27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hoo. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of (he undersigned 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 are 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 end 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 petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respect tully showeth:
That a migrant who has been a member of the Australian workforce for many years, has paid taxes and acquired Australian citizenship, and seeks to live the last years of his life in his native land or, if an invalid, wishes to see his relatives, is denied pension transferability. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray:
That the House of Representatives, in Parliament assembled, seek to have Australia adopt the principle followed by Britain, Italy, Greece, Malta, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada and the United States of America, who already transfer the social entitlement of their citizens wherever they may choose to live.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The. humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capita) Territory respectfully showeth:
That there is a likelihood that education in the Australian Capital Territory will in the foreseeable future be made independent of the New South Wales education system;
That the decentralisation of education systems throughout Australia is educationally and administratively desirable, and it now being studed by several State Government Departments;
That the Australian Capital Territory is a homogeneous and coherent unit especially favourable for such studies.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a Committee of Enquiry, on which are represented the Department of Education and Science, institutions of tertiary education, practising educators, and the Canberra community, be instituted to enquire into the form that an Australian Capital Territory Education Authority should take, the educational principles and philosophy that should underlie it and its mode of operation and administration.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts in his capacity as Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities. I ask: Is it a fact that thousands of Australian tourists to Europe are being systematically and cunningly fleeced each year of their hard-earned savings by an English travel company operating as Global Tours which inflicts special charges for tours booked in Australia but which operate from London to London? Does the Minister know that tours of approximately 28 days are costing Australians approximately $40 more than they cost tourists from such countries as Canada and America? Could the difference referred to be a case of exchange manipulation or simply unadulterated robbery? Will the Minister examine the brochures and correspondence which I have with a view to taking action to protect the future interests of Australian tourists? Will he ascertain the possibility of having refunds made to the couple who had complained to Global in London last year about this exploitation of Australian tourists, and who in effect were rudely told to jump in the lake?
– If the honourable member for Shortland will let me have the brochure and correspondence I will have a look at the matters he has raised. Generally this matter refers to the problem of licensing of travel agencies which has been looked at by the ministerial committee of both State and Federal Ministers for Tourism. It is proposed that we should examine a model Act which would need to be passed by both the State Parliaments and the Federal Parliament. This proposal was raised at the last meeting of Tourist Ministers, which was held in Port Moresby last year, and at the moment is being dealt with by the Victorian Minister for Tourism. When we have got further on this matter 1 shall have more news for this Parliament.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and ational Service. No doubt the Minister is aware of the discussion on draft dodging. Bringing it down to simple terms, I ask: Is draft dodging a crime?
– I am grateful to the honourable gentleman for raising in this House what we on this side of the Parliament know to be a matter of very great importance at the present time. Specifically the honourable gentleman asks me whether draft dodging is a crime. I say to the House, in response to what the honourable gentleman is querying, that draft dodging is a crime in that it entails a refusal to register for national service, or a refusal to attend for a medical examination or a refusal to obey a call-up notice. The position is clear as far as the Government is concerned. What concerns the Australian people, 1 believe, is not what this Government stands for but what have been widely reported to be the opinions of the Leader of the Opposition on this matter. He has been reported extensively as saying that draft dodging is not a crime. What the Leader of the Opposition means by that statement is certainly not clear to me or to honourable members on this side of the House. He has a clear responsibility to state where he stands and therefore not to follow the same ambivalence of position on this matter as he seems to follow in relation to other areas of policy of the Australian Labor Party. I refer to price control, immigration and industrial sanctions as examples. I believe that the Australian electorate is concerned with the issue of draft dodging because it is an issue of law and order. Of course, one understands the sensitivity of the Opposition on a matter of this type. The Australian people respect the concept of law and order. What has been said by the Opposition, if correctly reported, is an affront to those men - the vast majority - who have served, those who are serving and those who will continue to serve in the future.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, concerns a matter somewhat related to the last question. It concerns voles for citizens of 18, 19 and 20 years of age. The right honourable gentleman will know that the former West Australian Liberal-Country Party Government, the present South Austraiian Labor Government and the present Tasmanian Liberal Government have all introduced votes for such citizens in Slate elections and that the other State governments have, I believe, all supported the proposition although stating that it would be easier and cheaper 10 introduce if the Commonwealth introduced it at the same time. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether his Government supports the statement made by his predecessor during the Senate election in 1970 that such citizens would have votes at the next House of Representatives election. If so, I ask him when the legislation will be introduced. If not, I ask him when and why did his Government abandon his predecessor’s intention?
– First of all, I am not prepared at question time, on an occasion like this, to give reasons for Government decisions. It is not appropriate. The honourable gentleman is continually probing in a nit picking fashion to try to find divergences of views between members on this side of the House, but he will not be accommodated. Secondly, I have made it clear to him, and he should know this, that
I have stated before that I would take no action in this House, that I would discuss it with members of my own Party in the Party room and I would listen to what they said. This has not been done, and I have no notice on. the business paper requiring that the matter be discussed.
– ls the Minister for Primary Industry aware that the harvest for wine grapes is about to commence, without any assurance that accommodation can be found at wineries? Can the Minister offer any likelihood of change in the rate of excise to encourage some confidence into the industry? Does he agree that the Grant inquiry will presumably report too late to be significant in this year’s harvest?
– There are real problems in the wine grape industry, particularly in that part of Australia which the honourable gentlemen represents and in the areas adjacent to it. Most of the problems surround the very considerable additional plantings that have occurred in recent years, to which the Australian wine grape producers first drew the attention of governments and others six or seven years ago. The difficulties of the Australian wine grape industry have been of an order which it has been difficult to define, and it was because of the complexity of the problem, and again at least substantially because of the interest of the honourable gentlemen in the matter, that Professor Grant was appointed to conduct for the first time an inquiry into the whole industry, the implications of the over-production in 1972, new plantings in the industry and in particular the difficulties of the cooperatives along the Murray River.
There are obviously some implications concerning the application of wine excise and the degree to which that has affected sales. Fortunately recent returns, on customs clearances, demonstrate that the sales position of table wines in Australia is recovering, and recent figures show a very marked improvement on the figures of six to twelve months ago. Nonetheless the report Professor Grant will submit to the Government will be the basis on which we will be able to consider analytically all the ramifications raised by the honourable gentlemen in his question. I think we will be able to assess better the implications not only of wine excise but also of new plantings in the industry. Any judgment that needs to be taken on the situation then will be made with the full facts at our command. I expect that the report will be presented to the Government within the next few weeks, and contrary to the honourable gentlemen’s suggestion I do not believe it will be too late for a judgment to be made in respect of the 1972 pickings.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact, as reported in the ‘Northcote Leader’ newspaper on Tuesday 15th February, that the Minister has banned the release of the number of job vacancies in specific localities and the number of unemployed in specific localities? If so, what is the reason for shrouding this vital information in secrecy? I further ask the Minister: Will he supply me with the number of job vacancies in the Heidelberg, Northcote, Collingwood and Fitzroy municipalities and also the number of unemployed in those localities?
– I must confess to the House that I am not a avid reader of the Northcote Leader’ and indeed my attention has not been drawn to the Press report to which the honourable gentleman referred, but as he has drawn it to my attention I will certainly call for a copy and provide him with a statement on what has appeared in that Press commentary. The fact of the matter is that it is not always easy for me as the appropriate Minister to provide the breakdown of employment figures in particular municipalities or areas because that information very largely is determined by the area of jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Employment Service office in the area for which figures are sought. I will look at the question which the honourable gentleman has raised and I will call for a copy of the Press report.
– Has the Minister for Education and Science had a number of representations made to him concerning the problems of isolated children? Is he aware of the great difficulties faced by many families out of reach of any local school, where mothers must not look after the home, but often help work properties end in addition attempt to educate their children? Is he aware that a number of children are being prejudiced by the downtown in the economic fortunes of remote areas which has made it impossible for these children to be sent to boarding schools? Is he also aware that changes in technical requirements for those families which are on the School of the Air are likely to involve up to $800 for the purchase of new wireless sets for homes in order to remain on the School of the Air? Can the Commonwealth do anything to assist?
– I have had a number of representations from individuals concerned, from an organisation that has been established specifically to try to promote some greater assistance for families in these circumstances and also from a number of members of Parliament including the honourable member for Maranoa who I know is very concerned about this problem. I think it is a very real problem indeed. The matter that the honourable member mentioned concerning the change in radio frequencies will of necessity be over a period of time - I think not starting for another 2 or 3 years. The changeover in radio frequencies and the purchase of new wireless sets so that these people may remain on the School of the Air is a matter on which I have already arranged with the Postmaster-General to have discussions between our 2 departments to try to measure the size and extent of the problem. I have received a deputation from people as far away as Meekatharra who again impressed on me the importance of this problem. I believe it to be a real one.
At the present time any direct assistance for people in this area has come mostly from State sources. In the Northern Territory the Commonwealth, of course, has its own programmes of assistance which have been roughly equivalent to the sorts of assistance provided by the States but the circumstances have changed. I certainly give a full undertaking that this whole problem of the relatively few but very important families living in these parts of Australia will be reviewed. I think that the people who live in the outback represent much of the best of Australia and at the moment they are in a very difficult position in relation to the education of their families, and I am very much aware of that.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of the honourable gentleman’s tenacity in upholding the law in every minute detail I ask him why, when he was AttorneyGeneral, he deliberately broke the law himself and why he failed to take action against the Prime Minister or any other Minister or member or even you, Mr Speaker, in regard to section 145 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which reads:
A candidate shall not, in respect of any candidature, incur or authorise electoral expenses exceeding is the aggregate -
. . .
in the case of a House of Representatives election - Two hundred and fifty pounds.
Finally I ask: Is not this a case of every member of this House, including the Minister for Foreign Affairs himself, deliberately flouting the law?
– It would be quite wrong to suggest that I had failed to prosecute any offence in this regard that had come under my attention while I was Attorney-General. I think there is a good deal of misunderstanding about section 145 of the Electoral Act. If honourable members are willing to let me speak they might be interested in having some views on the matter. They will recall that there was a challenge in the High Court by one Sarina against the election of certain senators. The case was conducted and heard. Senator Murphy appeared for the right honourable member for Melbourne who was also joined and I appeared for certain respondents. This question was debated before Mr Justice Kitto. Honourable members will notice that there are 3 types of expenditure which may be incurred. One is direct expenditure by the member himself. The second is expenditure made with the authority of the member on his behalf. Section 147 - I think it is - provides that no-one may spend money on behalf of a member without his authority in writing. So it is an offence if money is spent on behalf of a member if the authority is not in writing. The third category-
– Cut it out.
– You can look at the record of the court proceedings before Mr Justice Kitto if you want to follow it out in more detail. The third category concerns money which people spend in the interests of the candidate. This is dealt with in a later section. Another section relates to organisations. In a Schedule to the Act is a requirement that a candidate must state certain types of expenditure. However, if one looks at the section which limited the amount it will be seen that it provided that a member should spend no more than the fixed amount himself or by his authority. So it covered the first 2 types of expenditure. I will not develop the matter any further at question time, but in the Schedule itself, and without warrant from the Act, is a provision concerning the expenditure of money in the interests of the candidates. Mr Justice Kitto clearly took the view in argument that it was the 2 first types of expenditure that were referred to in the prohibition and not the third type. Finally, the matter was nol proceeded with. I think that if the honourable member takes this under consideration he could find that even he himself may not be breaking the law.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. It was reported by a member of the Victorian Egg Board, Mr B. Talbot, that 540 million surplus eggs are to be dumped into the sea this year. This situation is scandalous while millions of people in India and Bangla Desh are dying of starvation. Will the Minister raise this matter in Cabinet with a view to providing surplus high protein egg pulp to the needy people of Bangla Desh?
– I have not seen the report to which the honourable member referred. I can well understand his concern that these surplus eggs might be dumped when there are people who need egg pulp in countries such as India and Pakistan. I promise him that I will look into the matter to see what can be done to ensure that these surplus eggs are used in the most efficient manner.
– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs representing the AttorneyGeneral a question supplementary to the one he has just answered. I ask: Why did he fail to complete in obedience of the law, the necessary form under the expenses section of the Commonwealth Electoral Act in respect of his expenses at the last House of Reprsentatives election? I also ask him why it is that the other 4 lawyers who were then in the Ministry in this House - some of course are no longer there - did not provide returns under that section of the Act either.
-I do not know where the Leader of the Opposition gets his information.
– In Hansard. 1 will give the reference to the Minister forthwith.
-I think the simplest way to answer this second Dorothy Dix question is to say that I will look at the matter and will communicate with the Leader of the Opposition in due course.
– My question also is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and I refer to the recent visit of President Suharto of Indonesia to this country. Apart from the goodwill his visit generated between our 2 countries and in view of the wide public interest that was shown in trie President’s visit, were any tangible benefits gained from the President’s visit?
-I certainly think that the visit produced a great deal of good will and was a remarkable success from any view. Of course we have had many close exchanges with Indonesia over a long period before the visit occurred and our relations had been on a good footing beforehand. The visit itself was successful. The honourable member for Herbert has asked for details of practical benefit which resulted from the visit. At Government level I could perhaps point to three. Firstly, it was arranged for regular meetings of Foreign Affairs officials to take place. This was arranged between the Indonesian Foreign Minister and myself. Secondly, it was also arranged that regular meetings would take place between officials from the Department of Trade and
Industry and their opposite numbers in Indonesia. Thirdly, it was arranged that the remaining disputes between us over the boundary of the continental shelf between the 2 countries would be the subject of an early conference of experts and arrangements have been put in hand to carry that into effect.
At business level the President spoke to businessmen both in Melbourne and Sydney and, although I cannot point to specific projects, my information is that definite progress has been made in interesting businessmen in ventures in Indonesia. We also had an opportunity to discuss the proposed gift of Sabre aircraft which was mentioned earlier by the Prime Minister, and this matter is proceeding.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether he has noted the decision of the Society of General Practitioners in New South Wales to increase fees of general practitioners for surgery visits and home visits with all sorts of surcharges. Has he noted that the Australian Medical Association has roundly condemned and repudiated this outrageous attempt by 1,000 medical men, who have been educated at public expense, to exploit the poorer sections of the community? What does he intend to do to stop the abuse of the Commonwealth’s health scheme by these medical brigands?
– My colleague, the Minister for Health, as most honourable members will know, went last night to Queensland to attend the Commonwealth and State Health Ministers Conference. He proposes later this morning to make a statement on the issue which the honourable member has raised. It is a quite a brief statement and I have a copy of it here. Perhaps it would be the best way of answering the honourable member’s question if the House would bear with me while I read this statement now.
It reads: it was a matter of great regret that various organisations within the medical profession were apparently unable to agree on a common attitude for medical fees. It was evident that the Federal executive of the Australian Medical Association was maintaining a responsible attitude towards the preservation of the common fee concept as instanced by the Federal President’s immediate repudiation of the irresponsible proposals of the Society of General Practitioners.
The honourable member mentioned this in his question. The statement continues:
Senator Anderson said that he was also concerned that the Queensland Branch Council of the Australian Medical Association had advised its members to ignore some changes to the schedule which had been made on recommendation by the Medical Benefits schedule Advisory Committee. The Council had in effect recommended its members to accept the recommendations which increased fees and to ignore those where the reduction was recommended. The Government could not agree with such a one-sided approach.
– What is it going to do about it?
– Just wait. The Minister for Health goes on to say:
I have been in close consultation with the Federal Executive of the Australian Medical Association for some time regarding the unsatisfactory level of observance of medical most common fees, mostly in New South Wales. The issue of medical fees has been brought to a critical point by this week’s developments. 1 had hoped (hat the various differences in outlook within the medical profession would have been resolved by responsible discussions within the profession itself. This new critical element will have to be brought into the Government’s consideration of the overall situation when it has before it my report of discussions that I have had. I will be reporting to the Government at an early date.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the proposed conduction of a naval facility al Garden Island in Western Australia. In view of the report in yesterday’s ‘West Australian’ that the Acting Minister for the Navy said that the Government was keeping the question of public access to Garden Island under continuing review, can the Prime Minister further clarify the position?
– I have been in contact with the Premier of Western Australia about access to Garden Island in Cockburn Sound - though not to the causeway - by motor boats and by yachts. Recently 1 have been informed by the Department of the Navy that limited access can be granted under controlled conditions by the Navy and it is working out a formula for me so that I can contact the West Australian Premier and let him know the details. I have also received information on at least 2 occasions from my colleague the
Minister for Works, who is very greatly interested not only in the problem of buildings on Garden Island but also in the problem of ecology and of access of the kind thatI have mentioned. He has pointed out to me. as late as yesterday, that the Public Works Committee is examining the problem of the buildings there and that if people wish to have a right of access they can make their views known to that Committee and the Committee will pass them on either to me, the Minister for Defence or the Minister for the Navy.
(Mr Bryant having addressed a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service) -
– Order! I do not think that any Minister is obliged to answer a question of that nature at question time. There are other forms of the House available to the honourable member.
– Mr Speaker, you are ruling my question out of order?
– I move:
– The question is that the Speaker’s ruling be dissented from.
– Wait a bit; I want to speak.
– The honourable member must put his motion in writing.
-] will put it in writing, certainly.
– Mr Speaker-
– Order! I have a motion before the Chair.
– Yes, but I think that this ought to be said straight away. Mr Speaker, while the honourable member for Wills was taking a point of order some interjections were made from your right, reflecting on him. In those circumstances, I think it is only proper that honourable members should be made aware, as they can see in any daily Hansard, that the honourable member is one of the few decorated members in the House.
– There is no point of order.
-I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) for that comment humble as the decoration may well be. But the point before the House, as I see it in disagreeing with your ruling, is that in their public office members of this Parliament, particularly Ministers, have to answer not only for those things which they administer on behalf of the nation but also for their general persona] attitudes, particularly when those attitudes become a matter for comment throughout the nation. The situation at the present time is that there are in Australia a number of young men who have refused to undergo military service, and there is a great debate in the community as to whether this is a crime or a dishonourable act or some such thing. On the other hand, the Minister has himself used every opportunity in this House to try to denigrate the position which these young men take. It is my sincere belief about the way the Australian community operates that each one of us, not only in our public activities but also in our private affairs which it might be said are public to such an extent as military service, attitudes to it and our duties as a citizen, should explain them publicly.
Therefore in this instance, I believe, the Minister ought to say quite emphatically why it is that when ample opportunities have been offered to him during his young manhood to serve his nation on the battlefields he has chosen to ignore them and avoid them. I regard his behaviour as dishonourable and I believe that he ought to try to refute that charge.
– I would like to support the honourable member for Wills.
– Order! Is the motion seconded?
– Yes, I second the motion. I do so because this matter has been made relevant by the conduct of such persons as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), to whom the question was addressed, and other people on his side of the House. Normally, perhaps a question of this kind could properly be ruled out of order; but when by the conduct of the person concerned and of other persons the question has been made relevant to the business of this House, as it has been by urgency motions on notice and by other statements made on many occasions by the Minister concerned and by others on his side of the House - I submit that there is a strong case for ruling that a question asked about that conduct is in order. They have done this by calling into question the conduct of other people, by describing young men who resist the draft as ‘draft dodgers’.
Those young men who resist the draft are not draft dodgers. They face their whole responsibility in this matter. They refuse to obey the law and they face the consequences of that. The draft dodgers are in this House - men who have a responsibility. If they call on other people to face that responsibility they should themselves, in honour as citizens, be willing to face that responsibility. But they do not do so and they call into question the conduct of others by using terms such as ‘draft dodgers’ when the truth is to the contrary. No-one is facing the draft more than those who resist the draft. No-one is facing the draft more thoroughly than those who have been willing to face 2 years imprisonment and now a shorter term. There is no-one who are dodging the draft less than they are, but they have been described in a different manner. They have been described, I think by the Minister to whom the question was addressed and at least 2 others such as the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) who has continuously in this period been of military age, has no responsibilities whatever-
– Order! I remind the honourable member that he shall not reflect on the character or conduct of any member and he shall not challenge that in the House unless he has a substantive motion to that effect.
– I am not reflecting on him by saying that he is of military age. I might be reflecting on him if I were saying that h was above military age - that would be reflection because he looks very young-but I am sure that it is not a reflection to say that he is of military age. The point I am making, however, is that it is by calling into question other people that the conduct of these members of Parliament themselves becomes relevant to the affairs of this Parliament and should be within the area of questions that are asked.
When a citizen is concerned about whether he should be represented in this Parliament by a certain member or whether a member should be a Minister, he is concerned with matters such as this. He is concerned with the member’s attitude to such a matter as military service and why, if the member attacks other people of similar age to himself and calls them ‘draft dodgers’, he has not accepted that kind of responsibility himself. The average citizen is concerned with the contradiction in the conduct of members and Ministers in this way. My impression is that the average citizen would have a lower opinion of a person who shelters behind parliamentary membership and at the same time does not exercise military service than he would have of a young man who faces fully the consequences of the draft and the penalties that might be imposed upon him - and have been imposed on some persons - if he does not carry it out. Therefore, Mr Speaker, I submit that your ruling is incorrect. I submit that this matter is relevant to the affairs of the House and that the conduct of the persons in question has been brought into issue by those persons themselves and by the Minister’s own continual statements in which his own position has been made relevant and called into question. As the honourable member for Wills set out to do, we have a full right to question such persons. I submit that you have wrongly ruled him out of order.
– All that the honourable gentlemen opposite have put forward to this House and to you, Mr Speaker, is a smokescreen which is designed simply to hide the untenable position in which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has been placed, not just on this issue but also on issues as far back as the mutiny question of last year. It is a smokescreen to hide the embarrassment which the honourable member so personally feels and to hide the sensitivity of the persons who sit behind him. I mish to make it perfectly clear that nothing that is said by honourable members on the other side of the House will deter me from discharging all the duties I have as Minister for Labour and National Service. If the honourable member might -
– I rise to order. The Minister for Labour and National Service is not dealing with the question which is before the Chair at the present time. The matter before the Chair now, Mr Speaker, is a motion of dissent against your ruling. He is dealing with different issues which can be debated at an appropriate time but which should not be debated at this point of time.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I would say in passing to the honourable gentleman that if he checked the facts and saw the record he would find that 1, in common with the vast majority of young Australians, undertook national service in the mid-1950s. I served with the Royal Australian Air Forcein the Citizen’s Air Force. ] received a commission with the University Squadron at that time. The honourable gentleman might be a little more careful with the facts he presents to the House.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . . . 6
Question resolved in the negative.
– Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition drew my attention to some additions that were made in the publication of Hansard of Tuesday, 29th February 1972. I said that I would look into the matter for him, andI have done so. The Prime Minister, on page 352 of Hansard, explained that he wanted to make a small addition of 2 words to what he had said in his speech, on page 336, in order to clarify his meaning. The House did not object, and therefore the Principal Parliamentary Reporter made the small addition. This seemed to be the reasonable interpretation of that request, as the House offered no objection.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) agreed to:
That Mr Katter be discharged from attendance on the House Committee and that in bis place MrO’Keefe be appointed a member of the Committee.
– I move:
The purpose of this motion is to make it abundantly clear to the people of Australia tha: the Leader Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and his Party are supporting and encouraging breaches of the law made by the elected representatives of the people in the Commonweath Parliament. The facts on which this motion is based are quite simple: The Leader of the Opposition has asserted p publiciy that it is not an offence to break a particular law. That law is the National Service Act. On 28 February 1972- last Monday - the Leader of the Opposition was interviewed on the radio. 1 was fortunate enough to hear that interview. The interviewer asked him about a candidate of his Party who was being sought by the police and described as a draft dodger. The Leader of the Opposition used these words in reply:
Welt, draft dodging is not a crime. I am not going to assume that this man has broken any law.
Everyone knows, as the Leader of the Opposition knew, what was meant by draft dodging. Everyone knows that draft dodging, right or wrong, a good law or a bad law, is illegal. But the interviewer gave the Leader of the Opposition another chance and said:
You say that draft dodging is not a crime.
The Leader of the Opposition replied:
How do you define draft dodging? Look, cut out all the nonsense about this. After this next election there will be no draft.
Here was a clear opportunity for the Leader of the Opposition to say that the law would be changed if the Australian Labour Party formed a government but that, until then, it was the law that call-up notices had to be complied with because the law said so. But the Leader of the Opposition did not recant. His statement was that draft dodging was not a crime. It was a simple, straightforward, unequivocal statement.
There are 2 vices in that statement and it is on those 2 vices that this motion is based. The first point is that draft dodging is an offence. It is an offence because section 51 of the National Service Act says so That section provides that where a notice has, that is, a call-up notice - whether before or after the commencement of the National Service Act 1968, been served on a person under section 26 of this Act and the person fails after the commencement of that Act to comply with the requirements of the notice, the person is guilty of an offence punishable, upon conviction, in accordance with the next succeeding sub-section. The law says quite clearly and without any doubt at all that failure to comply with a call-up notice is an offence. The Leader of the Opposition says that it is not. This is an extraordinary discrepancy. It is discreditable in the extreme for an alternative Prime Minister to pretend that any provision of the law does not exist.
But the second vice is even worse, for the Leader of the Opposition is making it plain to all who care to listen that he does not regard draft dodging as an offence, no matter what the law says. What effect is this intended to have on those affected by the National Service Act and who are subject to operation of that Act? 1 would suggest that the only fair interpretation to be placed on the words is that they are calculated to encourage those people to ignore the law. If there is any other interpretation open on the words 1 would like to hear what it is. It is one thing to urge people, voters and nonvoters, to work for a change of government so that the law can be changed, lt is another quite different and discreditable thing to encourage citizens to ignore the law or to break it. If that is not the case here there is ample opportunity for the Leader of the Opposition to explain to the House and to the nation what he did mean by those clear words: ‘Draft dodging is not a crime’.
The Australian Labor Party Federal Conference seems to think that we are dealing with an offence. A resolution from the ALP Launceston Conference in 1971 stated that 2 men whose names were given are ‘Due to face court proceedings on Friday. 18th June for breaches of the National Service Act which could result in 2 year terms of imprisonment’. Contrast those words, Mr Speaker, with the Leader pf the Opposition’s words: ‘Draft dodging is not a crime’. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) certainly knows that we are dealing with an offence. He has a Bill in his own name on the notice paper to amend the National Service Act. I find it inconceivable that this Bill was intended to do anything other than set out what changes the Opposition would make to the National Service Act. Did the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition propose to remove the offence of draft dodging? Not a bit of it. His amendment, which was consequent upon other amendments, was to insert an additional penalty of 1 year’s imprisonment for the very offence I am talking about, draft dodging. Contrast those words, Mr Speaker, with the words: ‘Draft dodging is not a crime’. The young man concerned in this matter regards draft dodging as an offence, and to his credit he is proud of it. He said in a television interview this Monday, 28th February:
Well, if the warrant was carried out I’d be taken to court and gaoled for the 18 months’ term.
Again, Sir, contrast those words with the Leader of the Opposition’s words: ‘Draft dodging is not a crime’. Perhaps the inconsistencies can be explained. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition meant something else. But what concerns me is the sheer pretence of it all - the pretence, merely by asserting it, that a provision in an Act passed by this Parliament in some way no longer has any effect, that some lofty dispensation has been given, and above all the clear innuendo that people subject to the National Service Act need not comply with it because the Leader of the Opposition has decided that there is no offence.
Worse than that, it is nonsense according to the Leader of the Opposition to suggest that draft dodging is a crime. Honourable members will recall that when the interviewer asked the Leader of the Opposition: You say that draft dodging is not a crime?’ he replied: ‘How do you define draft dodging? Look, cut out all the nonsense about this. After this election there will be no draft’. So it is nonsense apparently that the law still stands, nonsense that there is an offence, nonsense that the law should be complied with, and apparently good sense for the Leader of the Opposition openly to pretend that the National Service Act does not create an offence and to encourage people not to comply with that law.
I do not know what will be said in reply to all this. It may be said that the Leader of the Opposition was not referring to the law in general but only to the particular case of the man in question, who has not yet appeared in court. We have heard a lot of trivia from the Opposition in recent days about credibility. If the Leader of the Opposition asks us to believe that when he said draft dodging was not an offence in all the bald simplicity of that statement, he really meant not that at all but that one individual man is not guilty of draft dodging until he is convicted, then that stretches credibility to breaking point. I frankly find it incredible. And whether the man in question is guilty of an offence under section 51 of the National Service Act or not, the fact is that there is a warrant which has been issued for his arrest. The time has come for a clear statement on whether the Leader of the Opposition and his Party support this evasion of an arrest warrant or not. The young man himself clearly believes that he has the support of the Leader of the Opposition in what he is doing. When interviewed on the television programme he was asked:
But how do you think Mr Whitlam feels about your candidacy?’
I’ve mct Gough on this and he’s always been most friendly and has vocally supported me.’
If that statement was not accurate then it should be corrected and there is an opportunity for it to be corrected. But perhaps it is said - and it has been said in the Senate - that it is all the Attorney-General’s fault for pursuing the matter and for making statements about it. I would remind honourable members opposite of the statement contained in chapter 33 of their own federal platform which sets out the functions of the AttorneyGeneral:
The Attorney-General of the Commonwealth and public officers under his control to investigate breaches of Commonwealth law and to initiate proceedings for enforcement of laws, especially in areas such as consumer protection where such an action is beyond the resources of the citizen.
In other words the platform clearly sets out that this is the very function of the AttorneyGeneral, namely to investigate breaches of the Commonwealth law, to pursue them and to institute proceedings where appropriate. That is the situation, the beginning and the end of the role of the Attorney-General in this matter. He has gone no further than the constitutional convention requires and obliges him to go in the fulfilment of his high office.
The vice - perhaps the third vice - of this whole matter and, I suppose, why the matter is raised at this stage, is that it is not, as the lawyers say, a first offence. I do not seek to minimise the first offence. It was very serious indeed. The matter was debated at some length in this House and throughout the nation in September 1970 and they were the very serious statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in which he indicated that his view was that in certain circumstances young men subject to the National Service Act should not obey the law. Let me quote and it is wise that it should be quoted again to remind honourable members of what has gone before this most recent incident from what the Leader of the Opposition said on that occasion;
I told the Caucus that if I were asked by a man. who objected to the Vietnam war as to the course he should take I would give this advice: He should register and at the time of doing so give written advice that if he was inducted and ordered to go to Vietnam he would not obey that order. If he was balloted in then he should present himself for his medical examination and if found fit and should be inducted, then he should give written advice that if he was ordered to go to Vietnam he would not obey the order.
With obvious clarity and with the intention to confirm the matter and remove any doubt of interpretation whatsoever, the same statements and similar statements were repeated several times in the same interview. The Leader of the Opposition was asked:
You should give written advice again that it-
That if be was ordered to go to Vietnam he would not obey that order.
Again he said in answer to a question:
He should obey up to that point and then disobey. He should at the time he registers and the time he is inducted, he should give written advice that if he is ordered to go to Vietnam he will not obey the order.
That was bad enough. The whole matter was debated and of course the House indicated its opinion, and the nation itself indicated its opinion of this incitement and encouragement to break the law. As if that were not enough, we have seen over recent days and I have referred to transcripts of evidence in support of this again the same type of advice, the same comment coming from someone who holds himself out to be an alternative Prime Minister of this country. I believe that it is reprehensible for a person in the position of the Leader of the Opposition to say to the nation whether with respect to the National Service Act or with respect to any other statute that has been passed by this Parliament and particularly to say to the people who are subject to the law itself:’There is no offence. You need not worry about it. Do not obey the law.’ That is the basis of this motion and I urge the House to support it.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.
– I am following the honourable member for Berowra.
– The honourable member has reserved his right to speak later.
– I will follow him.
– Order! If nobody rises to speak I will have no option but to put the motion.I call the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has risen and I have given him the call.
– I withdraw.
– I call the honourable member for Berowra.
– The House will have noted with interest the coyness of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in failing to rise to defend himself. The office of Leader of the Opposition is a high office and an honourable office. The holder of it, given ordinary circumstances, deserves respect. I have decided to take part in this debate to the extent of seconding the motion for reasons that stem. I can assure the House, from the mind and not from the heart because I have always enjoyed an agreeable personal relationship with my honourable friend the Leader of the Oppositon. It stems from a number of factors. We went to the same law school. We belong to the same Bar. I have enjoyed a friendship with him. Therefore 1 assure the House that in deciding to take part in this debate as seconder of this motion I have been impelled to do so by what I regard as important questions of principle that should engage the attention of the House and that should engage the attention of the country.
The public advocacy by anyone in a position of authority and of responsibility such as the Leader of the Opposition holds, of disobedience to a valid law passed by the Commonwealth Parliament necessarily tends to undermine values that are basic to our way of life and that axe unquestionably accepted by the vast majority of citizens in the Australian community. Therefore when one finds a gentleman in the position of the Leader of the Opposition engaging in conduct that can be fairly described as the public advocacy of disobedience to a valid law of the Parliament, that is a matter that requires serious and anxious consideration not only by the Parliament but by anyone with a sense of propiety in public affairs. Let us look at the position. The Leader of the Opposition himself said in defending himself against an attack on a previous occasion in this House on 25th Sepember 1970 words that I shall take the opportunity of quoting from Hansard. He said:
The way to change an unjust and unconscionable law in this country is to change the Government.
That is an unexceptionable statement with which no one in this House on either side would disagree. But essentially implicit in that statement is an important underlying principle without which the honourable gentleman’s statement would be nothing but empty and meaningless words. That implicit principle is that until a law that is regarded by someone or by a group in the community as unjust or unconscionable is changed by due parliamentary processes, it ought to be obeyed. It is a matter of considerable disappointment to me that the Leader of the Opposition has recently, and not for the first time, departed from this high principle; a principle, as I said, that is implicit in the very words that he used in the House in September 1970.
As my friend, the honourable member for Diamond Valley pointed out, the Leader of the Opposition recently stated that draft dodging is not a crime. I regret to say that these words were spoken in a context that gave them a meaning that was not open to doubt. The Leader of the Opposition is known widely for his skill in the use of words. It is a skill that I admire. He is noted for the felicity of his expression. Therefore we may take it - I certainly do - that the clear meaning that those words would convey to any ordinary reader or hearer was the meaning that the honourable gentleman actually intended to convey. What the Leader of the Opposition intended to convey, therefore, was that the deliberate evasion of obligations imposed under the National Service Act is not a matter for criminal punishment. But the National Service Act said otherwise, and let me remind the House that the High Court of Australia, in a unanimous decision, said that the Act is a valid law of the Commonwealth Parliament. Let us remember that the validity of the Act was tested in our supreme constitutional tribunal and it was upheld. I am saying nothing about the issues of policy that have been debated widely in this country over a period of years. Those who maintain that the policy and provisions of the Act are unjust or pernicious are fully entitled to their view and to maintain and to press the view to the utmost within the limits of proper legal processes and of proper parliamentary debate and political advocacy. The idea that a gentleman who occupies the high office of Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition should say that a law not only passed by the Parliament but also declared valid by the High Court is a law that need not be obeyed - that is what saying that it is not a criminal matter means - is a matter for extreme regret. It is not a matter to be treated merely as the plaything of party politics.
This motion was moved today by my friend, the honourable member for Diamond Valley who, I am sure, was motivated by a deep sense of responsibility and concern for parliamentary value. For my part, I would not have agreed to take part in this debate were I convinced that this is merely a political game. It is not a political game. I have no reason to play a political game because, as every honourable member knows, my days in this House by my own choice, are numbered and therefore I speak to this motion out of a sense of a deep concern for due parliamentary processes. The predicament that has led the Leader of the Opposition to make this utterance, and unfortunately it is not the first such utterance that he has made, hardly needs to be recounted because the events are very recent. Indeed, the events are current. The Australian Labor Party has chosen as its candidate for the electorate of Hotham, a division presently represented in this House by my honourable friend, the Minister for Customs and
Excise (Mr Chipp), a man who publicly has declared himself to be presently a fugitive from legal process for an alleged failure-1 emphasise the word ‘alleged’ - to obey a call-up notice under the National Service Act, He also has been convicted of 2 offences against that Act for each of which he has served a gaol sentence. In saying that, I am relying on what the gentleman concerned, Mr Johnston, has himself said on the public media. 1 say nothing as to whether or not this gentleman is guilty of the charge in connection with which he presently is being sought by the police. That is a matter for a court to determine in due time.
The fact is that the Leader of the Opposition has what fairly may be described as a monkey on his back, not only put there but also sustained, supported and encouraged by the controllers of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, which has for a long time been the Leader of the Opposition’s bete noire. We all recall that there was a day when the Leader of the Opposition was prepared to stand up to the Victorian controllers of the Australian Labor Party and I, for one, had an unfeigned admiration for the way in which he did it because it took courage and he manifested courage in doing it. Most of us remember the brave words - I do not use the word ‘brave’ in any sense of sarcasm because they were brave words - the Leader of the Opposition delivered to the Victorian Branch of his Party when he addressed its annual conference in 1967. I am bound to ask the House to ponder the questions: Why, on this occasion, has his courage failed him? Why has he not denounced the candidature of Mr Johnston? Why has he not denounced the methods by which Mr Johnston is promoting his candidature? I ask this as a serious question: Why has the Leader of the Opposition sought to excuse or explain Mr Johnston’s alleged conduct - I emphasise the word ‘alleged’ - by saying, in effect, that if he is guilty of what is alleged against him, and that remains undetermined, that is not a matter of crime; that is not an offence against the law? The Leader of the Opposition knows - he must know in his heart - as a distinguished lawyer that to make that sort of utterance is destructive of a very basic principle upon which our parliamentary democracy depends and, therefore, it is a matter for the public at large to judge whether this is not a matter that ought to be taken into account when a judgment is being made on the future government of this country.
Every instinct that my honourable and learned friend, the Leader of the Opposition, possesses by his background, his family tradition and his training should have predisposed him not to take the attitude he has taken towards the obligations imposed by the National Service Act. I had thought when the furore erupted in September 1970 over the Press statement that the Leader of the Opposition made in response to queries that were put to him about something he had said in Caucus on the same day, that what he said - although it was calculated and stated accurately at the time - as a repetition of what he had said in Caucus, was a mistake from which he could and would make a recovery. I have no need to remind the House of what he said at that Press conference because my friend the honourable member for Diamond Valley, already has told the House by quoting from the record what was said.
I had hoped that it was a mistake from which a recovery would be made and a mistake that would not be repeated. I hoped that, because at bottom every one of us who has the privilege of sitting in this House must have a concern for the parliamentary process that transcends the squabbles of party politics and if we have a concern for parliamentary democracy and for the preservation of the rule of law, no-one in this House, party political considerations altogether apart, would want to see the Leader of the Opposition or any significant member of this Parliament - indeed, any member of this Parliament, significant or otherwise - condoning an attitude towards a valid law of this Parliament that is inimical to the rule of law. Such a condonation and such an encouragement of disobedience - those 2 things are implicit in the words of the Leader of the Opposition - are calculated only to undermine our very basic values as supporters of a parliamentary democracy. I have endeavoured in the time available to me to explain to the House why I take an altogether not too easy decision to support this motion.
– Honourable members will understand why I waited until the honourable, gallant and learned member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) had spoken in support of the motion, lt is true, as he said, that we have known and respected each other for many years and I think we will continue to do so. We belonged to the same arm of the Services and the same branch of the profession and 1 have respected him as a member of Parliament and as a Minister. His Party, this Parliament and public life in this country will be poorer for his withdrawal from them.
I understand the way in which he has spoken and in many respects 1 completely agree with what he said. But let me come to the basic matter here. 1 explained yesterday after question time that in the same interview from which the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) had quoted I had also spoken as follows:
As the transcript shows, I made it quite plain that if any person has broken the law he runs the risk of being apprehended and convicted. Secondly, I made it plain at the same time that I thought no person, least of all the senior law officer of the Crown, should speak of any persons in terms which assumed their guilt.
Neither the mover nor the seconder of this mot on has challenged the accuracy of my explanation after question time yesterday. I take it, therefore, that it is accepted. As also appears from newspaper-
– Accepted but unrelated.
– Honourable members will have had the opportunity from the transcript in the Parliamentary Library and from reports in various newspapers to see that the Press conference from which this one phrase has been taken covered many other aspects, such as conscription or recruitment for the armed forces. So the full picture is not just this one phrase. I have stated the 2 other matters which should be taken into account at the same time. The honourable member for Berowra is the first person who has spoken on this matter in his Party or its affiliated parties who has at least had the propriety to emphasise the alleged failure to obey the National Service Act. I want to make it quite plain that my colleagues and 1 resent the conduct of Senator Greenwood on this matter because he speaks constantly outside the House in the various media and sometimes in the House in such a way as to assume that a man who is charged with an offence is guilty of that offence. Other matters come up about the warrant.
Senator Greenwood on Tuesday of last week apparently made a statement in the Senate. I do not keep a file on the honourable and learned gentleman and I did not read the statement, but in it he challenged me to take some particular course of action. It is remarkable that a man operating in the same building as I was for the whole of last week, a member of the same profession as I am, did not at least sei in touch with me; that he did not telephone me, call me or write to me. At last on Tuesday of this week he said at quest on time in the Senate that he would write lo me and I got a letter from him just t before this House rose last Tuesday night. In it he told me that he thought that I might have some information to assist the Commonwealth Police in their efforts to apprehend Mr Barry Johnston. The following morning I rang the headquarters of the Commonwealth Police and left my telephone number. At about quarter past 8 when the Commissioner came to the headquarter1- he telephoned me and thereafter, of course, what happens is a matter for the police; not for politicians. 1 need say no more than this: If the Commonwealth Police had thought I could assist them in any way in carrying out their pubi c duties they certainly were entitled, and I would think bound, to approach me. There need be no difficulty in this matter because the Commissioner went to the same law school as the honourable member for Berowra and I and for 30 years I have known the Commissioner and admired him as a lawyer, a sportsman, a policeman and a man. There is no difficulty with the Commonwealth Police getting in touch with me and I would have no hesitation in helping them in their duties.
When the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) made an approach to me I responded as quickly, as promptly and as fully as I could and before the House sat yesterday I had written to him in these terms. But 1 have to go further than this because I have dealt with the facts and dealt with the only matter on which the first law officer of the Crown in respect of ‘he Commonwealth has approached me. This is not enough. The honourable member for Berowra himself made reference to the 2 convictions of Mr Johnston. This is a completely irrelevant circumstance with all respect because the matter on which he is now being charged would carry a penalty on conviction of 18 months imprisonment. There could be no increase in the term because of prior convictions or any other conduct; and there could be no reduction in it. So it is a completely irrelevant circumstance. The Attorney-General himself has at times referred to Mr Johnston in respect of his convictions. He should know that this has no relevance to the matter.
Again some honourable members, and certainly some of the media, have said that my Party chose Mr Johnston at a time when he was a draft dodger, which this morning was defined by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) as comprising 3 categories. Mr Johnston was not alleged to be in breach of the law in any of those categories at that time. Mr Johnston, I am informed - I have never discussed it with him - had been convicted and punished. He had completed his punishment for 2 offences at the time he was chosen by my Party. At that time there were no circumstances in train or pending for which any proceedings could be taken against him. The Attorney-General has said - and I regret to say that the honourable member for Berowra has also said - that I should denounce the gentleman’s candidature. I shall do no such thing before or unless be is convicted. It would be completely improper for me to assume that he is in breach of any law.
– I am not asking you to.
– The honourable member did ask me to denounce his candidature, and I point out that when he was chosen as a candidate there were no circumstances for which legal proceedings could be taken against him.
– There are now.
– At the moment there are circumstances under which legal proceedings are being taken against him. They will be determined by a court. I do not believe that I should pre-judge or prejudice those proceedings.
There are certain elements of politics in this motion. This is the first notice of motion which will come to a vote and, irrespective of what any of us say, it will be carried. There are 11 notices of motion partly debated-matters of substance - on the notice paper. The Government has talked all of them out; it would not have a vote on them. I shall mention 3 of them. If the Adulthood Bill, which has been awaiting resumption of debate since 4th June 1970, had been passed, if the Commonwealth Electoral Bill, which has been awaiting resumption of debate since 1st April 1971. had been passed, and if the National Service Bill, which has been awaiting resumption of debate since 19th August 1971, had been passed, this motion would never have come on and the circumstances leading to it would never have arisen.
– Do you know where he is or do you not?
-Order! The honourable member for Cook will cease interjecting.
– This is the first time I have been asked this question in public The address to which I send material to him - the same material as I send to other candidates - and the only address T know - is the address of his parents. Let me examine in greater detail this question of breaches of the law. Parliament makes the law. In cases such as this the law has 2 ingredients. It says how the citizen must act and it says what he will suffer if he does not so act. There is a requirement and a penalty. I have always pointed out - I did in September 1970 and I do again now - that those who breach the requirements of the law must expect and undergo the penalties for breaching those requirements. The penalty of 2 years in Holsworthy is not necessarily easier to undergo than 12 months in Vietnam. The penalty of 1 8 months in Pentridge is not necessarily easier to undergo than a similar period of service in the Australian Army at the present moment.
One honourable gentleman opposite - I think it was the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) - used the word ‘pretence’. Let me examine this in a bit more detail. The Department of Labour and National Service believes that thousands - answers would indicate tens of thousands - of young men have been in breach of the provisions of the National Service Act. The Government and the
AttorneyGeneral’ s Department have issued only a few hundred summonses and a few score warrants. If the Government were to bring to bear the full rigour of the law against all those whom it believes to be in default, it would jam both the courts and the gaols. Moreover it would outrage public opinion. For years this Government has applied the National Service Act so guardedly and discreetly as to produce no more than the degree of public resentment and hostility with which it thought it could live. The police, we know, have little heart for apprehending draft registers or defaulting husbands. They think they have more urgent and popular tasks. In the Australian Capital Territory a great number of people were arrested recently. Most of them were released. Yesterday’s ‘Canberra Times’ a newspaper which does not support my utterances in this matter had this to say:
Selective justice inspired solely by political considerations is a misuse of the powers of political office and is just as reprehensible as open contempt for the law.
The whole of this Act has been imple mented by this Government selectively. Mr Johnston is not on the top of the list of those against whom warrants have been issued. I do not have to reflect on Senator Greenwood more than to say that I regard him as no paragon of legality or principle. A man who has been a guest of the Southern Rhodesian regime does not, in my view, have much respect for the rules of law or the laws of this country. Perhaps 1 might have a few more minutes to speak on this. (Extension of time granted). The Commonwealth Police are given a multitude of tasks which it is not possible for them fully to discharge. I believe that in this particular case there is a plan to keep the apprehension of Mr Johnston deferred until the election approaches and nominations have closed. The AttorneyGeneral would know section 44 of the Constitution which, stripped to its essentials, says:
Any person who - (ii.) . . . has been convicted and is under sentence, or subject to be sentenced, for any offence punishable under the law of the Commonwealth … by imprisonment for one year or longer . . . shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a . . . member of the House of Representatives.
I believe that the AttorneyGeneral would have had in mind that if he could bring
Mr Johnston before the courts and have him convicted before the election date, and too late to nominate anybody else, there would be a situation inwhich Mr Johnston could not be elected to the Parliament or sit in the Parliament and my party could not contest his seat. There would be an additional penalty overand above that of18 months in Pentridge or a similar institution. Honourable members must doubt that the police are really trying in this case.
Now let me say something about the question of criminality in this matter. It is all very well to be dramatic and to say that the term ‘crime’ covers all offences. The National Service Act sets out offences. There are in fact many legal dictionary definitions which say that crimesare offences against the Crown which are tried on indictment. The AttorneyGeneral himself found it necessary to give an extended definition of the word ‘crime’ by saying
The simple fact is that a person who is obliged to answer a call-up notice and who declines to do so is guilty of an offence and, in ordinary language, I should think that a person who is guilty of an offence is guilty of a crime.
It is being all too dramatic to suggest that breaches of the National Service Act are crimes. The public does not regard breaches of laws of this character statutory offences in the same way as it regards crimes against the person or property. There is a vast difference between breaches of law in this respect, offences properly described and. say, breaches of laws relating to homicide or fraud. No one regards a proposal to repeal the laws on conscription in the same light as he regards a proposal to repeal the laws on homicide. Nobody regards a proposal to repeal the laws on conscription in the same way as he would regard a proposal to repeal the laws on fraud. The facts of this case may constitute this is yet to be determined a breach of the National Service Act. If there is a breach of the National Service Act it is for a court to determine, not for members of Parliament and not for the AttorneyGeneral.
It is quite wrong for honourable members, particularly those who understand these matters, to refer to individuals outside the Parliament in a way which infers that they are guilty of crimes or guilty of breaches of the law. That has still to be determined. But, Sir, in the meantime I want to make it plain, as I have again and again, that those who break the provisions of the National Service Act must expect the consequences of breaking them. If you disobey the Act there are severe penalties. The penalties are not easier than service in compliance with the Act. 1 would expect that Mr Johnston, if he has broken the provisions of the Act. would expect to suffer the consequences of breaching the Act.
– One of the paradoxes about this place is that it so rarely examines the basis upon which it exists. This is one of those rare occasions that I can recall when the Parliament has ever directed itself to a consideration of the principles that occupy it in its operation. I think the House and the country should be indebted to a most elegant speech which came from the lips of the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes). A most important principle involved in this debate is: What processes are you going to observe in the making of law? That is the issue. Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that 1 will give him all the assurances in the world that I will in no way reflect upon Mr Johnston, until such time as he is convicted, nothing should be said which in any way could prejudice him. That is my view. When a man stands in the dock this carries with it no presumption of guilt. The whole of the forces of the Crown are there and those forces can be used, but meanwhile the man is innocent. But that is not the issue today. The issue in this debate is whether or not Parliament will determine what should be the law or whether it will be caprice and a sense of wilfulness of the individual.
– Or conscience.
– I will come to the matter of conscience later on if the honourable member for Capricornia will contain himself. The words which are involved and central to this issue are these words used by the Leader of the Opposition: ‘Well, draft dodging is not a crime.’ This Parliament passed through both Houses legislation providing for national service training, and imposed penalties in relation thereto. It is a matter of public notoriety that there was heavy division in this Parliament and heavy division outside, but the authorities of the Parliament said that the legislation shall be passed and it was passed, and the law, while it still stands there, is to be obeyed.
What is the sanction which rests upon the Government? The sanction is the electorate. If the electorate takes the view that that law is wrong, the electorate will impose its sanction, but until such time as that is done the law is there to be obeyed. To some honourable gentlemen what I am about to say may seem irrelevant. One of the most compassionate men in the whole of the English speaking world was Edmund Burke. He said: ‘I know of no means whereby you can present an indictment against a whole people.’ The whole of the philosophy of Burke and the whole of his life were given over to trying to destroy the arbitrament of force in the conduct of human affairs. I ask honourable members to reflect upon that statement: ‘I know of no means whereby you can present an indictment against a whole people.’ It goes to the very fountainhead upon which parliamentary democracy either nourishes or founders, because if a government seeks to legislate not in keeping with the views of the electorate the electors will impose their sanction. Time has not changed. The Leader of the Opposition said the other day: Well, draft dodging is not a crime’. It is of no avail for him to resort to semantic argument as to whether it is a crime in the sense of a crime against the person or whether it is a form of public mischief. This seems to me, with great respect to the honourable gentleman, to be unreal. This is what the Parliament has decided.
Surely the honourable gentleman will recall the great historic speech of one who walked in the tradition of the Labor Parly in the United Kindgom. I refer to the law Mr Gaitskell. When his own Party did something to him in relation to British disarmament he thundered: ‘I will flight, I will fight and I will flight again to have this corrected.’ This is what the honourable gentleman and all of my friends over there can do. You can fight and fight and fight again to have this erased from the statute book. You would be entitled to do it if that was your conviction and that was the depth of your conscience. - If you are right and we are wrong, the ultimate sanction imposed upon us is to go over there into opposition. This is the whole basis upon which this place works. If you are to substitute a sense of wilfulness for the authority of Parliament, if you are to say: ‘I do not want to evade this law because I am opposed to if, you invite the people of this country to walk down the road to tyranny. Honourable members opposite may laugh at this but I warn them that it does not take very long to walk down there but it takes a long, long struggle to get back.
– A lot of people have taken the view that it is not humbug; let me assure the honourable gentleman of that. If you destroy the authorities of this Parliament and impose your own sense of wilfulness in its place, you say that no longer are the processes of introducing legislation worthwhile. This is the issue that is involved in this great debate. I ask the honourable gentlemen opposite: What if at some time in the future your Party is in government and introduces legislation in relation to, say, drugs? I do not wish to be offensive or personal. What if your Party introduces legislation in relation to abortion, upon which people are entitled to hold strong views? What if people say: ‘No, we do not propose to take notice of this’? Where is the end? Am I obliged to believe - substituting other words for ‘draft dodging’that tax dodging is not a crime, or that drug trafficking is not a crime? Where do you stop with this? That is the question that the Leader of the Opposition must ask himself and that is the question that the Australian people must ask themselves.
Let me come to what I regard as a most unfortunate lapse on the part of the Leader of the Opposition. I refer to his reflections - that is the only way they can be described - upon the Commonwealth Commissioner of Police. What he has said here today is that the Commonwealth Commissioner of Police has gone out of his way to attend to those matters which may happen to interest him or motivate him politically. I would hope that the honourable member-
– I appeal to the honourable gentleman. If he looks in the cold at what he had to say. that is the only possible inference to be drawn. I am left with the impression that he does appreciate the sense of discomforture in which he has placed himself on this occasion. I have never known him to be so ill at ease in replying to any issue as I saw him this morning. The speech of the honourable member for Berowra tested him. I regret that the Leader of the Opposition failed. I think it must be said of him that he is an interesting physical phenomenon. He is the only man I know of whom it can be said that his Achilles heel is in his mouth.
– Quite clearly, the purpose of this motion has been to denigrate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). It is not the first time that a motion of this kind has been moved against the Leader of the Opposition in this House. It can be said in favour of both the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) that their speeches were somewhat restrained in the circumstances. I exclude from that the remarks of the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) because his motives were dictated by circumstances not beyond his control. His motives, of course, are the same as those of honourable members who sit on the other side of the House whose purpose it is to denigrate the Leader of the Opposition. I think the honourable member for Moreton should understand this: This morning the Leader of the Opposition gave a very clear account of the situation involved in the motion moved by the honourable member for Diamond Valley. He spoke in a very restrained way indeed. But he made it quite clear to the House and to the nation where he stands on this issue. Quite clearly, the proposition now before the House is whether Government suppporters and particularly the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), have the right to prejudge anyone in our society. This, together with the objective of making a false charge against the Leader of the Opposition, is the whole purpose of the action of Government supporters in this debate.
There has been a great deal of talk from Government supporters in this Parliament in the past few days about the rule of law. One could be forgiven for thinking that this great basis of the British constitution had just been discovered by honourable members opposite. The supremacy of the law in our system of government is undeniable. Of course, the Opposition subscribes to this principle. But there are elemental features of the rule of law that have either been neglected or glossed over completely by supporters of the Government. The first is that everyone is equal before the law. The second is that a person is innocent until proved guilty. It is regrettable that these basic principles should have to be stated in this Parliament but it is a sad necessity. This is the background to the issue that has been raised by the honourable member for Diamond Valley.
The fact is that a young man, Barry Johnston, has been endorsed as Australian Labor Party candidate for the seat of Hotham. He was selected according to the constitution of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. There has been no challenge of any sort to Mr Johnston’s endorsement as a Labor candidate. Challenges to pre-selection are not unknown in the Labor Party. Therefore, it can be assumed that he was selected without blemish on his record as a member of the Labor Party, and in conformity with the rules. This is the democratic process in action. Undoubtedly, this man is entitled to nominate and, if selected, stand for political office on behalf of the Labor Party. It is also a fact that Commonwealth Police are seeking Mr Johnston under a warrant for alleged breaches of the National Service Act. The Police have not been able to locate Mr Johnston or take him into custody. The nub of this matter is that until Mr Johnston is located by the Commonwealth Police, until he is brought before the Court, and until judgment is given in his case, he cannot be regarded in any sense as a criminal. This, I believe, is the point that was so forcibly put by the Leader of the Opposition.
Yet in the eyes of the Government he stands already judged and convicted. Even the Attorny-General, a man who in principle should be the fount of justice and equity, has condemned an untried and unconvicted man as a criminal and a law breaker. This is the most evil feature of the Government’s attitude to this case - that it has prejudged the case and presumed guilt. It should not be necessary to remind supporters of the Government that the function of this Parliament is to make the law, not interpret it judicially. Yet this is what the Government is doing in the case of Mr Johnston and other young men sought by the Commonwealth Police under similar warrants. It is even more objectionable that the Attorney-General and his Government should try to prejudge issues of conscience. In the minds of honourable members on this side of the House, this represents a most alarming deterioration in the judicial system of this country. It is the duty of the Attorney-General to find this young man and others sought under warrant, and put their guilt or innocence to the test in the courts. It is quite clear, again as has been stated on this side of the House by the Leader of the Opposition, that the Government has not sought to apprehend thousands of other young Australian who could be charged in the same way as Mr Johnston is now being charged by this Government. The Government does not want to find them. It does not want to find Mr Johnston. Until this is done the Government has no right to brand unconvicted people as lawbreakers.
It is not the function of the AttorneyGeneral to exploit the law for political purposes. The honourable member for Diamond Valley has raised the National Service Bill which I have put before the House on behalf of the Opposition on 2 occasions. I commend his interest in the principles of the Bill, even if he has come to it rather late in the life of this Parliament. I do not recall him taking interest in the projected amendments when they were put to the House. The purpose of this Bill was to ameliorate the harshness of the National Service Act in its impact on cases of conscience. In particular, it was intended to provide a civilian alternative to 2 year gaol sentences for young men whose conscience compelled them to go to the limit in defiance of the National Service Act by not complying with the Act in any way. This was a principle supported by 2 former Ministers for Labour and National Service, the present Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury). Unfortunately these gentlemen could not impress the merits of their case on the Government. The purpose of my Bill was not to repeal the National Service Act; the Opposition recognised the political realities of the situation. The Bill was drafted in terms which it was thought would be acceptable to reasonable Government supporters. Despite the moderation of the amendments and the valuable reforms they were intended to achieve, the Bill was rejected by the Government. This is the point of the. National Service Bill which the Opposition has on the notice paper.
It is unfortunate that with the Vietnam commitment over and national service curtailed, the Government should not accede to the principles of this Bill. I do not intend to canvass to any extent the matter put before the House by the honourable member for Diamond Valley.
– Order! It now being 12.30 p.m., in accordance with standing order 109 the debate is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) agreed to:
That thc time for the discussion of notice No. 1, general business, be extended until 12.45 p.m.
– Since the Leader of the Opposition was elected to his post in this Parliament, there has been a consistent stream of deliberately fabricated issues designed to discredit and denigrate him. The first I recall was the so-called Hong Kong unionists issue which was the brainchild of the Minister for Social Services. On one occasion the Government even went to the extent of faking an official picture in an attempt to discredit the Leader of the Opposition. All of these concoctions and fictions have failed in their objective.
This latest motion has been put to the House with the same intention to distort and discredit, lt will fail just as abjectly as the earlier attempts at distortion and denigration. It is quite plain that the Leader of the Opposition has neither encouraged nor condoned law-breaking in any form. What he has done is to draw attention to the issues 1 referred to at the start of my speech - the attempts by the Government to label as a criminal a young man who has not been tried and has not been convicted. He has also emphasised that it is not his business or the business of the
Opposition to enforce the law. Nor is it the business of this Parliament. This is the important principle that the Leader of the Opposition in his public statements has sought to emphasise.
He has also stressed the wretched nature of the National Service Act and that it will be one of the first tasks of the next Labor Government to repeal this repugnant legislation. Until it is repealed there is a duty to obey the law. This has not been denied by the Leader of the Opposition. It is also a fact that many hundreds of young men find it impossible in their consciences to comply with this law in any way. The question of conscience and the law is a very vital one. If men of previous generations had not broken laws for conscientious reasons we would not be sitting here in this Parliament. Infringement of law for conscientious reasons has been one of the main forces motivating human progress. It can fairly be said that the first man to break a law for conscientious reasons was the first to get down out of the trees. This is a fact of constitutional and legal history that must be recognised and respected just as the rule of law is recognised and respected.
It is in that sort of context that alleged breaches of the National Service Act should be regarded. At a time when it is inevitable that the National Service Act will be repealed and the Government’s justification for national service has disappeared, these cases should be looked at with some sympathy and tolerance. Of course these young men should not be put above the law. But nor should they be put before the law and this is what the AttorneyGeneral and the Government are moving to do. This is why I put it to the House that the honourable member for Diamond Valley is in gross error in referring in his motion to breaches of the law of this Parliament. The issue of Mr Johnston and his conscientious beliefs has to be tested by the Courts before any breach of the law can be asserted. In making this assertion the honourable member for Diamond Valley is in gross contempt of the rule of law, the law which he and his colleagues arc seeking to uphold.
In conclusion, the Opposition rejects this attempt to attribute false motives to the Leader of the Opposition and impute the guilt of an endorsed ALP candidate. We maintain and we support the contention of the Leader of the Opposition that until this young man has been apprehended under the laws of this country and until such time as he has been tried before the court he is not guilty. But the fact remains that this Government has set out to use this issue, as indeed it has used the issue of conscription in a number of other similar cases, merely for political reasons. How does one judge the sincerity of a government that is prepared to prejudge a young man in our community because he holds a conscientious belief? The Government can prejudge this young man merely for its own political ends. We believe in, and as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out. we subscribe to, the laws of this country being upheld. At the same time this young chap has a clear right to be tried by the court of this country. If he is found guilty he then would be prepared to accept the penalties that are imposed under the legislation provided by this Government.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, it seems-
– I rise on a point of order. I understand that the arrangement is that members from the Opposition and Government side of the House are to speak alternately in this debate.
-I understand that an arrangement has been made with the Leader of the House that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory is to follow the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I therefore ask the honourable member of the Australian Capital Territory to continue his remarks.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. It strikes me that nothing has been said in this House which can demonstrate better the difference- -
– I rise on a point of order. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory had the call but declined to take it. That is a fact.
-Order! There is no point of order.
– It is nice to know that some honourable members are trying to erode the 10 minutes which is allowed to me! However, I want to say that nothing surely demonstrates more vividly the fundamental difference between the governing parties in this House and the Opposition party - the Australian Labor Party - than the stance taken over this issue. We have heard speeches from 3 Government supporters who are lawyers. They spoke at some length about the law schools they went to, as did the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). But I had the feeling - and I stress this - that the Government speakers were acting as though they had no consensus or understanding of the real world outside. Of course, we were all brought up on the rule of law. Anyone who went to an Australian law school was brought up on the rule of law. But surely there is something above the technical rule or letter of the law.
In the time that I have available to me I would like to read a passage from chapter one of a well known work entitled ‘Freedom in Australia’ by Campbell and Whitmore. Under the heading ‘Personal Freedom and the Criminal Law’ they said:
However, it is one thing to justify criminal law in the abstract as a technique of social control, another to justify the application of that technique in particular cases. If one accepts the premise that individual liberty is something valuable in itself or valuable because it is essential to fulfilment of human potentialities legal coercion in any form must be regarded as prima lacie objectionable, an interference with individual liberty which cannot be tolerated unless it is shown to be indispensable to the securing of some countervailing good.1 But what benefit or good should a liberty-minded society endorse as sufficient to warrant the inhibition of freedom which legal coercion always involves? According to John Stuart Mill: ‘The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will is to prevent harm to others.’
They go on to say:
The function of the criminal law - and they were referring to the Wolfenden Committee -
. is ‘to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation or corruption of others, particularly those who are specifically vulnerable because they are young, weak in body or mind or inexperienced . . .’
This leads me to ask: If one applies that test to Mr Johnston’s case, how did he break any law in the sense in which I am using the expression? As honourable members opposite who are learned in this subject know, the notion that the law is something determined purely by Parliament is a very recent development in the evolution of law in Western society. Blackstone talked of a higher law. The Catholic Church talks of a higher law. The notion of natural justice and a natural law is enshrined in constitutions like that of the United States of America. The idea that there is something beyond man-made law is reflected in the Nuremberg judgments.
One can take the strict letter of the law and say that draft dodging is a crime. I suggest that if one conducted a canvass in the street the average man in the street would agree that draft dodging is not a crime just as he would agree that a parking offence is not a crime A truck driver driving from Queanbeyan to Canberra may be charged - sometimes every week - with overloading his vehicle, but he does not regard that as a crime. To call these things crimes is just to use the technical legal expression on which we are brought up in law schools but not to use it in the way it is understood out in the street. I am sure that that is what the Leader of the Opposition is referring to. I do not know Mr Johnston down there in Victoria. I speak purely as a backbench member of this Parliament. I have no personal knowledge about his motives or what he is doing, but from what I read I believe that he is acting in the highest traditions of the Australian Labor Party.
– And Parliament.
– And Parliament- because there is an obligation on members of Parliament to expose bad laws in whatever way they can. Let me give an extreme example. Suppose that this Parliament - it makes some silly laws - made a law that every time the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) picked his nose he would be sentenced to, say, 3 months in prison. Such a law might not stay very long, but what would we do with a law like that? Would we suggest that the honourable member should just go along, subscribe to it, submit to it and go to gaol? Law involves all these things. All the great, progressive steps forward in the Western tradition have come from people like Mr Johnston, inspired by this notion. I could give more examples.
– Christ broke the law.
– Christ broke the law. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) spoke about the 18th century. Think of Bradlaugh; think of Erskine and the cases he defended; think of all the cases against the censorship of the Press in the 18th century. Would any reform at all have come unless inspired, idealistic men had not broken the law on those occasions? Think of the United States of America - think of Clarence Darrow; think of Ingersoll; think of Lincoln; think of Jefferson. The American Revolution itself was a breach of the law. The tradition of the late Dr Evatt is in the same mould. Think of people like Gandhi, Nehru, the suffragettes; Pankhurst, Kenyatta, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Rosenbergs. One can go on as long as one wants to.
– And the people in Hungary.
– And the people in Hungary. Wherever these people are found, that is where progress comes from. It will not come by just going through these processes and confining and restricting ourselves to the processes to which the honourable member for Moreton referred. We have to have our feet firmly on the soil of Australia outside this Parliament. The honourable member for Moreton spoke about the processes we go through in making the law. All I can suggest is that those processes are sadly in need of reform and sadly in need of change. It will be only by such steps as the Leader of the Opposition took in exposing this sort of thing and taking his stand as he did - it was an act of courage - that progress will take place.
Some reference has been made to dual standards and to law and order. I think it was the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) who talked about law and order. It has become a cliche. Law is violence. Let there be no mistake about it, it is institutionalised violence. It is the threat of the sanction and the threat of violence standing behind the rule of law that makes it effective. Last weekend I went to Sydney to attend a certain summer school. While I was there someone came into the group I was in and said: ls there a lawyer here?’ Someone put me in; I did not want to go. 1 went out to Long Bay Gaol to see a young man out there called Madden who is charged with a similar kind of offence, of some breach of the National Service Act. f went through one locked door after another. Metal doors were opening and slamming behind me. 1 went there in an attempt to arrange bail for Mr Madden. That is an example of violence. The happenings in Goulburn Gaol and Bathurst Gaol that we have read about are other examples of violence. And yet we hear no criticism.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The time allotted for the precedence to general business has expired. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move:
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment of grants totalling $6. 66m to the States in 1971-72 for the purpose of financing capital expenditure on government primary and secondary schools. The Bill also authorises the borrowing of funds to finance these grants and the payments of grants for the same purpose in the first 6 months of 1972-73. On 9th December 1971 the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) announced in the House of Representatives that increases would be made in the rate of Commonwealth assistance to independent schools, and that grants totalling $20m would be paid to the States in the period up to 30th June 1973 for the purpose of financing capital expenditure on government primary and secondary schools. A Bill to authorise the increased payments to independent schools has already been introduced into the House by my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser).
The Prime Minister explained in his statement that the Government had decided to make the grants to the States for capital expenditure on government schools in recognition of the needs expressed by the Stales for additional expenditure in this area. As he has also explained, it is proposed that the grants be paid as additions to the interest-free capital grants which the Commonwealth is now making to the States annually as part of their works and housing programmes. The capital giants forming part of the 1971-72 works and housing programmes approved at the June 1971 meeting of the Loan Council were authorised in the States Grants (Capital Assistance) Act 1971 passed in the last sittings. The main purpose of this Bill is to amend that Act so as to authorise that part of the additional grants of $20m for expenditure on government schools which is to be paid this year, namely $6. 66m, or one-third of the total amount of $20m.
I turn now to discuss some of the specific provisions of the Bill. In clause 3, which in conjunction with the third column in the table which forms the schedule to the Bill authorises the payments of grants totalling $6.66m to the States in 1971-72, the grant to each State is stated to be ‘for the purpose of financial assistance in connection with expenditure of a capital nature on primary schools and secondary schools conducted by that State’. The intention of this statement is to identify these particular grants as being separate from the general purpose capital assistance grants made available to the States under the principal Act. While the Commonwealth has not thought to attach any legally binding conditions to the present grants, the Prime Minister has made it clear both in his statement to the House and in letters to the Premiers that the Commonwealth expects that the States will continue with at least their planned levels of capita] expenditure in primary and secondary schools, and that these grants will therefore result in additions to the levels of expenditure in this area. The Prime Minister also stated that the Commonwealth would prefer the grants to be used for purposes other than science laboratories and libraries in secondary schools since the Commonwealth is providing special direct assistance for those purposes. The States have accepted the grants on these terms and are developing their capital works programmes for schools accordingly.
Clause 4 of the Bill increases, by the amount of S6.66m. the amount which the Treasurer may borrow for the purpose of financing the capital grants. It is the Government’s intention to apply the proceeds of any loan moneys that may be available for the purpose to this expenditure. To the extent that these grants cannot be financed from borrowings, section 6 of the existing Act provides for payment to be made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Section 7 of the principal Act, in conjunction with the Schedule, authorises the Treasurer to make advances in the first 6 months of 1972-73 up to a maximum of half the grants payable to each State in the current financial year. The purpose of that provision is to enable advances to be made to the States in 1972-73 pending the passage of comparable legislation in that year. The Commonwealth’s undertaking to pay portion of the States’ works and housing programmes to them as grants has continuing effect, and this section ensures that advances can be made to the States on a regular basis from the beginning of 1972-73.
Clause 5 of the present Bill gives the Treasurer similar authority in respect of the additional grants for expenditure on government schools. Under this clause, the Treasurer may authorise grants for this purpose in the first 6 months of 1972-73 up to a maximum for each State equal to the grants payable in 1971-72, that is, a total amount for all States of $6.66m. This is because the grants payable this year are approximately half those which will be payable next year, that is $ 13.34m. The payment of the full amount of $13. 34m for next year will be authorised under a Bill to be introduced in the Budget sittings to authorise the capital grants for 1972-73 following the approval of borrowing programmes for that year at the June 1972 meeting of the Loan Council.
I should explain at this juncture that the States will continue to benefit from these grants in years subsequent to 1972-73 because they will be amalgamated into the basic capital grants for the purpose of determining the proportion of the works and housing programme that is paid to the States as grants rather than loans, thus reducing the States’ debt charges correspondingly. At the Premiers Conference and Loan Council meeting on 14th February the works and housing programme for 1971-72 was increased by $32m, including an increase in the capital grants of $9.3m. These additional grants will be authorised in a further Bill to be introduced shortly. The States are free to disburse these additional programmes as they decide themselves, although some of them have already announced that they will allocate part of the increase to expenditure on government schools. The Government believes that the grants authorised by this Bill represent a significant contribution by the Commonwealth in the field of education. They have been welcomed as such by the States. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Daly) adjourned.
Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together and agreed to.
Clause 4. (1.) Section 83 of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting after sub-section (2.) the following sub-section: - “(2aa.) The Minister may, in respect of a licence for a period of less than one year, determine that a lesser period shall be substituted for the period of three months referred to in the last preceding subsection, and the Board shall give notice of the determination to the licensee.”; and
by inserting after sub-section (4.) the following sub-section: - “(4aa.) Where the Board recommends that an application for the renewal of a licence be granted, it shall recommend the period for which it considers that the licence should continue in force.”. (2.) The amendment made by paragraph (b) of the last preceding sub-section applies in relation to recommendations in respect of applications referred to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on or after the date of commencement of this Act.
– I move:
Omit the clause, insert the following clause: “4. Section 85 of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting after sub-section (2a.) the following sub-sections: - (2b.) The Minister shall refer an application made under this section to the Board for its recommendation as to the renewal of a licence. (2c.) Before making a recommendation, the Board shall bold an inquiry in accordance with this Act into the application.’; and
by omitting sub-sections (3.), (4.), (4a.), (5.) and (6.).”.
The Opposition has moved this amendment because the Act at the moment provides that before a television licence is issued the Postmaster-General must receive the application, put a notice in the Gazette and refer the application to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for it to hold a public inquiry into the applicants and their right or otherwise to be granted the television licence. So in these instances of initial issue of licences the Minister expects a public inquiry to be held. After the licence has been granted, under the present Act the licensee is then entitled to hold the licence for a period of 5 years without renewal. This Bill provides that the period for the renewal of a licence be increased from one year to a maximum of 3 years. Section 85 of the Act deals with the renewal of licences. There is no provision in that section that the Minister ask the Board to conduct a public inquiry. In anticipation that the Government would win on a vote to extend the renewal period to a maximum of 3 years the Opposition decided that if licences are to be renewed for 3 years then it should be up to the Minister to ensure that the television and broadcasting stations are doing the right thing by the public. There should be no objection at all to the Opposition’s amendment. The Minister in his second reading speech suggested that the reason for the extension of the renewal period was that the Board was overloaded with work. If that is the case now, in view of the proposal for renewal of licences every 3 years we think that the Government should be prepared to allow a public inquiry to be held into applications for renewals.
The Minister has indicated that in future multiple licences held by companies will become due for renewal on a set date. The form required under the Act at the present time can still be completed by those companies holding multiple licences and on completion of the form the Minister should, as is done in regard to the initial issue of licences, refer applications for renewal to the Board for public inquiry. At that inquiry, I think, organisations or individuals should have the opportunity to give evidence as to whether this television station or that television station is carrying out its functions in the way that the public would like. This would not take a great deal of work. The Opposition does not imagine for one minute that these inquiries will be protracted legal inquiries. If there is a legitimate complaint by the Broadcasting Control Board or by a member of the public a public inquiry should be held and the complaint of any organisation, individual or the Board could be aired publicly. We suggest that this is an amendment that deserves consideration. As my friend the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) said last night, when you issue a television licence to a company you are giving to the company the right to make a fair deal of profit. The licence does not belong to the company. It is an instrument handed out by the Government, the representatives of the people, to these organisations to enable them to provide a service. If they do not provide the service they should be open to public scrutiny. For those reasons the Opposition has moved this amendment.
S:r ALAN HULME (Petrie- PostmasterGeneral) (2.28) - I am not prepared on behalf of the Government to accept the amendment moved by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart). I think it is necessary to go through some of the facts in relation to examinations by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board of applications for renewal of licences. The honourable member for Lang indicated what happened in the initial issue of licences. Without going through all the details, I point out that a public inquiry is held on applications for licences. At that point of time there are generally a number of applicants for licences. If a licence is for a capital city then obviously there are more applications than there would be for a licence in a distant country place where it is not quite as easy to get groups of people together to provide the necessary capital. A public inquiry is held at this initial stage. The licence is issued for a period of 5 years.
I think it is important for the Committee to have a statement on what happens after that initial 5-year period when the question of renewal arises so that honourable members may, if they wish to discuss the statement in the Committee stage, be better able to do so. Upon application for renewal a comprehensive examination is made by the Board. It must not be assumed that when a renewal application is received the Board gives automatic approval. For somebody to raise objection to the granting of a renewal and to suggest that some other organisation would be a more appropriate licensee of the station is not without precedent. What does this comprehensive examination involve? First of all. the Act sets out certain standards. The Act provides that the Board shall determine the standards, firstly, the technical standards. I cannot readily envisage that there is likely to be much objection raised about technical standards because very few people within the community would know what the technical efficiency of a particular broadcasting or television station is. At this point I do not think it would be expected that queries would be raised by a member of the genera] public even though he himself may be competent in terms of being an engineer or a technician. Therefore I do not think that wc would get much out of a public inquiry into a renewal application insofar as technical standards are concerned.
The Board also has a responsibility to determine programme standards. There will always be discussion in public on Australian content, musical content, drama content and the other things which can make up a programme whether it be broadcasting or television. It must be the Board which finally makes a judgment in regard to whether or not a station is meeting the required standards. The Board lays down the standards and it may say that a station shall have 50 per cent of Australian content in the programmes, other than in the initial period. I remind the Committee that in the initial period of 3 years it is not necessary for a station to abide by the Board’s standards, so let us forget that aspect and deal with the position at the end of 5 years - which is the renewal time - when the station should have a 50 per cent Australian content of programmes. Many people will say that it ought to be 55 per cent. Many will say that it ought to be 60 per cent - fix the percentage wherever one might.
The Board has a standard of 50 per cent and that is all that the station is required to do in regard to Australian content of programmes. Is it suggested that in an examination of an application for renewal, because somebody comes along and says: We could establish a station and we would give a 55 per cent or 60 per cent Australian content’ he should be given the licence, if that is what is wanted? I do not believe that that would be the expectancy of the Opposition or of this Committee or even of the Australian community. The standard of programmes does not really become a question of public opinion unless it is proven - and information is always available from the Board - that the station seeking renewal is not meeting the standards laid down. If it is believed that there is something wrong with the standards which exist then it is not to the station that objection is taken but to the Broadcasting Control Board for not having sufficiently high standards. But I believe that this does not affect the renewal situation.
The Board also has the responsibility to determine the standards of advertising and last night the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) gave us quite a substantial dissertation on whether there should be cigarette advertising and whether there was justification for advertising various petrols or motor cars that might do 140 miles an hour. These matters can be debated in a philosophic discussion but are we to adopt an attitude that such advertising should be withdrawn from commercial broadcasting or telecasting stations? The very basis of the dual system which operates in this country and which is admired by a number of other countries is that there k a national station which does not advertise and there are commercial stations which obtain their revenue from advertising. I do not believe that it is the responsibility of the Board ‘o put strictures upon the advertising of this product, that product or some other product. If we want a discussion on advertising and its effect on costs or its relationship to the economy generally, let us have a discussion on advertising. However, I do not think that on the question of standards which are determined by the Control Board in relation to broadcasting and television, what should be or should not be included as advertising material on programmes is pertinent. Nor do I believe that, when it comes to a renewal of a licence, in fact the Board would have much regard for views which are expressed on advertising.
So, that is the examination situation in relation to standards which are determined by the Board - technical standards, programme standards and advertising standards. Where do we go from there? Do not let anyone believe that in any circumstances the only questions asked by the Board are at the time of an application for the renewal of a licence. The Board constantly is monitoring the various programmes of stations. Officers of the Board visit the stations regularly to test and to check the technical equipment which the stations have and the Board offers advice to the various stations if it believes that they are not up to standard. I believe that everybody has a right to go to the Board to ask questions, but if there is a continuous monitoring and continuous supervision by the Board of the standards being observed and of the equipment in the stations, why should there be an open, public inquiry when their licences some up for renewal? I should like to know what is expected to be gained from such an inquiry, because I have no doubt in my mind that the intelligent people of the community, appreciating , the things which I have said, would in fact make representations to the Board. Of course, I can believe that there would be plenty of representations made by the cranks of the community but would these people really be contributing anything to broadcasting or televising? I do not believe they would and therefore cannot see the justification for the Opposition’ proposal.
– What is your interpretation of a crank?
– Well, I think I have only to look at members of the Opposition to find a few when we are discussing television and broadcasting, because the Government and the Opposition have views which are poles apart in this field.
– Thank you; you have explained it adequately.
– The honourable gentleman may have a little more intelligence than his colleagues. Not only does the Board monitor programmes and send officers to visit the stations; it also is available at any time to have discussions with anybody. Many complaints which come to me as Postmaster-General I pass on to the Board and replies are given by the. Board in relation to these specific matters. Groups see the Board at quite frequent intervals. It does not matter whether they are groups from trade unions associated with the total industry, from the Commercial Telecasters Federation or from the. Commercial Broadcasters Federation, there are regular conferences between the Board and these people, each putting to the other their point of view in relation to particular matters. I cannot believe that a public inquiry into those who have, a particular interest in the operating of broadcasting and television would serve any purpose.
I mentioned last night, and apparently it has been accepted, that we should have 3- year licensing. However, if the Board is to conduct a public inquiry, let us consider some of the factors which will arise. Where is the inquiry to be held? Is it to be held in Melbourne? Are the people from Charleville to go to Melbourne for this public inquiry, or is the Board to go to Charleville? I mentioned last year that there would be public inquiries in relation to over 50 stations per annum, which is an average of one a week. If the Board must visit the local area at the time, of application for licence renewal, as it now does at the time of an initial licence issue, a good deal of time will be taken up unnecessarily by the Board in visiting local areas in our widespread community. I believe it would become impractical unless we were to add substantially to the number of Board members and to the staff of the. Broadcasting Control Board. If the number of members were doubled, the Board could be divided into, say, 2 boards which could function simultaneously. If the staff were increased people would be available to service these 2 sections. If 3-year licensing were, not accepted and it was on an annual basis, as the Act now provides, it would be necessary to increase further the number of Board members and staff. But would the cost be justified? Do members of the Opposition have no regard for the costs of maintaining these operations and can they not make an assessment between the costs and the virtue or the value that is obtained from the extra expenditure I say to the Committee, as I say to the Australian community, that I do not believe there is any justification for increasing the number of Board members or the staff of the Broadcasting Control Board and, therefore, the cost to the community of maintaining this organisation. On this ground I believe that the amendment must fall.
Briefly, these are the reasons why the Government will not accept the amendment which has been moved by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart). We believe that what now happens in terms of the Board’s consideration prior to a licence renewal and prior to a recommendation to the Government or to the Minister in relation to renewal is adequate and it is a strange thing-
– How many renewals are there in a year?
– Approximately 160 in the total area of television and broadcasting. That is a fair number of renewal applications and I receive detailed reports on each of the matter which 1 have, been discussing. I do not believe that there is a competency amongst the general public nor, I might add, would there be an interest, to go before the Board in a public inquiry and make submissions which could affect the rejection or the acceptance of the renewal, as the case might be.
– How many rejections of applications were there?
– I would not like to be held to this, but I do not know whether there has ever been a rejection or whether there has been only one over the period. Do not let us overlook the fact when the Opposition criticises from the Opposition benches that for many years it had control of this Act and its operation, not in relation to television but certainly in relation to radio and broadcasting, and it did not dawn on the Opposition then that there should be anything more than an annual renewal of licences. It did not dawn on the Opposition then that there should be an open inquiry in relation to renewals. What I would like, rather than merely looking at what I would call the broad unstated principles on which the Opposition is submitting this amendment, is to be told specific things in which we can see justification for what is being sought. I suggest that that has not been done this afternoon and is again a reason why the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment that has been moved.
– The Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) has covered a very diverse area in his reply to the amendment moved by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart). Of course, it is always so typical of this Government to go back in time whenever we are dscussing Opposition amendments on any legislation. It simply is irrelevant for the Minister to speculate on what the Labor Government in 1949 may or may not have thought of existing broadcasting conditions and facilities.
– We did not have television then.
– Of course, as my colleague, the honourable member for Wilmot has said, television was not with us then. So the comparison is hardly relevant. In supporting the amendment I want to ask a specific question of the Postmaster-General in relation to a matter to which he made passing reference. I ask: On how many occasions has the Australian Broadcasting Control Board received complaints against a licensee for not meeting the quota laid down and how many complaints has it received of infringements of advertising standards? I know it is tremendously difficult to collate all the complaints that are made. What the Postmaster-General says about monitoring is perfectly true - I have been present when it has been done - but still we have to remember that the mere espousal of a technical facility will not ensure that the general public knows that it exists. There is a great feeling amongst many people in the community that a number of licensees are using some sort of escape route. If the PostmasterGeneral can answer the 2 specific questions I have put to him I would be obliged.
– I would like to make a few brief comments in support of the amendment that has been moved on behalf of the Opposition and 1 do so because of the comments of tha Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) in regard to the renewal of licences for radio stations during the time of the Labor administration. He said that there were no changes then and no call for this regular review of licences. In a recent discussion at the Inter-parliamentary Union Conference the subject of the changing function of the mass media of radio and television was raised and debated for a considerable time. Of course, the emphasis was placed on the rapid change that is taking place and the rapid change that was necessary in the attitudes of stations actually transmitting under regulations or Acts such as these that we are now discussing. Various points were made about the aspect of content that the Minister and others referred to which must be examined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) has particularly commented on advertising and the question of Australian content of programmes.
If licences under this section come up for renewal after a period of 3 years it may be that other factors in relation to the requirements for the renewal of licences will have to be examined. Even in the public interest one might find that it is not just ratbags in the community who are interested in how a particular station applying for renewal of its licence is handling its affairs but a number of interested groups who are realising more and more the power of the media and the wide range of subjects which may be raised not only at national or local level but also at international level. They want to know how the licensees are adjusting to the changes that are taking place. They want to know about the possibility of agreements that may be made between countries and the necessity for these advantages to be passed on to those in the viewing or listening area of a particular station. So rapid is the change that is indicated under these circumstances that if 3 years is to be the interval it is only fair that there be a full and open inquiry before the renewal of licences. I came into the debate briefly to indicate this tendency which is rolling on not only in Australia but also in many other countries, and the concern that is being expressed. If 3 years is to be the maximum term we should accept the amendment that has been moved and allow a full and open discussion, not because people with a particular barrow to push are in there for the public interest but because groups who are interested in the subjects that come under the requirements for renewal of licences wish to base submissions on these rapid changes that are taking place both at home and abroad.
– I am not convinced by the reply of the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) to the amendment. It is easy, sitting in the box seat as the Minister is with a big staff and a big department behind him, to pooh-pooh any suggestions we make. The Minister has the honour of not accepting one amendment from this side of the Parliament in the umpteen years he has been PostmasterGeneral; that is a wonderful record to go out with. The Opposition cannot be wrong all the time. Occasionally there must be some merit in suggestions from this side. All the best ideas surely have not been born on the other side but one would think so to hear Minister after Minister get up in this place and refuse to accept an amendment put forward by the Opposition. The Minister was asked how many licences are being renewed annually and he gave in reply the fantastic figure of 160. I query that. It is an enormous annual figure. What I and the Opposition are concerned about are the applications for renewal of television licences. I would like the Minister to break down his figure and inform the House of the number of television licences that are being renewed each year. Most of us are concerned with the impact of television on the community. The impact of radio on the community cannot be compared with the visual impact of television. Therefore, the Board, the Minister and the Parliament have the daily or weekly responsibility to ensure that television stations keep on the ball and that they comply with the standards laid down by the Board.
Our preposition to set up an inquiry when a licensee makes an application for renewal of a licence is a reasonable one. I should not image that there would be many occasions on which an inquiry would be extensive. All we are doing is providing under the Act the opportunity for an inquiry to be held. In most cases when an application for the renewal of a licence was made, particularly in regard to television, there would be no further discussion; nobody would lodge any objection and nobody would ask the inquiry to take the licensee apart. That would happen only occasionally. But we want to provide the opportunity so that it can happen when viewers become fed up with a certain emphasis, or lack of emphasis, in a particular programme on a particular station.
Also, our proposition does not mean that every licensee would have to face investigation and criticism. The inquiry provision lays down the forum for discussion if required, and that is all. It has been suggested that as 148 applications for licences are made annually there would be 148 inquiries held annually. That is not so. Only a small number of the applicants would have to face an inquiry with any degree of anxiety. We believe that as television stations have such powers for changing, shaping and structuring the minds of the Australian people, they can be the most dangerous section of the media, just as they may be the most beneficial section. We have heard many criticisms of the impact which television programmes showing the American way of life have on our community. Of course, that is true. But one wonders about our own culture. We place a pretty low value on our own culture when we realise that the vast majority of television programmes originate in America, or if they do not originate there they certainly extol the American way of life and the American system.
– Like ‘Gunsmoke’.
– Yes, that is right. So the Opposition is not being unreasonable in putting forward this amendment. It appears that the Government is being completely unreasonable in not accepting it.
– 1 rather liked the Postmaster-General’s definition of a ‘crank’. He says: ‘If you do not agree with me on television matters that puts you into that category.*
– He did not say that, and you know it.
– He did say that.
– Of course he did not. You read Hansard.
– He did say it; I listened to him. If he had bothered to look al the amendment we have moved he would have seen that it provides greater safeguards for television and radio licence holders than the present Broadcasting and Television Act does. Section 85 (3.) of the Act states:
When an application for the renewal of a licence is duly made, the Minister shall -
refer the application to the Board; and
if he thinks that there may be grounds for refusing the application, direct the Board to hold un inquiry into the application in accordance with this Act, specifying those grounds in the direction.
So the Minister already has the authority to direct the Board to hold an inquiry. He only has to think that there may be grounds for refusing the application. All that the Minister was saying about technical services, programme requirements and not having knowledge of a matter falls down when one looks at that section of the Act. The Minister can direct the Board to hold an inquiry into an application for renewal of a licence if he does not like the colour of the eyes of Sir Frank Packer, or some other licensee. What we are suggesting is that there shall be an inquiry into the renewal of every licence. The Minister said in his second reading speech that generally licences will be renewed for 3 years. Initially licence holders receive a licence for 5 years. At the end of 5 years they apply for a renewal of the licence, and if their technical services and so on are up to standard they will receive a renewal of the licence for 3 years. Under the present provisions of the Act, every time an application for a renewal of a licence is lodged the Minister can decide that there shall be an inquiry into the application because he thinks that there may be grounds for not renewing the licence.
We want television and broadcasting licence holders to know that each time they apply for a renewal of their licences certain requirements will have to be fulfilled, and one of those will be that they will have to appear before the Board at a public inquiry. It would give them the opportunity to answer any charges which might be levelled against them by the Board or by the Minister, either privately in conversation or in correspondence. The people in the community, cranks or otherwise, who want to go and listen to the evidence that is produced by a company on its operations and to listen to the criticism that the Board might make about a licence holder would be able to do so.
All the argument which the Minister advanced about an inquiry having to be held at Charleville or some other town would not be valid. The Minister fully knows that of the 167 television and radio stations in operation throughout Australia, there would be very few about which the general public would wish to complain. If there were complaints I would imagine that those complaints would be made against the metropolitan stations, not against the country stations. So there will not be as many drawn-out inquiries as the Minister suggests. There may be one or two. If the Board advertised when an inquiry was to be held’ - giving a fortnight’s or a month’s notice - if it called for people who wished to give evidence to appear before it and if non-one appeared before it, if no evidence was produced, the Board would go to the public inquiry and say: ‘We recommend that this licence be renewed for 3 years’. That will not cost a great deal of money, but it will take a great deal of authority out of the hands of the Minister. The Minister and those who sit beside him continually accuse the Australian Labor Party of wanting to control the mass media. We believe in the dual system of television and radio; that is part of our policy. But we also believe that the Australian people have the right to put under scrutiny those people who are controlling this most powerful medium of television.
Let me give one example. I think that by way of interjection the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) asked how often the Board has failed to renew a licence. If the Minister cares to look at the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1971 he will see that there was an inquiry into radio station 2XL Cooma because of the lateness of its application and because the Board was not satisfied with the station’s technical equipment and generally was not satisfied with the station’s operations. An inquiry was held, but it was not held at the Minister’s direction. If the Minister looks at the section of the Act which I quoted earlier he will see that if the Board is not satisfied it also has the authority to direct an inquiry. So there is provision in the Act for an inquiry to be held. We wish to tighten it up. We just say that you shall not have the right. It is mandatory. It is written into the Act. It will happen. We want to take away your power and take away the powers of the Board to move in on someone for some reason.
An inquiry was held into 2XL Cooma and a recommendation was made that the licence should be renewed provided the station met certain requirements. I invite the Postmaster-General to look at the annual report of the Board for the year ended 30th June 1971 where he will find comments about 2XL Cooma. Its technical standards are still not up to the requirements of the Board, but you have renewed the licence for 12 months. The power that you have now is absolutely amazing. We want to take some of that power away from you. You, Mr Minister, are retiring at the end of this Parliament. Whom will we get next? One from our side? I hope so. Are you prepared to give a Minister from our side the same authority as you have yourself? You never seem to trust us. You describe us as cranks when we criticise your legislation. I suggest that in your last few months in office you have a look at the Act a couple of times and find out what is in it.
– I will not take very much time in reply. I do not know whether the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) asked his question because he knew it was so difficult to answer and was therefore seeking to embarrass. The Board’s report does not give statistics in relation to the number of complaints that are received from time to time, but the Board’s report does give an indication of the real trouble spots. I draw his attention to paragraph 564 on page 133 of the Board’s report for the year ended 30th June 1971. It contains some comments in relation to Station TEN Sydney and stations ATV and HSV Melbourne.. He will also see on page 118 a tabulation in relation to Australian content and a record of whether the stations have met the 50 per cent requirement. Some stations have not. Many have failed by a very small margin. Nevertheless, they are tabulated. In paragraph 360 on page 84 he will see further comments in relation to HSV Melbourne.
I am sorry I cannot give him an answer in any more depth. I suggest that he might discuss it with the staff of the Board, although 1 do not believe that they would have a statistical tabulation of the number of complaints received.
Of course the Board is frequently getting complaints. I frequently get complaints from people. Some go to the Board, some go to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Of course the community has differing views about programmes and advertising content. The majority of people do not take out a stopwatch and test the actual advertising time. I must confess that after watching a commercial station for an hour or i hours the advertising time seems to become much greater than the programme time. We are very often under a misapprehension about it.
The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) raised the question of the number of stations. The number of licences is 162; 45 are television stations and 117 are broadcasting stations. There are slight variations in some of these figures. In one case a licence has been issued but the station is not yet on air. I appreciate that there is a figure of 165 but it includes 3 stations which are not yet on air or may be temporarily off air. 1 do not think there is need to continue other than to say in reply to the last comment of the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) who pointed out that there would be very few complaints and therefore very few hearings, that it would seem that the present Act is adequate.
Complaints can be made to me or to the Board. If we believe that there is justification for a public hearing - in other words, that the complaint is sufficiently serious - we can ask for a public hearing to be held by the Board. It is not necessary to go through the mechanics of a public hearing for 162 stations. It may be necessary only in relation to 2 or 3 stations. I suggest that the judgment of the Board is reflected in its performance over a period of very many years. On behalf of those people who preceded me as Postmaster-General, and myself, I say that nobody could accuse us fairly of not acting in the interests of the general public in relation to this matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 - by leave - taken together.
– Clauses 5, 6 and 7 deal with the ownership and control provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act. The Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) gave reasons for section 92 of the Act being amended. He said that certain shareholders in companies had been confronted with difficulties in remaining within the safeguard provisions of section 92. The Minister decided that he would make an alteration so that those people who are in a privileged position in the community in holding more than the prescribed interest in television and radio stations could retain those interests without losing the safeguards that they have. For that reason the Minister has introduced amendments to the Act. The Minister said, in speaking to the Bill:
One company has control of the maximum number of broadcasting stations. For certain reasons the Broadcasting and Television Act required the company to amend its articles of association. It is a very old established company. It did not want to alter its articles of association and so it went to the Board with a suggestion that it might form a holding company and that the shares which it held in the broadcasting stations might be transferred to the holding company. There was no addition to the company’s shareholding; no reduction In its shareholding and no alteration or variation whatever. For some reason the company did not want to alter its articles of association. It merely wanted to create a holding company to look after these particular interests.
The company did not want to alter its articles of association so the Minister will alter the Broadcasting and Television Act to please this old established company and to make sure that its very privileged position with holdings in television and broadcasting stations is retained. In giving a second example the Postmaster-General referred to companies A, B, C and D and suggested that there was some hardship for a company when an infinitesimal amount of shares was involved. The Minister referred to a figure of .0002 per cent. I can visualise him sitting with the problem in front of him, with the sympathy, compassion and understanding for which he is well known oozing out of him, wondering whether it was right or wrong. Then he decides that he could not take these people out of their privileged position and for that reason he will amend section 92 and subsequent sections of the Act. I wonder whether the Postmaster-General and the Government exercise the same compassion, sympathy and understanding when dealing with recipients of social service benefits. The Government has set a cut off figure in relation to the application of the means test. It does not matter whether a pensioner’s income is .0001 or .0002 above that cut off figure. As soon as that happens, pensioners lose their medical benefit cards. They lose their transport concessions and their television and radio licence concessions.
But the Minister is prepared to make a concession to a company which according to him would have had to sell 417,000 shares. I want the Government to apply the same set of standards to the pensioners as it has applied to these television station owners and shareholders. If there is a cut off line in section 92 of the Broadcasting and Television Act, that cut off line should be maintained. If the cut off line is raised, the same should be done for pensioners. They should be given an opportunity to step over the line a little. If they do step over it, special legislation should be introduced so they can retain their medical benefit cards and other privileges. Every year in the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board an appendix is printed which shows the shareholdings of newspapers and other organisations in broadcasting and television stations. As the Postmaster-General comes from Queensland, let me quote only one case from Queensland. Queensland Press Ltd, publishers of the ‘Courier-Mail’ and Brisbane Telegraph’ holds a multiple shareholding in BTQ Brisbane and radio stations 4AK Oakey, 4BK Brisbane and 4AM Atherton.
Queensland Press Ltd controls 3 radio stations, 1 television station and 2 newspapers.
I turn to the holdings of the Australian Consolidated Press Group - the ‘Daily Telegraph’, Sydney - elsewhere in this report. I do not suggest that it holds a majority of the shares in the companies listed in the report, but in some instances the group holds a large proportion of the shares. This would give it a very big say in the running of these organisations. The Australian Consolidated Press Group has multiple share holdings in 10 television stations and 7 broadcasting stations, in addition to the ‘Daily Telegraph’ newspaper, the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ and a couple of women’s magazines. Section 92 and subsequent sections of the Broadcasting and Television Act are designed to protect that sort of monoply control of the mass media of Australia. The Opposition opposes clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill because it believes that until such time as our mass media, particularly television, comes under more diversified control this country is in danger of being taken over by the Press barons who control it.
– It is interesting to hear the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) endeavouring to explain my explanation of last night. Of course, it is very easy to pick up a few words from my speech and say ‘There is the story’. Let me go back a little further in relation to this matter. It was I who, realising that the control of television was being accumulated in the hands of a few, introduced into the Parliament in 1965 amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act to correct this situation and to encourage the diversification of television ownership. So I do not think the honourable member for Lang can criticise me in relation to judgments which I made or actions which I have taken. I am one of the most unpopular persons in the eyes of these substantial companies because I introduced a few crippling provisions into the Act. Again, in 1969 I took the same action in regard to broadcasting stations. Those provisions have stood the test of time.
As I mentioned last night, it was not a situation, as applies in much of our legislation, that we did not go far enough and further amendments were needed to tighten it a little more. In the case of this legislation, it was made very tight and it was intended to be tight because I and the Government had no desire, that people should be able to get out the back door. We wanted the doors closed. The legislation was made so tight that that was impossible. But in the history of operation of the Act a few small things have happened outside the control of those who received protection in 1965 in the case of television, or in 1969 in the. case of broadcasting, which creates an embarrassment for them. Last night, I gave the illustration of a company. 1 will not go through the matter again in detail because it is necessary to use the names of 5 companies to explain the position. But a company which had a small interest in one company found that, in fact, that company in which it had the small interest had bought shares in another television company in which the first company already had shares. So that the enormity of increase in terms of holding can be tested there is a calculation which means that every interest in every shareholding must be accounted for. The Act refers to a change in circumstances. Without those words in the Act the company would have been required to sell only one share. But because the sale of one share, altered the circumstances, it became necessary for the company to sell approximately 417,000 shares. 1 introduced the legislation in 1965 and, in fact, wanted it tight at that point of time. Surely the Opposition will not tell me that I am getting on side with the big companies in encouraging them to obtain increases - perhaps substantial increases - in television ownership in Australia. It is just so much nonsense and it is not acceptable. That is the last thing I would do in relation to television or radio. If I had not acted quickly, radio would have been in a similar situation. I did not do this because of any complaint from the Opposition. I did it because I knew what was happening and regarded it as my responsibility to take action. But I did not need any prompting to do it. So I do not think the bone can be pointed at me in relation to my acceptance of responsibility to control the ownership of television or radio in Australia. I could give other illustrations in relation to this matter. I have no desire to weary the Committee. But I do not understand how what the Government has done in the field of social services can be compared to what has happened in regard to the ownership of radio and television stations. I do not think the honourable member for Lang has been here long enough to make such a comparison. The Government has introduced the merged means test, extended the means test and introduced increases in pension rates. Yet the honourable member suggests that the Government has never done anything. In my view it is not worth more than merely mentioning the incongruity of the honourable member’s suggestion that these. 2 matters are related. I acknowledge that the Opposition will oppose this part of the legislation and 1 am sure that Government supporters will accept the proposition which I am putting forward.
– I do not dispute for one moment the integrity nor indeed the vigour of the PostmasterGeneral in the actions he took in 1965. But, of course, when this action was taken the control had to become affected. The plain, simple fact of the matter has been stated on a great number of occasions. The original concept of the issuance of television licences was quite clearly, and quite logically defined, I think, in those days. I suppose that there is always a very great danger of being wise after the event. I know that it is not a terribly original observation but there is a temptation to do this. Nevertheless, the plain, simple fact of the matter still remains that although the legislation was introduced in 1965 the control by that time had been complete.
What distresses me very much is the domination in this country by the so-called Press barons, to coin an unoriginal phrase, of television and radio broadcasting outlets. No-one can deny that this is the situation. It exists and it is there for all of us to see. Let me give the example of my own capital city where the newspaper ownership controls the only commercial television outlet as well as one of the major radio outlets. I could go on and weary the Committee with examples of this right across the nation. It is absurd that a refusal to accept the truth to deny the plain fact that the mass media of this country are controlled by an elite group. I do not make any personal reflection on the business acumen or financial ability of this group but what does worry me is that this I think has a parallel in totalitarian countries where there is this domination on the one hand by the State or by the financial wizards on the other.
I may be a little difficult, or perhaps a little dumb, but I do not see the essential difference between that sort of monopoly by the State and monopoly by the financial giants, particularly when it comes to dissemination in the mass media. People are controlled by what they read in newspapers; they are influenced by what they read in newspapers. People are influenced by what they see on television and they are most certainly influenced by what they hear on the radio. As a practitioner in this field for nearly 20 years I know the impact that this has. Also I know that the restrictions that are placed on some particular comment or observation by these people can be considerable.
As I have said, I do not argue at all with the energy and application of the Postmaster-General. But I think that events rather overtook him rather than him containing the events. Quite frankly, the present infrastructure of television ownership in this country in my view would defy a panel of our most eminent jurists to sort out. I repeat that what is patently clear is that there is a very great deal of concern in this community today, and quite rightly so, that people should be concerned about the monopolistic control of media that have such an influence on our minds and our actions. 1 therefore support our objection to this amendment.
Clauses agreed to.
Proposed new clause 9.
– I move:
The logic and the justice of this amendment are quite apparent for all to see. It is a protective device that should be made available to every citizen of this country. I referred in a previous speech to the immense persuasive power of this media. But the process of redress available to any individual at the moment is cumbersome in the extreme and costly in its final solution. Extensive litigation is necessary at the moment. I do not really think that it is a fair proposition to expect a citizen to be involved in protracted litigation, and this is the only process which is really open to establish his or her position on a particular comment. My argument is fortified by the 23rd annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which, at page 35, under the heading ‘Availability to the Public of Records of Matter Broadcast and Televised”, states:
In its last annual report, the Board referred to requests which are made to the Minister and the Board from time to time by persons, or by their legal representatives, for the supply of a record of programmes transmitted by commercial broadcasting or television stations on the grounds that the programmes are thought to have contained comments which were defamatory. The Board drew attention to the fact that the Postmaster-General in reply to a question in Parliament on 8th April 1970 had stated that the question of whether there should be some further provision had frequently been raised with him and as a result he had put in hand a re-examination of all aspects of the matter. The Postmaster.General has been in close consultation with the Board on this re-examination which is still proceeding.
As I sail, this statement fortifies the amendment that the Opposition is putting forward. 1 would like to make one or two comments very quickly. It seems to me that in respect of other aspects of the legislation wilh which this Parliament has been dealing in the last day or so, it has moved with considerable alacrity and speed. Also it is significant that the report from which I have just read indicates that a question which was replied to in Parliament on 8th April 1970 - almost 2 years ago - raised this very point. Of course, the final sentence which stated that ‘The PostmasterGeneral has been in close consultation with the Board on this re-examination which is still proceeding’ is indicative of the speed at which this is proceeding. It is still proceeding some 2 years later during which time people’s reputations - or indeed a very considerable part of their reputations - may have been severely damaged by defamatory remarks. The reputations of people and citizens cannot afford to wait on time. I suggest that the amendment which I have moved on behalf of the Opposition is eminently sensible. It is timely, it is just, it is fair and it protects the citizen of this community. I commend this amendment even to honourable members opposite, because on a great many occasions this chamber is used as a forum for their eloquence and their advocacy of the protection of the individual and the citizen. This is their opportunity this afternoon to give more than lip service to what they have often proclaimed in this chamber and outside it.
– I can give more than lip service to the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) in relation to this matter, because, to be quite candid, I have been working on it for a long while. It has always seemed to me unfair that a person who is defamed in a newspaper, where there is a permanent record of what has been said, has an easy manner of obtaining a record of what has been said whereas a person defamed on radio or television has a very difficult job in finding out what in fact has been said. In many cases it is not just a question of testing the memory of the person about whom something has been said, because frequently that person receives information from someone else. A member of the Press Gallery came to speak to me on one occasion. He had been told that some defamatory remark had been made about him on such and such a station and he wanted to know whether I could get a copy of it for him. It will be appreciated that I cannot get copies of scripts in the area of commercial television or broadcasting other than for official purposes. I can obtain them for my own personal information or for the information of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in administering the Act.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission has never raised any objection to a script becoming available not only to me but to any other person who has sought a copy of that script. One of the real problems, and perhaps the real problem, in the commercial area is that most of these companies - probably all of them - have an insurance policy of indemnity against this sort of action which might be taken. One of the conditions of the insurance policy is that no scripts may be given to anybody who requests them. So this is the difficulty that one has to overcome. If was explained to me several years ago that a person could make an application to the court for a court order to require the station to make the script available, provided that there was reasonable evidence that such person was the person defamed and that there was a prospective action in relation to the words stated. This was not supposed to be an expensive operation. It would have cost perhaps £15 or £20, though for some people that would be expensive. But I am informed that today such an application requires a barrister to go to the court. The person could be involved in a cost of up to $200. This does not seem to me to be reasonable.
What worries me is that, while the principle may be accepted, it must be remembered that we are dealing with a Commonwealth Act but in relation to the action taken we are dealing with a State court. What is the evidence? As the honourable member for Franklin would know, there are various ways of recording programmes on a broadcasting or television station. They can be recorded on tape. They can be transcribed into type. There is a new method by which a full 24 hours programme can be recorded on one small tape. Will this be accepted by the courts of the States? I do not know. I want to be sure that I do know it will be accepted before I put something into the Act which causes broadcasting and television stations to make scripts available for people who have a rightful claim for them in relation to defamation.
I have been in touch with the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) in relation to this matter and we are trying to sort it out. If we can sort it out and if the Government gives approval to an amendment to the Act to cover this matter - I have no hesitation in saying that I would recommend it to the Government - this is what will be done. But until I have virtually dotted that ‘i’ and crossed that ‘f in terms of the evidence in the State courts, I would not be prepared to put this in the Act because it would, in the Act at the present time, perhaps mislead those who took action. They might find that having involved themselves in substantial cost, having obtained the script, having made their application to the court and having come before the court, they had failed in terms of the action and that we should have taken the opportunity of ensuring that the evidence they produced was acceptable in that particular court.
– I had not intended to speak in this debate but I was very interested indeed when the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) moved the amendment to insert section 124aa. The case he put was very strong, lt was cheering to find that the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) also expressed great sympathy with the intention of the Opposition’s amendment. I listened to the Postmaster-General when he said that he had been in touch with the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) of the Commonwealth in relation to the problems involved in getting any decision in respect of this matter. 1 would suggest to the Postmaster-General, whilst having the greatest sympathy for him, that there seems to have been an incredible delay in making a decision on a matter that should not confound the great law machine of the Commonwealth. I feel that there is a point here. The ordinary person, whether he is somebody in the public arena or a private individual, who is maligned, he thinks, on television or radio, as the Postmaster-General said, frequently hears it only on second hand information.
How many of us in this chamber have heard that somebody on a radio programme said something about us? We then go around and check with our friends and try to find out whether they heard the programme.
By the end of a day or so we have received a most garbled version of what it was. We have no possibility of taking the matter to a solicitor to start with because we frankly do not know what was said. The Postmaster-General made the point that perhaps it is necessary to know how the State courts would regard such a recording. I am not completely convinced that we should know that. I think that in the first instance a person - it does not matter who he is in the community - should be entitled to know what some television station or radio station flashes through its network all over the country without giving notice or information to the person of what it has said or what it intends to say. That seems lo me to be the right of people. Nothing that the PostmasterGeneral has said takes away from me the belief that people have the initial right to find out what has been said about them.
The Postmaster-General said that it was necessary to make an application for a court order. The ordinary little person in this community is horrified and terrified by obtaining a court order. The majority of people would not know how to go about it. The Postmaster-General then went further and said that it is necessary in certain areas to engage a barrister to appear in order to obtain such a court order. This may involve a cost in the vicinity of $500. Clearly what the Opposition is asking is that under the Broadcasting and Television Act - let it be only as it refers to the Commonwealth area if you like - people should be. entitled as a matter of right, on the payment of a fee - because of necessity there must be some cost - to receive a record of any such programme. I think this principle is basic and should be in any Act. As far as 1 am concerned the PostmasterGeneral and the Government should insist that some clear cut decision be made in a very much lesser time than has elapsed up to date. I think the delay in making a decision is a reflection on the Commonwealth. I think the amendment is a good one and that the Government should accept it.
– I intend to be brief in supporting the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). I have had dealings with the AttorneyGeneral’s Department in the past. I understand, while the honourable member for La Trobe may not, how the AttorneyGeneral’s Department takes months and months and at times years to come forward with what some may consider very simple proposals. The Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) expressed some doubts about whether State courts would be able to accept as evidence tape recordings of radio or television programmes. I want to use this occasion to draw to his attention the fact that the Victorian courts used tapes, which were used in contravention of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act, in the Margaret Berman abortion inquiry. At that time this was definitely contravening the Act but the AttorneyGeneral said that nothing would be done. So I assure the Postmaster General that this matter will present no problems. Without supporting the Opposition completely at this time, and giving the Minister some chance to reconsider the matter, I hope the assurance that the Minister has given this Parliament means that should the AttorneyGeneral’s Department come forward in the very near future with a decision on this question he will not prolong amendments to this legislation, because, as the honourable members for Franklin (Mr Sherry) and La Trobe said, people are entitled to this type of protection.
In conclusion I would like to express my amazement at the concern which has been voiced by various members of the Opposition at the thought of the news media falling into the hands of a few. It was only two or three nights ago, or last week, that one of the Ministers, during a debate, made a reference to the fact that the Labour Party wished for true blue-blooded, or red-blooded, socialism, and many members on the other side said: ‘Hear, hear!’ in utter agreement with the Minister. The fact is that true blue-blooded or red-blooded socialism dictates that the various media businesses should fall into hands of one. To honourable members opposite private enterprise is anathema. If control is in the hands of government it is all right, but if it is in the hands of private enterprise it is all wrong. Honourable members opposite refer to the $ 19m profits made by the news media but they fail to take away the 46 per cent tax component which has to be deducted from those profits. They do not make any mention of the millions and millions of dollars which have been invested throughout Australia by private companies and by people such as those sitting in the gallery, who have invested small amounts of money and backed these companies and who as a result of their investment are earning an income. The Labor Party constantly niggles away at everything that is successful. I believe that the honourable member for Franklin is one who sees the benefit of a dual system, but he is very much alone on the opposite side of the chamber in that regard. The stories about his reconsidering his decision to remain in the Labor Party have a lot of truth, from what I hear. He is one man who recognises that two systems can work together. Let us hear no more of this castigating and tearing to pieces of every private enterprise company that has ever been successful.
– I will not delay the House for much longer but I would like to acknowledge I think I did so earlier but I do it again the comments of the honourable members for Franklin (Mr Sherry), La Trobe (Mr Jess) and Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). 1 indicate to them that copies of their remarks will go to the appropriate quarter and give my assurance to push as hard as I can for some real consideration of the suggestion which is put up in this proposed new clause.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Sir Alan Hulme) - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 23 February (vide page 164), on motion by Sir Alan Hulme:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Sir Alan Hulme) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 23 February (vide page 164), on motion by Sir Alan Hulme:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Sir Alan Hulme) read a third time.
– I move:
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1971. Proposals No. 5 implements the Government’s acceptance of the Tariff Board’s recommendations in its report on industrial gamma ray equipment. The new duties will operate from tomorrow. On gamma ray radiography apparatus and other gamma ray radiation apparatus up to a specified capacity, the Tariff Board recommended duties of 20 per cent general tariff, with preferential tariff rates to be set in accordance with international commitments. Minimum rates were recommended for the balance of goods covered by the reference.
The Government has noted the Board’s remarks in its report that entry of an additional local manufacturer could fragment the limited local market and that the Board would consider this to be a normal commercial risk not justifying additional tariff protection. The effect of the Board’s recommendations is a reduction in existing duties on most of the goods involved. The extent of the reductions may be ascertained from the detailed summary of tariff changes currently being distributed to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
– Mr Speaker, I present the following report by the Tariff Board:
Industrial gamma ray equipment
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed from 23 February (vide page 161), on motion by Mr Chipp:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill gives effect to the recommendations of the Tariff Board in 8 reports and of the Special Advisory Authority in one report. I propose a little later to refer to some of those in some detail but before doing so there are one or two general matters which I would like to put before the House. When we deal with tariffs, I think, we are dealing with a matter that is of extensive and often critical importance to almost every Australian citizen. It is true that tariffs often increase the cost of goods to the consumer and it is quite easy to list a large number of important commodities at the price the consumer in Australia has to pay, and to say that if there was no tariff he would be able to get those commodities at 50 per cent, 100 per cent, and sometimes even more than that, less than the price he has to pay. But tariffs also allow production to develop in Australia and for jobs to be available for people in Australia.
Whilst it is true that tariffs often increase the cost of goods it is also true that if it were not for tariffs there would be many less consumers in Australia, there would be many less people in Australia and many consumers would have much less money to buy goods at all. Unfortunately, the examination of tariffs in the Press and sometimes in this House takes place only from one aspect of this subject the aspect of complaints that prices are too high and they would be much less if it were not for tariffs, or the aspect that tariffs are justified whateverthey might happen to be because they do provide for industrial development which otherwise would not occur, for the provision of jobs that would otherwise not be available and for consumers to buy when there would be no consumers at all. Both of these aspects have to be taken into account when we are considering tariffs. Tariff protection changes significantly what free market forces would do and both widely and critically affect the whole economy of a country. Tariffs significantly influence what production there will be and what production there will not be. They significantly affect the allocation of resources. Tariffs also influence who will have income and who will not have income. They influence also the size and inequality of income. They significantly affect the distribution of income.
Probably no other single factor in economic policy affects the allocation of resources and the distribution of incomes as much as tariffs do, and probably no less consideration is ever given by this House to any other matter than is given to tariffs. Probably no other single factor in economic policy is as important in Australia as is tariffs and probably no other single factor in economic policy is given less consideration by this House than is tariffs.
– We do what we can.
– Yes, I think that is right. I would say in answer to the interjection that few other matters involve nearly as much work or nearly as much detail as this one does. It is essential to realise the extent of the influence of tariffs. Tariffs do influence the economy so much that their operation actually determines the make-up - the composition - of the economy and of economic growth. They determine the planning of the economy. This has always been the case. Tariffs have been the main planning instrument ever used by Australian governments. There is nothing new in proposing that tariffs should be used for planning; they have always been used for planning. The question is not whether to use tariffs for planning but whether consciously or unconsciously to use tariffs for planning. The choice is to know what you are doing. The choice is to have the means to get enough facts to know what you are doing and on the basis of adequate information to decide what you are doing. Those are the choices about tariffs.
What I claim is that the position in Australia is that we have used tariffs fully and significantly. They have vitally affected the Australian economy in the allocation of resources and the distribution of income. They have planned the economy more than any other factor. But we have not recognised or admitted what has been done and we have done it without adequate facts; we have worked in the dark. One of the reasons for the low level of interest and concern about tariffs is that we have not realised or admitted what in fact we are doing with tariffs. It is not just a matter of detail, complication and shortage of time. This applies also to other things. It applies to monetary policy. It applies to the complications of banking policy. This does not prevent a lot of people from considering that these are the things that are really important and there is plenty of interest in them. One of the reasons why there is a low interest in tariffs is that we do not recognise, nor do we admit, what we are doing with tariffs. This state of affairs must be ended.
The extent to which the making and unmaking of tariffs can build or destroy an industry can be seen in the proposal now before the House to reduce tariffs on woven shirts. I want to look at the summary that has been made of the Tariff Board report on this matter. This is an industry, or part of one, which, the Tariff Board tells us, has about 10,000 employees and has about $25m of invested funds and the recommendation which this Parliament will give effect to today will bring about radical changes in the industry. It will bring about an upheaval; it will cause unemployment and it will cause the closing of some factories.
– Which industry is this?
– I am referring to the manufacturer of woven shirts. The recommendation will do all these things. It will make a significant difference to the lives of many of those 10,000 people. I should like to quote from the conclusions - the summary - of the 1971 Tariff Board report on woven shirts to show the significance of this. The Board considers that the industry is highly fragmented and in its report states:
The evidence points to a need for concentration of capital and production in far fewer factories from which the benefits of modern plant, bulk purchasing and more efficient marketing would flow.
Think of the consequences of those 2 proposals. The Board considers that the industry is highly fragmented. It considers that there are hundreds of small producers. The Board is making a judgment that that situation no longer is appropriate in this industry. The Board has made a judgment that there is need for concentration of capital in far fewer factories and that there should be a change in the structure of the industry. In fact, I have been saying for several years that this is one thing that the Board must face. It must decide what should be the structure of an industry. It must make decisions that amount to the planning of an industry and, of course, it is very clear that that is what it is doing in this decision. It is time that the people of Australia realised that this is what the Tariff Board must do and is doing. People should come to realise that this is what the Tariff Board is doing - that it is saying that this industry of 10,000 employees with $25m of capital shall no longer be a smallscale industry but must be one in which there is a concentration of capital in far fewer factories, with all the implications of such a proposition. People will be more interested in the Tariff Board and in this Parliament if the Tariff Board and the Parliament make decisions that will change the whole structure of an industry and, consequently one industry after another. If we are to make decisions that involve the future development, makeup and composition of industry, do not let us talk about free enterprise anymore. Do not let us talk about an unplanned economy. Let us realise where we are and what we are doing in the 20th century. If we realise this there will be more interest in tariffs. There will not be only 2 or 3 people sitting in Parliament when we are debating tariffs as there always are; there may be half a dozen people. Let us realise that if people become aware of the significance of what we are doing here on a quiet afternoon early in March they will take more interest in it because we will change the lives of perhaps 10,000 people when we pass this measure this afternoon. In commenting on the existing duty of 62i per cent, the Board said:
It is apparent from the levels of price disadvantage and increasing imports that the substantive rate is no longer adequate. . . . This is particularly the case with man-made fibre shirts and low priced cotton shirts. . . . The Board calculated that in 1967-68, before the introduction of temporary duties, the protection afforded by the substantive duties was equivalent to an annual subsidy of at least $10m.
We were providing through the tariff an annual subsidy of at least $10m to the shirt manufacturing industry. That is a fairly significant thing. We have not fully realised previously that when we made decisions in Parliament about this tariff, we were giving some manufacturers and workers a subsidy of $10m. This is one of the implications of tariff making. The Board’s summary continues:
The benefits offsetting this cost cannot be measured quantitatively. … In the Board’s view, the importance of retaining the industry, in its present form, for the employment it provides is overstated. . . . Only a small part of the industry’s fabric requirements is obtained from local weavers.
Other purchases by the industry are small. The report continues:
The evidence leads the Board to the conclusion that production of shirts is a high cost activity which results in relatively small net gains to (he economy.
The Board has concluded that it should not recommend a duty of 100 per cent which is necessary to secure all the market for local industry. Even the present level of duties is not consistent with economic and efficient production. It has not encouraged the best use of resources. The report continues:
The Board believes that the industry should be rationalised into viable units . . .
So, in this day of free enterprise, the Government is adopting an industrial policy of rationalisation. How far and where are we going with rationalising industry and what are its implications? The summary continued by listing the recommended rates. I emphasise that the summary informs us that the Board is aware that an immediate reduction of the tariff could cause disruption with consequent hardship. The proposed duty is not intended to support the present level of production. This is a simple realisation of facts, but to allow the manufacturers time to formulate their long-term plans the Board recommends an additional duty of $1.50 a dozen shirts until 31st December 1973. I am glad that this has been introduced because for 2 or 3 years I have been advocating precisely this. When a change of this kind is to be made, the Government cannot introduce it today and have it operating tomorrow. It must give people reasonable warning so that those who are working in the industry can be told. I hope they can be told and I hope they will hear from somebody. I hope somebody will tell them - the 10,000 people in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere that we are doing this. I hope the Press will pass the word on. 1 hope that one or two of the 10.000 people who are working in the woven shirts industry are listening to me and that these people will realise that many of them will lose their jobs. I say to them that they had better start looking for another job; they have only until 31st December 1973. An additional duty of $1.50 a dozen has been placed on the temporary duty of $14.50. What good the $1.50 will do. I do not know.
– And dumping is increasing.
DrJ. F. CAIRNS - That is right: that as well. While it is proper reasonable and necessary for these changes they should not be whipped in without the knowledge of those concerned. I hope the Government has told the people involved. But has the Government done anything to tell them or is it expected that they will know as a result of this debate? Has the Government or the Tariff Board done anything to tell the people in the industry or has it told just the employers? Has it told even them what it is doing? These are important questions. The Government assumes that it can demolish and change a significant part of this industry, in the way that I have summarised from the report, from a fragmented industry to an industry with a concentration of capital and a few factories. But who is it telling that it intends to do this? 1 am sure the Government is telling nobody, because it likes to do these things without telling anybody. It likes people to believe that it is not intervening in the economy. It likes people to believe that it is a free enterprise government which does not believe in rationalisation or planning. But let us be open and frank and let us know where we are going and what we are doing in the 1970s. 1 think that this legislation concerning woven shirts in principle is one of the most important proposals that we have had in this House for many a long day. Unemployment will result in this industry. What is most wrong with unemployment? I think its chief effect is loss of income and not loss of work. Practically everybody in the community values income more than they value their jobs and more than they value work. What is most wrong with unemployment is loss of income, not loss of work. Very often work has little that is valuable about it to the worker concerned. Very often the loss of one job may be followed by the gaining of a better job. But what is most immediately harmful about loss of work is that it forces the person losing that job to exist on an income which no person regarded as a human being in a civilised community should be required to live on.
I do not opposethe reduction of a tariff for an industry which is fragmented, which needs re-organisation, which works at excessive costs and obvious inefficiency and which lacks science and machinery, but I do object to the reduction of a tariff which is certain to throw a large proportion of 10,000 human beings upon standards hat no person in Australia should be asked to exist on for one hour. I object to a state of affairs which the adoption of this report under present circumstances makes inevitable. People who lose their jobs in this industry will be living at best on something between $10 and $20a week until they get another job. The Department of Labour and National Service is just not geared in any way to offer them the service to get another job or a better job without delay that must be offered if we are to make these changes as a result of deliberate Government policy, which is what is happening here. When the Tariff Board moves into an area like this to reorganise an industry, to demolish a considerable part of it, to change it from a fragmented one to one where there are just a few factories, it is time we brought the Department of Labour and National Service and he unemployment benefit up to the level that is matched by that change. The Department and the unemployment benefit are 50 years behind in this respect, not through any fault of the Department, but because we just have not had the proper development, thinking and planning in these fields which are the first responsibility of the Government. I object on behalf of the Opposition to the handling of a problem in this way. I object also to a state of affairs clearly stated by the Tariff Board on many occasions as was reported by it on page 6 of its 1969-70 annual report. It said:
I object to that state of affairs. It is the most serious dereliction of duty of any Australian government, when inflation and high costs are such a serious problem, when unemployment so often results from high costs and inefficiency, that large sections of the tariff have not been reviewed and the industries concerned still have today essentially the same tariffs as those imposed for emergency reasons in the early 1930s. Do not tell me the Government is doing everything it can to deal with inflation when that situation is reached. The dereliction of duty is far worse when it is realised that the Government has known of the situation for many years and has deliberately done nothing to correct it. Even in the same year the Tariff Board reported at page 9 of its report:
The resources available to the Board have been fully occupied in normal tariff revisions . . .
At that time, the year before and the year before that the Tariff Board asked for more staff over a period but the Ministers responsible stalled the applications by claiming that matters of policy were involved. Even up to now no difference whatever has been made to the capability of the Tariff Board to make inquiries into those industries where tariffs are essentially the same as those imposed for emergency reasons in the early 1930s. The Tariff Board is still in the same position. It cannot do any more than carry out normal tariff revisions. There should be 3 principles seen clearly here and carried into effect without delay. Firstly, no industry should continue to be protected by a tariff that has not been examined for many years and which may well be a tariff high enough to allow those protected by it to exploit the consumer by excessive prices while inefficiency is protected and maintained. Secondly, no tariff should be lowered unless a full and adequate inquiry has been made and sufficient clear evidence is available that it should be reduced. Thirdly, no tariff should be reduced if it will cause unemployment unless there is a certainty that there will be provision of adequate income for those unemployed and adequate means for them to obtain another job and to obtain training if they so desire. None of these principles applies now and the Opposition is entitled to oppose every tariff measure that is put in this House until they do apply.
When we are satisfied that tariffs can be used as an effective measure of economic policy and planning and for the development of manufacturing industry - we cannot be satisfied about that now and it will be quite a long time before we are satisfied with it; it probably will require a change of government - we will be entering a new era of economic policy. When we have effective means to deal with the consequences of tariff changes and, in particular, tariff reductions, then tariff changes can be used as an instrument of economic policy. Tariffs are the most effective means in the whole armoury of economic policy for an Australian government because of the constitutional divisions of powers in Australia. Tariffs must be the result only of scrutiny and analysis and proposals of a tariff board or a body similar to the Tariff Board because any body which has to make the scrutiny and these proposals needs a competent staff. It needs the means to get the facts and to make an effective analysis. There must be a presumption in favour of the proposals or recommendations of the Tariff Board or similar body. Despite the inadequacies of the Board there is even a presumption in favour of its recommendations today.
But through the tariff power the Tariff Board or similar body can do all the things it is doing in the case of woven shirts. It can control prices; it can control the flow of investment funds; it can control the allocation of resources and their location. The Tariff Board can plan the development of industry and much of that development which serves and follows up industry. It is not only a matter of tariffs but also involves every other item that enters into prices. Here I want to draw the attention of the House to what appears over and over again in Tariff Board reports and that is that wages and salaries do not amount to more than 20 per cent or 30 per cent of the total costs. Far too much stress is being laid on wages and salaries both as inflationary factors and as factors in costs. I hope to look at the reports now before the House during the Committee stages because we do not have time these days to do it at the second reading stage and I will try then to direct the attention of honourable members to most of those 9 cases where direct wages and salaries are between 20 per cent to 30 per cent of total costs. Materia! costs, often imported material costs, are very much higher than that. Profits appear significant with dividends taking something between 5 per cent and 20 per cent. Retained funds, undistributed income and depreciation allowances are all very significant. It is from these sources that as much as two-thirds of the money that is used for industrial development comes. Up to as much as two-thirds of the money for future development comes out of prices.
Those who are in a position to produce now in proportion to their existing power have the means to determine who will be in a position to produced tomorrow and under what circumstances and what they will produce. In present circumstances in Australia the most effective way for the ordinary people to exercise some say in the use of economic power is through the government of the nation, and in present circumstances the most effective instrument of government in Australia in the exercise of economic power is in fact the tariff. The Tariff Board or some other body must soon realise the full significancae of what it is doing. The proposals before the House involve all these consequences for government today.
I conclude my speech in the second reading debate by saying that I hope the people in this Parliament and elsewhere will realise the enormous significance of what we are doing with tariffs and that what we are doing in the woven shirt industry is changing the whole structure of the industry. We are changing it from a fragmented, small-scale industry into one which will become concentrated in probably a few factories. This is the kind of thing we are doing by public policy today. When we realise the full significance of this, then proper and adequate attention will be given to this matter.
– Since the present Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) has been in charge of tariff matters in this House things have gone much more smoothly. I should like again to compliment him on the trouble to which he goes in trying to make individual members understand this very difficult subject. We have always hoped that one day we would have tariff debates that are worthy of the importance of the subject, as the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) has said. I think that the honourable member for Lalor was quite correct in tackling this question in the way he did. He talked about general principles in the second reading debate. He will make a more intimate examination of the tariff proposals and the Tariff Board reports which back those proposals later on. I also want to follow that course; I want to examine some of the principles which lie behind our policy and methods of protection.
I am not a free trader. Often I have had to point that out to the House. I am a firm believer in a wise tariff policy. One of the qualities of wisdom in protection, I think, is that we should not over-protect. If we over-protect an industry, in many cases it imposes extra costs on and reduces employment in that industry. On many occasions in this House I have given illustrations of over-protection and of the results which follow quickly after such protection is given. I have referred to the chemical industry, stationary engines and so on. In this instance 1 want to deal with a specific case to indicate how overprotection in the past has imposed and is imposing continual burdens on the community. I want to refer to the motor car industry as an example of the way in which protection should not be handled. Away back in 1966 I made a speech in this House when the Government brought into effect its 1964 component plan for the motor car industry. I said then that an inevitable result of the Government’s plan was that Volkswagen Australia Pty Ltd would be driven out of the industry and that the position of the British Motor Corporation of Australia PLy Ltd, as it was then, would be very greatly jeopardised. One did not have to have an economics degree to work that out.
The only way in which one can get economic manufacture in the car industry is to produce a lot of cars. There must be a large volume of production to carry the cost of tooling and so on. At that time the Australian market was approximately 400,000 cars a year, and when one remembers that at that time Genera] MotorsHoldens’ Pty Ltd had the lion’s share of the Australian market, it was obvious that there was not sufficient market to enable the other manufacturers to get the throughput to give them economic production. I said then it was inevitable that Volkswagen would have to bow out, as indeed it did soon afterwards. Now the Government is introducing another plan for the motor car industry and the same problems are looming. I will not describe the Government’s plans in detail, but in summary the idea is to force manufacturers to use a greater percentage of Australian content.
What will happen now? First, the very high cost of protection for the Australian motor car industry will continue, if not increase. The average effective rate of the present protection is 67 per cent. The subsidy equivalent of this - that is the subsidy that the consumer pays - is $300m a year. That is not my figure; it was supplied to me by the research section of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. This imposes an immediate extra cost of $600 for an average car. By the time there is added the sales tax on the duty and then the dealer’s mark-up on the duty, the extra cost is getting close to $1,000. So the burden at present is heavy enough, goodness knows. My constituents are acutely aware of this and they have always resented the heaviness of the burden. No-one has ever told them how much this burden is, but now they will know - it is $300m a year, and it is all paid in the end by the exporters. I do not pretend to know exactly what will be the impact of this new plan, but one thing is certain, the burden will not be less.
Of course, the trouble in the motor car industry is simply a question of throughput. We now appear to have a market for approximately 500,000 cars - perhaps it is a little greater when one takes exports into consideration. In 1970 there were registered, in round figures, 162,000 new GMH cars, 92,000 Ford cars, 42,000 Chrysler cars and 32,000 BLMC cars. It sticks out a mile that the manufacturers of the last 2 groups of cars mentioned cannot be economic while the first 2 remain so. On the other hand, in the United States of America there are 3 groups of car manufacturers to supply a local market of 8.2 million cars, plus export!! - approximately 10 million cars altogether. In Japan there are 9 car manufacturers to supply a market of 6.5 million cars. We have a market for approximately 500,000 cars divided between 4 manufacturers, and now the new plan is designed to force others to enter the field.
The high cost of protection for the motor car industry is due only to the frantic efforts in the past to over-protect the Australian car industry. The truth is that if we had only one manufacturer of cars in Australia we would hardly need to protect it at all. We would have volume of production which would allow economic production. After all, we are proud of the fact that we have very good workmen in Australia. We are also proud of the fact that our steel prices are as low as any in the world. We also have a 15 per cent protection in the form of freight against cars imported from the United States. If we would only allow the Australian motor car industry to grow naturally we would have many more people engaged in making cars because we would be in a much more competitive position with respect to imported cars. We would need very low duty on imported cars. The fact that cars could be imported over a very low tariff wall would keep the one or two manufacturers honest.
Prices would not be able to rise because of the effective competition. If we had a more economic industry we would be able to do something better for the process workers. The behaviour of the unions with their silly demarcation disputes has been bad, but the lot of the unskilled process worker is not pleasant. However, there are real barriers under the present set-up to increasing his pay. If the present cost of manufacture rises you come up hard against competition of the built up cars coming in over the 45 per cent nominal tariff wall. To put it up higher would impose a crushing burden on the car user and deal a devastating blow to our international trading arrangements. It is clear that only by having a more economic car industry have we any real hope of increasing the number of workers in the industry and of paying them more.
The whole object of the Government’s plan seems to be to provide a comfortable feather bed for the Australian component manufacturers. They are not doing badly now. The bottom third averaged in 1969- 70 a return of funds of 11 per cent and the top third averaged 23 per cent. It is worth noting thai on 23rd February last Repco, the biggest component manufacturer of them all, announced a 13.2 per cent increase in profit, showing a profit of $4.337m for the half year and a 44 per cent increase in sales of original equipment. This will enable the usual 16 per cent dividend to be comfortably continued. Surely wc can learn from the experience of other countries. Sweden has a population of 8 million and protects her car industry hardly at all. She his 2 car manufacturers, both Swedish owned. Let us see what happens when natural forces are allowed to guide development. Volvo, the bigger manufacturer, has a local component of about 65 per cent and buys its components where it likes, from the cheapest source. A combination of having only 2 manufacturers and of buying the cheapest components enables the Swedish car industry to supply about 40 per cent of the Swedish market. 1 ask honourable members to heed what comes next. Here comes the important part of the saga in the process of natural development. Because Sweden concentrates on economic development it exports all over the world. Volvo, the bigger manufacturer, exports 75 per cent of the cars it makes. Adding SAAB, both manufacturers export 57 per cent of the cars manufactured in Sweden. Volvo exports about $700m worth of cars a year. Australia’s total exports of all our secondary industries are very close t£> that figure - a little more than $700m. On the other hand, we pay a subsidy to our car manufacturers of $300m. Swedish wages are close to ours. Our iron and steel costs are close together, yet we have to support our industry al an extra cost of $300m a year while Volvo exports $700m worth of cars a year. In spite of the lavish protection we hand out to our car industry imports continue to increase from 8 per cent to 13 per cent since 1967, and that over a 45 per cent tariff wall. Now we are to continue the sad story by forcing a higher percentage of Australian components. We will have fewer people employed in the industry because built up imports will continue to increa.se, because the cost of car manufacture under our present queer system will get even higher.
It is notable that the first plans in 1964 were put into effect before the Tariff Board report, which I think came in 1966. When it was received, it was largely ignored. On this occasion there has been no pretence of a Tariff Board report at all. It is a Government decision, a Department of Trade and Industry decision. The Gov.erncnt evidently thinks that it knows best, but 1 do not think it does. Surely there is a lesson here to guide us towards a sounder protection policy. It is obvious that too lavish protection encourages uneconomic proliferation of factories with the inevitable effect of increased costs. But far more seriously, it diminishes the opportunity for increased employment in the industry at increased real wages. Strangely enough this is being done, 1 suppose, in the name of development or some queer reason. Fewer people are making cars and there is a grievous burden on development. Mr Speaker, you will not have my trouble but 1 represent a rural constituency. 1 will have to explain to the farmer as he belts along the rough roads in his old utility that he is paying his share of the annual subsidy of $300m and that his next utility, if he can buy it, will cost him 81,000 extra. I will have to say that this is in the name of Australia’s development. I would have to get behind a mulga tree, and quickly.
The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) has said recently that tariffs should not be used in the war against inflation. He is indeed right. The tariffs ought not to go up and down like a yo-yo to meet changing conditions from day to day. But too lavish tariff protection has a grievous effect on our costs and here indeed is a classic case. Surely it is not claimed that the high cost of Australian cars is unimportant to our consumer price index. We are paying an extra $300m a year. What we really mean is that we are adding $300m to our inflationary problem. We are always preaching that the gap between money wages and productivity is filled in the long term if not in the short term by a rise in prices. We have all accepted this as an inevitable economic fact. So increased productivity is indeed the key to an increase in real wages. There are many reasons for our poor productivity performance. Really, it is almost becoming a national issue of which we ought to be ashamed. One reason is industrial strife, but another is this system of unwise protection. Our productivity would be far higher if we were wiser in this matter. I hoped for a while that we would be, when Sir John McEwen left, but the hope is becoming dimmer each day.
– I have been interested in the comments of the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) who, everyone knows, has participated regularly in these debates. It is easy enough to bandy about figures relating to another country. The honourable gentleman said, I think, that the Swedish motor car industry exported 75 per cent of its total production.
– Volvo exported 75 per cent.
– He did not say to where they are exported.
– Mostly to the United States.
– The honourable member says ‘mostly’, but I think he will find that most of the exports are to the rest of Europe. This is one of the points I wish to make. I had a similar discussion when the Crown Prince of Belgium was in Australia recently. When one talks about exports from Belgium, it is like sending goods across the River Murray. It would be similar to separating all the trade of the 6 States of Australia into 6 segments and saying that sending goods from New South Wales to Victoria was the equivalent to exporting. At least in Europe there is a more closely integrated market. Surely this must be always one of the features taken into account in drawing comparisons in regard to Australia. I would suggest that if the honourable member looked at the export figures for Swedish Volvo cars he would see that not as many of them as he thinks go to America. A very significant number do but most of them simply circulate around the rest of Europe. One of the reasons for the existence of the European Common Market today is to remove the trade barriers in Europe so that export trade flows more freely. Sweden of course is not a member of the Europen Economic Community; it belongs to the European Free Trade Association. I do not think that that is quite the situation we face in Australia, which is an isolated country.
I agree with the remarks of the honourable member in essence about the motor car industry in Australia. I think we have put too many eggs into the one basket. We are producing far too many models. I suggest also that in terms of the availability of resources, we are even producing far too many cars. But we have geared our economy internally to a certain level of motor car production. What has happened recently in that industry has not happened because people still do not want to buy cars. It has happened because of inflation. Their desire to purchase has been lessened by reason of the higher prices charged for other articles.
I have been subjected to a certain amount of lobbying in regard to the woven shirt industry in Australia. I do not mind being lobbied. It is a way to obtain information. I hope that when an honourable member is lobbied it is not suggested that he is being bought. Nevertheless, one finds out certain things when an anxious employer asks one to go to his factory to look at his problems. The employer will submit his arguments in voluminous detail. As my colleague, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) has indicated, one of the difficulties associated with tariff making in Australia is that the Tariff Board, which is supposed to be the adjudicator of the processes, is inadequate. It has not enough staff to make the sort of inquiries it is required to make. Often reports are made 3 years after the Tariff Board hearing. In essence, when we receive them they are out of date. The circumstances have changed before we come to consider them.
The woven shirt industry is an example where that seems to be happening now. Significant changes have taken place over the last several months. I have here a wellprepared submission prepared on behalf of the men’s shirt industry. I cite an example. The submission states:
Industry sources are aware that one importer alone has just contracted with a Singapore manufacture for the supply of 9,000 dozen Permanent Press Shirts per month. Annually this order represents 27.3 per cent of the Australian manufacture of this synthetic content product and is 74 per cent of the synthetic content shirts imported in 1971. The order alone accounts for 10.S per cent of total Australian production.
I understand that this is about 15 million shirts per annum. I asked about this when I visited the manufacturer. I do not want to mention the names of the firms concerned. 1 do not think that would be fair. Neither do I propose to name the firm in Sydney which is importing the shirts. But a higher mark-up is obtained on the lower priced shirt than is obtained on the locallymanufactured shirt. I think this has to be borne in mind. While an imported shirt may be cheaper it is not as cheap as it might be if the retailer were taking only a fair margin on its retail price.
What margin would the retailer take in the absence of any Australian production? Surely this highlights the need for some kind of price surveillance in addition to the tariff making side. What is a fair margin on a shirt that costs $2? Should it be sold for $4, $3 or $2.50?
– Stick your own lablels on them and make up to 300 per cent.
– This is an example of what is happening. Most of the Australian shirt manufacturing industry is making fashion shirts. One needs only to look around this chamber these days to see-
– They are on your side.
– They are not only on this side of the chamber. There are one or two star examples on the honourable member’s side. Apparently 1 am still regarded as a square because I wear plain white shirts and a sober tie. Fashions have changed. A great deal of design expertise is employed in the Australian industry. What happens is that a manufacturer or agent for a firm in Hong Kong or Taiwan comes to Australia. He sees a nice looking shirt and takes it back as a model. It is made in those factories under cheaper conditions with no need to set up a designing service. We were shown an example of an imported shirt wilh applique, lt is a design or separate material stuck on the garment. That was pirated from Australia. The total price of the shirt that came from, I think, Hong Kong was actually cheaper than the price of the applique alone in Australia. These are some of the difficulties that manufacturers in Australia face.
I wish to say a little about one or two comments made in the Tariff Board report on woven shirts. I draw the attention of the House to the remark on page 15 which states:
The Board believes that the industry should be rationalised into viable units in which the advan tages of investment and scale of production give maximum economies in all aspects of purchasing, production and marketing.
It is very simple to say that, but it is not a very easy thing to achieve. Yesterday afternoon, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) took nearly half an hour to tell us how difficult it is to make the aircraft industry viable. Yet this report glibly states that (he woven shirt industry should be rationalised into viable units. What does that mean? Does it mean that the strong should buy out the weak or that the weak should disappear without compensation? (n the rural situation if it is thought that some dairy farmers should be phased out, an equalisation fund is introduced to compensate those who choose or who are forced to leave the industry. Such people do not go broke. They are paid to enter some other field. 1 suggest that if we talk about rationalisation, there is a need to set up some kind of fund that will compensate those who have to leave the industry, if it is felt that for efficiency they should, lest they go to the wall. 1 think that in one of the other reports a rather glib statement was made that it would be easy to sell off the plant and the premises. I do not know whether a very high price would be received. A good price might be received if a factory was in a good situation. But one would not get much for machinery which was regarded as surplus in the industry. I submit that if these vague sorts of statements are made about rationalising and so on there should be rome attempt to set up a fund. I think that this was done, for instance, in Lancashire many years ago when substantial changes had to be made in industry. Some compensation was paid to those who had to go. Presumably the compensation was paid partly by those who survived. These are the problems which we have to face.
I do not think it is always realised how rigid in some respects specialised sections of economies are. It is these rigidities, of course, that make desirable changes sometimes very difficult to effect. This is no more evident than in both the motor car industry and the textile industries of Australia. This is rather like decentralisation in respect of which it may be suggested that more people should go from Melbrourne and Sydney to live somewhere between those cities, for example at Albury and Wodonga. But when it comes to saying whether it is to be Jim Forbes or Frank Crean who is to leave Melbourne, that becomes a rather different kind of situation. The same kind of thing applies when we make rather easy descriptions of industry rationalising itself. Industry, sometimes does rationalise itself through bankruptcies which are rather unfortunate for those who go bankrupt. There are even some nice devices of being able to buy up the losses of some of those companies for taxation purposes. This, again, simply points to the need for much more comprehensive economic integration than is the case currently in Australia.
We should not look too much at the economy in aggregate as, I submit, with all respect to my friend the honourable member for Wakefield, he is inclined to do at times without getting down to the pieces that go to make the aggregate. I must confess that 1 am a little sceptical at times of figures quoted in the region of $2, 700m as being the excess costs of tariffs and so on. I must submit that, having regard to the figures I have seen, some rather dubious assumptions have been made to arrive at that kind of aggregate. For instance, I do not know about the honourable member for Wakefield’s figure when he spoke of the motor car industry costing some $3 00m or more involving an expenditure of $300m which works out to be on an average about $600 a car. I do not think it would be as easy to suggest that if there were no Australian motor car industry, the average cost of cars, trucks and other vehicles imported by Australia, in the isolated position in which it is placed, would necessarily be $600 less than at present. These are matters which I do not think are easily demonstrable.
What we do have at the moment is some stickiness in the unemployment situation involving skilled and unskilled workers. As my friend the honourable member for Lalor pointed out, the glib suggestion that something like 10,000 people could be thrown out of employment in the textile industry if certain things happened and that that would somehow be a good shaking of the economy is a matter which would need to be investigated on its merits. Certainly, there would be nothing sillier than to pay some 60,000 people who are receiving unemployment benefits at the moment $30 a week for doing nothing if employment could be found for them in the production of goods with a value in excess of $30.
We should also remember that there are quite wide differences in wages. My friend also suggested that wages are not by any means the principal component in the costs of the textile industry. But they are significant enough. In a situation where the average hourly wage cost is about $1.33 - I think that the report suggests that in some places it is only one-tenth of that amount - this cost makes a significant difference to the final price of a product.
The level at which tariffs should be set is one of the most difficult of economic problems. As a former student of economics at an academic level - and I hope that I am still a student of this subject in some of its practical aspects - I suppose the 2 most difficult things that one had to absorb were the tariffs on the one hand and the fixing of exchange rates on the other. Both components have to be dealt with rather arbitrarily and there is not a particular, ideal pattern that one can say should or should not apply. It is all right to argue that ‘tariffs should come down in the abstract form in one country when maybe barriers apply. I find that in the literature issued today there is more discussion about what are called non-tariff barriers to trade than there are about the tariff as such. All kinds of devices are taken. For instance, in the case of meat the Americans at times have simply said that they thought that our abattoirs were dirty when we know that they are clean enough. But such a device can be used as a deterrent to the export cf certain commodities to another country. These kinds of measures are applying.
I hope that in the future we shall get more adequate mechanisms to enable us to examine these things properly. One needs only to see the vast volume of literature that is distributed to honourable members. One publication which was distributed recently by the Tariff Board on the plastics industry was something like one inch thick. It contained a great amount of technical information but one would need to be almost an industrial chemist to comprehend its meaning. Publications of this sort are thrown onto the tables of every honourable member supposedly to be read, to be understood and to be digested oy him. To imagine that we can do our business in this impractical kind of way is completely wrong.
– Until an hour or so ago I did not intend to speak in this debate. However, I was prompted to do so by an article which appeared on page 2 of this morning’s issue of the ‘Canberra Times’ and which was written by Mr Warwick Bracken, who is the economics writer for that paper. The heading of the article was: ‘Tariff abuse and consumer prices’. I would like to say something about this article because I think it is an over-simplified, or oversimple, article which tends to throw the whole idea of protective tariffs up as something evil and bad for Australia.
I find myself in some agreement with the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) perhaps because we all were products of the University of Melbourne Commerce School and trained in the Keynesian theory of economics. I believe that the Australian protective tariff policy is a wise one. It is a policy aimed at the protection of economic and efficient industries within Australia. It prevents low price imports threatening Australian industry and the employment of the Australian worker. Of course, if the employment of the Australian worker and industry is threatened, so much is Australia a weaker nation.
Australia is a developing country, and like all developing countries it must have some form of balanced protection policy. This does not mean that we should overprotect or that we should protect industries that are not viable. Arguments about protection and free trade have been going on in this country for a very long time - long before many of us were born and long before there was a Commonwealth of Australia. It is possible to make out a plausible case either way. We have the plausible article in favour of free trade that appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’ this morning. I would like to read some extracts from it because the article is not completely accurate. It says:
So you paid $350 for a refrigerator recently and you think you got a bargain? You could have bought your refrigerator at least 596 cheaper if there had been no tariff on imported refrigerators.
The article says:
Perhaps it was not a refrigerator you bought but a car and it cost you $3,500. That is almost $1,100 more than you would have paid for an imported version of the same thing if there was not a 45 per cent tariff on imported cars. What costs you $3,500 cost an overseas car manufacturer something like $2,400 to make and freight to Australia.
Or perhaps it was a tape recorder you bought and you paid $200 for it. Without import duty it would have cost y,ou $138 or so, because there is a general rate of protection of 45 per cent on imported tape recorders.
The article continues:
Without duty an imported washing machine costing $310 would cost $200; sheets and pillow cases would cost 35 per cent less than they do; shirts would cost at least 40 per cent less; pantyhose would cost about 40 per cent less (instead of paying $1 you would pay about 60c); the price of shoes would be about 30 per cent less; a top grade tennis racquet instead of costing $25 would cost about $15.60. . . . and a suit costing $48 would cost $30.
The whole idea of the article is to say that if we did not have this ridiculous system of protection for Australian industries people would be able to buy things much more cheaply. But of course if we did not have protection we probably would not have many of the industries, and many of the Australian people would not be employed. It is all very well being able to buy things more cheaply, but if people are not employed they do not have the money to pay for them. I think that tariff policy cannot be a stop-go affair. It is important that industry be able to plan for a stable future. It is for this reason that the Australian Tariff Board recommends to the Government when protection should be extended to an industry and when it should be reduced or cease. If there were no such policy I think we would find that industry would not know where it was.
As has been mentioned by previous speakers, in the instance of the shirts, a manufacturer from a cheap labour country could come here, copy a design, go away and land the finished article in this country far more cheaply than we can produce it ourselves. As a result, Australian workers would find themselves out of employment. It was particularly worrying to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) say at a meeting in the Dandenong Town Hall on 16th February last that the Australian Labor Party would, if it became the Government, control industry by using tariffs and subsidies as sticks and carrots. To me it is a rather frightening thing that, if Mr Whitlam ever became Prime Minister of this country, he would use a tariff policy against industry to brow-beat it into what the particular government of the day thought industry should be doing. The Leader of the Opposition realised that, under the Constitution, the Commonwealth Government has no power of price control. He also realises that the Ausralian people, at a referendum, would not be prepared to give such a control to any Commonwealth government. Apparently, if I draw the right conclusions from his statement at Dandenong, he would use this sort of policy of tariffs as sticks and carrots to control industry. That is just getting around the socialisation platform of the Labor Party in another way.
I know there have been disagreements in the debate on tariffs. These disagreements have been apparent on this side of the House and on the other side of the House. The Press has played this up to a large extent by publishing articles - I have copies of them here but I will not read them out because I do not think they are important - saying that there is something wrong; that the Government is divided because it does not always agree on tariffs, or that the Opposition is divided because it does not always agree on tariffs. But it is not a bad thing that Government supporters or members within an Opposition do not always agree completely with their colleagues. Surely this is healthy in a democracy. I feel that it is quite healthy that my colleague the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) is able to stand up within this Party and express views which are perhaps different from mine and different from the views of other honourable members.
It is a pity that more people are not interested in the tariff policy of this country. There are not very many honourable members in this House at the moment. There are 2 pressmen sitting in the gallery. I wonder how many people are listening to the broadcast. I .wonder whether anywhere near as many are listening now to this debate on tariffs as were listening this morning to the debate when the Leader of the Opposition was being censured by his statements on draft dodging. That was an exciting debate for the listeners, but it probably was nowhere near as important to this country as a debate on tariffs. The subject of tariffs is confusing. I have just read a speech that the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) made in this House on 7th October. He said that he had developed quite a sense of confusion on tariffs. This is an understandable thing. I do no want to go on for very long because I know that a number of other honourable members wish to speak in this debate. I ‘think that when we are protecting an industry we must be sure that we do not overprotect it and that we do not protect industries that are not Viable. We do not want to reach the position where by overprotection we make industry inefficient and so tend to price ourselves out of the market.
I was fortunate enough to go with several businessmen to Japan in October. I saw that in Japan the employment position is such that they have had a 17 per cent rise in the cost of living in the past 12 months and they are now pricing themselves out of their own market. The week I was there, for the first time we were selling Australian vegetables in the Tokyo market more cheaply than they could be grown in Japan. While I was there I walked into a supermarket. I saw pantyhose produced by Holeproof in Melbourne selling in a supermarket in Tokyo. I saw frozen pastry from Herbert Adams in Melbourne, made not far from my electorate. It was being made Japan. I saw confectionery and other products seat from Australia. So in Japan they have reached the stage in a number of products where they have priced themselves out of their own market. Of course, we do not want a protection policy which would allow this to occur, but I think that we must realise that Australia is a great and a growing industrial nation. No longer do we ride on the sheep’s back, as we have been told for so long. It is just as well that we do not, because over the last 12 months we would not have been riding very much; we would have been lying in the dust.
Australia has a diversified economy. If agricultural products drop in price, no longer is this country crippled as it once would have been. I know that my friend the one of the Government’s supporters for honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) would perhaps not quite agree with me there, but I think he would agree that no longer are we so dependent on rural industries as we were perhaps 20 or 30 years ago.
I hope that with a protection policy our industries will continue, to be able to produce, and to produce profitably, and keep employment high. This diversified economy we have has been due to the way industry has been built up by this policy of protection. Industry looks to tariff protection to give it an advantage over firms of foreign companies on the home market, and unions look to the protection of industry because it protects the employment of the Australian worker against the competition of cheap overseas labour. As I said before, no-one suggests that we should have overprotection or protection of industry which will never be viable, but do not let us go to the other extreme, as Warwick Bracken did in the ‘Canberra Times’ this morning when he suggested that protection is forcing prices up to such an extent in Australia that the situation becomes ludicrous, because if most of us are unemployed the price of an article does not matter; we still would not have the money to buy it. So let us realise that Australia has a diversified economy and that it has become an important industrial nation because of the policy of protection of Australian industries followed by successive, Australian government, and let us not change that policy.
– I wish to say a few words on this important subject. I listened to the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). As he indicated, we have our hardy annuals in tariff debates. Of course one of the most notable participants in these debates is my distinguished colleague, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). Today we heard him repeat his story about tariff policy, and of course I am in complete disagreement with him on many of the major proposals he puts forward. I mink that all honourable members, particularly, members of the Country Party, in considering this important question should refer to a speech made by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) on tariff policy not so very long ago. I quote from it at the commencement of my speech to show a realisation by a member of the Country Party- I hope his . views are shared by all of his Party - of the importance of manufacturing industries to Australia. In the course of this speech he stated:
Manufacturing provides some 28 per cent of our gross national product and 28 per cent of total employment
That means that 1,500,000 people at least are directly employed in manufacturing industries. He went on to say:
If we add to those directly employed in manufacturing industry those employed in providing services for the manufacturing industries a substantial proportion of all Australian employees are dependent on manufacturing for a livelihood.
He went on to say: ‘
The value of factory output has been doubling every 9 or 10 years. The growth in exports of manufactures has been even more dramatic. Twenty years ago exports of manufactures amounted to only $50m or 4 per cent of our total exports. Indications are that in the current year they will exceed $800m and provide a fifth of our total exports. Major contributions are being made by chemicals, motor vehicles and parts, and iron and steel. Processed foodstuffs will provide another fifth.
This indicates the tremendous amount of capital and labour involved in the manufacturing industries of Australia. He went on to say, and I read this for that distinguished knight, the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull):
The sector of the economy which benefits most from tariff protection is undoubtedly manufacturing. However, it should not be overlooked that a very wide range of primary industries also receive some measure of tariff protection.
Of course that protection is in addition to the bounteous bounties given by the Country Party from time to time. I do not wish to go right through this statement, but it is one that relates chapter and verse the value of manufacturing industry to Australia and the need in this country to see that manufacturing industries are fully protected in order to maintain not only their employing capacity but also the capital involved in them, which capital1 has made a major contribution to this country.
I think the attitude of the Australian Labor Party on tariffs was clearly expressed today by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and also in a speech he made to this Parliament on 28th April 1971. In an election year when 130,000 people are unemployed - and the figure is mounting - I think the Australian people, and particularly those in industry, will want to know what are the policies of the major parties of this country on this important issue of tariff protection. I believe the honourable member for Lalor clearly stated in that speech on 28th April where the Australian Labor Party stood. He 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 excessive 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.
That is a pretty clear statement and an assurance to those engaged in manufacturing industry as to where the Labor Party stands on this issue. I think all honourable members in the Parliament particularly those who value the contribution manufacturing industry has made to Australia, view with concern certain changes of mind in the Tariff Board and decisions that have been reached, and the reaction when Parliament occasionally critically examines some of the Board’s decisions and on occasions rejects them. I am one who believes that the Tariff Board should always be subject to parliamentary review of its decisions. If we ever give way and accept that the Board’s decision is binding without any review by this Parliament, we will completely defeat the purpose for which tariff boards were established’. We in this Parliament must always retain the right of review, because at times some of our industries will be destroyed if that is not done. I with others on this side of the Parliament view with concern certain decisions that are made by the Tariff Board. When I see reports from the Board, particularly ones such as the report on woven shirts which was mentioned earlier and which the Government rejected or deferred consideration of until the end of December next year, I cannot help think that some members of the Board are more concerned with the imported products than they are with the goods manufactured here.
I am one who lived in this country when we could get very cheap motor cars. It was not difficult to buy them for a couple of hundred pounds, but not many people had the couple of hundred pounds for the simple reason that our raw materials were being exported. The cars were being manufactured abroad and Australians were in the position of not having work in their own industries because our industries were not established and overseas interests took the cream, as it were. To give an indication of what is happening even today I read a letter that I received from a manufacturer in my district. He wrote:
I was advised by-
And he named a shoe manufacturer - the other day, that some few years ago there were 450 shoe manufacturers in Australia and by the end of 1972 it is expected there will be SO. This is not because of expansion and take-overs but due to imports.
It might be as well to point out to the Government and the Tariff Board that the Australian manufacturer generally does not require protection as much as equalising, viz: if an overseas country pays a lower wage than Australia, works longer hours, does not have nine public holidays per annum, long service leave, overtime rates, morning and afternoon tea breaks, five minutes or longer for washing before finishing, one week’s sick pay, amenities such as lunch rooms, showers etc. and higher prices for raw and indigenous materials, which is natural because of the foregoing conditions - then it would be a simple matter to bring these discrepencies up to Australian conditions and I doubt if the Australian manufacturer would require any protection. We Australian manufacturers welcome these conditions as we feel that because of our standard of living, all must participate.
Let us take as a simile, the members of the Tariff Board and other executives have only their labour to sell but there are continuous increases in their salaries to meet increased costs of living and yet the Tariff Board has said there must be a SO per cent ceiling and added that because of increases in wages and shortening of hours, the manufacturer must not expect an increase in the protection or equalising amount.
That is a somewhat tragic commentary on how imports are ravaging an Australian shoe manufacturing industry. Whilst imported products are available very cheaply and in great quantities at certain times, immediately the Australian industry disappears from .the scene you will find that the goods that are imported will go up to the price of those goods which were previously manufactured in Australia, not because the cost of the imported products has increased at the basis of manufacture but because there is no Australian competition. I saw an article in the ‘Sunday Australian’ the other day entitled ‘Cheap Asian labour threat to 45,000 jobs’. The subheading was: ‘Rag trade fears shutdown as imports flood in’. The article reads:
The Australian clothing industry is running into serious trouble. ‘Big closures and major lay-offs are threatened as manufacturers find themselves unable to compete with cheap imports.
I understand that there are 91,000 workers in the Australian garment industry and it estimates that it will have to lay off roughly 45,000 or about 50 per cent of them. Ninety per cent of the persons engaged in this industry are women. These lay-offs are threatened by a flooding of goods from countries where labour costs are not as high as those in Australia and where adequate protection is not being given. That article stated that goods had been flooding in from cheap labour countries and industry leaders claimed that they could land in Australia cheap garments made in China, Hong Kong and Singapore at about half the cost of manufacturing them in Australia. This competition threatens all sections of the clothing industry, which indicates that some effective tariff protection must be maintained in this industry in order to safeguard the capital and labour and particularly the jobs of the people concerned. That is why today I hope that the responsible Minister will reaffirm the Government’s belief in an adequate tariff policy. It is necessary for the basis of tariffs to be reviewed and for certain changes to be made but let us not go back to the days of free trade when there was no ade.quate protection given.
There is always pressure on Australian industries and Australian governments from importers seeking to remove tariff protection, because after all is said and done the importers do not care what effect the removal of protection will have on a country so much as what they can gain in profit. One of the major pressures applied to this Government and to every government comes from Japanese exporting interests. Not only are the Japanese the greatest traders in the world today but also they are the greatest pressure group and they are the greatest attackers of Australian tariffs and Australian protection. They are right on the beam in regard to colour television in Australia, although it is 3 years away. I noticed in a newspaper the other day an article which stated:
The managing director of the Japanese Sony Corporation . . . arrived in Sydney yesterdayand urged the lifting of Australian tariffs on colour TV sets. He said it was a coincidence his trip came after last week’s announcement of the introduction of colour TV in Australia in 1975.
It was certainly a remarkable coincidence. But what a colossal hide he has to think that the Australian television manufacturing industry must go to the wall while Japanese television sets flood our market. The Japanese workers would be working while the Australian workers would not be engaged in employment in this industry. We would find that the price would be well up to what the cost would be in Australia because the margin would be very high if the Australian industry were unable to provide work for Australian people and at the same time maintain the competition that is necessary for that kind of thing.
– I think you have shares in BHP.
– No. I would hope that the Government would resist that kind of pressure. We do not want the Japanese or anybody else coming here and telling us how our industries shall be protected. That is the judgment that a government and the members of the Parliament as the elected representatives of the people should make. Our policy on tariff protection should never be decided according to what suits the Japanese manufacturers, the Chinese manufacturers or anybody else who has an interest. Our policy should be determined on what concerns us and what suits our own people. I urge the Government to resist these pressures because with a breaking down in certain tariffs and decisions of the Tariff Board in more recent times I am not certain that the Government will maintain what the Deputy Prime Minister said was the accepted policy of both sides of this Parliament for a long time, namely to maintain adequate tariff protection.
I turn now to another matter. I hope that future Tariff Board reports will be easier to understand and to read. Whilst I do not profess to be the brightest member of this House I suppose I have reasonable intelligence. I defy anybody, particularly the new knight from Mallee, to understand what this Bui is all about He will think that he is a real bright fellow, in any case Her Majesty said he was. I defy any honourable member in this place who is not a specialist in the field of economics to read and understand what this Bill is about. It refers to the 17i per cent’, the free, the ‘20 per cent’, the ‘10 per cent’, the ‘section 7’, ‘to and including December’, ‘from and including January’. It is a mass of material. The Minister said in his second reading speech that it was a co-ordination of a number of documents presented to this Parliament. I would say that the vast majority of honourable members would find it difficult to analyse and understand these documents completely. I hope that when the reports are brought down and presented to this Parliament they will be not so much simplified as made more readable for the layman or those who are interested in this subject
– What about some pictures?
– Some pictures would do well for some honourable members who sit on the other side of this House. I mention this matter because I think it is something that could be done. I reaffirm my support for full tariff protection for Australian industries. I repeat my gospel on this issue: I do not know precisely all the economics of it but if tariff protection means employment for Australian workers at the expense of workers in any other country, I am in favour of tariff protection to protect Australian jobs and Australian interests. It is a simple theory and a simple solution. I believe we owe an obligation to the people in our industries - those who put in capital, those who work in them and those who are indirectly employed in them - to ensure that full and adequate protection is given. It is an election year and I hope that the Government will give a similar assurance on this issue as has the Labor Party.
- -Mr Deputy Speaker, you will notice that when the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) commenced his speech he criticised the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), saying that the honourable member had just given his usual speech on this subject. But straight away the honourable member for Grayndler gave his usual speech, one which I could pretty well make myself from memory of the speeches the honourable member has made over the years, with the exception of the letters and papers from which he quoted. He would have to hand me those letters and newspapers. When I make a speech on these sorts or subjects I do not refer to a whole lot of letters written by other people. Goodness knows where the letters came from and what kind of a man it was that wrote them. We do not know whether he is a bright man as certain people in this House are said to be or whether his opinion on this subject of tariffs is sound, indifferent or poor. I have never professed to have a great knowledge of tariffs. When honourable members rise in this House I think it is up to them to say what they think about the present position on subjects such as tariffs and then to let the people in this Parliament decide whether they are right or wrong. I will certainly be wrong as far as the honourable member for Grayndler is concerned for the simple reason that he never speaks about primary industry in any other way but-
– I take a point of order. Do I have to put up with this bitter personal attack on me?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)There is no substance in the point of order.
– I can find that very point of order in the Hansard record taken on 4 occasions during the last 3 years, when I have been speaking and adopting an attitude that was quite kindly to the honourable member. If I were not so kind to him I would say that he came from some place the name of which 1 cannot pronounce-
– Currabubula, but in his very early youth he decided that things were too rough there in primary industry and he drifted to the city. He is one of the first examples of centralisation. When he got to the city he found that things were pretty tough there, too. I think he got a job but I am not too sure what it was. Perhaps it could have been as an organiser for the unions. I do not know but that is what has been whispered to me. I do not want to speak about the honourable member for Grayndler. We have both taken part in debates over many years on different subjects in this House,
In the whole of his speech the honourable member for Grayndler did not speak about primary industry. I represent one of the greatest primary producing electorates in Australia, therefore I -think that we must have a spokesman for primary industry. I will quote what the honourable member for Grayndler said; I wrote it down as he said it. It is a wonder that the honourable member is not interjecting and saying: The honourable member for Mallee is reading his speech’. It is a wonder he does not say this. He said that the workers have only their labour to sell. What does anybody else in Australia have to sell but their labour? The man on the land - the primary producer - sells what he produces through his labour. What does the businessman do? His is a different kind of labour but he may be an efficient businessman and he sells the product of his brainwork. People sell according to their station of life and, of course, some of them come from poor families and become some of the greatest citizens of this country and do so much for the community. Others from prosperous and rich families do nothing at all for Australia. We are a great democracy.
Let us examine what is happening between secondary industry and primary industry. Honourable members may recall that the first day that Mr Gorton was in this House as Prime Minister, I drew his attention at question dme to the widening of the gap between primary industry and secondary industry and asked whether he would try to close it. I gave him 2 alternatives. One was to reduce tariffs in certain instances and the other was to give price support to exports of primary industries. I do not want anybody in this House or elsewhere to say that I am against tariffs, but I am against excessive tariffs. If ever there is a Press report that a company has made a large profit, members of the Australian Labor Party make great play of the fact that a high profit has been made and say that it is completely wrong in every way. However, they never speak about what has caused the high profit. I know that, to some extent, it may be efficiency but I know also that it may be what I have described as tariff protection gone mad, because this does occur in certain industries. Why does the Labor Party not mention this? People do not even think these things out for the simple reason that it suits Labor, because if some industry is highly or excessively protected., the unions immediately get busy and lodge with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission a claim for a rise in the wages of the men who are working in that industry. The Arbitration Commission then will probably award the employees an increase according to what the industry can afford to pay. The industry which has a tremendous tariff protection and is making big profits can pay handsomely. However, honourable members will notice that this never occurs in primary industry. Even the honourable member for Grayndler would notice that.
The first thing that happens after an increase in wages is granted is that there occurs what has become known as the flow on. A certain industry makes a big profit because of the protective tariff and the Arbitration Commission says that the industry can afford to pay the increase in wages and there is then a flow on of that award to all kinds of secondary industries. Another flow on occurs when higher wages bring higher costs, which flow on to primary industry. Everybody knows that. Therefore, in Australia today there are 2 completely different aspects in the working of secondary industry and of primary industry. The man in primary industry may put in a crop of, say, wheat and he does not know whether he will get 12 bags to the acre, 5 bags to the acre or whether there will be a complete drought and he will get nothing. But in the case of a highly protected or even a reasonably protected secondary industry the people concerned know that they can manufacture whatever the article is and have every chance of selling it because of the protective tariff. This is what really happens. What are the industries in Australia protected from? They must be protected from something which could be adverse to them. While on this subject, I believe that the home market is the best market for primary industry, but there is not enough of it because after all, only a small proportion of Australian wheat and only about 12i per cent or less of Australian wool is purchased for Australian consumption. The flow on means that secondary industry is protected from low standard of living countries with a low wage level that could manufacture many of the secondary industry goods that we manufacture and sell them in Australia to the detriment of our manufacturers. I do not believe that our industries should be undersold. I think that we must protect the people engaged in secondary industry in Australia. However, the reverse operates in primary industry because primary industry must sell its surplus. Of course, only a small percentage of the bulk of production is consumed by the home market and Australia must sell its surplus to the low standard of living countries from which our secondary industry is protected. This is the circle that operates. The other countries cannot afford to pay the prices required because of the Australian standard of living.
In talking about countries pricing themselves out of world markets, honourable members would know that Australia has priced itself out of world markets. One only has to look at secondary industry exports to realise this. It was stated by someone from this side of the House, that we do not now ride on the sheep’s back. That does not mean just the sheep, metaphorically speaking; it means all sorts of primary industries. Let us not forget that primary industry built this nation and although there has been a slight recession in primary industry, it is very likely that we will again be largely dependent upon primary industry before very long. What about the great Snowy Mountains scheme? Why do not members of the Labor Party say: ‘Labor started that project’?
– So it did.
– Let honourable members have a look at the Hansard record for the 2 years or 18 months before the Labor Party started this project. I stood in this very House urging the Labor Government to do something about it.
Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to refer occasionally to the Bill
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the discussion before the House is on tariffs. I think you will agree that I am trying to point out that Australia’s exports build up our overseas balances. However, the money does not come back to Australia. We buy goods and raw materials which are unavailable in this country with that money and without these goods our secondary industry could not operate satisfactorily. That is the point I am making. Had it not been for primary industry, the great earthmoving equipment which was used in such projects as the Snowy Mountains scheme and all sorts of water conservation projects could never have been purchased. On the other hand, had it not been for General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd and the Holden car, all the money - more than all the money - that had been built up by the experts of primary industry or anyone else would not have been enough to buy from overseas the cars for which a great demand over the last 15 years has become not only apparent but also definite in Australia. All these things work in with tariffs.
I think the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) said that tariffs are used in making a plan for the economy of a nation. This is absolutely 100 per cent true in every possible way. As I said, the home market is the best. Excessive profits through protection are not in the best interests of this nation. For a good few years I have been a great advocate of a close examination in detail of all aspects of tariff protection. I think members of the Opposition will agree with me that there are some cases where tariff protection is too high. It is a very intricate subject and it is very difficult to get the right balance.
– I rise to order. The honourable member for Mallee said that some Australian industries attract too high a tariff protection. When he makes a statement such as that he should be asked to name the industries.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The honourable member for Chifley is listed to speak next and anything he has to say in reply to the honourable member for Mallee can be said then.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, you and other honourable members will know that I said I thought that even members of the Opposition would agree with me that there are some secondary industries on which tariff protection is too high.
– What are they?
– I will not detail them at all at this stage. I will not fall for that. The honourable member for
Chifley, of course, thought this was an opportunity to interfere with my speech or throw me off the track. I suppose I have experienced as many interjections during my speeches as any man in the Parliament in the last 25 years.
– The honourable member for Sturt has been continually interjecting.
– I have not said a word.
– I have had to deal with him rather severely on occasions. My main aim in speaking this afternoon on this Bill was to submit to this Parliament that primary industry is still a vital element in the economy. A little while ago it accounted for about 80 per cent of our export. That figure has fallen a little but primary industry still accounts for the major proportion of exports from this country. The speeches which have been made by honourable members this afternoon touched only on secondary industries. One would think that secondary industries were the only industries which were affected at all, adversely or favourably, by tariffs. But the real point is that high tariff protection in certain secondary industries results in increased wages which in turn forced up prices. The brunt of all this is borne by primary industry. Without keeping the House much longer, let me say as I have said before, that in this House if one wants something done about a certain subject one has to keep hitting. No man can make a speech on tariffs today and in a fortnight or in 6 months time speak again without referring to the things he referred to earlier because they are not always changing. Tariffs are hardly changing at all. I want to see the position when an honourable member will be able to speak about the changing of the tariff barrier so that some tariffs which are so high will not lead to the making of such high profits. The Labor Party speaks out against profits but never deals at all with the cause of the high profits in any way. Then the unions move in but again the Labor Party never speaks against it. The Arbitration Court grants a rise which is detrimental to the nation. Only by the closest investigation all the time of tariff conditions in Australia can we hope to have our economy on a footing that will give primary industry the same opportunity as secondary industry, thus bringing greater prosperity to this nation.
Sitting suspended! from 5.49 to 8 p.m.
- Mr Speaker, it was quite remarkable to hear the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) denigrating decentralisation. I do not know whether he realised it, but by supporting this piece of legislation he was denigrating decentralisation. Among industries affected is the woven shirts industry which employs some 85,000 women throughout Australia, and quite a proportion of those women are engaged in decentralised industry. So by supporting this legislation the honourable member is doing harm to some segments of decentralised industry. Naturally I can understand members of the Liberal Party in this Parliament adopting that approach, because they are tied up with commercial interests, and some of those commercial interests would be importing interests. But it is very difficult to understand why members of the Australian Country Party support legislation which involves knocking the woven shirts industry about, that industry being, as I have said, one of the few decentralised secondary industries in Australia.
The honourable member for Mallee also stated that he had never heard anything from this side of the House about tariff assistance being given to primary industries. This is not the case. In past years 1 can remember many occasions on which I supported the introduction of tariff protection for citrus juices and other fruit juices. This occurred at times when there were large imports of these juices coming into Australia from other countries and we had surpluses in Australia. I can even remember the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope), who occupied the Chair prior to the suspension of the sitting for dinner, coming into this House one day when he was then the honourable member for Watson, standing up in his place and reading out a sheaf of telegrams which I had received, all objecting to the import of citrus juices into Australia. I can remember thinking that he was in the most unique position of ail honourable members; he owned a citrus orchard in the middle of Redfern. He supported me on that occasion, and I have no doubt that we received support from some members of the Country Party.
However, I think that the important issues before us tonight are the provisions contained in this Bill. I should like to support the attitudes taken in this1 matter by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), who spoke this afternoon. Of course, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) has been accused of being a free trader, although tonight he has denied it. Some people have even suggested - I do not know whether it is right - that he is the modest parliamentarian who writes in a certain journal. But, nevertheless, he has always advocated a drastic review of tariff policy. It depends upon what sort of review he is referring to. We on this side of the House, have never suggested that the tariff machinery, as it presently stands, is by any means perfect, that it does not need overhaul, and drastic overhaul. We believe that Australia should regularly review tariffs. But we also believe that foremost in our thinking should be the protection of Australian industry, Australian employment and Australia’s balance of payments position. I know that we have a very healthy balance of payments position at the present time, but do not let us delude ourselves. Most of our capital comes from the induction of overseas capital into Australia, and if there were to be any widespread withdrawal1 of that capital, this country in a period of 6 months - just as it was back in the early 1950s - could be faced with a very serious balance of payments position, and we would then be very much dependent upon industries, such as the woven shirts industry which some people think should be phased out.
I think that we should do as other countries do. When all is said and done, we can be very altruistic about this issue, but do not countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan make sure at all times that they give every possible incentive and protection to .their home industries? Why should we adopt the approach, which is different from the approach adopted by other countries, that our industries can go overboard, be phased out? In this regard I need refer only to the headline of an article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of Wednesday, 28th April 1971. It read: ‘Japan Hits at High Tariffs - ‘‘Excessively Protectionist” - Minister’. It referred to Japan’s Minister for International Trade and Industry. He criticised very strongly Australia’s policy on this question of tariff protection. I believe that there should be a reconstruction of the Tariff Board. I believe that the long delays which occur in making final decisions on tariff policy for particular industries and the lack of protection from Japanese imports which is created by these long delays cause a great deal of harm at different times to industries such as the woven shirts industry, as I shall point out later tonight.
I believe that the Tariff Board lacks the necessary staff to carry out the regular reviews of all tariffs which should be undertaken. The Board must be given the necessary qualified staff if it is to do its job adequately. As the honourable member for Lalor mentioned earlier, it is basically a planning agency, an agency to assist in the planning of our economy. Accordingly, it must have the wherewithal to do its job effectively. It is not doing that job today. For this reason I think it is extraordinary - once again as pointed out earlier by the honourable member for Lalor - that tariffs have existed in some industries from as far back as the 1929-30 period and they have never been reviewed. It is ridiculous to adopt the attitude that the conditions which obtained in those industries at that time exist in the industries today. So we should have a planning agency which regularly reviews the whole range of tariff policy in respect of all industries, and that agency must be equipped with adequate qualified staff to do the job.
Turning to the woven shirts industry to which I wish to address myself tonight, I think we must remember that some people believe that if we were to phase out this industry it would mean that the costs of the products manufactured by that industry would be lower in Australia; in other words, if we were to remove tariff protection, put the industry to the wall and allow shirts to be imported from overseas without any tariff protection being given to the local product, it would mean cheaper imports. What would really occur is that the exporters from the overseas countries and the importers in Australia would know that the Australian community would accept a certain level of prices. If they did not have competition from the Australian product the overseas exporters and the Australian importers would lift their margins to bring the prices into line with the prices being paid for the product today. This point is usually forgotten. In other words, the Australian industry acts as an adequate brake - a very efficient brake, as I will show later - against the introduction at high prices of the overseas products. It sets the pattern for the industry and for the prices which can be obtained here in Australia by the overseas producers. People tend to forget that circumstances would change if the Australian industry was sent to the wall altogether. In other words, it acts as an insurance policy and a guarantee to the Australian consumer.
We know that the problems of the woven shirt industry are being reviewed by the Tariff Board. An outside opinion was obtained from various academic circles; not a full time opinion but a part time opinion. Great objection was raised in public, in the Press and in this Parliament. I believe that this is very sound criticism because once again people are being brought in, no matter how highly qualified they may be academically, who have no practical experience within the industry, or in commerce and industry. I therefore submit that they are not in a position capably to assess the requirements of the industry. I have had a look at this industry. I have toured some of the factories because statements were being made that it was not only uneconomic but also inefficient. I defy any member of this House to visit one of those industrial establishments, see how it works and the equipment that is used, and then come back here and say that the industry is inefficient. The manufacturers are working on such fine margins that they have to be efficient and must use highly technical equipment. Otherwise they would not survive.
Let us face reality. The Australian manufacturers are far more efficient than their overseas counterparts who depend for survival on cheap labour, as I will demonstrate with the exact figures. As I said earlier, about 85,000 women are employed in the industry. I would stand correction on these figures because I have accepted them from the industry. I am told that about 60 per cent of those women are migrants. Certainly a large proportion of them would find it very difficult to work in other sectors of industry. A large proportion also work in decentralised establishments in the country. In my electorate alone Whitmonts employ 700 women. If that industry goes to the wall 700 women will be out of work in one town. How would it get on? Do not worry about the large manufacturers. If the Australian industry goes to the wall they will became importers.
– They will go to Hong Kong.
– Possibly they will go to Hong Kong, manufacture there and import the products into this country; or they might go to another country, set up their industrial establishments there, manufacture and export to Australia. They would use cheap labour. Alternatively they could purchase overseas and export to Australia. The power behind the big organisations ensures that they will not suffer. It will be the workers here in Aus tralia who suffer, and the people who buy the products, because the brake will be removed that has set the pattern for the whole industry and its price structure. I am glad that the honourable member for McMillan is agreeing with me.
In the time left to me I would like to cite some figures to show what is happening in the industry. They have been supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician and I hope they will not be queried in any respect. The term ‘other shirts’ refers to shirts that are not wholly cotton. In 1966, 9,000 dozen other shirts were imported from Hong Kong; in 1967, 13,000 dozen; in 1968, 64,000 dozen; in 1969, 85,000 dozen; in 1970, there was a drop to 42,000 dozen, the reason for which does not come to mind at the moment but could be easily obtained; in 1971, 87,200 dozen; and for the first 5 months of this financial year, 75,000 dozen. The figures relate to shirts other than those which are wholly cotton. I emphasise that for the year ended 30th June 1971 imports were 87,200 dozen and for the first 5 months of this financial year imports amounted to 75,000 dozen. Those figures will give honourable members an idea of what is happening. In 1968, 10,000 dozen other shirts were imported from Korea; in 1969, 4,000 dozen; in 1970, 7,000 dozen; and in 1971, 38,200 dozen. I do not have the latest figures. Imports increased dramatically from 7,000 dozen in 1970 to 38,200 dozen in the year ended 30th June 1971.
I will now give the total Australian share of the market. In 1968 it was 94.4 per cent; in 1969, 91.7 per cent; in 1970, 93 per cent; in 1971, 86.9 per cent; and in the first 5 months of this financial year, 79.3 per cent. Between June 1970 and June 1971 Australia’s share of the market dropped by 6.1 per cent and in the first 5 months of this financial year it has dropped a further 7.6 per cent. If the trend continues the drop for this year will be IS per cent. Information I have obtained in the trade shows that it is likely that the drop will become greater in the following 7 months.
I turn now to consider the wage rates paid overseas as compared with those paid in Australia. In Singapore it is 24c an hour including fringe benefits; in Hong Kong, 20c an hour including fringe benefits; in South Korea, 8c an hour including fringe benefits; in Taiwan, 13c an hour including fringe benefits; and in Australia $1.33 an hour plus 21 per cent fringe benefits.
– And a 4-day working week.
– Yes. In my electorate a 4-day working week has just been introduced and both employees and employers are very satisfied with it. In Singapore there is a 44-hour working week. In Hong Kong people work SO hours, in South Korea 48 hours, in Taiwan 60 hours and in Australia 40 hours. Is it any wonder that people are saying: ‘For heavens sake let us look after Australian conditions and Australian industry.’? Why must we be so altruistic in our attitudes? The fact is that if this industry is wiped out, ultimately we will pay more for our shirts even though we import them from these cheap labour countries. The importer will not have that watchdog over his activities that he has in Australia today. I ask that this question be very closely considered by the Government and the Parliament. I believe that at all times we must consider the protection of Australian employment, particularly in this time of rising unemployment, and the protection of Australian industry. I particularly ask that the Government give very serious consideration to the great distress that will occur in this industry if these policies of the Tariff Board are pursued
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sir WINTON TURNBULL (Mallee)- I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) has misrepresented me in saying that I had advocated tariff protection for primary industry in this speech. I did not speak of tariffs in regard to primary industry. I advocated price support for primary industry exports to balance the economy between Australian primary and secondary industries.
Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley)- I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I think the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) misunderstood me. What I stated was that he had suggested that members of the Australian Labor Party had not advocated at any stage tariff protection for primary industry. I pointed out that this was not the case, that on many occasions in this House I had advocated it, particularly for the citrus industry and that the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) had also, even though he comes from Redfern.
– These tariff proposals are important to the economic life of the country. If there had been no tariff, Australia would still be largely a farm and a quarry. Tariffs have been the foundation of our secondary industry and are essential for the survival of large parts of it. Manufacturing industry is closely interrelated. Great industries cannot exist in isolation. Some of the essential associated industries may not themselves be economic, but they may be vital to a large export industry. By 1977 our manufactured exports will have to contribute approximately S2,000m a year out of a total export income in the vicinity of S7,000m. This means that manufactured exports must double in the next 5 years. If we are to achieve this, we must, among other things, control our tariffs wisely. We must increase the breadth as well as the depth of our secondary industry.
Incidentally, tariffs are not decided by the Tariff Board, as the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) implied. The Tariff Board investigates and recommends and the Government and this House decide. Tariffs are a vital function of government. If tariffs are too low, great industries may be crippled or destroyed. If they are too high, they may damage competition. Competition, I would remind honourable members opposite, is a far more efficient form of prices control and hence control of one aspect of inflation, than the arbitrary fixing of prices by bureaucrats, a solution much favoured by honourable members opposite. This type of arbitrary fixing of prices, even if it were constitutionally possible - something about which many people, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), have very serious doubts - would be quite ineffective without quality control as well. The army of public servants necessary for this staggers the imagination.
A further danger of a tariff which is too high is that it fragments the industry and produces a large number of inefficient production units instead of a small number of efficient units. Witness the motor industry mentioned by the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). Judicious tariffs will reduce the likelihood of fragmentation. The setting of these tariffs-
– Are you telling us that the motor industry is fragmented?
– It is very fragmented. There are far too many manufacturers in the industry for efficiency. Tariffs must preserve economic and efficient Australian industries and at the same time provide sufficient external competition for our industries, particularly in cases where there is inadequate internal competition. Meeting these twin objectives requires delicate judgment which can be reached only after a detailed study of all the implications, direct and indirect. If this House is to make wise judgments on these matters, we need more detailed information on the ramifications and changes in tariffs than is provided in the Tariff Board reports before us.
The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) has promised, as part of the general review of tariffs, more detailed and systematic Tariff Board reports. I hope they will soon be forthcoming. What does the Opposition propose? Its members display some fairly primitive attitudes such as that expressed by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). Without too much paraphrasing, he said: 1 do not know what these tariffs are all about but I am all for them.’ The honourable member for Lalor - I agree with many of the points he made - has gone on record as saying that the Australian Labor Party in office or out of office will support a policy which will protect inefficient and uneconomic industries in this country rather than have a shortage of employment opportunities. I do not know which Australian Labor Party the honourable member was speaking for when he said that. It is certainly not the same Party as the Leader of the Opposition is heading. I presume it was the left hand one of the six or seven parts of the ALP. As a doctrine, this is a perfect recipe for long term structural unemployment. But I suppose honourable members opposite feel a close and understandable affinity for inefficient and uneconomic organisations.
Another interesting definition was presented by the honourable member for Lalor. The present Government policy is the protection of economic and efficient industries. The honourable member for Lalor has said that an industry is economic and efficient if it has the most modern equipment and has skilled labour. No mention is made of whether it is economically sensible for Australia to have such an industry because of the availability of raw materials, power, transport facilities or all the other things that determine whether an industry is economic. No mention is made of the productivity of the labour employed. Because these are truly the economic views of the honourable member for Lalor, not only is he not fit to be a Labor government Minister for Trade and Industry, but also it would seem unlikely that he could make a good fist of funning a roadside pie stall. He would probably put his well equipped pie stall beside a road which carried no traffic.
– Order! The honourable member for Wills will cease interjecting. I suggest to the honourable member for Isaacs that he not reflect by imputation or otherwise upon the ability of the honourable member for Lalor.
– The tariff problem is a serious one. I hope that the Minister for Trade and Industry will expedite a general review of the level of tariffs for this is an efficient weapon in the control of inflation. I support the proposed tariff changes:
– I support the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and other honourable members on this side of the House who have spoken in this debate. I think the comments of the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) regarding the honourable member for Lalor were in poor taste. I was not able to understand the analogy about pie stalls, but I can assure the House that if the honourable member for Isaacs had one-hundredth of the grasp of this subject as the honourable member for Lalor has, he would know something about tariffs’. The Customs Tariff Bill provides for amendments to the Customs Tariff Act. Contained in a number of schedules is the virtual substance of the Act and the amendments before the House.
One point I want to make - and I have made it many times in this Parliament - is the great difficulty I have, and I am certain everyone else has, in really getting one’s teeth into the problem before the House, f have the gravest of suspicions that nobody here, including members of the Government, has the detail or the data to enable him to pass judgments on the actual items set out in the amendments in this Bill. Let me take at random, for example, the duty of $550 per ton on polyethylene glycols having an average molecular weight of 1,500 or less. I would say that this is double Dutch to everybody in the House bar a few who happen to have had some training in engineering, science or applied science. I cannot imagine members of the Cabinet gathering round the table and discussing polyethy lene having, a density at 23° C of less man 0.941 gramme per millimetre and arriving, at the grave decision of $630 per ton or 90 per cent of SVD. This is the sort of issue which is dfficult to understand yet we in the Parliament have to debate it intelligently.
Everybody who has spoken before me has made a speech in general terms on tariffs. Members have discussed various tariffs, the incidence of tariff and its effect on the economy. This is the kind of speech that we hear every time this debate takes place. I do not believe that we can be criticised for this. Unless one has an interest in a particular component or item it is extremely difficult to debate a subject or subjects intelligently from the reports which are made available to us. I have no doubt that if one wants certain information it can be made available in more detail by the Tariff Board itself. But this is a problem. It is a problem whose existence has to be admitted.
I do not know how the Cabinet arrives at or affirms these decisions. I cannot imagine any body of twelve or fourteen men getting around a table and deliberating on some of these items. The important point is that some items, no matter how complex they may seem in terms of names, can represent thousands, if not millions, of dollars a year in subsidy. But they are glossed over in debates like this. It does not matter whether we are for or against a proposal or whether an increase or decrease in tariff is recommended. We accept the recommendation unless we have a lobby such as we had in the case of cherry processing. We took a great interest in cherry processing and the Government changed its mind because we were able to follow the logical argument that if a particular type of cherry processing were stopped, it would have an effect on the employment, community and business leaders that would be felt right through the local economy. But unless someone is really lobbying for a proposal we just have to accept that proposal and make generalisations. I will be no exception to that because if an honourable member were to talk at some length on one component in the schedule he might well have spared himself the effort for all the knowledge or understanding honourable members would gain from his speech.
As I have said, the overall problem in debates such as this is to secure sufficient data in respect of the amendments we are considering. Indeed, it is accepted practice to have a general debate on the tariff itself. But certain basic principles are involved. As I see it, the most unsatisfactory part of Tariff Board decisions is the question of to what degree the .Board ever looks at the ramifications of its decisions. I draw the analogy of a railway line. There may be a long distance line which is highly efficient in terms .of the total and is a sound revenue earning asset. But a section of the line may be highly .inefficient. Again, it is like the chain processes which make up a major industry with all its different components. -For example, the motor car industry has servicing industries and all sorts of supplementary and complementary industries. Let us say that the Tariff Board passes judgment on one of those components, or alternatively passes judgment generally on the overall industry. To what degree does the Tariff Board take into account its decision on the component industries, or the servicing industries, which manufacture ball bearings or something of the kind? Does the Tariff Board consider that they have any general application to the overall problem? There are in fact direct problems.
We have talked tonight about the shirt industry. Most speakers confined their remarks to the particular problem of shirts and to the direct effects. They talked about the manufacture of shirts and the effect that tariff policy has on the employment in that industry. I go further than that and raise the question of the raw materials which are used to make the shirts. These raw materials include cellulose, acrylics, polyester, nylon and raw cotton. The indirect effects of tariff decisions also must be considered because a decision on cotton shirts not only affects the employment of processors, spinners and people who work in the factories but also the employment of people who are directly concerned with the cotton industry itself. I talk here not only of the farmer but also of the community which forms the nucleus of cotton production. Therefore, such a decision spreads throughout the industry. It may also extend to the fertiliser industry and so forth. This is what worries me about the Tariff Board making decisions on established industries. The Tariff Board, in making a decision, should look at the ancillary effects. It needs to consider the direct effects and the indirect effects. I believe that such a consideration is most important.
We often hear arguments put forward in regard to -industries manufacturing washing machines, refrigerators or motor cars. Surely the most important criteria from an established industry’s point of view is what will be the effect of that tariff. The Australian Labor Party is quite adamant in its view that if a Tariff Board decision causes people to be put out of employment without any alternative the tariff should stay until alternatives are made available. It is all right to say, as academic economists often point out, that we can transfer our resources to a low cost industry defined by the Tariff Board. But let them name those low cost industries. The great difference between academic economists and the politician or administrator is that the economists pan .always .argue ‘Yes, mobility of resources; mobility of land, labour and capital’. But when it comes to moving the factors of production the task is not so easy.
Another matter I want to raise is this: To what degree does the Tariff Board take into account international policies? It is quite obvious that international policies in trade today are becoming more and more important with respect to domestic decisions in Australia. Speakers on this side of the House have emphasised, for example, the effect of cheap goods coming into Australia. They have pointed out what the effects would be. I have always been a subscriber to having multilateral trade as much as possible rather than bilateral trade. An exception would be in a case where 2 countries such as New Zealand and Australia can enter into some type of mutual agreement. But I believe that problems arise with tariffs when we have bilateral arrangements.
Let me give a specific example of which I have had experience in the last few months. I refer to the subject of trade between China and Australia. We all would like to see expanded trade with China. But the type of products we can sell to China is limited wheat, wool and semi-finished mineral products. But the representatives of China made it quite clear to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and myself when we were there that they would expect Australia to play its part and to take some of China’s products. What products can China export under a bilateral arrangement? I bought back from China a pair of pure leather shoes which cost 92c Australian. These are beautiful handmade leather shoes. I also brought back with me excellent shirts, some of which were made of silk, some from cotton and some from acrylics. These shirts cost 20c to 25c. One can buy silk ties for 6c or 7c each. This is the type of commodity that China can supply to us, providing it is a 2-way agreement. Should we allow these types of products into Australia? That is the basic problem. The general consumer will say: ‘Yes, let us have these products’. But this then creates a major problem with respect to employment and it spreads right through our processing industries and our primary industries. If any Government adopted a laissez faire approach in many instances and followed these principles, it should be made very clear that instead of having 13 million people in Australia we would probably have 2 million. What manufacturing industries today can get by without a tariff?
– About 40 per cent.
– The honourable member for Wakefield is always talking about this, but let him get up in the House and name the important industries that can get by without a tariff.
– The honourable member might as well say soft drinks, too. I am talking about major industries and capital goods industries. I cannot stress too much that the multilateral system of trade is the one that we have to try to evolve in international trading. In this instance we can sell our wheat and our wool to China. At the same time we can have protectionism for our secondary industries, providing we have a multilateral system of trading with other countries like America and Japan. The honourable member for Wakefield used Sweden as an example. He said that there are only a small number of motor car assembly plants in Sweden and therefore there is a lower cost of production curve. He also made the point that 75 per cent of Swedish cars are exported. But I do not know whether he has looked at the origin of exports. The great majority of these exports are made in the vicinity, to the Common Market countries and countries of the European Free Trade Association.
– A lot go to America.
– But not as many as to Europe. Some come to Australia, as honourable members are aware. I do not think that that is an answer. If the honourable member likes to argue that way I will agree with him. Obviously, if we had only one motor car industry in Australia and we did not change the model every year - in other words, we simply manufactured a motor car we would reduce the cost of production of motor cars by probably 40 per cent, 50 per cent or 60 per cent over a time. But I understand that that is the type of production which members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party do not like. They like free enterprise. They like to have a hundred and one varieties of models with as much fragmentation as possible. The honourable member for Wakefield is arguing about centralisation and having only one industry. We will admit you will get a lower cost of production that way. But this seems to be arguing against the principles which honourable members on the other side of the House stand for.
It is quite true that a greater volume of throughput in relation to fixed costs reduces the average cost curve. We know this. But is that what the Government wants? Does it want to stop the fragmentation of the motor car industry and have one industry or one assembly plant? If the Government wants that it should say so. But I am quite certain that it will not receive much support from this side of the House. We believe in efficient large scale units and in creating as much employment as we can throughout Australia. Diversification is essential for the balanced growth of this nation. As I see it. one of the basic problems of tariff protection is that, with respect to established industries, certain criteria have been laid down. It is in the established industries that the problems arise. Once the Government starts monkeying around reducing tariffs, unless it has alternatives for the resources that will Se displaced it is going to have serious regional and political problems. That is a fact of life. It is no good talking in airy fairy terms, as the academics do, about changing our resources and moving our resources from high cost to low cost industries unless one can say what the alternatives are and how mobilisation can be done. Let us remember this: A lot of fixed costs are involved not only in the commodity or industry concerned but in the community generally. Hospitals, roads, schools, the infrastructure and whole communities could be involved. The Australian Labor Party does not stand for a policy of simply reducing drastically a subsidy or a tariff that will indirectly smash the infrastructure of a community unless there is some viable and accepted alternative.
The second problem is with respect to new industries. This is where I believe the Tariff Board or the machinery behind the Tariff Board is inadequate. It does not give any attention to the establishment of infant industries. It is not until industry, or a particular component of industry, is on its feet that it really comes before the notice of the Tariff Board. One of the great functions of tariffs, as was seen from the Brigden report after the depression days, is to help Australian infant industries to grow and develop, providing they are using resources efficiently within the criteria laid down by government policy.
One of the emotional arguments put forward is to compare the levels of tariff protection and then to appeal to the consumer. This is the great argument put forward by the opponents of subsidies to primary industry. Every time we have a debate on wheat, wool, dairying or eggs and other rural industries the opponents get up and talk about the ‘taxpayers’ expense’. But what about the tariffs? Has anybody worked out what is the tariff subsidy in this document, the Customs Tariff Bill alone? 1 would not have a clue, and I do not think anybody else has a clue. But if someone said to me ‘It is $ 1,000m’, that could be right. I do not know. But certainly it would be a very high figure.
Of course, the critics will say: ‘Why manufacture refrigerators in Australia?
There is probably a 40 per cent duty on them. Why not import refrigerators? Why manufacture any television sets in Australia? Why not import them? Why manufacture any motor cars in Australia? As somebody said today, the tariff component there is probably anything from $600 to $900 a motor car. I could go through the list. It is completely fallacious to compare the wage standards in Australia with the wage standards in China, Hong Kong or anywhere else. As far as Australia is concerned, the wage standard is fixed to give the wage earner and his family a good or a reasonable living. It is on that criterion that we have to base our tariff policies. So it is completely fallacious simply to argue that because we can import a shirt from China or Hong Kong for 20c we must scrap all our cotton and processing industries in Australia to import cheap shirts. If we adopt such a laissez faire practice, instead of having 13 million people in Australia we will finish up having about 2 million, and most of them will be based on primary industries such as wool, wheat and a few secondary industries, and ancilliary tertiary industries. I would like to have spoken tonight about tertiary industries because ‘the tertiary industries employ more people than either the secondary or the primary industries. It is the tertiary industries that are dependent to a great degree on sensible and sound tariff policy. We can see that, with the slump in some of the cities today. That is caused by a lag in demand due, to a large degree, to the slump in primary industry that has occurred in the last 2 years.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– A tariff debate is always an unsatisfactory debate because, regrettably, there are so few people in this House who will take the trouble really to try to examine what is the reason behind the fact that we have any tariff at all. The Bill before the House is not one that we debate in detail - there has been some talk today about shirts and a few other things - but one on which we can get down to philosophies. In philosophies unfortunately men are unpredictable.
When the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) concluded his speech he was touching on the tertiary industries.
Tertiary industries are admittedly the greatest employers of people in Australia but they are also the industries most responsible for putting up prices in Australia. Manufacturing industry is blamed quite unfairly for increasing prices. Manufacturing industry has to put up with a certain amount of blackmail from unions; if they are to keep on progressing in business they have to accede to demands which are quite unreasonable but which are understandable in the overall picture of the Australian economy. We all want to get as much for our labour as we possibly can. One of the human frailties is that we all like to think we are worth a lot more than we really are.
– That is a virtue.
– The Minister says that it is a virtue, not a frailty. Tertiary industries do not have to worry about tariffs. Tariffs affect only half the people of Australia, but they affect these people so enormously that I am amazed that any Australian can carry the opinions that some Australians do, opposing the preservation in Australia of something that has been built up with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
A previous speaker mentioned the Brigden report Let me go back to the early history of tariffs. Australia has always been, and I am quite convinced that it will continue to be, a major primary producing country. Because of our peculiar capability of producing wheat, meat, wool and butter - perhaps I should say dairy products because there are more valuable dairy products than butter in the world today we have a responsibility to the rest of the world. There is talk about dumping a lot of eggs in the sea because we cannot sell them in Australia at a price which will show a profit for the producers. This is completely crazy. Australia basically is a primary producing nation, but any nation can develop over a period of years. We talk about underdeveloped countries, emerging countries. Australia stands in the middle of the picture. We claim, in the discussions that go on in the world, the right to be considered as a developing country and the right to be considered also as an industrial country. This creates a very difficult situation.
While we were emerging from our purely primary industry foundation, we ran into the First World War. It was then found that it was necessary, for national defence and national preservation, to manufacture in Australia a lot of things that we had been used to importing. The nation could not have lived through that period unless there had been people willing to start backyard industries, to turn their lathes and other instruments to the benefit of the country. After the First World War industries were encouraged and there was great development. I gained my business experience in that period, in the 1920s. The Australian has always had a complex about buying cheap goods. If he could get something at a low price he did not give a damn how bad it was. If he could buy an imported screwdriver for a shilling less than it cost to buy one made in Australia, it did not matter to him if the screwdriver turned only half a dozen screws before turning over on the head or before its handle became loose. If an imported article cost a dollar less than a locally manufactured one, that was a good thing.
In the 1930s we ran into a lot of trouble. Unfortunately there are too few people in this House who remember the 1930s and the difficulties we had. Many people, including myself, were out of work. If a person could manage to get a job he hung on to it like grim death. He did not turn round and say to the boss:’That’s all right, I can get another job tomorrow. I will just walk off the job’. He could not do that. People were leaning on shovels and just taking handouts. This was typical throughout Australia. I lived through this period, but I did not take the handouts. I managed to keep alive on my own initiative, thank God.
These conditions meant that something had to be done, and it was a Labor government which, to its credit, took some action. It was the Scullin tariffs that established the manufacturing industries of Australia. I. can remember competitors in the field of goods I was handling who were producing really very poor products compared with what was being imported. A lot of people who lived through those times still have the impression that if something is imported it must be better than the locally produced article. But the Scullin Government, by making a terrific boost in the amount of tariff protection that it gave to manufacturers, encouraged industries to get out of the backyard stage that was a feature of industrial development during the First World War. Thousands of manufacturers in business today owe their establishment to the fact that they were asked by the Government of the day, during the First World War as ‘well as the Second World War, to produce for the benefit of Australia so mat we would not be dependent on the rest of the world. Now I find that some people in Australia are prepared to take away this wonderful asset that Australia has built up.
When I commenced my speech I said that Australia in the early days depended on primary industry, but we also have a great potential as an industrial and manufacturing country. I will not go into detail, although I could spend a lot of time talking on the future of Australia as a mineral producing country. The wealth that is available in Australia from our raw materials, basic minerals, and even our oil if only the Government would give us some encouragement to find more oil, is enormous. But in this debate we are talking about the manufacturing section of industry. People have been saying nasty things about me Broken Hill .Pty Co. Ltd for putting up its prices. BHP has done a tremendous job for this country. It does not want any tariffs on its basic steel. It produces the cheapest steel in the world. It can compete in most steel products, but for some unknown reason we are completely out of court when it comes to competing with the world in certain products, such as stainless steel.
To encourage an industry over its whole range it is often necessary to fix a rate of duty which gives encouragement to an industry to supply a wide range of products. Many people seem to be saying today that we should make only those things that we are particularly good at making. The honourable members for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) said that bricks do not need any protection. What sort of protection do you think you would get from shipping rates if you tried to import bricks from some other part of the world? You do not need tariff protection on a line like that but you do need it in industries that are dependent on a high labour content and which do not have a self-made protection because the size -or weight of the commodity makes it too clumsy to be transported around the world. Those industries have a natural protection.
We have many industries ‘that are very capable of producing satisfactory products which are essential to the health and welfare of this .country. If we neglect those industries and do as some of our people would have us do, that is, just push them to one side and say: ‘No, I will have the imported article’, then we will be the loser as a nation. We will not develop into a country which can encourage the ‘employment opportunities that we are holding out to the migrants we are asking to come to Australia. I am sometimes amazed when I hear my colleagues speak on this subject The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) got into a little bit of discussion about the Swedish manufacturing industry. How can anyone possibly compare Australia with Sweden, an old, honourable and very efficient country, small in size which has some remarkably good industries? Sweden makes the best enamelware in the world, the best ball-bearings and the best of many other things. I know that from my own experience. Sweden has the capability because it has had years of craftsmanship and it has for years supplied a quality article. Sweden has only a very small population and it does not .have the same problem that Australia has in the distribution of products.
As was rightly said, Sweden has on its doorstep an export market in the European countries. It is a ready made market. When we want to export our goods we have to go thousands of miles to find a market. Yet we hear speeches from people in this place who do not seem to realise that if our manufacturers wish to export they have to go to the world markets as they are doing now very successfully. It is quite notable that Australia is manufacturing so many things today. We can sell fishing rods to Japan. We supply most of Japan’s golf clubs and things like that.
– You have not looked at the trade statistics.
– If you want a good set of clubs go to Japan.
– They will be Australian clubs that you buy in Japan. The Australian manufacturing industries are reaching out into the rest of the world at a great disadvantage. They can do this only by costing and putting their prices on a marginal basis. The local market has to absorb the fixed costs to take in all the overheads. This is exactly what has been done overseas for centuries. Australia is waking up to this but unfortunately too many critics of Australian manufacture are not aware of this. Other countries have been doing this for years with tied local markets which they marginally cost. This enables them to get through-put which gives them a unit cost of production which permits them to offer materials to the rest of the world at a very attractive price. Australian manufacturers have done this. I have not sufficient time in this debate but I could name dozens of manufacturers who have adopted this policy must successfully, and they are the boys who win the export awards. But we do not seem to realise that they can do this only if they have the protection to be able to keep their local industries going. I come back to the Volvo car. It is a wonderful and lovely car.
– Do you have one?
– Not me.
– I have.
– You ought to be ashamed of yourself because anybody who prefers to pay the wages for people who work in a Swedish, Japanese or German factory or anywhere else instead of paying the wages for somebody working in an Australian factory is not a true Australian.
– Does that apply to suits?
– This applies to suits. I have not worn an imported suit since my teenage days when I used to think I was getting better by buying English Simpson suits. I can buy dozens of makes of suits here. Australian suit manufacturers can compete on the London market. We can supply suits to America. There are people in America who want pure wool suits that they can get from Australia. One factory in my electorate produces suit material which it exports to America, Hong Kong and many other countries. Australia can do it if we in this place realise that we have to support Australian manufacturers and not send our money overseas.
– To Hong Kong?
– To Hong Kong and to other places. What about the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam)? He had his picture in the paper only quite recently and it was said he had his clothes made - not just his suits - in Hong Kong. He is supposed to represent the Australian worker.
– On his salary, too.
– He can afford it. I have not time to develop that point any further. There are a few other things I would like to say about it but I will defer it until another opportunity arises. For goodness’ sake let us, as Australians, forget all about the fight between primary industry and manufacturing industry. The farmers say that they have to pay too much for their farm machinery because somebody has tariff protection on reapers, binders and everything else. If people are going to become so isolationist that they think only about their own little problems Australia will never progress. Manufacturers have to live; primary producers have to live. One point I would like to develop is that people who are getting extremely high wages in the manufacturing industry, with average earnings of $95 a week, ought to be prepared to pay much more than they pay now for the food that the primary producers of Australia go to a lot of trouble to give them for very little return.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) and I are on the same side. I think he misunderstood one particular point that I was trying to make by way of interjection with regard to the Volvo car. One essential difference between this car and all other Australian makes of car is that the Volvo company is one company - that has bothered about motor vehicle - safety. I think that most Australians today are buying the vehicle because it is, without question, the safest vehicle that isavailable on the Australian market at a. reasonable price. I personally put the safety- of myself and my family above a little bit of patriotism in that particular motor car. I do not wish to disagree with the honourable member for McMillan. I would be fundamentally in agreement with him on almost all that he said.
However, I want to speak about the clothing industry. Having read in detail the 2 Tariff Board reports on woven shirts and knitted shirts I am rather concerned because it seems to me that the clothing industry in Australia is under serious attack. It may be some time before these proposals are implemented, but nevertheless it is opportune that we should debate this matter now as though the proposals were to be introduced in the next few weeks. I do not think that the Tariff Board, despite the impressive weight of evidence that it has heard - I have read one report very closely and the other fairly quickly - really understands the fashion business or, as it is popularly known, the rag trade. Throughout history the rag trade has had a special place in industry because it is in this industry that the small man can start in a way that he cannot start in many other industries, such as the motor car industry, the steel industry and a whole range of other industries. The clothing industry has been a refuge for the migrant, not in Australia alone but in all countries. In the United States of America the clothing industry was started at the turn of the century by the great wave of Jewish immigration that took place, and later on the Italians entered the industry. It has been an industry for the refugee. It is the closest thing we have in Australia to what one might call a cottage industry. A person can start clothing manufacturing in his own home. I know of one prominent manufacturer who today is a millionaire who, just prior to World War II, assisted by his wife, started sewing in his own home. Today he has one of the biggest industries of this kind in Australia. Clothing manufacturing can be commenced with very little capital and this cannot be done in many other industries in a similar way.
Another aspect of the clothing industry is the varying size of the establishment involved. A manufacturer can employ 5, 10, 50, 100 or 1,000 people, and this is a valuable asset in this day and age when we are looking for means of decentralising industry. The clothing industry can be shifted out into country towns and into the new cities that we are hoping to start next year when the Australian Labor Party becomes the Government. It is a highly competitive industry. It is probably the most competitive industry that exists in this country or in the world. It is accepted by everyone that the. clothing industry is a cut throat competitive industry. It is highly susceptible to changes, more so in recent years in Australia than ever before. Until the mid-1950s a shirt - I am talking mostly about woven shirts and business shirts - was a shirt, was a shirt, was a shirt. One wore a white shirt and that was pretty well the only choice one had. But since the mid-1950s there has been a radical change in the fashion industry. Just look around this house. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Garrick) is wearing a blue shirt; the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) is wearing a nice pale orange shirt and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) has on a pale blue shirt.
– What about my yellow one?
– Even the honourable member for Grayndler, of all people, is wearing other than a white shirt, which indicates just how fast a revolutionary change can occur. In that period of time we have had coloured shirts, striped shirts, short sleeved and long sleeved shirts, double cuffs, tapered shirts, body shirts and a dozen different collar styles as well. In the field of sport shirts in the last 12 years, 13 years or 14 years a complete new range of shirts has come on the market every season. In 1958 there was no such thing as a knitted shirt. The only garment that resembled a knitted shirt was the tennis shirt. Since then we have had spots, stripes, paisleys, checks, tartans and short and long sleeved shirts. We have had see-throughs, boat necks, jack shirts, safari shirts and a hundred other different patterns, styles and fashions.
As I mentioned earlier, the manufacturing side of the industry is highly competitive. If we are to examine the price structure of this industry as it affects Australians we should look at some of the retailers and some of the practices they get up to. Any retailer who knows his business knows what is happening with pricing in each field. It is a competitive industry because if a manufacturer goes into a retailer’s store with a range of shirts, that retailer, if he knows his business, will be able to price the garment to within 20c of its value. There is no way in the world that a manufacturer can walk in and get an extra dollar out of a retailer, unless the retailer is a dope and, believe me, there are not many dopes in the retail clothing business. The manufacturer is subject to a squeeze because if things are a bit tight, the retailer will be able to get his business by squeezing the manufacturer down a little in price. The manufacturer must give advertising assistance to many retailers, particularly the large ones, and he must give most extended credit terms to a good number of the smaller retailers as well as the bigger retailers in the industry.
I mentioned earlier some of the rackets which operate in the industry. I think that if we are to talk about controlling and reducing prices, we should examine some of the gimmicks that our retailers get up to. One of the favourite ploys concerns the labelling of a shirt. AH a retailer has to do is to go to the manufacturer and get designed a label which says: ‘Styled in Italy for Joe Bloggs’. The word ‘styled’ is printed in small letters and the word ‘Italy’ is in large letters and the retailer can double the price because there is no way of questioning that label. This racket could involve a well known brand of shirt. The retailer could get a well known brand, put his own label on it and jack up the price by $1, $2 or $3. Of course, I would not like to mention the name of anyone in the clothing industry who is involved in this racket, but I know of many instances where this occurs and where a shirt will sell in one store for $8 and in another the same shirt, with a 3c, a 4c or a 5c label affixed, will sell for $15 or $13.
– Of course it is a shame. It is blatant profiteering and the shrewdies are up to it. This happens a lot. It happens among the big retailers, although perhaps not to the same extent and with the same sort of margins, but it does happen throughout much of the industry. It is not something that the manufacturer can do because the retailer knows his trade too well to be caught. However, the retailer can do it because the consumer is not as aware or as familiar with the industry as is the retailer dealing with the manufacturer.
I want to build a case for the smaller manufacturer because the essence of the Tariff Board report seems to be that a small number of manufacturers produce the great bulk of woven shirts, and probably the same situation applies in the knitted shirt field. The smaller manufacturer provides a great service to the industry because he is not geared up for long-term production. In the clothing industry, manufacturers work 6 months, 9 months and 12 months ahead. People in the industry would now be manufacturing next summer’s goods. They will be showing their summer ranges in a few weeks time. They would have bought their merchandise overseas last July, August or September. Having purchased their fabrics, they have returned to Australia, selected their styles and designs and have started to put their first ranges through to show to the trade at this time of the year. However, the small manufacturer - the little man with 20, 30 or 40 employees - is capable of providing a quick change in fashion and fashion is the essence of the clothing trade today. Honourable members will be familiar with how well stocked are our stores with highly fashionable clothes and how important this is to the young people of today. Quick changes in fashion occur; they happen in a matter of weeks. Someone gets a new idea - it could be see-through shirts - and in a matter of weeks there is a demand for see-through shirts. Only the small manufacturer is geared to this quick change. The big manufacturer cannot meet it. I believe the small manufacturer provides a very great service both to the retailer and to the consumer. He is able to give specialty manufacturing. I do not mean the specialty manufacturing I was talking about before involving the quick change of the label but he is able to make up to order what a retailer will require. He is able to provide special singles in a way one can never get with a big firm. A person with a thick neck, big body and funny waist can get specialty orders from a small manufacturer. He is geared to give this special service but a larger manufacturer cannot do it because of the type of production I was talking about.
It seemed to me that the report classified more by price than by fashion, and that the members of the Board had no real understanding of fashion trends although they were not unaware of them. I wish to quote from page 5 of the report because it deals with companies about which I have some knowledge. Under the heading capacity’ it said:
Pelaco, the largest shirt manufacturer known to the Board, had a capacity, at the time of the public hearing, to produce about 165,000 dozen shirts per annum in its 4 plants, i.e. about 10 per cent of the industry’s production. Its capacity has since been reduced.
A similar sort of statement was made about Crystal. It continued:
Paramount, Van Heusen, Whitmont and several other companies had increased their capacity substantially in recent years or had plans for substantial increases . . . Some companies said that their plans for the latter were dependent on the outcome of this inquiry.
I did not want to mention the names of brands because it sounds like I am doing advertisements, but from my experience I would think that the earlier companies have slipped behind in the fashion field and this is one of the reasons for their drop in production. The last 3 companies mentioned - one of them, Whitmont, is in the electorate of the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) - are amongst the best in the field. They are on the ball and smart aggressive merchandisers and are reaping the results. But others are not as aggressive and are slipping behind. They will probably come good again - they are too experienced not to. These statements were logical and bear out what I have been saying rather than contradict it. As the honourable member for Chifley said, one particular firm - although this is getting a little off the track - -Whitmonts had introduced a 4-day working week and every report indicates it is a raging success both for the employers and the employees. If we eliminate 75 per cent of manufacturers we do the Australian manufacturer, the wholesaler, the retailer and the consumer a great disservice.
Apart from the obvious failure of many businesses this will cause and the resultant loss of employment, it will place the fate of clothing prices in the hands of too few. One of the things we are concerned with in this country is price fixing. This does not occur >n the industry. I have never experienced any example of price fixing. There is too wide a spread of competition and there is always someone in the clothing industry who will get under other manufacturers if there was an attempt to fix prices. There are, of course, cases where prices come out about the same because in items like socks and jeans and other basic garments it is almost impossible to lower prices. Prices are down to rock bottom for basic things of that nature. But as a general rule I see little example of anything that resembles price fixing. A vast area of quality fashion goods will disappear from the stores of Australia. 1 explained this before when I talked about the little manufacturers. I do not believe the big manufacturers can supply the wide variety of specialised merchandise that is required in Australian stores today. The selection available in Australian shops is amongst the best in the world.
The honourable member for McMillan mentioned before that Australian manufacturers were good. I would say they are better than that; they superb - not all of them but ‘the great majority. There has been a tremendous improvement in fashion, style and quality in the last 10 years. We all recall that after the war one paid 45s for a basic white shirt on which the collar turned up after one had had it for 3 months. One looked as though he was about to take flight. Today we can buy a polyester and cotton shirt for about $7 or $8 and it lasts and lasts. It is incredible how the industry has managed to maintain its price throughout the last 10 or 15 years. Think back to what was paid for any item of clothing 10 or 12 years ago and you will find that the increase in price has been very marginal while the increase in variety, quality and style has been tremendous. That means that on today’s wages it costs a lot less to buy almost the same article.
One of the matters I would like to mention in the few minutes left to me relating to knitted and woven goods and the whole industry really is the question of overseas manufacturers. The Taiwanese, and the people from Hong Kong and Red China do not provide a wide variety of fashion. They do not provide a whole range of garments. Primarily what they do is pick the eyes out of the bulk sellers. I do not like to mention names and give free plugs to industries but by way of example take Bonds ‘Grand Slam’ shirt which everybody knows, lt is a bulk seller of which hundreds of thousands are made a year. It is easy to pick that line, manufacture it in Taiwan, bring it in to Australia and cut the throat of local manufacturers. This is one of the things overseas manufacturers do. They take out the quick bulk sellers. When a retailer is shown a range of clothing he does not see one shirt; he sees 300 or 400. In all there might be 5 or 6 good sellers, 15 or 20 mediocre sellers and the rest are no good at all. This service is supplied by Australian manufacturers. Then in comes the importer who drops 3 shirts on the counter. He says: ‘Those are the ones’, because he knows they are the bulk sellers that can get under the big manufacturers. I sympathise with the problems expressed in this report; I understand a lot of them. But I think a great deal more thought should be given to this matter before any steps are taken to harm a very viable industry in this country.
– I have listened with great attention to the whole of this debate and have learned a great deal. Many true things have been said. Some politics has been talked, some rhetoric, and a number of valid points have been made. It seems to me that in speaking last in the debate, the most useful thing I can do is try to draw some of the threads together and reach some conclusions, tentative though they may be and badly equipped as I may be to perform such a task. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) pointed out that a great deal of detail is beyond the comprehension of most of us - I am certainly one - and this, therefore, has not had great attention during the course of the debate. Consequently the debate has tended to be a question of the philosophy that should underly tariff policy in Australia at this time. As the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) pointed out, we start with a certain situation. Our manufacturing industry began to develop at the time of World War I because supplies from overseas were cut off. It took another spurt at the time of the depression and again during World War II. So we have a situation at the present time that has arisen from historical circumstances. The growth has been so higgledy-piggledy, without principle behind it. We start with this situation and the question now is: What do we do in this situation? I was impressed with a number of the points made by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) and then with the points made by the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), if I may particularise, because by looking at what they said one arrives at the essence of the matter before us.
As I understood the honourable member for Lalor, he was not opposed to rationalisation, particularly of one industry under consideration now, namely, the woven shirts industry. The Tariff Board report referred to the fact that it was a very fragmented industry and that if it were drawn together, if it were rationalised, then it could be more efficient. The honourable member for Lalor was not necessarily opposed to this, but he made some qualifications. Yet when one comes to look at his attitude to this industry in practice one reaches the conclusion that though in principle he agrees with what the Tariff Board proposes, in practice he would not do it. This may be partly because there are divergencies on his own side of politics, just as there are divergencies on this side. Indeed, I think the division cuts across party lines.
I have no doubt that the honourable member for Lalor was also moved by compassion for those who, through the adaptation of an industry, might be thrown out of work or might have their incomes reduced for a short or a long period of time. Nevertheless, if one is not going to face the fact that there will be some discomfort or some dislocation for some people, then one is certainly not going to be able to do anything much about rationalising an industry. However careful one is about this, however one tries to ensure that any man thrown out of work is employed again promptly, there must always be discomfort and dislocation for many people. We cannot all have the kind of job we would like brought right to our door. So this principle which the honourable member accepts, if limited in practice by his qualifications, is almost incapable of being carried into effect at ali.
Quite rightly the honourable member for Lalor condemned the situation in which our tariffs have remained practically untouched since the emergency legislation in the early years of the depression, and I would agree with him that this is bad and that it reflects upon the Government. But it also reflects upon the Opposition because I would say that in this field there has been to all intents and purposes a bi-partisan policy. Every honourable member on both sides of the House hitherto has taken the view that a tariff on anything whatever would give employment and that this was good. It was almost as simple as that, and it was the view adopted, I think, pretty generally on both sides of the House. So while one may condemn the Government, one cannot also absolve the Opposition on this ground.
Again the honourable member for Lalor was right in saying that the Tariff Board has lacked the staff and the facilities for the kind of job that it ought to be able to do. He was quite right in saying that tariffs are a means of planning, that they are a means of influencing the structure of industry. Tariffs affect people’s jobs, distribute wealth and so on. If a tariff grows, as ours has, through history and by accident, of course you are still running against, you might say, the course of economic nature. But ‘planning’ may not be quite the correct word to apply to this because in fact very little planning has been done. Tariff provides the opportunity for planning and indeed we have altered, as I say, the course of economic nature. But until now we have done very little by way of conscious planning to achieve the structure of industry which will be most in the interests of the nation. If the Tariff Board were better equipped to perform this task, I would agree that this would be a very good thing.
The honourable member for Lalor, who has thought long, well and clearly on this matter, has stated 3 principles with which j would not disagree: Firstly, inefficient industries, however one defines ‘inefficient’, should not be protected; secondly, that tariffs should not be lowered except after the most anxious consideration and full inquiry; and thirdly, that there should not be any reduction in tariff without thought being given by the Tariff Board to the possibility, or to the certainty, of other jobs being available to those who are thrown out of work. As I have already said, this may be well enough in theory, but in practice it is not possible to provide another job as well paid and at the front door of the person who may be thrown out of work.
We, as members of Parliament, should know this and we should not be too compassionate about others. Time and again members are thrown out of Parliament and have to adapt themselves to something else. It is most uncomfortable and they may not be as well off doing something else, especially as at that time they may be middle-aged men. But I am sure that the Opposition would not suggest that nobody should be thrown out of his job in Parliament, because if that were so, if we all insisted that we should continue to be employed in this occupation forever, the Opposition would be permanent and I do not think it would agree with this proposition. Plainly, if there is to be change, some people will be uncomfortable, and I do not think this can be avoided, although I agree with the honourable member for Lalor that this position should be safeguarded as far as it is possible to do so.
The honourable member for Wakefield spoke about what had been done in Sweden, a small country of 8 million people - a smaller population than ours - and he instanced the case of Volvo cars. Indeed, this matter has been mentioned by a number of speakers in the course of the debate. It has been stated by some that the Swedes had a market close at hand in Europe. On the other hand, the honourable member for Wakefield stated that a large number of Volvo cars are sold in the United States of America and other countries, including our own. But look at the position as you will, a small country like Sweden which is able to produce a particular make of car and sell 75 per cent of those cars abroad, and making all the qualifications you like about the market in Europe being close at hand, this is a most remarkable achievement, and I think that the honourable member for Wakefield really made a point. Here was efficiency in a big way, and he drew our attention to the fact that our industry should be structured much more efficiently than it is.
Personally, I believe that we are starting on a new chapter in our history and that we cannot afford to be inefficient if we wish to survive. We are faced, as a small country, with a world today in which there are, in effect, 5 super-powers. No longer are we likely to have access, as we did in the past, to markets for our primary products. The technological revolution has resulted in wool being in a position different from that which it held in the past, whatever happens. The markets available for our dairy products, our wheat and even our meat are, to say the least of it, uncertain, and we simply cannot any longer afford to be inefficient in our manufacturing industry or indeed in our primary industry. The good old days when it was all right to grow anything you liked, without any regard to whether you could sell it profitably, are over. The good old days when you could protect an industry ito the limit and say “That gives protection’ without thinking to yourself that there might be some other industry into which these resources might move, requiring less protection and thus making the economy more efficient, are over, and we will have to turn over a new leaf if we are to survive - at least so it appears to me. It may be said that this is airy-fairy, academic nonsense, and all the rest, but I do not think that you can dismiss important principles in this light way.
Of course, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) spoke in his usual vein. He more or less reminded me of a line of, I think it was, Bret Harte: ‘We are ruined by Chinese cheap labour’. It is the old line that we have heard for a long time. This illustrates one strand or one philosophy in this debate, the holy writ of both sides of the House: ‘Protection gives employment, therefore we should protect every industry’. This kind of argument - if indeed you call it an argument - has been propounded since the beginning, and I believe it is time that we refined it very considerably. The honourable member for Grayndler did this, and he went on to say that this is an election year, and that of course explains the larger part of his speech. Again the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) sang his old bittersweet song - down with the city and up with the country. As far as I could understand him, he regretted that the honourable member for Grayndler had not remained where he was born and become the member for Currabubula instead of becoming the member for Grayndler.
The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) very rightly pointed out that the textile industry is one that can be decentralised and which provides labour opportunities, particularly for women, in country areas. I suppose it would be too fanciful to hope for ari attempt to build at least one worth while decent-sized city in each State in which an industry such as the textile industry and other industries might be aggregated to form a new community. I suppose that is too much to hope for in the practical conditions in which we live.
The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) made a very good point when he said that the Tariff Board would consider only an industry that was established - whether it should then have protection - and would not consider a hypothetical case. I agree with him. I think this is a weakness in our tariff formation. The real issue is not whether we should have protection or not. It is not as simple as that, whether we should protect everything or nothing. Of course we will have protection but it is a much more refined question. It is a question of which industry we should protect. The fallacy in this kind of argument that has been accepted for so long on both sides of the House is that it does not follow that because some particular industry gives employment, no other industry could be developed which would give employment and at a lower rate of protection. This is the fallacy in this kind of argument. In recent years, since World War H. the economy has been so fully employed that the idea grew that there would be gross unemployment if protection was withdrawn from a particular industry. This is simply not true. What we need is the most efficient use of our resources, not without regard, of course, to the employment aspect. I accept that view. I rather suspect that when we get the Organisation for European Co-operation and Development report on the Australian economy - perhaps early next year - we shall find that our productivity has been abysmally low by the standards of any industrial country in the world. This will highlight the fact that our structure of industry has been quite appalling.
I would like to draw a distinction between what you do about new industries and what you do about old and inefficient existing industries. As to the first class. I think we should be quite clear that we should not accord protection unless it is the lower rate of protection that the Tariff Board has indicated is sufficient for them. This does not disturb any vested interests. This should be perfectly clear. We should not continue to assist new industries that come along and require a very high rate of protection. A greater difficulty arises with regard to old and inefficient industies. This field is bedevilled by politics. You have vested interests. You have political impediments to any change. It seems to me that the Opposition is rather schizophrenic about this matter and does not know whether or not it wants to use the tariff to control inflation. Some honourable members opposite would like to take some of the view 1 have indicated and try to change the structure of industry where it is inefficient. Others would like to cleave to the old line that the protection of everything as in the past at whatever rate is good for Australia. My colleagues in the corner have been wooing both primary and secondary industries and are not quite sure what they stand for at all.
We should have a clear cut policy on new industries and with regard to the old and inefficient industries we should have to pay attention to the question of alternative employment for displaced workers. We have to pay more attention to the retraining of displaced workers and to compensation for entrepreneurs as well as employees. I say this because I do not believe it is possible, having regard to human nature, and indeed the nature of politics, to change the structure of industry unless you pay attention to these things. It cannot be done on the cheap. You just cannot say: You are out here, now find another job’. More attention has to be paid to these things, if we are to be realistic about changing the structure, as I believe we must do.
I agree that there should be reasonable warning before change, but perfection is impossible. In the matters at present before us, to cry havoc is to exaggerate the situation altogether. If we are to start at all on this new line of policy, which I think would have the support of the more forward thinking people on both sides of the House, at least in their private moments, we have to start where I have indicated. If we do not adapt we will not survive. That is the reason why there are no Brontosaur roaming about Chifley Place. They could not adapt to changed environment and they died. They died because they could not change. If we are not able to change, we as a small nation in a troubled and uncertain world will not survive. We should do everything we can reasonably to bring about those changes that are desirable, and to do it with as much compassion as possible. Indeed, I believe it is impossible to do it by any other means.
– I listened with great interest to the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and I agree with his sentiments. We have entered into a new and difficult trading era. President Nixon’s announcements on China and the United States dollar parity adjustments constitute a watershed in world foreign and economic relations. There has been much talk tonight about tariff operations and their complexity but 1 want to deal with other aspects which concern the ultimate trading relations and trading profits of countries. In particular today one of the conventional methods of avoiding tariffs is to hurdle them. Some of the multi-national corporations in the world today, instead of attempting to break through the tariffs by pruning prices, deliberately hurdle them and go straight into a country. Having cleaned up the opposition, they establish a monopoly.
In another field also - and this is the one particularly concerning me tonight - one of the main instruments in the world trade war which is developing is the manipulation of world currencies and their respective parities. The initial impetus for Japan, after it was devastated by World War II, came from a devaluation of its currency. If my memory is correct, the yen was devalued from about 350 to £1stg to over 1,040 to £1stg.
The burden of my address tonight is that the steel industry in Australia has lost a golden opportunity with the recent price rise to take advantage of a similar monetary adjustment. Australian steel technology will bear favourable comparison with that of any other country in the world. I have the honour and responsibility to represent the major centre of steel production in the southern hemisphere. In Port Kembla, in the Australian Iron and Steel works, 3 J million tons of ingot steel are produced annually. With the No. 5 blast furnace - a mammoth furnace with the latest in technology - productive capacity will increase to just over 6 million tons annually, or an increase of 60 per cent. I will show the economies of scale associated with large production. Where there may formerly have been a labour force of 18,000, another 2,000 or at the outside 3,000 men will be associated with the 60 per cent increase in production. In almost every field of trade in the world today a fierce trade war exists. Taken as an aggregate, the steel industry of the world is working at only 70 per cent capacity. We in Australia have certain very definite advantages. Firstly, we have rich and over-abundant resources of iron ore. We have adequate resources of coking coal of a high quality. We have entered the field late. It is the latest in any industry which has the benefits of advanced technology. A considerable exchange of technology has taken place between the Australian steel industry and that of Japan. My complaint is that with the recent price rises in steel announced by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, it has thrown away a remarkable trading advantage.
I take the minds of honourable members back to the middle of last year. The fundamental purpose of the United States of America as the major world trading power and the largest economy was to ensure that it could create its trading balance. For that purpose, it sought quite deliberately to get by whatever means it could a 20 per cent reduction in parity between the US dollar and the Japanese yen. In actual fact, it finished up with a situation where there was a revaluation of 16 per cent or a little more in its favour. Our revaluation was of the order of 6.3 per cent. In other words, there was a trading margin of 10 per cent. While BHP and its associated company, Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd, have been highly proficient in their steel technology, they have been equally proficient in extracting the maximum profit. They form a national monopoly in steel production and certain national obligations go with that.
During the last 2 years - I am quoting to the end of June 1971 - the total amount of steel imported into Australia in. the various types and sizes totalled $130m over our exports. That is an appalling situation. Perhaps, because of the availability of alloys and particular steel types there might have been 10 per cent - I am being generous there - that could not be produced in Australia. But as for the rest, it is time that the BHP monopoly, to use the good old Australian phrase, got off the seat of its pants and did something in the way of getting into world trade. By increasing the price of steel by 5.3 per cent it has gone half way towards losing the trade advantage that it had. If we are to get anywhere in the world today, we need to get out and sell. There will definitely be a surplus of steel in Australia once the new furnace to which I have referred comes into operation. The policy of BHP has been one of conservatism, lt has foreseen the world trading competition and it has preferred to stay within a sheltered market and to exploit it to the maximum rather than to get out and compete. In the situation existing in the world today, it is necessary to get out and really compete. The company may not be able to make much profit but it will make an impact and obtain the trade. VVhowever gets the trade today can hold it.
Our advantage in terms of raw materials are such that Australia is already a major steel producer in world terms. In both consumption of steel and production of steel per capita only two or three nations would possess a better record than that of Australia. The cost advantages are these: In the early 1950s, Australia could produce ingot steel cheaper than it could be produced with coolie labour in India. That was due to the riches of our ore, our technology and the skills of our work force. The cost factor in steel varies according to the size. When steel is first produced it is in ingot form. From there it is Deduced to slabs and looms and processed into the various categories. In terms of Japanese competition, the labour content in producing that steel is such that until it is reduced to sheet steel and its size calculated in gauges rather than in terms of inches, cost competitively we have a very considerable advantage. Until 12 months ago, we were able, with the exception of a small protective duty on sheet steel, more than to match Japan in its attempts to capture part of the Australian market. BHP, in its foolishness by taking advantage of this competitive margin due to revaluation, has thrown away that advantage.
Let us not forget this: The international currency adjustments have not been finalised. In fact, all the signs are there ot a looming further major adjustment, particularly as between Japan and the US. That adjustment can also work to our competitive advantage. The Japanese literally have money running out of their ears and they cannot get away with that The United States will bail them up again. This will be our opportunity because if we take a longer term view - I recognise that there are problems regarding employment in Australia today - with Britain entering the European Economic Community there will be considerable unemployment in the north of England. I am a native of my area. I was reared with the sons and grandsons of men of Northumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Yorkshire and those from the valleys of Wales and the Clydeside - men from the black country; men who know and think steel, heavy engineering, ship building and all the other associated industries. There will be 10 or 12 million of those men who will be displaced with the acute competition that is already occurring in Europe. We need these people in Australia. It will be one of the functions of a Labor government to see that we get them here because our future lies in the upgrading and the general beneficiation of our mineral wealth.
The former Prime Minister, the present right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), sensed this although he went about it in the wrong way. At least he had the rudiments of the correct idea. This is to his credit. We can receive 3 or 4 times the wealth from our minerals by upgrading and processing them. It is the destiny of Australia to be a major steel producer and a major steel exporter. Today, European steel companies are coming to Australia because they, in turn, are running very short of high grade coking coal. They are coming here from the Netherlands, West Germany, Italy and Spain. Fortunately, no thanks to the New South Wales Government, the Clutha deal fell through. Australian coal is good coal.
I do not want unduly to delay the House, but I wish to refer to the unemployment situation in my constituency. In my electorate we have the unenviable distinction of having 3,000 registered unemployed - 1,800 men and 1,200 women. We have disabilities that are associated with the mushroom growth of a major industrial city. When we compare our growth with that of our sister city of Newcastle, we have certain definite disadvantages. Newcastle was a mature, balanced city when Greater Wollongong was a chain of industrial and mining villages. There has not been the comparable and balanced growth of secondary industry of the types which would provide employment, in particular for women. Our growth has been associated in great part with an enormous intake of migrants. Those people have come to find themselves literally trapped in a situation where there was no alternative employment. They have had to depend upon the Housing Commission of New South Wales for low cost accommodation. The wages are abysmally low for those who are unskilled or semi-skilled. The take home pay of such people would not exceed $60 a week compared with the national average of more than $90 a week. Further, they have the disadvantage that, in many cases, because of language difficulties, they could not leave even if they wanted to do so. As for supplementing their family income by their wives going out to employment, that employment does not exist except in the textile field. The point I want to make is developed with all due respect to the need to trade on a reciprocal basis with some of the Asiatic countries. Take the example of China. China’s total trade is about 25 per cent less than that of Hong Kong. Hong Kong has about 5 million people; China has between 700 million and 800 million. China has a selfcontained subsistence economy. What would the Chinese have to offer us? If we bought their products here by the shipload, if our people were hydraheaded or had as many legs as centipedes, they could not absorb the quantity of cheap clothing and similar goods which would be offered to us in exchange for our commodities. The Chinese are honest traders. Our sole and main trading opportunity with them has been in wheat and associated foodstuffs and there, for a considerable time, it is likely to remain. For that reason there is this special need for protection of the textile industry.
I speak for a city which is grievously disadvantaged because of the lack of fundamental planning on the part of this Government. Migrants have been induced to come to Australia at all costs. The Government wanted labour units - unskilled and cheap labour units - for the steel industry. It has them. The Government is not prepared to accept the responsibility of providing the infrastructure that goes with the development of a major city. That responsibility has been fobbed off onto the State Government with all of its limitations.
Lest it should be thought by this House that I am one of those who conducted a persistent witch hunt against the steel industry, may I say that as a State parliamentarian I was responsible for no less than $400m being spent on providing the infrastructure for the Australian steel industry. But as to what the future holds I would say this, and say it very advisedly: The sooner the steel industry of Australia uses its cost competitive advantage to the maximum and thinks less of maintaining its present profits - and by the way it has a remarkable windfall from the Bass Strait oilfields and can very well carry on with that - the better. The industry needs to get out, sell and capture that market. That is where our future lies. There is more wealth below the soil in our mineral deposits than ever was gained by primary production.
– I want to support the remarks of my friend the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), but really I rise to place before the House - I hope with reasonable brevity - what one might call the philosophy of caution when it comes to tinkering with tariffs. I represent a major industrial area of Australia. Like the electorate of Cunningham it has absorbed in recent years tens of thousands of people from overseas. I know perfectly well that the slightest adjustment’ - put that word in inverted commas and speak it softly - is going to cause grave hardship and that unless we accept the philosophy of a planned economy, which seemed to be the burden of the remarks of our colleague the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), we shall cause hardship without any particular profit.
For instance, the hosiery industry is largely based in the electorate of Wills. This industry depends largely upon migrant labour which has nowhere else to turn. There is nothing that we can do about the readjustment of a Turkish housewife by creating some new industry. Therefore I am sponsoring today a view that we should look very carefully at the whole system before we start tinkering with anything. I do not claim to be an expert in this field. However, I live in the area of politics. I sit in the House and listen to what is said. Over the last few years I have noted certain things. There is a consistent attack upon primary industry, lt is unduly subsidised. It would be better to let wool go and import something from somewhere else.’
– There is 52,700m.
– That is right. I am not sponsoring this view; I am quoting what I hear. It would probably be better to import our wheat requirements from the Argentine, or Canada, or from somewhere else. I have no doubt that we could get our sugar more cheaply from Cuba. I have no doubt that we could be able to get bananas from somewhere else such as from one of the banana republics, although we are rapidly approaching that category ourselves. As I run down the various sections of primary industry I find that it ought not to be supported anywhere.
I turn now to secondary industry. I listened to my friend from Bradfield, who is very keen on efficiency. There is the question of economy of scale and all the rest of it. Therefore it would be much cheaper to get our cars from Japan. I think that we ought to get our textiles from China. At least this is the theme. I am not sponsoring the idea - I had better not put it that way, because I may be misquoted somewhere. However, might I prognosticate we ought to get our textiles perhaps from China. I suppose that we should get our steel from’ some of the new burgeoning plants in India. The result will be that we will be right out of primary industry and right out of secondary industry. We will have a lovely cheap economy. I suppose the solution would be for us all to go to New Zealand and live on reciprocal social services.
As far as 1 can see such an approach would be nonsense unless we are prepared to approach the total economy. I believe in world events we have come to a change of the quality of the whole situation. I am not too sure that the point that my friend from Cunningham sponsors in regard to trade is going to be a solution. So many parts of the world are becoming selfsufficient in large areas of manufacture. If there is one thing modern man can do, it is making things. He can pour articles out of factories in increasing numbers without the need for human labour. I believe we are approaching a different quality of society which will determine our lives in it by a different set of standards, and as yet we have not faced the issue. Therefore 1 believe that inside the Australian economy we probably have to make a continued series of adjustments to retain a state as close to a self-sufficiency as possible.
I do not see how we can possibly compete with Chinese industry on the matters that have been quoted here today. It is just impossible. There are all sorts of factors in the Chinese system which make this impossible. The same applies with the Japanese. It is true, that in some areas the Australian manufacturer for some reason or other - and this is a field to which 7 believe a great deal of attention ought to be paid - can compete. The suit I am wearing was made at Preston in Melbourne.
– How much?
– I will tell the honourable member - well, maybe I will not. However, I tell him that the price was the same as that paid by my colleagues for suits in Hong Kong and Singapore when I was there. In other words, working under Australian conditions, paying award wages, providing necessary factory amenities and subjected to the incapacities imposed by this Government’s financial policies, our manufacturers were able to compete with low cost people. My friend from Cunningham implies, I think, that if the Government really got to work on the Broken
Hill Pty Co. Ltd and decided that it did not need to make multi-million dollar profits, it would be in the same position. I am not so sure whether this would apply to the motor car industry although I believe that with its size and everything else probably it could compete.
I believe that we have to approach this in a totally different way. We have to look at Australia as generally speaking a largely self-contained community. We have to remember that in the world at large 4 or 5 countries have basically most of the minerals that they need as well as most of the primary production they need, and a manufacturing capacity large and versatile enough to supply most of their needs. I suppose that if we ran across the boards we would have Canada, the United States, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in that bracket. Who else would there be?
– Sweden does not produce al] of its own food. Sweden does not produce a lot of things it needs. Sweden is highly specialised and I understand that is part of the reason for its efficiency.
So there are values we have to bring to bear. Again, we are quoting here today the question of efficiency. What exactly do we mean by efficiency? I do not know exactly what it means to have an efficient factory. Strangely enough it is possible to see 2 factories side by side one modernised and up to date and everything else and one tumbled down and with a rather disgraceful set of working conditions, yet both producing goods that look the same when finished and both for about the same price. As I said, I represent a large industrial area. The Government cannot do anything to the tariff system without creating great hardship unless it approaches the total economy. That is why I have risen tonight.
The other point I want to make is that I am quite convinced that neither the Tariff Board, the members of this Parliament nor manufacturing industry itself knows the situation fully. On occasions I have tried to telephone some of the industries and have asked how they would be affected if the Government started to change the tariff. Not one of them could give me an easy answer and neither could the Chamber of Manufactures. One of the reasons I am speaking tonight is my hope that somebody is listening or that the record will get through to the manufacturers. The least they can do is to educate their own Federal members on their situation. This is very important as far as the Opposition is concerned. The manufacturers of Australia are remarkably dilatory in getting their story across. 1 do not believe that we should abandon the shirt industry. I do not know that there is any advantage in rationalisation. I am quite convinced that it is possible for small concerns to produce things efficiently and with sufficient economy to compete on the market. It would be worthwhile for people to read the speech of my colleague the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) on this matter. There are some things in the community which are no dearer now than they used to be. Clothing is one of them. The other day I went to buy a handsaw. My memory of it is that I paid about the same price as I paid some 15 or 20 years ago. Therefore, I consider that there will have to be a total approach to the Australian economy. This House has not shown a great deal of capacity to undertake that. The Government rejects the theory; the Labor Party, of course, accepts it. Before we start tinkering with any of these systems , we should take a look at the human beings on the end of the system. I think that was the burden of the statement made by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns). Even the honourable member for Bradfield was inclined to think that we ought to do something about human needs first. So I speak briefly this evening on behalf of the countless thousands of people in Australia who, when the Government makes a mistake, are absolutely helpless and are afflicted by incredible hardship. At the present moment that is the fate of thousands of unhappy Australians.
– I will not detain the House long, but as Minister in charge of this Bill I would like to say a few words, for 2 reasons: Firstly, out of courtesy to the honourable members who have spoken and, secondly, because I personally am pleased to be able to say that, as a result of the new system I have introduced into the discussion on tariff debates, 1 think this is the best tariff debate that we have had since I have been in the Parliament. The cut and thrust of the contributions have been first class. I would like to thank honourable members for that. Let me answer briefly some of the points that have been made today, but as, with the concurrence of the Opposition, the discussion in the Committee stage of the Bill will probably be next week and we will adjourn the debate now, I want to refer to some small matters in particular that were raised; then I would like to talk about philosophy.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) stated that the had evidence - he did not disclose it - about woven shirts. He said he knew an importer who was importing 9,000 dozen shirts a month from Singapore. My officers have checked this out. We are in a reasonable position to know what is being imported and what is not. In the short time available we could not substantiate it. 1 would ask the honourable member for Melbourne Ports to give me some information so that my officers can check it out, and I could report to the House when I speak in the Committee stage next week.
– It is obtainable from the industry.
– Maybe it is, but I would think that we are in a reasonable position to know this. Many statements are bandied about in this House, sometimes in good faith, which when put to the test cannot be substantiated. I ask the honourable member for Melbourne Ports to give me some particulars and I will report on the matter next week. There was a great deal of discussion tonight about woven shirts. With respect, some of it was made by honourable gentlemen who had not read, sufficiently to reach any conclusions, the statement made in this House by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) concerning the Government’s attitude to that matter. I suspect that the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) has not quite read it, because he seemed to show undue concern about some situation. If he had read the Minister’s statement he would know that the Government had stated specifically when it presented the report to Parliament that, although it accepted the report, it was taking immediate remedial action so that - to use the figures of the honourable member for Lalor - 10,000 workers would not be put out of work. The Government virtually put a moratorium of 18 months on it, during which time the Department of Trade and Industry will be negotiating with other countries to see whether some quota restrictions can be made.
– That is only a breathing space for the industry.
– Of course it is, and the Minister said that in his statement. During that time his Department would be negotiating with other countries. Those negotiations have been taking place and, I am able to tei! the House, with the authority of the Minister, with some success. When we reach the Committee stage of the Bill I shall have more to say about it
– I understand that the voluntary actions have not been successful.
– With respect, I suggest that the honourable member’s understanding is not correct. More will be said about that next Tuesday. On the philosophy of the debate, I thoroughly agree with the honourable member for Lalor that there are very few matters that come into this House that are more important, in terms of the nation, the national economy, the fabric of our society and even down to the grassroots level of individual happiness and individual contentment, than a traiff debate. I share with him his sadness - I think that is how he felt - that such a debate is one of the least attended and least popular debates conducted in this House. I agree with him that there are very few matters which are so important. In fact I have a peculiar feeling of loneliness when I come into this House, as I do on an average of once a week and table tariff proposals. Sometimes my hand trembles when I am speaking to a virtually empty House and tabling a tariff proposal which has massive effects on a great number of people. The procedure is that when the Minister for Customs and Excise tables a proposal the new tariff rates apply as from the start of business at 9 o’clock the next morning. Virtually with the exception of the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) and one or two others there is hardly anybody who is interested.
Because it is so important, I believe that on an opportunity like this, where we have had participation in the debate from both sides of the House, we could reasonably have expected a statement of the philosophy of the Australian Labor Party on its tariff policy if and when it becomes the government of this country. I am sad to say that tonight we did not have that expression of philosophy. What we have bad in the past from the Opposition are various conflicting statements from several of the Opposition’s front bench spokesmen. 1 would have thought that industry, the trade union movement and the workers whose interest in this is vital would want a clear and unequivocal expression of policy from the alternative government. When one reads the platform of the Australian Labor Party, at first glance it seems as though the words mean something. Section V - ‘Economic Planning’ - of the Australian Labor Party Platform, Constitution and Rules, states:
Protect Australian industries, where necessary by tariffs, import controls and/or subsidies in order to safeguard Australian living standards and to develop Australian resources.
To that point 1 think it would be synonymous with Liberal Party policy and Country Party policy. It goes on:
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-
That sounds beautiful, and again it is completely in line with Government policy. It talks about an independent, fully equipped government authority, but then it goes on, and here is where doubt is thrown on to the Labor Party’s policy: which will consider, amongst other things, the efficiency-
That is all right. We go along with that - growth prospects-
We go along with that - trade practices and pricing policies.
It is in that area that I suggest several Labor spokesmen have from time to time decided to put their own interpretations on Labor Party policy.
– You have just quoted my words.
– I know they are your words, and I concede that they are. I wish to quote the honourable member for Lalor, to whom we on this side of the House look as the spokesman for the Labor Party on tariff matters. His simplistic approach to tariffs, if I may say so without offence, has the clarity of a London fog. He appears to have discovered an economic centaur, half laissez-faire, half protectionist, sometimes complete laissez-faire, sometimes complete protectionist. In his ungainly attempts to straddle this beast, the centaur, he affronts the credibility of all who witness it.
– You are talking about the Minister for Trade and Industry, not the centaur.
– I am talking about my friend, the honourable member for Lalor. I will try to substantiate the kind of accusation I have made against him. I will quote what he said in 1967. His fluctuations have confused not only members on the Government side but, it seems, members on his own side also. I do not know whether it was fortuitous but the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), after reading a certain book is reported to have said in 1971 - in that year or thereabouts a certain book was published by the honourable member for Lalor which Alan Wood in a review described as the upside-down world of Dr Jim Cairns - that he had recently read a book on tariffs and listened to a debate, presumably at Launceston, but was beset with confusion. The honourable member for Oxley is a confessed expert on economics in the Labor Party. Perhaps he had too many vigorous sessions with his colleague, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), in the Opposition’s Economics Committee, or perhaps he was just perfectly confused, as I was after reading the book that came out of the upsidedown world of the honourable member for Lalor. The honourable member for Lalor in 1967, when he approved of Sir Leslie Melville’s statement, said:
What is needed is a more moderate approach to protection than we now have. Instead of providing more and more protection to virtually whatever industries seek .assistance we should deliberately select for assistance only the less costly ventures. 1 would have thought that in 1967 the honourable member for Lalor would have been the favourite son of my friend, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). But let us see how the honourable member for Lalor has progressed from being half laissez-faire to half protectionist and done the full circle. In 1968 in the Budget debate he said:
Save us from having the tariff system related to the Government’s national economic objectives. Whatever else we do, let us not do that. The whole question that is involved here is: What is economic and efficient? The definition that I give on behalf of the Opposition is that an industry is economic and efficient if it has the most modern equipment and skilled labour - but which still requires high tariff protection.
I suggest that that is a complete 180 degree turn. In 1971 the honourable gentleman said:
The Australian Labor Party stands primarily foi the Australian worker and his family. Tariff protection more than anything else determines whether the worker will keep his job or whether he will be thrown out to search for one elsewhere. . . The Australian Labor Party will never adopt a policy that may cause an upheaval in the lives of ordinary people simply because of some abstract economic theory.
If that is not a complete 180 degree turn in economic and political philosophy, I would like to have one illustrated to me.
– Where do you stand?
– We have stated unequivocally where we stand, but I am appealing to the Opposition tonight to let us know where it stands. It is not too late to do so. The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) had his name down to participate in the debate tonight but withdrew. He will have an opportunity to speak on this matter on Tuesday and to let us know where he stands. I remember a debate or two ago on tariffs when he and the honourable member for Lang had almost a verbal altercation about their conflict of views on tariffs. As that was the last time the honourable member for Adelaide spoke on tariffs, 1 would have thought that he owes a duty to the Parliament to speak on Tuesday and say where he stands. We are surrounded with utter confusion about the Labor Party’s policies. It was the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) who tonight made an extraordinary statement and let another cat out of the bag. He said that the Labor Party does no stand for drastic reduction of bounties oi tariffs unless some other arrangements are made.
– Hear, hear
– The honourable gentleman says: ‘Hear, hear!’ How can he relate that to the Labor Party’s platform, which the honourable gentleman acknowledges that he wrote himself and which states that the Labor Party will go to a completely independent authority to determine tariffs? Does that mean that it will go to an independent authority, a body having the integrity of independence but with which the Labor Party has fiddled around with according to its own political objectives? 1 would have thought that if we needed any clarification we had it in the recent
Statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who made one of the most irresponsible and monstrous statements on tariff policy that I have ever heard. He said, talking about prices and profits and prices control, that a Labor Government will hold the stick over companies on tariffs.
Let us consider that statement for a couple of moments. What does it mean? Suppose that company XYZ has just had a price increase in shirts or steel or whatever it is. The Labor Party, if in government, would say, by some magical process: We are in a position to measure and judge that that price increase is not correct’. So it would go to XYZ company and say to them: ‘Reduce your prices. If you do not we will go to the Tariff Board, this independent authority, and we will direct the Tariff Board to look at the price structure and the cost structure of XYZ company, and it will reduce tariffs and cut away your protection’. What would that action do to the chances of ABC company or DEF company, which might not be in a similar situation? This sort of tariff policy is utter nonsense. Let any sector of manufacturing industry or any responsible trade union that is looking for stability and growth in manufacturing and trade union relations buy the so-called policies of the Australian Labor Party at their own peril.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and committed pro forma; progress reported.
– I have received advice from the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) that he has appointed Mr Lloyd to be a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in the place of Mr Katter.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (10.32) - I want to inform the House of the present dispute at Broken Hill. This dispute is not under the auspices of the Barrier Industrial Council but it concerns every family man ki Broken Hill. I refer to the situation at the Broken Hill High School which is probably the biggest high school in New South Wales and has some 2,050 pupils in attendance. The present dispute has been brewing for 26 years since 1946 when the New South Wales Government was asked for a second high school to be built in Broken Hill. Since that time negotiations have been carried on with the New South Wales Government. There have been a lot of promises but little action except patching buildings up here and there. The parents and citizens are sick and tired of these long drawn out negotiations. However, it was the teachers themselves who finally brought the matter to a head by refusing to teach in a block of classrooms known as C block, which comprises some 16 classrooms, but even before this situation the state of affairs at the High School is tragic and in my opinion unjust and a disgrace to a country with all the natural resources of Australia.
At first glance one could be forgiven for getting the impression that the Broken Hill High School is a ramshackle affair of temporary portable buildings that were erected during the last century because it contains many of these buildings. They have no airconditioning and the only heating facilities are ineffectual wood burning stoves which would probably keep the teacher warm if he were able to sit over the top of it or very close to it. The pupils are out in the cold. Up to the time when the teachers refused to teach in these classrooms they contained approximately 35 students to each room. I know that honourable members will find this very hard to believe, nonetheless it is true: There is no electricity connected to these rooms. I am referring to C Block which normally housed about 500 students. Because there is no electricity they have no lights. Like the teacher who could get warm by sitting near the wood stove, some of these students could see quite well if they had a seat near the window. During winter most of the students would be in a cold, dark room. During summer they perhaps would be able to see a little better but have to contend with temperatures up to 120 degrees.
I am aware that this is the responsibility of the State Government. The State member for Broken Hill has been putting up a tireless fight to get the State Government to take some action. But if we have any national pride or responsibility we should lodge a protest that any State Government should allow these conditions to exist in one of our greatest cities. The concern of the people of this city was brought home to me only last weekend during a wedding ceremony. One of the attendants at the church came up to me and said the Minister wished to speak to me after the service. The outcome of this was a request that I should inspect the High School and inform my colleagues here in Canberra of the cruel and unjust circumstances existing at that school. I have already mentioned the condition of C block excepting to say the buildings have a very shabby appearance with broken boards in the verandah. I must admit that at the time of my visit the school yards were reasonably clean. However I was told that even here the Education Department showed a lack of concern, because there only was one man employed to do all this work whereas at one time 3 were employed.
At the time of my visit some of the students had just finished some form of rigorous sport and were all trying to fit into a small changeroom on the back of the assembly room. I asked the headmaster what this was all about and he said they had no changeroom but the one being used was built on the back of the hall as a change room for visiting artists. You really have to see these things to believe them. At first glance you would think that the High School was* a ramshackle affair of temporary buildings, but there are some fine buildings in this area. But unfortunately with the extra students no longer housed in C block the new buildings are much overcrowded. As a matter of fact, I was told that some students were taught in the yard. During my visit many students were still in the yard. No-one can blame the teachers for taking the action which they have taken because it is a wonder that they have been able to carry on for so long under these conditions. One can well understand the conditions under which they are working with these overcrowded rooms and extra students. According to a report in the ‘Barrier Daily Truth’ on 29th February 2 New South Wales Cabinet Ministers and 8 Liberal parliamentarians visited Broken Hill over the weekend. The report reids:
Libera] parliamentarians who inspected ‘C Block and changeroom facilities at the High School told principal Mr J. Parks that they would report to the Minister for Education, Mr Cutler, on conditions at the school.
Mr Parks said yesterday that on completion of inspection of ‘C Block the ministers had commented that they thought the classrooms were unsuitable.
The two small and unhygienic changerooms which cater for the 2,000 school children were described as completely inadequate by the ministers. The two NSW Cabinet ministers were Mr J. Waddy (Child and Social Welfare), Mr T. L. Lewis (Lands) and eight Liberal parliamentarians.
The changerooms are unhygienic because of the number of students using them at the one time, with some being forced to change in toilets due to the lack of floor space, while others change in the few shower recesses provided.
This sort of thing has been going on since 1946. Many visiting education authorities have gone away saying that they would report on the matter, but still a start has not been made on our second high school. Each year in this House we are told in glowing terms of the progress that we are making nationally in the field of education. We are told also of the extra grants that are being made to the States for education, and the figures mentioned often are in millions of extra dollars each year. In my opinion, if the Broken Hill situation is anything like a gauge of the States’ performance or of our national performance in education all that can be said is that we are making progress backwards.
– Tonight 1 refer to the procrastination of this Government in granting to the States specific funds to be utilised for a national purpose. The situation is highlighted by the recent plea of the South Australian Government to the Commonwealth Government for assistance to finish the sealing of the Eyre Highway. Admittedly, several pleas have been made in the past and this matter has been raised several times in the House. But on this occasion the Labor administration in South Australia has indicated that it is willing to meet two-thirds of the cost of the work on what is mainly a through road in that State. It is the only east-west road link available to the long-suffering public. After nearly a quarter of a century of national administration by the Liberals, no move is being made to meet the $2.5m which is required. It is a sorry state of affairs when a national government makes no attempt to provide a defence, trade and tourist link between its major seaboards. Yet this Government recently approved expenditure of $7.1m in Thailand to build an east-west highway there, and only 66 miles are involved at that. In addition to this, a further $1.3m was expended for feeder roads in .southern areas of Thailand. This is all very commendable, but are not the citizens of Western Australia and eastern Australia at least equal to the Thais in the eyes oi this Government.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) continues to speak of public education on road safety and the part vehicle manufacturers must play, then goes on to ignore totally the Government’s responsibility in this matter. It is far past time that action, instead of words, was taken. In a question on notice I challenged the Minister to traverse the road by car personally. Of course, this was refused, yet this Government is content to continue to increase charges against motorists from the time they purchase a vehicle with its excessive tax component. Every gallon of fuel they buy increases their tax burden. What do the long-suffering members of the public get in return if they wish to spend their holiday money within Australia visiting the national capital and the State capital cities? If people have the misfortune to damage their vehicles on the 290- mile horror stretch of the Eyre Highway they have ruined vehicles and their hardearned money is expended on repairs instead of on their holiday. Perhaps the Minister now will base his defence of his attitude on the comments of 4 senior gentlemen who made a leisurely trip of survey across this dirt track to report to the Australian Automobile Association. Mind you, it took them 6 days to travel from Adelaide to Perth. If they were in the trucking business, they would have gone broke after their first trip. However, a report from these daring people after their epic journey was published in the ‘Sunday Times’ in Western Australia on 27th February 1972 under the heading: ‘South Australian Horror Road not Dangerous’. This is an incredible statement. I noticed that 3 of the party were to fly back to the eastern States and another was to travel by train. Of course, the car was freighted back to Victoria. Perhaps the wheels had fallen off .or had been shaken off. This is an amazing performance for a road survey. One spokesman for the group said that he was surprised at the standard of the road, especially the socalled horror stretch. He said:
This stretch is safe if drivers use their common sense and do not exceed SO miles per hour. Trouble started when drivers went from bitumen sealed road to the unsealed road and still maintained their average of 70 miles per hour.
The speed limit, of course, is 65 miles an hour. This was the comment of a one leisurely crossing expert. He said that there were ample hazard signs along the road. He said also that petrol prices were in keeping with the long distances that petrol had to be freighted. I only hope he is able to get his rose coloured glasses off in time to give the luckless motorist more valid and genuine advice so that the motorist does not have to finish up by freighting his car home in pieces as a consequence of accepting that dangerous advice. As a regular user both in past years and currently - in fact, I would use the road up to 4 times a month in some periods - I should like those one-trip experts to tell the people who have holed the sump of their car, damaged their car’s suspension, have been run into or have run into someone else in the dust created by another passing vehicle or who have broken down or have been run into by another vehicle blinded by a dust cloud that they were travelling too fast or were not exercising enough care. Insurance companies consider interstate travel so dangerous in these circumstances that insurance excesses of $150 a car are only too common. Because of this excess, they do not replace windscreens which are broken by stones flung up on sections of this socalled highway. Do not tell me that this road is safe. I can only say that standard equipment for a traveller is extra water, extra petrol, extra oil, wire, tools and a tow rope.
– And an extra car.
– Yes, one can ring up for that after travelling 100 miles or so. Fortunately 1 have been lucky enough to only need those items to assist other travellers. Never a trip passes without my having to assist some luckless person. I do not condemn travellers for having radiator trouble, tyre trouble, holes in the sump, and wheel bearing and suspension damage. I do condemn the situation which permits this horror stretch to exist. Nobody can bring back the lives that have been lost in the tragically unnecessary accidents or compensate the injured who have been maimed for life. Nobody can compensate for the ruin of long-range plans and for hard-earned long service leave pay or holiday money which has been expended on repairs. Nobody can erase that bitter memory, but this Government can contribute by assisting the South Australian Government in its genuine attempts to seal this highway at the earliest date.
Let us have no more of this nonsense of saying that people are trying to maintain a 70 mile an hour average before they get into trouble on this road. Most city people are so petrified by the road surface and by their unfamiliarity with it that they travel at very low speeds. Sections of the road are subject to weather conditions. On occasions I have made a perfect crossing in reasonable safety because the South Australian authorities have used as many as 5 graders on the road. Then it has rained and a week later sections of the road have been a sheer torture trail due to heavy traffic which has cut it up badly. After heavy rain most of the road is under water with all the ensuing problems. On occasions, sections are closed or detours made but it is wholly irresponsible for any organisation or person to allow any impression to be gained by the motoring public that cautions and precautions should not be taken, lt is even more irresponsible for this Government, which pays lip service to road safety, vehicle safety and driver education, to continue to ignore its responsibility to the nation in this matter.
Must we have more deaths, more hideous injuries, more ruined vehicles and destroyed caravans and more human misery before firm action is taken? If any person in the Government had the experience of assisting with rolled-over vehicles or has assisted in dragging sheep from a rolled-over semitrailer and has then had to help with the destruction of most of those sheep he would take a more concerned look at the problems and a solution no doubt would be the result. I should like to refer to a recent letter published in the ‘West Australian’ of 26th February 1972 which i think sums up the viewpoint of the motoring public. Under the heading: ‘Treacherous 310 Miles’ the letter states:
Yet another fatal accident on the treacherous unsealed South Australian part of Eyre Highway has caused me to lodge a protest on behalf of those who can’t - those who have lost their lives through man’s apathy.
Eyre Highway, over which 1 travelled recently, is of national economic and defensive importance and should be in a first-class condition of safety.
I challenge the Australian politicians responsible for the 310 miles of unsealed hell to forsake the comfort of their supersonic jet aircraft and simply drive an average Australian family car over this so-called road both ways during summer.
I am sure if this challenge is accepted and after the dust has been removed from their tortured bodies that they will get the message.
I am sure that they will.
– Tonight I wish to appeal to the Government to make an early decision to assist Western Australia to purchase a new unit load vessel for its coastal service, and to provide annual assistance towards meeting losses incurred in carrying the service beyond Wyndham to Darwin. In making my appeal I join the Premier of Western Australia, the Leader of the Opposition in that State, the Leader of the Country Party, all Western Australian members of this Parliament, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) and numerous other people and organisations both in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. These people have come out in support of the request for Commonwealth assistance to permit the extension of the State Shipping Service to Darwin. Western Australia has provided a shipping service to Darwin for nearly 60 years and the State Government is loath to terminate it, even in the face of annual losses of around $700,000 a year. That figure represents the cost of extending the service beyond Wyndham to serve Darwin. To offset part of that loss the State Government is requesting a subsidy of $475,000 per annum, just over half of the total loss incurred in serving the Commonwealth Territory.
To increase the State Shipping Service’s efficiency and reduce its losses, 2 newly adapted unit load vessels have been put into operation to replace older, smaller and slower passenger-cargo vessels that have been sold. The service has been significantly improved since the introduction of the Wambiri’ and the ‘Beroona’ and a new level of efficiency achieved. To give a comparison between the new unit load vessels and the older vessels, I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table giving tonnages and speeds of the new vessels and the remaining older vessels in service.
– Is leave granted? There being no objejction leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– It is intended to sell the Kangaroo’, ‘Koolama’ and ‘Dongara’ and to replace them with one unit load vessel if only Western Australian ports are to be served. To serve the Northern Territory a fourth unit load vessel will be required, the purchase price of which will have to be provided by the Commonwealth. The Western Australian Government was to have terminated the Northern Territory service in December last but it has extended the time to 31st March this year. It is imperative that the Commonwealth Government announce an early decision in this matter in the interests of the people directly concerned with the Northern Territory trade in Western Australia and in the interests of the people for whom it is directly responsible in the Northern Territory. The Stale Shipping Service has provided a valuable service for more than 60 years during which time it was for long virtually the only reliable all-weather link between north and south. If it is to continue to provide that service into the future, the moves to assure it will have to be made very soon. If a service of 4 unit load vessels is allowed to operate there is likely to be an improvement in both quantity and economies in the trade between southern Western Australia and Darwin.
Unit load vessels of the type being introduced into the service can carry all types and volumes of cargo, including 20-ton containers, and with the continuing growth predicted for Darwin it is reasonable to envisage tonnages increasing to between 40,000 and 50,000 tons a year. To maintain and improve the shipping service to Darwin will require a grant of $3m at most and an annual subsidy of less than $500,000, which is little more than half the annual loss incurred in serving Darwin. I believe the request being made is modest and worthy of acceptance by this Government. I reiterate that it is supported by people and organisations of many walks of life and of all political persuasions in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. For the price of one vessel and half the loss incurred on a very small section of the run between the south and the Commonwealth’s own Territory, that Territory will receive a frequent, reliable and efficient service provided by 4 vessels. Surely the Commonwealth must accede to so reasonable and modest a request.
– 1 apologise to the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes), representing the Minister for
Health, for not telling him that I intended to speak on this matter tonight. However, I hope he will read what I have to say. I only want to bring this matter to his notice and I do not expect an answer now, though I hope he will give me one fairly soon. Almost from the time I was elected to this House I have received representations regarding a gentleman in my electorate. These representations were made by a number of organisations. The name of the gentleman is Mr Tompkins of Coonangra Avenue, Budgewoi. I mention his name because I told him I would. He is a very severe asthma sufferer. I wrote to the then Minister for Health explaining to him that Mr Tompkins was forced to purchase oxygen cylinders every week so that he could get relief from asthma. The cost to Mr Tompkins, who I might add is a pensioner, is $3 to $4 a week or $11 to $12 a month. I wrote to the then Minister quoting a letter which I had received from the Budgewoi branch of the Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association in the following terms:
With reference to the provision of oxygen and respiratory appliances, would you again approach the Minister for Health and press for these appliances to be provided as a medical benefit to pensioners. Mr Tompkins of Coonangra Avenue, Budgewoi, says that he was ordered oxygen when he was dicharged from the Belmont Hospital and the appliances cost him approximately $4 per week. It has come to that stage now that Mr Tompkins cannot afford to pay this amount from his pension and the only thing left is a slow lingering death. The late Minister for Health, Dr Forbes, promised you some time ago that he would inquire into the matter and see if the provision of oxygen could be supplied to pensioners as a medical benefit. I understand that several doctors in this area would like to provide oxygen for chest patients but they realise that pensioners cannot alford it. We would appreciate lt if you would again take the matter up with the Federal Health authorities in an effort to have oxygen supplied to pensioners who need it.
There is correspondence back and forth involving successive Ministers for Health. I have written to 3 or 4 of them; the Ministers change pretty quickly. Each time I received what 1 regard as a most silly reply because in each case the Minister told me that under the Act the Department of Health could not supply the equipment. I pointed out in the last letter T wrote that there was no request for the domiciliary equipment required to use the oxygen. Since that time I have had dealings with a Mr Fennell of Woy Woy who is in a similar situation. He is also a pensioner and unable to afford the cost involved. I wrote to the present Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kennth Anderson) on 26th October 1971 and 1 pointed this out to him. I said:
You last wrote to me on 16th September, 1971 regarding the inability of the Commonwealth to provide oxygen as a pharmaceutical benefit. This was in reply to repeated representations made by me on behalf of Mr A. Tompkins of Coonangr: Avenue, Budgewoi. 1 would also like to add to that now Mr R. Fennell of 1 Alma Avenue, Woy Woy whose situation is identical to that of Mr Tompkins.
In your letter you stated ‘In the terms of the National Health Act it is not possible to provide equipment, apparatus and appliances as benefits. Despite many requests the Government, to date, has not been prepared to extend the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to encompass the provisions of such items’.
Whilst it would be possible under the National Health Act to provide the oxygen gas as a pharmaceutical benefit, you will appreciate that an adequate domiciliary service could not be provided since the supply of the necessary ancillary equipment cannot be made within the scope of the existing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme*.
On investigation I find that neither Mr Tompkins or Mr Fennell require the equipment or the domiciliary service. They already have the equipment necessary and the only burden they have to contend with is the cost of the oxygen. Mr Tompkins has provided me with a statement indicating the monthly cost to him of oxygen.
I have one for $13.71 for the month.
That comes out of his pension. The letter continues:
His needs vary depending upon his state of health but he uses approximately 3 cylinders per month which now together with delivery charges cost him $11.16 which you no doubt will agree is a substantial amount out of a pension of approximately $68 per month.
He now finds that only his savings enable him to continue this life saving treatment.
In view of your final statement in your letter of 16th September I now ask that oxygen cylinders be considered for those who already have adequate equipment and can arrange privately the necessary domiciliary services.
I do not know whether I am dense or whether the Minister is dense or whether we are both dense, but I keep writing and explaining to him that it is not a question of the equipment, it is a question of the oxygen. Surely there would not be many people who would be suffering from this complaint so severely that they would require oxygen cylinders. 1 have come in contact with 2 such people. I do not know whether any other honourable members have had similar complaints. I see that the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) has indicated that he has come into contact with 2 such people. Probably it would mean that there would be only a few hundred - maybe 1,000 - people who are suffering from this complaint throughout Australia. Surely a country as rich as Australia can afford to amend the National Health Act, if necessary, in order to provide oxygen for pensioners or for any group of people who find it difficult financially to buy oxygen from their own means. We ought to be able to include oxygen in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. I repeat for the benefit of the present Minister for Health, the previous Ministers for Health and no doubt the future Minister for Health, that it is not the equipment but merely the oxygen that is required.
– Before I address the House during the adjournment debate this evening I should like to establish whether there is a Minister in charge of the House. I am delighted to see that the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) is in charge of the House tonight. 1 think it is important that there should be a Minister in charge to hear what I have to say, and I am grateful for his alacrity. It is a measure of the peculiarities of Australian government that today in our country the standard refund under our so-called national health scheme for consultations or confinements is 80c. This incredible fact applies to the major medical and health funds when they deal with the Bush Nursing Association of New South Wales. This is the flat rate applicable. Can there be anything more ludicruous in east or west than the categorisation of confinements as worth 80c? But this is part of the great and sad anomaly of government attitude to the bush nurses who have served for 2 generations in small distant country centres.
I am informed that some medical and some hospital benefit funds refuse to pay for any treatment at all at the bush nursing centres. I raise the matter tonight and ask the Minister for Supply, who is at the table, directly to raise with the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) the legality of funds refusing to pay for treatment that is carried out at these essential centres which have served so well for 2 generations. It certainly cries for an investigation and reply. But perhaps all these silly anomalies were only irritants in days when the rural half of the nation was prosperous, but tonight the story is different. We have rural troubles, we have hardship, and the bush nurse is more important than ever before. I have the privilege of having 4 bush nursing centres situated in the Riverina. They are located at Darlington Point. Moulamein. Tullibigeal and Weethalle. All of them face a crisis. I have made directly and personally to the Minister for Health 9 different submissions. So far no action has resulted. The tragedy in human terms is considerable.
The only support given by government to bush nursing is a subsidy of $18,000 which has remained unchanged for nearly 20 years. This subsidy from the Government of New South Wales goes to the headquarters of the Bush Nursing Association in Sydney and is then divided up across the countryside. While the New South Wales Minister for Health is con.idering improving this tiny contribution, the crisis continues. One district nurse has lost her car; there is no money to maintain it. Yet in one centre alone last year more than 3,000 patients were treated, more than 1,300 miles were travelled and 371 babies were attended to. One nurse is relying on lifts or the use of a bicycle. But it is sometimes necessary to undertake round trips of up to 100 miles. That would be an awfully long bicycle ride. It would be a long wait for a mother who has a baby waiting to be born. As my own mother would have put it, I would not like to be hanging from the heels for the whole of that time.
It may be asked what is the involvement of the Commonwealth. The involvement is direct and pertinent, These centres treat up to 300 and 400 pensioners every year and the Commonwealth, which pays doctors, which pays chemists - not much, it is true - and which pays hospitals refuses point blank to pay the bush hospitals, which is what these bush nursing centres are. The Commonwealth makes no payment at all. It ignores this aspect of the care of pensioners. But if these centres were to close down the Commonwealth would be faced with a tenfold rise in the money to be found. The Board of the Base
Hospital at Griffith has been investigating what would be the position if the Darlington Point centre were to close. Instead of several hundred pensioners being treated on the spot and kept at home, they would have to travel 20 miles to Griffith and, in many cases, would have to be admitted to the hospital there. Yet the Griffith Hospital has a bed shortage on many occasions. The Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), in his last advice to me. said:
The only legislation administered by the Commonwealth Minister for Health under which financial assistance could be provided to the association by the Commonwealth appears to be the Home Nursing Subsidy Act. The Home Nursing Subsidy Scheme commenced in 1956 with the basic objective of providing special Commonwealth assistance in the establishment of new home nursing organisations or the expansion of organisations which were already in existence in 1956. i have ascertained that an application for subsidy under the Act was made by, the NSW Bush Nursing Association to my Department last year. However, this application was unsuccessful because the number of nurses then employed on a full-time basis did nol exceed the number so employed at the commencement of the Scheme on 30 September 1956.
That is a magnificent example of bureau.cratese - an ugly word, but an ugly decision, too. I have no doubt that it is the reason for the refusal, but it is so much rubbish in relation to the needs of country people. The bush nursing centres do not even receive recognition for the drugs they supply free. They are a subsidy to the mighty Commonwealth Government; they really are. These little centres, which are voluntarily supported, are subsidising the Commonwealth Government, which has an annual budget of $1 0,000m. It is true that there is a charge of $1.30 for a consultation and that the maximum charge is $2.30. But contrast that with the general charges. Doctors speak highly of the scheme. Local committees in the Riverina area and in all the States have worked for 50 years to keep the centres going. The base and district hospitals look in trepidation at their threatened closure as the needs of the people are obvious.
I make a request tonight to the Minister for Health, firstly, to recognise the bush nursing centre as an approved place for the treatment of pensioners under the national health scheme - it is obvious that that should be done; secondly, to take action to ensure that all medical and hos pital funds properly recognise the treatment given - let us end the 80c charge for a confinement; and, thirdly, to ensure that there is adequate Commonwealth compensation for the thousands of Aborigines treated over the years. In many of these places there are substantial Aboriginal populations and these Aborigines are treated there. I understand that some gesture is made in this respect, but I am asking tonight for an assessment and an investigation of the range of treatment given and for recognition by the Commonwealth, which does not seem to be adequate in the third category that I have mentioned tonight. If the Commonwealth acted properly and rightly and took these steps it would remove the crisis and save the bush nurse. If nothing is done these centres will be lost, the people will suffer, some will die, the district and base hospitals will be embarrassed and the Commonwealth will have to find a large sum of money, which it is not now required to find, for the treatment of these people in public hospitals and other State supported institutions. So I appeal to the Minister and the Government in the name of common sense and humanity Vo end the crisis facing the bush nursing centres at this time.
– During the adjournment debate last night I dealt with a matter relating to the Parliamentary Handbook. From what I said it may have been taken that I was casting a slur on the staff of the Parliamentary Library, particularly in some sectors. I want to deny that I had any such intention. My understanding is that what appears in the Parliamentary Handbook does not appear there unless the final draft is approved by the member concerned.
I have been sitting here for some considerable time observing what I consider to be a shocking state of affairs. Some honourable members opposite are continually casting aspersions at members of the Opposition because of our attitude to some of the legislation introduced by this Government in its term of office, and particularly in the late 1950s and 1960s. I want to challenge particularly some of the younger members in this chamber. The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) comes readily to mind, as does the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) who is now at the table. I have checked copies of Hansard and have found that they are 2 members who have supported the Government continually in sending young men of this country to Vietnam, while they themselves have not the courage of their convictions. It irks me that this state of affairs should continue. I see, Mr Speaker, that you are somewhat uneasy. I hope I am not infringing any rules. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) has a smile on his face. He has supported legislation to send young men to Vietnam. Why then did he not have the courage to go himself? The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), so capable and able to wield a knife and place it in the back of his colleagues, could have wrung the neck of any North Vietnamese soldier. This is the type of thing that gets under my skin and will continue to do so.
-Order! While the honourable member has not yet infringed he has been very close to it. All personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly. I think it is a matter of regret for the House that in some of the recent debates personalities have been raised and the probity of individual members has been canvassed. I do not think it is in keeping with the dignity of the House and I suggest that wherever possible, even during the adjournment debate, individual personalities should be avoided.
– With all respect to what you have just said, Mr Speaker, and while I would be the last person in this chamber to question your rulings, the fact is that the honourable member for Diamond Valley has asked question after question about people who have been thrown into prison in this country because of what he has described as dodging their responsibilities. Members of the Government Parties have said from time to time that the question of law and order is paramount. It has been said that we are on the road to anarchy and so on.
– Speak up.
– You need not tell me to shut up, Mr Minister. Let me say this to you: A former member of this House was thrown into prison in respect of matters on which he had a strong and valid objection. He served his prison sentence and was elected to this Parliament. He later served this country as Prime Minister and, mark you, fought the passage through this House of a Bill dealing with the very matters in respect of which he had been thrown into prison, but in different circumstances. He took his stand in this Parliament because the country was in peril. Let us hear no more of this rubbish from the pipsqueaks opposite who should have put their duty to the country where their mouths are. 1 am sick and tired of the slurs being cast and the questions being asked in this chamber by members on the Government side who have forced people from this country to fight overseas. The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) spoke last night because he misunderstood what I had said on the question of whether certain people were unfit to service overseas.
Let me say this in this chamber: This Government is guilty of committing at least one man, of whom I know personally, to his death in Vietnam. His eyesight was so deficient that he should not have gone there. The day will come when the opportunity will be afforded to me in this House to tell honourable members how the 2 Prime Ministers who have occupied office since I have been here hoodwinked the parents of this deceased soldier in respect of information concerning certain lectures. The fact is that discharged personnel from Vietnam of warrant officer rank have come to see me in my office and have said that while they were in Vietnam they knew of the fact that I had raises in this question. One fellow said tha! he identified himself with a number of training groups in a military camp where it was said that these soldiers were advised adequately as to insurance matters whereas in fact the system of responsibility adopted by the Army was to obtain from the local area any one of a number of insurance company salesmen to lecture the soldiers on insurance. I have the names of such salesmen. So where is the Government’s integrity in this regard? Where is the Government’s honesty in respect of its conscience? 1 could go through a list of the honourable members who were in this House during this time. I mention the honourable member for Diamond Valley, the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) and the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) who is always opening his mouth here about law and order and responsibility. Where is the Government’s responsibility? Where is its responsibility in regard to these young fellows? Since I have been in this place, the only regard that the Government has had in the legislation that it has introduced in the House has been for the false god that it worships of reelection to this place. I say that with all the bitterness that I can command. The Government has fallen down in its job for the country. It has fallen down in its responsibility to assist the growth of this country to be what it ought to be. Not one honourable member opposite can conscientiously say, since I have been a member of this place, that he has carried out his duties to the country and to the people whom he represents at a level better than that of a local shire council member. Honourable members opposite ought to be condemned for their attitude. Is it any wonder that one becomes bitter in this place?
I hear continual criticism of the trade union movement by honourable members opposite who, as Ministers and supporters of the Government, act with less responsibility than any trade union officers I ha*# ever met - and I have met plenty. Many of the people upon whom Government members cast slurs have a greater sense of responsibility to the people whom they represent than any Government supporter could ever hope to have. The fact has trickled through the corridors that the latest poll shows that the popularity of the Government’s leader - the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) - is declared to be 28 per cent. Since you fellows have been at him, it has dropped another 1 per cent because you have all been going crook about him. Is it any wonder that honourable members opposite sit where they sit tonight fully recognising that they will be defeated at the next election? Let each and every one opposite if he wishes to accept any sort of challenge at all come to this place next week and put into motion the machinery which allows the people of this country to cast a vote and make a decision as to whether Government supporters are worthy of their wages, salt and effort, because in my opinion they are not worth any of these 3 things. 1 will welcome the day, in fact welcome the hour, when the Government sees fit to do anything for this country. The honour able member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) has a motion on the notice paper regarding communism. Recently appointed to the Ministry of this country is the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) who stood in this House not 6 months ago, mark you, and declared that Britain and all the Scandinavian countries were cowards and mongrels because they never came in on the same side of the Vietnam war as Australia did. The appointment of this man to the Ministry is an absolute national disgrace. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) ought to have been given the sack because, when he went overseas last year, he belittled his own country in the most shameful way imaginable. This is the type of government that the people of this country have. It could be said that this is the type of government that the people of this country deserve. It is the type of government that I consider that the country in the future can most ill-afford.
– I want to put on record the fact that I greatly regret that a speech such as the one we have just heard from the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) should be made in this House. I have been here for many years and I have not heard a speech like that made before. Let us hope that we will never hear its like again.
– -I rise to speak on a matter which is of considerable concern to a very large number of people. We are all aware that some weeks ago in Victoria there was a protracted industrial dispute. We are all aware that during the course of that dispute the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) publicly stated that those persons who were members of the unions involved in the dispute would not be paid unemployment benefits. The Minister did not say that no-one would be paid unemployment benefits during that period. This appears to be the situation at the moment. It is now 3 weeks since the dispute finished and as of this morning no ruling was available from the Department of Social Services to those officers who have to process claims for unemployment benefits lodged during the period of that industrial dispute.
The unemployment benefit in this country is pitiful enough.’ But to make people wait 3 weeks before their claims can be even processed is, in my opinion, a disgraceful and unforgivable delay. I intended to raise this matter last Thursday during the debate on unemployment benefits, but in order to save time I discussed the matter with the Minister and officers of the Department. I was informed that a ruling had been made that day and that it would be in transit to the Melbourne office of the Department of Social Services that afternoon. On Monday of this week, because no ruling was available, the process of determining claims in my electorate could not be commenced. 1 sent a telegram to the Minister and I received a telegram in reply indicating that he would contact me have not heard anything from the Minister. On the last occasion when I was able to check, no ruling had been given by the Department. I think someone ought to look very seriously into this matter. For 3 weeks people have been waiting for the few dollars to which they are entitled. I think the carrying out of the Minister’s statement to the full may be the reason for the delay. Most likely the Department is having extreme difficulty in drafting a ruling to fit the rather irrational and illegal statements of the Minister.
Despite this fact, there are many thousands of people who are not members of the unions involved in the dispute who have an entitlement and who were stood down. These people are entitled to collect the unemployment benefits due to them and they should not be forced to wait 3 or 4 weeks to receive them. I have raised this matter in the House because I think honourable members should be aware of the excessive delay and the failures of a Minister of this Government to carry out his responsibilities to ensure that at the earliest possible time those amounts of money owing to people as unemployment benefits are paid to them. This continuing delay is causing serious hardship to some people. I hope that some action will be taken in the immediate future to correct the situation.
– 1 wish to take part in this adjournment debate briefly because of the remarks of the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster). I do not know whether honourable members opposite have been grinning and smirking because they think he is funny or because they feel uncomfortable. I would hope it is because they feel uncomfortable. I have never, as long as I can remember, apart from the 2 occasions we have witnessed in the chamber today, ever heard an ex-serviceman of the war in which I took part criticise anybody else for lack of service.
It is something which is never done, particularly when the people criticised are under age. I want to be completely dissociated from the remarks and the ravings of the honourable member for Sturt. 1 feel some shame that we served in the same Service. It so happens that this morning the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) made what I thought was a scandalous, personal attack upon the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch). I thought that if we were going to talk in this Parliament about war service I would check some of the records. Unfortunately, the comments made by the honourable member for Wills will not go on the record because they were ruled out of order. I take it that Hansard does not keep such records. I have to rely on memory and what appears in the Press tonight. In tonight’s Melbourne ‘Herald’ Mr Whitlam is reported as stating - we all remember that he said this:
Mr Bryant is one of the few MHRs who have been decorated for military service.
Perhaps that is so. I checked the Commonwealth Parliamentary Handbook and I could not find any record of any decoration. So I take it that the reference is to some sort of long service record. If we are going to talk about records and decorations let us think what a decoration really is. I do not want to get down to personalities either, but T hope that the honourable member for Wills-
– I do not want to. After the ravings of the honourable member for Sturt one feels impelled to defend people who are too sensitive to defend themselves.
– Did the honourable member have a record of service here before he spoke?
– The honourable member for Corio interjects. I do not remember seeing any record of service in his details. As I said, the honourable member for Wills attacked in a most scandalous way the Minister for Labour and National Ser- vice. He said things which I am sure he did not mean and which, unfortunately, will never be recorded. The honourable member’s own record of service commenced in 1934 in the Citizen Military Forces. I notice that it was not until June 1945 that he left the country. From my recollection the war ended in October 1945. So I say to the honourable member: Do not set yourself up as a great hero and attack anybody else, especially someone who was under age in the last war.’ It so happens that the Minister for Labour and National Service rendered national service. He completed it in the mid-1950s at the University of Melbourne. Subsequently he joined the University of Melbourne Squadron and he is still on the reserve.
Someone was critical of the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown). Let us place on record the fact that the honourable member volunteered. At this moment he is still on the Naval Volunteer Reserve. I took out some figures- (Opposition members interjecting)
– Honourable members opposite are ho-ho-ing. I do not see them rushing to the colours. In the Second World War 38 members from our side of the House enlisted. Thirty of the 38 served overseas. Seventeen members from the Opposition side enlisted and 11 served overseas.
– We were all youngsters; you were all old men.
– I am pleased to hear the honourable member for Robertson interjecting because I commend him. He is the only one I can find who rendered any service and I congratulate him for it. It would be foolish of anybody to be critical of the honourable member for Robertson because he could not serve in the Second World War. How could he? The war was over while he was still a child. The same thing applies to the Minister for Labour and National Service and other young honourable members of our side of the House. It does not do credit to anybody to attack them in the way they have been attacked. Of these younger honourable members, according to the Parliamentary Handbook, five have rendered service since the war compared with one honourable member from the Opposition side.
– The honourable member has not done any recent research.
– I do not pretend to have done any better research than what is possible in the Parliamentary Handbook. If the honourable member has done any military service he is too ashamed to put it in the handbook. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) talked about the decoration of the honourable member for Wills. I hope that the honourable member for Wills will tell us what it is. Let me place on record tonight that as far as I can determine 6 decorations were awarded to Government supporters for bravery in the field. That is what a decoration is for; it is not awarded for sitting on your behind back at Fort Largs or somewhere else. There was one decoration awarded to an Opposition member. This was received by the honourable member for Sturt, who was mentioned in despatches. I congratulate the honourable member on his war service, but it must have affected him somehow or other because he is not behaving in the same way these days.
I trust that in future honourable members opposite will leave others alone and will not discuss war service. If honourable members opposite want to match their war service collectively or individually with that of Government supporters, the record is there for them to see. We will match our record with theirs. 1 deplore any person who has served in a war criticising anybody who did not, whatever his reason. I hope that honourable members opposite do not ever do it again.
– I am a little surprised that the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) did not get the point. I. suppose that all of us in this Parliament have helped to pass legislation concerned with national service, even if some of us have opposed it. At the moment a number of young Australians are being pursued relentlessly and ruthlessly by forces directed by people opposite because they have refused to serve under the National Service Act. Until recently the price of service was the probability of service in Vietnam. My personal policy, from which I will not be diverted by any consideration whatsoever, is that those who pursue them in this way should answer by their own personal service when the opportunity offers.
From 1951 to about 1953 anybody who was in the eligible age group could have gone to Korea if he felt like it. From 1965 to this year he could have gone to Vietnam. I do not say a word about those who do not participate in the denigration of these young men. But there are several members of this House who have dedicated themselves to the proposition that Australia needed defending and, from the record and from the evidence around us, are of the age group in which people can serve quite satisfactorily and who in my opinion ought to go themselves to defend this country. My own personal view is that what honourable members did or did not do is their own affair. But when they start to cast aspersions upon other people they have to answer for where they were when the guns were really barking. 7 have said consistently that while certain honourable members use their political power to pursue young men in this way I will do everything that my position offers to pour my scorn and contempt upon them, not for anything personal and not for personal cowardice but for the simple immorality of their action.
I served in the last war. I went when 1 was sent and I came home when I could. My record has been in the Parliamentary Handbook for a long, long while. I was awarded, as a result of long service, a thing called the Australian Efficiency Decoration. This award was recorded in the Gazette’. I told nobody about it. After 5 or 6 weeks the Minister for the Army, a gracious young man as he then was. said: Why have you not told Hansard. At least it ought to be recorded there’. So there it is. I suppose one can say that ‘E.D.’ stands for exercising discretion, because I am still alive. I participated. I attended as an infantry officer. I happen to have been associated with battlefields and things like that, but I do not claim any particular credit whatsoever. Indeed, one might say that my contribution was insignificant. I think T fired 4 shots. I hope now, having learnt a lot in recent times, that they did not hit anybody. But on the question of where one stands, I believe it is a strong Australian spirit that what you want other people to do you should be prepared to do yourself.
– Put up or shut up.
– That is right; you put up or shut up. I agree completely with my colleague from Sturt that national service is one of the major moral issues of the day. While the Government pursues people like young Barry Johnston as ruthlessly and as relentlessly as it is doing, I will do everything in my power to protect him. I know the young man. He teaches in my electorate. I am a member of the public office selection committee, the panel which selected him. He is honourable in every possible way, an idealist and all the good things that most of us would expect from young Australians. He happens to disagree with the people opposite. I will do everything in my power to protect him and I will do everything in my power to show to the Australian community the immorality of the people who are pursuing him.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. 1 claim to have been misrepresented.
-Order! 1 will call the honourable member for Corio after the honourable member for Griffith, as soon as the main debate has concluded.
– It always suits the arguments of members of the Opposition, including the emotional honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), to completely gloss over the facts relating to national service. The honourable member for Sturt and the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) carry on here as if a young man had no choice in life other than to face being called up. The truth is that if he wants to opt out he can join the Citizen Military Forces, and he does not even have to face the risk of being called up for national service. But I do not wish to dwell on that subject tonight.
The honourable member for Sturt made reference tonight to a slump in the popularity of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). If he catches up with the figures, he will learn that the popularity of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) also has taken a dive. Many members on this side of the House are aware of the quiet whisperings on the other side of the House to the effect: ‘It is time we did something about our Leader’. One looks back to a publication written by Mr Cyril Wyndham when he wrote for the first time ‘his version of a controversial and stormy period in the Australian Labor Party’ and told of ‘the horrors of working with Whitlam’ - horrors such as those the honourable member for Sturt gives us. The caption reads:
Whitlam: He had acquaintances, hangers-on and carpetbaggers, but not one genuine friend.
Members of the Opposition pretend here tonight that they are an alternative government; that they - members of the Party that has won only 3 elections in about 53 years - are ready for office after 22 years out of government; that the time has come for them to cross the desert; that they have arrived. I assure them that they have not arrived. The quality of the people in their party is such that the Australian public will never buy them.
I wish to draw attention to a newspaper clipping. Normally I do not refer to newspaper clippings, but this one of last year states that Senator Georges told the ViceChancellor of the University of Queensland to ‘close the university for next week’. What audacity! What cheek members of the Labor Party have, when they think they can go to the vice-chancellor of a university and say: ‘Close your university’. The people outside, the workers whom they claim to represent, the people who vote for us year in and year out, are the ones who supply the money to open the university so that the young people of today can have a better opportunity for education and then plough back into our society some of the knowledge they have gained. But members of the Labor Party go along and say: ‘Close down the university for next week*.
Let us look at this Labor Party. The Courier-Mail’ of 29th July last referred to Mr Tom Burns, the man who scuttled the ALP ship. He got out of it. He went for a seat in the Queensland Parliament because he knew he would never win one in the Australian Parliament. He has fragmented the Labor Party in Queensland which is completely topsy turvy because of him. If you ask any good Labor men in Queensland they will whisper to you quietly - because they are frightened of losing their endorsement - that Burns is a - it starts with ‘B’ also. Let us see what Mr Burns prescribes as the necessary prerequisites for a Labor candidate. This is what he told a trade union congress in the Brisbane Trades Hall on 28th July last year:
We need you to back us up now and to help us select the best candidates for future elections. The real remedy is in your hands.
The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) had better watch out because he might be next. Mr Burns continued:
We need politicians who will carry out the party’s platforms.
That was a great display of independent mind. He went on:
If you put people in a Parliament and they don’t do this, then don’t ring me to complain.
We need some decent candidates in the next election whose hearts are in the Labor movement.
I feel like crying. What a disgusting exhibition. That was the great leader of the Labor Party, Mr Burns. I am glad that the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) is here tonight because we come back now to the football games again. Referring to the way Mr Burns reacted after the Labor Party lost the by-elections in Queensland under the headline ‘Labor probe into two poll defeats’ the ‘Courier-Mail’ stated:
The Federal ALP president (Mr T. Burns) said yesterday it appeared that the fascism of the State Government in belting down peaceful protestors had won the favour of electors.
He made no apologies. He said: They are fascists!. That is how the Labor Party takes an electoral defeat. Let us go one step further and talk about a most shameful demonstration, a sell-out of our nation. It almost passed unnoticed at the end of last year. Mr Bart Lourigan, who was then acting general secretary of the Labor Party in Queensland wrote to the United Nations about our country. This report was published in the United Nations. Remember that he is a member of the Australian Labor Party. If it were the Somali Labor Party I might believe it, but it is not. He wrote a letter saying that the Labor Party would continue to struggle against racial discrimination and was firmly committed to oppose any sports team sent to Australia, etc. But in that letter, to make a quick precis, he said: ‘Out here they are a mob of racists.’ To my recollection, I have never before seen anyone in this country who would write to some world body and sell out his country. This man wrote to the
United Nations selling us out. Do honourable members consider that that was worthy?
Let us come right back to home right back here where we are tonight. Only a week or 10 days ago the Brisbane ‘Courier Mail I might say that it carries more information than the ‘Sunraysia Daily’ carries and one can rely on it much more - carried a story titled ‘ALP vote sack him.’ Who was it talking about? The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) should sit down. He is not being demoted any further. He can relax. He has already had his chop. We all know what happened to him when he supported Australia’s immigration policy Kapow! The article was referring to another man in the Labor Party - the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley).
– Order! Can the honourable member for Griffith inform me whether or not the word he has just used is parliamentary?
– I do not believe that it is. Sir, but it meant ‘the end!’. As I was saying in this very serious contribution, 2 weekends ago there was an overwhelming vote in Victoria that the honourable member for Fremantle was unsuitable for his job. I wonder why honourable members in this House are prepared to hide behind the genuine appearance which the honourable member for Fremantle presents and the votes he undoubtedly wins because of his sincerity, knowing that when the Victorian group moves it spells death for anybody. Even the Leader of the Opposition went out to reform them but accepted the fact that he could not, and joined them. One day he was saying that they were witless men; the next day he was accepting his orders from those witless men. As you know, Mr Speaker, I am not vindictive by heart. I have made these remarks because these things had to be said after the terrible contribution this evening from the emotional honourable member for Sturt. Every time the Labor Party is in trouble he gets up, screams, yells and carries on, and his own Party sits back in horror and disappointment but cajoling and egging him on. I would suggest that that is not the way for the honourable member for Sturt to carry on. I am quite sure that, come the next election, the honourable member for Sturt, like many other members of the Opposition, will be back where he came from and this Parliament will again be blessed with men of ability and discretion.
Mr SCHOLES (Corio)- The honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) during the course of his speech, I think unintentionally, clearly implied that I had avoided military service. I think it should be made clear that in 1939 I was 8 years of age. I do not think the Army took recruits at that age. In 1945 I was 14 years of age. [ do not think military service is usually commenced at that age. My father died as a result of war injuries, so I think I did suffer because of the war. Since 1945 no military engagement involving the defence of Australia has taken place, so I think any other military service would be irrelevant.
– There was the Korean war.
– That did not involve the defence of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.46 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Papua New Guinea: Electoral (Question No. 4985)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In its report the Committee went on to add, The Committee believes that the present system of open electorates being contained wholly within districts should be continued, and this may mean that in some cases a member may represent more or less people than average’.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answer ‘o the honourable member’s question is as follows:
See answer to part (1).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What sums have been spent by -
local government bodies at airports on -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
I,t is not practicable to provide answers to these questions strictly along the lines requested but the following comprehensive information should, I think, suffice -
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Statistician collects statistics of advanced level courses in which students were enrolled in colleges of advanced education. Data for individual colleges of advanced education are not available. Statistics have been provided by State for the only years for which complete data are at present available, being 1969 and 1970.
For the purposes of these statistics, colleges of advanced education are institutions listed in the appropriate States Grants (Advanced Education) Act as colleges of advanced education, together with the Canberra College of Advanced Education. Statistics for 1969 relate only to courses which are approved under the appropriate Act for the purpose of financial assistance, while for 1970 the statistics relate also to other courses which are considered to be of equivalent standard.
asked the Minister Cor Social Services, upon notice:
Is he now able to answer fully part (2) of question No. 4463 (Hansard, 10th November 1971, pages 3302-3) dealing with savings to his
Department by treating psychiatric hospitals and their patients differently to other public hospitals and their patients.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The position is unchanged since my reply to the honourable member’s question No. 4463 on 10th November 1971 (Hansard pages 3302-3).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 March 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720302_reps_27_hor76/>.