australia?
– When selecting a trade commissioner we do examine his various attributes. One of the important ones would be his general experience in other countries and his capacity to speak the language of the country to which he would be appointed. We encourage our commissioners to take courses in languages. We assist them in crash courses to try to familiarise them with the language of the country to which they might be posted. As to the actual number of people who can speak the language of the country to which they are posted I would have to find that out and let the honourable member know, but I fully appreciate the importance of our trade commissioners being able to converse in the native tongue of the country in which they are stationed because I believe this engenders greater confidence in relationships between them and the people.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In view of the doubts existing in the minds of the general public about the proposal for a film and television school, will he state the Government’s attitude to the matter?
– This was a problem that was dealt with, amongst other submissions, in the last Budget context and was one of several proposals that were temporarily deferred because of the necessity to retain strict monetary controls during this year. In other words, it has not been abandoned but merely deferred for the time being. To take the matter a stage further, within recent weeks I have had discussions with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts and I have pointed out to him that he is to proceed as quickly as possible to collect all the evidence that becomes available to him so that the proposal can be presented to the Government well before the next Budget and not necessarily therefore in a budget context. I think there has been too much misunderstanding about this problem. It has not been abandoned. It is merely being held in suspense for the time being pending a better opportunity to look at it until we find that there has been some reduction in the inflationary pressures in this country.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Treasurer. Before the recent action of the United States of America to stem its monetary crisis was the devaluation insurance rate fixed by the Reserve Bank at the rate of 10c per £Stg100 a month? Is the rate now 25c per £Stg 100 a month? The Prime Minister will be aware that a considerable proportion of this kind of business is written by wool and skin merchants. Does the Prime Minister consider that an increase of this magnitude is justified?
– Ever since 1967 the Government has been looking at the problem of the insurance cover of forward exchange by the Reserve Bank. It should be known to the House that there is no international market for the Australian dollar under which forward insurance cover can be carried out. Therefore the policy that was adopted by the Reserve Bank after consultation with the Government was to free up the exchanges and, firstly, to reduce substantially the restrictions on the free flow of capital and, secondly, to permit forward exchange cover to be carried out. The points that must be made known to the honourable gentleman are these: First, this gives a degree of certainty in the exchanges that otherwise would not be present. The real reason why the change has been implemented has been because of representations by organisations like the Australian Wool Board and other exporting authorities that they should have this degree of certainty. Secondly, and perhaps I should preface it in this way, we have completely changed the method of administration. Now the risk is taken by the banks themselves which have to have a day to day accounting with the Reserve Bank. The critically important thing is that it is done on net balances. I know that this might be difficult to understand but what it does is to cover the forward exchange on both exports and imports and whilst there is this 25c per £Stg 100 it gives the banks the opportunity to set off the possible losses in one way on exports against the possible gains that can be achieved one way or another on imports. It does not necessarily mean that the full amount of 25c per £Stg100 will be necessary. In fact, it seems as though this will not came to pass. I can but say this: I think it is a worthwhile agreement. To my personal knowledge, on the last occasion the Reserve Bank lost about $34m on the foreign exchanges with a counter offset of probably as much as $15m. We do not want this situation to happen again. The system now does provide certainty and it puts responsibility on the trading banks. In my opinion it is a really worthwhile change.
– I address a question to the Minister for Education and Science. Is it a fact that the Government has refused consistently over the years to make its own national inquiry into the needs of primary, secondary, technical and teacher education in Australia? Did it instead ultimately agree to co-operate with State Education Ministers and private education authorities in making what was stated to be a coordinated nationwide survey according to agreed upon criteria? Did not the then Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science participate in reviews of the report before it was presented? Was it not at Commonwealth direction that the survey of private school education was repeated to conform with Commonwealth requirements? Finally, why is it that after all these consultations and opportunities for the Commonwealth Government to influence the report it now proceeds to rubbish it?
-The last part of the honourable member’s question is certainly contrary to fact and contrary to what has happened. The Commonwealth Government has not ignored the report nor has it rubbished it. In fact, the Government has responded in a positive manner to the investigations which have taken place over the last 2 years and to the information that has been made available by the various State authorities. The Commonwealth Government has 2 ways of supporting education in the States: First, by having its own specific programmes, such as for science laboratories or for libraries, and programmes to support teacher education; secondly, by supporting the State recurring funds and the State loan programmes. This often has been the preferred course of State Premiers. It enables the States to get the largest possible amount that the Commonwealth can make available through tax reimbursement grants measures which have been improved greatly over the last 2 years. This assistance has been added to in the last year by the provision of an additional growth tax to the States with the Commonwealth handing over to them payroll taxation. I understand that most have already increased the tax to increase the resources available to them from that tax.
Over the last 2 years the Commonwealth has concentrated on building up the States’ own financial resources. I pointed out that when the estimates of needs for recurrent resources was brought forward the States based their estimates of the shortfall on the fact that with their additional funds available for education recurrent funds would increase by 10 per cent a year. In fact they have increased by a much greater rate than that. In the year before the last 2 Premiers Conferences they had increased by 154 per cent. In the last year, from the State budgets just brought down, funds for education have increased by 17 per cent, much more than the 10 per cent that the State authorities estimated would in fact be available. This is a direct reflection of the increased financial ability of the States resulting from Premiers Conferences and the arrangements that have been made to support the State budgets over the last 2 years, and this represents a very positive result of this particular survey because the information available was taken into account, as I said in the statement, when the Commonwealth was coming to decisions on the degree of support available. This is basically, as T have indicated in the statement, the preferred approach of the Premiers.
If I might mention one or two other aspects of the honourable gentleman’s question, the Commonwealth did co operate. The question of the information relating to independent schools was not referred back and re-drawn, as 1 think was the implication in the question, by Commonwealth direction. The States had themselves made a decision not to make any inquiries or to collect any information in this area, so the Commonwealth collected the information, and that information was tabled when I made the statement. The Commonwealth, in sum, has responded positively to education needs. This has resulted in increased financial ability of the States. This does not mean to say that as resources become available and as policies further develop there will not be Commonwealth initiatives on future occasions. I have no doubt there will be. There has been a very positive response to this survey, as was clearly evidenced by the States’ much greater domestic allocations for education, greater than anyone thought possible when the survey of needs was first envisaged and first launched.
One final point: The Commonwealth had not undertaken its own national inquiry into this area, not so much because the Commonwealth consistently refused to undertake the inquiry as because the States quite deliberately launched the survey of needs approach as their preferred approach. I am not aware that the States, or a majority of the States, want the Commonwealth to launch its own national inquiry in a way which would intrude quite definitely on the States specific area of responsibility.
– My question is directed to Minister for National Development, representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, ls it a fact that world expert opinion favours the establishment of an airport, where practicable, on the seaboard? Will the Minister ensure that Towra Point is included in the sites to be investigated by the committee to be appointed to decide the site for the second airport for Sydney?
– I recall on a previous occasion when I was associated with the Department of Civil Aviation that the Towra Point site, which had been considered earlier, had been specially excluded. To the best of my knowledge this is still the situation. However I realise the problems that the honourable member has raised in relation to airport sites and I will certainly see that the matter is referred to my colleague in another place.
– I want to make a personal explanation on a couple of matters in relation to which the Prime Minister misrepresented me during question time.
– Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker.
– Why is the Prime Minister walking out of the chamber?
-Order! If the House will come to order honourable members will be able to hear the Leader of the Opposition.
– I appreciate the fact that the right honourable gentleman has returned even if he is sitting as far apart from his predecessor as is possible on the same bench. The present Prime Minister misrepresented my Party and me in a reference to the ANZUS Treaty. At the last Federal Conference of my Party in June, the brief reference to ANZUS in the Party’s platform was restated in a fuller form and in a more prominent position. It used to appear halfway down the 2-page foreign affairs platform of the Party. It now appears in the fourth sentence under the overriding principles of foreign policy to which my Party subscribes. The fuller form now adopted is:
The Labor Party seeks close and continuing cooperation with the people of the United States and New Zealand to make -
– Where is the misrepresentation?
– How does this relate to what the Prime Minister said?
-Order! If I recollect the question correctly, the Prime Minister referred to the Labor Party and quoted from the platform of that Party. The Leader of the Opposition is in charge of that matter and I think that he is entitled to make his personal explanation on that basis.
– I framed and I sponsored the change at the Conference. Many of my colleagues here were there and supported this change. The wording now is:
The Labor Party seeks close and continuing co-operation with the people of the United States and New Zealand to make the ANZUS Treaty an instrument for justice and peace and political, social and economic advancement :n the Pacific area.
The Prime Minister downgrades the Treaty. Certainly, it refers to peace -
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will not debate the question.
– I make reference to the fact that the ANZUS Treaty uses not only the word ‘peace’ but also the word justice’.
The right honourable gentleman also, in exculpation of his Minister’s statement 2 days ago in New York to the AmericanAustralian Association, referred to my conduct in China. Sir, I have twice addressed the American-Australian Association in New York and on neither occasion have I paraded party differences within Australia. The Prime Minister stated that, in China, I raised matters of political dispute in Australia. I raised no such matters. The Prime Minister of China made this statement:
Probably because your excellencies are here the Australian Prime Minister declared yesterday that the establishment of diplomatic relations with China is far ofl now.
There are elections in November next year. If there are no proper relations by the time of these elections there will be as soon as we can achieve it soon afterwards.
The Prime Minister of China then said:
They do not want to establish diplomatic relations. He seems to be quite confident. It is probably because your Party is in China.
This may be. I must say even to the credit of my opponents, they are catching up with the realities of life on China to a certain extent. They know Dulles’s policies have failed dismally and if President Nixon says he wants to visit China, can Mr McMahon be far behind?
I did not raise the matter. When if was raised, I turned it as well as I could to make it plain that my Party would welcome the normalisation of diplomatic relations between Australia and China if that could be brought about by the present Government also.
Not for the first time - I have lost count of the occasions on which the right honourable gentleman has said this - the Prime Minister also said that I insulted Japan. 1 therefore must state - I am sorry to have to reiterate it - that the way in which I was received in Japan by the Prime Minister and all relevant Ministers in the political, defence and economic fields is well known to the Government. I was accompanied either by the ambassador, the Minister or senior members of our embassy. A record of the conversations was sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs and copies were sent to me. It is quite clear - and it is known to the right honourable gentleman if he has read his papers and to the relevant Ministers if they have read their papers - that far from insulting the Japanese before or during, they in fact welcomed very much what I had said in China and what I was saying in Japan.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. You will recall that during question time on Tuesday 5th October I referred to 3 cases of meningococcal meningitis at Napperby Station in the Northern Territory. By the way, the number of cases has now risen to seven. I also referred to the grave shortage of water at that station. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) issued a statement on this matter last night in which while not specifically accusing me of having said it, nonetheless included in his statement which is generally quite satisfactory the following paragraph:
Mr Hunt said he was advised that meningococcal meningitis was not a water borne condition.
There is the implication there that I thought that meningococcal meningitis was a water borne condition. I would like to set the record straight by saying that my implication was the lack of water affecting general hygiene, the ability to sterilise in regard to possible contacts with the carriers and sufferers of the disease and, of course, the need to prevent dehydration which would even further depress the already low resistance of the Aboriginal children. May I add that since then I found out that the owner of Napperby Station, Mr Shepherd, is now the campaign director for the local Australian Country Party candidate.
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the question.
– Mr Speaker, I desire to take the opportunity at this time, if I may, to draw your attention to the fact that during the course of debates in the House recently you had-
-Order! What point is the honourable member raising?
– I am raising a point of order in relation to what appeared in yesterday’s Hansard and the proceedings of the House yesterday. During the course of the last few days you have drawn the attention of honourable members to the procedure to be followed when they seek to have certain documents incorporated in Hansard. You have said that the members show them to the Minister at the table prior to making such a request. During the course of a speech yesterday afternoon by the honourable member who preceded me I had cause to make some reference to the document dealing with constitutional review. There was no Minister at the table to whom I could have shown this document.
– There was a Minister at the table all the time.
– I beg your pardon.
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the matter at this stage. He will tell me his point of order.
- Mr Speaker, my point of order is this: At the time I had cause to refer to this document there was no Minister at the table. Subsequently a Minister did move from his normal position in this House to the table.
I wish to ask also for a correction to be made to Hansard. When I first made a request that portion of that document be incorporated in Hansard the Minister agreed. However, it does not appear in Hansard, Sir. A few minutes after that occasion I asked that an additional paragraph of the document be incorporated in Hansard. However, on this second occasion leave was not granted. This is supported by the remarks which appear in Hansard relating to the altercation in the House yesterday afternoon as to whether or not there was a Minister at the table. The Minister in charge of the Bill was not in the House.
-Order! This is not a matter for the Chair. The Chair is not concerned with whether or not a Minister is in the House. The Chair is concerned with the point of order raised by the honourable member in regard to Hansard.
– Mr Speaker, I maintain that Hansard is wrong inasmuch as leave was in fact granted by the Minister who was at the table for portion of the document to be incorporated, but this does not appear in Hansard. I have no quarrel with the second portion because leave on that occasion clearly was not granted.
– I suggest to the honourable member that he might confer with Mr Bridgman, the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, and perhaps arrange to hear a recording of this matter. We will then be able to determine whether the honourable member is correct in what he has said. If this is the case we could correct the weekly Hansard for him. But may I say also that the correct procedure in relation to these matters is for honourable members to show any material that they wish to incorporate in Hansard either to the Minister at the table who is in charge of the Bill or to ask the Leader of the House for approval to have that material incorporated in Hansard. If the material is too voluminous or too complex it is then a matter for the Speaker to determine whether or not it will go into Hansard.
- Mr Speaker, may I ask; What is the position of an honourable member when there is not a Minister in the House or the Leader of the House is absent from the chamber?
– Well, personally I have never known this to occur. A Minister does not necessarily have to be at the table but he can be in the House. The Minister in the House can also -
– Any Minister?
– Yes, that is correct.
– Pursuant to section 12 of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959-69 I present the twelfth annual statement on the operation of the Act and the payment of subsidy during the year ended 30th June 1971.
– For the information of honourable members I present the Defence Report 1971.
– by leave - Honourable members will be aware that in May this year the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) announced the Goverment’s intention to institute an independent non-parliamentary inquiry into the rationale and principles of the repatriation system. This decision was in some measure due to representations made from time to time, particularly by the Returned Services League of Australia, other exservicemen’s organisations and the public, and to the preliminary work done on the departmental review.
Consideration then had to be given to the selection of a suitable person to conduct the inquiry, to the appointment of people to assist him and to the exact terms of reference.
I am pleased to inform the House that the Government decided to invite the Honourable Mr Justice P. B. Toose, C.B.E., of the Supreme Court of New South Wales to conduct the inquiry and that he has accepted this invitation. The Government is fortunate to secure the services of this distinguished gentleman and I wish to record my appreciation of the action of the New South Wales Government which has agreed to make Mr Justice Toose available. Mr Justice Toose has a wide legal and Army background and is eminently suited to the task. He had a distinguished career at the Bar which culminated in his appointment to the Supreme Court Bench, firstly as an acting justice in 1966 to 1967 and subsequently to a permanent appointment in June 1969. He is the author of some wellknown legal textbooks and, prior to his elevation to the Bench, took a great interest in a number of professional and community matters including the Bar Association of New South Wales, the Australian Law Council, the International Commission of Jurists and International Legal Aid Association. He was an Australian delegate to the First World Peace Through Law Conference and has been a Chairman of the Trade Practices Committee of the Law Council of Australia, and Secretary to the General Law Association for Asia and the West Pacific. His other community interests have included Vice-Presidency of the Marriage Guidance Council in New South Wales from 1963 to 1968, membership of the New South Wales Medical Board from 1966 until his appointment to the bench, and membership of the Asthma Foundation.
Turning to his war service, Mr Justice Toose served throughout the 1939-45 war. He was a gunner in the Citizen Military Forces prior to the outbreak of the war and during his service rose to the rank of major in the Royal Australian Artillery, Second Australian Imperial Forces. He was in command of the 2/ 17th Light Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battery in New Guinea and Brigade Major with the Anti-Aircraft Defence, New Guinea Force administration command. He also commanded in New Guinea the 52nd Composite Anti-Aircraft Regiment and for a time served with the American Forces Artillery in New Guinea. Finally, he is Patron of the 52nd Regiment Association and is President of the 2/ 17th Light Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battery Association. I am confident that the appointment of Mr Justice Toose will be well received.
The terms of reference for the inquiry are:
Requests were made to the Government that any independent inquiry should make specific recommendations on rates of pensions. However, the Government decided instead that it would include in the report the collation and presentation of views put to the inquiry on pension rates. The major reasons for the decision on this particular aspect were that it will make known the views of the ex-servicemen’s organisations and the public on pension rates, allowances and benefits; and that in view of the very large sums of money involved in even minor changes in rates payable to over 500,000 clients of the Department, it was considered inappropriate to place on the Chairman of this inquiry the heavy responsibility of reaching conclusions on matters involving such large amounts of Commonwealth money.
At relevant stages of the inquiry the Chairman will have available other eminent people of appropriate diverse experience to assist him on a part time basis. These people will be selected as and when the need arises during the course of the inquiry.
The inquiry will commence as soon as His Honour can be relieved of his present judicial duties. Interested persons or organisations will be invited to submit in writing, in the first instance, any evidence they wish to place before the inquiry. This will be done by advertisement in the Press around Australia. The Chairman of the inquiry may then invite persons or representatives of organisations to give evidence in person, and he will have a discretion to hear evidence either at a public hearing or in private. The dates and places for public hearings will be notified in the Press. In addition to obtaining evidence in this way the Chairman will be free to pursue such other lines of inquiry as he sees fit. In conclusion, I assure the House that when the report is submitted to me it will receive careful consideration by the Government and myself. I present the following paper:
Independent Non-Parliamentary Inquiry into the Repatriation System - Ministerial Statement, 7th October 1971.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– It is almost 30 years since the last comprehensive examination of the operation of the Repatriation Act was made. This was by a joint committee of this Parliament with Mr Reg Pollard as Chairman. It presented its report to the Parliament in January 1943, so it could never be claimed that the Government has acted rashly in initiating its inquiry. The Pollard Committee made its examination of the Repatriation Act at a time when World War II was entering its final years and the Curtin Government was preparing for the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of ex-servicemen. The Pollard Committee did not try to project beyond the complexities of the immediate postwar years.
The strict meaning of repatriation is restoration or return to the native land; accordingly, the primary objective of Government policy after World War II was to get our soldiers back to Australia and reestablish them in the domestic economy. With this objective achieved, the focus of the Act switched to the care and welfare of returned soldiers and the dependants of those who had died. In a sense the term ‘repatriation’ is a misnomer as applied in Australia; the whole range of activities covered under what we call the Repatriation Actis usually designated as veterans legislation in other countries. Largely for traditional reasons the term repatriation has persisted in Australia. This is one example of the urgent need for a comprehensive review of this wide-ranging Act; the title of the Act is redolent of limited periods of Australian history, that is, a few years after World War I and a few years after World War II. In terms of its overall impact, the Repatriation Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation administered by the Commonwealth Government. Its range is so vast that it could be said with fairness to affect a majority of Australian families.
The scope of the Act and the period of 28 years since it was last reviewed make it extremely unfortunate that the Government has delayed for so long in initiating this inquiry. I raised certain matters related to this inquiry when the repatriation legislation was debated in this House only a few weeks ago. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) will recall that this question has been raised by means of our moving amendments to repatriation Bills over a number of years. Our request has been for the establishment of a joint select committee of the Parliament to review the Repatriation Act. In the first place it is regrettable that the Government took so long to announce the terms of reference and the appointment of the person to conduct the inquiry. Apparently the Government wanted a senior judge; I belive that it is fortunate in getting Mr Justice Toose to conduct the inquiry.
What is alarming is the fetish the Government has about insisting on senior members of the bench to conduct these inquiries. These resources are already severely overtaxed. It would be most regrettable if a stage were reached where a government insisted that an inquiry of this sort could be conducted only by a top judge. I make no criticism in this respect except to mention what I believe is a possibility. We could be placed in a position in which an important inquiry could be held in abeyance because of the Government’s insistence that only a top judge could accept these responsibilities.
This legislation is the responsibility of this Parliament. Accordingly when it is revised the Parliament should be responsible. For this reason the Opposition has always moved for a joint committee of this Parliament to make the examination. All too often matters which are the prerogative of this Parliament are delegated outside. Of course there are circumstances where an inquiry by a senior member of the judiciary is appropriate. Examples are the Fox inquiry into bastardisation at Duntroon and the Rapke inquiry into treatment of naval cadets. But where a major piece of legislation which is the responsibility of this Parliament comes up for review it should be done by the Parliament.
Having stressed this point I make no criticism of the appointment of Mr Justice Toose. From the detailed biography given by the Minister his legal, civil and military record appears to be exemplary. Indeed, one would assume that as a result of his activities on behalf of servicemen, particularly those with whom he served during the Second World War, he has maintained his interest in military matters since his discharge from the forces. Therefore one could expect, and I know, that Judge Toose will most certainly conduct an inquiry of this kind with sympathy and understanding towards those with whom he served, and others who served in the First and Second World Wars and the other wars which have followed.
With regard to the terms of reference there is one grave source of disappointment and dissatisfaction. This is the refusal to include any specific recommendation on rates of pension. The reasons given for rejecting this course of action are extremely feeble. Obviously it has been done to prevent any recommendations of pension rates which would embarrass the Government. One of the reasons given is that the inquiry would make known the views of ex-servicemen’s organisations and the public on pension rates. It is then intended that Mr Justice Toose should collate these views and include them in his report. This procedure is open to challenge on two grounds. Firstly, the views of exservicemen and other organisations on pension values are widely known. They could be collated in a matter of hours by a junior clerk. A senior judge is not needed to perform such an elementary and menial task as collating sets of figures already on the public record.
Secondly, it is an insult to a top judge to expect him just to collate these figures and present them to the Government. This was not the practice adopted in the Kerr Committee’s inquiry into service pay rates. The Kerr Committee was given a clear mandate to set new pay rates and the Government has accepted its recommendations and introduced them. Presumably, Mr Justice Kerr will follow a similar line in his inquiry into Parliamentary pay rates and allowances. However, Mr Justice Toose will not be able to express himself on proper levels of pension payments and other benefits for ex-servicemen. This is a notable down grading of the status of this inquiry. It is a clear indication that the Government fears the consequences of any assessment of repatriation benefits by an independent authority.
There is also a clear implication in this tactic that present benefits are much too low and that their values have been eroded sharply in the 28 years since the last inquiry. The excuse given by the Minister that it was not considered appropriate for the judge to shoulder the heavy responsibility of reaching conclusions on matters involving large amounts of Commonwealth money is sanctimonious eyewash. On this line of reasoning no committee of inquiry would ever recommend anything that cost money because of the charge on the Commonwealth. A term of reference specifying recommendations of pension rates has not been incorporated because the Government fears political embarrassment. In the years since the Act was last reviewed, in 1943, Australian servicemen have been committed to three other wars. These have raised new problems which were not envisaged by the Pollard committee.
One of the areas which should be looked at closely by Mr Justice Toose is the impact of Vietnam on the whole structure of the Repatriation Act. In America at the moment there is considerable debate on the medical care of veterans wounded in Vietnam. The basis of this debate is the need to give care and rehabilitation to a large number of very seriously wounded veterans. The point is that many of these men would not have survived in earlier wars. Because of fast evacuation by helicopter, new drugs, new medical techniques it is now possible for men with enormously devastating wounds to survive. This has meant a much greater proportion of 100 per cent disability, or what our terminology calls totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners. In actual fact it is a special rate of pension.
It has been estimated that in the United States there are three times as many permanently disabled from Vietnam as from World War II and there are twice as many from Vietnam as from Korea. The nature of the weapons used in Vietnam has produced many more multiple injuries, many more spinal cord injuries and many. more wounds which are permanently disabling. This raises the problem of matching rehabilitation and care techniques with the medical miracle achieved in the field in Vietnam when the veteran returns home. The same problems will occur in Australia though on a much smaller scale. I do not know whether it is yet possible to assess categories of wounds relative to pension and repatriation benefits for our Vietnam disabled. On the figures available there seems to be a much higher proportion of permanently disabled among the wounded.
For example, in the four months from 1st April to 31st July 1970, 32 Australian soldiers in Vietnam incurred serious disabilities described in the fourth and fifth schedules of the Repatriation Act. Of these, 13 received wounds, injuries and disease involving total and permanent disabling effects. Thb means that one in three of these seriously injured men will automatically be a TPI pensioner. The Act describes them in this way. The other 19 men listed under these schedules are not automatically described as TPI pensioners in the same way. From the nature of their wounds they will qualify for TPI status. We should accept the fact that the Vietnam war will produce a greater proportion of TPI pensioners than any war in Australia’s history, lt is then our duty to evaluate techniques for rehabilitation and re-establishment. These may have been successful in handling the disabled of past wars. They may need substantial changes to cope with the peculiar circumstances of the Vietnam war. This is one particular and important area which I hope will receive special attention from Mr Justice Toose.
In summary the Opposition is pleased that this belated inquiry is about to begin. We would have preferred a Parliamentary committee. 1 acknowledge that exservicemen’s organisations and other interested organisations have pressed for an inquiry of this sort. Therefore, one must accept it as being a reasonable approach on behalf of the Government to accede to that request. In the main the terms of reference are acceptable but the Government warrants severe censure for ducking the issue of having pension and benefit values assessed by an independent authority. These serious reservations apart, the Opposition welcomes the appointment of this Committee. I conclude by making one or two brief observations. I reiterate what I said in relation to the appointment of a very senior judge with special qualifications. I join with the Minister in extending my good wishes for the success of the inquiry. I know that it will be a successful committee of inquiry into one of the most important aspects of government in this country. I have already drawn attention, as has the Minister, to the need for this inquiry and the requests made for it.
Although I have been critical of that important aspect of the terms of reference which denies a qualified person the right to assess pension rates and the extent to which their values have been eroded - if it can be successfully argued that they have been eroded, and I believe it can - I think it is competent for a man of the calibre of Mr Justice Toose, with the evidence that will be placed before him, to be able to recommend to the Government what he believes ought to be the schedules of repatriation benefits and how those schedules should be applied.
Having made that criticism I again acknowledge that the terms of reference will at least provide to those organisations and persons interested, particularly the Returned Services League, members of this Parliament and others, the opportunity to place their views before Mr Justice Toose in relation to the many other matters that have been raised in this Parliament and which 1 believe would improve the existing Repatriation Act and remove some of the anomalies. I refer particularly, of course, to section 47.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr turnbull) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Pay-Roll Tax (Termination of Commonwealth
Tax) Bill 1971.
Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill 1971.
Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Bill 1971.
– I move:
The proposal involves the provision of a central linen service and central sterilising service for 1,500 beds with support engineering facilities, staff amenities and transport facilities. The works comprise stage 1 of a complex to cater for 3,000 beds. A site for the complex has been reserved in the Grace industrial area, 4 miles north of Civic Centre. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $4.865m. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide parliamentary approval for a scheme of deficiency payments to give wool growers an assured return during the 1971-72 season and to appropriate funds accordingly. The broad details of the scheme were provided in my statement to the House on 20th August 1971. This is not a short Bill and in order that members may be aware of its provisions it will be necessary to recapitulate on the earlier statement. It is common knowledge that wool growers’ incomes have fallen markedly. Gross returns from wool declined from $839m in 1968-69 to $547m in 1970-71. During 1970-71 more than half of all wool growers were estimated to have less than $2,000 on which to live after servicing their debts. For a significant section of the Australian community this situation will be reflected in reduced standards of living; indeed it has been estimated that approximately 1 million persons are wholly or partly dependent upon the wool industry for their living.
In these circumstances the Government decided to supplement market returns on wool for a period of 1 year. This will provide a much needed breathing space to enable adjustments to take place with a minimum of economic and social disruption. In addition the scheme will allow some payment of unsecured debts in the rural communities which are so dependent upon servicing the wool industry. During the course of the year it is anticipated that there will be a settlement of the international currency situation and other factors bearing on the price of wool, so that the market outlook will be seen with more clarity. So that there would again be no confusion I shall set out the method for the determination of entitlement for deficiency payments. There will be a notional price schedule for all wool types constituting the Australian clip which would give an average price as near as possible to 79.37c per kilo greasy over the whole season for the full clip. This price is the metric equivalent of 36c per lb.
Certain inferior wool types, making up about 10 per cent of the clip will not receive deficiency payments. At the end of each auction week the Australian Wool Commission will calculate the difference between total proceeds realised for eligible wools offered at all selling centres at which the Commission operated in that week, and the total proceeds which would have resulted if the notional prices had been received for the same wool types. This difference will be calculated as a percentage and applied to the gross value of the eligible woo] sold by a producer to determine the amount of the deficiency payment for each grower. For all wool sold during a week the same deficiency percentage will apply but the actual amount of deficiency payment received by each grower will depend on the market price of his wool.
The scheme will cover wool sold and delivered by a producer in the period 2nd July 1971 to 30th June 1972. Wool which was delivered to brokers but not sold on 2nd July 1971 will be eligible for a deficiency payment when it is sold. Unsold wool on hand at close of business on 30th June 1972 will not be eligible. Wool purchased outside the auction system before 2nd July 1971, to be paid for before that date but not delivered until after that date, will not be eligible for a deficiency payment. However, where there was an agreement made before shearing to sell wool but payment did not become due until after 2nd July 1971 the wool will be eligible for a deficiency payment when it is delivered and full payment is made. For private sales made in the period 2nd July to 31st August 1971 the deficiency rate will be that established by the first week of auctions.
For wool sold at auction brokers will forward to the Australian Wool Commission a list of their clients who sold wool at auction showing the amount of deficiency money payable. This will be calculated on the deficiency percentage for the auction week and applied to the sale value of the eligible wool sold on behalf of each client. The excluded wools will be identified during the normal pre-sale appraisement by the Australian Wool Commission. Before the prompt date the Commission, acting as an agent of the Commonwealth will make the payment to the broker for disbursement to his individual clients. Eligible wool owned by a producer which has been included in a price averaging plan pool during the period of this Act, that is pools 3 and 4, shall receive a deficiency payment. There will be a common deficiency percentage applied to the pool proceeds for each lot of wool sold from a pool, based on the average deficiency payments on wool sold from the pool. There is also provision in the Bill that the Commission may make interim deficiency payments on wool in a PAP pool.
Merchants willing to make deficiency payments will be registered. A first sale to a merchant will attract a payment on the basis of the price in the wool shed on the property. At the time of sale the merchant and grower will sign a document attesting the sale. Registered merchants will claim on the Commission for a deficiency payment and then transmit it to the grower. In the case of an unregistered merchant, when the wool is delivered for resale either to a registered dealer, or at auction through a registered broker, the documents will accompany the wool and will be retained by the registered dealer or broker who will make the claim on the Commission and subsequently pass the deficiency payment directly to the producer. The whole of the Government’s deficiency payments scheme and the market support by the Commission is based on the auction system. The calculation of deficiency payments for private sales on an ‘on farm’ basis as against deficiency payments calculated on a gross value basis for wool sold at auction, should have the effect of encouraging merchants to increase the prices they are prepared to pay to growers which in turn will reinforce the auction floor prices.
For privately sold wool it would not be practicable to have a Commission appraisement to determine for each sale the amount of inferior wool excluded from deficiency payments. Much of this wool loses its identity before it reaches a capital city. The only practicable means of estimating the amount of such excluded wools is by taking account of the average price paid to a producer by a wool merchant. The proportion of the sale proceeds on which the deficiency payment will be calculated for private sales will be progressively reduced as the average price falls below the market price for eligible wools. When the price of any private sale falls below the average market price of wools excluded from deficiency payments it will be regarded as containing only excluded wools and there will be no deficiency payment. The adjustment to take account of excluded wools will be made in accordance with a conversion table contained in the Second Schedule to the Bill which is calculated to have the same average effect as if the wool were appraised by the Commission. Provision is made to vary the conversion table by regulation to take account of changes in the market price on which the table is based.
Where wool is exported by a producer, sold by tender or used by the producer in manufacture, the value for such wool for the calculation of deficiency payment will be the current market value as determined by the Commission on an Australian auction floor basis and the inferior wools will be excluded on the basis of the appraisement. I referred earlier to the inferior wool types which make up approximately 10 per cent of the clip. The aim in excluding these wools was to withdraw support from wools which do not bear the full cost of the disproportionately high sales and handling costs they involve. The Government considered that it would be undesirable to encourage delivery of such wools by increasing their value through the mechanism of deficiency payments.
It will be seen from the First Schedule to the Bill that the excluded wools are primarily locks, crutchings and similar wools which are common to the whole clip and the incidence should be equitable as between growers. Honourable members will note that some change has been made in the wools to be excluded, from the list tabled in the House on 20th August 1971, to ensure that in the present apparent over-supply situation of wool, all growers would share in the exclusion. These wools are easily identifiable by growers and are difficult to mix with eligible wool without being readily detected. Growers who fail to class out these types of wool will be penalised either by having their wool reclassed at their expense or by the lower price received.
In general, the intention is that the deficiency payment will be paid along with the proceeds of the wool and there will be the same legal rights in the deficiency payment as in the sale proceeds unless there is a separate agreement between a producer and a creditor covering the direction of a deficiency payment. Accordingly it is necessary for the legislation to provide who is to get the payment and what are the rights of persons for the payments. This is set out in clause 9 of the Bill. In my earlier statement reference was made to the exclusion of wool on sheepskins from deficiency payments. In this situation the scheme may provide some inducement for shearing of sheep before slaughter. Such a practice could interfere with the local fellmongering of skins and Australia’s overseas trade in sheepskins. Accordingly the Bill provides that wool received from butchers, who purchased the sheep for slaughter, will not be eligible for a deficiency payment. This whole matter will be kept under review.
The payments mechanism will depend upon the active co-operation of persons carrying on business as brokers, registered classing houses, wool merchants and agents who export wool, or who sell wool by tender on behalf of producers. Such persons will be registered on application to the Department of Primary Industry and will undertake certain responsibilities in the documentation of sales, the provision of information and calculations relating to deficiency payments and the passing on of such payments from the Commission to eligible producers. It is not intended that such persons will be paid for their services as all sectors of the wool industry will benefit directly or indirectly from the scheme. However, the wool industry has in recent years become increasingly geared to computers in the calculation of accounts and where the Government is satisfied that a significant cost has been incurred in reprogramming these facilities for the purpose of the scheme it may make some reimbursement. The Government will also meet the costs incurred by the Commission in the administration of the scheme.
The Bill contains the necessary provisions to protect public moneys by way of penalties for fraudulent activities and the recovery of moneys. The measures provided in this Bill give effect to a scheme which is as fair to all growers as can be devised, having in mind the objective of lifting the average price of the Australian clip of wool and the need to preserve equity between growers. At the same time the Government has been mindful to ensure that as far as practicable, the position of the various persons who service the industry has been protected. Coming at a time when the Commonwealth and the States are deeply involved in rural reconstruction this is a most appropriate measure. While substantial restructuring and readjustments in the industry are inevitable the scheme now before the House will provide some cushioning of these effects and will be a steadying influence on those lenders who are concerned to realise on their security. It will allow necessary changes to take place in a more orderly manner.
The Government recognises that the present crisis in the wool industry calls for a number of measures which in aggregate represent a concerted approach to the urgent problems affecting woolgrowers. The deficiency payments scheme should be viewed in the context of this total approach. While marketing, research into industry problems and farm reconstruction are being pursued with all urgency, these are essentially longer term in their effects. Immediate assistance is clearly needed in the present situation. The combined effect of the Commission’s marketing activities and the deficiency payments scheme will be to lift woolgrowers’ returns by some $100m over last year’s market place realisations. This will go far towards preserving the wool industry’s viability and the beneficial effects will be widely felt throughout the whole Australian community of people, particularly in the rural areas. I commend the bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Malcolm Fraser, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill 1971 seeks authority for the provision of $3 Om for the 3 calendar years 1972 to 1974 inclusive to continue the Commonwealth programme of grants for the construction, equipping and stocking of libraries in secondary schools. An amount of $27m was provided for these purposes over the 3 years which began on 1st January 1969, under the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Act, 1968. Our decision to increase the amount available over the next 3 years to $30m reflects the importance the Government attaches to this programme which aims to lift the quality of libraries in secondary schools, government and non-government, to acceptable standards. Experience gained to date as the Commonwealth libraries programme has gathered momentum indicates that the programme has been widely welcomed and already is having a sound educational impact.
Many secondary schools, both government and non-government, have received grants under the Commonwealth libraries programme. The need for the continuation of the programme has been demonstrated by information made available by the States with regard to government schools and by returns from individual non-government schools and detailed reports which have been prepared by members of the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries Committee, which advises me in relation to these schools. Until now, available funds have been distributed on the basis of a formula related to secondary enrolments and State populations. We are changing this method of allocation to take advantage of the experience we have gained in both the science facilities programme and the first 3 years of the libraries programme.
The amount available will be divided overall between the government and nongovernment schools in Australia in proportion to the secondary enrolments in those sectors. The amount to become available in this way to government schools will be $22.576m. This $22.576m will be divided between the States in proportion to their secondary enrolments and not, as now, on the basis of population. As at present, the States will determine how this money will be distributed between individual government schools, within broad general programmes which 1 approve.
I turn now to the non-government schools. These will receive the balance of $7.423m which is in direct proportion to their secondary enrolments. The aim of the libraries programme has been to raise the standard of library provision in all secondary schools to acceptable levels and what is required to do this will be the criterion applied in determining how much money will be paid to a particular nongovernment school. Honourable members will probably know that the standards the Commonwealth regards as acceptable have been determined on the advice of a committee - the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries Committee - made up of experts in the provision of libraries in the schools. These standards have been widely disseminated and are set out in the publication ‘Standards for Secondary School Libraries’ which I would be happy to make available to any honourable member requesting it.
Because the amount to be paid to a non-government school reflects an objective assessment of what is the reasonable cost of raising its existing facilities to an acceptable standard and because there is a wide variation in the standards of existing facilities, there is also a wide variation in the entitlement of individual schools. From information made available from nongovernment schools and from the reports from visits by members of the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries Committee to the vast majority of these schools, it has been possible to ascertain with a fair degree of accuracy what will be required to raise all non-government schools to acceptable standards or, to put it another way, what will be the eventual entitlements of non-government schools under the programme. lt is the Government’s view that the most equitable and effective way of distribution is to take advantage of the information available and to allocate funds among non-government schools in such a way as to make the same relative impact during the triennium on the requirements of each sector, both Roman Catholic and other than Roman Catholic in each State. The sum of $7.423m will be divided between the Roman Catholic and other than Roman Catholic non-government schools in each State so as to reflect the proportionate entitlement of each sector.!. Each sector will receive that proportion of the available sum which would enable them all to progress at the same rate’ towards the achieving of acceptable standards in all non-government schools. To illustrate, if what is required to raise a particular sector of the non-government schools to acceptable standards is 10 per cent of what is required to raise all nongovernment schools in Australia to those standards, that sector will receive in the next triennium 10 per cent of the $7.423m.
I shall continue to rely on advice from the various State advisory committees, of which there is one for each sector in each State, as to the timing and distribution of grants to those non-government schools. The decision as to the present proportionate entitlements of the sectors of nongovernment schools, is not rigid. We realise that as the programme continues developments in individual schools will change the entitlements of those schools. At the end of the next 3-year period the overall position will again be assessed carefully and there is provision in the Bill for variations to be made during the 3 years to the amounts allocated to the various sectors.
The proposed distribution of the $30m available from 1st January 1972 to 31st December 1974, is set out in the Schedule to the Bill. The following table which, with the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard, sets out the distribution of funds for each category of school in each State if the funds were evenly divided on an annual basis.
I would point out, though, that I think it is unlikely that the expenditure will run at an even rate in that form although that would be the objective.
As I just mentioned, this Bill varies from the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Act 1968 in that it gives the Governor-General authority to make regulations varying the amount payable to the States each year in respect of nongovernment secondary schools, by transferring funds from one category of nongovernment school to another and from one State to another. It also presents in its Schedule considerably more detailed information as to how available funds are being distributed. The Bill ensures that the Minister will continue to present each year to Parliament a full report on the programme’s progress during the preceding year. I take this opportunity to thank State governments, which have given their willing cooperation to the successful administration of the programme, the State advisory committees and the members of the Commonwealth Secondary Schools Libraries Committee whose efforts have been unflagging. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Beazley) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Peacock, and read a first time-
– I move:
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to a borrowing by the Commonwealth of $US11,310,400 ($A10.1m) from the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the Boeing Company, and to an appropriation of the Loan Fund of an amount not exceeding $A1 3,1 50,000 to assist Qantas Airways Limited in financing the purchase of not more than 2 Boeing 747 jet aircraft and related equipment, spare parts and services. The Bill also contains a minor amendment to the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1968.
The loan agreement with the ExportImport Bank and Boeing appears as the First Schedule to the Bill. The proceeds of this loan will assist Qantas in financing the purchase of a fifth Boeing 747 aircraft and related equipment, spare parts and services estimated to cost in all $US29.3m (SA25.7m). Honourable members will recall that the Commonwealth has arranged loans totalling $US113m (SA99.Im) to assist Qantas in financing the purchase of its first 4 Boeing 747 aircraft. These loans were approved by the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1968 and the Loans (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1971.
The general arrangements for this borrowing from the Export-Import Bank and Boeing are similar to those approved by Parliament for other loans for Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines in recent years. The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first instance, and the full proceeds of the loan will be made available to Qantas on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer pursuant to clause 7 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth will, as usual, assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
Drawings on the loan will commence as soon as the legislation has been enacted and the bulk of the funds will be drawn in September 1972, when the aircraft is due for delivery. In accordance with normal lending practice in the United States, a commitment fee of one-half of one per cent per annum is to be paid on the undrawn amount of the Export-Import Bank loan. The Export-Import Bank loan is to be repaid in 7 semi-annual instalments commencing 15th November 1979. The Boeing loan is repayable in 4 semiannual instalments commencing 15th May 1978. Interest on the Export-Import Bank loan will be at 6 per cent. Interest on the major part of the Boeing loan will be at 6i per cent with the balance at 6 per cent. The terms and conditions of the loan have been approved by the Australian Loan Council.
It will be noted by honourable members that the agreement with the Export-Import
Bank and Boeing does not contain a provision headed ‘Special Representations, Warranties and Covenants’. Such a provision appeared in the agreement with the Export-Import Bank shown as the First Schedule to the Loans (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1971. Following criticism of this provision by honourable members representations were made, successfully, to the Export-Import Bank for its deletion. However, the Export-Import Bank has asked for a letter from Qantas stating that it is not Qantas’ intention to use the aircraft principally in a Communist country (as defined in section 620(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended). The terms of this letter are at present being negotiated with the Bank. I expect to be able to table the text of this letter when the Bill is debated. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) will be happy with that arrangement.
– The Opposition will be happy as long as it receives the text some days before the Bill is to be debated and not on the eve of h.
– I said that 1 expect to be able to table it when the Bill is debated. The honourable member knows that the Government is not the sole party in this. As I have already mentioned, the other main prupose of this Bill is to appropriate loan fund by an amount not exceeding SA 13,150,000 to assist Qantas in financing the purchase of a fifth and sixth Boeing 747 aircraft and related equipment. This amount represents the Australian currency proceeds of a recent public bond issue by the Commonwealth in Europe of 15 million European units of account (equivalent to $US15m).
As this loan was the subject of Press statements by the Treasurer dated 20th July 1971 and 5th August 1971, I do not propose to dwell on the mechanics of this issue, except to say that it offers the borrower a considerable degree of protection against currency revaluations. Briefly, the loan carries an interest rate of 8 per cent and was issued at 99) per cent, with repayment over 15 years. The repayment provisions give an average life of approximately 10i years. The terms and conditions of the loan were approved by the Australian Loan Council. The terms and conditions on which the Commonwealth will lend the proceeds of this loan to Qantas provide that Qantas will pay to the Commonwealth sufficient funds to enable the Commonwealth to meet, on the due dates, interest, principal and other payments required under the Loan Agreement The loan will therefore involve no net charge on the resources of the Commonwealth.
As I have mentioned, part of the proceeds of the unit of account loan are intended for the purpose of assisting Qantas with the purchase of a sixth Boeing 747 aircraft estimated to cost approximately $US29m ($A25.4m). Qantas has entered into a contract with the Boeing company for the purchase of this sixth aircraft with an option to cancel delivery at any time on or before 1st July 1972. In the event of cancellation (in which case Qantas will forfeit the initial downpayment of $US60,000 already made), Qantas will apply the entire proceeds of the unit of account loan to financing the purchase of the fifth aircraft
Finally, the Bill contains a second schedule which details a minor amendment to the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Act 1968. The purpose of the amendment is to provide an extension from 30th November 1971 to 28th February 1972 of the final date on which drawings can be made under the Loan Agreement approved by that Act. This extension will enable Qantas to draw the loan in full. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– The Minister stated in his second reading speech that he hopes to table in the House a letter which is to be exchanged between Qantas Airways Ltd and the American Government concerning the use of the aircraft. I accept his assurance that the Opposition will be provided with a copy of that letter prior to the commencement of debate on the second reading of the Bill. Can the Minister also advise me of the noise certification level of the engines in these aircraft? This should not provide any problem for Qantas. The information should be readily available and I ask the Minuter also to make available that information to members of the Opposition prior to the commencement of the second reading debate.
Debate (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1971-72 In Committee
Consideration resumed from 6 October (vide page 1988).
Department of the Treasury
Proposed expenditure, $103,984,000.
Advance to the Treasurer
Proposed expenditure, $25,000,000.
– The break-up of the proposed expenditure of $103,984,000 for the Department of the Treasury is shown under the headings of Administration, Commonwealth Taxation Office, Taxation Board of Review, Office of the Superannuation and Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board and the Bureau of Census and Statistics. I would dearly like to spend 10 minutes discussing each of these Departments. I mention the Bureau of Census and Statistics. It is the wish of the Opposition that an in depth inquiry be made into the whole aspect of poverty in our community and of course this particular section of the Treasury - the Bureau of Census and Statistics - would be vital in such a task. The proposed expenditure for the Office of the Superannuation and Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board has been discussed recently in other debates in this Parliament. However, I reiterate that the Opposition believes that the Government has been treating this on an ad hoc basis by bringing certain payments up to date for those who retired before 1968, whereas the whole aspect of superannuation needs thorough investigation. The Opposition is looking forward to the report of the committee which is now examining the question of defence forces retirement benefits.
When examining the administration of the Treasury, I am reminded of my attitude and that of my colleagues to the structure of government as it has been arranged by the present Liberal-Country Party Government. Policies are formed on an ad hoc and temporary basis in many different departments. One finds the Department of Trade and Industry announcing a policy which conflicts with a policy that has been decided upon almost at the same time by the policy making division of the Treasury. The De partment of Primary Industry also is responsible for policy making. One could go through a list of Government departments in this country which make independent policy decisions. The only co-ordination that is supposedly taking place is at Cabinet level and honourable members can imagine just what form that co-ordination would take.
I raise as only one example the decisions that are made by the Department of Immigration to indicate how this gells or does not co-ordinate with the decisions that are made in Treasury from time to time about the rate of growth of the economy. I mention these matters in passing merely to emphasise that this is a Government which makes ad hoc decisions whereas one of the features of the Australian Labor Party when it takes over the Treasury benches will be that it will co-ordinate the policy making of this country. Such co-ordination should be carried out in the present structure by the Treasury but it is not being done. The present set up is a ‘HeathRobinson’ one and I hope this gives the right impression of what is happening in this country at present.
However, 1 pass over those matters to spend most of the time available to me on the subject of taxation, because I believe that the policy of the Labor Party - the alternative government of this country - on this subject is not as well known as it should be. At its Federal Conference in Launceston in June this year, the Labor Party passed a comprehensive motion on the subject of taxation. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the following motion:
Resolution for Federal Conference to be included in Report rc: Taxation
Recognising that the present Income Tax Act is a patchwork of amendments to an old Act, that Tax legislation is a means of regulating the level of economic activity in a changing community as well as collecting funds to finance government expenditure, that the requirements of a good tax system are efficiency, equity (based on the principle of ‘capacity to pay’) and simplicity of control, that Australia’s personal income, company and other taxes abound in discriminations and hence seriously impair the productivity of the economy, that the erosion of the personal income tax base by, for instance, allowing people in business to claim as allowable deductions unreasonable expense accounts and to split their taxable incomes with other members of their families while not allowing this privilege to others, this leading to gross inequity in the distribution of the taxation burden; an Australian Labor Government will:
This resolution on policy commences by mentioning in fairly short terms the principles of Adam Smith in the matter of taxation. Almost 200 years have elapsed since the time of Adam Smith. The great economist set out the 4 principles by which in his opinion the quality of a tax should be judged. They were, firstly, equality. Sometimes we call it equity now. He said that subjects should contribute to the support of the State as nearly as possible according to their ability. Secondly, there is the principle of certainty, not arbitrariness, of application. Thirdly, there is convenience of payment, and fourthly, economy of collection or efficiency. It is well to remember these principles when we look at and examine the present Income Tax Act, which is an abomination of an Act. I would say that it is one of the most difficult Acts that we have to interpret and study in our country today and, of course, it is an Act to which almost every citizen is obliged to apply his mind at some stage of the year. The Labor
Party has I think wisely decided that it is not possible for members of the Opposition, without the benefits that government gives, to be able to collect the necessary information on which to base a detailed policy, to lay down details of what the taxation structure will be, even if we were laying down that structure for today, let alone for a period after the next election.
So we mention 4 matters which we think should be attended to on our taking over government. One is unharnessing the existing talents within the Taxation Office and other sections of government in order to bring about necessary reforms to apply those principles of Adam Smith. It is my contention that there is tremendous talent in the Taxation Office and other areas of government waiting to bring about greater equity in our taxation system today. A lot of the reforms which should be brought in and which I believe the Government knows ought to be brought in are not brought in. Because of the nature of the support that the Government commands, the nature of those who support it to keep it in government, the Government is unable to bring these reforms in. What I am saying is that those who are on higher incomes support the present Government. They are the people who would be hit most if an equitable taxation system were instituted. Consequently this Government finds it difficult to bring equity to this field.
Secondly, we believe that the Government ought to appoint a committee of inquiry with wide terms of reference to investigate this whole field of taxation. I have in mind such a committee as the Carter Committee in Canada. I know that such a committee of inquiry would take a number of years to report because taxation is a most complicated field, but it is high time that we had such a committee because we want to set the pattern of taxation for the next 2 decades or for at least a decade and a half rather than ricochet from one immediate problem to another. Taxation is not something that one can change overnight. People order their affairs in order to take advantage or to make best use of the existing taxation legislation, and people cannot be upset overnight by vast changes of the taxation legislation. But if we have a committee of inquiry reporting as to what are the long term aims of the
Government in the field of taxation these can be brought about slowly in succeeding budgets: but at the same time this is not sufficient in this field of taxation.
We believe, as indeed I notice the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) believes, that there ought to be a committee of this Parliament also looking into these taxation affairs, looking at the inequities in the legislation and searching for shorter term remedies. This committee would be well helped by a third committee in this field, namely a continuing body such as the continuing body existing in Canada which is known as the Canadian Taxation Foundation, and which of course in Australia I hope would be known as the Australian Taxation Foundation. It would be made up of members of the professions interested in this field - the legal profession and the accounting profession - and also people from commerce and industry as well as citizens outside these areas who are interested in this field of taxation. A study of taxation is a continuing matter and requires all 4 of these arms, harnessing talents within the Taxation Office.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I listened with interest to the contribution made to this debate by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford). I am in general agreement with him on one point, but on another point I think he may have fallen into an error of fact. The honourable member suggested to the Committee that not enough was being done inside the Commonwealth Taxation Office to rearrange its activities with a view to being able more efficiently to cope with the increased demands made upon that Office by reason of the greatly increased burden placed upon it resulting from a number of activities on the part of taxpayers including activities designed to avoid the payment of tax. All I want to say about that matter is that I think the honourable member did fall into an error of fact.
If the honourable member had consulted the forty-ninth report of the Commissioner of Taxation for the year 1969-70 he would have found that during that year a major review was undertaken of the upper executive structure in the Commonwealth Taxation Office. The structure of the Office was reorganised. Additional senior officers were appointed. Part of the purpose of this general reorganisation was to establish a Policy and Legislation Division. On page 8 of that report a chart is embodied. According to the chart, the Policy and Legislation Division is charged with the responsibility of controlling policy considerations in the Taxation Office associated with proposals for a new or amended legislation other than matters relating to classification and exemption in the area of sales tax.
The honourable member for Adelaide went on to suggest - here I do agree with him - that in this country .now we should be considering the appointment of a committee to inquire into the whole taxation system. I agree with that suggestion. The relevant facts, it seems to me, are these: In December 1959 the Government appointed the Ligertwood Committee. . Within 18 months that Committee produced a most valuable report on a number of aspects of the Commonwealth taxation system. I need not bother the Committee with the terms of reference of the Ligertwood Committee. They were wide, but in one respect they were restricted. From my reading of the terms of reference, there was not committed to the consideration of the Ligertwood Committee the question of the wisdom or otherwise of altering the taxation laws of the Commonwealth so as to impose some form of capital gains tax. I am not advocating in this Committee at this stage the imposition of a capital gains tax. I am saying, however, that in my judgment this is a question that is well worth looking into.
The position appears to me to be this: It is now 10 yeaTs since the Ligertwood Committee presented its report. In that time, the ingenuity of those professional people who advise taxpayers how best to avoid the incidence of taxation in its various forms, but particularly income tax, has not lain fallow. Those people have been busy in the intervening 10 years and many taxpayers have avoided the payment of a great deal of tax. The law reports are an eloquent page of history in this respect. Great problems have arisen because of judicial interpretation of section 260 of the
Income Tax Act. This is the section wirier strikes down arrangements or agreements made with intent to avoid the payment of tax. Without going into the fine detail of judicial decisions - one just cannot do that in a 10 minute speech - I think it is fair to put the position, in a summarised form, in this way: Section 260 is perhaps a less useful weapon as a result of judicial interpretation - I make no criticism of the bench in this respect - than the people who framed section 260 intended it to be.
In Canada in 1966 a Royal Commission - the Carter Commission - wa appointed to investigate the taxation system generally. In the result, that Commission came forward with a suggestion that is being substantially implemented for the introduction in Canada of a moderate capital gains tax. It is said by opponents of capital gains tax that such a tax is essentially unjust because it taxes productive resources. That argument has no great appeal to me because it seems to me out income tax laws are so framed as to tax, and to tax very substantially, productive resources. People who, by themselves or through their parents, have paid money for a good education so as to acquire an ability to earn a high rate of income have, in a very real sense, their productive resources taxed. I have never heard it argued against a high rate of income tax that this is unfair because productive resources are being taxed. That is, after all, what is being done.
While there are arguments for. and against a capital gains tax - and I would not wish to express myself firmly in favour of its imposition at this stage - I do believe that the arguments should be investigated. It seems to me that as it is a long time since an independent committee of inquiry investigated our taxing structure and its operation the time has come to appoint another committee of the same kind as the Ligertwood Committee. In making that suggestion, I am not seeking in any way to denigrate the good work that, I understand, is being done and has been done over the last year inside the Commonwealth Taxation Office in the way of investigating anomalies with respect to tax avoidance. The published cases of tax avoidance, the ones which get into the law reports, are probably, I think, only the tip of the iceberg.
Tax avoidance, although it is perfectly legal, is essentially inequitable. I doubt whether, with the best will in the world and the great dedication that we know there is among officers of the Commonwealth Taxation Office, the resources of that Office are sufficient in themselves to do ali the work that ought to be done in the way of investigating tax avoidance and suggesting remedies designed to stop it as far as possible. Tax avoidance in one form or another is an inseparable concomitant of any system of taxation. No government and no system of taxation can abolish it entirely. Human ingenuity, will always reach out to create new loopholes where old ones are blocked up. But I question whether the process of blocking up loopholes is proceeding fast enough. The report of the Commissioner of Taxation for the year ended 30th June 1970 indicates very plainly if one reads it that despite the structural reorganisation within the Commonwealth Taxation office the resources are still pretty thinly spread. Therefore I suggest that the Government give urgent consideration to the question of appointing a committee. I do not think it is sufficient to commit this large and very technical problem to a committee of the House although I do not wish for one moment to deprecate the very valuable and constructive suggestion made by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) in his speech last night on the estimates of the Parliament. I think there is room for such a committee to work alongside an expert committee of the type that I have suggested.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– My contribution to the consideration of the Treasury estimates deals with the discrimination to which our society subjects single women of various categories in obtaining finance for housing. I refer to women who are divorced or separated with or without children. Also I refer to women who may not want to marry and who may want to retain their freedom and independence. There are other women who through no fault of their own have not married. They would have accepted marriage but for the fact that the person of their choice did not come along. Why do we treat these people as second class citizens? I think that this is a question that all honourable members should consider.
Of course, lending authorities may argue that there is no discrimination whatever against women who are the heads of households if they wish to obtain finance for housing. In practice, however, women are discriminated against in various ways, both direct and indirect. This occurs, firstly, because society encourages marriage in the ‘typical’ family. Secondly, they are discriminated against because of a persuasive and difficult to pin down conviction that women, irrespective of their economic positions, are poor financial risks.
The young couple, married or intending to marry, are assumed by. all. parties involved to have a right - almost a duty - to set up their ‘dream’ home in the suburb in which they will live while paying off that house, as we know, over the course of many, many years. A government is in part judged by how far it makes this possible. Honourable members on the Opposition side of the House have claimed, I think quite successfully, that more generous loans at lower interest rates should be made available. However, banks and building societies advertise their ability to further aim under a picture of a young, attractive pair agog over the ‘benefits’ available to them. The Commonwealth homes savings grant scheme allows divorced people and widows under 36 years of age with one or more dependent children to qualify for a housing grant. But it does not permit a single female or male to be eligible for this grant.
In Canberra the Department of the Interior is to provide a $9,000 housing loan - this loan will be available under the recent Budget to people who are married, engaged or have dependants and who can meet various other conditions such as working in the Australian Capital Territory and being in regular employment. If applicants are unable to meet the financial’ requirements of a 10 per cent equity in the house and the ability to make repayments, the Department will still give the loan provided a suitable guarantor can be found. The Department of the Interior will grant a loan to a financially eligible woman who is looking after children or providing a home for her aged parents. However, it will not give a loan to a single woman or man, although there have been certain exceptions to this rule. Of course, there are always exceptions. However, generally speaking, the story in the case of single women or men is always the same. Whether it be in regard to Canberra’s Department of the Interior, the savings banks or the terminating building societies throughout Australia, women are discriminated against.
Most people in Australia require an additional loan from private sources to enable them to finance their housing arrangements. For example, the maximum loan today from a savings bank is $9,000. A second mortgage of $4,000 can be obtained, which brings the total loan to $13,000. Yet, in the Sydney metropolitan area the average cost of land and a dwelling is about $19,000. The position of home buyers is difficult. However, single people must obtain all of their finance from private sources.
In practice, banks and other agencies that provide housing finance habitually require a woman, whatever her age or financial circumstances, to have the backing of a guarantor. When questioned the lending agency will say that this is because a woman may get married or become pregnant and then will find it difficult to meet her repayments. The woman’s denial - and some women have pointed out the biological impossibility of their becoming pregnant - produces no change in the demand for a guarantor. It is difficult to estimate the anger and humiliation of a comfortably off independent woman who has to ask her son, brother or some other man to guarantee her loan. While not directly relevant, but perhaps illustrating the pervasive conservatism towards women working, most private lending agencies will not consider a wife’s income when assessing the finances of a couple wishing to borrow. This attitude is said to be because of a fear that a wife will become pregnant and cease work. It is difficult to accept this reasoning at face value, given modern effective methods of birth control.
In any case, the typical relative earnings of husband and wife mean that there would be far more difficulty in meeting repayments if the husband became ill or had an accident than if his wife became pregnant. Yet; the’ husband’s state of health and/or the risk undergone in his employment are scarcely considered when assessing the couple’s eligibility for a loan.
Those women who financially can meet the requirements of lending agencies yet fail to be granted a loan unless they have a guarantor can be considered to be discriminated against, as women, by lending agencies. The difficulties encountered by deserted wives and women with dependent children in obtaining housing finance occur not only because of their sex but also as a result of their poor financial position. A recent survey in Melbourne reported that the incidence of poverty among families without fathers was ‘substantially higher than in almost any other group in the community’. Women in this category form a substantial proportion of those aided by the State housing commissions.
Max Neutze reported that of the housing commission flats investigated in Sydney 36 per cent were occupied by unmarried heads of families, many of them widows or deserted wives. Neutze states that 44 per cent of the heads of households living in private flats were either single, widowed, divorced or separated. However, this figure includes young men and women who would as yet be financially unable to be interested in acquiring a house. Indeed, some women, especially those without children, may prefer to live in a flat rather than a house because flats tend to be more available closer to their employment and require less maintenance.
Might I point out also that there may be women - creative women - who want to live in a house, to have their garden, to create beauty and to experience the changing seasons in that garden. It seems to me that if we are to have a free society then women are entitled to have their freedom whether they are married or single. At present women are not free. They are discriminated against whether they be single or married. I think it is about time that this Parliament, this Government and the financial system as a whole looked afresh at the question of women, particularly single, divorced and separated women.
– I rise to speak in this debate in the Committee of the House on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1971-72. I think what I have to say has no relationship to the matters raised by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) who just resumed his seat. I shall proceed to deal with some references that have been made in recent times by some of my colleagues in this place and by some other colleagues in another place.
During recent times . and particularly during this debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1971-72, there have been many references to the need for further committees within both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. The Parliament is now faced with a situation in which there has been a proliferation of committees in the Senate: and within the House of Representatives. In recent years there has been established in this House a number of select committees which have dealt with matters of great significance to Australia. Members of this Committee will be familiar with the details of those select committees and their work. However, in February of this year the Commonwealth Government announced to the nation policies designed to counter the economic virus of inflation in the Australian community.
These policies had a profound effect upon the Commonwealth civil service and practically all of the departments of State within that service. This meant that the development of the departments had to be restricted and the growth of the membership of the civil service strictly limited. As Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate, no-one is better placed than I am to indicate that I am conscious of the effect of these restrictions. I have seen evidence of their effect upon the civil service. We are aware of the shortage of skilled personnel in almost every profession in our community, and we should be able to understand that in this environment now is not the time for the Commonwealth Parliament to be seeking to extend its influence and thus create unnecessary burdens for the departments of Slate. I am sure that this Committee of the House would not quarrel with the definition of the role of parliament which emerged from debates in the House of Commons on 4th November 1970. I quote from those debates:
Parliamentary control means influence, not direct power; advice, not command; criticism, not obstruction; scrutiny, not initiative, and publicity, not secrecy.
I have heard those words before and I know that they are very dear to some of the distinguished honourable members on this side of the chamber. The quotation continues:
The House of Commons Chamber-
And here I would say that this applies also to the House of Representatives, andI emphasise that point- must remain the centre of Parliament -
As does the House of Representatives- and the main battleground of political controversy. But the Chamber is inappropriate for a deep investigation of problems andis often inappropriate for close argument.
My colleagues the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) have indicated that they believe that a new and extra committee should be established to deal with the Estimates and possibly with expenditure. My colleague the honourable member for Isaacs stated:
Our present control of public expenditure through the Public Accounts Committee is directed almost entirely to the legal aspects of control.
I wish to refute this and to point out that the Public Accounts Committee Act, in section 8, provides that the Committee should examine, inter alia, the accounts of receipts. This would enable the Committee to conduct examinations in the field of taxation, but not to the extent that they would relate to questions of taxation policy. In order to clarify this point I propose to quote from the Public Accounts Committee Act the duties of the Committee so that once again my colleagues, I trust, will be familiar with those duties. I know that they have read many of the 130-odd reports which the Committee has presented to this House. The duties of the Committee are:
I have referred to the question of taxation which has been mentioned and which is very much related to the Treasury section of the Estimates. Taxation in general is a matter of Government policy and no government could or should expose its tax policies as such to a committee of the Parliament formed on an all-party basis. In the few moments remaining to me I return to the question of expenditure. For many years the Public Accounts Committee has directed its attention to the examination of and the reporting upon the efficiency and economic operation of departments and statutory authorities within the parameters determined by Government policy which is carefully recognised at all times by the Committee as not being a subject upon which the Committee itself should deliberate. The aim of the Committee is to ensure that as far as possible the taxpayer obtains the greatest possible value per $1 spent in the administration of the Commonwealth.
– It is the best committee in the House.
– I thank the honourable gentleman for his interjection. This is evidenced by the range and variety of the 132 reports which have been presented to the Parliament by the Committee since 1951. Some of these reports relate to Treasury Minutes which embody the action taken by the Executive to implement the recommendations of the Committee. From its range of inquiries and the subsequent action taken by the Executive the Committee has demonstrated its very great value to the Parliament as a potent force operating on behalf of the Parliament. The Committee makes it clear to the civil service and to all the departments of state that the Parliament is paramount in Australia. But this is not to say - and I do not for one. moment imply - that the horizons and scope of activity of the Public Accounts Committee should not be widened further in the interests of the Parliament, if it is so desired.
Indeed, such a course appears to have more to offer, in terms of economy and efficiency of the resources of the Parliament itself, than the alternative of creating further committees which, should they be established, undoubtedly would place severe strains on the resources of this House and also of the civil service. In practical human terms there is an actual limit to the capacity of houses of parliament to proliferate committees, duplicating functions and creating more and more demands upon the limited human resources available.
– We are debating the estimates for the Department of the Treasury, and in the short time of 10 minutes at my disposal I want to deal with 3 subjects. Firstly, I want to refer to the estimated expenditure for this year on providing assistance for the gold mining industry, lt is a very substantial and unwarranted reduction on the actual expenditure of last year and an even more substantial reduction on expenditure in 1967 and 1968. Last year the expenditure amounted to approximately $2. 9m, but the estimate for this year is the unrealistic figure of only $1.9m, a reduction of almost Sim. Of course, this simply shows that the Treasury is completely aware of the decline which must take place in the industry under the present rate of assistance. That Sim represents a reduction of 125,000 ounces of gold and a loss of well over $4m in export return and value to the industry. It is a clear indication of just how serious the decline will be in all respects. It is a decline which could be prevented if the Government were prepared to grant just that little bit of extra help which would not only bring about an increase in production but also, much more importantly, would mean that many more men would be employed and many more families would be retained in or attracted to the areas concerned.
It is a normal procedure in estimates debates for the Minister in charge of the particular department or his representative to answer any queries, suggestions or criticisms offered by honourable members during the course of the debate. For that reason I raise the subject of assistance to the gold mining industry in the hope that the Minister will give me soma definite answers and information. I remind him that several weeks ago the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) assured us that he would give the matter further consideration. To this day we have heard nothing further from him. Because of its value m the employment field, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) should also be very vitally interested in ensuring the continuation of the industry. In that regard I would like to point out that the deterioration now being experienced in the world market for aluminium has brought a report from Alcoa of Australia Ltd showing that between now and July of next year that company will be retrenching at least 1,500 men from its projects in West: ern Australia alone.
In addition, the President of the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia has made it very clear that we must expect a lull in nickel sales during at least the next 3 or 4 years. This also may cause a situation in which there will be no demand for additional workers in that industry. Further, during the 18 months up to March approximately 4,000 farmers, share farmers and farm workers were obliged to move away from their normal source of living and seek employment elsewhere. Unfortunately, that move will continue. We must also consider the forecast regarding Japan’s intention to reduce her steel output. If this comes about it will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on future demands for a work force in the new areas of iron ore development in the north. Those several reports and the general concern of the unions, I suggest, must make it clear that a very serious situation may shortly develop. That situation will be very much worse if the existing gold mines close down, as they certainly will do if the estimated assistance of Si. 9m is not increased very substantially.
Surely the threat, indeed the certainty, of large scale unemployment calls for. positive action by the Treasury to provide reasonable finance to open up new avenues or to extend existing avenues of employment, as would be the case in relation to the gold mining industry. Surely the Government must now realise the error of its claim previously that plenty of alternative employment would be available to the mine workers if the mines did close. It is important to realise that for the year ended 30th June 1968 the amount of assistance to the industry was S4.3m. In 1967 it was $3.3m. So it can readily be seen that the request for a 50 per cent increase in subsidy to save the remnants of the mines in the circumstances that we can see for the future is not unreasonable. After all, it is unlikely to raise the total amount above the 1967 figure and certainly not above the amount for 1968. I suggest that it would be substantially less than what we would have to pay out to import gold for industrial purposes alone.
I think we should compare the amount with what will have to be paid out in relation to the rural reconstruction employment training scheme. It must be clear to all those people who are not deliberately blind that a serious situation is developing with regard to retrenchments and dismissals from industry generally. It must be clear that other avenues of employment are going to be difficult to find. It must be clear that the retention of the gold mining activities, by granting further Treasury assistance, could go a long way towards solving this particular problem as it did in the early 1930s. There is little more I can add in the limited time of this debate to make the picture any more clear. I simply satisfy myself by asking the Government to take a common sense, more practical and responsible view. I ask the Minister to advise the Committee of his Government’s intention in that regard.
The other 2 matters 1 wish to deal with are zone allowances under the Income Tax Act, and sales tax. Both of these matters are of considerable interest and concern to a large number of people in the northern areas of Australia. Of course, when seeking improvements to the zone allowance provisions one must bear in mind that when the Labor Party introduced them in the first place, in 1945, the then Leader of the Liberal-Country Party coalition, Mr Menzies, and his Deputy, Mr Holt, strenuously opposed the provisions. Unfortunately, experiences during more recent years indicate that the present Government takes the same view. Certainly the zone allowance provisions of the Act fall far short in several respects of what is actually required. While the present Government cannot be blamed for the initial legislation, it- can be blamed for not correcting several of the shortcomings in the Act during the 20-odd years in which it has been in office. After all, there are a few anomalies which could be corrected very easily if the Government had a mind to do so.
At its recent conference in Launceston the Australian Labor Party reaffirmed its decision that, upon becoming the Government, the existing anomalies in relation to zone allowances would be eliminated speedily. One anomaly which requires attention is that which prevents a taxpayer with almost 12 months continuous residence in a tax zone from obtaining any concession while at the same time the taxpayer living next door to him can get the full benefit even though he has been there only 6 months. We have continually asked the Government to correct that anomaly but it has always refused to do so on the ground that it raises other problems. Let me refer to the situation in which a taxpayer on an offshore island or on the mainland nearby can obtain a full concession while another taxpayer working on an offshore oil rig between the mainland and the offshore island cannot qualify. That is a really stupid situation that could be corrected simply by adding about 3 words to the particular section of the Act.
The argument raised in relation to sales tax, and quite properly raised, by people residing long distances from metropolitan areas is that sales tax is applied on the wholesale price of the article whether the price be at Port Hedland, Perth, Wyndham or anywhere else. In other words, sales tax is also paid by the final purchaser on whatever it costs the wholesaler to freight the article to the place of sale. Here again I would like to point out that the Labor Party, if it were the Government, would take the necessary action to amend the existing sales tax regulations to remove the inclusion of freight from capital cities to country centres as part of the landed cost of any item. There are other things I wished to say, but as my time is almost concluded I would like to take the opportunity of extending my thanks to the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation and his staff in Perth for the courtesy that they have always extended to me and for their prompt attention to matters I have raised with them.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The matter before the Committee is whether it should vote a sum well in excess of $30m to enable the Department of the Treasury to carry on its administration during the current year. Before turning to some matters that I feel deserve mention I am constrained to refer to one or two speeches that have been made by honourable members earlier in the course of this debate. First I would like to refer to some remarks made by the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) particularly because he referred not only to me but also to my friend, the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer), in regard to some things that we had said in the course of an earlier debate. The honourable member referred to our suggestion that a House of Representatives estimates committee should be set up to scrutinise the Estimates in a way that they can not be examined in a committee of the whole as this is. The honourable member argued that the Joint Committee of Public Accounts was adequate to deal with any matters that might otherwise come before an estimates committee if the House thought fit to set one up.
In these 2 arguments he said, first of all, that under its charter the Public Accounts Committee can do whatever an estimates committee might do. Secondly, he said that if the House were to set up a further committee in addition to those that we already have it would impose too great a strain on the resources of this place and the resources of the Public Service. So far as the Parliament is concerned I understand that the Public Accounts Committee consists of 10 members, 7 from the House of Representatives and 3 from the Senate.. If another Committee were set up with a similar membership we would be very lacking in capacity if we could not provide the necessary number of members. As far as the Public Service is concerned, this would impose further strain on it, but I would suggest to my honourable friend that the time of public servants could be saved if they were not required to wait for long periods until the committees were ready for them but were given due warning when they were expected to appear. I am not saying that this would not impose additional burdens upon the Public Service but these should not be insupportable.
I would mention that in the United Kingdom - we claim to model ourselves on the Parliament of Westminister which of course we do not - not only is there a Public Accounts Committee but also an Estimates Committee. That Parliament seems to think that the 2 functions arc not one but separate functions. That Parliament has, of course, a number of other committees but it also has many more members. I will not go into this now. What are the functions of these committees? Why are they different? The principal function of the Public Accounts Committee is to ensure that when Parliament votes a specific sum of money for a particular purpose the Public Service does in fact use that money for that purpose and no other. This is the principal function of the Public Accounts Committee. But I suggest that an estimates committee would look at the various amounts of money proposed to be spent on particular objectives and would seek information as to what were the policies behind those proposed expenditures. To my mind this is a separate question altogether and one of tremendous importance to us. Here we are voting more than $34m to the Treasury. For what purpose is the money to be spent? We would like to know. We have listed item after item but we might like to scrutinise the officers and say: ‘Why are you spending this amount of money on this item? What is it for? What are the policies that lie behind it’? We would be wiser men if we knew. As it is we have no machinery to enable us to know. I will leave this matter but I repeat that - and in this I have been ably supported by my friend the honourable member for Isaacs - 1 believe there is a need for an estimates committee of this House.
I would like to refer to one other matter raised in the course of debate. This was raised by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) and was supported by the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes). Both honourable members felt that as it is a long time since the report of the Ligertwood Committee was presented the time has come for another comprehensive report on the taxation system because many people have been avoiding taxation and a number of loopholes ought to be closed. Specific reference was made, perhaps by both honourable members but certainly by the honourable member for Berowra, to the possibility of imposing a capital gains tax. Certainly one of the honourable members was dubious as to whether he was for it or against it, but both believed that this matter should be investigated. I do not have as many doubts as they have. A Canadian royal commission looked into this matter.
We have had creeping inflation for years. Now we have galloping inflation. I do not know what happens next. Perhaps we will go over Niagara Falls next. In a period of inflation so many people find it much more profitable to buy something and sell it at a profit later than to invest in the ordinary way and depend upon the dividends they may receive from the investment. I think this is thoroughly bad. It means that speculators and smart-Alicks are profiting and they are profiting at the expense of people who are not as smart as they are. Some may say: Let the smart people profit. I do not say this at all. I say that those who gain from inflation should compensate those who suffer from it. We have a case of Robin Hood in reverse - inflation robs the poor in order to give to the rich. Therefore I think this matter of a capital gains tax needs careful consideration.
I had hoped to speak on other matters but I was diverted by my honourable friends on both sides of this House. I had hoped to say something about a matter affecting the Treasury in particular - a matter of great importance and principle. I refer to the question of Federal and State relations. There are many clever people in the Treasury. We are voting money for their salaries. For years the economy of this country has been bedevilled by failure to arrive at any principles that would regulate Federal and State financial relations. We have had Premiers conferences beginning with recriminations and ending in buck passing. We have a formula which is no sooner agreed upon than it has to be cast aside, whether because of inflation or because of pressures from particular Premiers. And always you have the additives. When there is a formula additional sums have to be added for political reasons or for some other reason which may be good or bad. The real issue is: What are the subject matters, having regard to their inherent characteristics, that can best be handled nationally and those that can be handled locally? This is the real issue.
It is in the interests of the people and not of particular politicians or bureaucracies to require joint action. Having determined these matters how do we arrive at allocation of resources with due regard to local and national responsibilities? There have been great changes in the interpretation of the Constitution since, shall I say, 1901. It is not that the Constitution has changed so much but it is the interpretation of the High Court of Australia that has changed. Indeed we never know until we go to the High Court what the Constitution means. In the old days, of course, the Roman baruspex would have looked into the entrails of birds to discover the answer. Now we go to the High Court to discover the answer which is as much veiled from the common eyes as the message of the entrails of birds was in earlier times. We find we have one economy which needs unitary management. We find that now we have tax powers that we did not know we had. Since the concrete pipes case we may well have power in regard to trade practices, company law, overseas companies and the securities industry that we never knew we had before.
I have not sufficient time in this debate to deal with this matter. However, I had intended to suggest that we must first determine what we should do now that we have these known powers. Secondly, we have to determine how we are to allocate resources between the Commonwealth and State governments. Unfortunately my friends have drawn me aside from my main purpose. I have tried to debate this matter instead of making a read speech and I have fallen into the trap of not saying what I had proposed to say. Perhaps I shall have an opportunity on another occasion.
– I, too, want to speak to that section of the Estimates relating to the Commonwealth Taxation Office. Might I say at the outset that I was rather impressed with some of the information pamphlets that were brought back from New Zealand by a friend of mine. These pamphlets are very well illustrated and they are most helpful to the taxpayers. I am well aware that in Australia as taxation time comes around each year a spate of articles appear in the daily newspapers and other kinds of periodicals but in my view they are no substitute for what the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department has produced. Each of these information pamphlets deals with different sections of taxpayers. One deals with salary and wage earners. Another is a guide for farmers. Another deals with the self employed and those who pay provisional tax. There are very well illustrated examples worked out and I am sure they are of great assistance to taxpayers. As a matter of fact when I looked through the one dealing with wage earners and salary earners I could not help noticing some provisions in the New Zealand taxation system that could well be copied by Australia. I notice, for instance, that donations to the Freedom from Hunger campaign, the Save the Children Fund and the Volunteer Services Abroad fund, all worthwhile causes, attract deductions from taxation in New Zealand. Most members here are well aware of the grievance many taxpayers have felt over recent years as a result of the disallowance in this country of donations to those very worthy international organisations. Another provision that attracted my notice was that cash donations to State schools and parent-teacher associations are allowable deductions. In this country only- regular annual subscriptions to such bodies are permitted as a taxation deduction. In New Zealand any contribution that is made towards the welfare of children at school, thus saving the Government money, is an allowable deduction.
I noticed another very worthwhile provision that many people here have requested; that is a provision relating to a working wife who has to place a child in a day nursery, play centre, creche or kindergarten, or who has to employ somebody to come into the home to look after the child. In New Zealand up to $240 per annum may be claimed in respect of payments for such purposes. At .this time when so many married women are working and are being persuaded to work - and in many cases are compelled to work - a provision such as this would be of great assistance. I cannot help thinking, of course, that it would be infinitely better if they could place their children in a free kindergarten or creche as many people in this capital city, Canberra, are able to do.
A similar provision also exists in New Zealand for a wife who is disabled or who is an invalid. She may place children in a creche or have somebody in the home to look after them and payments made in this way are offset by some taxation deduction. I support the view expressed by other honourable members who have spoken of the great need here for a general review of our taxation principles and procedures. It cannot be done in a piecemeal way. It has to be an across-the-board review. It should not only take into account, in the way that all previous investigations have been circumscribed, the federal sphere, but also it should take into account the taxation procedures of the State and of local government authorities.
I am sure that such a comprehensive review would be of great advantage. We might well come up with the view that we have far too many forms of taxation and similar charges in our community, and efficiency and equity would both be respected a great deal more if there was a vast reduction in the number of taxes. We might look at the .redistributive effects of taxation measures. I could not help noticing an article bz John Helliwell, a lecturer at the University of British Columbia who addressed the 43rd conference of the Australia/New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science in May of this year. He said among other things:
Because the rich are more able than the poor to arrange for their Income to appear in nontaxable forms most of the present implicit redistribution is from the poor to the rich.
This is quite contrary to what any society might well expect. I cannot elaborate on these points in this short time. In a general review we might well look at the question whether taxes should be levied on the individual or on the family unit. We might look at such things as taxes imposed on socalled luxuries, such as beer, cigarettes and tobacco, and inquire whether we are penalising luxuries or whether in fact people who consume such things continue to do so, within certain limits, irrespective of the sales tax or excise tax placed on them. We might well look into these matters to see whether what we are doing is diverting consumption from necessities instead of penalising the consumption of luxuries.
We might also look at the matter of local government taxes placed on properties when it is implicitly, if not explicitly, assumed that the person taxed owns the property and, therefore, has to pay tax on the full value of the property, although in very many cases the person may have only a small equity in the property. Of course, it is .well past time that there was a reform of the whole income tax scale. There has been no restructuring of it since 1954 and as a consequence some groups have found their effective rates of taxation rising at a relatively faster rate than have the rates for others in the income scale. The progressiveness of the taxation scale ensures this and a restructuring is vitally necessary. We might look also at the whole matter of disincentives that are inherent in the taxation scale. At a certain point people feel it is no longer worth earning extra income because of the penalties they will incur in a higher rate of taxation. It is clear that today’s middle income earners - it was true last year and it is still true - are being taxed on their income at the same rate as the highest income earners were when the original tax schedule was introduced in 1954.
We might well look at the basic income level at which taxation starts to be paid. Anyone earning $417 per annum today is liable for taxation. We should question whether it might well be worth our while and more economical to exempt such persons from taxation. It might be more economical to disregard many of the people we are presently taxing. I looked at the Commonwealth income tax statistics for the year 1967-68, the latest available, which showed that if we lifted the exemption level from $417 to $999 the number of taxpayers exempted would be 9.78 per cent of the total number of taxpayers. Some might say that to exempt 10 per cent of income earners from income tax might be just too much, but let us look at what net tax this 10 per cent of taxpayers pay. They pay just over half of 1 per tent of all tax that is levied in the community; that is, 9.78 per cent pay only .59 per cent of all tax. In that year they paid $ 11.6m in taxation.
We might well be justified in lifting the exemption level to $999. Even if we went to $1,599 - I am looking at the statistics for 1967-68 - this figure would still cover only 23.55 per cent of taxpayers. This 23.55 per cent paid only 3.33 per cent of all tax. I think we could well have a look at lifting the level of exemption from taxation.
Another matter of great concern in the community at the moment is that of fares as a deduction from taxation. This has become particularly relevant with the very high increases in public transport charges in recent times; it also affects the private motorist. The people most affected by these fares are low income earners. Not only have they to pay these high transport charges but also the charges are usually higher than for other taxpayers because most of these people have to live in the outer suburban areas of our great metropolitan cities. Therefore, they are paying more in fares than is any other section of the community. The lower the income level the greater the chance that the person concerned lives in ah outer suburban area and has to pay so much more in fares.
We have to remember also that the system is most inequitable because very many people on high incomes are able to get cars provided for them and do not have to pay fares. There is also the self-employed person who can claim his vehicle as a business expense for taxation purposes. So in fact the people who have been hit hardest by the disallowance of fares as a taxation deduction are the people who most need help in our community and in many cases they are young people setting up a home of their own and often being forced to live in some outlying area in our metropolitan centres.
– I rise in this debate on the Treasury Estimates to comment on taxation and I am encouraged to do so along some of the lines I have had in mind by the speech of the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes). The honourable member touched primarily upon section 260 of the Income Tax Assessment Act and commented that it was 10 years since the Ligertwood Committee made its report. He pointed out that matters of tax avoidance referred to specifically by the Ligertwood Committee had probably been dealt with by the Government in fields where the loopholes could be properly covered. He implied, if I did not get him wrong, that perhaps it was time another committee was set up to look into the whole field of taxation. He also analysed the importance of one field of taxation as against another. The honourable member spoke primarily of a capital gains tax as an alternative tax. He did not say that he was in favour of a capital gains tax, but he did say that the implications of it should be fully examined.
I endorse the words of the honourable member for Berowra but I go further and say that I believe we would be quite wrong to ignore the new fields of taxation being opened in terms of the European Common Market and the future thinking of the United Kingdom insofar as a value added tax is concerned. So I would suggest that that field be included in any inquiry that is perhaps set up, as well as the field of capital gains taxation. Furthermore, there is another field that has been discussed fairly generally around the lobbies of this House and that is a net worth tax. There are 3 fields of taxation new to us in this country and one might well stop and say: ‘Why should we look at them? Are we not one of the highest taxed countries in the world and should the people of Australia be subject to the raising of any more revenue by this means?’ I am very grateful to see my friend on the Opposition benches, the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) nodding his head in agreement because the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) and the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), who specialise in their own fields, demand in this House from time to time - almost consistently, in fact - far greater Government expenditure in the fields in which they are involved. I do not stand here to deny them the right to do this. If I was sitting in the same place I would probably do the same thing because they do not have to worry about where the money comes from; all they do is worry where and how the money should be expended within their own fields.
But if I might return to the. theme I was pursuing, the value in looking at alternative fields of taxation lies not necessarily in the need to raise more Government revenue - although it might well turn out to be so - but primarily, as I see it, in the capacity to adi, ,st between different fields of taxation. Unquestionably it could be argued and debated in this place that we may not be heading in the right direction nationally by exacting the dues that we do through death duties from small family enterprises. I do not know that anyone would logically argue against that premise that I put forward because I do not know that anyone in this House wants to accelerate the time when we move towards perhaps a more corporate - using it in one sense of the word - method of living as we perceive is happening in America today. I think we certainly do not want to hasten towards the average man working for the large corporation or, indeed, possessing a large corporation but I do see the fact that if one can juggle income tax as against death duties - whether they be State succession duties or Federal death duties or, thirdly, some alternative tax - then I believe that we can get more equity into the total field of taxation than we probably have today. What have we got today? We have income tax, as we are all well aware. It hits some sections of the population probably more harshly than it does others. We have death duties of which we are well aware, and we have indirect forms of taxation such as sales tax and highly illogical taxes such as excise, which I will deal with on another occasion. Added to these I believe it is possible, by inquiring into the desirability and the implications of a capital gains tax, a net worth tax and a value added tax, to develop more equity in the whole system. I support what the honourable member for Berowra said and I have added 2 more items to the inquiry that he suggested should be set up. I find myself in agreement with the honourable member for Bradfield rather than my honourable and gallant friend from North Sydney (Mr Graham) in the matter of what the Public Works Committee can or cannot do. I believe the Senate Estimates Committees are quite wrong in their attempts, between the time of the Budget and the time the Estimates are debated, to decide whether the expenditure set out is correct. No committee can act properly in this time. My own feelings are that any committee inquiring into estimates or expenditure should spend perhaps a year looking at how the estimates are compiled for the Departments of Defence or Social Services or Works. This to me would be the value of a committee on expenditure or estimates. However, I will ignore that now and go straight to the final remarks of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner). He said, in effect, that in any inflationary period the tendency is for people to buy and sell things at a profit rather than to invest. 1 find myself in complete agreement with this and I would remind the House once again, as I have already during the general Budget debate, of the problems revolving around section 26(a) of our income tax legislation. I would like to quote from a letter I received recently. It states: . . if a share has been purchased for the purpose of holding it for the income it produces there is no liability to income lax if the share is eventually sold at a profit. Bill how can any subscriber to a speculative mining float seriously claim that he has purchased the shares for the purpose of enjoying the income that the company will produce when at that stage the company has probably not even put a drill into the ground? History has indicated that if he purchased shares in SO speculative mining or oil exploration companies he might be lucky if one of them ultimately discovered an area of economic value and then earned profits.
Section 26(a) is a relic of past thinking. It is not something that can encourage true Australian investment in our own development projects and the antithesis of this is that it encourages investment other than the investment of ordinary Australians. I have seen many people produce ideas to remedy this situation but I think it is up to the Government and the Treasury to find some method to utilise those important resources that at present are being wasted by the Australian people. Those resources are not being effectively harnessed to develop Australian projects.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Last year’s Treasurer spent on his Department S86.2m; this year’s plans to spend $104m. Economic mismanagement has seldom asked so high a price. Inflation and unemployment occurred under earlier Liberal governments alternately; under the McMahon Government they occur simultaneously. The latest Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has produced in his first Budget a formula not for reducing prices but for reducing employment.
This is a judgment which is not mine alone. It is shared in quarters to which normally the Government looks for uncritical support. W. D. Scott and Co. asserted in its business forecast for this year that the Government had decided for the first time since 1960-61 to generate unemployment in excess of 2 per cent - not in December, as Government spokesmen endeavoured to argue by way of mitigation, but in March. The Prime Minister’s reaction was to telephone them. They have heeded the facts but not he. Three days ago its bulletin reported:
The likelihood is a continued increase in unemployment at least running into the first months of 1972.
On 9th September the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia - Bank of New South Wales survey disclosed that 7 out of every 10 manufacturers were operating under capacity for lack of new orders. On 10th September the Statistician revealed that growth in personal consumption had fallen steadily over a 15-month period from 4.8 per cent to 1.6 per cent.
The Liberal Chief Secretary of Tasmania’s Liberal State Government on 14th September said that the unemployment statistics for that State were ‘alarming’. In a leading article the following day, the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ summarised the whole underlying strategy of the Budget’ as ‘creating a pool of unemployed to moderate wage demands and price increases’. Mr Maxwell Newton, playing as usual Svengali to the Prime Minister’s Trilby, confirmed in ‘Incentive’ on 22nd September that the Budget was designed to bring more and more pressure on the working classes’, precipitate ‘some very serious strikes’ and thus provide a pretext for repressive legislation with which ‘to split the ranks of the Labor Party and the union movement and bring to the forefront of public thinking the whole issue of industrial anarchy’. I repeat that these are the views not of Labor spokesmen or supporters but of the Government’s associates, employees, patrons and friends.
Confronted with evidence so incontrovertible of their intent to generate unemployment, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have fallen back on economic obscurantism. The Treasurer told a television audience on 14th September that budgetary restraints on spending were necessary because savings were at an all time high and might therefore produce an upsurge in demand. The Prime Minister made the same point on 14th September in reply to a question from my colleague, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), and on the following day in answer to me. These propositions are incorrect both in fact and in theory. It is a favourite Federal Treasury bogy that savings are potentially a source of inflation. Savings expressed meaningfully as a percentage of gross national product stood in 1970-71 at their lowest level for the last 5 years. There has not been a year in which deposits declined since 1961-62, when people had to spend their savings to support themselves. No reputable economist regards savings as an index of demand pressures either actual or potential. The Assistant General Manager of the Bank of New South Wales, Mr Russell Prowse, told the ‘Financial Review’ on 17th September that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer had been putting forward a ‘totally spurious argument’ in which he hoped few people would put faith. 1 quote once again exposure of the Government not by an opponent but by a friend.
Let me now illustrate how the Government creates or condones price increases in areas over which directly or indirectly it can exercise control. My colleague, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) on many occasions recently has pointed out how the Government could mitigate increases in prices in housing and housing land. I shall mention some other aspects, commencing with health services. General practitioners increased their incomes between July and December last year by 7 per cent but in April this year the present Prime Minister approved a further 15 per cent fee increase to which his predecessor had offered resolute resistance. Public hospitals have had to increase their charges by 50 per cent because the basic Commonwealth hospital benefit has not risen since 1958 and the Commonwealth will not meet its share of the rising cost of treating pensioners. For every Si paid in public ward fees in 1952, after the Menzies Government cancelled the free hospitalisation provisions in all States except Queensland, patients now pay $8.33. Hospital insurance contributions have been increased since last December with Government approval by up to 34 per cent and the Government has increased the cost of visiting the chemist for drugs which it provides as pharmaceutical benefits by 100 per cent. What private company would dare contemplate increases half as sudden or as drastic as those imposed this year by the McMahon Government in the price of ill-health?
I now turn to indirect taxes. Last year’s Budget imposed increases in direct charges and indirect taxes which accounted for half the 7 per cent cost of living increase in the last December quarter. Postal and petrol increases in the current Budget will inevitably produce an identical effect, as will payroll tax passed to the States to satisfy their demands for a growth tax and increased by them forthwith from 2i per cent to 3i per cent. There will be immediate rises in costs to all consumers and there will be the inevitable flowthrough as these charges are passed on later in the year. All these rises could and would have been avoided by a government which genunely sought to hold prices down. How can we take seriously the rhetoric of Ministers on inflation when the Government makes so consistent and comprehensive a contribution to the rapidity with which living costs increase?
Interest rates now stand at their highest level in our history. They are a crushing burden on State, local and semigovernment authorities which, unlike the Commonwealth, finance their capital works not from revenue but from loans. Between 1954-55 and 1967-68 the number of cents taken in debt charges out of every dollar received in local government rates rose in New South Wales from 17.6 to 22.2, in Victoria from 9.9 to 15.8, in Queensland from 29.8 to 33.2, in South Australia from 7.8 to 12.7, in Western Australia from 10.2 to 16.7 and in Tasmania from 21.5 to 33.8. Every increase in interest rates is passed on inevitably in higher State taxes, local government rates and semi-government charges which can no more be avoided by ordinary Australians than higher prices for food. For every $1 paid monthly in interest on State savings bank housing loans 20 years ago borrowers now pay $1.32. For every $1 paid in council rates even 2 years ago they now pay $1.15. Sewerage and other local services provided 20 years ago by municipalities at government interest rates are now financed by developers at an average cost in Victoria of $2,850 a block. Interest rates are used by the Government as a means not of combating inflation but of concentrating its cost upon those sections of the community which can least afford to pay.
Fees for university degree courses have risen since 1957, when the Murray Committee reported, in the case of Arts from $489 to $1,239 and of Medicine from $1,477 to $2,432. For every $1 paid in university fees even 2 years ago students this year paid $1.25; next year they will have to pay more. By offering the States $1 for every $1.85 raised locally the Commonwealth ensures that fees are regularly increased. For $14. 5m all fees at universities and colleges could be abolished but the Government prefers to connive at placing higher obstacles in the path of able students who fail to secure scarce Commonwealth scholarships. University fees exemplify very clearly the way in which the Government increases prices even in areas where it can completely control prices.
The Government cannot expect from employees a restraint in pricing labour which it neither exercises in pricing public facilities nor requires of proprietors and corporations in pricing commodities of other kinds. It cannot simultaneously seek co-operation from unions and employee associations and coerce them with the bludgeon of an unemployment pool. Employees are no less interested than other sections of the community in ending inflation but they expect anti-inflation measures to embody equality of sacrifice. They are aware that their share of the nation’s wealth was reduced between 1955 and 1970 and they will accept no further reduction.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– My comments will be restricted to our taxation structure. The present system of taxation in Australia is not only regressive but reeks of inequities and inefficiencies. The whole system of taxation needs extensive reform. The recent history of tax reform in Australia has been to look at the taxation structure in a piecemeal fashion. No real effort has been made in the last 30 to 40 years to have a decent look at the taxation structure, to look at it in depth and to get away from preconceived ideas on taxation. The basic taxation structure has to be reformed. It is a tenet of taxation practice that taxation should be paid in accordance with a person’s ability to pay. This was the principle advocated by Adam Smith. It is a principle which in Australia is honoured in the breach. In Australia today taxation is paid by those who can least afford to pay it. This is a result of the taxation system.
There is only one efficient method of taxation and that is income tax. The reforms over the last 20 years have not reached the crux of the problem. Efforts at reform have been only to remove specific anomalies or inconsistencies. One of the causes of this has been that at any time a committee has been set up it has been tied down with limited terms of reference. What is needed in Australia is a royal commission of the type that was set up in Canada, the report of which was released in 1967 after 4 years of work. This is the only way in which there will be any real reform of the Australian taxation structure. It is only by setting up a royal commission of this type that the radical steps can be taken to design an efficient and equitable taxation system.
One of the prime terms of reference for such a royal commission should be that the royal commission should recommend a system of taxation that has a far greater reliance on income tax and less reliance on invisible means of taxation such as sales or commodity taxes. It is this type of system that is at the present stage commencing to be implemented in Canada. It took 4 years for the Canadian royal commission to complete its inquiry. It brought its report down in 1967. That was followed by a White Paper brought down by the Treasurer, followed by parliamentary committees which at this stage are only bringing down their final reports. It is only by doing something of this nature, looking at the problem in depth, that we will eventually get a taxation system which will be equitable and beneficial to the country.
It is true that any attempts at comprehensive tax reform will bring problems in attempting to alter the way. in which people look at their present system of taxation. I wonder what would be the attitude of the average Australian if a report were brought down which advocated the complete elimination of what are known as concessional taxation deductions, in other words, the deductions allowable, when submitting taxation returns, for a spouse, for children, for medical expenses, and for life assurance and superannuation premiums. There would probably be a howl from the community if it were suggested. But I suggest that the most equitable form of taxation would be one that did not allow any deductibility for those items. I suggest that the most equitable form of taxation would be to. have an economic system whereby an allowance was paid to a wife in her own right instead of an amount being deductible through a taxation system.
I have taken the trouble to extract some figures on the cost to revenue of the various deductions for taxation purposes. These are based on the latest figures that are available - those for the year ended 1967-68. The cost to revenue of the deduction for a spouse is $126m. I would like to see the amount of this deduction and more allowed by way of a ‘ direct cash payment to a wife. The amount paid could be taxable. In that way the amount would be used where it is needed most, and if a wife had a separate net income the amount paid to her would be taxed and portion of it would come back into revenue. This is not as radical an idea as one would first think when looking at it.
The same would apply to the deduction which is presently allowable for children. At the present time the estimated loss of revenue if the deduction were disallowed is $88m for the first child, $12m for the student child, and $76m for the other children. I would prefer to see that deduction disallowed and the amount paid out in additional child endowment where it is needed most. One has only to work out the advantage to a taxpayer on an income of $20,000 a year of the deduction for his wife compared with the amount which is tax rebatable in respect of a wife to the taxpayer who is on an income of S3.000 or $4,000 a year to see that the person on the smaller income gets very little back - and he is the person who needs the rebate most. In that way we can see that our taxation system is weighted heavily against the person most in need and is weighted in support of the person least in need.
We have a typical example of that in the allowance which is made for life assurance premiums. A person can claim up to $1,200 a year as a tax deduction for life assurance premiums. Would the average person on an income of $4,000 or $5,000 a year be able to afford to pay $1,200 a year in life assurance premiums? In other words, what is happening is that by virtue of our taxation system we are subsidising the person who is least in need of assistance when I feel that the prime aim of our economic system and our taxation system should be to bring about a redistribution of income and a redistribution of wealth. Our existing system does not do that. .
In regard to the matter of capital gains, I was pleased to see that now that the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) is out of the Ministry he is supporting the introduction of a tax on capital gains. This is something I have been supporting in this place since I came here, as well as the closing of the loopholes which have been allowed to exist in the taxation system. I think it. is time that the Government, even as an interim measure, got together some of the abilities that are available in the Parliament and some of the well known abilities that are available within the Public Service and within the Taxation Office to bring about a more equitable system of taxation, to close the loopholes that are in existence and to bring about a system whereby taxation is paid according to one’s ability to pay it.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of Customs and Excise -
Proposed expenditure, $34,879,000
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, 578.646,000
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, 39,641,000
- Mr Deputy Chairman, 1. rise to take the opportunity afforded by the consideration of the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry particularly to draw urgent attention to a most serious situation which has developed in the canning fruit industry in New South Wales. I notice that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten), who is also the Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), is at the table for this debate. I ask him particularly to note the facts which I am presenting because these are facts that I have been asked to bring to the attention of the Committee and the Government at this stage by the growers’ organisations and the co-operatives concerned.
The situation is summed up in an urgent telegram that I have just received from the General Manager of the Griffith Co-Operative Cannery Ltd, Mr Stan Polkinghorne. The telegram states:
Delay in decision by State and Federal Governments on Griffith Co-Operative Canneries application for financial assistance causing stone and pome fruit growers severe hardship some growers relying entirely on stone fruit for income have received no payment at all for fruit delivered in 1970-71 season. Now preparing for 1971-72 season and require finance immediately.
Request you take strongest possible action to ensure matter brought before both authorities as matter of extreme urgency. Further delay will mean impossible for cannery to process growers fruit in coming season.
The cannery in fact faces closure. The seriousness of this happening is illustrated by the fact that unemployment in Griffith, probably one of the most prosperous towns in the Australian countryside in normal times, has increased by 40 per cent in the past year. The Griffith Co-Operative Cannery Ltd last season gave employment to 180 women, that is, 3 shifts of 60 women each. It gave additional employment to 15 males and to administrative staff. For this cannery to close would be a disaster for the growers, the employees and the entire community. The growers, 1 stress, have received nothing for the fruit. This is fruit that has been harvested and processed already. Some of it, I have no doubt, has been sold or earmarked for future sale. But the growers have received nothing at all for peaches, nothing for pears, and only 2 growers who made tomato deliveries have been paid for those tomatoes. The only payments that have been made at all in this season have been one-third of the money owing to apricot growers.
The cannery faces closure and the growers face bankruptcy. The banks have said in some cases: ‘We will not advance any more money’. That means that the growers are not able to get essential advances to enable them to carry on their farm opera tions. In fact, this situation brings us tac to face with a major economic disaster. This is not all of the problem. There are approximately 600 canning fruit growers in New South Wales, about 2,000 people on the farms with their families and about 10,000 people who depend upon them. The Leeton Co-operative Cannery is 3 months behind with payments to growers. This means that a total of $226,000 is owing to growers at this time. They need the money; the community needs the money.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) - I am pleased to see him in the chamber for this discussion - introduced on 9th September the New South Wales Grant (Leeton Co-operative Cannery Limited) Bill. Representations have been made to the Minister by me on behalf of growers’ organisations and co-operatives urging that help to be extended. The Minister replied: We have introduced this Bill and, under the grant, the Federal Government will make $.8m available, that sum to be matched by the State’. The inquiries that I have made indicate that it is suggested - I am not sure by whom; it could well be that this is a State decision - that the money which is being anxiously awaited by the cannery and the growers is likely to be taken back almost immediately by the 2 Governments concerned. It is suggested that the Commonwealth ‘will take money to finalise its claims and the State will take the remainder to satisfy its old debts, and the cannery will be left exactly as before except that interest payments will be reduced to some extent.
The urgency is to keep the suppliers in business. The producers are basically the people on whom the entire superstructure of the industry depends. I hope that this in fact will not be an empty gesture or a mere book entry. But I ask the Minister for Primary Industry to confer urgently with his opposite number in New South Wales to prevent the closure of the Griffith Co-Operative Cannery Limited and to end the confusion over what will happen to the $1.6m for Leeton. I stress to the Committee that these are not abstract matters. They touch on the lives of people and the prosperity of whole towns. 1 do not know whether in fact the Minister for Primary Industry has felt it necessary to take any initiative in relation to the disposal of the money. I say that quite frankly in ‘ an atmosphere of probing for information and seeking help. I will make available immediately to the Minister the latest material that has come to hand. I appeal to him again as a matter of urgency to confer with his opposite number in New South to ensure that this cannery does not close. It would be a major economic disaster. I wanted to raise this matter with the Minister and with the Committee and to draw to the attention of the Committee the great need that exists at the moment.
In the minutes remaining I wish to turn from this matter to the wheat situation at the present time. It is a matter of sadness among people who are anxious to see the wheat industry remain stable that an increasing amount of trade still continues outside the Australian Wheat Board. I wanted to draw the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry to an apparent discrepancy, which I feel should be cleared up, in the wheat situation in Australia. As honourable members know, the first quota that was set was with respect to the 1968- 69 season. That quota does not appear to have been reached. At page 3 of the Wheat Situation’, published by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in February 1971, chapter II dealing with The Situation in Australia’ states that wheat production for 1968-69 was 543.95 million bushels. Turning to page 5 of the same publication, we read:
Receivals of wheat by the Australian Wheat Board from the 1969-70 crop were 357.9 million bushels, 31 per cent lower than the 1968-69 record of 515.6 million bushels.
The 1968-69 figure is the record figure. The reference here is an interesting one because a discrepancy of nearly 30 million bushels appears between the 2 figures. I am wondering whether this figure represents the extent of trading outside the Board, the trading that has been described as black market trading.
Again, the situation is that we did not reach the national quota for 1968-69. The national quotas for 1969-70 and 1970-71 also have not been reached. The quota this financial year will not be reached. We have a situation where the crops either have not been planted or have been blasted by dry conditions. A great deal of concern is felt that, if an early announcement is not made by all concerned, all of the wheat which is likely to be harvested and is likely to sur vive will be taken in and paid for, and then a direct fillip will be given to interstate trading, black market trading or whatever term may be used to describe- it.
The need for the Minister to take the initiative with his State colleagues in this matter at this stage is urgent. He should say: ‘We have an assessment, we know that we will not be reaching^ the targets and quotas and it will be desirable that all wheat that is produced is delivered’. If that announcement is made I suggest that it will end a lot of the trading which is presently going on. Nobody really wishes to trade outside the established stable system, but when a bank manager says ‘You will take what you can get and be sure of it’ a grower has no choice. I commend this matter also to the examination of the Minister and the Committee and ask for an early announcement in accordance with the realities of the present situation. Before I resume my seat I make again a sincere appeal to the Minister for Primary Industry to look urgently at the possible situation which we are facing at this time in the Mumimbidgee Irrigation Area.
– The first thing I want to say is something that I have said on the occasion of the consideration of these estimates for several years now. We are debating the estimates for the Departments of Customs and Excise, Primary Industry and Trade and Industry. Each honourable member is given 10 minutes to debate this group of departments and it is impossible to devote sufficient time to a thorough consideration of all of the items that one would want to discuss under any one of these heading. One has to skip from one department to the other and in doing so one cannot do justice to any of them. This reflects the absurdity of the way in which we examine the Estimates. Honourable members, including myself, have to spend the time available in developing some of our ideas rather than engaging in an examination of the Estimates themselves. I do not propose to ask for any explanations of any of the items. However, I want to comment on one or two of them.
Firstly, I wish to refer to the Department of Customs and Excise. One of the problems that we find in our daily discussions with people who have difficulties in regard to by-law entries is the time that is taken to get a decision and the nature of the decision when it is made. We are very grateful for the fact that another Tariff Board member is to be appointed to enable decisions to be made more quickly. This is very good. But it is said that even when this member is appointed decisions will probably take 2 months to make. This seems to be quite wrong. We could have a situation in which a manufacturer who was trying to establish a certain process could be held up because a decision on some type of material that he wants is deferred until after some very exhaustive inquiries have been made. I cannot understand the attitude of some people who want to import a certain article which they could very well buy here. In that type of case they ought to be required to buy their article from the Australian manufacturer. However, we could have the situation in which, although the Australian manufacturer of a carburettor said that he was capable of making that article for a certain type of engine, we knew perfectly well that the carburettor which he made would not fit on a specified engine, was not a suitable equivalent or would not be efficient or effective.
I recall one case in which wire rope was required for the reinforcement of a concrete bridge. Magnificent wire ropes are made in Australia and I believe emphatically in giving all the protection, comfort and benefits to Australian manufacturers in order to promote industry ‘ and to create employment. However, in this case the Australian machinery was not capable of making wire rope one-sixth of an inch bigger as required in the architect’s specifications. It seems ridiculous to knock something back like that. In this case inquiries were made to ascertain whether the wire rope could be made in Australia and it was found that Australian manufacturers could not supply the product. Of course, the manufacturer could supply the product if he had the right type of machine.. But he would not acquire such a machine’ to produce wire for one bridge. I do not see why we should reduce the effectiveness of our bridges because we do not produce ‘wire rope of the size required in Australia:
I go from that subject to the , Tariff Board itself. I want to register my amaze ment that the Tariff Board keeps coming out with an effective rate of protection. For some years now we have had lectures in the annual reports of the Board on Australian manufacturing industry. The Board seems to be developing a theme of trying to take the actual development of Australian manufacturing industry from the place where it belongs - in the Department of Trade and Industry at present. I will come to that point again in a minute.
The adoption of an effective rate of duty is understandable if we take this rate in its simple form. But anyone who tries to follow through the absurd formulae which the Board has asked us to apply must get himself into trouble. Officers - of the Department of Trade and Industry have gone to great trouble to try to convince me that their calculations on the effective rate in the cherries case was accurate. The calculation may have been accurate according to the formula which they used, but I believe that it is nonsense to try to equate such a formula in a commonsense way to a tariff on a particular item.
In passing I would like to comment that it is even more unfortunate that some members of Parliament seem to be maintaining the idea - and this is supported by a lot of people outside - that tariffs are necessarily against the interests of primary industry. The persistence of this view is not in accordance with the facts. Many primary industries have very large and severe tariff protection. Although it is argued these days that many tariff rates apply in industries which do not need them, those levels were set for particular reasons. Before we dismantle any of these old tariff items which are not being used by certain industries at present, we should have a close look at the position. It is argued that the tariff rate is there so consequently industry should charge as much as it possibly can to keep within that rate. It is said that industries are taking full advantage of the tariff in the price they are charging. Several reports have stated that this is not so. In actual fact there are higher profit rates . on the imported products than there are on the locally manufactured article. The local manufacturer remains in business because the high tariff rates deter people from competing. If the rates were to be taken away all of a sudden, massive unemployment would result. i notice that in the estimates of the Department of Trade and Industry there is provision for an increase in the number of officers particularly in the Third Division, from 112 to 138. Also, there is a 40 per cent increase in the amount of money allotted to the Department for this purpose. We know that the Department has been building up a section which will make economic assessments. This section will examine industries, produce reports and so reputedly help the Tariff Board to make its decisions. I want to say once again - I have said so several times in this place - that it is quite wrong to build up the Tariff Board into a great empire as far as manufacturers are concerned. What is really needed is that control of the secondary industry section of the Department of Trade and Industry, which is taking over all those officers who are being recruited by the Tariff section, should be transferred to a separate department. The real purpose of this section should be to examine the fundamental economics of manufacturing industries, as they are to assist those industries, and not to bring up information to the Tariff Board which would pull those industries down. At present the section is advertising for econometricians which is a new term brought in by the people who developed the type of formula to which I have referred. Simple people like us in this House are not able to understand this jargon. They are developing a tariff policy based on mathematics and not on common sense.
– One section of the estimates we are debating relates to the Department of Primary Industry which is involved in the decisions and also the policy of the Government in relation to agricultural prospects and aspects. Prospects for a large number of people in rural areas, who are both directly and indirectly concerned, are certainly very grim at the present time, and very little chance of improvement can be seen under the dilly-dallying, hit or miss methods adopted by the Government. The fact that the Government has introduced the rural reconstruction employment training scheme is proof in itself that the Government does not expect to solve many of the problems facing rural industry and that it expects that many farmers and other people will be obliged to move away from their normal means of obtaining a livelihood.
The seriousness of the situation in Western Australia is obvious from the fact that, according to the statistics, to March of this year some 4,000 farmers, share farmers and farm workers were obliged to seek some other form of livelihood. Of course, since March many more have been obliged to look elsewhere for employment. Unfortunately this movement cannot help but continue unless something positive is done by the Government. Very few farmers have received any worthwhile assistance under the proposals that the Government has introduced, and indeed in a number of instances the assistance has gone more to people who are in better circumstances than to those who are desperately in need of ii. Also, those who are in desperate need are finding it difficult to qualify for assistance, or if they do qualify, the amount they receive is nowhere near sufficient. It appears that this is largely due to the Government’s failure properly to examine or evaluate the probable effects of its proposals before it introduced them.
In at least one section of rural industry the Government, by its own deliberative action, has caused quite serious financial problems which would have been avoided had the Government adopted a more responsible and reasonable attitude. I refer to what has happened to cotton growers on the Ord River. In March 1969 the then Minister for Primary Industry - the present Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), who is at the table - introduced into this place a Bill which was designed to phase out the cotton bounty over a period of 3 years. The time has arrived when no more bounty will be paid unless something is done to reintroduce it. The Minister’s announcement, prior to the introduction of the Bill into the House, caused consternation amongst not only the growers themselves but also many other people who were concerned in various ways. The growers most seriously affected by the decision are those on the Ord River who are actually the pioneers of the cotton industry in the northern areas of Australia. They are the people who, in the initial stages of the project, had been led to believe by both the Federal Government and the then
Liberal-Country Party Government in Western Australia that their efforts and willingness to establish a cotton growing industry would always be recognised as a very valuable contribution to the development of the north.
Those farmers were encouraged to go into this area and to invest their money in farms on which in the initial stages they were obliged to grow cotton, whether they considered it to be the best crop or not. While there was nothing by way of a written or verbal agreement relating to future financial assistance, I suggest it was accepted generally that these farmers would be protected as far as possible. But this Government adopted the reverse attitude and removed the protection which the farmers enjoyed. When the Bill to phase out the bounty was introduced into the Parliament the Australian Labor Party proposed an amendment which included the following 2 provisions: That an immediate review of the economic position of the raw cotton industry be made with the object of providing adequate financial assistance to those areas which were still in need of the bounty and which had not had time to become established viable economic units, such as the Ord River and the Queensland Irrigation areas, and that ‘special payments to assist the developing areas to become established viable economic units be implemented within section 96 of the Constitution’. The Government rejected our amendment when every Government supporter - Country Party and Liberal Party members alike - voted against it.
During the debate a member of the Country Party said that I was being quite unreasonable in proposing that the bounty should be raised to such an extent that it would make cotton growing on the Ord an economic proposition. I freely admit that it was my intention to allow the Ord farmers to operate on an economic basis - and surely they are still entitled to do so. The then Minister for Primary Industry said that cotton growers in Australia, other than those on the Namoi, lacked efficiency, which was a very unfair statement, particularly considering the situation on the Ord River. However, that was said in 1969 and I do not want to pursue it further. My reason for raising the whole subject today is because of the difficulties which growers will face because of the complete loss of the bounty from now on, and also because it is now claimed that a new type of cotton is being tested at the Ord and that as a result of the testing growers, in 3 to 5 years, could produce cotton on a profitable basis without receiving any bounty or any other kind of assistance. It is reported that trials so far carried out at the Kimberley Research Station have proved that cotton hybrids yield up to 22 per cent more than the commercial crops of more recent plantings have yielded. The report claims that trials using African and American plants are considered to be perhaps the most important development yet to take place with cotton in the Ord area. It has been stated that the hybrids have yielded 400 lb more lint per acre than normal high yielding commercial varieties, which means an additional $120 per acre to the grower.
This is certainly important and encouraging, but unfortunately cotton growers in the Ord area, who will receive no bounty payments at all between now and the 3 to 5 years required to develop the new plant, will find it very difficult and perhaps impossible to survive. Certainly any decision to suspend cotton growing on the Ord during the intervening years also would create difficulties and no doubt cause very serious further economic loss, and may not even offer any solution at all. Anyway, because of the possibilities which this new plant offers, it seems a reasonable suggestion and in fact a very good reason why the Government should immediately reexamine the bounty situation with a view to reintroducing the bounty. What now appears likely to occur in relation to this hybrid and its economic potential certainly highlights the wisdom of our 1969 amendment, in which we said that a review should have been carried out and that while that review was being carried out the bounty should be continued.
As regards the re-establishment of the bounty for a few years or, if that is claimed to be unconstitutional, the granting of some other form of assistance, I should like to remind the Minister for Trade and Industry that during the course of the debate in 1969 he referred to the possibility or even perhaps gave a promise of making a review of the situation if the industry got into difficulties. I am aware that the Minister qualified what he said by adding that he was referring to the industry and not just to a section of it. But nevertheless, considering that a section faces serious difficulties, the possibilities now being offered for the future and also the area in which the industry can be developed, there is a very good reason why the position of this section of the industry should receive special attention. If it is claimed that the bounty cannot be applied to one section without including the whole industry, then there is certainly no obstacle to prevent the Commonwealth from making a specific grant to the State, to allow the government of that State to provide the required assistance. So I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he can give any assurance now that the Department of Primary Industry will inquire into these new possibilities, if it has not already done so, or otherwise whether he will raise with the Cabinet the question of granting additional assistance to the industry.
In conclusion, and to show how ideas or views must change with the times, while reading the speeches on the Raw Cotton Bounty Bill in 1969 I was interested to see that the then Minister for Primary industry ridiculed the idea of giving a subsidy to wool growers. He was trying to find fault with our amendment which was designed to continue the cotton bounty. He suggested that if the Parliament followed Labor’s ideas in relation to granting assistance to exporting industries, we could have the ridiculous situation in which someone said at some time in the future that the wool industry should be subsidised. The Minister asked: ‘Where do you finish if you follow that sort of policy?’ Does the Minister remember that? Anyway, we know what the situation is in that regard today. So any decision to reestablish the cotton bounty could not be rubbished in that way, as it was on the last occasion.
– I want to deal briefly with a matter of major importance to the Australian wool industry and the Australian public. I refer to the budgeted amounts of funds for wool industry assistance. Everyone realises by now that the amount allocated will nowhere near meet the requirements of the industry but that, notwithstanding this unpalatable truth, the proposals must proceed and the industry must be given this vital breathing space in which to readjust itself. But unless we use this time wisely - time which is being bought at an increasingly high price - then we fail not only the wool industry and all those people in rural areas largely dependent on it, but also the Australian public.
Despite some gallant prognostications from leading wool industry spokesmen, the Australian wool industry has shown increasing evidence of further fragmentation since the resumption of auction sales some five or six weeks ago. During this same period a variety of reasons has been advanced as to why events have not borne out these brave predictions. Indeed, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) himself has been’ drawn into the ever-widening controversy, with his discussion on the effects on wool auction sale results in Western Australia, by the operations of private treaty wool buyers. Everyone, it seems, from the Minister down to growers’ industrial organisations, is more intent on pursuing petty side issues of a parochial nature instead of facing up squarely to the real problem. It has become increasingly clear from the constant bickering, so rife in the industry at all levels, that there exists today an appalling ignorance of the true situation. As the responsible representative of the nation, this Government cannot afford to allow matters simply to take their course.
There is undoubtedly a number of problems associated with wool marketing which, if grouped together, represent the hard core of the difficulties so urgently requiring attention. It does not take a very thorough analysis of these areas to show clearly that the entire marketing structure of the wool industry is being carved up by gross manipulation at all levels. This is the hard core of the wool industry’s difficulties today, and I contend that there is a very real danger that manipulative forces’ at work within the industry can and will commit wool to a tragic position in the world’s textile trade, if allowed to continue. Honourable members may ask who is ‘ manipulating the wool industry, and how? I should point out that the manipulation referred to is by no means confined to any one sector. In fact this Government must share a measure of the blame, together with wool-selling brokers, buyers, transport concerns and shipping groups, all of whom are reaping dividends from their own brand of manipulation within the wool industry. These dividends, I might add, are obtained at the direct expense of woolgrowers’ returns.
I believe it is the responsibility of the Government to correct this situation, not compound it. In this regard short term palliatives will provide no substantial security for the woolgrower. It may be argued that the presently proposed system of deficiency payments will at least buy a little more time for growers, but with the typical short-sightedness of a subsidy scheme, the system will not distinguish the efficient from the inefficient wool producer. Furthermore the proposed system will not necessarily provide a return to growers commensurate with the true commercial value of their clip. Without immediate and positive action directed at showing wool users throughout the world that we want to get on with the job of providing a commodity of required standards and at an economic value, the introduction of deficiency payment schemes will be of no real value to anyone, and least of all to growers. There is no doubt that woolgrowers throughout Australia largely appreciate the efforts of the Australian Wool Commission in its reserve price support. But is it not true to say that the Wool Commission is being forced to overplay its hand in safeguarding growers’ interests. In league with the proposed deficiency payment scheme the Australian Wool Commission seems certain at this point to achieve only one major objective. This will be to force a false value on to the production of the entire Australian wool clip, with the result that much of the clip will be prohibitive in price to potential buyers. At the same time the provision of deficiency payments on the proposed basis will encourage woolgrowers to continue production regardless of demand ‘ and regardless of quality and processing costs.
If the Government has any real desire to see the wool industry stand on. its own feet again it must act with the courage required to bring the production and marketing of the entire Australian wool clip .under, one single controlling authority. Partial attempts at acquiring the clip are already taking place in a most haphazard manner at auction sales each week. The mounting stockpile of wool .resulting from these operations can only react as a price depressant factor if allowed to build up under present operations. We must face up to the true facts which indicate quite clearly that wool may be in for a prolonged slump in usage. Therefore the unnecessary expressions of buoyancy at certain forecast levels are grossly misleading. Again I would reiterate that we simply cannot afford to allow the situation to resolve itself. So we must act in the interests of all who are associated with the wool industry now, before we find there is no industry left worth supporting.
I believe that it is the earnest desire of the majority of Australian woolgrowers that the Government take immediate steps for the introduction of an acquisition system to embrace the whole clip. Perhaps it would be appropriate at this stage to remind the Minister for Primary Industry of his well publicised speech at a recent Agricultural Show in West Australia, when he stated:
Other industries too have their problems. The wheat industry reached a point of crisis a little more than 2 years ago when supplies were far in excess of market requirements and storage capacity.
Are we going to wait around to see whether the wool industry falls into a similar predicament, before heeding the call for a single marketing authority to acquire and market the whole clip? The inevitable effect of a laissez-faire approach will spell complete disaster, not only for the nation’s 100,000-odd woolgrowers, but for a large proportion of urban and rural communities as well.
– This afternoon I wish to deal with a few issues and particularly with the controversy which is spreading right throughout the community these days relating to protection versus free trade for Australian industry. I am not going to over-emphasise protection because I think that most of us realise that we must endeavour to use our. resources as effectively and as efficiently as we possibly can.. .If any industry hides behind a very high tariff wall which allows it to increase costs and prices then it. should be reviewed. There is little doubt that there is insufficient steady review of the protection afforded to the various areas of industry. The machinery must be set up to endeavour to increase or to make those reviews far more regular so that we can plan our economy in a more effective manner. At the same time there are some people in the community today who could bc described only as almost complete free traders. We have in this place a modest parliamentarian who writes for the ‘Australian Financial Review’ at regular intervals and he always puts this case very effectively. One could say it is a lobby viewpoint.
I feel that many people are taking an over academic view of this matter because they are ignoring the lessons of history in Australia. I am surprised at the attitude taken by members of the Australian Country Party on this issue. When Sir John McEwen was Minister for Trade and Industry he prosecuted a very strong programme to build up Australian secondary industries. I sincerely hope that it is not suggested by honourable members on the Country Party benches that this was not a sound policy for the development of this country because had we not developed secondary industries and become a mixed rural-cum-industrialised economy we would have had a great deal to worry about today with the plummeting returns to the rural sector. For this reason I think it is very important for us to look at the lessons of history and I believe we should do so whenever this argument comes up once a decade. Fortunately ever since the late 1930s Australia has gone ahead with a strong policy of developing our industries and affording them the protection the same as other countries have afforded to their industries which are our competitors. Japan is the best example of this.
This policy of development must be continued to enable this country to develop industrially at the rate warranted. This policy should continue on 2 grounds: Firstly, with the maintenance of Australian industry and the development of Australian industry and employment and secondly, with the maintenance of our overseas reserves. Far too often this latter ground is overlooked because of the very fat reserves which we have at the present time and which undoubtedly were made far by a great deal of ‘hot’ money coming into Australia. This controversy which has been going on for the last 12 months will shortly be illustrated when we debate the proposed tariff revision for woven shirts, knitted shirts and outer garments, and also for construction equipment manufacturers. There is a very big factory in Seven Hills in my electorate which is producing industrial tractors, loaders and back hoes.
This industry does not enjoy very heavy tariff protection although it does have protection of up to 50 per cent on loaders and back hoes. If Australia imported this equipment it would result in a very heavy expenditure of foreign exchange. In my electorate the firm of Whitmont and Sons Pty Ltd has a factory which produces shins. This firm will be greatly affected by the proposed tariff review. If that firm or the firm of construction equipment manufacturers I referred to is put out of business there would be a very decisive down- . turn in employment throughout the western suburbs of Sydney. I have only mentioned 2 companies. This policy which has been suggested would have a tremendous impact in these industrialised areas. Furthermore it would prevent the further development of industry throughout the western surburbs.
I point out that from the point of view . of import replacement it is important for us to maintain these industries. I do not know how many honourable members have read the pamphlet put out by the Australian Industries Development Association on arguments for and against appreciation of the Australian dollar but I think it is one of the clearest expositions on this issue which I have seen to date. That document makes the point that although we have very big reserves at this point of time they only represent returns on imports for a period of 6 months. If honourable members cast their minds back they will recall that in 1950-51 when there was tremendous pressure for an appreciation of the Australian pound we had at that time very big reserves, but again representing only imports over 6 months, and within a matter of a year we had to impose import licensing. For this reason I think that one must issue the warning that the maintenance of our reserves is crucial. The maintenance of our secondary industry is crucial, for employment as well as import replacement so as to maintain our reserves.
Of course some industries will have to acclimatise themselves gradually to the new conditions and 1 think that we would all appreciate this. I think we realise that it will not be as easy to export in the future as it has been in the past. We had a warning only last week from the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry which pointed out that countries are unlikely to stand for Japan taking too much of their mineral resources. The Ministry said that for this reason Japan should look for other sources from which it could obtain minerals. The Ministry pointed out that a few overseas corporations control most of Australia’s mineral extracting industries and that these corporations could by agreement halt the supply of minerals to Japan. For this reason the Ministry has said that it has to look for other areas of supply. With this sort of situation the maintenance of our reserves is crucial. I believe it is time that we had a little more economic planning in this country. Perhaps we could look at the system which Japan itself used so effectively over the years. Japan set up her industries in various segments and’ she laid down the amount of development permitted for each segment. One segment may have . had to increase production by a certain percentage or another segment may have had to reduce production. Japan’s industries were given fair warning over a period of 5 years. Accordingly industry accommodated itself to this overall plan because it knew that if it did not do so action would be taken to correct the position.
I think it is time Australia had a look at such a proposal for economic planning for this country. I think it could do a great deal of good for this nation, lt would allow those sections of our industry which may have to accommodate themselves to new lines, possibly reducing production in some fields or increasing production in others, to have ample warning in regard to their future. I think it is very important in view of the possible over academic approach to remember the lessons of history in that Australia built secondary industry as other countries did by the protection of their industry but if we go too far with the theorists Australia may suffer in the future.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The estimates for the Department of Primary Industry provide for an expenditure of $78,646,00fr for this year compared with §103,797,219 for 1970-71. When one examines these figures we find that there is a considerable reduction which requires some investigation. We find that 2 large items of expenditure are responsible for this reduction. These items are the emergency assistance to wool growers in an amount of $30m for the last financial year compared with the provision of $150,000 this year. The other item of a large nature is the payment to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from the devaluation of sterling and other currencies. Last year it was $21m and this year it is down to $9,700,000. The Department of Primary Industry has certainly increased in importance over the years and at the present time it faces problems of immense importance to the nation. The greatest problem, of course, is that of our wool industry which over the years has been the mainstay of Australia’s economy. Even for the period ending 30th June 1971 it was worth $567m in export income and, as has been mentioned in this chamber by me on several occasions, no government can afford to let an industry of this magnitude die. The Government scheme to guarantee a price of 36c a pound for greasy wool will certainly assist the wool growers and the country areas of this great Commonwealth.
We should make every effort to open new markets for wool. In this House last week I asked the Minister for Primary Industry a question concerning the investigation of sales of wool to the People’s Republic of China. This is a very important market for this commodity and every opportunity should be taken by our exporters and by the Government to exploit it. The People’s Republic of China, with 750 million people, could provide a market for 1 million bales of wool if that market could be broken into. I have no doubt that the Minister for Primary Industry, as promised in this House, will certainly take this matter up with the Australian Wool Commission. We should make every endeavour to develop our trade in this field.
The primary industries are still the backbone of this country and the Minister and the Government are making provision for research into wheat, tobacco, barley, wine, wool and meat, as well as providing agricultural extension services, and dealing with many other matters of great importance to primary industries. We know the valuable work done by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. The Government has provided bounties on butter and cheese under the Dairy Industry Act. The downturn in farm income has had one beneficial effect as far as the farmers are concerned. Farmers generally, or at least those farmers who can diversify, have been forced into diversification. Unfortunately there are many farmers in the western sector of New South Wales and in other parts of Australia who cannot diversify, but those who can do so have diversified and we find that new avenues of agriculture, for instance, the growing of course grains, have been opened up. Farmers have taken to growing sunflower, safflower, linseed and soya beans. An excellent market exists for these products in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and I have no doubt that our Trade Commissioners will be making every effort to increase this trade with these countries.
The wheat situation has improved considerably and the Australian Wheat Board is to be congratulated on its successful sales campaign. Record sales of 375 million bushels have been made this year and it appears that the carry-over will be approximately 150 million bushels. This is a most satisfactory position and a good crop will be of great benefit to Australia. Despite pessimism in the industry, the Government has allocated funds for research in this field. This is a very wise course to adopt because it is a highly important industry to this country and to our export income. The amount of $52,000 provided for wine research will help this growing industry but with the tremendous development that is taking place, particularly in the Hunter Valley in my electorate, there could be a danger of over-production. In Australia 300,000 tons of wine grapes, or over 40 million gallons of wine, are produced annually. New South Wales, which ranks a poor second to South Australia as a wine producing State, produces 53,000 tons of grapes annually from 13,000 acres. The Hunter Valley at present produces only 2,500 tons of grapes annually, which is 4 per cent of the New South Wales production and .6 per cent of Australian production. Although responsible for only a small proportion of the total production, the Hunter Valley holds an important place in the Australian wine industry because some wines produced there are among the finest and most distinctive in Australia.
Since 1965 there has been a wine boom and wine consumption has increased because of changing tastes. Resulting from this, large investments have been made, particularly in the Hunter Valley, to take advantage of the increase in demand. Most of this investment and expansion of the area under grapes has been undertaken by wineries and large companies. In 1963 the area under wine grapes stood at 1,232 acres. By 1967, after the start of the boom, it had reached 2,300 acres. This increased to 3,450 acres in 1969. In 1970, 3,000 additional acres were planted and it is predicted that this rate of expansion will continue for several years. By 1975 the total acreage could be in excess of 12,000 acres. This compares with 7,500 acres in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and 17,000 acres at present in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. With wine production in 1980 expected to be ten times what it is now questions arise about the future of the wine industry in the Hunter Valley and I would advise caution because of the possibility of over-production in this industry throughout Australia.
One primary industry with bright prospects is the meat industry. We have maintained a splendid level of meat exports. There is every indication that we will continue to do so. I have been rather alarmed to hear over the last 2 or 3 days of the possibility of a threat to this great industry from synthetics. I understand there has been a small importation of synthetic meats into this country and that there is an attempt to manufacture synthetic meat locally. I hope that we will watch with great care the developments in this field which could possibly destroy one of the finest industries we have in Australia. Exports of meat have been extremely good. Our main market for beef, of course, has been the United States of
America, closely followed by the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia and Canada. I know that the meat industry in this country is doing all it can to develop these markets at the present time. The American market is the most important one and here we are given quotas each year. We have to see that we fill these quotas. If we do not fill these quotas to the United States of America we could be jeopardising further exports to this market which is a most lucrative one and of great value to Australia.
– I want to speak about Japan, its investment in and trade with Australia. The Japanese nation today is an economic colossus. Its gross national product is now the third largest in the world behind the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Is the investment by Japan in Australia a menace? Can we refuse it? Japan’s investment can be a menace only if she is allowed to gain majority control or support in Australia. However, a partnership arrangement can greatly reduce and control any potentially adverse influence.
Japan is now our largest trading partner and Australia is Japan’s second largest trading partner after the United States. Twenty years ago Great Britain was taking over 50 per cent of our products; today she is talking about 12 per cent. Japan has replaced Great Britain and today takes 25 per cent of our total exports. She takes 54 per cent of our total mineral and metal exports which are now worth about $ 1,000m a year. Japan’s total investment in Australia at the present time is only 2 per cent of all direct investment in Australia so, at this stage anyhow, there is no worry about Japan being a menace.
The flow of trade between Australia and Japan is greatly in our favour. We bought 573m worth of goods from Japan in the last 12 months and have sold to Japan $1,1 88m worth, giving us a credit balance of $615m. Amazingly, this almost matches our trading deficit with the United States of America. In the last 12 months we sold to the United States $524m worth of goods and bought back $ 1,042m worth of goods, a deficit of $528m.
I want to sound a warning, however. This Government has failed to control foreign investment. Already 24 per cent of industry in Australia is foreign controlled, and when we look at Canada which has 60 per cent of her industry under foreign control we can see what a menace uncontrolled investment could be to any country, for Canada’s economy is virtually in the hands of foreigners. This is disastrous for any country. Japan’s investment programme in Australia is to treble its present level in the next 2 years. This may sound frightening but let us have a look at the facts that I have been able to secure. Japanese companies plan to invest about $300m in Australian mining, agricultural and manufacturing ventures over the next 2 years. The programme will be the first phase of an investment boom. It will almost treble current. Japanese investment in Australia which is now about $120m. About $260m will go into big raw material ventures such as iron ore, bauxite, and alumina, coking coal and industrial salt projects. But the investment will reach into almost every profit-making field in Australia, from exploration and mining to the manufacture of ball bearings and microwave equipment.
The 1,100 Japanese expatriates in Sydney opened a school with 88 pupils in a church hall some time ago. It moved into a $500,000 new building for 180 pupils at Terrey Hills in September. Japanese companies are ploughing at least $20m into major beef cattle and coarse grain projects in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales. They are also investigating plans to enter steel making, steel fabrication, machinery and manufacturing industries on a large scale. Already they have involved themselves in the manufacture of zippers, ball bearings, microwave equipment, matches and television sets locally. They are very sensitive to governmental and public opinion. The managing director of Mitsui and Co. (Aust.) Ltd, which plans to invest $120m in the next 2 years, said:
Australia doesn’t want to be just a quarry.
We can all say ‘Hear, hear!’ to that sentiment for that is what we are rapidly becoming. He went on:
It is our moral responsibility, as we are involved in a great share of Australian raw materials, to manufacture here in areas welcomed by Australia.
I believe that to manufacture here using our own raw materials is the ideal set-up rather than exporting them to be manufactured and then brought back. They will be employing thousands of Australians in their projects and we would favour this.
Mitsui has a 30 per cent stake in the $260m Robe River iron ore project in Western Australia and with C. Itoh a 10 per cent holding in the $296m Mount Newman project in Western Australia. Japan’s biggest single investment may well be in steel making. Nippon Steel is considering an offer to join the American Armco consortium which hopes to build a $900m steel works at Jervis Bay. Sumitomi Shoji (Aust.) Pty Ltd is investigating a wide range of investment opportunities. With Showa Denko, it has a 37.5 per cent stake in the 300m bauxite and alumina project in the Kimberleys on which work will soon begin. The Japanese have a huge stake in the Savage River Mines iron ore project in my State exporting pellets to Japan.
Japanese companies are planning to invest several million dollars in rural industries in order to supply their home market with coarse grains and prime beef. C. Itoh is involved in a 4-million acre coarse grain and beef cattle project in the Kimberleys with the Australian Land and Cattle Co. C. Itoh may take up a 25 to 30 per cent equity in the project which will cost at least SI Om in the next 5 years. Sumitomi will invest $300,000 - giving it a 10 per cent share - in the 200-square mile Lakeland Downs project at Cooktown, Queensland, for beef and coarse grain production. To quote a senior trade official: “The Japanese make ideal investors. They prefer to enter projects here on a 50-50 basis with Australian companies because it lessens their risks and gives Australians a stake.’
I believe that this Government should at every opportunity encourage partnership investments, especially in manufacturing processes, with the Australian Government, if it enters the project, having a 51 per cent share of the interest. This set up should also apply where foreign investors join with an Australian company so that a controlling influence can be ensured. Otherwise it will get right out of hand as it has done in Canada. The tragedy of foreign investment in Canada should be an everlasting warning to the Australian Government.
I want to make one final suggestion. I think we will have to investigate the possibility soon of creating an Asian common market with Australia, New Zealand and Japan the key figures in such a market and with China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia forming the other partnerships, for we now have to face the big trade blocs throughout the world. We have the United States in isolation, the European Economic Community coming up and the Soviet bloc and we need an Asian common market bloc to safeguard ourselves against the power punches from these other great blocs that have been set up. This is economic realism. I believe that we should counter these forces in this way in the Asian area. They are interrelated and work together in many ways but we have to be strong enough to counter them otherwise we will be crushed out of existence. This is a suggestion upon which I think the Government should take action in the next year or so for I feel that out economic survival might depend on a partnership with the Asian nations in a kind of Asian common market.
– During each period of depression in the agricultural scene we will find that the farming community is inclined to get up and run frantically after every hare that is put up, particularly marketing hares. We chase them with a great deal of enthusiasm but we very seldom know what to do when we catch them. I thought it would do us good to measure the problems and the costs of government interest in agricultural marketing. I repeat that it is usually regarded as the panacea by so many people and it is proper that we should put it under careful examination. The first thing one has to do with a marketing scheme is make an estimate of demand, in other words, find out how much of a certain item should be produced. In the end this judgment will be made by people, probably by the dedicated and capable people in the civil service. But I want to sound one warning - not to them; they would know - to the community as a whole and to this Parliament in particular that any civil servant who has the ability to correctly assess the demand situation for any product is not for long a civil servant. He is shortly sitting in the south of France with his feet in a bucket of champagne. We ought to remember as a fundamental truth that to make an estimate is not easy and it has to be done by humans. It will frequently be wrong just because they are human.
But having made an estimate of demand one then has to tailor supply to demand and this is a practical and sensible way of tackling the agricultural marketing problem. We do have problems in this area. One of them happens to be the weather. Australian weather is not easily foretold, nor is it easily controlled. The second problem we have is the Constitution. Honourable members can sling off at it if they like but we have a Constitution that makes it very difficult to have a marketing system for agricultural produce that operates across Australia. Some may say: We will change it’. This is an exercise a lot of people have engaged in but few have brought off. But as we have the Constitution, let us admit that we have this problem on our plate.
At present we have a grey market in wheat. Produce can be taken across State borders and sold to whom one likes. There is also a black market, or there will be a black market, and the sooner we recognise the fundamental facts, the better. Many of the younger members in the House would not remember the black market. I have told the story many times, but I will tell it again, of the 2 doctors in a hotel who were exchanging experiences about their practices. One said: ‘You know, I have got 4 cases of meningitis in my district’ and a chap behind him tapped him on the shoulder and said: ‘Look, I’ll take the lot.’ There is black marketing and to pretend that there is not a black market problem is to ignore the fundamental facts of life. Another problem which arises as the result of a marketing scheme is that when mistakes are made, they are big mistakes, and there are no countervailing mistakes to balance them. I am not slinging off at the people who have made mistakes; I have made so many myself. My neighbour watches me, and when I buy cattle, he sells cattle. My mistakes cancel out his mistakes. It is important to realise that in a big marketing scheme run by the Government, the inevitable mistakes will all be one way. Australia’s primary industries are in a desperately serious situation and this should be recognised as a problem.
Other problems arise in the establishment of this type of scheme. When there is a system of subsidies or of market manipulation, there is frequently the power to control production. Production is limited by legislation or by price reduction and by no other means. If it is done by legislation constitutional problems are encountered. People say this system works with sugar and wheat. It has worked fairly well in these industries. However, 2 important facts must be considered. Firstly, there is an element of Government subvention in both of these industries and, secondly, they have international marketing arrangements - an international grains arrangement and an international sugar . scheme. When there is a system of marketing, people say: ‘Well, we will limit the market. We will not put the product on to the market’. People say that we can ‘ control the production of wool but What happens if we do not have an international arrangement? The Argentinians and others move into our markets. Limitation of markets will work only if there are international agreements.
What ure the problems we , face when government controls agriculture? Firstly, it is not known whether a subsidy should go to the big producers or to the small producers. Actually the big producers are subsidised because most of the money goes to them. I have told the story in the House before of an English friend of mine who frequently visits me, and when ‘he shows me the amount of money in the subsidy column of his books, I say to him: ‘Il cannot justify that amount of help from the Government’ and he says: ‘Look, Bert, as long as there are enough poor struggling farmers, I shall be all right’. Consequently it is said that we should not subsidise the big producers but should subsidise the small ones. What a silly lot of nonsense this is. In many cases, the only way a primary producer can survive is to become bigger but, by subsidising the small producer, the Government would be stepping in and paying producers to become smaller. There must be some economic sense to government interference: We have become confused and caught up in our own eloquence. We have been talking for so long about closer settlement that we think it is a good thing but, if we look at our past performance we can see that much of our country has been destroyed physically and the financial position of the farmers has been destroyed by the very thing about which we have been talking so eloquently, namely, closer settlement. These are the kind of problems we face.
Why do we not do better than we do? We are all well meaning people. One could not find better meaning people than the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). Why is it that farming is so frequently damaged - I will not say by interference’ although other people would - by government interest? We become confused about costs of production. We have been talking about this for years. It is the golden calf of worship and yet in our hearts we all know that this is a silly system. We know that there cannot bs a cost of production for a product across an industry because the cost of land component must be included. This is a one way ratchet which jacks up the price of land. The cost of production of wheat in theory is $1.72 a bushel. Anybody who is any good at growing wheat knows that this is utter nonsense. These kind of things happen. Why do we not do better? We should ask ourselves this question. I will not say that there is no room for improvement in marketing methods and that there is no place in this area for government. It is important that we realise the problems which exist before we run after every marketing hare. There is a temptation and 1 am afraid some of us are inclined to bring the hares into this chamber and try to catch them here. As a Parliament, we should be giving a great deal of thought to our agricultural problems, but let us not delude ourselves that the answers are to be easily found in some grandiose government scheme.
– 1 had intended to speak on primary industry but I should like to refer to a matter which was raised yesterday by the Queensland Minister for Mines, Mr Camm, with respect to international trade as it relates to coal. He said that the coal industry faces a grave future because of particular problems. He mentioned industrial problems, escalating costs, etc., and he stated that already North Vietnam and Korea have signed contracts to supply coal to Japan while at the same time, one central Queensland coal project at Yarabbee has been set back because the Japanese have given these contracts to North Vietnam. What concerns me is that the Queensland Minister for Mines said:
There is a suggestion that Communist influence iri Australia has set out to raise the price of coal so much that it will become a lucrative thing for Communist countries in Asia to supply coal to Japan.
This is a serious belief, because it is quite obvious that Australia’s mineral exports are of vital importance to its future, particularly with respect to the rural crisis, in view of this, I must ask, request or challenge - whatever one likes to call it - the Queensland Minister for Mines, Mr Camm, to prove his belief that there is a Communist plot in Australia to smash the export coal industry by raising the price of coal so much that it would be lucrative for overseas Communist countries to supply coal to Japan.
It is high time that these sorts of allegations were brought to a head. If the Queensland Minister can provide factual evidence to support this belief it must be quickly exposed and acted upon and I, for one, will have no hesitation in making it a national issue through the Federal AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) and the. Parliament, if such a plot exists. In fact, it. is tantamount to an act of treason because, of its serious effects on the Australian economy. However, not one of the inquiries that I have made today of responsible industrial officials and responsible Japanese officials even remotely indicates the existence in Australia of an intriguing international plot designed to smash the coal industry and to hand Australia’s coal trade to other countries. It is of course, as we know on this side of the Parliament, an acceptable fact that the favourite political game of the Liberal-Country Party Government is to keep alive the Communist bogy, lt is to be hoped however in this case that a more responsible attitude is being taken.
It cannot be denied that as a result of industrial problems and delays the stockpile of export coal is now at unacceptable low levels. If Japan had not been forced to slow down the rate of increase in coal and iron ore consumption it is clear that it would have been difficult for Australia to honour export contract schedules. International authorities associated with the Japanese economy state categorically that the slowing down in Japan’s imports of coal and iron ore is a direct result of the steel recession which is now being accelerated by the international monetary crisis in which Japan and the United States of America are the key combatants. Instead of the usual heavy increase in crude steel production in Japan total production this year will be significantly less, and- if the United States economic policies continue to react further against Japan the slowing down of Japan’s steel production must continue.
It is anticipated that Japan will reduce her imports of iron ore by at least 11 million tons, and already Japanese steel mills have cancelled options made to Hamersley and Mount Newman. For the same economic reasons total coal imports, that is from all countries, are expected to be reduced by 17 million tons. All mineral exporting countries, not only Australia, are being affected by the steel recession in Japan. Japanese authorities indicate that as a result of the cancelled or deferred options, cancelled contracts or other agreements, imports of iron ore and coal could be reduced by as much as 25 per cent if the international monetary crisis is not satisfactorily solved. At the same time there will be substantial cuts in the Japanese imports of bauxite and alumina, and some companies in Australia could be affected. The savage reduction in demand from the United States for fabricated metal products has also resulted in a significant slowing down in the production of commodities involving copper, zinc and lead. The same economic influences in Japan have now resulted in a slackening in demand for wool with forced selling in Japan as a result of United States policies on textiles.
Australia of course has been warned many times that the greater its dependence on Japan becomes the more significant will be the repercussions in Australia should the Japanese economy falter, and this is happening now. We know that over onethird of all imports of iron ore and coking coal into Japan come from Australia. I think that over one-fifth of the total imports of bauxite into Japan tom* Ire is
Australia. It is of the utmost importance that iron ore and coal exports do not run into the same trouble as have many export primary products, in that continuing rising costs will price them out of the Japanese and world markets. If this happens with mineral exports Australia will face a serious depression because of the collapse of export income.
According to Mr Lang Hancock, a well known Western Australian millionaire iron ore prospector, Japan is playing grand scale power politics with Australia to get greater control of Australian raw materials. According to him Japan wants increasing equity in Australian mining operations - a captive source of supply. He says that the Japanese have made it well known that they do not intend to be straightout buyers any more. He said also that they want to own some of the minerals and they will do anything to achieve this aim - industrial militancy, depression, anything’. He said that mineral exports now were a matter of power politics on an international scale.
I want to raise one other aspect in the limited time available. It relates to the point made by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) about synthetics. Several times I have made speeches on this subject in the Parliament. The last time I made such a speech neither the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) nor the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) was in the chamber. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) was here and I asked him to convey to either of the other 2 Ministers my query as to why it that imports of meat into Australia are occurring. I produced these 2 tins of meat that I have here. One is from Paraguay and one is from Argentina. This beef is coming into Australia. These 2 tins were sent to me by a cattle man in the electorate of Kennedy, as a matter of fact. It is a question of knowing why these ,are being admitted into the country. After all. if we are to start worrying about synthetic meats, we have to put our own house in order first. I do not agree with, the proposition that we should be banning .synthetic meat. This is a mistake. We have tried banning margarine.
– Do you think we should ban imports?
– What I am saying is that we should ban imports, but I do not believe in banning synthetics in Australia. What we have to do is challenge synthetics. We learned the lesson with margarine and butter. It is only a question of time before butter and margarine are blended. We have learned the lesson with wool. If we had blended wool with synthetic fibres 10 years ago instead of recognising the advantages of this only a few months ago we would have been far better off. I believe that in the future we must look very closely at a similar arrangement for meat. In the end we may have to think of a scheme whereby if we cannot beat synthetics by challenges we can blend meat with synthetics, because this business of banning things will not succeed in the long run. Other countries have tired banning synthetics. Surely we can learn from the lessons of other countries.
– But you want to ban imports.
– I make it quite clear that every primary producer in Australia wants to ban the import of cheese into Australia which the Minister for Trade and Industry will not ban and we want to ban the imports of beef also. Why should we be eating imported beef?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In this Estimates debate I wish to refer to the continuation of the wine excise at 50c a gallon for this year. I know the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) will initiate a debate on this subject in the future, and I wish him well when the time comes. In the document ‘Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure’ presented with the Budget the figure for this excise for 1970-71 was $8,702,325, and the estimate for this year, which of course is the first full year of the excise, is $12m. This would mean an estimated consumption of 24 million gallons for this year, and this will still be short, if it turns out to be true, of the actual consumption of 24,385,000 gallons in 1969-70. Total consumption for the year just ended of about 22 million gallons was a drop of approximately 9 per cent in consumption on the previous year. I know that estimates vary.
– There has been an 11 per cent growth rate.
– I agree with this. This should not be considered in isolation; it has to be considered in relation to the industry estimate of growth of approximately 10 per cent. I think the wine industry had every reason to anticipate a continued growth of 10 per cent because this growth rate had been occurring for some years. In other words, the progress of a viable primary industry has been halted and in fact reversed by this excise.
Wine producers’ stocks also have increased. A wine producer to a certain extent has to produce ahead of immediate demand, and we will have the added danger of wine stocks building up to a fairly dangerous level because of this drop in consumption. My colleague, the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe), has referred to a complicating factor with regard to the wine industry in that increased plantings of wine grape varieties have taken place in the last few years. A projected surplus of wine grapes as a result of these increased plantings was made prior to this excise being imposed. The excise will only increase the inevitability of this surplus occurring. In addition to this problem is the almost certain reduction in the use of the sultana grape variety for wine production as this variety is replaced by other varieties. This in turn could compound the problems of the dried vine fruits industry.
As with any other primary industry it is dangerous to generalise continually when discussing the wine industry. Considerable variation occurs in the scale of the production units, from the large proprietary companies, some of them are under effective foreign ownership, down to the small bulk and/or flagon wine producers. To a certain extent, the variety in the wine industry as demonstrated in these types of ownership is also reflected in the bulk sales and flagon producers through the medium price bottle sales and then to the high price status bottle trade.
Proximity to large centres of population and tourist areas can influence sales per medium of the week-end traveller and the tourist. I believe that this will become an even more important factor with regard to wine sales in certain areas in the future.
Furthermore, specific areas specialise in different types of wine. Since the imposition of the excise duty, fortified wines, such as sherry and port, have suffered a far greater drop in sales than table wines, and sparkling wines have hardly been affected. Changes in wine drinking habits would partly explain this state of affairs. But fortified wines, such as sherry, are sold largely in flagons. The influence of the excise is more apparent on flagon sales to which it adds a far greater percentage increase than in the status bottle trade. The problem of price becomes less important when a status product such as that in the high price bottle trade is involved. This fs further reason why the high price sparkling wines are less affected by this excise.
-What about plonk?
– 1 am referring to my electorate only. No plonk is produced in my electorate at all. It is all good wine. I return to my original point on this aspect. Certain companies specialising in sparkling wines can announce very satisfactory results for their year’s trading for the reasons I have just given whereas the overall effect of the imposition of this excise has been a considerable drop in wine consumption.
I represent part of the Rutherglen and north east Victorian wine growing area. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) represents the other part of this wine growing area which adjoins my electorate of Murray. This area has specialised for many years in the production of fortified wines and the sale of wine in flagons and bottles in the medium price bottle trade rather than the high price status trade. The producers there have suffered a double blow. They recently produced confidential sales figures to the Minister for Repatriation and to myself. These showed on average a drop in their sales at least as large as the overall Australian average of 9 per cent. This figure did not take into account the estimated increase in consumption, the figure for which has been accepted in the industry.
I know that wine sales are kept under review by the relevant departments, but I ask the responsible Ministers at least to reduce the excise to 25c a gallon to see whether demand will return to its previous 20J69/71- R- n level and if reasonable growth will follow. If this does not happen as a result of such a reduction, the excise should be abolished. If the excise is not abolished or reduced to a level at which the previous rate of consumption and at least portion of the previous growth rate can continue, then as a direct result of Government action the probability of a surplus in wine production will become inevitable and a previously viable primary industry will be harmed.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (5.20)- Listening to some of the Government speakers discussing these estimates, the Committee could be forgiven for believing that things are not too bad in our primary industries. I wish to point out to the Committee some of the problems grievously affecting the people in my electorate. As I do so, 1 am reminded that the former Minister for Primary Industry, the present Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), made a great deal of noise last year about a record sum of $21 5m being appropriated for assistance to primary industries. On that occasion, I pointed out that a record number of our primary industries were facing an economic crisis and that this record sum of $21 5m would be spread out so thinly that in places it would have little or no useful effect. It would appear, unfortunately, that time and circumstances have proved that assumption to be correct. We find today that measures taken this time last year have done little or nothing to solve the problems of our primary industries. As a matter of fact, many of them are in a more serious position today than they were this time last year.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) mentioned a record figure of $275m for primary industries this year. He reminded us that this was 32 per cent more than the 1970 Budget figure. The Minister never mentioned that the people hardest hit by the crisis in primary industries are being bounced from the Federal Government to the State Governments and back again to the Federal Government. They are receiving little or no help from either of these governments. One good example of this is the drought relief procedure in New South Wales. A large part of my electorate, until recently, has been more or less in constant drought since 1963, with only temporary lifting. Because of the cumbersome machinery whereby an area is declared a drought area, many of the graziers received no drought relief. If a property is in a small area where drought conditions are present, that property must wait until a larger area becomes drought-stricken and the Pastures Protection Board declares the area a drought area. Some negotiation with the State Government then takes place. Further negotiation occurs with the Federal Government. More time elapses. The stock has either died or been transported on agistment. Then the Government announces its drought relief conditions.
I have been approached by many graziers in the Wilcannia Pastures Protection District on this matter. I have copies of letters from the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture to show how the problems of these people are bounced from one government to the other. In reply to a grazier the Minister on 13th July 1971 said:
As I slated in my letter of 5th January, the reason why road transport rebates were not available before 1st September 1970 was that Commonwealth financial aid had to be sought and obtained before the State could implement such schemes. Commonwealth financial assistance was not forthcoming until that date, and unfortunately, claims for assistance by many landholders in a similar position to you have had to be denied.
In a further letter, he said:
I fully realise that the prolonged drought conditions of recent years have cost you and many others in a similar situation in the Western Division many thousands of dollars, but the fact remains that I am unable to assist anyone in respect of rebates for stock on fodder movements made by road prior to 1st September last, because funds were not made available for the purpose until that date.
Many people in the Tilpa area missed out on any assistance while others who were not so badly affected received it because they did not have to move stock or cart fodder until after September 1970.
What a cockeyed system this is. If a primary producer is not badly hit by the drought and has been affected by it for only a short while, he gets assistance; but if a producer is badly hit and has been in a drought for a long time he gets none because his stock has already been moved out. While all this was going on - and this is the strange part about it - people in the western Queensland drought area were receiving assistance and the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Gov ernment were sharing the cost. It is a well known fact that droughts do not stop at border fences. A large part of the drought area that takes in western Queensland also extends into my electorate. Graziers in this area were sharing the same drought conditions but those on one side of the fence were receiving assistance and those on the other side were not. Will someone say this is a well run country when we allow this kind of injustice?
In my opinion it is useless for the Government to brag about a record amount of $275m being spent on the rural industries if this type of thing is the end result. We should have a national drought scheme whereby the conditions of assistance are clearly stated so that when drought hits an area the grazier will know just how much assistance he will receive and what steps he will have to take himself. This will allow some planning and probably save many thousands of dollars to say nothing of the many thousand head of cattle and sheep. - It would appear to me that, as far as my electorate is concerned, the Rural Reconstruction Board is being handled in the same lopsided manner and those most in need of assistance are getting the least support. I have read a report of the Upper Darling District Council of the Graziers’ Association of New South Wales held on Friday 9th July which reported that statistics showed there were about 38,000 wool growers within New South Wales, including 18,000 in the western district and that during the last 6 months the Rural Reconstruction Board had received 1,057 applications from the whole State - a little over 2i per cent. However, in the western division applications received in the past 6 months total 362, representing a little over 20 per cent of the western division wool growers. Of this number only two have been settled. The report went on to say that the rise to 36c per lb for wool may mean the difference in a small number of cases, whereby the Board could consider the property viable and would render assistance to the grazier.
The only conclusion that one can draw from these figures is that both the State and Federal Governments are prepared to write off most of the graziers in this vast area. This will prove to be false economy as far as the nation is concerned as in normal times this area has been returning a greater income for the amount of capital invested than all other areas of New South Wales. Even a continuous drought from 1963 to 1970 would not have put many of the producers in the position they are in today had not there been a temporary lifting of the drought on 2 occasions when they borrowed money at high prices to restock and on each occasion sold at giveaway prices and did not have a chance to repay the bank.
I am sorry that my time is fast running out. but I want to draw the attention of the House to the Australian sheep industry survey of 1960-61 and 1962-63. I remind the House that recently the New South Wales Government brought down legislation whereby it allowed a grouping of the western land pastoral leases and also allowed companies under certain conditions to take over these leases. If one reads the survey one will understand why companies would want to take over this area. I refer to page 108 of the survey which gives a summary table of New South Wales by zones. It shows the rate of return on capital for the high rainfall zone of 4.6, for the wheat-sheep zone 7.1 and for the pastoral zone - the zone I am talking about - 1 0 per cent.
MrFitzPATRICK - Here is the book.
– But what year was that?
– It was 1962-63. Graziers in that area consider this to be a normal year.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I have listened with interest to some of the statements that have been made this afternoon. However, I desire to speak to the estimates of the Department of Customs and Excise. In particluar I wish to refer to the Tariff Board and to a very difficult area in which a balanced judgment has to be made. Three or 4 years ago a constituent of mine commenced to manufacture garments made of a plastic material. This material was yellow in colour and was imported from Hong Kong. No doubt honourable mem bers have seen workmen working in traffic zones and children going to school wearing garments of this colour. The garments are coloured yellow so that the person wearing them can be more easily identified and seen. Consequently, the possibility of the people being involved in accidents will be reduced. This material attracted a tariff of 113½ per cent. However, garments which are manufactured from this material in Hong Kong can be imported into Australia subject to a tariff that attracts 52½ per cent.
My constituent started off with 3 people working in his small factory. By this time last year, or a little earlier, 53 people were working for him in his factory. Despite the tariff of113½ per cent which he had to pay on the material used in making this garment, be exported to Canada and could meet the competition of the export trade. However, he was put out of business because of the influx of garments manufactured and made up in Hong Kong which were allowed into Australia subject to a tariff of 52½ per cent. Of course, he could have imported a black material. However, as I said, the garments he manufactured were made from a yellow material which helped to prevent accidents. He could have imported black material at a lower cost but he would not have been able to sell competitively garments made from material of that colour.
I have with me tonight a child’s apron and frock which were manufactured in Hong Kong. If these garments were manufactured in Australia today the cheapest possible price would be $1.14 each. But these garments, which are manufactured in Hong Kong or Taiwan, are being sold in Australian chain stores for $1 each. We have a very difficult problem to overcome. I have people who make these garments in my electorate, in towns such as Windsor. They employ hundreds of married women. These women are able to get their children off to school, go to work and return home in time to attend to the children after school and to prepare their husbands’ meals. How will we tackle this problem so that we will be fair to all the people concerned? This is the great paradox that we have to face in tackling this problem.
The Tariff Board takes far too long to decide these matters. It is about time that the Board adopted a more efficient operation so that decisions can be made quickly. It should not take 2 to 3 years in which to determine what is the right thing to do. I know that we want to remain friendly with Taiwan. Taiwan is very friendly to us. It is trying to do the best for its people and to rehabilitate them. But I suppose that human nature being what it is, charity begins at home, and we have to remember this. The same comments apply to knitted garments, other wearing apparel and textiles. How will we tackle this problem, if we allow the present position to continue? Unfortunately we find today that because of the affluence of the society in which we live married people believe that they have to keep up with the Joneses. We find that married women, of necessity, have to go to work in order to pay for the amenities which they possess and which they desire today.
It is very difficult for experts or people who are well versed in these matters to arrive at a decision. But I think that the Government should make machinery available so that the people who have great training in the manufacture of goods are able to come to a decision which is fair to the countries that are manufacturing these goods for less than we are able to manufacture them. I know that my friend Bert Kelly would say that we should allow these garments into this country to be sold here and that we should not consider the people who are employed in manufacturing these garments in Australia.
In the short time remaining to me I want to refer to primary industry and to warn people that it is wise not to interfere too much in primary industry. From almost time immemorial the wheat industry has adapted itself to the situations that have arisen from time to time. During the depression we experienced the situation in which all the granaries in Manitoba and Winnepeg were full and there was a move to restrict the planting of wheat. Within 3 months there was a world wide shortage of wheat because of pestilence in the granaries in the cities to which I have referred. This appears always to have happened in regard to cereals.
In the dairying industry we have restricted the production of butter and milk. At the present time, if a person wants to buy a ton of powdered milk in Australia he cannot be supplied with it unless it is imported from New Zealand. I know of a man who was manufacturing pet foods. He was buying powdered milk in only 5 lb lots. He carried out his experiments and was ready to go on to the market in a big way. He ordered a ton of powdered milk. The firm with which he was dealing laughed at him and said: ‘You cannot get a ton of powdered milk that has been manufactured in Australia. If you want it we will import it from New Zealand.’
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I was not due to speak in this debate until about 9.20 tonight, so perhaps I will not be able to deliver the type of speech that I had intended to deliver. However, I have heard sufficient to realise that we have been listening to nothing more than a great pack of hypocrites. We heard this afternoon-
– I raise a point of order. The term ‘a pack of hypocrites’ is unparliamentary. I ask that it be withdrawn.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope)-
This matter has been raised in this chamber on several occasions, and it has been rule that unless an honourable member is referring to a particular member it is is order.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. If I had called the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) a hypocrite I would have been out of order, so I will not do that. The first thing that comes to my mind is the type of contribution that has been made in this chamber in the last hour or so relative to the imposition of the wine tax. The honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) got up and said that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) was going to do something about it. Let us examine the position to see what amount of prodding had to be given to the honourable member for Angas before what the Opposition had said about this measure at approximately this time last year got through to his head. A headline in the Adelaide ‘Sunday Mail’ of 20th March this year stated: ‘MHRs told: Act over wine tax’. It was virtually telling the honourable member for Angas and his colleague, the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) who is overseas at the present time, to get off their backsides and do something for the industry. A headline in another newspaper stated: ‘Crisis looming in wine industry - effect of wine tax’. It appeared in the ‘Valley Pioneer’, a newspaper which is published in the heart of the electorate of the honourable member for Angas.
Now we see that the honourable member for Angas, only as a political tactic, has placed on the notice paper a motion relating to this wine tax. He purports to show some concern because he is afraid that the Country Party may take his seat from him at the next election. That is why he has placed the motion on the notice paper. The fact is that last year the Government failed to agree to an amendment moved by the Australian Labor Party which referred to the fact that the imposition of this tax would result in the very situation that has occurred in the wine industry. One gets sick and tired of hearing the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), who has just left this chamber after addressing it, saying as he did in the debate last night, that he was strong, big, hefty, capable and able enough to gel up in this chamber and defy his Party. I have searched through Hansard and I have not been able to find one occasion, on one simple matter, on which the honourable member has failed to vote for the Party to which he belongs. I am asked why do I refer to honourable members opposite as hypocrites. As I said to the honourable member for Murray last night-
– Have you ever voted against your Party?
– No, I have not, but I have not stood up in this Parliament and said that I am going to or that I have done so in the past. That is the difference.
– A point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. Has the honourable member moved a motion or is he being a hypocrite in this matter?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I should think not. Honourable members opposite will have points of order all right. The honourable member for Mitchell who has just left the chamber had his seat gerrymandered for pre-selec- tion purposes within the framework of the Liberal Party in the last few weeks, changing it to a city electorate from a country electorate so that he would get the block vote from the Liberal Party Executive in New South Wales. Honourable members opposite should not come in here playing the role of honest politicians within their party. They make one sick. Tn the last few minutes available to me I want to refer to the great Country Party and the great white god that led them for years who said initially when he came into this House that he was going to have no truck with the Country Party. I refer to Sir John McEwen. Time after time he told the House what he was going to do about shipping and the tremendous burden it imposes on primary industry.
This morning’s Press refers to the experimentation in regard to super bales. It is time that the cockies and the wool growers had a look at this question to ensure that some real benefits will flow to the growers as a result of the introduction of these measures. I have a nice, hefty document here which I had proposed to deal with tonight, but time will not permit me to do so. It was something given in 1966 by that once great gentleman, Sir John McEwen. What he was not going to do for the shippers of Australia is nobody’s business. He was going to prevent these freight increases that have gone up by almost 30 per cent in the last 12 months. He was going to see that there were Australian flag ships on the high seas for the benefit of the shippers and for the benefit of the Commonwealth. None of these things has been done. He was going to institute a type of inquiry that would cure the ills. He said that they were a concern of the Government. That is the headline to his speech.
We had reached crisis point way back in 1966, and he was going to cure all the ills of the Government and everybody else, according to what appears under the heading. He also said that shipping services and also the containerisation operations and the benefits that would flow from them were to be completely and absolutely surveyed. He gave the first indication that there would be some rationalisation of shipping. What has the rationalisation of shipping done for the shippers of Australia or for our trade? It has done absolutely nothing. I include the Australian flag ships in some regards. Sir John McEwen said that awareness of the problem was extremely vital. He said that away back in the year 1966, and still the Government has done nothing about it. The other night Government members voted en masse, and by doing so they refused to give any real consideration to the problems of apple growers in Australia.
I see no reason why honourable members from the Government parties should stand up here and criticise the matters that I have just dealt with or purport to support the rural industries - whether they be industries producing apples and pears, wheat, wool or wine - when, by their lack of courage, their lack of common sense or the lack of applying themselves as so called public-spirited people, they have sat quietly in the Party room and have done nothing. Referring back to the honourable member for Angas, it is too late after the Budget comes down and after Cabinet has sat in its concrete vault through the months since June, to come into this place and say: ‘I will put a measure on the notice paper that is going to cure the ills for us.’ The time for the honourable member for Angas to have acted on behalf of his electors in relation to the imposition and the removal of the wine tax was prior to the autumn recess when he should have ensured that his voice was heard at Cabinet level during the time that Cabinet sat in its concrete vault thinking whether or not there should be an early election. The honourable member is doing no more than pulling a type of cheap political trick through the procedures of this Parliament. It is no more than that.
– I raise a point of order. This time 1 was directly attacked and accused of getting up to a cheap political trick. I object to that. It was a direct remark and I ask the honourable member to withdraw it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Cope) - It was an unparliamentary remark. I ask the honourable member to withdraw it.
– I realise that, having said it, I will withdraw it temporarily. But mark this-
– You cannot do that.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- No.
-I will withdraw it. In doing so 1 will say this to the honourable member for Mallee who says I cannot do this: If the honourable member for Angas is unable to deliver the goods as a result of what he has placed on the notice paper I would feel justified in repeating that remark in this House and applying it perhaps more strongly than I have in the last few moments.
– You cannot repeat a remark that you have withdrawn.
– But I may reintroduce it, for the benefit of the smiling Minister at the table who represents a rural area in Australia that is one of the most poverty stricken in this country. He does nothing about it whatsoever. He runs along to Country Party meetings talking about industrial strikes and the like so that he will not be confronted with the problems within his own interests and within his own Party.
– In listening to the speech that has just been made by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) I am reminded of something that was said about Oliver Cromwell. Certain things happened, and it was said: Then curs took courage and tore the great man’s body from the tomb, from hallowed ground. But no power can tear him from his immortal sepulchre in England’s heart’. It is generally accepted that if one can prove that a certain thing a man has said is incorrect then one must cast a doubt on everything he says. We have been listening just now to the honourable member for Stuart and this made me think about Cromwell. The honourable member made a remark about Sir John McEwen who for so long graced this House as a Minister and who was a back bencher during the time when the Labor Party was in office. I wrote down what the honourable member for Stuart said regarding Sir John. I do not care whether this matter takes all my speaking time because I want to clear up this matter. The honourable member said that when Sir John came into this House first he said that he would have no truck with the Country Party. If the honourable member for Sturt has a spark of manhood in his makeup he will get up an apologise for this. The honourable member has just interjected and said that Sir John came in as an independent. Of course he did not come in as an independent. He was a Country Party candidate at the election when he won the seat. He was a Country Party member. He did not deviate one iota from being a country member for 36 years. Then a new man comes into this chamber who does not know the circumstances and is prepared to make a statement, that he should know is untrue, about a great statesman. It is my duty to put the record straight. The honourable member has taken courage in the same way as the people did regarding Cromwell but while Sir John is alive. John McEwen stands high in the annals of this Parliament and will continue to stand high both while he lives and after. I have spent a lot of my time on this subject. In the few minutes I have left I would like to refer to the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) who said that certain people in this House, it appears, do not realise the very desperate straits that many primary producers are in. All honourable members representing country electorates - I do not confine it to Country Party members - know this very well. They travel around the area. They see what is happening. They are anxious to help.
One thing about the present recession in the country is that we know what causes it Sometimes a thing will happen and one does not know what is causing it. Broadly, the cause is high costs and low prices. I have said before, and I say again, that any man who can stop inflation and raise the price of primary products at this stage would be not only the greatest man in Australia today but the greatest man in the world this century. Inflation exists in all countries with people attempting to combat it but without success. The low price for wool is of critical importance to the people of this country. It would take a genius to find a way to lift the price of wool, but even a genius may not be successful. What the Australian Labor Party does is try to blame the Government for low wool prices.
– You took the credit when things were good.
– We hear interjections in this place from honourable members who have footpaths in the cities in which they live but they live there because they have businesses there. But out in the wide open spaces - what I would call the better Australia; that part outside the metropolitan area - there are men who require assistance urgently. This Government is most anxious to help those men to the best of its ability and for the good of the economy of this nation. This talk about the Government being to blame does not ring true to me. It must be remembered that this Government has been in office for 22 years. The primary producers, the secondary industry employees and the merchants - and these people are not foolish - would have put this Government out of office a long time ago if it had been in the best interests of this country. I do not say that all these people have always been satisfied with this Government, but they have had a look at this alternative government - the Opposition - and in terror they have said We do not want that Party in office.’ The present government is the best available and we must stick to it. The country and city representatives in this Government will fight for what is best for the people of Australia.
In view of my limited time in this debate I will not touch on some subjects which I had intended to deal with. I would like to point out how strongly members of the Opposition cry out about reports of high profits by companies in secondary industry. They cry out about the high profits but they never cry out about the cause of these high profits.
– The honourable member for Dawson says ‘rubbish’ but he does not know what I intend to say about the reason for these high profits. He has not the slightest idea of what I am about to say. He is just hitting in the dark.
– You are making an allegation.
– I will support it to the hilt. The reason for these high profits is the high tariff protection given to some industries. Our big manufacturing industries are given this protection and some make these large profits. Why do members of the Opposition not support the fight against this high protection? The answer is very simple. It suits the Labor Party W> have high profits in these industries, lt suits the Labor Party to have this protection which permits these high profits to be made because immediately the secondary industries get high profits the unions involved go to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court seeking higher wages for their members. It has been said that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is supposed to grant salary rises and better conditions in accordance with what industry can pay. If there is this high protection and industry is making huge profits then of course the Labor Party will cry out in protest but it never crys out against the cause of the high profits. This is no secret. The people of Australia all realise this. The honourable member for Dawson has cried out in the belief that he knew what I had intended saying but he came in too quickly. I do not want to say any more about him because he would only try to insult me again as he did last night.
The Country Party believes that tariff protection cannot be drastically reduced. If this happened the people who would suffer most would be the wage earners and to some extent the primary industries. As investigations should be made of our industries and those industries which can get along without high tariff protection should have the level of tariff reduced to bring them into some accord with primary industries. This country cannot long endure a situation in which the cities are booming and the countryside is in a critical financial situation. There is plenty of money in this country. Australia ‘ has never been richer but the money is in the wrong places. The only way to get it into the right places is to bring down the level of tariffs to a reasonable figure. I do not say that we should cut out protection altogether. I am not against tariff protection. I am not an out and out antiprotectionist but I believe that tariff protection has gone wild in this country and it has reached the extent where it is not in the best interests of the economy. The primary producer is the man who will fight to the last for his future. The Government is giving financial assistance in many ways to primary industry. I had intended to deal with this matter this evening but I have not sufficient time.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The estimates now under consideration are those for the Departments of Primary Industry, Customs and Excise and Trade and Industry. They cover a fairly broad spectrum of extremely important areas of Government activity. I have no doubt that honourable members have already dealt fairly extensively with the problems which are confronting our primary industries. The major considerstion here is the manner in which planning to facilitate the orderly marketing of many of our primary products has been delayed and, on many occasions, totally opposed by honourable members opposite. It is not very long ago when we heard in this Parliament Country Party members almost calling down the wrath of the Lord on those people who suggested that wool should be sold by an appraisal system. It is now fashionable for the same members to stand up in the House and say that this system will be the salvation of the industry. lt is not very long since a referendum was held - it was at a time when wool prices were a little better than they are now - to determine whether a floor price scheme should be adopted for wool selling and on that occasion the referendum proposal did not have the active support of the Country Party and it was rejected.
Marketing probably will be the most important single factor in the future of many of our primary industries, it is an area in which there should be far more professional research than there is at the moment. It is a nice sentiment to say that growers should be the people to decide these matters and it is a nice sentiment to say that they are the only people who should have any real say in the disposal of these products. But government moneys are often involved and, as with many other areas of production, the national economy is involved. It is not always, in fact it is very rarely, that a producer of an article is the best person or the most experienced person in the use or marketing of that article. It does not automatically follow that because a person grows an article he knows best how to process it. That may be someone else’s skill. Similarly, it does not follow that because someone is able to grow an article he is the best qualified to market it. This is something which should be given consideration and looked at in a more scientific and more abstract manner than has been the case in recent years. I noted before the suspension of the sitting that the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) in his speech was indicating that he felt that the tariff structure in Australia should be dismantled to a degree.
– I did not say that at all. I did not use the word ‘dismantled’. I said reduced’.
– The honourable member also said that tariffs should be substantially lowered. I remember about a year ago in this House when members of the Country Party and others supported the only reduction in tariff that 1 can remember in some time. This was a reduction in the tariff on man-made fibres or acrylics. This reduction in tariffs had the effect of reducing the price to the mill of man-made fibres by about $1 a pound and of reducing the competitive capacity of wool by that amount. In fact it reacted against the sale of wool. So the reduction of tariffs is not always in the best interests of farmers and I suggest that in this particular case it cost the wool industry market opportunities. It also removed from that industry its competitive situation.
I wish to deal wilh one or two industries which are subject to extremely high levels of tariff but which even with these levels of tariffs do not have real protection in Australia. I refer mainly to the textile areas. If we are to maintain in Australia a viable textile industry it is necessary that that industry must receive protection against the high-volume low-cost production of some Asian and European countries, especially where that production is subsidised by the governments of those countries in order that the tariffs placed by the Australian Government will not necessarily reduce their costs of entry into Australia. The industry must receive not only tariff protection but also some level of quota protection. In the non-metropolitan areas especially, outside the capital cities, textile industries are quite often the largest single employers of labour and in many areas the only substantial employers of female labour. If the provincial towns which are dependent on this industry are to survive or to retain the population and growth rate which is desirable then some means of protecting and maintaining these textile industries is absolutely essential.
One of the matters which has been brought to my attention in recent months concerns a woollen textile industry in the Geelong area. I think it is reasonably well known to the House that there is a recession in the textile industry and I think it is also reasonably well known that within my electorate there has been a substantial fall in the level of employment in this industry. In the industry in the Geelong area there has been a reduction of nearly 1,000 in the members of the textile workers union. They did not just leave the union, they left the industry. That is a very substantial and a major economic factor in an area of 100,000 people. It means that job opportunities have been lost. I note that the Government did not accept the Tariff Board’s recommendations on shirts but even in this industry this week 40 people have been dismissed. They were women, for whom it is hardest to find employment in provincial areas. Forty women have been dismissed from the Pelaco factory in Geelong and this is a serious loss of employment opportunities for females in the area. In the woollen textile industry there is no encouragement for modernisation. I was recently taken through one of the mills in my electorate and shown that after being given the indication some years ago that it should modernise its plant and put in new machinery, which it did, it is now in the situation where not a piece of thread is going through that machinery. The other matter which is important is that in many cases where industries have to purchase new machinery in order to become efficient and more competitive they are not able to purchase that machinery in Australia and have to pay fairly substantial tariffs on the machinery that they import.
Finally, it is all very well for people to say that if an industry is not efficient it should not continue operating and it is all very well for them to say that we should break down the tariff barrier. There is no honourable member in this House who is prepared to stand up and say that Australia should abandon the motor industry or that Australia should abandon the textile industry or that Australia should abandon those other industries for which protection is necessary. No honourable member is prepared to stand in this House and say that the standard of living in Australia can survive if dumped articles from low wage countries are regularly allowed on the Australian market. It may help primary producers, but I very much doubt it. I am certain it would not help the Australian nation and no responsible person could suggest that the 2 biggest industries which need protection, the motor and textile industries, should be discontinued merely to save costs on a few articles.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Earlier in this debate the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) raised a matter concerning the Minister for Mines and Main Roads in Queensland and said that he had said that there could be a Communist influence in this country endeavouring to raise the price of coal which would make it possible for Communist countries in Asia to supply coal at a lower price than we could. As I recall the honourable member for Dawson said that he had made some endeavours to find out whether there were any grounds upon which he could verify this and he had been unable to do so. What I want to say is that I have the very highest regard for the integrity of Mr Camm, the Minister for Mines and Main Roads in Queensland. I am quite sure that in this case he would not make such a suggestion lightly. I believe that he would have had good grounds for making the suggestion that he has made, and even if the honourable member for Dawson in one day was not able to find to his own satisfaction that there was proof of this, it does not prove that the suggestions of the Minister for Mines were not well and truly founded.
Quite often people on this side of the House are accused of kicking the Communist can, but who started it in this case? It was not my intention to get up here and take a bit of the little time I have to speak on this but I do not want to see my colleague in the State House criticised without saying something in his defence. I think that this could very properly have been left with the State House in Queensland. What confidence has the honourable member for Dawson in his colleagues in Queensland if he could not leave it to them to settle this issue? Why bring it down here? I repeat that I am very confident that the Minister for Mines and Main Roads in Queensland would not have made this statement unless he had reasonable grounds for doing so.
I want to refer to the matter of primary industry and specifically to the wool deficiency payment scheme which has been introduced into this house. The wool industry is one of the great industries of this country. It is an industry upon which the prosperity of the nation was based for many years. It is in difficult circumstances at the moment and I commend the Government and those responsible for introducing this bill very strongly because this scheme provides a degree of security for those engaged in the industry. I believe it is in the national interest that this should be done. There is a very large number of people who are dependent upon this industry and it would certainly have been of great disadvantage to the nation if some steps such as these had not been taken to preserve at least some degree of stability within the industry.
I believe that perhaps the most important aspect of this is that we should look ahead to the day when the scheme, which is designed to last for only 12 months - it will expire in July 1972 - does expire. The wool industry and, indeed, the Government must be looking very closely at the action which should be taken to protect the industry beyond that date. It is a strange thing that while the community at large will accept demands for wage and salary increases and seems to be prepared to accept demands for protection for secondary industry, which I do not condemn providing it is reasonably justified protection, whenever there is a move made to try to protect primary industry, however great and important that industry is, there seems to be opposition to it. I believe that this is indicated in the case of an industry such as wool which is confined mostly to areas of Australia where no other industry could survive. Whenever this is attempted there is a suggestion that there is some weight on the taxpayer.
I would like to point out that the wool growers of Australia have for years contributed to the protection that is provided for secondary industry through tariffs and I am one of those who have urged the
Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) to have a very close and careful look at the degree of protection that is provided. I am very pleased with the attitude the Minister has taken in this regard. He has expressed his intention to see that the tariff protection given in this country is related to need. 1 want to point out that the wool industry provides employment for a very large number of people. It is the basis upon which many of our country towns survive. Surely the people engaged in the wool industry are entitled to some reasonable degree of profit. Surely they are entitled to Jive. I believe it is very much in the national interest that this scheme should be implemented and I commend the Government for it. But I do point out that it is very necessary that the industry and those responsible for it should look, as a matter of urgency, to see what action should be taken with regard to the situation in which the wool industry will find itself at the conclusion of this deficiency payments scheme. 1 would like to turn for a moment to the wheat industry. I compliment the Australian Wheat Board on the job it has done in the sale of wheat over recent times and in reducing the stocks of wheat in Australia. I would also like to compliment the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation on the way that it has handled the wheat industry. I believe it has adopted a very responsible attitude towards the industry as a whole. It had the courage to face up to the unpopular decision to recommend that quotas be applied to the industry in its interests and so that the cost to the Government could be kept within reasonable bounds to ensure that there would not be an undue accumulation of wheat. But I do want to say with regard to the wheat industry that if we are to have continually rising costs in every section of industry we must have rising rewards in primary industry. As I said before, I am amazed at the amount of opposition and criticism that arises every time a primary industry wants what every other industry feels it is justly entitled to receive. I believe that the wheat industry too will be looking towards getting some further remuneration if it has to face up to the rising costs which must follow if we have a continual rise in wages and salaries. Primary industry just cannot carry the increased costs.
– What about the rise in profits?
– 1 would like to see the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) on a wheat farm to see how he would go under the present conditions; or anyone else who thinks it is easy to make a living in primary industry today. The people in primary industry have invested quite a large amount of money it it. It is not easy to change from one type of production to another. These people are there and they have to suffer very many disadvantages such as the high cost of educating their children and all of these things that are associated-
– Who owns all the racehorses?
– That is the sort of interjection that I would expect from the other side of the House and I do not want to waste my time answering such puerile interjections.
– He could not run a garden party.
– That is quite right, Mr Minister. In the minute that I have left I would say that I hope Australians will be as fair to the primary producers of this country as they appear to be prepared to be fair to every other section of Australian industry.
– I desire to address my remarks to the very important and serious subject of tariffs. It has become of great importance in more recent times because of certain developments in the approach of the Tariff Board and statements that have been made by responsible members of industry and others. Of course the Australian Labor Party takes great credit for the establishment of the tariff policy of this nation. Had it not been for the Scullin Government and its tariff policies, many great industries which have proved of such great value to Australia’s development would never have been able to continue or to have been established. Consequently, members of the Labor Party continue to support with justifiable pride tariff policies that will protect Australian industries. Before expressing a few views of my own, I should like to reiterate a statement made by our spokesman on tariffs and trade. On 28th April, 1971, in this Parliament, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) said:
An Australian Labor Party government will be concerned to ensure that Australian resources are economically and efficiently used and that no excess prices are charged or unfair profits or other returns are made. An Australian Labor Party government will not permit an Australian industry to exploit protection to make excess profits by charging high prices. But equally an Australian Labor Party government will not permit under any circumstances an Australian industry which is operating economically and efficiently, and which is not charging high prices and making excessive profits, to be swept aside merely because some overseas competitor for a time may be able or willing to land goods at a lower price. With an Australian Labor Party government in office the Australian people can be assured that all those who work economically and efficiently will be protected, but no-one will be allowed to make excessive profits.
In view of more recent statements on tariffs and following on with that policy, I quote now from the 29th policy of the Commonwealth Conference of the Australian Labor Party in Launceston in 1971 which set the economic planning objectives of the Labor Party. Objective number 12 reads:
Protect Australian industries, where necessary, by tariffs, import controls, and/ or subsidies in order to safeguard Australian living standards and to develop Australian resources. The use and level of, and choice between, means of protection to be determined after examination and report by an independent, fully equipped, government authority which will consider, among other things, efficiency, growth prospects, trade practices and pricing policies.
There is no doubt that the Labor Party believes in the protection of Australian industries. Yet, in more recent times, there have been people in the community - some of them to my mind, closely associated with the Tariff Board - who are getting dangerously close to being free traders. Such a policy will destroy completely the stability of the economy and the jobs of countless thousands of Australians. That is why today we, in this Parliament, must always maintain the right to review Tariff Board decisions. They should never be accepted without challenge and we should always reserve the right to determine whether we accept them. Once we relinquish that right, no-one knows what will happen to Australian industries.
The impudence of some people in regard to Australian industry amazes me. In the Australian1 of 28th April 1971 was a heading: Tariffs too high, says Japanese trade head’. Who the hell is the Japanese trade head to tell the people of this country whether they should protect their industries? I once heard the former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Country Party make a speech in this Parliament on tariffs which I thought could very well have been made by a member from this side of the House. He said: Try to get an Australian car into Japan and see how you go. Not one car could be taken there’. Yet, these people are telling us that our protection is too high. The Japs can look after themselves in trade and let us tell them that we will look after our own interests. The Japanese trade head said:
Australia’s tariffs were ‘rather excessively protectionist’ and were affecting Japan’s long-term trade plans. . .
I will cry all night about that. Those remarks were made by the Japanese Minister for International Trade and Industry. I cannot pronounce his name but that is his title. He continued:
Forty, per cent tariff coverage was ‘all too high’ for a country of Australia’s potential.
This tariff coverage stops the Japanese from taking away Australian jobs and Australian production and manufacturing in Japan goods that we should produce here. That is why we should not take notice of these people. Our tariff policy should be designed for Australian workers. Some honourable members no doubt will remember that prior to the last war there was plenty of work in some countries but there was none in Australia because our secondary industries had not developed. I lived in a time when everything which was imported was cheap. There were plenty of cheap motor cars and all the other products that one could want, but men were unemployed and nobody had the money to buy them. That is the situation which will develop if our tariff policy is not maintained at an effective level. I think that the former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party did much to maintain tariff protection and I hope his successor will do the same irrespective of those who cry wolf from time to time.
What does the tariff policy mean to Australian people? Our workers want jobs, long service leave, reasonable wages and security and the right to full employment and be employed in their own environment, but if they want those things, we must be prepared to pay for them. If it means protecting the industries at the expense of overseas interests, I think they are entitled to be protected. I do not profess to know much about the economics of tariffs but if tariffs mean keeping in employment an Australian at the expense of a Japanese, a Britisher or anybody else, I am 100 per cent for such a policy. That is the policy our people want. I instance what is happening in my district today. At a time when tariffs are under challenge in this country, representatives of a big industry in my district approached me recently and said that because of imports of woollen manufactured goods and other goods they had sacked 92 people whose period of service went back as far as 1935 and 1932. They put these people off because they could not possibly maintain production and employment in the face of these imports. This was verified by none other than Mr S. D. Kelly, the President of the Wool Textile Manufacturers of Australia when he said:
Employment and orders have both fallen off seriously in most factories in the last year.
He went on to say:
Yet, paradoxically, it has never been a more efficient producer than it is today as a result of massive investments in new machinery and processes. . . .
Mr Kelly is reported also to have said: the woollen manufacturing industry, which employed 18,000 people, was suffering primarily from imports of products similar to, or which could be substituted for, those made in Australia. . . . Overseas fibre, yarn and fabric producers must have a quiet laugh at the way in which this country’s textile industry makes a market here for the overseas products and then is quietly strangled. . . . This country is soon going to have to decide whether it wants a textile industry or not.
There is a lot more to that statement but other Opposition speakers have mentioned the threat to the motor industry and other industries where men will be paid off unless those industries are protected and unless the Government adopts a firm line. It is shocking to have the disintegrated collection of members opposite running this country and refusing to take action when all Australian industry is threatened. They do not have one policy for more than an hour at a time. They change Ministers and policies day and night and yet Australian industries are clamouring for a clear lead. Even Sir James Vernon, when moving a vote of thanks to the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) - Lord knows what for - said:
I emphasise the words ‘some aspects’. AIDA has accepted most readily the Tariff Board’s proposed systematic review of the tariff, starting with those products having the highest effective tariff rates, which have not been reviewed for a long time. Our greatest concern has been with the guidelines proposed by the Tariff Board. The guidlines and some other elements imply to us a certain rigidity of approach; an attempt to ‘fine tune’ tariffs that could prove quite disastrous if carried through in today’s fast changing circumstances.
I urge the Leader of the Country Party to see that we have a policy of protection for Australian industry and to put the interests of this country first in its implementation. Let us forget the Japanese and people from other countries who seek to employ their workers in industry and to put ours out of work. From an Australian Labor Party view and from an Australian view I am 100 per cent in favour of the protection of Australian industry and I demand that the Government do something about it.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry I want to mention the subject of tourism. Tourism like motherhood, is something to which all Government supporters pay lip service. Unfortunately their contribution to the latter is significantly greater than it has been towards tourism. For some unknown reason, tourism has become the Cinderella industry, despite its continued growth, despite its significant contribution to employment, profitability, decentralisation and balance of payments. The attitude of the Government seems to be that tourism is a not quite manly or masculine pursuit for good red blooded Australians who should be occupying their minds and bodies with healthy vigorous industries even if they lose their shirt doing it.
One of the fundamentals of business practice is that if you have a line that is not selling or making a profit, you get out of it quickly and cut your losses or phase out of it into another line that has greater potential. There are humanitarian reasons for supporting certain industries in Australia over the short term but in the long term we must look towards those industries that have growth potential and try to make the transition as quickly and painlessly as possible. The bankruptcy courts and commercial graveyards are full of businessmen who had sentimental and emotional attachments to particular enterprises when all the indicators pointed in the opposite direction. It has been often said that the Government of Australia is like a board of directors of a nation. If this is so then the next annual shareholders meeting should see a new board. The neglect of the tourist industry at the expense of less viable industries is simply bad business, nothing more, nothing less. The myth of the Liberals as a party of shrewd businessmen is clearly exploded in their present misjudgment of business priorities. The growth in tourism is clearly indicated in the 1971 annual report of the Australian Tourist Commission to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). The report states:
The number of visitors to Australia increased by 14 per cent from 387,197 in 1969 to 440,822 in 1970 while visitor spending rose from St 18m in 1969 to SI 35m in 1970 also an increase of 14 per cent.
The real growth in tourism should exclude the figures for spending by American servicemen on rest and recreation leave in Australia of $20m for 1970, which would give an actual travel credit of $115m. However the report points out that Australians are spending $185m abroad so that there is a deficit of $70m in the balance of payments. With December 1971 seeing the end of R and R spending in Australia there is a growing gap between what comes into and goes out of the country in tourist spending. The total output of our tourist industry for native Australians was valued in 1970 at $2,400m.
Mr Alan Greenway, Chairman of the Australian Tourist Commission, is to be congratulated on his excellent report for, although responsible to the Government, he has not pulled any punches in his letter to the Minister. Whilst pointing out that the primary role of the Tourist Commission is in the area of marketing and research and congratulating the Government on its changed attitudes towards air charter flights into Australia, he indicates his disappointment at the Government’s failure to implement regional plans submitted by the Development and Research
Division for the Ayers Rock-Mount Olga and the Great Barrier Reef. The report states:
The Commission has expressed the view in the past, in its 1969-70 Annual Report and elsewhere, that the quality and quantity of Australia’s tourist attractions and facilities are in need of urgent attention if our full tourist potential is to be realised. The need for accelerated developmental activity is now all the more urgent if we are to take full advantage of the new markets, which lower charter fares can be expected to guarantee.
It is clear that the Commission is angered at the failure of the Government to act on the 2 development plans presented so far. The first one on the Ayers Rock-Mount Olga area was presented on 30th June 1969, and the second on the Great Barrier Reef on 15th April 1971. Superbly documented and presented, they are comprehensive blue prints for combined governmental and private enterprise initiatives that would place Australia on the road to having a thriving, flourishing tourist industry with its resultant benefits for employment, decentralisation and prosperity for hundreds of thousands of Australians, not the least of them being those most in need of assistance - the unskilled, women. Aborigines, the aged and those who are presently feeling the squeeze of the rural depression.
The Great Barrier Reef plan is an exhilarating, exciting and visionary programme that stresses the need to conserve the flora and fauna, and maintain the Reef as an ecological landmark whilst making it attractive to international and domestic tourists. It points out that much of the present development is cheap and nasty and needs to be redeveloped; that new areas should be developed in a more attractive, sophisticated manner stressing the uniquely Australian character rather than being a poor imitation of the worst of overseas design. It highlights the need for an integrated upgrading of transport facilities, new and expanded, such as airports, better quality highways, cruise craft and the provision of facilities - water, sewerage and electricity. Most importantly, it outlines areas for direct government involvement and the need for incentives for private investment in such out of the way places. This should take the form of tax write offs, depreciation allowances, export allowances and, in some instances, direct subsidies. It offers detailed studies for 6 regions ranging from Cooktown in the north to Maryborough in the south. The report states:
If the Reef is to be preserved, its development must be controlled. Standards must be created and maintained, and the responsibility for such a programme must be fixed in one authority,.
And therefore it recommends the establishment of ‘a Barrier Reef Authority to promulgate, monitor and enforce standards of development*. lt is quite impossible to cover the thousands of detailed recommendations made in the report in the time available in the debate, but I can assure honourable members that they can spend an exhilarating evening reading this report. The same applies to the earlier report on the Ayers Rock-Mount Olga Area. As with the Reef plan the recommendation suggests the provision of better airport and road facilities, and so on.
I understand that plans are afoot to present similar development plans for other areas of great tourist potential in Australia, although one must begin to imagine the despondency of those associated with the presentation of these superb reports after the complete lack of action on the Government’s part. There are many superb areas crying out for development - the Sydney region reaching up to the Blue Mountains in the west and in my own electorate of Robertson in the north, the central coast area between Newcastle and Sydney with its classic bushlands, beaches, lakes and rivers, the southwest through Berrima down to Canberra and Mount Kosciusko and Mount Buffalo, the Barossa Valley, the apple isle of Tasmania, the Pilbaras and the Kimberleys of Western Australia.
– The Riverina is a pretty good area.
– I am sorry. As the honourable member for Riverina says, I should mention the area he comes from. It must be perfectly obvious to anyone who has travelled abroad that a country can no longer rely on its natural assets and the hospitality of its people. International visitors want, I believe, the following things when they visit Australia: Firstly, fast, comfortable and reasonably priced transport - we still suffer due to our distance from the major tourist sources - the
United States and Europe; secondly, first class international standard accommodation; and thirdly, to view, feel, taste and absorb experiences uniquely Australian.
We should encourage development that stresses this uniqueness. Hotels if possible should reflect the Australian idiom in their setting, architecture, decor, food and entertainment. We have had an exciting history of colonial pioneering. We should not be embarrassed or self-conscious about playing up our past. Visitors do not come to Australia to see a cheap imitation of Florida, Hawaii or the Swiss Alps. They want Australia.
Government can play a very real role by involvement in the cultural, historical, educational and scientific areas which will be of equal value to Australians, who are showing greater interest and pride in things Australian, by participating in the development of museums that are not only of value to tourists but also of great educational value to Australia. I recommend to members an excellent article in the 29th May issue of the ‘Bulletin’ suggesting governmental initiative for a convict museum, a colonial portrait gallery, a museum of Victorian Australia, an Australian museum of natural history, a Captain Cook museum, of the Pacific people, an Australian Maritime museum, an Aboriginal museum, and various other suggestions that would add greatly to preserving and illustrating our heritage. Only a visionary Australian government can see the exciting potential in tourism and commence an aggressive policy of development outlined by the Australian Tourist Commission. One would hope that the new Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities (Mr Howson) will come up with more dramatic recommendations than he did during tourist week when his sole idea was to suggest to Australians that they plant more trees. I have read every speech that has been made on tourism in the last 10 years and I want to compliment the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie), who has made the best speech on tourism in those 10 years.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– On Wednesday of last week the Minister for
Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) tabled the annual report of the Tariff Board for 1970-71. In this report 3 members of the Board wrote dissenting opinions on the practice introduced by the Chairman of the Board of using, as temporary staff for post-hearing analysis, academics from Monash University. The Minister, when he tabled that report, made no comment about it. On Thursday, 30th September, I asked the Minister a question about the practice that had been introduced by the Tariff Board. He told me and the House that he was seeking legal advice from the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood). In his answer to me, the Minister said:
Yesterday I tabled the annual report of the Tariff Board. It contained a dissenting opinion on the practices and procedures concerning some of the activities of the Tariff Board. Those matters would relate very much to the question that had been asked of me. This matter has been referred to the Attorney-General’s Department for legal opinion, and until 1 have that legal opinion I would reserve any comment.
The Minister knew, when he tabled that report, that 3 members of the Tariff Board had put in a dissenting report. He made no comment on that fact to the Parliament. He passed my question off, knowing exactly from where it came, by saying that he had referred the matter for legal opinion to the Attorney-General. I ask him now whether the advice from the Attorney-General has been received? If not, why has it not been received? When will the Minister be in a position to release that advice to this Parliament? At the same time, I ask the Minister to answer fully the question that I asked him on Thursday last. I knew nothing about what was in the Tariff Board’s report until he tabled it. I looked at it. I asked my question the next day. I asked a series of questions. The Minister pushed me off by saying that he had sought legal advice. On the subject of the Tariff Board, I now ask the Minister to find out what is the real state of affairs behind the reports that we in this Parliament receive these days from the Tariff Board. Most of the reports recommend severe cuts in protection for the Australian industry. In the main the Government is accepting these recommendations without knowing the reasons why the recommendations are made? The reports do not justify the recommendations.
Industry has grown accustomed to giving the Tariff Board the fullest measure of confidential information about its business relating to costs, financial operations, future plans and marketing arrangements. Industry has been providing the Board with this information which otherwise industry guards most carefully. So carefully does industry guard this information that anyone in industry who tries to obtain it from any other competitor in industry is regarded as practising industrial espionage. For SO years, industry has given this information to the Tariff Board to assist the Board to do the best possible job for Australia and Australia’s workers. Over 50 years a trust has grown that the information from industry will go no further than the Tariff Board and those members of the Board who necessarily must have access to it. 1 recall quite vividly the former Minister for Trade and Industry, Sir John McEwen, saying on many occasions, when lauding the Australian Tariff Board system, that confidential information given to the Board is not divulged to any person outside the Board, whether the Prime Minister, members of the Cabinet or anyone else. As late as February last, the present Minister for Trade and Industry said:
The Tariff Board has always taken great care and will continue to do so in the future to ensure that confidential information it receives does not pass to outside bodies.
It looks to me as though the Minister has been hoodwinked. Australian industry now finds that its confidential information has been handed over to people outside the Tariff Board. The shattering realisation is that the trust of 50 years has been broken and that confidential information from industry has been passed from the Tariff Board to people at Monash University.
Industry has the impression that any matter before the Board is dealt with by the members of the Board who conduct that inquiry. Industry naturally assumes that the great deal of evidence, including confidential evidence, given to the members of the Board will later be studied, sifted and analysed by those same men with the assistance of the staff of the Board. Industry would believe that at the end of the line the members of the Board reach conclusions, formulate recommendations and present a report which is the product of their own work. But that does not seem to be the case. The picture that I get is that, after a public hearing, the members of the Board concerned go about their other activities, their other business, hear other inquiries, inspect factories and, in due course, they then consider the draft reports and recommendations that finally reach them and that have been prepared by the Chairman and the staff of the Board. As 1 understand it, these Board members know little or nothing about what has happened in connection with an inquiry between the close of the hearing and the submission of them to draft reports and recommendations. This is why some of them did not know that people outside the Tariff Board had been called in to work on the reports and recommendations. Board members, I believe, were not consulted before outside temporary staff were brought into the Tariff Board to do the post-analysis work. 1 have heard that one Board member who feels very strongly about this matter did not, simply for reasons of embarrassment, join those who expressed a dissenting opinion. The embarrassment was caused by the fact that he had signed a Tariff Board report on a very important subject, and that that report had yet to be tabled-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In discussing the estimates for the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry, I hope very briefly to cover 3 subjects. The first subject is the rural crisis. A member from a city seat has very few opportunities to talk on this subject as there are others from country electorates to take the opportunity to speak on Bills which affect rural areas. The second topic which I wish to mention is the European Economic Community. We have not yet had an opportunity to discuss this subject which is most important to this country. If I have time, the third subject with which I will deal is tariffs.
Firstly, I want to congratulate the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) for raising a subject which 1 think must be of interest to all of us in this house. I am aware that he has information which allowed him to bring up this subject immediately, almost on the same day as the tabling of the tariff reports. This is information which is not in the hands of the rest of us yet. But very properly the honourable member has used this information to question the Government. I think he would agree that the case is non-proven but it is quite proper that he should raise it. We all recognise that the honourable member is acting on a minority report and that there are other members of the Tariff Board who have a different opinion and who have not signed that report or those criticisms. We want to hear that side of the story before any of us make up our minds. We do not have a party view on this but the honourable member is-
– Every member of the Board has signed the report.
– They all signed the report but they have not signed the minority report or the criticisms of it. What I am suggesting is that it is proper that the minority view should be raised in this Parliament for those who have the responsibility to answer the questions being raised here. That is the point I am trying to get across. I congratulate the honourable member for raising this matter but I want it known that he is not necessarily putting forward a party view on this at all. We want to know the answers to the questions he has raised before making up our minds on it.
Let me turn to the rural crisis. There are 2 points that I want to make about this matter. One is that we should recognise that for 20 years now we have been the lucky’ country in regard to selling our primary products on the world market. If we look at the United States of America, the United Kingdom or Western Europe, we find that all of those countries have had to undergo very serious rural reconstruction. If we look at our own country we find that our great product, wool, has been one of the few primary products in the world for which the production cost has been less than the price on the world market. For reasons 1 shall come to and for some other reasons that none of us know the price of that product has now dropped in such a way that we are in the same position as those in the rural industries in the United Kingdom, the United States and, to a great extent, Western Europe. We are grappling with this great problem of reconstruction.
This brings me to the second point - that is, that we are suffering from a government whereby the Australian Country Party interests are the tail that wags the dog. The result of that has been that we have had a government which has been operating in a complete vacuum. The Government has not got out and led this country; it has not got out and instituted those rural policies which are in the best interests of the whole of this country. The Government has been waiting for the industry on each occasion to make up its mind. This is just not good enough for this country.
The Government’s behaviour affects not only those many thousands of people living in the rural districts but also people who are living in electorates such as mine. This is my excuse, apart from the fact that I had my upbringing in country areas, for talking on this subject in the Parliament. My electorate, the city electorate of Adeaide, is being affected by this rural crisis. We are all being affected. I do not want anyone on the other side of the chamber to get up and say that I have no right to talk about this matter. I think I am an informed observer and, as I say, I was brought up in the rural districts of Western Australia. I am sick to death of suffering a government - and so are the people who I represent - which has waited for industry to make up its mind.
We have had referenda at which decisions have gone against the Government, where every informed person has known that the referendum should have been passed and there should have been a yes vote rather than a no vote. We have waited and waited for decisions to be made; we have arrived at the situation that we have today. So my one short message in the short time at my disposal is: Let us look at the way in which the United Kingdom, Western Europe and the United States have had to grapple with the subject of rural reconstruction. These countries certainly did not use the sort of policies that we are seeing in this country at the moment. I refer to policies concerning a wool commission, and a rural reconstruction scheme which is doing nothing but scratch the surface. We have to grapple with the problem. We have to go out and show and tell the people that 30c per lb for wool is probably the maximum that we will get in the foreseeable future. We should do this instead of hoping like Charles Dickens’ character Mr Micawber for something to turn up and not get on with the policies which ought to be instituted in this country.
I now come to the second subject - the European Economic Community - because here the story is much the same. For years we have seen that Britain was likely to go into the European Economic Community. Yet, today and yesterday we have had in our midst in this Parliament Mr Les Huckfield, the member for Nuneaton in the British House of Commons who is trained in this economic field and who has told us just how we have missed out in relation to what New Zealand has done in the negotiations for Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. There may be excuses because of the terrible time the Government has been suffering with its clash of personalities; whether the Prime Minister would be the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) or the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon); and whether the right honourable member for Higgins would survive as Minister for Defence and so on. But while these things have been going on we have not had a proper voice of government in the negotiations which have taken place in Europe. As a result we have found ourselves being sold down the drain by Great Britain in her negotiations with Europe.
We have had a government that has not even known what it has wanted in these negotiations. Industries, such as the vine fruits industry in my own State and indeed the sugar industry in the State of my colleague, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), are now facing an even greater crisis than they would have faced in the present rural crisis for other reasons of prices on the world market.
I had the opportunity earlier this year to be in Brussels, the capital of the Community. I also visited the House of Commons in London where I talked to those who have been involved in the negotiations in Europe. It was clear then that, whatever Australia’s interests were, Britain would go in. Indeed at that time in January and February when I was in England it was still not clear what the term of entry would be. That was the time when the really strong representations should have been made on these subjects by Australia in Brussels and London. Indeed there was no-one to speak at that time with the strong voice of government. We have been sold down the drain by this Government in the negotiations and we now have to pick up the tab - and it is not a very nice tab we are picking up - in all the reconstruction that has to take place. 1 want to move briefly to the subject of tariffs. I congratulate those honourable members from my party who have spoken on this subject. However, I want to point out what they have pointed out - namely that in this plank of our platform on the subject of tariffs we are absolutely sold on the idea of having an independent Tariff Board to examine each one of these industries closely. We recognise that full employment is the No. 1 plank in our platform. We all know that there is nothing more degrading for any community than to live in a country in which there is unemployment. At the same time, we believe that this Government has allowed industries which are inefficient to grow where strong action would have made sure that employment was maintained, that a ceiling was put on employment in those industries and that the resources of and employment in our country were transferred to other industries where there would be greater economic growth.
Unfortunately, this is a vast subject which is far too long to cover in 10 minutes.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I had not finished talking about the Tariff Board when my time expired so I shall take my second opportunity to say a few more words. One of the phrases that is used constantly in every Tariff Board report is economic and efficient’. Because the Tariff Board uses that phrase so often I decided that I would check to see whether the Board could meet its own criteria. I find that in 1950-51 the Tariff Board made 38 reports and it then had a staff of approximately 15. In 1960-61 it made 43 reports and its staff was then about 50. In 1962-63 the Board had the amazing record of producing 58 reports, and its staff was then 60. In 1967-68 it produced 32 reports, and it then had a staff of approximately 110. In 1969-70 the Board produced 35 reports and it had a staff then of approximately 140. In 1970-71 it produced 25 reports and it then had a staff of approximately 160, with an administrative structure which allowed it to have a staff of 190. I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) whether he is prepared to find out and to report to this Parliament on what is going on in the Tariff Board. Why is it that in 1950-51, with a staff of 14 or 15, the Board could present 38 reports and that in 1970-71 with 12 or 13 times the staff that it had in 1950-51 it could make only 25 reports?
I think it is reasonable - I think it is expected by every honourable member on this side of the chamber - that Australian industry should be economic and efficient, but I certainly will not sit here and have somebody judge whether an industry is economic and efficient when the figures I have produced, from the Tariff Board’s own reports, indicate that with a staff of 14 or 15 it could produce approximately 38 reports and that with a staff of approximately 160, augmented by part-time assistants from the Monash University, it could present only 25 reports. I see the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) shudder when I mention the Monash University because in his opinion that university does not even count; there are more demonstrations per day there than there are at any other university in a week.
Someone is sitting up there as a god - and this is how the Tariff Board appears to me at the present time - and is presenting some reports with the help of academics or through acrobatics. The Tariff Board is trying to destroy the employment of men and women in my electorate. I return straightaway to the report which the Tariff Board has presented. I did not like a comment that was made by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) when he said that within a few hours of the report being presented I knew what was going on. I did my homework. I have been taking an interest in Tariff Board reports for the last 10 years, and I did not like that comment from my side of the chamber. I have it all marked in the report; I have been through it. What did Mr Cossar say in his dissenting opinion? It is written in the third person.
– I do not think that you heard your colleague aright. Your colleague was praising you.
– He was not. I heard him aright.
– I say that in friendship.
– All right. Mr Cossar’s dissenting opinion is written in the third person. The report states:
Mr Cossar . . . wishes to make it clear that he has not sought and will not seek the employment of such persons.
Those persons come from the Monash University. The other 2 members of the Board who issued dissenting opinions were Mr Dudley and Mr Hampel. Amongst other things they said:
It would thus be understandable if witnesses were inclined to suspect that the Board had already drawn its conclusions on the subject of the study, and possibly on the whole inquiry, even before the public hearings opened.
The report goes on to state what these 2 gentleman said - again in the third person: the Board is acting in a manner inconsistent with the interests of witnesses and other parties involved. The first reason for this belief is the less straightforward. It concerns not so much the ability of the Board to keep the confidences entrusted to it, but rather its ability to continue convincing witnesses and potential witnesses that it can do so.
Further on the report states:
It is thus important that nobody should he capable of sustaining a suspicion that the Board’s ability to preserve the confidences of witnesses was being in any way eroded.
Further on the report states - again in the third person because someone wrote it for Messrs Dudley, Hampel and Cossar: the Board depends in large measure on its reputation for fairness and impartiality, which must take precedence over other considerations. For the reasons discussed above, both the preinquiry studies and those by people other than the Board’s permanent staff appear likely to place this reputation in jeopardy.
Australia cannot afford it. We have a full employment economy, and this Government should realise that in 1960-61 when there were 220,000 people unemployed the Labor Party, for the first time since I have been a member of this Parliament, went within one seat of winning the election. I do not care whether we become the government, but I will not allow any government to put people out of employment, to put them on the dole and go back to the depression days. Unless the Tariff Board is as economic and efficient as it claims the industries which it is studying should be then I just will not accept another Tariff Board report while I am in this Parliament.
– I have been most interested to hear some of the views expressed tonight by members of the Australian Labor Party on the subject of tariffs. Might I hasten to add that neither by past record nor by interests could I be regarded as a free trader. But tonight, if I might suggest it, I have heard the opposite side of the picture to a rather unusual extent. My interest in tariffs goes back a good many years to the time when a former Minister for the Navy, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), first entered the Ministry. If I may say so, at that particular point in this Parliament’s history tariff debates lost some of their sting because the honourable member for Wakefield was at least one member of this Parliament who did his homework fully on tariffs.
– He had no alternative.
– He had no opposition. I can remember that for several sessions in succession after the honourable member for Wakefield became a Minister, I was the only member from this side of the chamber who rose to speak on tariffs. In those days the general picture in most debates on tariffs was that I would rise, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) - or the honourable member for Yarra, as he then was - would rise and so would the Leader of the Country Party, the right honourable John McEwen. At that time it was usually a triangular debate until this side of the chamber received the very great benefit of some people with brains and a capacity to work, who came into this Parliament and did their homework on tariff matters. 1 include as outstanding among these honourable members the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street).
I can remember during those days the first period of intellectual honesty on tariff matters that came from the Opposition. This consisted, from memory, of 2 sessions of Parliament when the honourable member for Lalor completely changed his side and for once did not talk of protection regardless of all or of employment as a factor to be adopted as a philosophy in tariff debates. It did not take long before he dodged back into the over-protection fold of the Opposition. Those of us on this side of the chamber who have an interest in tariffs, as I had - I regret to say that I have not been able to continue with it - regretted the fact that the intellectual honesty displayed by that honourable member fell on evil times. From that time on the Opposition has not had a great deal to say in this Parliament on tariff matters. The subject of tariffs has been left largely to the honourable member for Wakefield and the honourable member for Corangamite; the debate has been between this side of the chamber and this side of the chamber. Very rarely has anything of consequence been said about tariffs by members of the Opposition.
I know from private conversations that the thinking on the matter of tariffs of honourable members on the other side of the chamber who have not been here for very long is very much along the same lines as the thinking of many of us on this side of the chamber. I regret that tonight I have not heard them give voice to their thoughts and their true feelings on the degree of tariff protection desirable for Australia. Tonight we have heard a very garbled version from more than one speaker on this matter.
I do not intend to take up the time of the Parliament much longer on this point. All [ wish to do is to deal briefly with some of the more basic principles which are involved in the matter of tariff protection so that they can be easily understood. I have never thought that employment should be a factor involved in an economic decision in a full economy, but I admit that that is a matter of judgment. One can think of the base chemical industries in the years gone by which were perhaps over protected 15 or 17 years ago. Only recently the highly effective Minister for Customs and Excise agreed that it was in the national interest that some of these cases should be looked at. This is a tremendous breakthrough. Those who forget these things and say, as I get the clear implication, that there should be overall protection for many industries regardless of anything do one great disservice if not more. The great disservice is not necessarily to the Australian work force.
– Does the work force not count?
– The disservice is not necessarily to the honourable member for Port Adelaid, who interjects, and not necessarily to the consumer durable and non-durable industries. But they do a very great disservice to the entire export potential of this nation. The export industries, whether they be secondary or primary, bear the brunt of over-protection. I am not standing here tonight to say that industries in Australia are over-protected. What I am standing here tonight to say is that I would have expected an intelligent Opposition to realise that there are some industries that need an inquiry into their particular level of tariff protection. That is all. That is just what I have not heard so far from the Opposition.
– When Pitt the Younger heard that war was breaking out with France he said: You can roll up the map of Europe and put it away for the next 10 years.’ Similar remarks might be made with relation to the future functions of the Tariff Board, because whatever the validity of the arguments that have been advanced here tonight we face an economic watershed in world affairs. The hard and real truth is that Bretton Woods and all that it stands for is in the discard and we are on the verge of a world trade war. Let there be no mistake about that, because that is the inner and the real meaning of Nixonomics That being so, a lot that has been said here tonight might be academically correct but in terms of hard realism it is very far from the truth.
Today the world is breaking up into protective blocs. Britain, which has been the largest open market in the world for primary produce and foodstuffs is going into the largest of those economic protective blocs. Let there be no mistake about it. Similarly, the United States of America, which still packs more economic clout than the rest of the world together in terms of trade, has laid it on the line as to what the future will be. There will be another protective bloc that will constitute the continents of North and South America. There is another economic bloc, too, that must be reckoned with and that is the bloc of the Comintern countries. The gross national product of the United States is $1,050 billion a year, but the whole of world trade is $280 billion a year. The United States depends on world trade for only a matter of 4i per cent of its gross national product. It is still in a position to lay it on the line as to the terms on which world trade will be dictated.
The United States can see the trends. It can also see that Japan and Australia are on the outer. Let there be no exercise in self deception with regard to our potential market in Asia, because Australia, with 12i million people, has a gross national product equal to that of Indonesia, the Philippines, North and South Vietnam when they are at peace, Camobidia and Thai land. We can throw in Burma, too. As for the chimera of China, with anything between 700 million and 800 million people, its contribution to world trade is $4.2 billion which is a little more than that of Australia at $4.1 billion. The position is - and it ought to be stated - that Australia is dependent on an inflow of anything between $800m and $ 1,000m a year to rectify its balance of payments on current account. Consistently for the last 15 years the terms of trade have flowed against Australia in respect of its exports of primary produce and that is the dilemma that this Government faces. We need to be hard fisted and we need to be hard hearted because today in this world we are out on our own. It will be necessary for us wherever we can to make a dollar by trade or by protection. We will be in a stark hard and vicious trade war, and that is the inner meaning of Nixonomics.
When all the manipulations are finished in relation to foreign exchange parties this will be the position: The surcharge of 10 per cent on American imports will remain and even greater than that is the other concession that is given internally in the United States, a matter of another 10 per cent by way of tax concessions for the purchase of American manufactured goods such as heavy machinery, and in addition there will be the measure of deflation. In other words the United States in terms of world trade will get in out of the wet and the rest of the world can fend for itself.
In relation to our own immediate prospects, we depend upon the Pacific triangle of trade. We have a very favourable balance with Japan. In turn Japan has an equally favourable balance with the United States and the US has an extremely favourable balance with us. As a broad illustration the 3 -way trade balances itself but this will not be the position in the future. Our future will depend on just what Japan decides to do because Japan has to break in somewhere and it will not be in the US. What are to be our remedies? Firstly, a good hard look at ourselves and where we can trade. There will be very few places indeed. The economy of Australia will be distorted in the future if the Government’s present relations, and its dependence in particular for political survival, depends upon the economic vagaries and whims of the Australian Country Party. That will be the position.
– What a choice.
– Yes. What are we to do? Firstly, we need to name our contracts in respect of exports in Australian dollars. We need to repatriate our foreign exchange reserves right into Australia. We can trust no-one with the future of world trade. In addition to that we have to prune our balance of payments on current account. Let us have a good hard look at the $792m that we are paying out for freight and transport. The question is whether we should not have our own national shipping line. The next thing is this: Are we getting the proper price for our mineral exports? We are not. Let me take a case concerning my own electorate where through crass stupidity the coal producers cut one another’s throats when the Japanese came and as a consequence we are getting $12.80 per ton for our coal while similar quality coal is being purchased by Japan for $20 from the United States.
The other day in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry statement the squeeze play started. It would not be a very bad idea if Australia had its own MITI. We could have a Ministry not of one-way trade, because that is how the Japanese one is stigmatised, but when we come into the picture we should come in with one hit. The Japanese Ministry finds out the collective requirements of the various industries. Having ascertained them it does the negotiating. We can do the same and we will need to because we have no alternative. In addition to that we need to end the restrictive franchises that have been imposed upon our exports. We have imported a good deal of technology and we have paid a high price. Despite my probing over 7 years the Government has never conducted a full inquiry into the 1,100 agreements which exist and in each case Australia goes into the export market hobbled because it is limited as to where it can sell its exports and on what terms it can sell them. Let us get to an end to that. In addition there is the little matter of taxation fiddles and I do not think there is any need for me to instance the long protracted litigation between the Commissioner for Taxation and the Shell company. Even after all that it ended in a compromise or in a draw. We are not getting paid a proper price for what we are capable of producing and what the world market will accept. For the future we will need to be hard fisted, hard hearted and think in terms of ourselves because we have gone out of the soaring sixties and we are now into the sombre seventies. Let every nation look after itself and the devil will take the hindmost.
– by leave - I move:
That Government Business, order of the day No. 16, National Health Bill 1971, second reading, resumption of debate, be discharged.
On Tuesday night last the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) announced the Government’s decision to increase the level of Commonwealth benefits for nursing home patients. As a consequence the National Health Bill which the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) introduced into this House on 16th September will need to be withdrawn and redrafted. It is my intention to introduce a new Bill incorporating the newly announced benefits when the House meets next Tuesday. It is therefore necessary for the Bill which is now before the House to be withdrawn tonight. Immediately after this motion has been carried notice of my intention to present a new Bill on Tuesday will be reported to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1971-72 In Committee
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed expenditure, $34,879,000.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $78,646,000.
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, $39,641,000.
– I have heard some of the debate whilst present in the chamber and 1 have listened to some of it elsewhere through the public address system. I must admit that 1 find it saddening that there is such an area of ignorance about this very important question. 1 think it is proper that 1 should go over the fundamental details of it for some of the honourable members present. One of the principles with which we have to begin is the clear statement of fact that the more industrialised we become the more dependent we are on imports. This goes for any country. This is surprising to many people in Australia but it follows a common pattern. The more industrialised we become the more we depend on our ability to buy imports. Our ability to buy imports then depends on our exports. What will hold Australia back more surely and cause our standard of living to fall is our inability to buy the imports that a developing economy demands. That being the starting point, we then have to buy imports and there is only one way yet known to buy imports and that is by producing exports. If we cannot produce exports the whole economy will slow down.
The burden of the tariff, if there is one - and there is not always a grievous burden - is always carried, and the price for tariff protection is always paid, by exporters, not necessarily by farmers. The greater the proportion of exporters the greater the proportion of the burden borne by the export industry. Coming back now to this problem of employment, the important thing to realise is that we do not get good employment figures out of a sick economy and to have a flourishing economy we must be able to buy imports and to do that we must produce exports. Anything that increases the burden on the export industries automatically diminishes the health of the economy and our ability to create employment. That is one matter. The other matter is that there are too many people who think that protection is necessary in order to ensure employment for our people.
Let me run through some figures. Approximately 28 per cent of our people are employed in secondary industries and about half of those depend on protection for their viability. The important thing to realise is that the price for protection is always paid by someone. I beg members of the Opposition, particularly the diehards, to realise this. As we know, there are a lot of bright younger members on the Opposition side who see things in more realistic terms. Let me give a clear example that was given the other day. There was a tariff duty on shirts and in the Tariff Board’s Report it was pointed out quite clearly that part of the problem of the shirt industry, that is, of the people who make shirts in Australia, is that they have to pay a high price because of protection on shirt material, and if we make shirt material dear by protecting it at a high rate we make it rauch more difficult for those who make shirts to compete with the shirts that come from overseas. So do not let us argue about it being just a question of creating employment. I emphasise that we will get employment in some industries but the employment in these industries is bought at the cost of employment in other industries. I do beg the Opposition to realise this as an economic fact. There is a price to be paid for protection. In many cases it is worth while, it is a justifiable cost. But do not ignore the cost in economic terms, and do not ignore the effect of the cost on export industries which must be able to produce the exports a developing economy demands. This is a price that has to be weighed in the balance, but what must be chiefly considered is the cost of employment that is jeopardised in the industries which are effected by the high cost of their raw materials.
When I started on this exercise 10 or more years ago, criticising and worrying about the high rate of protection, it used to be mainly the farmers and exporters, but principally those in the rural sector, who would support me. But now the people who come most frequently say: ‘Will you please look at the effect of the tariff on the cost of our raw materials?’ I do wish the Opposition would see it in these terms. There is no such thing as a free meal in tariff protection nor in any other walk of life and the price for high protection has always to be paid by other industries and at the cost of employment in other industries.
When we come to discuss this matter again I hope we will not get this rather - I was about to say ‘infantile’ but that is too strong a word - primitive idea that we are discussing employment as against unemployment. We are discussing the question where Australia’s resources could be better used, whether we could put more of our limited resources into one area rather than another, and the whole judgment is made to my mind on where we create the most worthwhile employment. I beg the Opposition, particularly the diehards in the Opposition, to realise that it is not just a matter of arguing whether people will be put out of employment in a factory. It is a question of deciding where we can get the most employment out of the economy. If we look at it in that light we will get a higher standard of living all round and more worthwhile employment.
– The estimates before the Committee are probably among the most important we have to discuss. They are important because they control our balance of payments and if one examines the deficit on the balance of the current account during the period 1950-51, when this Government first took office, to 1969-70 one will note that the deficit in the balance of the current account is some $9,078m. There has been a further deficit in the past financial year of $ 1,000m. In other words, we have had a deficit in the balance of the current account in the last 21 years of over $ 10,000m. The reason for this, of course, is that we have imported more goods than we have exported and a good deal of those goods we have imported have been paid for in uncontrolled and unplanned foreign investment. We have had to pay for a great deal of our invisibles and the invisibles have covered such things as insurance owned by overseas monopolies, which the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) pointed out, the overseas shipping companies, the shipping freights and, of course, the great outflow of dividends on foreign investment in this country as well as the imbalance of tourism.
We have a young and energetic Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), the Leader of the Australian Country Party, whose predecessor, Sir John McEwen, said in April 1963 - I do not know whether it is a famous or infamous statement - ‘that we are selling a bit of the farm every year’. At that stage we had something like a $5,000m-odd deficit in the balance of payments. Now, of course, it is more than double that. In other words, the deficit has actually been accentuated. In the last 5 years we have had a deficit in the balance on current account with the United Kingdom of $2,892m and with the United States of more than $3,000m. In other words, instead of the problem being solved it is becoming greater every year. The overall position of the deficit in the balance on the current account with the United Kingdom during the period 1950-51 to 1969-70 was more than $7,000m and with the United States during this period it was more than $6,500m - a combined total of more than $ 13,500m and yet during this period our overall deficit was only S9,000m. In other words, we have had credits of more than $4,500m with countries such as Japan, the People’s Republic of China, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and East European countries.
Be that as it may, this debt has to be paid and it has been paid for with the loss of our national heritage. Some of those who have invested in this country have received up to 600 per cent return on their original investment. In order to make my case clear to honourable members and those people who may care to examine these astronomical figures, with the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the following table:
Anybody looking at that table will be able to see the growth pattern and the cost to Australia of this uncontrolled and unplanned foreign investment which is eating the heart and soul out of this country. I want to turn quickly to the aspect of tourism. Tourism is a growing industry and is the direct responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Industry. It has been under his control for many years. We in the Labor Party feel that it should be taken out of the area of trade and related to decentralisation because while most rural industries are failing tourism is one industry which could possibly create regional growth. I was recently at the Gold Coast with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) looking at tourism and I have no doubt that many people in that area with initiative are capable of earning a good deal of foreign exchange. It is something of which Australia should be proud. But the Gold Coast does have problems and one of these relates to the lack of tax concessions for depreciation on buildings. We know that this would probably be a difficult question for the taxation people to assess but I consider that this could be overcome with the institution of a zone allowance. The Gold Coast could be dealt with as a zone for purposes of a depreciation allowance. If we are to maintain and increase the high standard of hotels and motels on the Gold Coast and in other parts of Australia in order to keep up with the standards required not only by tourists from within Australia but also by international visitors this question of depreciation must be considered. To give honourable members some idea of the magnitude of the tourist trade, since 1960 we have been on the wrong side of the budget to the tune of $565m, and this despite the United States rest and recuperation visitors coming to this country from Vietnam. Yet, according to the figures made available to me by the Legislative Research Section of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, without these rest and recuperation visitors we would have had a tourist deficit of something like $665m. We know that with the cessation of the Vietnam war rest and recuperation leave will end and this will probably make our deficit on the balance of current account even worse than it is now. So I ask that some immediate consideration be given to areas such as the Gold Coast: so they can maintain their standards and be encouraged to raise their standards in order to increase the number of international visitors. Again so that I may be able to show the magnitude of this deficit regarding tourism, with the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate a further table in Hansard.
To return to the question of the Gold Coast, the ratepayers of that area face the responsibility of creating facilities and services on something like 20-odd miles of beaches from Coolangatta to Southport. I feel that if the Commonwealth Grants Commission could look into the problems of the smaller States it could examine the problems of some of our tourist areas. The Labor Party believes that the Grants Commission should make money available for the building of facilities on these beaches because every Australian and even international visitors use these beaches and it should not be the ratepayers of the Gold Coast who have to meet the expense of building and servicing the facilities. We in the Labor Party believe that there has to be a radical change in financing not only the Gold Coast but many other tourist areas throughout Australia. The Commonwealth Government should assist these people to raise the standard of those facilities which have to be made available and also maintain essential services so that the problems facing the local ratepayers will be eased.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Deputy Chairman-
– Not again.
– Yes, again. The only reason I rise again is because I heard the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) make a plea to you people on the other side of the House to disregard some of the facts of life. I do not question the honourable member’s sincerity. I have had to put up with his arguments for a very long time, but one of the things that I cannot stand is someone who makes a plea on the grounds that he is the only man in Australia who can be right. He is backed by the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) but only because he gets his information from the honourable member from Wakefield. I want to take the House back quite a long way. In 1929 I happened to be in an industry which was concerned with the importation of goods from England, Europe and America. We were a very large firm of indent agents. A lot of the boys here would not remember but at that time a depression was coming to Australia and the world. The Scullin Government saw what was happening to Australia. There were manufacturers who, after the First World War- which had brought them into existence so we would be able to do our best to protect this country - were suffering because people like me were importing goods.
I can quote hundreds of cases where ( have sent the article of an Australian manufacturer to Germany and said: ‘Look, how much can you do this for? They are selling at 9d in Australia. You give me a price so that I can beat 9d’. They would immediately offer me a price of 8*d. Tariffs are a farce the way they operate in Australia. Through its actions the Scullin Government put the firm by whom I was employed out of business. However, it put me on my feet, but that is another matter.
– It put you on your feet?
– Yes. I have not had to work for an employer since. I have been working extremely hard for the people of McMillan for the last 16 years and most of them know it and appreciate it, but that, too, is another story. I have referred the Committee to those early days when, through the imposition of extremely stiff tariffs, thousands of firms and manufacturers in all States were assisted. Today they are flourishing manufacturing concerns making a magnificent contribution to the Australian economy. Australia would not be half as well off as it is now if such provisions had not been made then. Those industries would be nothing now had it not been for the tariffs which kept them in business.
– We agree with you.
– I know you do, but the honourable member for Wakefield does not.
– He never does.
– This is a very serious matter and I would not have risen to speak had I not been stirred by the views he expressed.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! I would ask the honourable member for McMillan to address the Chair.
– I happen to have had considerable business experience. One of the great troubles with members on this side is that very few of them have had such experience. They have not had the practical experience of having to go out and sell to the public. It is all very well for the honourable member for Wakefield to express his theories. He is a farmer. He claims that because duties are applied to imported weedicides it is expensive to produce crops. That is complete and utter nonsense. Not everybody in Australia is so naive as to believe that without tariff protection for our chemical industries we would be able to secure weedicides cheaper on the world market. Tariffs are imposed after the Tariff Board holds an inquiry and examines information it secures from all over the world and after it makes its recommendations. What I said earlier concerning the 9d and 8d is equally true of chemicals costing hundreds of dollars per ton. If a price of $298 a ton is put on an Australian chemical, it can be purchased elsewhere for $297. This is the way international business works, but some members on my side cannot see it. However, if we did not have a chemical industry our farmers would not be paying the present price for their weedicides; they would be paying at least 50 per cent more overseas.
If a person examines the reports of the Tariff Board he will find that the protection afforded to Australian industry is not real protection. Many years ago Australia made an agreement with the British - hopefully it will conclude now that the British have deserted us - that we would impose tariffs which would enable the British to compete on the Australian market. Australian industry has never been effectively protected. One needs only study American tariff policy to understand what form of protection is provided there. Consider the position of wool. America does not really need a tariff on wool, but she claims that she wants to preserve her industry.
Can Australia export motor cars to Japan? Australia permits the entry of Japanese cars here and they compete with our manufacturers. The people who are buying Japanese motor cars are paying for the wages of Japanese workers instead of the wages of Australian workers. Yet it is claimed that this is not a question of employment. How would Australia have provided employment for all the immigrants who have come here in the last 15 years if we had not built the factories which employ them? Some honourable members have referred to 28 per cent only of the Australian work force being engaged in secondary industry. About 7 per cent is employed in primary industry. But we have our tertiary industries. Where do our tertiary industries get their customers, except from manufacturing industry? Manufacturing industry is responsible for at least 50 per cent of Australian employment. Anybody who tries to delude the Australian people on this matter is doing Australia a great disservice.
– I should like to discuss the increasing concern of the Department of Customs and Excise about apprehending people who bring pot into Australia. It seems to me that by purchasing the various forms of apparatus necessary to catch these illegal importers the Department of Customs and Excise is developing a navy to challenge the Royal Australian Navy. Presumably the reason why one prohibits the entry of such a drug is because it is dangerous. If it is not dangerous there is no reason for not letting it in and not permitting people to use it. I should like to discuss the danger of marihuana and shall quote from the publication ‘Medical World News’ of July 1971.
– Not again!
– Yes. 1 have already presented some facts but I shall quote a few more. An article in this publication states:
Conspicuous by their absence from today’s scientific meetings and the scientific literature are any references to the old theories that smoking marihuana causes anti-social or criminal behavoiur, that it may be addictive, or that it leads users into opiate addiction. At major conferences, such questions arise only during Press conferences, from inexperienced reporters; sophisticated researchers dismissed these once-popular theories long ago.
Some time ago, when I first opened my mouth on this subject it was drawn to my attention that the President-elect of the America! Medical Association had made a statement in which he insisted that pot caused impotence and foetal abnormalities. The Indians have been using it for some time and it does not seem to have done their population much harm. Some time later the President-elect issued an official statement which was published in the American Medical Association ‘News’ of 12th Aprl 1971. Dr Wesley Hall said:
In a recent Press conference I made comments with regard to the work of the AMA Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse which were widely misinterpreted. 1 am making this statement to clear the air and to restate our AMA position on this important subject. The AMA knows of no evidence to substantiate the statement that marihuana use leads to birth defects and sexual impotence.
What is probably the most current and authoritative body of information is the report of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare issued on 3 1st January 1971.
Dr Wesley Hall said that the American Medical Association Council had studied that report and agreed with its findings. What does the report say about various aspects of the use of marihuana? In respect of the suggestion that it can kill a person, the report states:
From the standpoint of lethality, cannabis products must be counted among the safer of the drugs in widespread use. Death directly attributable to the drug’s effects is extremely rare even at very high doses.
The report refers to the chronic effects of the drug’s use. Most people have discontinued the thought that it causes all manner of acute effects. The report states: .there are many world wide reports of heavy, chronic canabis use resulting in loss of conventional motivation and in social indifference . . .
The report states that in America this is not apparent and continues:
American use patterns are frequently contaminated by the use of other drug substances, making interpretation difficult. It is not certain to what degree this ‘amotivational syndrome’ is the result of marihuana use per se or of a tendency for those who lack conventional motivation to find drugs unusually attractive.
On the question of progression to other drugs it states:
It is generally conceded that marihuana use does not necessarily lead directly to the use of other drugs. On a worldwide basis there is little evidence of a progression from the use of marihuana to that of opiates or hallucinogens.
In fact it suggests that those people who tend to use marihuana heavily probably are inclined to the use of drugs anyway and it is not a question of marihuana causing progression to other drugs. They use marihuana. They start on cigarettes in most cases anyway. They are also heavy alcohol users, What does our Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug
Abuse say on the matter? After all it was set up to investigate this matter. Of course there is a lot of concern about it in the community. I would like to read some of the Committee’s conclusions. I will refer only to those on marihuana. I am not concerned about the hard drugs. I agree with the views about hard drugs in the main. First of all the Committee comments that it has been proposed that the penalties imposed for all drug offences should bear some relationship to the harmful character of the drug involved. In dealing with marihuana itself, this is the Committee’s recommendation:
The Australian Government should initiate action for the transfer of cannabis and its derivatives from Schedule 1 of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to an appropriate schedule in the Convention on Psychotropic Substances.
Psychotropic substances are drugs of a quite different order. The one type is highly dangerous and the other one is the sort of drug that one uses in medical treatment often.
– Do you want to legalise marihuana?
– Hold your horses. Furthermore the Committee makes the following comments:
Pending the results of further research, present restrictions on the restrictions on the use of cannabis drugs be retained in Australia;
In other words the Committee does not suggest that it should be legalised. It then states:
The young first offender brought before the courts be given, by bond and probation conditions, every encouragement to avoid repetition of the offence; the first offender successfully completing conditions of bond and probation be discharged without an offence being recorded;
In other words it is suggested that the taking of marihuana should not be considered an offence if the young person no longer seems to be using the drug, and so on. In my opinion it indicates the relatively harmless nature of marihuana in most people’s eyes. Of course, the Canadians in their report indicated quite clearly, when they were trying to find out why marihuana was ever made illegal, that whatever t reason it had nothing to do with scientific evidence. Do not take my word; read their report. That is precisely what they say. I suppose I should revert to this article from ‘Medical World News’ because it seems to me to cover some of the feelings aroused about this subject. It states: - Legally marihuana has been classified as a narcotic, yet pharmacologically it is quite different. Over the centuries it has been called a depressant, euphoriant, inebriant, intoxicant, hallucinogen . . .Perhaps more than any other drug it is a social irritant that elicits rather remarkable behaviour reactions in both users and nonusers.
I certainly endorse that view. The Canadians, when they published their first report in about 1970, also commissioned a further sub-committee to go into the matter. I will read its findings because they have just been put out. A Press report on the matter states:
A report by the controversial Canadian Committee on Youth has recommended legislation of marihuana for people over 18, with Government controls of its distribution and marketing . . .
The Committee recommended that the cultivation, sale, possession and use of cannabis be legalised, and so on. I think we need to face up to the fact that at the moment, despite the previous history of trying to stop the use of marihuana on the ground that it was dangerous, the latest medical evidence does not find any confirmation of these dire dangers. The situation now is that there is no proof of any danger whatever in the use of marihuana, but there might be. I concede the possibility that there might be, but there is still no evidence.
The tragedy to me is that on the basis of this question mark, this ‘might’, we are prepared to imprison people and make them criminals. I think that is wrong. I am not advocating legalisation of marihuana at this stage but I believe that we should take notice of what our own Senate Select Committee has suggested and what many American States are doing in fact. They are lifting penalties on the use of this drug. They are suggesting that the taking of marihuana should be no more than a civil offence like a parking offence, and in this way we will cope far better with the problem. Of course, if a person knew he could get his supplies from a chemist instead of from a pedlar we would also do away with the danger of people using this stuff being hooked on drugs.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Deputy Chairman-
– Are you speaking as a drinker or a smoker?
– If my friend, the Arab from the other side, would control himself he might learn. I did not intend to enter this debate, but as a drinker and a smoker I am sympathetic to the viewpoint put forward by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass). As a heavy smoker, I would not do anything which would in any way assist anybody to get hooked on drink, cigarettes or marihuana. I think it is an incredible thing and I think it is rather typical of the situation we have in this country and in other Western countries today that there are those people, perhaps people of great and high education, who, if not endeavouring to have marihuana and the soft drugs legalised, are, it could be interpreted by some people, not doing much to stop young folk of this country starting to take it, taste it or to get involved with it. Whatever these honourable gentlemen of great scientific and medical knowledge may say as to what the medical pundits of the world may be saying in respect of marihuana-
– What did the Returned Services League say?
– My friend, if you got off it 1 think you would do better. All I can say is that at this stage I know of no country in the world, except the undeveloped countries, which have legalised marihuana. We have had it thrown up that marihuana has done no harm to India. I do not think India has legalised marihuana but it has signed a convention against drugs.
I think it is terribly dangerous for people to propound these arguments in a Parliament such as the Parliament of Australia and not expect the young innocent person who is perhaps on the fringe in the university or wherever it may be to refrain from quoting these gentlemen who are saying that marihuana is harmless. These people have the medical knowledge to propound this argument, but what is the point in propounding it in the Parliament of Australia at this stage?
– To keep these people out of gaol.
– There speaks another of my medical friends. I know that the Labor Party is rather mixed and involved on this subject. We in Australia do not wish to get involved in the great drug problems that are confronting other countries in the world at this time. Surely it must be people in this Parliament, members of the Australian Labor Party and people with medical knowledge who must take responsibility for endeavouring as far as possible to stop young people getting hooked on drugs, whether they be soft or hard. If I were an apprentice, a plumber or a workman or the type that the honourable member for Maribyrnong is supposed to represent and 1 heard the speech that he made not only here but on radio and television I would be most concerned.
– What you are saying is disgraceful.
– If the honourable member for Bendigo had as much brain in the top of his head as he has in the roof of his mouth I think he would do better. I admit the sincerity of the honourable member for Maribyrnong, but all I am trying to say is that when we hear academic members of universities and medical members of Parliament continually repeating that marihuana is harmless, that marihuana has no ill effects and that the taking of marihuana should not be treated as a criminal offence I think it is doing nothing but encouraging young people who are innocent and who do not understand exactly what is being said. I think it is an extraordinary thing to find members of the Labor Party, in whatever guise, taking this action when not only the Government but also other thinking people are endeavouring to stop people in Australia from getting into the situation in which perhaps people in other countries find themselves. It has been said in debates here recently that American troops are highly involved with drugs. American troops probably started on drugs by taking marihuana. I do not know; I have no idea in the world. The inference to be drawn from the remarks of one member of the Labor Party was that it was fairly obvious that Australian troops returning from Vietnam would be hooked on drugs. All I am trying to say is that, at a time like this, whatever the honourable member may feel about marihuana, his beliefs are as yet unproven. I find it incredible, not merely as a member of Parliament but as a father of children in this country, that Labor members, including those who are doctors, rise and make speeches such as have been made in this House this day.
– What about alcohol?
– I agree with respect to alcohol. I have seen what it has done to the honourable member. But as far as I am concerned-
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. I am sick and tired of the filthy remarks of the honourable member for La Trobe. 1 ask that he withdraw that last remark.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! I call on the honourable member for La Trobe to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark. Obviously that is not the cause.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark unreservedly and apologise.
– I withdraw and apologise. There must be some other reason. I am a heavy smoker. Frankly, I would give anything to break away from the habit. It could be said that I have not the courage-
– What about will power?
– I have not the will power. That is quite correct. Therefore, I would not-
– Because you are on a drug.
– 1 think that what the honourable member says is quite correct. But I would not do anything which would lead or encourage anybody under any circumstances to become hooked on anything such as cigarettes or marihuana, however harmless it may be. I take the point that the honourable member has made that for the poor young kid who has taken his first sniff of or has first smoked marihuana, perhaps the penalty is too great at this time. But unless-
– Be honest! You agree. What are you arguing about?
– If the honourable member will let me continue to develop my argument, he will see that 1 am agreeing with him.
– Try being honest for the next 3 minutes.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order!
– All I can say is this: If we do not have a penalty and if we do not bring to the attention of the youth of this country the seriousness of taking marihuana - perhaps the first sniff or the first puff - surely we will encourage them to go into a chemist shop to buy it and to do all of the things that we do not want them to do. I am sorry; I respect the honourable member for Maribyrnong but I do not respect those who by any means encourage, or may appear to give encouragement to, people to take marihuana or any other soft drug at this time. I do not think that this nation wants any part of it. If the sophisticated medicos of the Australian Labor Party feel that the people should, I think that the Australian people will repudiate them. As far as I am concerned, no-
– Are you going to oppose cigarette advertising?
– I wish that you, my distinguished friend, in your short career here could only make understandable what you are trying to get across. I recognise the sincerity of the honourable member for Maribyrnong. I will have no part of the point that the honourable member propounds, and I am quite sure that the Australian people, particularly parents, will have no part of it.
– I take a point of order.
– I claim to have been misrepresented.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I will hear the honourable member for Angas on a point of order.
– My point of order is this: Is the honourable member for La Trobe entitled to protection from the Chair when he is twice called dishonest by the honourable member for Bendigo? Should not the honourable member for Bendigo bc made to withdraw?
– He can refute what T said.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I call upon the honourable member for Bendigo to withdraw those remarks and to apologise.
– I withdraw the remarks. I call upon the Chair to give the honourable member for Maribyrnong the opportunity to defend himself against the outrageous attacks that the honourable member for La Trobe has been making upon him.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order!
Dr CASS (Maribyrnong) - Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I think that a number of the comments that the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) has made suggested that I advocate the use of marihuana. I do not advocate the use of any drugs at all. I do not smoke. I drink very little. I mainly drink orange juice. I have tried marihuana twice because I intended to give evidence before the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse. I do not use it or wish to use it any more. I am not advocating the use of barbiturates or Aspros either, because I think that they are dangerous. I resent the implication in the remarks that the honourable member for La Trobe made to the effect that I am somehow advocating these things. I attempted simply to indicate scientific evidence. I realise that we will have views about what it might mean-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member is now debating the question.
– I tried to give the scientific evidence about the drug. Now, I do not believe that that is a matter of opinion, lt is published scientific material. I am sorry: if the honourable member cannot make up his mind on the subject on scientific evidence. T do not know what else he can do.
– I listened very attentively to the remarks of the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). I wish to speak on 3 subjects on these estimates. The honourable member for
Grayndler explained the policy of the Labor Party in regard to tariffs which are designed for the purpose not only of maintaining the jobs of Australians but also of making sure that jobs are available each year for school leavers. The honourable member remarked also that there are a couple of free traders on the Government side. There is no doubt about that. They are the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) and the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street). The honourable member for Wakefield stated that approximately 28 per cent only of the Australian work force are engaged in secondary industry. But what the honourable member did not tell the Committee is that other workers are engaged in industries ancilliary to secondary industry and that these ancilliary industries depend on the manufacturing industries for their very existence.
Strange to relate, as the honourable member for McMillan pointed out quite rightly - I have mentioned this matter before time after time in this Committee - the past immigration programme has depended and the future immigration programme still is depending on secondary industries to provide employment for new settlers coming to Australia. Fewer people are engaged in primary industry today than were engaged in primary industry before World War II. No employment is to be found in primary industry for new Australian settlers. So, where else are we to find employment for these people except in secondary industry? Let me take one industry as an example. I refer to the textile industry which, without a doubt, is the most decentralised industry in Australia. It provides employment for many people in country and rural centres. Strange to relate, at Lismore in the electorate of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), who is the Deputy Prime Minister, there is a huge clothing factory. I venture to say that he would be the last man in this House who would like to see that factory in Lismore close down as a result of the free trade policy advocated by 2 Government members opposite. That factory at Lismore provides employment for many people as well as for school leavers in that district.
Let us look at some of the prices charged for articles made overseas. I was in Tai wan less than 3 years ago. On leaving the airport there, I went through the trade centre where goods were duty free. Quite a number of good quality shirts were on sale there for 90c each, in Australian currency. It would be absolutely foolish for anyone to believe that such an article could be produced in Australia for that price. In Australia we have provisions for long service leave, compulsory annual leave and adequate sick leave and compensation. Those provisions must be protected. They can be protected only by tariffs. No Government member is opposed to those industrial entitlements; if he were he would say so at election time. If he opposed them in his electorate, I have no doubt that he would be defeated.
The facts are - and we must always remember this - that our Australian industrial conditions and our social service benefits are entirely dependent on secondary industry. For example, until recently payroll tax was the sole means of paying for child endowment in Australia. That field of taxation has been passed on to the States but the proceeds will still come from secondary industries. Hardly one penny has been contributed by the primary industries by way of payroll tax to keep child endowment going.
It is very interesting to see that every time the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) speaks on tariffs he does not offer an alternative. He says that we would still have employment in Australia even if we had almost a free trade policy. Is there any country in the world that has a system of free trade? Of course there is not. The United States has a very strict tariff policy, particularly against the entry of Australian wool. This policy has been instituted by the United States simply for the purpose of protecting its own synthetic industries. As mentioned by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), over the period of 20 years since 1950-51, the United Kingdom has a credit of $7,500 and the United States of America a credit for $6,500 on current account. It has been mentioned here that international trade should always be a 2-way street - that is to say, we must buy from the people who buy from us. This philosophy is quite right provided we practise what we preach. When we trade with the United Kingdom and the United States, at least we are doing something to implement the 2-way street policy. That is all right. But why has the Government not reminded the United States and the United Kingdom of their reciprocal obligation because both have been living off our backs as far as trade is concerned for the last 2 decades?
I believe that if we want to implement the proper tariff policy we must do so in relation to the United States and the United Kingdom. I believe that we could improve our trade with Japan and that Japan could buy more from us if we bought from that country more goods that are not manufactured in Australia and the importation of which would not be to the detriment of the employment of Australians. In such circumstances we would need to take less from the United States. That country could afford such an arrangement because it has had in its favour a 2 to 1 balance of trade with Australia for many, many years. The same thing applies to the United Kingdom.
These matters must be taken into consideration when we talk about trade. Firstly, we must practise what we preach and try to get those to whom we sell goods to buy more from us if they have a favourable trade balance with us. In respect of imports from low wage countries we must always protect Australian industries particularly from unemployment, and in addition those amenities I mentioned, social and industrial.
– I rise with some diffidence because having listened to speeches by so many experts on tariffs I am one of the confused members of the community as, apparently, there is so little agreement on the subject. I certainly would not presume to make any dogmatic statements about what tariffs should or should not be. But it seemed to me that I should try to speak for the average man outside who might be listening to the debate and might be absolutely confused by all the complexities of the argument because there are some things that appear a little bewildering and even overwhelming and not without some conflict actually as to the needs for tariffs. 1 have no doubt that we do need tariffs in Australia in many areas and at various levels. I rather feel, though, that possibly this is not a justification for being totally uncritical of the way in which these things are run. Perhaps if we found that an industry was not using its full tariff level of protection this would be a good argument for reducing that tariff. If we found that industry was using the tariff level in order to obtain more profits than it ought to be obtaining, this fact would sometime.-) be an overwhelming argument for reducing that tariff.
I represent a lot of low income people. These are people who will be paying through the neck and their living standards will be affected by tariff levels. As far as I am concerned, I come to this place to get the best out of society for the people I represent. If I can see some way which can be developed for running the affairs of this country - for example in areas of tariffs and the way we spend the public’s money - so that we can contain costs and reduce them I will pursue this avenue.
A good example, T guess, is in the field of restrictive trade practices. Members on this side of the House have very strong beliefs on the subject. We have to see that there is more competition, that prices are contained and so on, even though some less efficient units in an industry might have to fold up because of it. This is a very real probability that we have to look at. We accept that.
We believe that restrictive trade practices artificially keep up prices to protect inefficient marginal producers and give exorbitant and unreasonable profits to the efficient producers. I repeat that we accept it because we want to see the consumer’s money going further. We want to see him get more goods, more services and more satisfaction for every dollar he spends. Therefore it seems to me that if one can see that there are some weaknesses in the way in which tariffs are structured in this community and economy of ours, we ought to be critical. So it does seem to me that there is no justification for being totally uncritical about tariffs as some people sometimes would tend to be, at least in some places where one hears them speaking about this subject.
I said at the beginning of my speech that one develops a sense of confusion from listening to the debate. I want to restate that I am quite convinced that we cannot have a free trade society in Australia. I ought to add that I want to see the jobs of workers protected. Nonetheless 1 keep having a sort of conflict - a sort of confusion. Our economy is relatively fully employed in terms of numbers of people in the work force that we put into industry to produce and the resources that we provide for them to produce with. Although we have a relatively fully employed economy we still do not have enough workers, so much so that we are running an immigration programme to get more workers. We have more jobs to be done than we have workers available. It seems strange to me, if one comes across a critical spokesman on tariffs, that he will argue that we need tariffs at any level at all. I am not imputing anything to anyone in particular, but I repeat that sometimes one wonders why he argues in this way when in fact we are running a programme to bring more workers from overseas to do more jobs. That, to me, seems somewhat inconsistent.
Perhaps I ought to raise another point at this stage in regard to the programme for bringing out workers. I talked about the need for Australians to protect jobs. However, I feel some revulsion when I read in the Press statements by various spokesmen for industry who support the continuation of an immigration programme - and this may well be justified - but, this is something that will be established by a current inquiry. However, I am revolted when I read their statements to the effect that we have to keep this programme going because we need migrants to work in a particular form of industry because Australian workers will not work in it. Conditions are so bad and pay is so poor relatively that we cannot get Australians to work in it. I have democratic socialist principles and that seems to me to mean that we identify and accept that there arc 2 classes of people in the community. There are the established Australians who demand and get good conditions and the second class ones who just arrive here and are thrown into any old job. These migrants do not get the wages they ought to receive if we had a properly competitive economy.
Let me go on with my comments on tariffs. I read a book recently on tariffs. The economist who wrote it discussed opportunity costs. It seems that in any economy, no matter what one wants to do, there are always more things to be done than one can get resources for. There is a limit to the number of workers that one can get, a limit to the amount of capital equipment and a limit to the technical know-how and so on. Let us disregard money for the moment because this is only the means of exchange; the representation which allows us or gives us some facility to mobilise and transfer and move these things about. But it seems that if we make a decision to go ahead with project A, for example, there are also other projects - maybe B, C, D to Z - which are alternatives and which ought to be considered or which are up for consideration. Therefore, if we make a decision on project A without a careful assessment overall of the other projects we might be putting $100m of the community’s money - which after all is only a representation of resources - into that industry.
Again, for argument’s sake, the return to the community - and I am using a fairly simplified and hypothetical sort of case - might be only 5 per cent whereas if we had made a thorough analysis through the economy we might have found that $100m in, say, project B, C or D might have given us a return of 10 per cent or 20 per cent. When I am talking about the percentage return I mean the net gain to the economy - the extra goods and services which are surplus to the economy and available for distribution. It seems to me, for instance, that if we have $100m of capital equipment and a choice between a number of industries, one of which we will say returns - these are horrible exaggerated cases - $500m worth of goods, and another one $ 1,000m worth of goods and another one, say a couple of thousand million dollars worth of goods, we will obviously go for the one that will give us the greatest return. This means that there are more goods to distribute to all the people who are working in this economy. It means more satisfaction and higher living standards. So there seems to be a case for advancing a rational argument about how we do this.
If we have a fully employed economy and if we have an optimum distribution of resources, labour and so on in that economy, someone could come along and say - and I am referring to arguments that I have read recently: ‘Look, I want to start up a completely new industry over here, but 1 am a pretty high cost producer. I cannot afford to get 100 workers or the capital equipment out of the overall economy at the moment because the sort of return I would get from producing the line that I want to produce is just too small compared with what other people are getting as the economy is currently structured. But if you give me a 50 per cent tariff protection I can pluck those workers and that equipment out of the economy and I can then make a profit.’ That sounds pretty good, and I used to be persuaded by this sort of argument - until a friend of mine, who is an economist, one day said to me: ‘You know, you are taking that equipment and those workers and so on out of the economy where they are producing at a fairly high level and putting them into an industry where relatively they are producing at a much lower level. So you reduce the total volume of goods being produced for the market, you increase costs and you reduce people’s living standards.’ I am here to represent workers and consumers, and this matter really worries me. It would seem that it is our responsibility to get the most return that we can for our workers and our consumers who after all are the people for whom we are concerned in our economy. We want to ensure that they enjoy high living standards.
Perhaps the argument should be put that we ought to be planning the economy, we ought to be considering all sorts of alternatives, and we ought to be looking at input and output tables to see where the best returns are and then trying to maximise the sort of achievement we can make within the economy. Apparently in economies there is a thing that is called relative advantage or comparative advantage. It seems that we try to specialise in producing those things for which we get the greatest return, selling them locally and externally as exports and buying the things on which we receive a lesser advantage. In this way apparently one maximises one’s living standards. As approximately 20 per cent of our production is exported, there seems to be a very keen case for us to make sure that we are very efficient to hold our market position. As my friend the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) was pointing out a while ago, it looks as though internationally we could be running into a difficult trading situation. It seems to me that the way in which we will hold our position and sell all these exports, or even hold our position at a reasonable level or at a hopeful level or at the best level at which we can hold it, will be determined by just how efficient we are in producing the goods. If we are a high cost producer we will lose our position in world trade, and living standards will deteriorate. Now that worries me.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armi- tage) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I want to raise with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) a matter about which I asked him a question recently. My question was:
Has it been a long-standing practice for oil companies to be charged with customs and excise duty on petrol when their tankers take delivery from bonded storage, as at Kurnell for instance, prior to its going into home consumption? Was this practice broken just prior to the Budget so that oil companies paid excise on petrol in bonded storage at the pre-Budget rate of 15.3c a gallon? If so, will the Minister explain why?
The Minister replied:
The procedure upon which duty or excise is paid on petrol or other commodities related to my jurisdiction is at the point at which the goods are entered for home consumption. That would apply both to tariff duties on imports and excise duties on locally produced goods. To my knowledge, there has been no change in the procedure relating to petrol or anything else. However, I will look into the matter as the honourable gentleman has requested.
A number of newspapers took up this matter because it was disclosed, as I understand it, not by any Press statement but through various discussions with the Minister, that the oil companies had saved approximately $1.3m by paying their excise and customs duty on oil shortly before the Budget was presented. I spoke very briefly to the Minister and asked him when I could get the figures. He said that I could get them later on that day or the next day. Perhaps he meant that I was to go and see him, I do not know, but I have not got the actual figures. I hope that these figures will be supplied as soon as possible. However, on Saturday, 2nd October, the following day, an article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’ under the headline ‘Concern at $lm Duty Saving’. The article was written by John Stubbs. I will have to quote it in detail. It is as follows:
The Minister for Customs and Excise, Mr Chipp, is expected to give Parliament details of oil and cigarette company transactions on the eve of the Budget which cost the Commonwealth more than $lm in revenue.
He said today the companies had gambled that duties would rise and had paid duty on goods they had in bonded store, so avoiding the Budget increase. 1 am concerned by the practice - which has happened almost every year since Federation - but I have been informed that the Commonwealth Government has no constitutional powers to stop it,’ Mr Chipp said.
It was the normal practice for companies to pay duty only when goods were taken out of bonded store and entered for Australian consumption.
He said oil companies had deprived the Commonwealth of about $1.3m in revenue by paying $10m in duty on 65 million gallons of petrol in bonded storage on Budget Day last month.
This had been about one-third of the petrol in bonded storage at the time.
The duly on petrol went up by 2c a gallon in the Budget.
Mr Chipp said he was seeking details of similar transactions about the same time by cigarette manufacturers and others.
The fact that this happened before budgets almost every year - except sometimes in election years when taxes were not expected to rise - and that the companies could have trebled their savings by paying duty on all the petrol on bonded storage suggested that there was no leakage that duties would rise.
That statement, which is as yet uncorroborated, appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 2nd October last. However, it is the final paragraph in the article which concerns me because I believe that it leaves the Minister wide open to criticism.
It quotes him as saying: 1 am glad this practice has come into the open. I am seriously considering giving details of these transactions to Parliament to discourage similar moves to deprive the Commonwealth of revenue in future years.
That final paragraph of the article in which the Minister says: ‘I am glad this practice has come into the open’ and I have read it about a dozen times - seems to me to give rise to the inference that the matter was not out in the open previously. One could assume from a statement such as this that the Minister was not aware of what was happening. In a statement which I issued on the Sunday afternoon after that article appeared in the Press 1 said that if the Minister was not aware of it he was guilty of gross negligence, and 1 still stick to that claim. The Minister said:
I am seriously considering giving details of these transactions to Parliament to discourage similar moves . . .
If he was aware of the situation and he has not disclosed it to Parliament, that is an even more serious charge. If not, then I am afraid one can only draw a conclusion about what he should have done. If he can now disclose these things prior to the next Budget and thus prevent this $1.3m from escaping from the Government’s taxes, why was this not done before this Budget? Why was it not done before the last Budget? The Commonwealth could have gained perhaps $2.5m to $3m which rightly belonged to it and not left it in the hands of oil companies which I am sure we all agree are not doing too badly.
I think that for many years the public has been fed up to the hack teeth with the way in which the ordinary consumer will go into a shop on the day after the Budget has been presented and pay an extra 4c or Se for a packet of cigarettes knowing full well that the man who owns the shop did not pay the additional excise on those cigarettes. The Government has been asked questions about this matter on many occasions, and quite rightly it replies: ‘We cannot police every little shop’. 1 understand that that is a difficult thing. But in the case of bonded stores, where oil and petrol are in the hands of the Commonwealth Government in about 15 different stores, this is a completely different question. There must be answers to the problem of stopping oil companies from getting away with $2m or $3m to which they are not entitled. The other thing that I think the Minister still has to answer for is this final point that I make: If there are means of stopping this escape in future Budgets why were these steps not taken in the last Budget and why were they not taken in the Budget before last?
– The understanding between the Government and the Opposition is that this debate will finish at about 10.48 p.m. so I will take this opportunity to answer very briefly some of the points that have been raised during the Estimates debate. My colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) would also like to speak for a minute or two. For the past 5 to 6 hours I have been listening to the debate on the estimates of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Customs and Excise. I would hardly think it was a debate on the Estimates, as very few honourable members have referred to appropriations or expenditure. Nevertheless there has been some very good discussion on aspects covering all 3 departments, mainly dealing with philosophic points of view or taking a distinct party political approach to some of these departments.
– Would you agree to reforming our methods of discussing the Estimates?
– lt is up to honourable members to speak to the Estimates if they want to, but if they deliberately bypass individual items in the Estimates, that is a matter for them. 1 do not think that any reform is needed. Honourable members may take advantage of the opportunity if they so wish. I would like to refer to one particular aspect that was brought up by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) dealing with the answer I gave last week to a question he asked of me which dealt with a minority or dissenting report of the Tariff Board. He stated that when I tabled the Tariff Board’s report I should also have made a statement referring to the dissenting report. It is not the custom for the Minister automatically to make a statement when tabling Tariff Board reports. On occasions statements have been made.
In this particular case I would like to have been able to make a statement answering the charges that had been made in the report. I had received the report about a week earlier and immeditely sent it to the Government Printer so as to have it ready to table in this Parliament as soon as it was possible to do so. At the same time as I
20I6P/71- R- P6J
received that report I immediately referred the dissenting report to the AttorneyGenera] (Senator Greenwood) to get legal opinion as to the validity of the complaint about the procedures and practices that were being carried out by the Tariff Board. The honourable member for Lang asked why I have not got an answer. I have not got an answer because the report is still before the Attorney-General’s Department, which is preparing a legal opinion. As soon as that legal opinion comes to me I will make a statement in the Parliament so that honourable members will be fully informed of the situation.
I would not like to have delayed the Tariff Board’s report until I received that legal comment because I do not know when it is likely to come forward. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was fair enough to make the comment after I tabled the report that he appreciated the early tabling of it, which was my objective. Some remarks were made also by the honourable member for Lang which I thought were a little unfair to some of the Tariff Board members. He drew an inference that some Tariff Board members would have signed the dissenting opinion but for the fact that they had done this or that. The honourable member’s statement was based on either a rumour or a suggestion that this member or that member might have done something. I think that to make a statement like that is dangerous and quite unfair to members of the Tariff Board who do not have a chance to answer. All the facts do not show that this is so because 5 of the 8 members signed the Tariff Board report and 3 had dissenting opinions. Those members made their opinions quite clear.
Some other rather wild remarks have been made. I suppose it is all part of the game. Honourable members said that the Tariff Board was trying to create unemployment, that it was trying to destroy some of the factories which were operating and that it had no real feeling for the development of industry. I think that these are somewhat exaggerated remarks. The Tariff Board is an independent authority which is asked to examine Australian industries and make recommendations to the Government as to the level of protection the Board believes should be given to an industry. It still remains the complete responsibility of the Government to make the final judgment as to what that level of protection will be. People do not have an automatic right to expect the Government to accept a Tariff Board report. During the day the debate has ranged fairly widely and freely regarding the pros and cons of the tariff and protection for Australian industry. I guess that such a debate will continue while we have such a system. But I believe that there is need for such a system in this country. I know of no other country which has a high standard of living which can afford not to have some form of protection for all its industries.
A big issue in the late 1920s and the early 1930s was whether there ought to be protection for Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and the Australian sugar industry. Fortunately the leaders of those days were wise enough to protect both industries. As a result both of those industries have developed into great national industries giving employment and creating efficiencies which are the equal of anywhere else in the world. Today there is need for protection of industry and probably more so while the international currency crisis is going on and while there are uncertainties about trade because all sorts of unfair and devious practices will come into being. We find it ever so much more difficult for labour intensive industries to compete against the low wage countries. Therefore the situation has to be examined. Anyone who says that we do not want secondary industry in this country really does not understand or appreciate what such industry means to this nation. We have 3 basic wealth producing industries - primary industry, mining industry and the manufacturing industry. By far the biggest basic wealth producing industry today is the manufacturing industry which is responsible for 28 per cent of our gross national product. Within that figure of 28 per cent came most of our teritary industry. It is the manufacturing industry which is responsible for the great bulk of our employment and which has enabled us to maintain our living standards. We do not want excessive protection for industry. I think we all agree on that matter.
The only way we can have an honest examination of an industry is by the Tariff Board being given as much aid as possible to do its job, doing its job and then by making a recommendation to the Government. All things being equal I think that over the years the Tariff Board has done a reasonably good job. But in a world of change such as we have today one of the great difficulties is for the Tariff Board to be up to date with the rate of protection. The Board should be able to carry out necessary reviews within a sufficient period of time so that there is no uncertainty within industry and so that it can make the capita] investment that is required. Certain people want to be somewhat erudite and to propound theories on how changes ought to be brought about, but that is not easy. In fact, it is extremely difficult.
– Who did that?
– People have said that the Tariff Board does not do a good job; that it should be altered; that there should not be so much protection as there is today. Certainly there have been dissenting points of view within the Australian Labor Party as there have been in the Governmentparties today in regard to this question, and there always will be. 1 think that all things being equal, as I said a moment ago, the Tariff Board has not done too bad a job.
– I am glad to take what I think will possibly be the final opportunity-
– The honourable member for Riverina knows that there has been an unofficial agreement that 5 hours would be allowed to debate these estimates. That time limit has expired by 2 minutes already. The Minister for Trade and Industry mentioned that he wanted a few minutes in which to reply and I would have thought that the Opposition and the Government would have wanted to make available 2 or 3 minutes so that I could reply to the criticisms made about the estimates for my Department. There was no firm arrangement but, as I understand it, that was the agreement. The honourable member for Riverina can honour that agreement or not.
– Just a moment. Mr Deputy Chairman, I hope it is not suggested that I have breached any agreement. I have risen in my place as is my right.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– May I say that we know of no agreement. The honourable member for Riverina has received the call and I think that the Minister for Customs and Excise can reply after the honourable member for Riverina has finished speaking.
– The honourable member for Riverina has spoken once in this debate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! 1 advise the Committee that one speaker from the Government side of the House - the Minister for Trade and Industry - having spoken, the next speaker if one rose would need to be from the Opposition side. Despite the fact that the honourable member for Riverina has already spoken, no other honourable member rose I have given him the call.
– I am very happy to defer–
– How long do you want?
– 1 just want to take up one point.
– 1 think I ought to make au explanation. I had discussed with the Leader of the House the fact that the honourable member for Riverina and the honourable member for Robertson had spoken previously in this debate, but because of the time factor involved I suggested that they be permitted to speak again. The Leader of the House agreed to this proposition. In all fairness, the honourable member for Riverina should be allowed to again speak in this debate.
– 1 do not want to deprive the honourable member for Riverina of the opportunity to speak, but if there has been an understanding or an arrangement then just how far do we go in breaking it? I deliberately cut short my own remarks. I did not speak during the course of the 5 hours allotted for this debate knowing that it would lake up the time of private members. I said that I would keep my remarks short so that my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise, could have one or two minutes to speak. I think that is playing the game and I would hope that the Opposition would honour the arrangement.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I think I have no alternative, the Minister for Trade and Industry having spoken, but to call a member from the Opposition side. The honourable member for Riverina rose in his place. I call the honourable member for Riverina.
– Very well.
– I appreciate the courtesy of the Chair and the co-operation of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). I will follow the example of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and will tailor my remarks. I had hoped to deal with the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry in great detail but I will defer my remarks until another occasion. However, I do want to draw attention to the fact that this House has not had an adequate opportunity to debate some of the great trade matters which are now occupying the attention of most countries. 1 particularly wanted to draw attention to the fact that the Minister for Trade and Industry had not given the opportunity to the House to tackle some of the matters which had been raised and which had not been properly debated. One statement still on the notice paper goes back to 28th October 1970. This was a most important statement on the United Kingdom levies on imports of agricultural commodities. A ministerial statement was made by Sir John McEwen, who is now retired. His statement is still on the notice paper and he is not likely to be able to deal further with it at this stage of his career. Nevertheless, we have not had an opportunity to debate the matter of these agricultural bounties. I asked the Minister for Trade and Industry a question in the House , on 1 6th February 1971 in relation to trade with the United Kingdom. I asked:
What action has been taken to renegotiate the Anglo-Australian trade preferences following the British Government’s action in imposing import levies on a range of Australian primary products? Will the Minister tell the House what steps, if any, have been taken to adjust the present pattern of Anglo-Australian trade, with the balance now running at about $350m a year against us? If no action has been taken, will the Minister now act urgently to renegotiate our generous preferences in trade, shipping, banking and insurance in order to prevent disaster to Australian industries, people and towns if Britain enters the European Common Market and further discriminates against our canned fruits, fresh and dried fruits and cereals.
I will read out the Minister’s reply, omitting the reference to my newly found interest which, I am afraid, was perhaps a mistake on the Minister’s part. What concerns me is the purport of the reply to this Parliament. He said: . . The United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement has been renewed on a 6-mon.thIy basis each year since 1957. In the light of the circumstances that are arising, the whole situation will have to be reviewed. But for the moment the Agreement will continue to operate under the existing arrangements.
That was all the information given to the Parliament. In a New South Wales local newspaper in March 1971 1 found that the Minister had given information which was entirely different from that which I have just read. The newspaper reported the Minister of having said:
Australia has secured the right to take compensating action to th« extent necessary to restore the balance of advantages in the trade agreement with Britain as it existed prior to the introduction of the levy scheme, scheduled for 1st July.
It also quoted the Minister as having said:
The imposition of levies would run counter to the British obligation under the United KingdomAustralia Trade Agreement to grant duty-free entry for Australian products. . . .
The Minister is then reported to have said that there would be an exchange of letters with the British High Commissioner in Canberra. The newspaper then quotes the Minister as having said:
The substance of these letters will be that in return for Australia waiving its rights under the Trade Agreement, the British Government will be prepared to waive its rights under the Trade Agreement to take measures to restore the balance of advantages under the Trade Agreement as it existed immediately prior to the introduction of the levy schemes.
That may have been a proper procedure but I want to know why on 16th February the House was denied the information that was given, apparently quite freely and in considerable detail, 4 weeks later to a newspaper which, I am sure, was glad to have it. What I resent is that the Parliament has not had an opportunity to debate in depth and in detail vital trade matters at this time. The 2 statements of the former Minister for Trade and Industry have gone undebated as has the present Minister’s statement made on his return from his toolate too-little trip overseas, and also the details given in reply to the question I asked. I will leave it at that at this time because 1 have given an undertaking that I would take only 5 minutes and 5 minutes have elapsed. I think it is important to raise the matter in relation to estimates involving the expenditure of $40m. I put it to the Minister that it is time this Parliament had an opportunity to debate in detail the matters which are exercising the minds of all of us.
– As promised I shall take a few moments only of the Committee’s time. I compliment the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) upon the remarks that he made concerning marihuana and the sincerity that he showed in making them, although I join with my colleague, the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess), in vigorously and violently disagreeing with him in his views and deploring the views that he has put. The only other matter on which I want to comment, because of the shortage of time, is that raised by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen). I believe that the honourable member has done the House a service in raising this perennial problem of companies and people gambling on budgetary items. As an aside - I do not think, it is unimportant - I deplore the way in which he has done it, and I want him to know that, person to person. If he wants to interject and ask me why I deplore it I shall tell him, but I suggest that he may not want to do so.
– Well, I will ask why.
– The honourable member knows. Last week in the House the honourable member asked me whether there had been any basic change in procedures, to which I replied that there had not been. The situation is that every year companies and individuals gamble on what will be in the Budget. Every person who takes excisable products out of bond takes a punt. If he takes goods out he takes a punt on whether excise will be increased, knowing that if he did take them out and excise did not go up he could sustain a heavy loss because of the interest on the money. Big money is involved. In the case of petrol another element is involved in loss by evaporation. Over the years some people and companies have had their fingers burnt badly, and in other years they have had a windfall. But gambling is not limited to the Budget.
– It is still a gamble.
– I think everybody gambles. I think some of us would gamble oy buying a little more grog for our cellars before Budget time if we suspected that there would be an increase, or we might buy cigarettes and other commodities. The same thing happens when there is a reference before the Tariff Board. If people suspect that tariffs will be increased they place their overseas orders accordingly. The same applies also when there are references to the Special Advisory Authority. Some people gamble on the rates of income tax that will apply. Some fortunate taxpayers - not parliamentarians - can regulate their amount of assessable income by including sales of land. Primary producers may anticipate taxes being increased in the following year and include income earned but not received to achieve a tax saving. The punting game has been going on since Federation.
This year, as in all or most years, there was punting on all excisable items - all of them. To cite some figures for the honourable member for Robertson, excise of $lm in excess of the normal pattern was paid on beer, but in the Budget the excise on beer was not increased. On spirits $1.8m more than usual was paid. Companies were out of pocket beyond their normal outlay on spirits because the excise on spirits was not increased. The outlay on petrol above the average excise paid to the Department of Customs and Excise was $14.6m, and on other petroleum products it was $lm. The figures which 1 am stating relate to the 5 days before 17th August, when the Budget was brought down. For cigarettes and tobacco S3 1.9m more than average was paid.
In regard to the so-called saving on petrol which the companies might have made, I announced to the Press on the day on which the honourable member for Robertson asked the question a figure of SI. 3m which I said was approximate. I now have the figures from outposts in Australia, and I think the honourable member would realise that it is a most complex matter to get these figures from all over Australia because there are many outposts. The net savings to petrol companies were approximately $1.9m. We have investigated the legality of this action, but what these people do is perfectly legal. These products are theirs and they are in their bond stores. We can do nothing if they say to the Department of Customs and Excise: ‘We want our products. Here is the excise cheque.’
I think it is fair to say that one of my predecessors put to the Government his concern on this. The Government was sympathetic but ran into the barrier of legal problems. When I became Minister I was concerned about it. I investigated it because I was interested in the English legislation, which the honourable member for Robertson might know about. The English authorities can and do prevent this. To put it in simple terms, I am told by my legal friends that they can do it for the very good reason that Britain does not have a constitution and we have. However, I conclude as I began by saying that the honourable member for Robertson has done a service to the Parliament by raising this matter. I am still looking at ways and mean’s - not necessarily legislative ways and means - of stopping this practice which I depore not only because it prevents the Government from collecting revenue - that is perhaps bad enough - but because the saving of revenue is not passed on to the consumer. Frankly, the latter aspect is the one that bothers me most.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of Education and Science
Proposed expenditure, $134,134,000.
– I will use this opportunity tonight to attack the Government for its action in perpetuating and, indeed, worsening the inequality of opportunity in education in this country. I shall show once more that the Government in this sphere, as in many others, helps those who least need help. Firstly, there is the question of university finance, and to my mind this has to be kept in proportion. As I am about to attack the expenditure on universities may I say that I was at the University of Sydney for 11 years, becoming a triple graduate, and I was on the full time staff for 2 years. To my mind there are now excessive numbers of graduates and graduands, especially in the faculties of Arts, Science and Economics. They tend to drift into teaching because there is no alternative. For that reason I am not sure that many of them will make good teachers. The Department of Education and Science, in conjunction with the Department of Labour and National Service, should investigate the need for graduates from different faculties in greater detail. I would not prevent people from enrolling but they should be warned when they do enrol about what kind of job opportunities will be available.
Let us look at the estimates for the Department. The Commonwealth subsidy for universities is, in part, $29. 13m for the Australian National University, $6m for the Commonwealth postgraduate awards and $25.8m for Commonwealth university scholarships, a total of over $60m out of a total of approximately $102m for all education. The total expenditure on all educational services in the Commonwealth Territories - that is the Australian Capita] Territory and the Northern Territory - is less than $18m compared with $29. 13m plus student scholarship payments for the Australian National University alone. What we are doing is subsidising the relatively well off at a cost to the average member of the community. The report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, commonly known as the Martin report, published figures relating to the socio-economic class origin of university students. A table in the report shows that of the school leavers whose fathers were in the category of unskilled or semi-skilled, and who totalled 33 per cent of the fathers of all male school leavers, only 1.5 per cent entered university. In contrast, only 2 per cent of the fathers of male school leavers were classified as university professional, but 35.9 per cent of their sons entered university. W. C. Radford, in an Australian Council of Educational Research publication, commented: it is highly improbable that less than 2 per cent of sons and less than 1 per sent of daughters of unskilled and semi-skilled fathers have the ability to do university work, as against 36 per cent of the sons of university professional fathers and 24 per cent of the daughters of university professional fathers, or 30 per asnt of sons and 14 per cent of daughters of thos* engaged in higher administration.
If we break down these figures to the different kinds of tertiary education we find even further discrimination. If we include full time entrants to universities, teachers colleges and technical colleges at that particular time, as before there were 33 per cent of the fathers of male school leavers who were in the classifications of unskilled or semi-skilled. Of their school leaver sons, 4.4 per cent entered teritiary institutions where they represented 1 3 per cent of all male entrants to such institutions. Of these sons, 30 per cent entered technical colleges, 36 per cent entered teachers colleges and 24 per cent entered universities. As a contrast, only 2 per cent of the fathers were classified as university professional. Of their sons, 44.8 per cent entered tertiary institutions where they represented 8 per cent of all entrants. Of these sons, 13 per cent entered technical colleges, 7 per cent entered teachers colleges and 80 per cent entered universities.
Further along we find that this preference for the relatively well off gets worse. Not only has it been bad; now it is getting worse. In the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory it is revealed that payments to the New South Wales Department of Education for both primary and secondary educational services will rise during the current year by 8.53 per cent while assistance for the so-called independent schools will rise by 22.7 per cent. The estimates for the Northern Territory show that the expenditure this financial year will rise by 42.7 per cent for independent schools while the total increase in the cost of all educational services, including independent schools, will increase by only 8.5 per cent. This means that the increase in expenditure on education for the nonindependent schools will rise by much less than 8.5 per cent and that there will be 5 times as great an increase for the independent schools as for the state educational systems.
I do not think we can be surprised about this after looking at the behaviour of Liberal Party Ministers so far as their children are concerned. We find that 0.0 per cent of the children of members of the Ministry who attended secondary schools attended state schools, 8 per cent attended Catholic schools and 92 per cent attended private non-Catholic schools. Comparing this with Libera] backbenchers we find that 10.5 per cent of their children attended state secondary schools, 14.7 per cent attended Catholic secondary schools and only 74.8 per cent attended private nonCatholic schools. In the case of the Australian Labor Party, we had 68.7 per cent of our children attending state schools, 23.3 per cent attending Catholic schools and only 8 per cent attending private nonCatholic schools. When we compare this with the average for Australia we find that 74.4 per cent of secondary students attended state secondary schools, 17.1 per cent attended Catholic schools and 8.5 per cent attended private non-Catholic schools. I am quoting these figures from ‘Education Newsletter, No. 4’, of the National Union of Australian University Students. This document went on to state:
The Cabinet and the Liberal Party members just don’t send their children to State Secondary. Schools.
Further on it stated:
The figures I have quoted are from some 2 or 3 years ago and with the Howsons, the Fairbairns and the Frasers in the Ministry they would be even worse now, if that were possible. However since they have no children in State schools it is not possible. Through increased taxation deductions the recent Budget gives a further $6.25m to parents of children at the expensive private schools. We witnessed a rather pathetic attempt by this anachronism of the 1970s, the present Minister for Education and Science, to justify this concession on the basis of helping the allegedly poor graziers to send their children to Geelong Grammar School.
I conclude on what to my mind is an important point, namely, that there are those in the community - they are usually the people on the Government side - who say: ‘Keep politics out of education’. My answer is that education and equal opportunity are what politics in this country are all about. As long as the conservatives are kept in power the average Australian will have little opportunity for his children to get a decent education. As long as politics are kept out of education those who want to give the taxpayers’ money to Geelong Grammar, Kings School and the graziers will be helped.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Education and Science I should like, firstly, to compliment the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and his Department on the excellent presentation of those estimates. I cannot recall any other occasion when a Minister or department has presented estimates with such a full set of explanatory notes, item by item, as we have been furnished with on this occasion. I am sure it is appreciated by other honourable members besides myself. Secondly, I congratulate the Minister on his recent statement setting out the Commonwealth Government’s education programme for 1971-72. In the course of that statement the Minister indicated that the Commonwealth’s direct expenditure on education this financial year is estimated at $345,534,000 or 14 per cent more than was spent in 1970- 71 and twice as much as the direct Commonwealth expenditure of 5 years ago.
Apart from this, each year the Commonwealth makes available to the various States a large amount by negotiation with the Premiers and Treasurers of the States. In fact, approximately one-third of the total revenue collected by the Commonwealth is paid over to the States annually for various purposes. It is then a matter for each of the State governments to set its own priorities with regard to education, health and all the other fields of government for which they are responsible within their own borders. The Minister has indicated that the States at present are spending in this financial year an estimated $1,1 00m on education, so to ascertain the total amount currently being spent in approximate terms on education in Australia this financial year one adds those 2 sums together and the total is approximately $l,445m. I believe that all governments in Australia should be willing to cooperate in the increasingly important task of improving and developing education and education services and improving what the Minister referred to recently as the ‘quantity and quality of education’ in Australia. If we are to achieve our objective I believe there is need for closer co-operation.
The Commonwealth role in education no doubt will become more clearly defined as time passes. In the Australian Capital
Territory and the Northern Territory the Commonwealth has a direct responsibility. In the States the prime responsibility rests with the State governments to ensure that funds are applied to the best possible advantage. The Commonwealth Government has indicated that it will continue to provide matching grants to the States both for universities and for colleges of advanced education. In addition, the Commonwealth is providing special assistance in relation to increases in overhead costs due to steep wage and salary increases awarded to non-academic staff. I know that this problem has been of growing concern to the authorities in the field of tertiary education for quite some time.
The Minister has given an assurance to the House that the Commonwealth Government will continue to contribute to the capital cost of teacher training and has indicated that about $13m will be provided in the current financial year under the State Grants (Teachers Colleges) Act. Recognising that the States needed some additional teacher training facilities the Commonwealth has not stipulated that there should be a matching grant. It is difficult to understand why the States spent only about one fourth of the sum made available by the Commonwealth for teacher training colleges in the last financial year, but no doubt this matter will be sorted out and an explanation may later be forthcoming.
It should not be overlooked that the Commonwealth is making a major contribution towards the cost of teacher education courses in the tertiary field. Information supplied to the House recently by the Minister shows that there are more than 1,000 teacher trainees at colleges of advanced education and over 15,000 teacher trainees are attending universities. Commonwealth capital grants for pre-school teachers colleges are estimated to amount to more than Sim in the financial year to 30th June 1972 and $40m is being provided by the Commonwealth Government in the current triennium towards teacher education in teachers colleges and colleges of advanced education.
The States and the Commonwealth acting in conjunction have clearly made good progress in the field of teacher education. I have no doubt that more remains to be done. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) stated in his Budget Speech that the number of advanced education scholarships would be increased from 2,500 to 4,000 awards from the beginning of 1972 and that there would also be 200 new awards for students in teacher education who contemplate joining the Commonwealth Teaching Service. Expenditure in the various scholarship programmes is estimated this financial year at $43. 7m compared with $38.4m in the last financial year. The number of students granted scholarships is expected to rise from 66,000 in 1971 to 71,000 in 1972.
The colleges of advanced education which in some respects are still evolving are growing year by year and the Commonwealth Government is to be congratulated on deciding to grant 1,500 additional scholarships worth $430,000 during the current financial year. The nationwide survey of educational needs during the period 1971-1975, which was tabled by the Minister a few days ago, will, I believe, help greatly in assessing educational needs in primary and secondary education in nongovernment schools, and taken in conjunction with the survey of government schools published in 1970 by the Australian Education Council represents an important step forward.
The Australian Education Council, as I understand it, consists of the State Ministers for Education. In the interests of Commonwealth and State co-operation in the overall field of education, it would seem desirable that the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science should also be a member of the Council. After all, the Commonwealth does have a direct responsibility in the field of education in relation to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Some people have a tendency to look unduly to the Commonwealth with respect to education. The Minister has made it clear that the Commonwealth fully recognises the national importance of education and that the Government wants to do whatever it can do appropriately in co-operation with the State governments.
He has pointed out that the Commonwealth has sought to improve the States’ own general financial resources to assist the States in meeting their needs and responsibilities. This was the approach preferred by the State Premiers, as was indicated at the Premiers Conferences and Australian Loan Council meetings in 1970 and 1971. Figures furnished by the Minister with regard to Budget percentage allocations for education State by State show that some States place a higher priority on education than do others. There is also a marked variation in the pupil-teacher ratio objectives that the States are aiming at for 1975, the final year of the survey period to which I referred earlier. I hope that the State Ministers for Education will consult fully with the Commonwealth Ministers for Education and Science so that we may attain in Australia the maximum possible results from the national surveys that have been completed.
Aid to India and East Pakistan - Postal Department - Disappearance of Ketch ‘One and All- Hansard
Motion (by Mr Malcolm Fraser) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want briefly to enter a plea for the Government to take a more realistic and humane attitude towards helping victims of the civil war in East Pakistan, especially those refugees who have fled from East Pakistan into the surrounding Indian States. The total amount of aid that has been pledged from Australia has reached $3m, and it would appear from the attitude expressed in the previous debate on this matter in the House by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) that the Government is well satisfied with its effort. I believe, however, that the Government must do a great deal more. Not nearly enough is being done.
The amount of aid provided so far is $3m. I think it should be pointed out that not all of this amount will actually reach the refugees and the other war victims because, as was acknowledged in the speech by the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Sinclair) on Tuesday, a lot of the funds that have gone, is actually taken up in freight costs. I think the Minister has admitted that of the extra Si. 5m that is now being allocated as from this week as aid for the refugees, $250,000 will be taken up in freight costs. So the actual total amount of aid is considerably less than $3m. In view of the size of the problem, I believe that a great deal more must be done.
I would like to pay a tribute to the young people who have been fasting over recent days in support of this cause, particularly the young people who have been fasting outside Parliament House. I think they have done a remarkable job in highlighting this problem, especially in bringing it to the attention of the Government. I deplore the comments of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) about these people on Tuesday in which he implied that they were not being constructive in their actions. I think the very fact that later the Government announced that it had increased the amount of aid shows that they were being constructive. In fact, they probably partly made the Government wake up to itself but it has not done anything near enough so far. I was pleased to bear the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) rebuke the Minister for Primary Industry on this matter at question time this morning, thereby implying that he did realise that these people were acting in a good cause.
I would like the Australian Government to put its money where its mouth is and give a great deal more. The amount of $10m which has been suggested as an initial outlay is not unreasonable. I know that this amount was suggested by the honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) when I was with him in West Bengal. At that time I supported his plea. I again do so. I do not think it is an unreasonable amount. But I do think that this aid must be continuing until all refugees are repatriated and rehabilitated. I cannot understand the reason for the apathy on the part of the Government. It is inexplicable. Perhaps an explanation is that it is not a straight-out question of Communism versus antiCommunism. I would suggest that if it were a matter of Communism versus antiCommunism the Government would not be able to get aid in quick enough. We would have Ministers trotting over there every week trying to see what they could do to stop the tide of Marxism-Leninism coming towards Australia’s shores. But because that issue is not involved the Government is apathetic. I think this shows an extremely cynical attitude by the Government. In my view the refugee situation there should be required viewing by, if not the Prime Minister, at least the Minister for Foreign Affairs. For that matter, why not have an all-party delegation go there and have a first-hand look, at the situation. If this were done it might change the attitude of the Government to this problem.
I have in front of me tonight some figures which were supplied to me by the Indian High Commission. It might surprise the House to learn how little aid has reached the Indian Government. When I was in West Bengal 2 months ago the Indian Government said that on the assumption the refugees would be there for 6 months - it would be a good thing if they could be repatriated after 6 months - the Indian Government would need $600m worth of aid. I have been told that up to this stage only $170m worth pf aid has been pledged. But the remarkable thing is that only $17m worth of aid has actually reached the Indian Government through the channels. That probably would be enough to sustain the refugee population for about 2 weeks. I am not talking about Australian aid; that is the total foreign aid which has been given. Only a modest programme has been carried out by the Indian Government so far. It is only a life support programme. It is supplying some medicine, food and shelter. With great respect to the Indian Government, which is doing a magnificent job considering the enormity of the problem, I think the target could be set a lot higher because, although the Indian Government is doing its very best, the refugees are falling further behind. They are falling behind because of a lack of food, medicine and shelter.
The refugees are probably getting enough in the way of calories, but they are not getting first class protein. They are certainly not getting enough iron. Of course, they have a very great requirement for iron because they all suffer from iron deficiency - anaemia - and the women all have a baby every year, which means that they have an increased iron requirement, too. There is a shortage of medicine. But even if there were enough medicines, the chronic ill health problem still would not be solved because the refugees are so completely overcrowded that re-infection will occur.
Even if we give medicines to the refugees, the conditions are propitious for them to become re-infected immediately with hookworm, round worm, amoebic dysentery and other conditions which are liable to occur in the grossly overcrowded areas in which these people have to live. Even the shelter that is being provided is not adequate. Conditions must be even worse now than they were when I was there because the monsoons have been continuing over the last 2 months. Even at the early stage when I was there the roofs over these dwellings, if one could call them that, were admitting water. The water was coming through the roofs of these places which were providing hardly any shelter at all from the monsoon weather.
I think that much more can be done. Even if we provide this money, we must recognise that the aims of the programme are modest and we really could set our sights higher. We need to give these people good quality protein foods and much more in the way of shelter. On the subject of medical conditions, we ought to be able to provide better sanitary facilities. I do not know why we could not take over responsibility for SO refugee camps and build proper septic tanks or something of that kind. At least in this way we might be able to make a start towards eliminating some of the chronic debilitating conditions which arc responsible for many deaths, particularly of children, in these camps.
As I said before, I would like to see a couple of Ministers from this Government visit this area. Major-General Cullen, on behalf of the Australian voluntary agencies, did so. I would like to see the Australian Government take similar action by sending Government Ministers there so that they might have a first hand look at what needs to be done and initiate, in consultation with the Indian Government, a programme of assistance. The Government should not wait to be pushed by back bench members of the Parliament or voluntary agencies into doing something. The Government should not hang off, waiting to see how much such and such a country gives to the refugees and then say that it will give a proportionate amount on a per capita basis.
Australia is perhaps the most affluent country in the Indian area of the world. I think that we are the country which can do most in relation to this problem. Think of the tremendous difference it would make, to the stature of Australia and to our status in this area if we gave a lead. People in these countries could say: ‘Here is Australia getting in and really doing something’. I take the opportunity to compare the Australian Government’s attitude on this matter with its attitude regarding the Indian Ocean. Soviet naval vessels are carrying out what I would regard as gestures in the empty wastes of the Indian Ocean. In response to these activities the Australian Government is prepared to spend $80m on a naval base at Cockburn Sound. I compare the expenditure of $80m for that purpose with the expenditure of $3m not on trackless wastes of ocean but on the reality of 8 million war refugees from East Pakistan in India. I think that we could do a lot better. It is high time that the Government got off its backside and did something.
– I wish to raise a couple of matters tonight on the reorganisation of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The first issue that I wish to mention is the question of the decision by the Department to close down a number of non-official Post Offices and to reduce other official Post Offices to non-official status. This matter relates not only to particular areas in my electorate; it also covers areas which border on my electorate. I will touch also on the way in which these proposals affect the electorates of Country Party members who, I think, should be very vitally concerned with the 2 issues that I will mention because one thing which the country requires is service from the Postmaster-General’s Department.
I regret that the tendency today seems to be to forget that the Post Office provides a service to the public and that this is its first responsibility. The question should not always be one of where a few dollars and cents can be saved. In the early part of last month, I received information that the Department was considering reducing the status of the Doonside Post Office. It was to be reduced from an official Post Office to a non-official Post Office. So I wrote to the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Sydney and pointed out that I had information to this effect. I asked whether he would confirm it. I stressed that I was very strongly opposed to the proposal. Part of his reply states: . . plans to reduce some small official offices to non-official conditions are in the interests of economy.
In other words, he admitted that these proposals were being considered. He stated that it was in the interests of economy. He continued:
I cannot conceive how service to the public will not suffer if such action is taken. Economy seems to be the guiding factor. Service to the public does not seem to be of very great importance.
I was made aware also of moves to close altogether a number of non-official post offices. For example, I understand that 6 in the Hawkesbury Valley are to be closed. I have been advised by police that the 80 miles from Windsor up the Putty Road towards Singleton will have no post office facilities. I think we must remember that these post offices provide a service to people who live in remote areas. Furthermore they give assistance to organisations such as civil defence organisations and the police force. It is important to have a non-official post office to provide various facilities in a remote area. The saving of a few dollars and cents - a matter of economy - has apparently entered into the subject. I have been advised by a friend of mine, Mr Ashley Brown, the Australian Labor Party candidate for the Mitchell electorate at the next Federal election, that he attended a meeting of residents who protested against the possible closure of non-official post offices in the Hawkesbury Valley. An officer of the Department, Mr Lane, whom I know - he is quite a nice fellow and quite an effective officer but he can only carry out orders coming from the Federal Government whose members sit opposite - made the point that the whole move is being made in the interests of economy. Official and non-official offices are public utilities. They are supposed to serve the interests of the public by providing postal facilities.
The reason why I am speaking tonight is to object to this proposal. I sincerely hope that the Government will reconsider this matter and realise that it must ensure that this public utility provides the service that it is supposed to provide. It is ridiculous that a place such as Doonside, which is a quite heavily populated area, will have its post office reduced from official status to non-official status. It is equally ridiculous that a place such as Mount Druitt, which has the biggest Housing Commission development in New South Wales - 8,000 houses are being built there - will have no official facilities but only non-official facilities provided. In the past I have written to the Department and asked why it is taking this step. In those areas mail men are not handling the mail; mail contractors are handling it. I repeat that this is in the biggest Housing Commission development area in New South Wales.
– lt is the biggest develop- ‘ ing area in New South Wales.
– That is so. Altogether 8,000 houses are to be built there. Of those 1,500 are Housing Commission homes. Before I finish I shall touch on another matter. It is one in which the Australian Country Party should be vitally interested. I refer to the re-organisation of the Post Office announced by the Minister approximately 3 weeks ago. I think that the whole issue of decentralisation is involved here. I understood that members of the Australian Country Party were prophets of decentralisation. I thought that they were always advocating-
– Order! I think the honourable member should address the Chair and not the Australian Country Party.
– I am very sorry, Mr Speaker. I will do so.
– Do not talk to them in future.
– No, I will not talk to them in future. I suggest that members of the Country Party who I understood were prophets of decentralisation should be interested in this issue especially when we consider that, arising from the reorganisation ordered by the Government and announced by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) 3 weeks ago, the divisional engineer’s staff of 29 and the district telephone manager’s staff of 16 will be transferred from Goulburn to Canberra. The transfer will affect a total staff of 45 with an annual salary of $237,796.
I would now like to refer to the centre at Maitland, and I am sure that the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) will be interested in this. A total staff of 43 with an annual salary of $224,798 is to be transferred from Maitland to Newcastle. The Government is effecting a wonderful job of decentralisation at a time when there is more unemployment - in fact mass unemployment - in country areas than has been seen since the depression years. This is a ridiculous state of affairs. A staff of 32 with an annual salary of $173,948 is being transferred from Gosford to Parramatta. Staffs are also being transferred from Armidale to Tamworth, from Bathurst to Orange, from Dubbo to Orange, from Kempsey to Grafton, from Lismore to Grafton, from Narrandera to Wagga and from Parkes to Orange. These shifts will cause extraordinary chaos right throughout country areas. I think it is time that Country Party members joined with members on this side of the House to force the PostmasterGeneral to reappraise his policy on the issue about which I have just spoken and also on the issue of providing a service to the public by deciding not to reduce official offices to non-official status. I hope that the Postmaster-General will decide not to close non-official offices along the Putty road from Windsor going towards Singleton, for if he does he will leave 80 miles of road without one post office to serve the public.
– The House will remember the disappearance of the ketch ‘One and AH’. A life raft was located 49 miles north north west of Middleton Reef initially by a Royal Australian Air Force Neptune aircraft late this afternoon. A RAAF Orion aircraft was immediately dispatched to maintain contact and is now in visual contact with the raft. The crew has reported the sighting of at least 5 people and possibly there are others under the hood of the raft. The submarine HMAS ‘Otway’ is on its way and expects to arrive at the scene at 12.45 a.m. I would like to thank the Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman) for his help and the Royal Australian Air Force for the splendid work they have done in locating the raft. I thank all those who have engaged in the search for these missing people.
– I am very glad to hear the news that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) has just announced. I am sure that every honourable member in the House will be glad also. I rise tonight because I am greatly concerned about what appears in the Hansard record compared with what in fact is said in this House. Of course, I cast no reflection upon the Chair in this regard nor upon the Hansard staff. My complaint is against the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). During the course of a debate in this chamber last week in regard to the answering of questions during question time, either the Prime Minister or somebody in his Department fiddled with the Hansard record. I clearly recall the Prime Minister referring last week to the port of Kalgoorlie. I clearly recall you, Mr Speaker, calling me to some sort of order after I had interposed to say that in fact there is no port at Kalgoorlie, but that does not appear in Hansard. That part of the Hansard record was fiddled with. Mr Speaker, would you extend to me the right to fetch my tape recorder here during the course of the debates next week so that I can tape record what the Prime Minister says in answer to questions and check that tape recording against what appears in the Hansard record the following morning?
-Order! This is an adjournment debate. I do not want to interrupt and exhaust the honourable member’s time unduly but, of course, you cannot bring your tape recorder here. Secondly, I want to remind the honourable member for Sturt that the whole of the proceedings of this Parliament are taped. I understand that the honourable member for Sturt listened to the tape today.
-I understand that the honourable member for Sturt who this morning at question time raised the question of the accuracy of Hansard agreed that Hansard was correct.
– This is a different matter, Mr Speaker.
– I also want to say that that the same remarks apply. If the honour able member has any complaints about the Hansard record compared with the tape, they should be directed to me.
– During the course of my address to the House tonight I did intend to say that I was in error this morning, as I said to the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, Mr Bridgman, after checking the tape. There was some confusion yesterday afternoon when I sought leave to have some matter incorporated in Hansard. Quite a number of people were interposing and what have you. If you can assure me, Mr Speaker, that the corrections made by the Prime Minister to answers given by him to questions during question time this morning can in fact be corrected to the extent of the italics placed on the greens by the Prime Minister, somebody on his staff or somebody in the Department, I will accept that. Otherwise I would have no alternative other than to suggest that the only way around it would be that the corrected version be placed in Hansard and the italics of the Prime Minister be shown in such a way that the people can see what he actually said as against what he thinks he ought to have said after he has had an opportunity to look at the greens.
This is not the first occasion on which something of this nature has occurred. I must make some further criticism of the Prime Minister in view of the fact that prior to his occupying his present position he was widely known and widely reported in quite a number of newspapers as having attained the art of altering Press statements and what have you here and there. Having made public speeches, public statements in which he has said some rather foolish things, and then having realised later that he has said these things, or probably having been informed by a member of his staff, he would hurriedly race to a telephone and get in touch with the particular department so that his remarks could be vetted, checked, doctored, altered, call it what you like. He has done that in regard to Treasury matters that he has raised over the years. A more recent case was when he made so many boo-boos in statements about the visit to China of the Australian Labor Party delegation that he wanted a particular government department to give them its blessing by having them issued at departmental level. I do not think he was so victorious in that regard. But he has the right, as any other honourable member in this chamber has the right, to alter the Hansard greens to some extent. I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you would agree that nobody in this chamber, Prime Minister or otherwise, has the right to insert additional words which take the matter completely out of context and give a different version altogether.
Honourable members who want to question this practice have quite some considerable burden placed upon them. I would not want to make a nuisance of myself to the Parliamentary Reporting Staff by going down after each question time to listen to the tape, but it would appear that until such time as the Prime Minister is prepared to give an assurance to this House that he will not fiddle with the Hansard record we have no alternative but to do that. I think that would be a pretty correct assessment of the situation. One cannot take down in shorthand what the Prime Minister is saying at the table in answer to questions and then remember it to check it against Hansard the next day. If a copy of the greens of the Prime Minister’s answers at question time could be made available to members pretty early in the day, then perhaps we would be in a better position to recollect our thoughts and then perhaps have some recourse to the tape. But I would hate to see the position arise where that was the only way in which we could check. God knows where the Prime Minister is at this point of time; perhaps he is in bed, but the fact is that he is not in the chamber tonight. No doubt he will hear about it.
I want to quote, if 1 may, the answer Which he gave to a question this morning. He said:
The Opposition disagrees. Equally too do we believe in taking part in the security developments of the whole of the South East Asian area.
He has in fact inserted after ‘The Opposition disagrees’ the words ‘They will withdraw the troops’. Then the answer continues ‘Equally too’ and so on. Of course, earlier he had made some alteration by inserting, in lieu of ‘members of the Liberal Party on this side of the House in the coalition Government’, the words ‘Liberal members on this side of the House in the coali tion Government’. Then, if I read it correctly, he inserted something about the security of the country. Further on, on the subsequent page, he included after the words ANZUS Treaty’ the words ‘The Government’s’, so that it reads: ‘The Government’s agreements with the Americans will be maintained.’ Further down, if I read it correctly, after dealing with the platform of the Labor Party he added quite a number of words to convey quite a different impression from what in fact he had given to the House this morning.
It is for this reason that I rose to speak tonight. I only hope that as a result of my raising this matter, in future the Prime Minister will be more honest than he has been in the past in relation to questions that he has answered. Of course, one would hope that he would have more confidence in his ability - if he has any ability - and not resort to this type of subterfuge and correction to make his own end look much better than it was.
– As Hansard comes under my administration and as the Hansard staff has been somewhat involved in this matter, I think 1 should ask the honourable member for Sturt whether he would disclose where he received a copy of the greens of the answer given today, which he produced in the Parliament. First of all, these greens are not the property of every member.
-Order! Let me finish and I will call afterwards any honourable member who wants to speak. The Hansard greens are the property of the member who makes a speech in this House. The honourable member for Sturt has quoted from the greens in relation to the Prime Minister’s answer this morning. Therefore, 1 think it reasonable that the honourable member should disclose to the House where he obtained them.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker-
-Order! Secondly, I want to assure the honourable member for Sturt, as I assured him this morning, that there is a complete tape recording of the proceedings in this House from which he can check anything that is said in the House by any member, including the Prime Minister, Ministers and Opposition members. Thirdly, the honourable member for Sturt should know that in this House members are allowed to make reasonable corrections, such as grammatical corrections or obvious errors, to their Hansard greens. Such corrections may be made, provided, of course, that they do not alter the meaning of the subject matter or introduce new matter. Any alteration outside of that has to be approved by me. If there is any thought that members of the Hansard staff have altered the record of the proceedings of this chamber, I think that is a particularly grave charge.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. May I ask a question on your interpretation? You have asked the honourable member for Sturt to divulge the name, I assume, of the person who gave him the greens; but I assume that he is fully entitled not to reveal the person’s name because there are plenty of other instances-
– The honourable member is quite right.
– The honourable member for Sturt is not to be held to that?
– No. I am not insisting on that. The point I want to make is that all members of this Parliament alter their Hansard greens from time to time without altering the sense or introducing new matter. 1 also want to make the point that whoever made the greens of one honourable member available to another honourable member before publication in Hansard was in grave error in doing so. I think this is something of which the House should take note. It is I believe a deplorable practice and should not be continued.
Motion (by Mr Giles) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.2 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s questions:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth Secondary Scholarships (Question No. 3847)
asked the Minister for
Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Details of the numbers of candidates who competed for and were awarded Commonwealth Secondary scholarships each year since the scheme was introduced are given here, according to the category of school attended in the year they applied for the scholarships, by State. The names of individual schools within each electoral district are not maintained by my Department. If the honourable member wishes to obtain details about individual schools I shall see what information can be provided for any particular school which he names. (1)The number of students who (i) sat for the Commonwealth secondary scholarships examination and (ii) were awarded Commonwealth Secon dary scholarships each year’ are set out in the following table according to the type of school attended in the year they competed for the awards. Figures of scholarships awarded are of students who accepted the awards offered to them.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 October 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19711007_reps_27_hor74/>.