27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe . . .
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist.
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners mo9t humbly pray that .
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to al least $240m.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more- favourable conditions for developing countries, by Dr Forbes, Mr Peacock, Mr Brown, Mr
The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Commonwealth Public Service Board policy in reviewing Allowances paid to Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service stationed in remote localities of the Commonwealth, does not embrace fully the ambit of disabilities in these remote localities and in addition, is being reviewed only after lengthy periods of time.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to -
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bonnett and Mr Fulton.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
A: That State education in Victorian Primary, Secondary and Technical schools is seriously impoverished by lack of funds.
B: Thai shortages of teachers in the Secondary and Technical divisions are causing serious hardship to children, many of whom are receiving little or no teaching in mathematics or science and whose hours of class teaching in many subjects have been severely curtailed.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to ensure that -
State education be given a higher priority in the allocation of Federal funds and that emergency action be taken to solve the present acute shortage of teachers in the secondary teaching service.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Brown and Mr Jarman.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That on December 10, 1948, Australia signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Yet, 23 years later. In our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all States, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings.. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the $5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals.
Ten per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners. Royal Commission or other form of public inquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into Une with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Foster and Dr Jenkins.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, we, the Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, residents in the State of Western Australia do humbly petition and pray that all levels of Government responsible in Australia will take note of the wishes of we, the Citizens, in so far as we request:
That the Commonwealth Government give urgent consideration to granting taxation concessions to those mothers who are forced to pay fees to have their children retained in Day Care and Family Care Centres.
That these mothers and children are being disadvantaged by the economic circumstances where no concession is made for the charges which must be paid to have their children so looked after. In fact it seems that a single parent is working for a subsistence wage and receiving a lower income than many who are living on Social Service at a cost to the community.
That these mothers efforts to maintain themselves and their families should be rewarded by taxation concessions for fees paid in recognition to their dignity and standing in the community.
That single and married mothers are contributing to the community by the establishment of their home, the cost of which has become affected by inflation and so must continue to work to make the future for the children who are so cared for.
Therefore we ask that all these aspects be taken into urgent consideration and that taxation concessions for all child minding fees be granted to ease the burden.
We, the Petitioners humbly pray that the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled would take immediate steps to ensure provision of this taxation concession and your Petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
To the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Pre-school and After-school education facilities are in urgent need within the Australian community. The shortage has become more acute as more mothers join the work force.
In advanced countries pre-school and after-school education are recognised as essential aspects of education for all children.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to provide the necessary finance to enable State education departments and Local Government authorities to establish:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Reynolds.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of Australia, in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors and others respectfully show:
That the acquisition of the Many Peaks Range on the Townsville Town Common, by the Department of Civil Aviation, for the proposed unmanned radar stations, will, by ground clearance, access roads and construction, most seriously interfere with an area already designated as wilderness in City Council plans. The flora and fauna
In the area are already being studied by students and scientists of the James Cook University and of Townsville schools, and are of particular interest for their variety and diversity. This is the only easily accessible area of this type for study purposes.
Also the proposed fence will prevent access to Shelley Beach by bushwalkers and tourists, and the recreational value of the area will be lost.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the Parliament of Australia will direct the Department of Civil Aviation to investigate other and less vulnerable sites for this project. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bonnett.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned employees in Parliament House, Canberra respectfully sheweth:
That the inadequacy of the present parliamentary building is resulting in unpleasant, inefficient and inconvenient working conditions in the House itself.
That the fragmentation of staff at West Block and other offices in the City due to the inadequacies of space in the present building causes inefficiency in staff control and working relationships.
That although the present patchwork extension system results in better accommodation for some sections of the working population in the House it has worsened the accommodation in other areas by shutting out light and ventilation.
That the older sections of the House, besides being cramped, are affected by extremes of heat and cold and quite out of keeping with modern office working conditions.
That the House lacks proper records storage facilities, and other facilities, especially related to staff comfort, a requirement highly desirable in view of Parliament’s extended working hours.
That the present extensions, as with past extensions, have been costly to the taxpayer and economically short-sighted and will merely relieve the most pressing needs for a very limited period of time due to the inevitable growth of the business of this Parliament.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that an early decision will be taken by the Government to build the new and permanent Parliament House which will, in the long run, be a more economical way to house the Parliament and which will, at the same time, be an impressive and proud symbol of Australia’s progress and national unity.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition from certain residents of the western suburbs in the Sydney Metropolitan area and surrounding districts respectfully sheweth:
Thai due to an expanding passenger air travel business together with larger and more powerful jet aircraft, aircraft noise has already become a serious problem for people living in the vicinity of airports.
That jet aircraft operations have a detrimental effect by way of air and noise pollution on the environment and airports should be situated 1.0 as to preserve the environment of populated areas.
That protest should be made against the proposal to establish an international airport at Richmond owing to the detrimental effect it would have for the environment there and in’ surrounding districts.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that this House take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government does not proceed with the proposal to site the second, twenty-four hour international airport for Sydney at Richmond or anywhere else in the far western suburbs of the metropolitan area.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Luchetti.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the State of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your Honourable House will (i) make immediately a substantial Federal emergency grant to all State Governments for public education services and (ii) carry out a public national survey to determine needs of the States after 197S.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Lucock.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
YOu petitioners, therefore, most humbly pray that:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Morrison.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, we, the Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, residents in the State of Western Australia do humbly petition and pray that all levels of Government responsible in Australia will take note of the wishes of we, the Citizens, in so far as we request:
That the Commonwealth Government give urgent consideration to the return of the land compulsorily acquired from the Shire of Belmont for defence purposes namely lots 313, 314, 324 and 325 bounded by Alexander Road, Belgravia Street, Esther Street and Daly Street.
That the land be returned to the Belmont Shire for the purposes envisaged of constructing an Aged Peoples Village and a Community Development
We further believe that this site is one of the choicest sites for residential development remaining in the Belmont Shire and we feel that the Shire has lost a large proportion of its rateable land to the Commonwealth Government and that this will in some way compensate for the resumptions which have taken place and the lack of opportunity for community development which exists because of those resumptions.
Therefore, we urge that the matter be given urgent consideration so that proper planning and development of the Shire can continue. Your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move that for the remainder of the session unless otherwise ordered the House shall meet for the dispatch of business on each Tuesday at 11 a.m. or at such time thereafter as Mr Speaker shall take the chair, on each Wednesday at 10.30 a.m. and on each Thursday at 10 a.m.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is aware that the cost of storing the egg pulp resulting from the long failure of the Government to accelerate moves towards controlled production will be about $ 1.62m this year. If so, does the Government’s offer of $750,000 for the egg industry represent less than half the storage cost alone? Did the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities this year request assistance to the value of $3. 5m to guarantee egg producers in Victoria a return on cost of production of 28c a dozen? Finally, why has the Government refused this assistance? Does this show that it is not prepared to offer a measure of security to producers in the period until the benefits of controlled production can be achieved, and that it is prepared to jeopardise the livelihood of hundreds of producers?
– 1 am delighted to see that the honourable member for Bendigo is taking interest in one of our primary industries. It is a refreshing trend for the honourable member and long may it continue. Very significant difficulties have been created for the egg industry by the excess of production over available markets. Regrettably, there has been in the last few years a tendency in some States to fail to introduce production control methods. In particular, in Victoria there has been a reluctance to introduce any form of production control, and this certainly has contributed towards the excess of stocks to which the honourable gentleman referred. In terms of the assistance provided by the industry, the honourable gentleman may not know that there are a number of outlets for egg pulp which, I understand, are not commercially attractive. However, provided circumstances are such that the producers themselves can be given some additional Government money, then I am told that these stocks can be sold at a price which, when taken in conjunction with the additional amount provided, by the Commonwealth, will enable not only the clearance of those stocks but also the payment of some returns to producers with respect to those.
In respect of the difficulties of the industry, first of all, production control is obviously essential. There would be no point in the Commonwealth providing financial aid were stocks henceforth to continue to grow at the rate they have in the past. The first condition that the Commonwealth has applied in its offer of $750,000 is predicated on the requirement that production control is applied by every State. At the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council I was given this assurance and I have no reason to expect that it will not be implemented. The second problem is the degree to which there was a request from the poultry industry for a very much greater sum of money than that which the Commonwealth is providing. The basis on which the Commonwealth made its judgment was the provision for growers of the return per dozen which they asked for. The amount that the Commonwealth has provided has been calculated by my officers as being sufficient, when taken in conjunction with the residual value of the egg pulp sold for these other purposes, to provide growers with that sum of money. Accordingly I can assure the honourable gentleman and perhaps even more significantly, the poultry growers of Australia, that the interests of the growers are being protected and that by the injection of this $750,000 the industry will be given a chance to get on its feet once again and get over this critical problem of over-supply in circumstances in which marketing is increasingly difficult.
– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by pointing out that, following the recent industrial dispute within the oil distribution and fuel marketing industry, it is obvious to everybody that, in this area, Australia’s economy is most vulnerable. Would the Prime Minister please review his Government’s incentives for private enterprise to discover and to develop commercial oilfields within Australia, both on-shore and off-shore, as a matter of national urgency?
– I believe that the 2 problems mentioned by the honourable gentleman are different and each of them requires a different remedy. In the first place, I do not believe that the recent oil strike had very much to do with prospecting for further oil resources in Australia. In fact, it was due to the maintenance men belonging to the metal industries going on strike to achieve increased wages. Nonetheless, I will have a look at the problem of increased incentives for oil exploration. I will ensure that this matter is taken up by my colleague, the Minister for National Development, who will let the honourable member have an answer.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts and Minister-in-charge of Tourist Activities. I preface my question by saying that in the last sessional period the Minister made a statement on behalf of the Government. The Minister said:
The Government has decided to introduce a system of impact statements designed to protect the environment.
Will these impact statements be public documents, as is the case in the United States of America, so that the Australian people and organisations will have an opportunity to examine them before legislation is discussed by Parliament?
– The answer is no. The purpose of the impact statements is to ensure that the Government, when considering matters coming before it, has made certain that all aspects of the environment have been considered and those examinations will be incorporated in any Government proposals that are put to the House in due course.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development: I refer to the rapid development of Australia’s natural resources in all fields and while recognising that national needs and progress should not be impeded, I ask the Minister whether he could give an assurance that attention is paid to conservation and preservation to the greatest degree possible.
– I appreciate the interest that the honourable member for Ryan shows in this important matter relating to the environment. He has raised the matter with me on occasions in the past and I think that, in again pursuing his interest, he is doing so in what I believe to be the firm national interest. I can give him an assurance in regard to the development of the resource industries in Australia that the very thesis that he has propounded in his question is carefully considered. Of course, the Commonwealh has stated its position in a statement made by my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. In co-operative bodies such as the Australian Minerals Council, the Australian Forestry Council and the Australian Water Resources Council, I have had the opportunity over the last year or so of studying with the States problems related to rational economic development of our resources and aspects of the environment.
I can assure the House that the States are fully conscious of the matter, as are the industries concerned. I can merely quote 2 outstanding examples of the work that is being undertaken in this field. One is the ecological studies that were undertaken at Jervis Bay at the site for the proposed nuclear power station. These studies were undertaken to an extent to which they had not been undertaken anywhere in the world where a site was being considered for a nuclear power station. The second is the study which is being undertaken jointly in Western Australia in the Ord Valley area. This is associated with the second stage of the Ord scheme - the main dam for which was opened recently by the Prime Minister. This ecological study is being undertaken on a very extensive scale by both governments. I assure the honourable member that I cite those 2 examples merely to indicate that the Commonwealth and State governments are fully aware of the matters raised by the honourable member, and I assure him that as much atten tion will be paid to these matters in the future as has been paid to them in the past.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question about the interruptions from outside the House which repeatedly marred the parliamentary broadcast between 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock last night. I emphasise that they were interruptions from outside the House. How does the Minister explain the incredible circumstance that 2 such experienced Commonwealth agencies as the Australian Broadcasting Commission and his Department were unable to discover or rectify promptly a fault in communications - such long standing and well tried communications - from the national capital?
– Just before I came into the House today the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission indicated to me that there had been difficulty last night. I was not here and knew nothing about it until he spoke to me. I understand that recently - the Leader of the Opposition perhaps will recollect this if he has been looking at other programmes relayed between Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney recently - there have been interruptions and the Post Office staff has had difficulty in finding just where the trouble lies and in being able to correct it. It is believed that the trouble is somewhere associated with the Sydney South Telephone Exchange, but it is not always possible for technicians to locate and correct these problems quickly.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. I refer to a statement that the proposed Northern National Park area is to be a flora and fauna sanctuary and that 5 rangers will be appointed to help to police it and advise visitors. Have any of these men been recruited and, if any have been appointed, are their efforts having any effect on preventing the damage that was being done to that environment? Has any agreement been reached between the Government and interested mining companies in the Jim
Jim, Mount Brookman, Cannon Hill and Oenpelli regions regarding the level of their assistance in preserving local flora and fauna and paintings? What progress has been made with the environmental fact finding study?
– I visited the area earlier this year, on a suggestion made by the honourable member for the Northern Territory, because of a degree of vandalism that was taking place in the proposed national park area, lt was as a result of this visit that I decided to have set aside 1,250 square miles as a wildlife sanctuary, and my Department has agreed to appoint 5 rangers to ensure that the environment is protected until such time as the question of the proposed national park is settled. I am not sure whether the 5 rangers have been appointed, but every effort is being taken to protect the area. Agreement has been reached between the mining companies which are prospecting over the area and the Government to contribute on a Si for $1 basis towards an environmental impact study to protect the environment including the fauna and flora. An executive committee has been set up. It includes representatives from the Northern Territory Administration, the Department of National Development, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the mining industry and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
– Is this at Jim Jim?
– Jim Jim has been set aside specifically as a mining reserve. No mining can take place there or at Deaf Adder Valley, which has a total area of 129 square miles. Senior officers of my Department are in the area at the present time with a director from the South Australian Museum to investigate ways and means of protecting the Aboriginal paintings that are there.
– Will the Minister for Social Services give consideration to making the pensions increases announced by the Treasurer in the Budget Speech retrospective to the date of the announcement? If he will not do this, what are his reasons for not so doing, bearing in mind that the Treasurer recently has announced taxation legislation with a retrospective effect?
Finally, will the Minister bring the social services legislation into this House as a matter of urgency so that expeditious treatment can be given to it, thereby helping those pensioners who are already forced to live below the poverty line?
– The answer to the second part of the honourable member’s question is yes. As soon as the legislation can be prepared it will be brought into the House. I am in consultation with the officers to make certain that there is no undue delay in doing this. Regarding the payment of pensions, it has been the practice in this House, both by the present Government and by its Labor predecessors, to pay pensions as from the date when the Bill comes into effect and receives the royal assent. I would anticipate that if the House and the Senate will go with me in this we will be paying the pensions at the new rate as from the end of September.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of the physical attack on Mr Ducker of the New South Wales Labor Council? Is this further evidence of the trend to violence in trade union affairs?
– The recent incident in New South Wales, involving the Assistant Secretary of the New South Wales Labor Council, is a further sorry episode in what has been, in recent years, a growing trend and long history of industrial violence - an episode, quite frankly, and a degree of violence which the Australian Labor Party, except in recent times, has sought either conveniently to ignore or to deny. There has been a substantial record of the degree to which violence has been used in certain sections of the trade union movement. I think of the use of violence by the builders’ labourers. I think also of the advocacy of violence, threat and intimidation by Mr Mundey of the Australian Builders Labourers Federation. I think also of violence in the New South Wales Labor Council and, of course, more recently, at the plumbers’ meeting in the Sydney Town Hall to which the honourable gentleman refers. Sadly, this violence of course is not new. But what is new is that the ALP for the first time must be prepared to recognise what is happening. In fact, to use the words of Mr Ducker, it is ‘A deliberate attempt at intimidation - a policy advocated by the Australian Communist Party’. 1 believe, as does the Government, that the Australian Labor Party must accept some responsibility for this increase in violence in recent years.
– Like you with the Nazi Party.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will restrain himself. 1 will not keep reminding him each question time that he should do so. I suggest that the honourable member conform with the normal practices of this House. I know that there has been some provocation in this instance but I suggest, nevertheless, that he restrain himself in future.
– Mr Speaker, might I support your references to the provocation in this case. There was no reference in the question to the Australian Labor Party. The Minister answering the question has obtruded some references. One of the 2 persons he mentioned by name is the President of the New South Wales Branch of the Labor Party who has been foremost in resisting and denouncing this violence and this thuggery. Sir, let me put it to you-
-Order! The honourable member just rose to his feet and said that he wanted to support me. He did not suggest that he was taking a point of order. He is now proceeding to make a statement.
– May I take a point of order?
-If the honourable member takes a point of order he may not canvass what he has already said. As I have said before, what he can do if he wishes to make a statement on the matter is ask for leave.
– No. I am taking a point of order. Sir, I submit that in the process of preserving law and order in this chamber you should curb Ministers from making provocative statements. I realise that you have difficulty at times in curbing the reactions to provocation, but I submit that you also have a responsibility to curb the provocation. In this case there was very blatant provocation. You described it as such. I believe that you correctly described it.
-Order! The honourable member is taking a point of order; he is not making a statement. As I have said many times to the House, provided an answer is relevant to the question I have no powers. I think that every honourable member knows this. The question asked by the honourable member for Mitchell comes within the ambit of the Minister for Labour and National Service as it relates to the trade union movement. Let me say quite frankly that provocative statements do not come from only one side of the House; they come from both sides from time to time. If I am to be the judge of provocative statements I will never cease interrupting the proceedings of the House. I believe, of course, that personal statements are to be abhorred, but the Chair cannot be the judge of what is provocative. That is the situation as I see it now. J did take cognisance of the fact that the Minister’s answer was, in my view, provocative to some members of the Labor Party, and I have said so. Equally, some statements from the other side of the House are extremely provocative. Let me say quite simply that if I am to be the judge of this situation I will need more wisdom than the wisdom of Solomon, and I do not have that.
– Mr Speaker-
– Mr Speaker-
-Order! The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory was on his feet beforehand; so I call him.
– I wish to speak on the point of order. The Minister described how the President of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party had said that he had been assaulted by elements for whom communists were responsible.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I am not responsible for what the Minister says, provided it is relevant. I think I have made that quite clear.
– Surely I can go on speaking on the point of order.
– No. I will not allow any honourable member to keep on digressing when I have given a ruling in this chamber. I repeat that I am not responsible, provided the answer is relevant to the question.
– But, Mr Speaker, it is on that very point that I wish to address you.
-I suggest that the honourable member do that and not debate the matter.
– I am not debating it, Mr Speaker. If the Minister quotes the President of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party as having said that he was assaulted by elements for whom communists were responsible and if the Minister then says that the Labor Party is responsible, surely-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I have not made my point.
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Mr Speaker-
-Order! I remind honourable members that question time is valuable.
– As you would be aware, Sir-
-Order! The House will come to order. I warn the honourable member for Riverina to cease interjecting. I know that he is only a small gentleman but he makes a lot of noise.
– Mr Speaker, as you would be aware, members on the Opposition side are never provocative, and we did not complain when the Prime Minister-
-Order! The House will come to order. There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– The point of order is that I seek a withdrawal from the Minister of his insult to me and my colleagues on this side of the House. He should withdraw what be said.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
- Mr Speaker, I really do not know what all the fuss is about. There is no intention to be provocative but there is an intention-
– You innocent thing.
-Order! I will not allow question time to be turned into something which will bring the Parliament into disrepute. I suggest that honourable members in the far corner on my left restrain themselves.
– There is no intention of any deliberate provocation here, but I believe that Ministers have a responsibility to put the situation as they see it in a matter which has had much national Press coverage within the period of the last 24 hours. I can understand the sensitivity of honourable gentlemen opposite to this question, but what I fail to appreciate is their in sensitivity to the need for members on both sides of this House to speak out clearly-
– I take a point of order. Will the Minister answer the question?
-Order! There is no point of order.
– What I fail to understand is the sensitivity of members of this House speaking out on an issue which concerns the rank and file members of the Australian trade union movement. That in fact is the issue here. What has been said in relation to the answer to this question is that what is at stake is effective membership control. The democratic processes of sections of the trade union movement are at stake. What is at stake in the trade union movement is the degree to which violence, threats, intimidation and duress have been so utilised. I remind honourable gentlemen that it is the policy of some members of this House in relation to the statement ‘draft dodging is not a crime’ and in relation to seeking to portray immunity from the law-
-Order! The Minister will not be in order in raising matters that are irrelevant to the question.
– Of course, Mr Speaker, I accept the ruling that you have given, but I make it perfectly clear that what has been said in relation to the incident in New South Wales bears witness to what this Government has been saying about a trend which has been emerging for a very long time. I close on this note: I think of some 8 or 10 months ago when the Leader of the Opposition laid that a Labor government would not be the unthinking mouthpiece for union officialdom. If ever there was a time for Opposition members to speak out it is now. 1 put it to the House that this is a matter of national importance and that the people of this country could be excused for believing that honourable members opposite might have a responsibility to address themselves to this question and to speak out loudly and clearly.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question supplementary to that purportedly asked of him without notice by the honourable member for Mitchell. In relation to the Builders Labourers Federation, which the Minister has mentioned, will he confirm that that union was forthwith suspended from the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council at the instance of the officials of the Council, who are all members of the Australian Labor Party and that that union was allowed to take part again in the affairs of the Council only on condition that those thugs amongst its members who had disrupted the Council’s proceedings never thereafter were allowed to be officers or delegates of the union? I ask the Minister whether he will confirm that when members of the Plumbers Union-
-Order! I say to the honourable gentleman on my right who is interjecting that the Leader of the Opposition is asking a question and I do not think that he has gone beyond the bounds of questions asked on many occasions by honourable members on the other side of the House.
– I also ask the Minister whether he will confirm that after similar thuggery on the part of members of the Plumbers Union in the Trades Hall in Sydney the Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, at the instance of its President - he is also the senior vice-president of the Australian Labor Party - the president of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party and the President of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Labor Party unanimously condemned such conduct on the part of members of that union and any such conduct on the part of any unions affiliated with the ACTU.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. On many occasions you have referred to the length of questions and this question is just going on and on and on.
– I have also mentioned on many occasions that the Leader of the Opposition. through the practice of this House, has been allowed some leniency. I have been listening carefully to him and he has asked a series of questions. He has not introduced comment; he is asking questions.
– Thirdly and finally, I ask the Minister: Will he have the grace to admit that the disciplinary action against the unions and the members of the unions responsible for the thuggery in every case was promptly initiated by leaders of the trade union movement who are members of the Australian Labor Party?
– The point is that I will have the grace to admit that action has been taken if the Leader of the Opposition will have the grace to admit that he has been noticeably silent on a matter in which it is inconceivable that a person in his station in this House should have continued to be so silent for so long a time. The simple fact is that it is not a question of what action has not been taken. It is not a question of what action has not been taken by Mr Ducker and members of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council. The real question before the Australian people is this: Who is determining the industrial policy of the official alternative government of this country? J have said before and I repeat now that of course members of the Opposition are noticeably silent on any major issue involving the Labour and National Service portfolio. Today the Leader of the Opposition has involved himself in one of his very rare forays into my portfolio. I sit here day after day frustrated because of the- (Honourable members interjecting) -
-Order! The House will come to order.
– I sit here, day after day, frustrated because of the continuing failure of honourable members on the other side of the House to address themselves to any of the substantial questions involving labour and national service which are before the people of Australia at this time.
The real answer to the question which the Leader of the Opposition has posed is not what has happened, what has been said or what activities have taken place since 1970 but why he and his colleagues have been so noticeably silent. Of course, one could be excused for believing that that omission may in fact be traced back to his very real foray into the industrial jurisdiction. In saying that I think of the question of fines on which the policy of the honourable gentleman and his distinguished colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh, was so clearly repudiated by persons outside of this House.
– Mr Speaker, may I give the Minister for Labour and National Service another opportunity to say whether he challenges the account I put to him in my last question?
– Order! Does the Leader of the Oppositon wish to ask a supplementary question?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. Does the Minister for Labour and National Service challenge the point I put to him in my last question concerning the prompt disciplinary action taken against the 2 unions - the Australian Builders Labourers Federation and the Plumbers and Gasfitters Union - that were responsible for the violence in the Sydney Trades Hall?
– In the context of that question, let me read to the honourable gentleman an article which- (Opposition members interjecting) -
-Order! I remind honourable members that the number of questions which have been asked and answered today is extremely small. I would suggest that honourable members could help to facilitate the business of the House in relation to the asking and answering of questions.
– The Leader of the Opposition has raised, as quite a proper question, the activities of Mr Mundey - among others but primarily Mr Mundey - of the Australian Builders Labourers Federation. He is the gentleman who, in the August/September edition of the ‘Aus tralian Left Review”, which I assume is read by honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House, said:
Private property was smashed when arrogant employers ignored the democratic decisions of mass meetings. It was this destruction of private property which struck fear to the very hearts of the employing class. If a relatively small union could successfully mount such an attack, what could be achieved by the more powerful unions with more resources if they acted in a similar way?
The fact is that Mr Mundey was at that stage the New South Wales Secretary of the Builders Labourers Federation. I am unaware that he has changed his position. He remains there to the present day and obviously continues to pursue that policy regardless of what actions are being taken. In recognising that disciplinary action has been taken, I also recognise that the disgraceful episode which took place in the Sydney Town Hall but 24 hours ago is a classic example of the need in the national interests for more concerted action to be taken at the present time and that action is not action from which honourable members on the other side of the House can afford to stand aside.
– 1 address a question to the Minister for the Interior. It has reference to some governmental violence carried out in front of Parliament House on 20th July of this year. In accordance with the provisions of the Trespass on Commonwealth Land Ordinance 1972, which was introduced under the auspices of the Minister for the Interior, police removed the Aboriginal Embassy from opposite Parliament House, presumably al the Minister’s instruction. That action was taken under section 3, sub-section 8 (2.) of the Ordinance, which relates to the removal of a camp. I ask: Why has no action been taken to enforce sub-section 8 (3.) of section 3 of the same Ordinance, which states that a person shall not park or leave a vehicle on unleased land, in relation to the 100 or so vehicles parked on unleased land on Camp Hill that are the property no doubt of senior members of the Prime Minister’s Department? Why is there one law for the Aborigines in front of Parliament House and another law for the people in the Prime Minister’s Department at the rear of it?
– The Aboriginal people are part of the Australian community and we do not have one law for the Aboriginal people and another law for other Australian people. I want to make that point -very clear. But since the honourable member has brought this matter to my attention I will make investigations through the police to ascertain the facts. I have not had this matter brought to my attention officially other than hearing that a caravan was not parked in breach of the law. However, I will take the matter up with the Commissioner of Police who is the custodian of the law in this city.
– I raise a point of clarification. I was not referring to a caravan
-Order! I have not called the honourable member for Wills. The honourable member will not be in order iri attempting to ask a supplementary question.
– 1 am not, but he is talking about the wrong thing; be always is.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Has the Minister for the Navy information for the House about widely publicised criticisms of him within his electorate in Sydney to the effect that he is abusing his authority in relation to staff employed by his Department so as to enlist their assistance for his constituents with their personal problems.
– There has been a good deal of activity over the last 6 weeks in the national and local Press, much of it under the imprimatur of the Leader of the Opposition, alleging that I have been misusing public moneys in that I have had stationed in my Ashfield office at times when he has not been in Canberra a young man who is training as my Press officer and who, from time to time, assists constituents with their problems and is always available to do so. Let me elucidate on that. Since I have become a Minister, like other Ministers I am not in my electorate as much as I would like to be and all members of my staff from the private secretary down will, when a constituent has a problem, listen to the problem and direct it to the proper authorities for answer. This is not an unusual practice and I am at a Joss to understand why the Leader of :he Opposition should attack my credibility and the propriety of my actions in this way. May I make 2 points: Firstly, my files disclose that the Leader of the Opposition himself has used his own staff to direct constituency problems to me; for example, I have letters from his own private secretary who is a permanent public servant. This same private secretary, 1 understand, is a candidate for the next election, is being paid as a permanent public servant and is currently electioneering in the electorate of Casey. I fail to understand how this criticism can be made of me for looking after constituents.
– On a point of order; the Minister has made allegations which are not true. The private secretary to the Leader of the Opposition is sitting in this House now.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I say again that it is not my position to ascertain whether something is true or false.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Industry say what effects would be likely to be felt by Australian industry and what would be the impact on our international trading position of adopting the apparent suggestion by the Reserve Bank of Australia that the Australian dollar should be revalued?
– Any alteration in the exchange rate of our currency has a significant bearing on industry. If there is an appreciation of Australia’s currency the earning capacity of our export industry is reduced, its competitive position with other countries is also reduced and the competition which domestic industries have with imports becomes more intense. For an economy such as ours when we have had bad times with a recession in rural areas, when there has been a degree of stagnation in secondary industry and when export mining industries are finding it difficult to get a price to make their operations profitable any alteration in the rate of our currency would act contrary to national
Budget policy at the moment, which is to try to get stagnant areas of the economy moving again.
I have been very interested in the remarks of officials of the Reserve Bank of Australia which I feel represent an approach to a capital inflow problem. It is a theoretical approach. However, I have been more interested to hear that the Australian Labor Party is in favour of an appreciation of the Australian dollar, as was announced last night by the Leader of the Opposition. If that is the case then Australian rural industries should know that the alternative government would reduce their income. I have spoken with people associated with secondary industry and with delegations of proprietors of factories and of trade union representatives who are very concerned about the intensity of competition from imports, particularly in the footwear, textile, clothing, electronic, metal, heavy engineering and forging industries. All of these industries would find their positions worse than they are at the moment if the Opposition’s proposals were implemented. Probably the most insulting remark of all made by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to currency appreciation was that tariffs were too high and should be reduced. Who is he to make a determination of the correct level of protection in Australia, and to bandy about casually the view that tariffs are too high? It is the duty of the Australian Tariff Board to determine the levels of tariffs. Appreciation and the reduction of the protection level through the reduction of tariffs would put secondary industry in an intolerable position, and would make even worse the circumstances of some of our primary industries such as our canned fruit industry and our sugar industry, as we]) as our wool industry which is just recovering from an adverse period.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Would the censorship of distasteful current affairs programmes proposed by some of his Ministers be likely to exclude confrontations or even comparative interviews involving himself and the Leader of the Opposition? Does he consider that the widest possible exposure of policies and the fullest opportunity for electors to assess the personal presentation of their prospective representatives and Ministers is desirable in a democracy which depends on a popular vote and freedom of the Press and other media? Finally, will he propose to the Australian Broadcasting Commission the regular appearance of alternative prospective representatives and Ministers which will tend to reduce the temptation for him and others to violate the law which limits a candidate’s expenditure on his political campaign?
– The honourable gentleman is obviously under some misapprehension - even a complete misapprehension - as to the intentions of the Government. I said on a television interview on Sunday night that the Government did not believe in political interference with either the staffing or the programming of the Australian Broadcasting Commission which, I believe, should be in exactly the same position, with respect to its independence, as the universities should be with respect to theirs. I went on to say, and I believe this is of critical importance, that if they have these very great privileges they should also have some very great responsibilities. Those responsibilities are to ensure that no one group should be permitted consistently to present its idealogical ideas, that no one group should have a monopoly of presentation of its ideas, that there should be a balanced presentation of views, and in particular, that we should know from the Australian Broadcasting Commission what is the devolution of authority from the General Manager down to the other echelons of control of the ABC. These are totally different matters. As to comment and criticism, I do not believe that the ABC should be regarded as a sacred cow and should therefore be completely immune from any kind of comment or criticism. That was the kind of question that I answered. I believe I expressed the feeling of all on this side of the House.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of a recent case in South Australia in which a struggling Kangaroo Island soldier settler had judgment given in his favour with costs awarded against a union official who had instigated action to victimise this settler and others by declaring their wool black because it was not shorn by union labour? Does the judgment give us any hope that other sections of the Australian community will be protected from similar vicious actions by overweening union power?
– The incident to which the honourable gentleman has referred which, of course, involves the State of South Australia which has a Labor Premier, is consistent with what I understand to be the policy of the Australian Labor Party that trade unions should be put beyond the law in the sense that they would have immunity from civil action. As I recall briefly what the honourable gentleman was saying, this is the real heart of his concern. Well might the honourable gentleman be concerned, as I would expect the Australian community to be equally concerned, at a situation in which the trade unions of this country would be put beyond the law because they would not be subject to action in the civil jurisdiction. This is totally consistent with what the Premier of South Australia and other members of the Australian Labor Party have said about fines in the industrial jurisdiction. It is a policy which would place the unions of this country in circumstances where they would be beyond the law.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
-Yes. I was misunderstood. During the course of question time I asked a question of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). I think the Minister thought that I was referring to the caravan outside Parliament House. I was not. I was referring to the cars parked on Camp Hill. As I see it, caravans parked on a roadway are not in breach of the Ordinance.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)I ask leave of the House to make a short but very important statement touching upon the reply just given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) to the question asked of him by the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). My statement is very important and the public should hear what 1 have to say.
-Is leave granted?
Government supporters - No.
-Leave is not granted.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) said that I had instigated - he used some such word - the allegations in his electorate that he was using his ministerial Press secretary in his electoral work. I have never raised this matter publicly in his electorate or outside it. I have been to public meetings in his electorate at which I have spoken and at which questions have been asked, but I have not raised this matter and it has not been raised with me. There is only one way in which I have raised it, and 1 did so on 12th July in a letter to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). The letter was acknowledged by the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary on 17th July but it has not yet been answered by the right honourable gentleman. Therefore 1 shall give the text of the letter. It reads:
My dear Prime Minister.
I wish to draw to your attention the assertion made in the electorate of the Minister for the Navy, Dr Mackay. In a pamphlet Dr Mackay states: ‘I have found it necessary to enlarge my staff in the interests of my constituents. The activities of my local office at Ashfield have greatly increased. I am therefore writing to inform you of the changes I have made. Throughout the week my electoral secretary and my public relations officer are both available for interview at my Ashfield offices. They are kept fully engaged dealing with the problems of my constituents.’ I am informed that the public relations officer holds the position of assistant private secretary. Such a position clearly exists to assist Dr Mackay in his duties as Minister for the Navy, not as member for Evans. No member of the Parliament, except the member for the ACT, is entitled to more than one electoral secretary. While, as you know, I strongly believe that private members, particularly members of the Opposition front bench, should.be given additional clerical assistance, I submit that Dr Mackay has acted improperly in allowing his assistant private secretary to work full time on electoral duties in his Ashfield office. I also submit that Dr Mackay has acted improperly in claiming credit with his electors for an expansion of his electoral office staff by diverting one of his ministerial staff for such duties.
I repeat that I have never raised this matter publicly in the Minister’s electorate or anywhere else. The Minister made a reference to my own staff and particularly to the fact that one of my staff, Mr Race Mathews, is the Australian Labor Party candidate for Casey. As the Minister was stating this Mr Mathews was in his proper place in the House, as he is on every day the House sits. He remains a citizen, although he is on my staff, and at weekends 1 expect that he is working very hard to win the seat of Casey. My own position is that in my parliamentary office in Martin Place and 2 days a week in the office in my electorate there is one person who looks after electoral matters. She is the woman who has been my secretary all the time I have been a member of this Parliament. The persons who are otherwise on my staff are fully engaged in assisting me in my duties as Leader of the Opposition. They are not used in the electorate, even when that woman is on holidays, and this despite the fact that there are more persons in my electorate than in any other outside the Australian Capital Territory.
The second matter on which ( was misrepresented relates to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). In answer to a question, which was not verified by the questioner, he gave his version of answers I gave last night on an Australian Broadcasting Commission television programme to questions on 2 aspects of inflation. T was asked whether I thought the parity of the Australian dollar and the level of Australian tariffs promoted inflation in Australia. In answer to both questions I said that I believed they did. 1 was careful to point out in answer to the parity question, that 1 did not believe that I had the same liberty to dilate on this subject as had economic writers, because so near to an election people might assume that after the election the new government would appreciate the Australian dollar. I said that I was making no such commitment.
Secondly, I was careful to point out in respect of the tariff question that in general terms I believe Australian tariffs are too high; all the advice I have bad on this matter led me to that belief. But I pointed out also that I found myself as impressed as did ali other elected persons, by specific representations. For instance, I had no answer to the representations on textile industries in country centres. 1 saw no other way in which women could get employment in those towns.
-Order! I appreciate that the honourable member is seeking to make a personal explanation but he is now going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation. He is now embarking on debate. He should confine himself to his personal explanation. The Chair is not concerned with divergences of views. It is concerned only with whether the member has been misrepresented.
– If T take the point during question time I destroy the flow of question time. Am I to ask that the question be verified at that stage? There is some responsibility on the Minister, (n each case he volunteered these matters.
-I think the honourable member well knows that a personal explanation is only for the purpose of showing where the member has been misrepresented. It is not an opportunity to explain views or policies. If the honourable member wishes to do this the correct procedure is to ask for leave to make a statement after question time. I ask the honourable member for his co-operation in this regard.
– In relation to the concluding matter I wanted to raise, I can only claim to have been misrepresented in this case only as one of the authors. The Australian Labor Party’s statement on exempting unions from tort refers purely to industrial disputes and is in the precise terms recommended by Lord Donovan in the British royal commission some 5 years ago.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I want to validate what I said about the comments made last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in relation to revaluation. Let me read this out.
– What is it?
– It is a transcript of the Australian Broadcasting Commission
– Have it incorporated in Hansard or table it.
– I will table it. In an interview last night the Leader of the Opposition said:
I think the Australian dollar is undervalued, that as long as that remains it will promote inflation in Australia. It will promote the useless inflow of money from overseas. It is not something that politicians like to talk about because with an election coming on people will immediately assume that if we are elected that’s what we will do. But you asked me: I am convinced that the Australian dollar ought to be appreciated in value.
He was asked about reductions in tariffs and he replied:
In general terms, yes. I do believe tariffs in Australia in general terms are too high. This causes inflation. Nevertheless, 1 have the same experience as every other elected person, that on specific cases that are put up, one believes that a high level of protection is still required. For instance, for textiles in country towns. There is no alternative for the employment of women. So I must confess there are exceptions which I regard as valid to the general principle that Australian tariffs are too high.
– I move:
– I acknowledge the right of the honourable member for Grayndler to propose this motion but I point out that the Minister for the Navy has jumped to his feet 3 times seeking to make a personal explanation. Will the honourable member withdraw his motion to allow the Minister to make a personal explanation as he claims to have been misrepresented? The honourable member may then move his motion.
– All right.
– Will the Minister agree to the motion?
-Order! The honourable member for Grayndler has agreed to this procedure which 1 think is fair and equitable.
– Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I will be brief. It was suggested in the personal explanation of the Leader of the Opposition that I misled the House on several points. First, he stated that I had said that he had initiated the campaign that has been directed against me on this matter. Indeed, my words were that it was under his imprimatur. I have a Press cutting which has a very large headline. This article appeared in my electorate. The headline reads: Whitlam Protest on Evans Official’. However I proceed from this point to say that as far as the duties of this young man are concerned, since I have held my portfolio I have meticulously avoided in any way involving naval public relations officials in matters of a party political or political nature. It so happens that in Ashfield there are 2 offices, both of them recently damaged by vandals. One is a political office and all my political activity goes from there. I contribute to the upkeep of that office. Not one cent of public funds goes into that office or its expenditure. I believe I should be allowed to make clear why this young man is stationed at Ashfield. It is not unconnected with the attacks made on these offices. I do not relish the idea of a girl secretary being alone in a rather remote office. I believe it is important that this man should be there.
Secondly, the Leader of the Opposition questioned the veracity of my statement with regard to the use of a constituent secretary. I maintain that the Leader of the Opposition has misled the House if he is implying that only his constituent secretary is dealing with his constituency problems because I had in my files letters signed by one Race Matthews bringing to my notice constituency problems. I believe he is the private secretary of the Leader of the Opposition and a permanent public servant.
– Order! Is that agreed?
– I want to put to rest once and for all the misrepresentations that are being made about Australian Labor Party policy in relation to civil actions for torts committed or alleged to have been committed by members of unions, officers of unions, or by unions themselves in pursuance of industrial disputes or industrial matters. It is quite untrue, as Senator Greenwood has been reported as saying, and as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) almost said - but I think knew enough about the subject to hang back just enough to be on the safe side - that the Labor Party believes that the law should be altered to prevent any civil action against a unionist who commits any breach of the ordinary civil law. Nothing is further from the truth. We do not endorse the destruction of property in pursuance of industrial disputes. We certainly abhor recourse to thuggery in pursuance of industrial disputes, either between factions of a union or between unions and employers.
The decision of the Labor Party’s Federal Conference was that we should alter the Act to provide for participatory democracy in union affairs, including a provision for the immunity of unions from actions for tort in respect of torts alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of a trade union in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. These are the precise words used by the royal commission of Lord Donovan, known as the Donovan Commission, which inquired into the question of trade unions in the United Kingdom. The Labor Party adopted the wording in toto because it expresses in the most sophisticated legal terms what the law of England has been or was thought to have been since 1871. In the original Trade Union Act of 1871 the House of Commons gave to the trade unions immunity from actions for torts which the Australian Labor Party says should be applied in this day and age. This immunity continued to be accepted as the law until the famous Taff Vale case in 1901 which went on appeal in July 1902 to the House of Lords, when this was found not to be the case.
The Trade Disputes Act of 1906 was altered by the House of Commons to restore to the trade union movementof the United Kingdom the immunity from actions for torts which everybody thought until the Taff Vale case it had enjoyed. From 1906 the law remained as everyone thought the House of Commons had made it, giving trade unions the immunity to which the Labor Party refers. Then in 1964, in the case known as Rookes v. Barnard the courts of England again took the view that the law of 1906 had not given to the unions the immunity which the House of Commons thought it was conferring upon them. So the Wilson Government in 1965 altered the law yet again to give to unions complete immunity from civil actions for torts in respect of normal industrial actions or in pursuit of industrial action to bring about a certain industrial result. The law of the United States, Canada and every other country where collective bargaining operates, provides for the same immunity except during the currency of an agreement. The law in Queensland provides for it and has done so for more than 50 years. This law, which gives immunity to unions against actions for torts, has remained unaltered in Queensland for the last 15 years, during which Queensland has been governed by a Country Party and Liberal Party coalition. It has not been altered there and I suggest there is a very good reason why it should not have been.
If unions are not to be given immunity from actions for torts a situation could arise whereby, for instance, in the 15- working-day dispute in 1964 between the Vehicle Builders Union and the General Motors-Holden’s Ltd the union could be sued for well over $100m. This is absurd and becomes more absurd when it is realised that under the law onceliability is established it is not within the competence of a court to award one single cent less than the full extent of the damage suffered by the employer concerned. So, once General Motors is able to prove liability, to prove that the union is culpable and to prove that it has suffered damage, all that remains to be done is to assess its damages which would amount to more than $100m.
Such an absurd situation in this country would mean the complete and utter destruction of arbitration as we know it - the destruction of an orderly, constitutional method of settling disputes between employers and employees. Disputes would then be settled by arson, destruction of property by bloodshed or by recourse to violence on the part of various people. There are some people and some elements in this community who would like exactly that form of settling disputes if they could have it. They listen to Shelley’s famous poem:
Rise like Hons after slumber, In unvanquishable number, Shake your chains to earth like dew, Which in sleep had fallen on you, Ye are many- they are few.
It would be a case of victory for the big battalions. That is what inevitably would result from any attempt to refuse the trade unions the sort of immunity which arbitration, everybody believed, gave them.
Until recently there had been only one case in Australia in which recourse to the Taff Vale decision was had, and that was in 1902. That was the case of Warana Station v. The Australian Workers Union, Spence and Macdonell. 1902 was the year of the Industrial Arbitration Act of New South Wales which introduced into that State for the first time the new system of industrial arbitration. This was followed 2 years later, in 1904, by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It firmly implanted in the minds of everybody that this was a new province of law and order in which the old resort to civil actions for damages was no longer part of the Australian law. Then 2 or 3 years ago a few smart lawyers decided that they would resurrect from the graveyard of ancient case law the old Taff Vale case. They started to use the civil law in order to impose penalties upon unions which used this form of industrial action. The Kangaroo Island dispute was a classic example in which the employers dug into the graveyard of ancient English industrial law to drag out an old skeleton that had been put safely to rest in this country more than 60 years before, and in England in 1871, so the House of Commons in those dim, distant days believed. To have brought it out and to have then required Jim Dunford, the defendant in that case, to be responsible for meeting the costs of what was a test case on the common law of the country was, in my opinion, the worst form of infamy that I can think of.
Time and time again whenever there has been a test case as to what the law really means - this was a test case to determine the common law of Australia because until then no-one knew what the law was - whether it has been in the High Court or sometimes in the Supreme Court, the governments of Australia, both Liberal and Labor alike, have met the costs of the litigation to the party who lost or to the party who won when he was not able to recover the money from the other party. There is nothing new about it. lt is the proper procedure. No single individual citizen of this country ought to be called upon to pay from his own pocket the costs of determining what is the common law of the land in which he lives so that the rest of Australia’s citizens may learn from the exercise which he has undertaken.
I will not go beyond my time limit. I gave my word that I would speak for no longer than 10 minutes. I could say a lot more about this matter because it is an exercise that ought to be understood. On this very principle stands the constitutionality of labour and management conflicts. If the Government introduces, succours and supports the idea that unions can be brought to the civil courts, prosecuted and ordered to pay damages as compensation, it will destroy arbitration as we now know it. The Government is putting in place of the 72-year-old arbitration system of peacefully and constitutionally settling these disputes between management and labour the law of the jungle in which the big battalions will always win because, in the words of Shelley, in his call to the working men of England, ‘ye are many - they are few’. If the Government is planning to settle industrial disputes by forcing the bg battalions simply to bash it out against the employers - tearing down private property, resorting to arson, destruction, physical violence and revolution then I can only say they have forgotten that the French Revolution, the American Revolution and the Russian Revolution started because a few people in seats of power did not realise that right under their noses a revolution was erupting and could not see that when people were crying out for bread they could not be satisfied by being given cake when there was no cake to give them.
– by leave - 1 do not need to take the 10 minutes agreed upon to refute effectively and destory what the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has put forward. We have been treated to a history lesson on collective bargaining around the world. If the honourable gentleman has studied the lessons of collective bargaining in those countries in which it is used as a substitute for the system of conciliation and arbitration, he will know that in all of those countries very heavy penalties are involved in the industrial jurisdiction for trade unions which break industrial agreements.
The honourable gentleman and his colleagues on the other side of this chamber have given a very powerful thrust to the concept of collective bargaining in Australia. They do not stand for arbitration, as the honourable gentleman has suggested: they stand for collective bargaining, but not for collective bargaining as it is understood and applied in other countries where very heavy penalties are provided but for a system in which there are no restraints of the type which operates in the normal collective bargaining concept or of the type which is currently utilised through the processes of the conciliation and arbitration machinery. The honourable gentleman understands full well what I am saying because only a matter of months ago - towards the end of last year - recognising, with his great industrial experience, the need for the trade union movement to be subject to some form of restriction, he proposed what is now known in his own ranks as the infamous industrial fines policy. 1 give the honourable gentleman full credit for that initiative. 1 give him his due.
– He tried.
– He tried, as my colleague suggested, and he tried hard because he knew in his heart, as he knows now, that one cannot have any system of industrial relations in which the trade unions, as one of the principal parties, are subject to no form of constraint. I welcome the fact that I have been given these 10 minutes. The honourable member for Hindmarsh talks of conciliation and arbitration. He talks of voluntary agreements of collective bargaining. The honourable gentleman’s system, if applied, would be collective bludgeoning because the battalions of which he speaks are the battalions of the trade union movement and they would not be subject to any restriction except the so-called moral restriction and restraint which could be imposed and applied by the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
– Just pick off the little fellows.
– It would be a question of picking them off, one against the other, in relation to the specific matter of placing unions above the law, it is the Government’s understanding that, as a matter of record, the official policy of the Australian Labor Party calls for legislation which would place unions beyond the law in the sense which I will now explain to the honourable member for Hindmarsh. We are indebted to him for seeking to embellish what has been the policy of the Labor Party because it is a policy which that Party has sought to keep secret throughout the period since the discussion at its Townsville meeting in December 1971. At that meeting the policy of the Australian Labor Party was resolved, and I shall quote from the Melbourne ‘Age’. The honourable gentleman may deny the quotation if he believes it to be wrong, lt is as follows:
Unions should be immune for actions in common law against private or civil wrongs alleged to have been committed on or behalf of a trade union in furtherance of an industrial dispute.
The honourable gentleman says to this House in all seriousness that he does not want total immunity for the trade union movement. All he requires is immunity in the sense that if there is an industrial dispute the trade unions should not be subject to the normal processes of law if in fact any person seeks to bring an appropriate action. In other words, the Federal
Executive has committed any future Labor government to placing union officials above the law, in the circumstances I have mentioned, free from civil liability for such familiar industrial actions as damage to property, assault, trespass and conspiracy, provided only that the men committing these actions can claim to have been acting on behalf of the trade union in an industrial dispute. The mind can only boggle at the implications that would cause for the Australian community. It is a resolution which incidentally is apparently adopted by the Executive at the insistence of one of the great betes noires of the Opposition members in this House, a man well known to the Australian community. He was Mr Bill Hartley, who apparently had a lot to say in relation to the provisions of that proposal.
The South Australian issue has been of very great concern to all my South Australian colleagues, who rightly have been seized with the uniqueness of a situation in which, arising out of a civil matter, the Premier of that State, who incidentally happens to be a Labor Premier, subject to the dictates of those bodies outside this chamber who determine Labor’s industrial relations policy, did not use money out of his pocket or funds available to him from Australian Labor Party sources or Federal Party funds, but taxpayers’ money to pick up the chips.
– What action would he have taken if the soldier settlers had lost?
– As my colleague has said, what action would he have taken if the soldier settlers had lost the case? He conveniently made his statement after the event. If he did not wish his bona fides to be suspect he could have said during the course of the case: ‘Regardless of the decision, my Government will pay the damages if any damages are incurred’. As I said in relation to the payment of those costs by the South Australian Government, it is as incredible as it is reprehensible that the Labor Premier of South Australia should seek to nullify a decision of the Supreme Court of that State by paying at least S7.000 costs awarded by the court against a union secretary involved in civil proceedings which were dealt with by the court, and paying it with taxpayers’ money, not money to which the honourable member for Hindmarsh contributed. I would have thought that in terms of that case it is the responsibility of anyone holding high political office, particularly the Premier of a State, not to seek to undermine the law but in fact to seek to uphold it.
If the honourable member is raising this question because of its implications on law and order, 1 put it to him, not in any offensive or provocative manner but simply to state the facts. The Premier of South Australia was prepared to use taxpayers’ money to nullify a decision of the court, in the sense that his action rendered a union secretary immune from responsibility to meet payments for an action which had been taken against him. Of course the Premier of South Australia was very grand in his indulgent use of taxpayers’ money after the case had been so determined, but he did not mention during the course of the proceedings or before they were initiated what his Government would do. It is significant that those costs were awarded against a well known union secretary. Presumably the Premier of South Australia believes that that unions and union officials should not be subject to the same law as applies to all other sections of the Australian community in cases of this type. But this action is typical of the whole philosophy which permeates the Australian Labor Party in terms of placing the unions beyond the constraints of the law. If I might say so, this is the same Premier who authorised a man in that State serving a prison sentence for breach of the law to address a political meeting outside the gaol and to hold a Press conference within the gaol. Citizens in South Australia are entitled to ask, as they have done, and as newspaper editorials have done so eloquently in expressing their condemnation of that action which has been taken, whether the law of the land and the welfare of the community can be safely entrusted to a Premier and a Government who treat law with such contempt as honourable gentlemen opposite would have that law treated.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been misrepresented in 2 ways. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) said that 1 had stated that the right of employers to sue unions did not apply in the United States of America. I did not say that at all. What I said was that in the United States it was not possible while an agreement was current for a union to break the agreement but that once the agreement expired it was not within the competence of the employer to sue a union for any breach of contract or for damages. The other aspect in which I was grossly misrepresented was his statement that at the Townsville Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party I was soundly defeated by the Federal Executive and that Mr Hartley’s resolution - the Minister will not deny this-
– That is a misstatement of fact. I did not say that and the honourable member knows it.
– Did the
Minister say that Mr Hartley’s resolution was adopted?
– I made no reference to his being at Townsville, and the Hansard record will bear that out.
– Let us forget about whether the resolution was adopted at Townsville. That happens to be where the Federal Conference was held. Let us not argue about where it was. The Minister said that the Federal Executive of the Labor Party at the end of last year - I take it that is in December, because that is when the Townsville meeting was held - carried a resolution, apparently insisted upon by the bete noire of the Labor Party, Bill Hartley. It so happens that the bete noire of the Labor Party has misinformed the Minister if he told him that and if the Minister was foolish enough to believe what Mr Hartley told him. I can assume that this must have happened.
-Order! There are far too many interjections. 1 do not want this matter being argued from one side to the other during a personal explanation. I suggest that the honourable member for Hindmarsh show where he and not somebody outside the House has been misrepresented.
– The resolution carried by the Executive was the reso lution moved by my good self, and the result of my resolution was that the amendment moved by the Minister’s bete noire was soundly defeated by an overwhelming majority. I do not know whether anybody voted for Mr Hartley’s amendment. The resolution carried is that resolution that was carried by the Launceston conference and proudly proclaimed by me ever since whenever I attend meetings or seminars or whenever I write a paper on industrial relations. The Minister is sadly astray, as he always is. He would need to do a lot better than he has done if he wants to impress people between now and election day.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) said in effect that he had had electoral representations from me through Mr Race Mathews. This surprised me, and I have checked with the files that I have in Canberra. I can find in the last year - I have not got other files with me - only 3 matters which have been taken up with the Minister by Mr Mathews. None of them concerned people in my electorate. They were matters which came to me as Leader of the Opposition. Mr Mathews sent them to the Minister’s secretary. I think I can identify them. On 1 st August this year some representations were made on behalf of families of members of the crew of HMAS Parramatta’. On 25th January last representations were made on behalf of a Navy wife who lives in West Heidelberg, Victoria. On 20th August of last year representations were made on behalf of the wife of a leading radio operator on HMAS ‘Pamula’ The only other representations I can find are by another member of my staff on 12th July last on behalf of the Professional Musicians Union of Australia regarding the use of Royal Australian Navy musicians. I would be grateful to the Minister if he would bring to my notice a record of any matters concerning Navy personnel or relatives in my electorate which have been brought to his notice by Mr Mathews. I would think that all the correspondence I have had with the Minister about persons in my electorate would have been signed by me; otherwise it would have been signed by my electorate secretary.
All I can add is that over the last year the only representations that have been made to the Minister by persons other than myself or my electorate secretary would be on behalf of persons who are not in my electorate. I have been scrupulous in writing personally to Ministers. It is only when I am out of the country or otherwise not available promptly enough that anybody on my staff writes to a Minister. In that case he or she would write to the Minister’s secretary. I do not believe that any representations have been made to the Minister on behalf of people in my electorate other than by me.
– In my statement to the House I made it quite clear that I did not regard it as outside the duties of a member of the staff of the Leader of the Opposition or a Minister to deal with constituency matters. 1 do not regard these as party political or partisan activities. I have gone so far as to state to this House that I believe it is the duty of members of my staff, from my private secretary down, to deal with such matters if they are directed to them and to ensure that they go to the right authorities with regard to letters on constituency matters. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned representations on behalf of a Navy wife at West Heidelberg. Victoria. The others, as he indicated, do not show the area from which they come but they involve constituency problems which have been directed to me by the private secretary of the Leader of the Opposition.
– But they do not concern people in my electorate.
– There is no way of telling. 1 have no way of telling that. The question remains that I drew attention to what I believed to be a very good reason why the Leader of the Opposition should not take exception because he has told the House that his private secretary works on week-ends in his electorate. As I understand it, private secretaries are paid lump sums in lieu of overtime. The Leader of the Opposition has 2 private secretaries. As far as I am concerned, my private secretaries are fully engaged as it is. I cannot see that this is anything other than a misuse of his publicly paid position.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– I say to the Leader of the Opposition with all due respect that the debate between him and the Minister for the Navy could continue for an almost unlimited period. I think that both honourable gentlemen have explained personal misrepresentations and points of view sufficiently to justify the particular points of view that they have presented to the House individually.
– The point concerning me is the possibility of misinterpretation. In the House one has to speak in the third person. The Minister said that the Leader of the Opposition’s secretary worked in his electorate. If he meant that the secretary works in the electorate which the secretary is. contesting, that is fine.
– That is right.
– Very well.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to enable the maximum tonnage of export apples and pears eligible for payment at the maximum rate of 80 cents per bushel under the Commonwealth stabilisation scheme to be raised in respect of the current season from 4.4 to 4.9 million bushels. The apple and pear stabilisation plan commenced with the 1970-71 season, which ended on 30th September of last year; this is the second year of its operation. At the conclusion of the first season an aggregate payment of approximately S2.6m was made to the industry under the scheme. There is no doubt that the apple and pear industry is in severe trouble, particularly in Tasmania. Markets in Europe are contracting as storage techniques there are improved; serious problems lie ahead in the light of the United Kingdom entry into the European Economic Community and returns have been eroded by significantly higher costs particularly by drastic freight increases - just to mention some of a range of difficulties with which the industry is faced.
Recently I announced on behalf of the Government an offer which had been made to the States on the introduction of a tree pull compensation scheme for horticultural industries which would be an extension of the existing rural reconstruction scheme. All States have now accepted in principle the Commonwealth offer. Under the scheme the Government will introduce legislation to provide up to $4,6m to the States for the operation of the tree pull scheme, which could be administered by the existing State reconstruction authorities. It is expected that the scheme will initially apply principally to apples and fresh pears and canning peaches and pears. Subject to review $2. 3m will be allocated to fresh pome fruit and $2.3m to canning fruit. By its making of this offer the Commonwealth has demonstrated its very practical concern with the difficulties which the apple and pear industry is facing.
The problems of the industry are also under study by the Australian Agricultural Council but, because of the scope and complexity of these problems, it must be some time before specific proposals are available for consideration by governments. In the light of this fact the Commonwealth Government has decided that some special measure of assistance should be granted to the industry pending completion of the studies to determine more permanent adjustment measures. It has therefore decided that in respect of 1972 exports only the maximum tonnage of apples and pears eligible for payment under the stabilisation scheme should be raised from 4.4 million bushels, as at present provided under the legislation, to 4.9 million bushels. This would add an amount of $400,000 to the maximum Commonwealth commitment under the stabilisation scheme for the current season.
At the time of bringing down the Apple and Pear Stabilisation Bill 1971 in this House I said that it was unusual, in speaking to a Bill which will have application to the affairs of an industry which is spread over Australia, to elaborate upon the particular circumstances of one State. I said that, however, 1 felt that in the context of the scheme proposed under that Bill I should draw attention to the particular importance of the apple and pear industry in Tasmania. In saying that I was not attempting to take away from the relevant importance of that industry in some other States. At the time I quoted facts and figures which demonstrated just what the industry does mean to the island State. Once again Tasmania is very much in the thoughts of the Government in proposing this special arrangement in respect of the 1972 season.
It is very much hoped that the practical application of the Government’s recently announced tree pull plan and the interim additional concession which is the subject of this Bill will, together with whatever other steps may be taken in the light of the proposals to emerge from the Agricultural Council’s consideration of the industry’s problems, do much to assist the industry. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill provides for the raising of loan moneys amounting to $6,500,000 for war service land settlement in the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania during the 1972-73 financial year. It is anticipated that the money will be made available in the following approximate amounts: South Australia, $4,156,000; Western Australia, $1,600,000; and Tasmania, $744,000.
For the current financial year, the sum provided for war service land settlement purposes in South Australia has been increased by $2,500,000 compared to the levels that have ruled over the past few years. This significant increase has been made available for 2 broad purposes. Firstly, there exists on Kangaroo Island a unique combination of circumstances that has led to serious financial difficulties for many of the soldier settlers there. I use the word ‘unique’ advisedly. The problems of the Kangaroo Island settlers arise from a combination of physical and biological problems. Clover disease is prevalent, particularly in the western part of the Island. It is believed that this disease is caused by high oestrogen content in pastures which contain a predominance of certain strains of subterranean clover such as Yarloop, Geraldton, Dwalganup and, to a lesser degree, possibly also Wooginellup. In lambs, the disease is reflected in low survival rates while in wethers it can cause up to 10 per cent mortality per annum.
This difficulty in maintaining dock numbers on Kangaroo Island is compounded by seasonal feed shortages, high cost of replacement stock, limited transport facilities and the higher than average production costs on the Island. In addition, the age level of the settlers is steadily rising. There are other islands carrying soldier settlement, like Flinders Island. Clover disease exists elsewhere in Australia. But nowhere else in or around this continent does the unique set of difficulties recur that are faced by soldier settlers and others on Kangaroo Island. There is unfortunately no one solution to these difficulties. What is needed is a range of measures.
During 1971-72, a detailed investigation of Kangaroo Island problems was made by officers of the Department of Primary Industry in conjunction with State officers. Following these investigations and after discussions with farmers and farmer organisations, an improvement programme has been developed for Kangaroo Island and approved in principle. The programme is a flexible one capable of being modified in the light of research findings and of financial experience. It will be based on the need for scientific investigation to achieve breakthroughs to overcome the underlying problems of soil-plant-animal relationships that are presently reflected in practical farming problems in this environment. South Australia has already taken action to increase research activities financed from State resources, supplemented by money from the Commonwealth extension services grant. Now additional funds will be made available for work aimed at the selection of suitable livestock types appropriate to agronomic conditions on the Island.
However, scientific investigations and breeding take time. So the programme will also include initially provision for partial rental remission for those soldier settlers whose circumstances are most adversely affected by the physical and biological problems of Kangaroo Island farming. Other measures in the improvement programme will include the provision of credit for fodder conservation facilities and, in appropriate cases, a recasting of settlers accounts to reduce annual calls and to provide improved flexibility of repayment.
There is a further and most important measure, namely, the provision of advances to pay out stock mortgages in cases where the settler’s prospects of future success are considered reasonable. Giving the settlers access to departmental finance in this fashion will have a most beneficial effect on the settlers’ financial position. The rate of interest charged on advances under the war service land settlement scheme is only 3i per cent, much lower than on money borrowed from stock firms and pastoral houses. Also the annual working expenses which settlers are able to borrow from such firms are, in many cases, insufficient for the reasonable operation and maintenance of their farms. This aspect of the settlers’ financial problems should be largely overcome by the measure just outlined.
To recapitulate, the Kangaroo Island improvement programme will comprise initially scientific investigation; partial rental remission; credit for fodder conservation facilities; recasting of settlers accounts in appropriate cases; and provision to pay out stock mortgages for credit-worthy settlers. The provision to enable credit-worthy settlers to be given access to departmental finance will also apply to soldier settlers on pastoral holdings elsewhere in South Australia. This is the second broad purpose for which the extra 32,500,000 has been provided in the Bill now before Parliament.
Soldier settlers in Tasmania already have access to this type of relief through the financial management scheme introduced in that State some years ago. In Western Australia, the majority of settlers still rely mainly on war service land settlement finance. However, should there prove to be settlers in pastoral pursuits in Western Australia or Tasmania who are having similar difficulties brought about by obtaining carry-on finance from private sources, officers of the War Service Land Settlement Branch would consult with the authorities administering the scheme in those States about the possibility of remedial measures.
Honourable members will recognise that such action is in line with the general policy for debt adjustment under the rural reconstruction scheme. Soldier settlers already have access to rural reconstruction as well as having had the benefit of assistance under the emergency assistance scheme for wool growers and wool deficiency payments during the period ot depressed auction prices. Soldier settlers on horticultural blocks will be able to participate in the tree pull scheme.
Apart from the extra $2,500,000, funds are raised in this Bill for purposes that were stated when similar Bills were introduced into Parliament in previous years. The greater proportion of the balance of this money is required to make advances to settlers for working capital, to purchase stock, to purchase and replace plant and for like purposes in the normal operations on settlers’ properties. Some funds also will be made available for developmental purposes, mainly on continuing work on block drainage for improving horticultural holdings in the Upper Murray region of South Australia and on the irrigation headworks, including channels and pipelines, which supply water to settlers on holdings at Loxton. Drainage maintenance has also to be carried out in Tasmania, until such time as drainage trusts are formed.
I stress that this is a loan Bill. The funds advanced to soldier settlers in consequence of this piece of legislation will be repaid over the years by the settlers according to the customary terms of repayment. The war service land settlement scheme as conceived by the Commonwealth and State governments is an excellent programme.
There has been a tendency for economic difficulties of an industry-wide nature to be wrongly attributed to defects in the war service land settlement scheme. The Government has brought in programmes to counteract these industry-wide difficulties including improvement in the supply of credit to the vital rural sector of the Australian economy. The Government recognises the difficulties that have arisen for primary producers consequent on the generally changed fortunes of rural industries over the past several years. While soldier settlers benefit equally with other producers in governmental backing through stabilisation schemes and direct financial assistance to particular industries, some of their difficulties relate to the fact that they are soldier settlers. A comprehensive review of the scheme has been undertaken by my Department. As a result, some further adjustments may be introduced to offset particular difficulties where such are demonstrated. The Government will, as necessary, effect improvements in the war service land settlement scheme, and has done so here, even though in general it can fairly be claimed that the scheme has stood the test of over 20 years of operation.
I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Chipp, and read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill now before the House gives effect to the Government’s decision to extend the subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers at the existing level of $80 per lon of contained nitrogen until 31st December 1974; to change the basis on which certain imports of nitrogenous fertilisers become eligible for subsidy, and to express the subsidy rate in metric terms on and from 1st July 1973. The Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Act 1966-1969 expires on 3 1st October 1972 and the proposed extension brings the future termination of this Act into line with the expiry date of the Phosphate Fertilizers Bounty Act.
Since the inception of this subsidy the case for assistance has rested on the lowering of farm costs, the encouragement of new farming techniques and the fostering of export earnings. Honourable members will agree that these objectives are being substantially achieved. Following introduction of the subsidy, the quantities of elemental nitrogen on which fertiliser subsidy was paid increased from 84,100 tons in 1966-67 to a peak of 138,200 tons in 1968-69. Consumption subsequently fell to 121,500 tons in 1970-71, due primarily to drought and wheat quotas. For 1971-72, subsidy payments indicate a slight recovery to 122,000 tons. The potential for increasing nitrogenous fertiliser use has been nowhere near fully realised. Use of these fertilisers should continue to expand with extension of the subsidy. Subsidy payments are estimated at $1Om for 1972-73, the equivalent of 125,000 tons of nitrogen.
Provision presently exists in the Act for subsidy to be paid on undumped imported nitrogenous fertilisers, when the importer is also the user of the fertilisers, providing the Australian producer is not prepared to supply like or directly competitive fertilisers to the importer/user on terms as favourable as the import transaction. The amendment contained in the Bill will extend this principle to all importers irrespective of whether or not they are users of the fertilisers. This will ensure that importers who are also distributors have access to subsidised supplies. Primary producers will continue to have the opportunity to purchase their fertiliser requirements at the lower of the subsidised undumped import price or the subsidised domestic price. These changes will have no effect on the Minister’s power to direct that no subsidy be paid where fertiliser selling prices do not pass on the full benefit of the subsidy. The opportunity has also been taken to convert the rate of subsidy to metric terms as from 1st July 1973. This is the date selected by industry for its conversion. In metric terms, subsidy will be paid at the rate of S78.74 per tonne, the metric equivalent to the current rate of S80 per ton. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Kevin Cairns, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964-1971 in accordance with the proposals announced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in the Budget Speech. The home savings grant scheme aims at encouraging young people to save over a period of years for a home of their own when they marry by the offer of a tax-free grant to supplement their savings. Since the scheme began in 1964, some 253,000 grants totalling about $110m have been paid to assist young couples, and widowed or divorced persons with dependent children, to own and establish their homes. The amendments now proposed will permit more young people to qualify for grants, and will make larger grants available to assist in the acquisition of their homes. Notes explaining the purpose of each clause and sub-clause of the amending Bill will be distributed to honourable members.
The Bill makes the following changes: Firstly, the maximum value of a home which may attract a grant is being raised from $17,500 to $22,500. Secondly, the maximum grant is being raised from $500 on acceptable savings of $1,500 or more to $750 on acceptable savings of $2,250 or more. Thirdly, the limit on the amount of savings made in any one saving year that may qualify for a grant is being increased from $600 to $900; and fourthly, the conditions relating to the approval of credit unions are being eased.
The changes in relation to value limit, maximum grant and annual savings are being made in recognition of changed conditions since their present levels were established. The existing limit of $17,500 on the value of a home which may attract a grant has been in force since 27th October 1969. Since then the average value of homes has risen with increases in construction costs and in the cost of developed residential land. Prices also rise with progressively improving standards of new housing over the years. To take account of these changes, clause 4 of the Bill increases the value limit by $5,000 to $22,500.
The proposed increase in the maximum grant from $500 to $750 is provided for in clause 5 of the Bill. This recognises the need for young people to have greater financial resources for home purchase as housing prices rise. By offering a higher grant as a reward for higher levels of saving the Government maintains the incentive to save for home ownership. The grant payable up to the new maximum of $750 will continue to be $1 for every $3 saved in acceptable forms. Because one of the aims of the scheme is to encourage young people to save regularly over a period of at least 3 years, there is a limit on the amount of savings in any one year which may be counted in determining the amount of grant payable. In the interests of applicants the limit is set at a figure rather higher than the amount that would need to be saved in equal annual instalments over 3 years to obtain the maximum grant. The present annual saving limit is $600 whilst the equal annual amount needed to attract a maximum grant is $500. It is proposed to retain this flexibility by increasing the annual savings limit to $900 in conjunction with the proposed increase to $750 in the annual savings rate which, over 3 years, would attract the maximum grant. The amendments in relation to the maximum value of a home, the maximum grant and the annual savings limit will apply to people who contract to buy or build, or as ownerbuilders commence building their homes on or after 16th August 1972, the day following the Budget announcement.
Credit unions are playing an increasingly important part in helping young people to obtain their own homes. For this reason the conditions relating to the approval of credit unions for the purposes of the Act will be eased. A credit union needs to be approved so that savings with it by its members can become acceptable savings under the Act, The present conditions for approval of a credit union require that not less than 20 per cent of its annual lending is, and continues to be, in housing loans at a rate of interest not exceeding a prescribed rate; 15 per cent of its annual lending must be in housing loans of at least $5,000 for a minimum period of 12 years; and, it must lend no less than $50,000 in housing loans annually. The Bill provides that only one of these requirements will remain. Provided a credit union can show that not less than 20 per cent of the total amount lent to its members in its most recently completed financial year has been in the form of housing loans and provided it undertakes to maintain this proportion in each subsequent financial year, it will be able to become approved for purposes of the Homes Savings Grant Act. A housing loan will continue to be defined as one made for the purchase of residential land, for the purchase or construction of a dwelling and for the payment of associated expenses. The prescribed interest rate provision will no longer apply.
The principal Act will continue to provide that approval of a credit union is deemed to have taken effect on and from the first day of the credit union financial year in respect of which the approval is granted. Savings held with an approved credit union by members who have contracted to buy or build their homes, or commenced to build them as ownerbuilders, on or after the date from which approval is deemed to have effect, will then be acceptable for the purposes of the home savings grant scheme. Savings held by credit union members at savings dates during the 2 financial years immediately before the financial year for which the approval is granted also will be acceptable. The amendments will, I am sure, be welcomed by many thousands of young people who are acquiring their first matrimonial homes or who are saving for that purpose. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Uren) adjourned.
– I move:
This motion follows the practice adopted in many past years. Similar motions have been passed by the House for as long as I have been in the Parliament. The reasons for the motion are these: The Budget session usually commences at about mid-August when the Budget is delivered, and we are limited at the other end of the session by Christmas which means a rising of the House some time in November. If it is an election year then it will usually be earlier. The timing of a Budget session necessarily means that on average there will be 2 weeks to debate the Budget itself, 3 to 4 weeks to debate the Estimates and then X weeks to debate the Bills that naturally flow from the Budget. These Bills would introduce amendments to, for example, the taxation Acts, the social services Acts, the repatriation Act, the Home Savings Grant Act or other Acts. This year there are some 37 such Bills among the Budget Bills to be introduced and these will take up an appreciable time. So with 2 weeks for the Budget debate, 4 weeks for the Estimates debate and some further time for the debate on the Budget Bills, our time will be taken up for 7 or 8 weeks or more into the future. In addition the Government has a heavy legislative programme of non-Budget Bills which it regards as essential. It is for these reasons that I am moving this motion.
During the Budget debate and Estimates debate the opportunities for honourable members to debate virtually any subject they choose are unlimited. In the Budget debate almost complete freedom is allowed to honourable members to speak about anything, and likewise in the Estimates debate. I might mention in passing that on alternate Thursdays, when the Standing Orders provide that grievances be noted, I will be moving that the grievance debate be further postponed because it also comes under Government business. I appreciate that what I have proposed is some intrusion into the rights of private members but I hope that the common sense of honourable members and the co-operation that the Opposition has already shown in these matters will prevail. Honourable members will have an opportunity to debate general matters during the debates on the Budget, the Estimates and the various Budget Bills, as well as on the adjournment debates, in respect of which I am sure we can come to some common-sense compromise with members of the Opposition to provide reasonable time for members to speak. At the same time I know that Opposition members will realise that sitting days are very long days for many members of this Parliament, some of whom are no longer young. Most honourable members start working at 9 a.m. on committees or on their other duties, and to work from 9 a.m. right through until 11 p.m. every night for 3 nights, particularly when the proposed changes in sitting times come into effect, puts a toll on even young men. Even when the motion for adjournment is put at 11 p.m. the adjournment debate normally continues for an hour or so, which brings us to midnight. I would appeal to honourable members to consider the convenience and health of some of those members who are not as young as they used to be.
– 1 am sorry that I missed the first part of the statement made by the Minister tor Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). ] presume that he has moved a motion that Government business take precedence over general business. I did not hear all the Minister’s speech on the motion, but I want to say at the outset on behalf of the Opposition that the Opposition opposes the motion in the terms moved by the Minister, that is, that Government business take precedence over general business. 1 shall come back to that point in a few moments, i heard the Minister at the end of his address make a plea concerning the adjournment debate. This is a matter I discussed with the Minister earlier today and he knows the point of view of the Opposition in relation to the adjournment debate. The Opposition believes that there should be at least an hour’s adjournment debate; that is to say, if the motion that the House do now adjourn is put at 1 1 p.m. then the adjournment debate should continue until at least midnight and there should be an opportunity for a minimum of 4 honourable members from this side of the House to speak during that debate. I believe this is fair and reasonable, particularly now that the Minister has moved this motion that Government business will in future take precedence over any general business which might be brought forward by honourable members on this or the other side of the House.
If that is to be the position there should not be any curtailment of the opportunities for honourable members to express their point of view on matters that concern them individually in their electorates or matters of a national character. When an honourable member, not being a member of the Government parties, has such limited opportunities to bring forward matters of national importance, his opportunity to speak on the adjournment debate or on general business day. or perhaps even more importantly, on grievance day should not be limited. This Parliament has been in session now for slightly more than one week. There were 3 sitting days of Parliament last week and we are now into the second sitting day of this week. So there have been only 5 sitting days so far this session. We are now told at this early stage that in future Government business will take precedence over any other business that any member of this House might want to bring before the Parliament. For this to be proposed after only 5 days there must surely be some very good reason.
Everybody knows that there is to be an election some time before the end of this year, in fact a challenge was issued last night to hold an election immediately; of course, the Opposition will meet the Government’s wishes in this respect. The sooner the better. But while this Parliament remains in session there should be a very good reason for curtailing the opportunities of honourable members to speak. One of the few opportunities they have is on grievance day. I do not believe that any honourable member on the Government side, any more than any honourable member on the Opposition .side, would argue that grievance day - a time honoured custom in this House - does not present an opportunity for members to express a point of view about the matters to which I have referred, that is, matters affecting their electorates or matters of a national character. Yet today, after only 5 sitting days, as I have said, the Government comes in with its normal dictatorial attitude and informs this Parliament that in future there will not be any discussion of general business at all and that Government business will have to be given first priority. ] said a few moments ago that I did have a discussion earlier today with the Leader of the House, the Minister for Customs and Excise. So far, we have not had a quarrel but I would not guarantee that this will continue if this kind of situation arises in which the opportunities of honourable members to speak are brushed aside merely because the Government determines that it will decide what business will be discussed on Thursdays. That is a day that is traditionally set aside for honourable members in this Parliament to be able to express an opinion of their own, irrespective of whatever Government business may be listed for that day. So, we emphatically protest against the Government’s attitude in this respect. Surely there is no reason for this procedure to be adopted at this early stage, particularly in view of the fact that no honourable member on the Government side so far has suggested when the general election should be held. I can only repeat that, as far as we are concerned, the sooner it is held the better. However, no honourable member opposite has suggested whether the election is to be held in October or November. Personally, I hold the opinion that the election is more likely to be held in November and if it is to be in November, why this haste to curtail the opportunities of honourable members to speak?
– With respect to the honourable member, I explained that before he came into the House. I thought that I had explained it in full.
– Well, it would nol have been explained adequately to me. Surely the Leader of the House has had the opportunity to explain this to me before. 1 did apologise. I said that unfortunately 1 missed the first part of the Minister’s statement.
– You do not know what I said but you are saying that you disagree with it. That is very reasonable.
– 1 do not agree with it. 1 do not agree that the Minister should take this offhand attitude.
– This practice has been adopted every year that the Budget has been presented for 10 years and members of the Opposition and the House have agreed to it.
– 1 think that the Minister for Customs and Excise is putting forward a case for the Government. What I was about to say when I was interrupted by the Minister was that we had a discussion this morning about providing additional debating time and the Minister put to me a proposition which would involve the House sitting earlier on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I did not disagree with the Minister on that point because it has always been the attitude of the Opposition that there should be greater opportunities for honourable members to engage in debate in this Parliament - that debating time should not be lessened. So I said to the Minister: ‘If you put this proposition to me, I will put it to the honourable members on my side of the House and 1 am sure that there will be general agreement about the amended sitting hours’. I think that the Minister should concede that this was my attitude in relation to that matter because honourable members should have the maximum opportunity to debate matters in this Parliament.
During that same discussion I said that I did not believe that the House should sit later than, say, 11 p.m. However, on the question of Parliament sitting earlier each morning the Minister for Customs and Excise reminded me at the time that his proposal would gain approximately 6i hours of additional debating time each week. As far as I am aware, there will be no opposition from honourable members on this side of the House to this proposal. We agree that there should be more opportunities for debating. In these circumstances, having presented to me what he believed was a reasonable proposition for increasing the debating time in the Parliament to which I agreed, I can see no justification whatsoever for the Minister moving a motion of this nature at this time.
Having put this argument on behalf of the Opposition, let me again refer to the importance of the grievance day debate. I said initially that it is a time honoured custom in this Parliament for honourable members to be able to take the opportunity once each fortnight on Thursday morning, immediately after question time, to raise matters of a local or, indeed, even of a national character. On alternate Thursdays there is general business day. If honourable members were to look at the notice paper for today, they would see that, under the heading ‘General Business’, there are about 15 notices of motion. Those notices will all be taken off the notice paper at the end of this Parliament. The Government will dissolve the Parliament. We will go to the country and, of course, the notice paper will be wiped clean. There are 15 notices. They may not be important to honourable members on the other side of the House but to the Opposition members who have proposed these motions they are important. However, we are to be completely ignored.
– I have one on the notice paper.
– Very good. Of course, the honourable member for Moreton is one of the few discerning members on the other side of the House. He does think for himself and occasionally he comes up with a proposition that we support. I have not had a look at the notice to which he has referred but I probably would support it. So, I expect that the honourable member will vote against this motion. Having said that, let me refer to the problem of Thursdays. On Thursday of this week general business item No. 15 was due to have been discussed. Under normal circumstances, that item would have been due for debate this Thursday. The notice of motion was given by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) and reads:
Mr Scholes: To move: that this House disagrees with the announcement by the Prime Minister that Camp Hill will be the site for the New and Permanent Parliament House and is of the opinion that the site should be on Capital Hill.
This is an extremely important question for discussion as general business. How many honourable members who sit on the other side of the House would be prepared to argue that this is not a matter of great contention in this Parliament? The situation as we know it at the moment is that a motion has been carried in the Senate which reflects a completely opposite opinion to that expressed in the House of Representatives on where the new Parliament House should be located. A third opinion has been expressed by the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. Three different opinions have been expressed on this matter and this notice has waited on the notice paper. It would have been due for discussion on Thursday of this week but now, according to the Government, it is not to be debated at all. This Parliament will be dissolved and we still will not have had a decision from the House of Representatives on the site for the new Parliament House.
I think that I have said enough to indicate that there is genuine opposition on the part of honourable members on this side of the House, particularly at this early stage of the new sessional period, to the dictatorial attitude adopted by the Government in setting aside what, after all, are the traditional rights of honourable members in this Parliament. That is, the right to be able to raise matters that concern them and their electorates on Thursdays. On alternate Thursdays they have (he right to deal with matters of a national character such as the one to which I have just referred.
I conclude by again expressing my regret that I did not hear the argument put by the Minister, lt would have to be a very good one to convince me that there is a genuine need to bring forward a motion of this kind 5 days after the Parliament has begun a new session. So I indicate to the Minister and the Government that we are firmly opposed to the proposition that he has put before this House.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to enter this debate for a few minutes. I think my friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) has overstated his case. My clear recollection, having spent 17 years in this place, is that during the Budget debate private members business and general business always have been put to the bottom of the list so to speak. I do not say that in any denigrating way at all, but T recall vividly Sir Eric Harrison saying when he was Leader of the House: ‘If people want to talk on the Budget they cannot also talk on general business because it would prolong the debate.’ My complaint about the Budget debate itself is that it rs far too long. It goes on for a fortnight. I have known it to go on for 2i weeks. 1 think that the debate could be truncated. I think it should be reduced to 3 or 4 days. This is the practice in the House of Commons where the philosophy of the budget is examined. I think my friend erred a little when he said that this move is an attempt to disturb the traditional rights of private members. I yield to no person in this place in seeking to preserve the rights of private members. Indeed, I think that they would not only be preserved but also strengthened considerably if the Budget debate were to be reduced over the period.
– Are you advocating reducing the Budget debate and the speaking time?
– That is so. With great respect, I think we are reducing it now by having this debate. I think if we were to restrict the Budget itself to 3 or 4 days to enable the genuine economic philosophy, represented on both sides, to be presented and to be argued we would do much better. That is the position that I take but, unfortunately, my powers of persuasion in this place seem to be very much on the decline. I have not been able to encourage anyone to accept the proposition that a more rational examination should be made of the manner in which we conduct the business of this House and, in particular, the Budget debate. That, for what it is worth, is the reason why I propose to support the motion moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Chipp). I would not like my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to think that some strange plague had taken hold of me and that I had been stricken into a state of silence.
– I support the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) in opposing this motion. Both the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) in stating their reasons for this move indicated that it is the genera] practice. As I interjected a moment ago, these are changing times and the precedents of the past, so well established, have been forgotten by this generation. The Minister himself knows that in the portfolio that he represents revolutionary changes are taking place, so why are we in this place to be called upon to go back to the days of Sir Eric Harrison and others. I hope the honourable member for Moreton will excuse me if I say that I think he has a vested interest in supporting this motion because the sooner this Parliament closes down the sooner he can get back to his small debts legal practice in the city of Brisbane. I hope I am not doing him an injustice in saying that.
The situation is that each time this motion is moved the reasons given are the need for the Budget to take precedence, the time required for the debate, and the fact that there are a number of Bills to be dealt with. The Minister mentioned that there are 37 Bills to come up and 7 or 8 weeks of Budget discussion to take place. Consequently, those who must suffer are not the Ministers, not those people in power in this place, but the ordinary private member who constantly sees whittled away in this Parliament every right that he has and which he has fought for over the years. We find, for instance, if I may make passing reference, that as private members in this Parliament we are allowed to ask one question every 3 or 4 weeks, and now we are asked to curtail our discussions. In addition to that, the Minister himself knows that in the early days he started to act almost like a tyrant in regard to the few fleeting moments that private members were allowed to speak on the adjournment debate. In the course of the Budget discussion not every private mem.ber will have the opportunity to speak on the multiplicity of things important to his electorate. The only opportunity that private members have to raise these matters is on days when general business is discussed, when we can bring to the notice of the people matters of importance.
In this election year the Minister not only wants to sweep aside the rights of private members but also wants to prevent a discussion of matters that are of terrific importance. For instance, the site of the new Parliament House was to have been discussed tomorrow when general business was called on, but this matter will not be debated tomorrow. On page 14940 of the notice paper under the heading ‘General Business’ there are 12 items to be discussed which have been presented by members of the Parliament. There is even one in the name of the honourable member for Moreton. I do not think we will bother discussing that because the honourable member evidently does not care whether it is ever discussed. With the exception of that item there are listed about a dozen items of vital importance to private members of this Parliament and to the nation. Those matters will go into the limbo of the forgotten under the proposal of the Minister. They will never be discussed because Parliament will be prorogued and they will disappear from the notice paper. This is a snide, clever and sinister way for the Government to get rid of some very important matters in relation to which it would be subject to criticism. These are matters which private members cannot deal with in any other way. I do not accept the reasons given by the Minister for putting off these matters. Why could we not sit during the first week of recess if 3 or 4 extra days are required? Why could consideration not be given to that aspect?
I remember when I first came to this Parliament, which is a long time ago. I think many honourable members would now shudder at the thought, but we sat from the middle of February to the end of November without suspending the Parliament at all. Of course, they were the days of a Labor Government; they were the days when we really worked, when the people knew that the country was being run and when Ministers were at their places in the Parliament. We did not do the things that are done here today such as depriving private members of their rights. As the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) knows he had more opportunities to speak then than he has had in government in this place. So I register my objection to what has been done. I do not wish to take up further the time of the House. I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition put a first class case from this side of the Parliament. If we did not oppose every move to whittle down the rights of private members we would be giving away rights that will never be recovered. People will see a really stimulating change when Labor comes to office in a couple of months. People will be allowed to express their views freely and independently and honourable members will be able to put their points of view in the Parliament. The suppression that exists under this tired and decadent old administration will go by the board because the Labor Party will give to private members the rights to which they are entitled.
So I place on record my opposition to this infringement of the rights of private members. 1 would like to see the honourable member for Mallee rise in his place and speak vehemently in defence of the rights of private members, as he constantly was doing so vehemently when he sat on this side of the chamber. Everybody knows that the honourable member was a roaring lion when he sat on this side of the House but he is as quiet as a rabbit suffering from myxomatosis now that he is sitting on the Government side of the Parliament. I register my opposition to the proposal of the Minister and I hope that he will see the light of day and start on a high note by withdrawing the motion and giving to private members the right to express their point of view.
– Since the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) mentioned me in the course of his speech, I rise to make a few remarks. First of all, he said that the honourable member for Mallee will recall that he had his best opportunities to speak when the Labor Government was in office. I came into this Parliament in February 1946 and Labor was in office until 10th December 1949, if I remember correctly. The honourable member says: ‘He got his greatest opportunities’. Of course I did. If honourable members read Hansard - I will quote from Hansard if necessary - they will see that I got my opportunities between 2 a.m« and 5 a.m. when legislation for the expenditure of millions of pounds was being considered and many Labor Party members and others were sleeping. The expenditure of £30m or £40m was frequently discussed between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. I have often described how honourable members left this House on one occasion and arrived at the Hotel Kurrajong just in time to hear the breakfast bell which was rung at 7.30 a.m. in those days. It was during those hours that I got my wonderful opportunity to speak. I have referred to this aspect in different parts of my electorate and in other electorates when 1 have been invited to them. This was the great opportunity that members had to speak - when a Labor government was forcing legislation through the House at unearthly hours. But listen to honourable members opposite now. They are wondering why we should desire to get legislation through before the election. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) challenges the Government to proceed with the election but would anyone think for one moment that the Government would hold an election before its Budget proposals were implemented by legislation? No-one would think this way.
– We will pass all the legislation tomorrow if you agree to have the election.
– Of course members opposite would do this. They would do it because they do not want Government members to have the oppor tunity of explaining to the people the great benefits of this Budget. It contains probably more benefits than any other Budget since Federation. Of course members opposite would like the legislation passed quickly, but members on this side of the House want the people to know precisely what the Budget benefits comprise. People throughout Australia as yet do not really realise many of the provisions of the Budget and these must be explained.
The honourable member for Grayndler reminds me of the television show ‘The Great Temptation’. His great temptation is that he cannot make a speech without mentioning the honourable member for Mallee. He always tells the old story about how the honourable member for Mallee came into the Parliament roaring like a lion but now is like a rabbit suffering from myxomatosis. His recounting of this story is tedious repetition and he should be stopped. When he speaks about me like that, it is evidence of the extent of his vocabulary. However I might say, because I am proud of it, that he has helped greatly in having the Mallee electorate mentioned by name more often in this House than any other electorate since Federation. Years ago in this House the honourable member for Grayndler and I had debates almost every week on the motion that the House adjourn. The Melbourne Herald’ ran stories under the heading Overnight in Canberra’ and it frequently published the results of our debates. Those were the days when I thrashed the honourable member. He vividly remembers. He never forgets those days and if he thinks he can gain an advantage over me in any debate he is always on the spot and mentions the member for Mallee. I invite honourable members to look at Hansard to see how often he mentions my name in debate. The Government wants to get through the business of the House as quickly as possible but members on this side want an opportunity of explaining to the people of Australia the wonderful benefits of the Budget.
– Order! I remind the honourable member for Mallee that he must not discuss the Budget during the debate on this motion.
– All right, sir. The Government wants to meet the challenge of the Leader of the Opposition to bring on an election. The Government will do so after it fully explains and gives legislative authority to the proposals that were presented on Tuesday of last week.
That the motion (Mr Chipp’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to Parliament: Construction of a Royal Australian Army Service Corps centre at Puckapunyal, Victoria.
The proposed centre will comprise: School complex for training corps personnel, sleeping accommodation for all ranks, extensions to existing messes, driver training circuit and helipad, transport compound with associated administration and workshop buildings, area supply depot complex, sports pavilion and playing fields, and associated engineering services. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $8.4m. The Committee has concluded that there is a need for the work and has recommended its construction. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– I wish to say, as a member of the Public Works Committee, that the Committee has fully investigated the need for the alterations to the Royal Australian Army Service Corps Centre at Puckapunyal. The Committee received written submissions and drawings from the Department of the Army and the Commonwealth Department of Works, and also took evidence on oath at the hearing at Puckapunyal from representatives of those departments and of the Seymour Shire Council which expressed wishes which have been satisfied by the Department of the Army. Written submissions also were presented to the Public Works Committee by private persons, but this did not create any difficulties for the Committee. Members of the Committee inspected the existing facilities at the Puckapunyal military area and the sites for the proposed buildings.
The Puckapunyal military area occupies about 43,000 acres of Commonwealth land near Seymour, 60 miles from Melbourne. It is the home of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps and is the headquarters for the Puckapunyal area. In 1964 this Government approved the construction of accommodation for the new infantry battalion at Puckapunyal, following the introduction of national service training, to which my Party from time to time has expressed opposition. Regretfully, it was at about that time that the Government involved this nation in the Vietnam war. The quarters have been substandard - as most of the Army, Air Force and Navy establishments have been, being of World War II vintage - for far too long. I believe that the antiquated buildings which the defence forces have had to tolerate have not been conducive to encouraging persons to take up a military career so that we would not have to depend on conscription, which 1 believe is the desire of most Australians.
The lecture rooms at Puckapunyal, as was established by sworn evidence and by the Committee’s view of the area, are not conducive to efficient training. In some cases proper training facilities at Puckapunyal are non-existent. The catering wing of the school is split between Puckapunyal and Bonegilla which is 140 miles away from the proposed new buildings at Puckapunyal. Members of the Army are forced to use the extremely crowded class rooms which are unhygienic and generally unsuitable for such use. The 109 Supply Depot platoon has a variety of storage facilities of temporary construction, 8,500 square feet of which is covered accommodation. Supplies cannot be palletised as loading ramps and floors are structurally unsound for fork lift operations. Due to lack of space, Southern Command reserve supplies have to be stored in leased accommodation in Melbourne. These are only some of the reanons why the Committee was able easily to reach a decision in connection with the matter now before the House, which is the approval of this proposed work.
Representations were made by the Seymour Shire Council to the Committee concerning the Seymour/Tooborac and Ford roads leading from the Hume Highway to the Puckapunyal area. The Council pointed out the unsafe nature of sections of these roads caused principally by the heavy traffic to which they are subjected. A large portion of this traffic is generated by the Puckapunyal military area, and generally the Council does not receive any special funds for road maintenance and new works beyond those which might be expected to be received for normal country roads. The Committee noted with a degree of pleasure the undertaking by the Department of the Army to support an application by the Council for a special allocation of Comonwealth money for major road improvement works to roads serving the military area, thus minimising the proaccident area which arises from time to time. It was very comforting for the Committee to ascertain that the requests made by the Seymour Shire Council would be met by the Department of the Army. I believe that far too often Army establishments have long needed to be uplifted to the standard to which it is hoped, on the recommendations in the report of the Public Works Committee, the Puckapunyal estabishment will be uplifted. I am sure that the House will be in agreement with that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 541), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time. Upon which Mr Whitlam had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘the House condemns the Budget because it fails to define adequate economic and social goals for Australia; and in particular because it provides no programme for restoring full employment, no means of checking the costs and prices of goods and land, no framework for improving the standards of education, health, welfare and public transport and no national plan for our capital cities and regional centres’.
– From an Opposition point of view this is obviously an election Budget. One of the first things that we must draw the attention of the House to is that for the first time in years the Budget is estimating that there will be a deficit, in this case a deficit of $630m. Previous budgets from 1969 to the present time have budgeted for a domestic surplus. In 1969- 70 it was a surplus of $5 18m; in 1970- 71 it was a surplus of $458m; last year, which was the most disastrous Budget of all, it was estimated that there should have been a surplus of $630m, but the Government panicked in the middle of the last financial year and because of some concessions given after the Budget had been introduced, eventually settled for a surplus of$387m. This year we have the deficit of all time of $630m.
The people of Australia will not be fooled about 10 weeks before an election that a Budget is now able to be introduced and depicted as the cure for all the ills they have had to endure over all these years. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard a list setting out the figures to which I have just referred.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– The other interesting aspect is that in 1969, when the Government budgeted for a domestic surplus, unemployment was 49,000. Now in 1972-73 it is 99,000. So there has been a 100 per cent increase in unemployment in virtually the life of this Parliament. Receipts, the amount of money extracted from the taxpayer, have gone from $7,000m to $9,500m. There has been a 35 per cent increase in the amount extracted from the taxpayer since the introduction of the 1969-70 Budget. The Government had a narrow victory in the elections of 1969. It has had a most disastrous period since then but it has not had to face another election. The unfortunate people who had to be subjected to the vagaries of this Government’s policy, which was known as a stop-go policy years ago and which people have been most anxious to avoid ever since, are still in the unemployment queues. If we look at the Budget we try in vain to find a solution to the problems they now face. Government supporters have said that things will improve because it has been an exceptionally bad period to have to endure. Then we noticed that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) himself began to wonder whether things will improve to a great extent. He said:
Last year was difficult. We did well to get out of it with a growth rate of 3 per cent.
Then he blamed some international monetary situations. But what about the credibility of this Government? By referring to the Government we refer to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the present Treasurer and the previous Treasurer, the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury). The honourable member for Wentworth was the Treasurer who introduced the Budget of 1969-70 which it was said would achieve a domestic surplus of $500m and did so. In March 1970, when that Budget was under way, he had these interesting remarks to make:
We are making steady growth. Certainly we in Australia have had ample demonstration of thisin recent years. Whereas in the 50s and the early 60s the average annual rate of growth was about 4½ per cent, in the past 5 years the comparable figure has been 5½ per cent. . . . Looking ahead there seems to be no good reason why . . the economy should not hold or even exceed its recent rate of growth.
That is a very unfortunate prediction to have made in the light of the present Treasurer now having to say: ‘We sank to 3 per cent’. Let us look at what the former
Treasurer had to say a little later, bearing in mind that in March he said that the economy was not doing too badly. But in July 1970 he made this statement:
We did very well in the Budget. We budgeted for a surplus and we got it.
A press release at that time stated:
Mr Bury recalled that a major clement in the 1969-70 Budget strategy had been the large domestic surplus, estimated at about S500m, which was aimed at reducing liquidity in the economy.
That meant that it was aimed at increasing unemployment, and that is what it did. The extraordinary Budget of last year budgeted for a surplus even above those for the 2 years I have mentioned. It wanted S630m extracted from the taxpayer. As I have said, the Government has had a bit of hindsight because of electoral fears. The Rural Bank had this to say about the surplus of revenue over outlays: the Budget domestic surplus - is estimated to be S630m compared with $458m in 1970-71. Thus, the Budget will result in a substantial withdrawal of liquidity from the economy. This should act as a strong restraining factor on expenditure by the private sector.
It did that. Unemployment has now soared, according to the July figures, from 64,000 in 1971 to 99,000 in 1972 because of the Government’s peculiar budgetary phobia that to have unemployment is the way to run a healthy growth economy. Let us look at some statistics and see how savage the last Budget of 1971-72 might have been. In the 10 years from 1961 to 1971 personal income tax averaged 37 per cent of receipts. In the Budget of 1971-72 personal income tax went up to 41 per cent of receipts. There was a 4 per cent increase in that year. If we look at whether there were any further benefits to persons by way of outlay we find that the 10 year average of expenditure was a figure of virtually 31 per cent. In the Budget of last year it went up to 32 per cent. Cash benefits to persons over the 10 years averaged 23 per cent. Last year they declined to 22 per cent, so there again there was no benefit we could sec for the small family man whom the present Budget purports to be able to help. A statement made in March of this year by the Institute of Public Affairs - we do not normally support the principles it espouses - quickly puts the finger on this Government for its incompetence and its failure to understand the economy or appreciate the hardship that would be caused to people. It is as follows: . wage and salary increases are not the only immediate cause of higher prices. Higher costs for imports are clearly another. Lower export returns for primary products associated with home price support schemes may result in higher domestic prices. Higher prices for other exports, for example beef and zinc, mean higher prices on the domestic market for these commodities. Increases in sales tax and excise duties on such things as cars, beer and cigarettes, result immediately in higher prices to the consumer. Increases in company tax and payroll lax are reflected in higher prices. Increases in charges by governments and their business undertakings for TV and radio licenses, postal and telephone services, water, fares and many other things have directly increased the cost of living. They also add to business costs and thus to prices.
That statement reveals that the major cause of inflation has not been the unfortunate person who pays all the taxes but the fact that the Government itself is running an economy which will force up prices and which has done so, as we have seen from the consumer price index. The Institute of Public Affairs further states:
Over the past decade the public sector share of total national expenditure has risen from 29 per cent to 33 per cent at the expense of personal consumption. . . .
When governments add to prices in this way, thus raising living costs, they must expect increased pressures for higher incomes as wags and salary earners try to retrieve their position.
People find themselves being hit at both ends - by increased living costs at one end and increased taxes at the other - with the result that there is less money in the pay envelope. That is the present position: There is less money in the pay envelope. The consumer price index is soaring out of all proportion despite these so-called efficient Budgets. Using 100 as a mean for 1966-67 the consumer price index has increased to 122.2 in virtually a 5-year period. Where have the greatest increases occurred? In 1969-70 the increase was 2.6 per cent over the previous year. In 1970- 71 there was a further increase of 5.2 per cent over 1969-70. In 1971-72, despite the budgetary position, a record increase of 7.6 per cent over the previous year occurred.
We are told by Government supporters that the blame lies with the wage earners for asking for too much money as wages, but that is not the issue at all. The submission made to the Arbitration Commission in the 1970 national wage case stated that the lower paid workers could not possibly survive without a 6 per cent increase in wages because of the rising cost of living. The decision in that case was severely criticised by no less a person than the Prime Minister, who then held a portfolio other than his present portfolio or that of Treasurer.
In a debate in this House in February 1971 when Mr Bury was Treasurer the present Prime Minister entered the debate on behalf of Mr Bury, who remained silent throughout the debate. In the course of the debate Mr McMahon severely criticised the Arbitration Commission. He said that it lacked integrity, that something would have to be done to restore its standing in the community. In this year’s national wage case the Government briefed its barrister to oppose any increase at all for wage earners. I ask honourable members to bear in mind the rise in the consumer price index and rising costs generally. Can anyone imagine that a responsible advocate would be briefed to put to the Commission that despite all those cost increases there should be no increase at all in wages? That illustrates how irresponsible the Government was to suggest that that would be the solution for the troubles of the economy.
The Arbitration Commission seemed to have been overawed by the castigations it received from the Government in the Parliament. However, the Commission said: ‘We are not prepared to accept the submission of the Government and we will grant a $2 increase all round’. That increase was granted despite the general submission of the Commonwealth opposing any wage increase at all. I turn now to the comments of the Arbitration Commission on the economy. In its judgment on the national wage case this year it said:
It is evident on the evidence submitted that there has been a slowdown in the rate of economic growth and a slackening in demand. Unemployment has increased and job vacancies have declined fairly steeply.
The Commission was convinced that the Government was trying to get out of the mess it had created because it went on to say:
Moves have been taken by the Commonwealth Government to stimulate demand in employment. On a seasonal basis the employment position failed to improve in February or March. However, it is too early as yet to estimate the overall effects.
It is a bit too late now because we now know that an overall effect has been that unemployment has further increased since February-March and has reached an all time high of 2 per cent. In the electorate I represent is a large motor manufacturing concern conducted by General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd. Last January GMH dismissed without any qualms 1,000 men because there was a rundown in the economy. The Government was very worried about the situation in January of this year. It became apparent that the rise in the consumer price index for the previous quarter ending December had reached an all time high of 2.3 per cent despite the budgetary dampening down. Cost-push inflation, not demand inflation, had brought about that result. The Treasurer became very worried and issued a statement on 20th January which contained this passage:
It is necessary to say something about the alarmist notions which have been so frequently expressed. Charges such as a recession and even a depression have been freely asserted. So far from being any recession, the economy is basically sound and is growing quite strongly. The gross national product can be expected to show an increase of over 4 per cent. If this is to be described as a recession, words have lost their meaning.
Words must have lost their meaning because only 9 days later 1,000 men in my electorate were sacked by General Motors.Holden’s Pty Ltd. That action would be taken in the interests of General Motors which, I suppose, would not have any particular love for the poor unfortunate wage earners. When these dismissed workers approach me to ask where they can receive sustenance and funds to provide for their debts and liabilities, what am I to say to them? Am I to tell them that the Government will produce a Budget next August and they will then be able to get a job?
The concept of the Budget is ridiculous because it is offered to the electorate in these terms: ‘Give us another chance and we will prove ourselves this time.’ The Government is always keen to talk about defence. Is it not rather incongruous that yesterday in this Parliament the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) lauded the fact - and we must applaud it, too - that the wheat growers have been able to sell a million metric tons of wheat to Russia for $50m, while almost in the same breath, in the Budget the Government is saying that it must increase the defence vote because of the threat from the Russians in the Indian Ocean? Is it not a double standard? If there is such a threat we will not do much to stop it with the 3 DDL destroyers or the aircraft carrier which has to last us until 1980.
If this country is to be defended properly it is necessary to develop a national spirit, and not to have people unemployed and depressed. The Government should be looking after the fellows in the Navy. Members of the Navy who enlisted for a period of 6 years did not renew their terms of service to the extent that could have been expected. The figures show that only 29 per cent re-enlisted for active service in the Navy in 1970-71 and 35 per cent in 1971-72. The basis of defence strategy lies with the personnel. Honourable members who have constituents in the Navy know that they are all getting out because they have had it. They say: ‘We cannot go on like this any longer. Our children are being dragged from one end of the nation to the other. We cannot achieve the same financial viability as people outside the Services. Why should we be in this position?’ Our defence structure needs to be reconsidered and greater attention paid to the personnel employed in it.
The Prime Minister has said that he favours high interest rates. That was his big yardstick to control inflation. He said: Bump up interest rates. That is the way to do it.’ That policy had a remarkable effect. The great finance companies, many of which have overseas interests, are mainly not subject to banking restrictions. For example, Beneficial Finance Corporation Ltd has a 20 per cent interest held by the Bank of Tokyo. Other such companies have interests in the United States and the United Kingdom as well as here. In 1965 those finance companies made a net profit of $22.4m. Last year they made a net profit of $57m. They are the one sector of the economy that is doing better than ever when every other sector is running down. In other words, they are extracting their money from the little people and hoarding it. The wage earners must run to the mon eylenders and pay interest at the rate of 13 per cent flat so that the finance companies can make exorbitant profits. Is this the correct way to run the economy? 1 draw the attention of honourable members to the remarks of Sir Robert Askin, the Premier of New South Wales, in September fast year in a loan programme speech. He said:
State works programmes almost without exception comprise projects designed to meet immediate needs- In fact, in any areas we are trying to overtake a backlog of needs which has been built up over a period.
We have not been able to provide services to keep pace with the surging flow of migrants, let alone the increasingly sophisticated requirements of our progressive and developing society. In short there is a pressing need for hospital beds, school buildings, water and sewerage, modern transport and other essential State services which it is wrong to under-estimate because of the latest economic indicators.
For these reasons, all States pressed vigorously for a realistic increase in their loan allocations but after lengthy discussion the Commonwealth would agree to support an overall programme of only $860m for works and housing. This is an increase of 4.5 per cent on 1970-71 or only about half the increase in costs which has taken place over the year. These figures highlight the dampening restraints which the Commonwealth has placed on the works and housing effort of the States.
Is that not a shocking indictment upon the Government? Let us now examine the position in the New South Wales Housing Commission. It has an all-time record waiting list of 42,000 applications for homes. Age pensioners have to wait 5 years for a home. Is that the sort of economy on which the Government thinks it can build a nation? The Government has been found out by the people of Australia. The gallup polls show that the Government no longer has their support. The Government’s credibility can no longer be accepted. If the Government were returned at the next election it would only introduce another punitive Budget next year. The people should not fall for the Government’s election gimmick that there is something for everybody in the Budget because there is not. It is too little too late. Until such time as the Government understands the major factors that are causing inflation and the needs of the people it cannot possibly get the support of the people.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I believe that I should at the outset compliment the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), for what I regard as a thorough economic revision of the state of play financially in the country. It is one which is welded to responsibility. I think it is clear from what we have seen in the last day or less that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in particular is. to put it mildly, discomforted by the obvious ability of this Budget to deal with some of the matters in society which need remedying. Rumours are being fostered by members of the Opposition - I have heard some in Tasmania - that if this Government is returned at the next election it will bring down a mini-Budget in January or so of next year. I do not really believe that those rumours require very great refutation from me or from anybody else for the simple reason that the past has not shown such action to be necessary. I believe, in view of the record of this Government in bringing down budgets, and in demonstrating financial and managerial responsibility, that no member of the general public will accept that particular proposition. It is not easy to bring down a successful budget. It is almost impossible to do so while at the same time avoiding the cynical and other comments to the effect that a particular Budget is merely for election purposes or is helping some rather than others who may be more needy and so on. I think the question should be asked: What should a budget seek to ensure? 1 suppose basically it should endeavour to provide for the sound economic operation of the society. It has to do that in a world context. What the Leader of the Opposition had to say last night in this House - I except the comments he made outside of it relating to a revaluation of the dollar and so on - has to be seen in a world context. It is at least unsound and perhaps irresponsible to suggest that a budget dealing with largely internal matters can be drafted aside from the pressures that come to bear around the world. It is equally unfair, however, politically sound it might be, not to draw attention to comparative statistics which show that the rate of development and the level of unemployment and other such matters in Australia, while possibly in need of some attention, compare well with those of most other nations in Western society.
Furthermore, 1 believe that a budget should seek to ensure an individual prosperity that is commensurate with the desire of the individual to do what he or she can towards that end. Again if a comparison were made between the range of prosperity among individuals in most other countries in the world and the range which operates in Australia it would be found that there is a much smaller range in Australia than in most other places. In other words, while it is recognised that some people at the bottom of the economic scale are in need of attention and assistance to a greater degree than those further up the scale, it is true that the 2 ends of the scale are closer together here than they are in most comparable areas. Furthermore, amalgamating, as it were, the desire to make for individual prosperity, clearly a budget must seek to improve community life.
The Leader of the Opposition has seen fit in the terms of his amendment to criticise this Budget for, to take it in brief, having no national goals. If I had been the Leader of the Opposition I certainly would have based my speech on the Budget on that theme, but I would have spent a lot more time on that matter than he did. Because the Budget substantially deals with financial and economic matters, most of its goals are implicit and most of its goals are continuing developments of what the Government has seen to be the needs of the Australian society for some time now. As the Treasurer pointed out last night, he did not find it necessary in the time available to him to outline a large structural framework of national goals; he merely found it necessary to say what he was doing within that established framework. Of course that does not mean that the Government is not looking at national goals. In fact a series of policy committees, as is known, has been doing just that sort of thing. If the Leader of the Opposition were to look a little bit behind him and a little bit forward to the forthcoming election campaign I think he would see in true measure that the Government is not unaware of the national goals which the Australian community should be attempting to achieve.
One can clearly identify rows of other things which a budget should seek to ensure, but I believe that the 3 major points I have made, if taken care of satisfactorily, would tend to give any society what it ought to be aiming at. In saying that those things are desirable, I would put against them the things which I believe are not desirable. I do not believe that this or any other budget should be seeking to provide leisure at the expense of productivity, dependence on Government at the expense of individual initiative or any number of elaborations of those particular matters. It is well known that the Liberal-Country Party Government has long since subscribed to individual initiative and free enterprise and that increasingly it is subscribing to the need to assist those people who have little of either of those things.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Before dinner 1 was identifying some of those things which a budget should and should not do. I should like now to say that I believe that the substantial number of provisions made in this piece of legislation are, on the whole excellent. I set aside, if I may, the trebling of the grant to the Australian Conservation Foundation indicating thereby the Government’s interest in this field. I set aside the new employment training which is proposed for redundant and unemployed workers. I set aside, if I may, the Si, 323m allocated for defence. 1 set aside an increase in external aid of the order of about $20.2m.
I turn for a moment to the social provisions of this Budget which I know will interest most honourable members and I have no doubt that most of them will talk about this subject. But when we find increases in Commonwealth expenditure of the order of about $72m, that is to say 20 per cent, in the field of education; when we look at a tapering off of the means test and its eventual abolition which increases the allowable earnings, free of means test, of a single pensioner from SIO to $20 and those of a pensioner couple from $17 to $34.50 we find what J think is truly a constructive policy in the social area. One need hardly elaborate on the obvious advantages of the new nursing home proposals and the domiciliary care. Among other provisions of the Budget I believe these to be at least in part a reflection of the appropriate Government Members’ Committee which had views in that area. If I might say so, too, in relation to the means test I do not think I have seen a greater universality of opinion among members on this side of the House and possibly the other side of the House in relation to the eventual removal of the means test. In the field of housing, I think one could hardly elaborate too much upon the simple provisions of an increase in the maximum value of a house from $17,500 to $22,500 for those who qualify for the homes savings grant. It has been somewhat fashionable for honourable members on the other side of the House in recent times to decry the worthwhileness of that provision. I find that nothing could be further from the truth. In talking to young people at their doors and elsewhere 1 find that those who have attempted to save, as this Government wants them to do, to add not only to their own situation but to that of the community at large, are indeed very well served by this governmental provision and it is entirely in train with Liberal Party philosophy that that should continue to be so.
The field of taxation is, of course, always very much to the fore in relation to budgetary provisions. It was Sheridan who said:
I would’, says Fox, ‘a tax devise that shall not fall on me’, ‘Then tax receipts’ Lord North replies, ‘for those you never see.’
If I recall correctly, the Leader of the Opposition last year attacked indirect taxes. This year the story is not quite the same. In fact we do not have increases in taxes, indirectly or otherwise, for the most part. We have an overall reduction, not one which is entirely designed to help any particular area of interest or of earnings but one which considerably increases the capacity of the man at the lower end of the scale to retain more of his earned income. It is also, of course, true that this provision has come under a certain amount of criticism. I noticed that my namesake stated in the ‘Canberra Times’ yesterday, in reference to a table provided by academic workers in the field, that after deductions people at the higher end of the scale with a higher earning capacity tend to benefit rather in reverse to pre-tax deduction provisions. Surely if that is the case that is not surprising.
It seems to be a fact of life which is difficult for those on the opposite side of this House to take on board or certainly to agree with that if you earn a larger income you in turn pay higher taxes under our social order of things and if you have deductions they tend to be larger. The only way you can obviate that is to make flat rate deductions before tax. It may be a persuasive thing to do in certain fields such as education allowances and I might suggest that this be looked at in the future. But it does not particularly perturb me that because you pay more money you get larger deductions. The plain fact is that if you get more money you pay more tax and therefore your deductions, if not relatively, are absolutely more obvious. In fact, one might ask what does in fact the Austraiian Labor Party want in the name of equal opportunity. I do not think there are many people in this House who do not want to see equal opportunity but I fear, as T feared at the outset of this Parliament, that honourable members on the opposite side of this House too often identify equal opportunity with equality which to me is something very difficult to obtain and has great inherent dangers in any attempt to obtain it. Do they mean, for example, that we should have equal pay for everyone? Do the doctors, or the lawyers such as the Leader of the Opposition, intend to imply that their learned friends shall be paid at labouring rates? Do they mean that we should have differential prices for the richer and1 poorer? How otherwise do they intend to achieve this Utopian - to them - situation? So it does not worry me too much that tax scales after deductions may turn out to have some differentials. The important thing, 1 think, is that tax provisions this time are allowing greater deductions from the income earned in respect of those on the lower scales than for those on higher scales, and that is a move in the direction which I think most people would agree is desirable.
Let me touch on one other matter because I believe that although it is not included in any degree in the Budget it is entirely relevant to this issue. We have in the field of labour politics and in the field of trade unions in particular the proposition for a 35-hour working week. In a number of statements made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) - none of which, I think, has been refuted; in fact they have been supported by the Prime Minister and others - it is fairly clear that a 35-hour week across the board would result in an addition of about 9 per cent - and possibly as high as 18 per cent, depending on the circumstances - to unit labour costs whereas in this country long term labour productivity growth has been only of the order of 2.6 per cent.
We do not have to speculate very widely in this field and in fact that is not the whole story because the 35-hour week sought by some could well cause, instead of 9 per cent, a 12 per cent increase in production costs if we tend to make up diminished productivity and diminished working hours with increased overtime. It could in fact sweep across the board very rapidly although at the onset of this matter within the stevedoring industry it was suggested by Mr Hawke and others of the Australian Council of Trade Unions that there would be no real development of flow-on in this area but it might apply selectively. Those who regard the Australian industrial scene with any realism would. 1 think, find it very hard to believe that a flow-on would not be an inevitable and fairly rapid consequence of the initial introduction. From statements in the last 2 or 3 months by unions of one sort or another this appears to be the case. They are foreshadowing or are already pushing for that’.
I would agree that in the long term and even perhaps the medium term the 35-hour week is inevitable but at a stage where inflation is yet to be beaten, at a stage where unemployment is acknowledged to be worse than in the recent past, this is not the time to be introducing less labour. The only way in which a reduction in labour hours can be offset is by an increase in productivity. If we turn to the example of the 40-hour week back in 1947 and 1948 there is very little to indicate that an increase in productivity will result despite the claims of the various unions and in fact the hopes of the Arbitration and Conciliation Court, as it then was, in that particular matter. At the outset the results indicated that there was roughly speaking, a parity in output per man-hour. There was a great deal of overtime being worked in secondary industry in an attempt to maintain production. Costs rose steeply in industry almost without exception and the 40-hour week back in the late 1940s, owing to an increase in overtime and casual work, meant no additional leisure for many sections of the community despite the fact that the Arbitration Court saw the introduction of the 40-hour week as having as one of its effects an increase in leisure for the average working man.
Against that one might fairly say that the 40-hour week created a certain new interest in incentive schemes. It did stimulate management to adopt improved methods to increase production and reduce costs. That was a good thing. But overall there was no great boost to the economy. In fact it was almost to the contrary in respect of the introduction of the 40-hour week. Why suppose that the situation would be any different in respect of the 35-hour week when the time span would be compressed and there would be even less chance of productivity increasing for any given manhour within a 35-hour week as distinct from a 40-hour week? If we might become parochial for a moment, to what extent do people think the rises in costs associated with a 35-hour week or any other similar introduction would become a cost component of the Australian National Line shipping service which so plagues Tasmania? Blame may be laid at the door of the Federal Government or elsewhere but the situation would become immeasurably worse if we had to take on the added cost of that sort of operation.
In my concluding minutes let me say that I listened intently last night to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). He suggested that because the average man pays a higher percentage of his wages in tax than ever before - even if that were right - this was a bad Budget. He went on to identify those sorts of people whom he thought to be still in need of additional Government assistance. The Budget itself identifies all sorts of people who have been greatly assisted. Many of its provisions will raise a substantial proportion of those identified as being in poor circumstances well above any denned poverty line, and I might add that no such defined line reveals that there are 1 million Australians below the line as the Leader of the Opposition said. Even taking Professor Henderson’s figures of 5 per cent of the population the total would be considerably less than that. We can draw attention to a number of misrepresentations of that kind which the Leader of the Opposition made in the course of his remarks. It is clear that if the Government is to do more for the people then taxation must be looked to to provide some of the wherewithal. The only other real alternative is to increase productivity. I would like to have more time to elaborate on other matters, but let me conclude by saying that if, in the words of the Leader of the Opposition, this Budget is writ in water’ then his apparent understanding of it would indicate to me that as far as he is concerned it is written in invisible ink.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). This Budget is a phoney, lt was introduced by a union-hating and a union-baiting Government which has exhausted all the possibilities of political misfeasance which has over the years successfully returned it to power. It was returned firstly by the bogey of Indonesian aggression, then the Vietnam issue and then the law and order issue. Now the bogey that is raised is the lamentable effects, as given the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon), according to his interpretation, of a 35- hour week. Of course, the Government is finally reduced to mere vote buying.
– What do the public opinion polls say about that?
– What do they say about your leader? You can have your say later. What is the position in Australia now? There is unemployment on a record scale, and concealed unemployment at that. The admitted figure is 2 per cent. There are another 20,000 people who are dependent upon a rural dole at the present time and there is record inflation at the rate of 7 per cent. The Government has a vested interest in inflation. It anticipates that it will increase to 9 per cent this year and will tax the worker accordingly. There are over 1 million people in Australia living in poverty; 70 per cent of industry is working at below capacity. The latest survey shows - and it is an authoratitive survey at that - that most of the captains of industry expect a pretty grim time. There is a squabble over exchange rates between the Libera! Party and the Country Party; there are acute differences of opinion on the same matter between the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Treasury.
This Government is led by the most unpopular leader in Federal Parliamentary history. At present he is holding off; he does not know what to do. He is hoping thai somehow he can achieve a popularity rating of over 20 per cent. If he does he will think the millenium has arrived. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) who introduced this Budget will go down in history also as Two-dollar Bill’ because that is what he thinks is the weekly bribe that can be paid to the average worker to secure his vote. Today this Government has a vested interest in unemployment. It is following outmoded economic tenets of the 1 8th and 19th centuries. Of course, it was some of the best economic brains of the 18th and 19th centuries that have been responsible for this Government and its economic policy. It suits the Government to have a pool of unemployed, to have men bidding for jobs. It suits it in situations such as in my own electorate where the average wage paid to an unskilled steel worker in $65 a week, $31 a week below the national average, to have a 40-hour week because the worker then must try to get some overtime if he can - and even that opportunity is disappearing.
Today there are, conservatively, 150,000 people unemployed in Australia and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has said it would reach the figure of 200,000 at the end of the year. I agree with him. In the meantime this Government will be handling out a miserable dole but even that dole for 130,000 adult workers will amount to $2 16m a year in payments, payments that need never have been made if work had been available for those men. In addition, working on 2 per cent of the gross national product, there will be $720m lost in annual production. In terms of tax yield the loss will be possibly something of the order of $170m to $180m a year.
This Budget is the third in 8 months of Government economic tinkering. It is a Budget that should have been introduced about 3 years ago. It is an annual swindle sheet for the benefit of the privileged because this is a Government of privilege. lt is a Government which is nothing but a mutual protection society for the privileged people of Australia. The worker does not count with this Government. It has been led by a very eminent economist, a gentleman who represents the electorate of Lowe - the Artful Dodger of Australian finance who first introduced in 1954 the situation, which is perpetuated today, of inflating everyone into a higher tax bracket so that men in the lowest income groups are paying middle income tax rates and those in the middle income groups are paying high income tax rates.
There has been a cynical reception by the public of this Budget. The average family man says: ‘If the Government offers me a bribe of $2 a week it will take $4 back from me because no increase is worth anything today unless there is price control.’ Today the only commodity which is under universal price control in Australia is human labour. Money means nothing without price control. After 23 years of Liberal Country Party Governments this is the situation that we face. Labor’s tax concessions and pension increases, which will be announced in due time by our leader, will be protected and not eroded by continuing and escalating inflation. I repeat, Labor will really preserve the purchasing power of the Australian dollar.
Let me touch briefly on the family swindle. As I said before, the Budget is a swindle sheet. Let us examine the question of child endowment. There are 4 million children in Australia today who will be receiving child endowment. The average endowed family represents 2.18 children. Let honourable members mark these words carefully. Endowment for the first child was introduced at 50c in 1950. Endowment for the second child was introduced in 1948 at $1 and those figures have not been changed since that time. My point - let any Government supporter contradict me if he can - is that only one child in 11 has benefited by the marginal, minimal paltry increases that have been given over the last 20 years. If honourable members want the proof of this, let them have a look at page 78 of the report of the Director-General of Social Services, where they will see these figures in grim detail. In 1949, the average amount of child endowment paid to a family was $90; today it is $104. It is a shame and it is a scandal.
At the same time, this Government has been stashing away money year by year into the loan consolidation and investment reserve until today it has arrived at a situation where it is holding investments almost equal to its total debts. For example, last year, despite the announced Budget deficit of $183ra, an amount of $498m was socked away into the loan consolidation and investment reserve - a very high sounding euphemism for an indirect dodge of putting surplus money into public securities. In previous years, the situation was just as bad. 1 shall go through the figures. This is a time when the Government is denying elementary justice to pensioners and to children in the form of child endowment, when it is denying responsibility for the system of education other than paltry, arbitrary subsidies given to the wealthy private schools and a time when it is denying proper responsibility for hospitalisation. These are the figures for the years in which the Government has socked away money into the loan consolidation and investment reserve: In 1967-68, the figure was 5312m; in 1968-69 the figure was $226m; in 1969-70 the amount was $578m; in 1970-71 it was $430m; and, in 1971-72, according to the figures that I have, the Government put $523m into this reserve.
The Government is not honest. It is giving a paltry deal to the States. Money is going into public loans. Interest is being collected and, in the main, the States are paying for it and the crippling burden of State taxes and charges today is directly due to this Government’s financial manipulation. If honourable members would like the proof of this, they should look at an article which appeared in the Sydney ‘Bulletin’ in 1967 when Mr W. J. Campbell, the retired Auditor-General of New South Wales, blew the gaff on this Government. This Government is unique in the world today - in the world of so-called Western parliamentary democracies. It is holding $2,570m in public securities and its total actual debt is $2,850m. Yet Government supporters raise the catch-cry: ‘We are going to budget for a loss’. It will be doing nothing of the sort. The loss announced last year was a phoney one. There will not be a final Budget deficit of $630m. For the first time in the last 17 years, one might say, this Government will not be stashing something away into the public loans. It has decided to let it go to buy votes.
Quite apart from that, let us examine the general question of where the money is to come from. Let us have a look at the White Paper on overseas investment prepared by this Government’s own Treasury advisers. Those advisers say that it is impossible today adequately to collect company tax from the multi-national corporations operating in Australia. The reasons for this are obvious because every device known to financial ingenuity and to shrewd accountants is used and this Government has not the brains, the ability or the courage to stand them up. This needs to be done and this is one of the first things that a Labor government will do. The swindles of the multi-national corporations take this form: Firstly, too much is charged by > way of interest loaned by an overseas principal to its Australian subsidiary. The reason is a simple one. The device is known as thin capitalisation. The parent companies do not float subsidiary companies in Australia with large amounts of capital. A small amount of a couple of million dollars will do and perhaps $100m is loaned. The reason for this is simple. At 10 per cent, the withholding tax on interest paid is much cheaper than establishing a fully capitalised company and declaring a profit dividend which would be subject to proper withholding tax.
As for the other devices that are used, the general one is that of switching profits to tax havens. This is done in one of 2 ways. One method is by under-pricing and selling to an overseas subsidiary goods at cost price and then keeping a straight face and submitting a company tax return to the Treasury and saying: ‘We are very sorry. We did not make any profit’. The profit is overseas. Of course, the converse can apply. There could be excessive charges for royalties, for expertise or for improved methods of business control. All these are devices that are used. This Government, of course, is prepared to do nothing about it and, in the meantime, Australia is for sale. We have a situation where at least 35 per cent and probably nearer 40 per cent of our assets are directly or indirectly under overseas control. This is a scandalous state of affairs. Of course, this Government still says that it is going to operate at a loss.
What do the much vaunted income tax concessions really amount to? Last year, the figures show that income tax was increased in all categories - pay-as-you-earn and for those who submit annual returns - by $590m. Now the Government says to the wage earners and the salary earners of Australia: ‘Instead of socking you for an additional $8 19m, we will ask for only an extra $430m on top of that which we gouged from you last year’. That is supposed to be a tax concession. Again, this is phoney; it is a fraud. What does the future hold for Australia under this Government? It is an inept government which is not prepared to give national leadership. It cannot speak in the name of the nation. It is incapable of handling overseas trade. Today, we are being played for suckers. In good Australian, we are being played on a break by astute overseas traders. We are not getting proper prices for the export of our valuable commodities and our valuable metals. How are we to cope with the Japanese, who operate in a country where the buying and selling is carefully vetted by MITI - the Ministry of International Trade and Industry? Instead of doing that, this Government supinely chooses to allow 6 different States to made 6 separate deals. The Australian Labor Party will ensure that future trade with overseas countries is conducted through a single agency. It will ensure also - this is another major point - that our reserves are not kept in doubtful currencies. Already we have suffered while this Government, in its stupidity, allowed major Australian trading contracts, particularly for the export of iron ore, to be denominated in United States dollars. The United States dollar today is one of the most suspect currencies. The next weakest currency to that obviously is the pound sterling. We have suffered as a result of the Smithsonian agreement last year. I mink we lost a matter of $56m. We have lost more as a result of the float of the pound sterling. But the pre sent international parities will not prevail. They have been designed to last only until the presidential election in the United States is over.
In the first quarter of next year it is anticipated that there will be a further revision of international parities. Just exactly where will this country be? lt is a low posture country; it is a country led by a Government which has no sense of national conscience; it has no sense of national identity. I am an Australian and I am proud of it. I am ashamed of the people who, for 23 years, have been selling this country to the highest bidder. One can say this of the Liberal Party policy. If it moves, shoot it; if it grows, cut it down; and if it is under the soil, dig it out and sell it for the best price you can get. What provision has been made for Britain’s entry into the Common Market? What is the true position today of the primary producer? It is worse than it has been, at any time in Australia’s history. Mr Deputy Speaker, as a member of the Country Party, you should be well aware of this fact.
What are our trading prospects in the future? We will be competing with some of the most astute and best managed countries as far as world trade is concerned, and we will be going in with one hand tied behind our back. What is to be the position with regard to the development of Australia’s world ranking supplies of natural gas? What is to be the position with Palm Valley and with Magellan, capitalised at $2.5m and needing possibly as much as $900m to develop it. There is a need for a national development corporation. Similarly, in respect of uranium development and uranium enrichment there is need for a national viewpoint to be taken and for a national authority to handle the national resources of Australia, which are the birthright of the Australian people.
– The main burden of the attack on the Budget by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was that we have not set out a series of national objectives of the kind which he favours, which in fact involve, indirectly and quite directly in most cases, centralising in Canberra almost all authority for any matter with which public authorities and government in Australia are concerned. This is fundamentally a position which we reject and which has been rejected repeatedly by the Australian people over the years. However, I shall address my remarks to our international position and how we might best adapt ourselves to the new circumstances with which we are confronted. In recent currency crises our old landmarks have disappeared, but not many people seem to have realised this. For generations we have relied upon sterling, which until recently has formed the ultimate basis of discipline and policy both for Government finance and the Australian banking system. It has now proved to be a badly broken reed.
Recently in many vital respects we have been ejected from the sterling area, and the present British Government has given notice that in future it will adjust its exchange rate according to the vagaries of the British domestic economy rather than to international considerations. Therefore, we are virtually out in the cold on our own. Our anchor has gone and we are marking time, virtually alone and independent. We have to evolve new yardsticks to guide our conduct. The value of Australian currency in future will depend upon how well or ill we manage our own affairs. Currently we are in a very strong balance of payments position, largely because of the very heavy recent capital inflow against which some people are suggesting the imposition of restrictions, although so far nothing precise has been put forward. Others, more sensibly, have suggested that advantage should be taken of this condition to remove the controls upon the export of Australian capital resources overseas. This control has applied continuously since 1939. The reason for it has long since disappeared and it should be abolished. It represents a far more realistic approach to the problem of our immediate surplus than any upward revaluation of our currency. But, however it might be considered intrinsically desirable, this raises other difficult problems.
Looking at our international position from the broad point of view and relating it to future trends, Australia could and should be moving towards a position of key financial and industrial importance in the South East Asian area. Actually and potentially we are a large producer of commodities which the world wants and is likely to need in fast growing quantities. Our terms of trade, which have mainly turned against us in the post-war era, are being reversed as our productive capacity grows much greater. It is true that much of the adjustment in the rural sector has been delayed by troglodytic thinking on the part of many of the influential elements who have concentrated on telling their friends what they thought sounded pleasing and acceptable, thus encouraging them to bolster our dated patterns of production, rather than to seek out and develop new markets.
One of the obstacles to Australia’s adjusting readily to the world is the interval which takes place between what the perceptive see clearly and the acceptance of the underlying facts by the majority opinion. For years Australian policy was dogged by the belief, often propagated by influential people, that Australia will be struggling in the future to produce sufficient exports to pay interest on and repay the principle of overseas borrowing and capital imports. They refused to recognise basic changes in the economy which had come about and wanted to regard the whole process as a narrow accountancy matter in which they foresaw nothing but bankruptcy and ruin. It is only in very recent times that such limited reasoning has been shown up as irrelevant. Plentitude of foreign funds poses unaccustomed problems for these people who earlier foresaw only scarcity and doom. The Commonwealth Treasury, honourable members might be pleased to note, has long foreseen and appreciated the new developments coming upon us but in some respects it can also at times become immersed in its own inertia. The status quo, when long continued, produces its own influential defenders. One example of this was the continuation of restrictions upon imports involving United States dollar payments for some years after in fact the underlying dollar shortage had been effectively reversed. When conceptions have been translated into daily official administration, they become extremely difficult to change.
Our broad prospect now is surely that of a flourishing dynamic economic power bound to grow increasingly important and influential in this sector of the world. Part of this picture should be the growth of a powerful and influential money and investment market in close touch with countries of South East Asia and the financial centres of the United States, Japan and Europe. Recent years have seen our market at home become much more sophisticated, diversified and enlarged by the establishment of many overseas merchant banks staffed by people well versed in overseas practices.
It should be one of our objectives now to develop powerfully our own international finance industry. This kind of market, underpinned by the Australian economy, should greatly increase the power and influence of Australia. It should be the strong aim of government to encourage and stimulate this development, Such a market will not, of course, grow if an attempt to control and grandmother it is imposed by officialdom. Freedom of operation will be its essence. Loose ideas in the community about controlling and vetting transactions to achieve some purpose which the holders of these ideas vaguely have in mind and to which some political folk are altogether too apt to pay attention, would go far to stifle such a market at birth. The decentralisation- of judgment and action amongst large sectors of different operators is the only way in which a market can react quickly and flexibly to changing circumstances when decisions have to be taken quickly, as they do, by those most versed in the particular matter involved, unfettered by outside interference.
The current hiatus in international monetary affairs should jolt all of us into thinking about fundementals and re-defining our aims for the future. The main lesson which we have learned from the dollar and sterling crises is that we should concentrate in future on our Australian currency. Many people in our midst are prone to verbosity on the subject of our independence, but apart from a brash defiance of others they never think out what independence actually entails outside words and xenophobia. In currency matters the issue has been forced upon us. We shall have to think of Australian currency and what it is necessary to do to keep it stable in terms of our own national, economic and financial interests. The early outward manifestation of this policy should be the progressive invoicing of all Australian trade in terms of Australian dollars. This change, of course, could not be effectively enforced against the rest of the world, but at least a start should be made. Other people would gradually become accustomed to it and many of our neighbours would welcome it.
We have done very well in the world with our open-door trade and financial policy and have successfully become an important part of the world economy, enjoying its benefits and periodically suffering from its vicissitudes. We shall cope best with them if we approach future problems with, institutions shaped flexibly by free enterprise and unhampered by the distant control of a well meaning bureaucracy.
– This is a blatantly political Budget, worse than any that has gone before it. It has one overriding purpose, namely, to save the McMahon-Anthony-Gair Government. It is a crusade for votes in Australian ballot boxes in November. It is a document which spreads largesse to many sections of the community - to taxpayers and pensioners in particular. But only. 20 per cent of taxpayers will collect 50 per cent of the tax concessions. The Budget was called by one newspaper a ‘bonanza Budget’, costing an extra $780m in a full year. During the last election campaign members of the Government Parties asked the Labor Party where the money would come from to finance its proposed programme. We now ask this Government where its money will come from to enable it to spend such an enormous extra amount in one year. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has budgeted for a $602m deficit. This is unheard of in this country’s federal history. Yet the Government criticised Labor a few elections ago when it advocated a SI 20m deficit Budget. According to the Government that was outrageous, bad finance, haywire thinking and planning. The Government is now planning a S602m deficit in the Budget to save the Right Honourable William McMahon and his patchwork quilt Government.
A cartoon appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’ on 15th of this month which sums the whole situation up beautifully, though it has not one word written under it. The Prime Minister is depicted on a battered hillside flat on his stomach in the role of a wild west gunman with boots, spurs, gun belt and all. His cart is smashed to pieces, the rocks are bullet marked and underneath his gun lies a heap of empty shells.
His cartridge belt is empty except for one remaining bullet. Billy reaches back to collect from the belt the last bullet which is marked ‘Budget’. I think that is a superb cartoon and there is not one word beneath it. But I would entitle it ‘Billy’s last stand’. He is the current Custer, and truly it is his last stand.
The Budget had to be political because it has to save this Prime Minister, his Cabinet and his Party. It is the Prime Minister’s last bullet, his last chance to save this Government. But will this Budget with $434m of tax cuts, SI 60m extra for social services and repatriation benefits, plus millions of dollars in other concessions, in fact save this Government? That is what we are all asking. That is the $64 question in Australia today.
– Save the people and sack the Government.
– Yes. The answer to that question is no. Only 3 years ago the then Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, brought down an election year Budget proposing a 9 per cent reduction in taxation. This was outstanding and excessive up to that time. But what happened? He Jost 17 seats. Labor won 72 out of 126 seats at the last Federal election and should have been the government according to the country’s first preference votes. But when the preferences of the Democratic Labor Party and all the other splinter parties were distributed we lost 13 of those 72 seats and finished with 59 members to 66 in this present Parliament. Why did a 9 per cent tax cut fail to win Mr Gorton extra seats at that election and instead lost him 17? It was because the people at that time had lost faith in Mr Gorton’s handling of the nation’s affairs. They had lost confidence in the coalition Government. It is as simple as that.
And what about the McMahon Budget with its 10 per cent tax cuts - 1 per cent better than Mr Gorton’s Budget? What has been the reaction around Australia? I have travelled over 1,100 miles in the last fortnight in my electorate alone. What is the reaction from the Press and what is the result of spot checks by radio, such as when 25 Mr Browns and 25 Mr Smiths were telephoned in Sydney and asked: ‘What do you think of the Budget? How are you going to vote?’ In that poll 47 per cent of them said Labor, 41 per cent said Liberal and 2 per cent said DLP. A neighbour of mine from Tasmania, who is at Surfers Paradise at the moment, sent back a message tonight about his campaign through New South Wales and Queensland. He has been talking to businessmen. He has found the same reaction there as I have found in my own electorate. I am convinced that all the benefits, even though they are welcomed by all concerned, will not save the McMahon Government. The people are saying: ‘It is an election Budget. It is buying votes. It is election bait. Why was this type of Budget not presented last year to prevent the massive unemployment, with its suffering and frustration?’ That is the reaction from around the country.
This reaction proves that people will not be fooled again and that other factors are forming their decisions that have nothing to do with finance, nothing to do with wages, nothing to do with concessions in this Budget and nothing at all to do with money. The Treasurer has badly miscalculated the mood of the Australian electorate if he thinks that he can bribe his way back into office in November. The Government has lost touch with the people of this country. The Budget will not save the McMahonAnthonyGair Government because the people have already made up their minds to get rid of it after 23 years of liberalism under Sir Robert Menzies, Mr Holt, Mr Gorton and Mr McMahon.
Why have they made up their minds so early and why will this Budget not change their present thinking? Because they have lost confidence in this Government. Businessmen - not traditional Labor supporters - executives, farmers and employees alike have lost faith in this Government. The electors have examined the Government’s performance - not its handouts - its leadership, its constant changes of leadership and Cabinet Ministers, its personality clashes, its indecision, its failure to halt inflation and to control prices and foreign investment, and its failure to smash unemployment. They have decided, after examining these factors, that this Government is finished. The people have opted for a change, and the elections cannot come quickly enough for them.
Let me give an illustration of the mood of this country today. It was the same in 1949. I was here during the term of office of the Chifley Government, from 1946 to 1949. Nothing that Ben Chifley or that Government could have done in that last Budget in 1949 would have saved that Government, because the people had made up their minds 6 months before 10th December 1949 that the Chifley Government was going. So it went.
– Because the people were tired of controls, not because of maladministration. The people wanted a change, and nothing we could have done could have saved us. Nothing this Government can do can save it, either, because the same mood exists in the people throughout Australia today.
– The Government is on the scaffold.
– If you like, yes, or the guillotine. This Budget makes no in-depth attack on the basic economic ills - at this time. It views the economy only in terms of electoral advantage and electoral mileage. It is an absolutely unprecedented political document from the beginning to the very end. There is no guarantee that increasing money in pay packets will stimulate business, as the Government hopes. The average taxpayer and pensioner will spend their extra money on everyday commodities, but the middle and high income earners will not spend their money in this fashion at all. Probably it will be banked by that group of taxpayers. Unless this new money is circulated through the community, how can it stimulate business? How can it reduce unemployment? How can it open more factories? How can it expand present production? How can it increase consumer demand? The spending and the investment of savings in capital expenditure sufficient to boost industry and employment will come only when taxpayers have confidence in their Federal government.
The slowdown in the past 12 months admitted by the Treasurer is substantially due to the sheer lack of faith in the McMahon Government. The slowdown has been very marked in the business, community, which normally supports liberalism. The Budget Papers show that company tax fell short of the 1971-72 estimate by $37m. This proves just how slow business has been. People have banked their savings. Why have savings bank deposits gone up and up in Australia? Because the people have not had enough confidence to spend their money or to invest it. The huge increase in deposits proves this. But what good is money in the bank to an economy? We could have all the money placed in the bank and we could be in another depression. Only finance circulating stimulates an economy. Only when faith returns and confidence is reborn will increased spending money really be circulated to any degree of influence upon the business community or business recovery. That is why Australia needs a new government with new vision, new energies and new policies to take charge here in Canberra. I hope Australia will achieve that in November.
This Budget will encourage inflation. The word ‘inflation’ was mentioned only once in the whole of the Treasurer’s speech. Because this Budget is absolutely inflationary, it could mean a mini-Budget next April - whoever wins the election- to correct the galloping inflation that will be caused. Thus it is an election Budget-r-a short term Budget devoid of long term aims or planning. It could mean the big build-up in 1972 for the big let-down in 1973. This Budget fails to reduce sales tax, as we expected. That would have given some real stimulus to business recovery. The Budget admits, after 23 years of liberalism, that personal taxation is too high. So the Government sets about reducing it. But why did it take 23 years for the Government to wake up to this fact. The reason is that we have to save the Prime Minister at any price. The benefits in the Budget favour the rich in greater proportion than the poor. The gains to the rich are greater. So the Budget gives more to those who do not need it and less to those who do. Further, this Budget fails completely to face the menace of rising costs and prices. This was not even mentioned in the Budget Speech, and this is the Achilles heel of our economy.
The Budget virtually bypasses the primary producer. It mentions only $20m to be granted for long term low interest loans. The Opposition agrees with this, but what is $20m when primary producers are in debt to the extent of $2,100m? The Country Party and the Liberal Party are wrangling over whether a rural bank will be established. The Country Party members are going around the country telling everybody that a rural bank will be established, but the Prime Minister will have nothing of it. He has disagreed with the Leader of the Country Party on this very point. No mention of a rural bank was made in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech when he referred to rural lending facilities. He said:
The measures to be adopted have still to be finalised; the intention is to bring down legislation in this session of the Parliament.
So, there is a first class wrangle in the Government ranks over whether there will be a rural bank to handle this $20m plus the many more millions that will be necessary. 1 want to mention 3 points relating to Tasmania in particular. One method by which we might be able to help Tasmania survive economically would be for the Federal Government to consider declaring Tasmania a duty free Stale. The Government should consider putting the island on a similar footing to Fiji, Singapore, Aden, Hong Kong and Norfolk Island. These isolated areas, 4 of which are islands, have for years survived the competitive struggle by being duty free areas. More and more is it obvious that Bass Strait is Tasmania’s nemesis. It is our Waterloo. I am convinced that in a few years we will have an impoverished economy, because of increased shipping freights which are striking a mortal blow at existing industries and preventing the establishment of others. Tasmania must have some advantage to counteract this Bass Strait nemesis. This is a fact because ali the evidence is showing that all the increases in the freight rates charged by the Australian National Line are killing our industries and putting our economy into a state of stagnation.
If Tasmania was declared a duty free State a great influx of tourists could be expected. A greater volume of buying would result and business turnover would soar. Tasmania could become the mecca for visitors all over the world, and tourism could become a top income earner for the island, in fact a major industry giving impetus to the building, accommodation, transport and rural industries. It would give Tasmania another economic weapon to help save the island from stagnation and from ending up as an economic Siberia. This source of income could ultimately reduce some of the Commonwealth’s financial commitments to the island.
As a duty free State Tasmania might eventually be able to shake off its utter dependency on Commonwealth handouts, so it could be a great advantage to the Commonwealth if it could help Tasmania, an island in great economic trouble and an island which will be in worse trouble because of increasing ANL freight rates, to become less dependent on the Commonwealth for its finances. I want this possibility to be considered. It is not a ridiculous suggestion. It is the first time it has been put to this Parliament, and it could be the answer to our economic plight. If other countries can do it, we can do it. There would be no constitutional barrier.
Finally I mention the ANL. In the last 16 years it has paid $30m to agents to handle its bookings and has earned $27m in profits in 14 of its 16 years. It is about time a revolutionary change was made in the handling of the Line’s affairs. It has been forced to pay $20m in interest to the Federal Government on money borrowed for capital expenditure. The Federal Government has forced the ANL to increase freight rates. This is a fact. This is brought about by Government legislation, and this Government knows that unless it changes the legislation these freight rate increases will go on and on. I believe that firstly the ANL should operate at cost to Tasmania, which is virtually dependent on the ANL for its survival, with 85 per cent of trade through ANL ships. It is our only sea road, our only bridge to the mainland. Secondly, the ANL should have its own booking office. Thirdly, the interest charged to the ANL should be at a minimal level. Fourthly, if none of this is done a freight subsidy should be paid to the private line operating and the ANL as was done when the ‘Taroona’ operated many years ago between Tasmania and the mainland. These are sincere suggestions. The honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon) would support most of them. He knows the state the island is in. He knows that we cannot afford any more freight rises. Not only will business not go there but those there will be closing down. I have made these suggestions tonight about the ANL and making Tasmania a duty free State as a sincere effort to try to help Tasmania out of its plight.
– Spread doom, gloom and despondency; sap the confidence of the people; ruin the economy; use the words ‘swindle’, ‘scandal’ and ‘phoney’: This appears to be the Budget policy of the Opposition. An article on the front page of this morning’s ‘Australian Financial Review’ states:
Opposition leader Gough Whitlam’s Budgetcumelectioncampaign speech to Parliament last night failed to stir either his supporters or opponents.
How true this is. It would be one of the flattest replies I have heard. (Quorum formed). I thank the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) for bringing to our notice the fact that a quorum was not present. It is very obvious to all that honourable members opposite do not like the truth. They do not like the facts. As I was saying, the contribution of the Leader of the Opposition last evening was one of the flattest I have heard since entering this Parliament. He failed to answer the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in more ways than one. He failed to offer any alternative. I believe that in a few words his speech could be summed up by saying: He was so stunned at the introduction of the Treasurer’s Budget a week ago that he has not been able to overcome it. The statement last evening following his address in this chamber regarding currency revaluation staggers me, as it would stagger the whole of the electorate. He appears to have forgotten the important point that Australia lives on its exports. Australia depends on exports in many fields in primary industry and secondary industry. I am only too happy to hear the Leader of the Opposition talking this way, because when he goes to the electorate he will find that this is not what the people want.
I believe that this Budget, in contrast to the contribution of the Leader of the Opposition, is one of the brightest budgets I have seen in the 14 years that I have been privileged to sit in this chamber. It will help the needy and the elderly. It will encourage growth and production, and I believe to a large degree it will help to counter the cost spiral which has had such an adverse effect on many industries throughout Australia. Much has been said by Opposition members and by people outside that certain grants to rural industries have been reduced and therefore the Budget cannot be classified as a satisfactory budget for primary industries. I want to counter that argument. To my mind that statement is absurd, because if we look at the figures and add them up it is very easy to see a reduction in certain grants to particular industries. But there is more in assisting an industry than an outright gift. Sometimes my colleagues opposite forget this point. It is possible for a government to have poor policies and at the same time hand out thousands of millions of dollars and yet not be assisting an industry to the best advantage. The first concern of most primary producers today is costs. The second is the returns they secure from the various commodities that they produce. Anything that will assist these 2 issues must be better than straightout grants which will only temporarily solve the situation.
I am sure that 1 have heard members, no doubt from both sides of the House, say in this House that this or that industry is in trouble and therefore we should assist it financially. If this is the case these same people should agree that if those industries improve their position it is only right and proper that the assistance should be less. Primary industries are now on the way up. Wheat is in demand, so much so that stocks are low. Wool prices are improving almost daily. The demand for beef is high. Mutton and lamb prices are at almost a record high. In view of that position the estimates may be subject to reduction, but the important thing is that both wheat and wool are still under guarantees.
I return now to the amount of money to be paid as grants, set out in the Budget speech under the heading ‘Payments to Industry’. At first glance it shows a deficit this year of $64m, but a detailed study reveals that the biggest reduction comes from wool deficiency payments - from $52. 8m to $lm. I can say with confidence that no wool grower, with the present guarantee of 36c per lb equivalent, wants to see money paid out in the form of deficiency payments. Judging by the opening sales this week, there is no fear of it.
In relation to wheat stabilisation the Budget provides for a reduction from $58m to S47m. In the minds of some people this is a reduction but the figure must be compared with payments in the previous year under that heading. The payment was only $29m, and as explained by the Treasurer, last year’s payment included the Commonwealth contribution for 2 pools. This year it will account for only one pool.
The Opposition is making great play of the lack of wheat sales to mainland China. I again remind honourable members opposite that China wants a variety of wheat that is in short supply in Australia. I refer to the hard types which China wants to purchase on credit. Had we sold wheat to China this year, what would have been the position? Would we have been in a position to sell 1 million metric tons of wheat to Russia for cash? Do growers want cash sales or credit sales? My guess is that they want cash when they can get it and for second preference they want the best terms possible; in other words, the shorter the term, the better the deal. Honourable members opposite are making a lot of noise.
– They do not like what you are saying.
– I think that is dead right. Turning to other industry payments it is interesting to note that the fruit industry, including the dried vine fruits industry, and the egg industry, received increased payments, as is also true of the allocation of funds for fertilisers, petroleum products, rural reconstruction and wool marketing, certainly not forgeting the $20m set aside for a move to establish long term credit facilities for the rural industries. There is no doubt that a lot of work will have to be carried out before this proposal is implemented and we should not be too critical of it at this stage. When it is implemented I can see that it will be a terrific boon to primary producers. When comparing long term lending repayments with short term repayments it is easy to see the advantages. For instance, a loan at 7 per cent interest repayable over 5 years means that it will have to be repaid on the basis of 24.39 per cent a year. On a 20-year loan it would be at the rate of 9.44 per cent. For 30 years it would be 8.06 per cent.
If a primary producer borrows on a 5- year basis to the extent of 50 per cent of the capital involved it means that he must clear a profit of about 122 per cent after all expenses and taxes are paid. If this were possible primary producers who have paid for their properties would soon become very wealthy men. Few industries can show year after year a profit after tax of 12 per cent. That is why I welcome the Government’s decision not only to investigate but also to try to implement a form of long term lending at a very early date. The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie), in the form usually followed by members of the Opposition, is trying to drive a wedge between the Government parties in the hope that by doing so the coalition will break. I can assure honourable members opposite that it will not break. I am sure that the present Government will be able to introduce the necessary legislation provided the Opposition does not indulge in too many delaying tactics.
I mentioned earlier assistance to industries and I want now to refer briefly to the egg industry. The Treasurer has stated that a sum of $750,000 has been set aside for the egg industry. In recent times the egg industry asked the Government for assistance to lift the price of eggs by 1.5c a dozen. To cover that increase the industry sought a grant of $3.5m. The Government examined the proposition very thoroughly and reached the conclusion that the price of eggs could be increased by 1.5c a dozen by paying direct to the poultry industry fund a sum of $750,000 to be used for equalisation purposes as a supplement to the hen levy collection of $3. 5m. Of course, this contribution is subject to the agreement of the State governments to implement production controls if the need arises so that surplus egg pulp can be disposed of. I might point out that the Commonwealth and State Ministers for Agriculture at a recent Agricultural Council meeting agreed in principle to this course. I therefore suggest to the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) that he has acted a little belatedly in raising this question today.
Because of moves by the State egg boards to dispose of surplus eggs it is expected that the stocks of egg pulp will be negligible at the end of this year. In turn, this will cut storage costs and will enable the boards to approach future seasons with some confidence. If this plan is carried out the honourable member for Bendigo will have no further worries about the storage costs of egg pulp amounting to about $1. 5m a year.
It may be of interest to the House to know that the domestic price of eggs is based on the export price plus the contribution made by the hen levy. If the quality and quantity of exports are reduced, the levy plus the Commonwealth contribution will have a very favourable bearing on the home consumption price. It is the Government’s contention that exports and surplus egg pulp can be reduced provided such surpluses are used for special manufacturing purposes.
I believe that the decisions reached recently by the Commonwealth and State Ministers for Agriculture - incidentally honourable members opposite might note that those Ministers include representatives of the Labor Party, Liberal Party and Country Party, who agreed also on many other issues - will mean in the long term that the egg industry will be placed on a very sound footing, provided that production controls are implemented on a realistic basis. I have said that the Ministers for Agriculture at the recent Agricultural Council conference agreed on many issues. Whilst I do not have time now to go deeply into the question of the wool industry I can assure the House that when this matter was raised at that recent conference all the Ministers present accepted the conditions of the announcement that was made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) a few weeks ago. I think this proves the point that those people who are still very critical of the Government’s decision should at least start looking a little more closely at their own policies. As all the Ministers agreed at the Agricultural Council conference it shows that a reasonable approach was adopted by the Labor Ministers.
I could not let this occasion pass without referring briefly to social service and repatriation benefits. In the words of the Treasurer, The Government’s commitment to introduce free of means test pensions for people aged 65 or over is an his torical decision and represents a major social advance.’ I believe that to be the understatement of the year. The easing of the means test by 100 per cent is tantamount to removing it for all benefit purposes for needy persons. Permissible income of $20 for a single person and $34.50 for a married couple, plus pensions of $20 and $34 respectively is a mighty improvement. It will mean for all practical purposes that a part pension will be paid to single persons whose income is less than $60 a week and a married couple whose income is less than $103.50 a week. A single person’s pension will be paid at the full rate on the basis of assets of $10,800 and will cut out on the basis of assets of $31,600. The full married rate will be paid on the basis of assets of $18,740 and will cut out on the basis of assets of $54,640. These figures apply, of course, when there is no other income. To my mind that is a major break-through as far as the pensioner and would-be pensioner is concerned,
The increasing of the repatriation base rate pension by $2 a week for the first time for many years is also very welcome indeed. It is certainly well and truly overdue, I compliment the Minister for Repatriation for its introduction. All I would like to say is that I hope the Government will give consideration in the future to increasing the wife’s allowance paid to the respective pensioners. If the wife’s allowance was worth $X a number of years ago, I believe that the recipients of this allowance are entitled to some sort of a rise on today’s figures.
One thing that is of concern to me is the use of liquefied gas and the effect its use has on decreasing pollution. A great deal has been said in recent times about pollution, and rightly so. However, I am a little surprised that the Government intends to impose a special excise on liquefied gas used in propelling road vehicles. That special excise is to be at the rate of 3c a litre. On the surface that appears to be a very small amount. But I have been informed by a user of liquefied gas that it is equal to about 13c a gallon for the normal fuel equivalent. It would appear to be very competitive with other forms of excise, but before liquefied gas can be used in any ordinary vehicle there has to be a certain conversion cost. To my mind these 2 added together would not encourage but rather discourage the increased use of this type of fuel. I am sure that the revenue derived from the implementation of this excise would be extremely small and that the cost per litre of collecting it could be comparatively high. In actual fact there could be little to be gained from it. I believe that liquefied gas is a form of fuel that could be used in the future to help counter pollution in our vast cities and that any encouragement of its use will be of great advantage to this country in the long term.
I do not have the time to go through all the matters that I would naturally like to cover as far as this Budget is concerned. I have not had a chance to talk about the advantages of the announcement to the effect that there will be a reduction in the levy of personal income tax, about the allowance for self-education, estate duty, gift duty or the dependants allowance. I could go on at some length explaining the very items I have not had a chance to cover. The housing grant is to be increased from $500 to $750 and the value of the houses to which it will apply will be increased from $17,500 to $22,500. There is to be an increase of some $20m in our external aid, bringing it up into the vicinity of $220m, which is a magnificent achievement as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. It will put us in the classification of being round about the third highest contributor per capita of any contributing country in the world. We have a mighty record in this respect. The expenditure on education is to be increased to something like $426m. There is to be an increase in the defence vote of over $100m. Grants to the States are to be increased by something like $394m. Time has caught up with me. I conclude my remarks on this note: I reject the amendment moved by the Opposition. I believe that the Treasurer has introduced a magnificent Budget. It certainly gives me a great deal of pleasure to support it.
– At the outset of my contribution to the debate on the Budget I want to say something about 2 matters which have been brought to my notice in the last few days. A seminar - I think I can call it that - was held in Sydney yesterday by what could be Australia’s top management consultants, namely, W. D. Scott and Company Pty Ltd. They invited a large number of Australia’s top business executives to discuss the Budget that was brought down in this Parliament on 15th August. I was not at the seminar, but every piece of information that has come to my attention on it has been to this effect: An unusually large number of people attended the seminar. Something like 500 of the top business executives in Australia attended it, which is something that has never happened before. The prevailing mood was one of depression, confusion and uncertainty.
– What seminar is this?
– It was a seminar called by W. D. Scott and Company Pty Ltd, which is one of the leading management consultants in Australia, to discuss the Budget. I will come back to it in a moment. On 19th August - last Saturday morning - I was, like other members of the Parliament I imagine, in my office in my constituency, which happens to be Canberra, when a young lady came in to see me with a housing problem. Her problem was that the house that she and her husband were renting was about to be taken back by the landlord, who was returning from overseas, and she wondered whether I could help her to obtain alternative accommodation. The facts that came out were interesting. She was, to say the least, a very depressed person. But she is not alone in this so-called affluent city of Canberra. Twenty-three years of age, she was obviously not well. Considerable nervous strain could be seen on her face. She had 2 children clambering all over her. One was 2i years of age and the other was li years of age.
Her husband is a truck driver in Canberra. He is 23 years of age. His take home pay is $75 a week, which would put him in the 60-odd per cent of people who receive less than the national average income, which is something like $92 or $93 a week. The rent they are paying for the house that she wants to cling to or that she wants to have replaced for another house is $35 a week, which represents nearly one-half of her husband’s take home pay. That is not an unusual situation in this city. I venture to suggest that it would not be an unusual situation in many of the other capital cities in Australia. It would be pretty obvious on the face of it or on any other way in which one looked at it that this couple would not be able to make ends meet on the husband’s salary. So the wife had to go out to work. They are both 23 years of age. She has a job as a ledger card keeper with one of the finance companies in Canberra. I will not name it for obvious reasons. She has managed to bring in $52 a week by working at that job. But who has had to look after the children while she has been working? They are being looked after by one of the child minding centres in Canberra - the Christopher Robin Centre. There is no harm in naming it That centre looked after her children for $25 a week. That amount out of this young couple’s income went on child minding expenses.
The public transport system in Canberra is poor. That is a matter which one should have thought would have been cared for in the Budget. Because of the poor public transport system the people of Canberra have to have cars. The cars of people in these circumstances have to be bought on hire purchase. This couple has to pay out $32 a month on hire purchase terms alone. Forget the third party insurance expenses, forget the comprehensive insurance expenses, forget the depreciation on the car, forget the fact that the car has to be replaced, forget the oil, petrol, service and other charges that go with the ownership of a car - that is the amount that this couple has to pay out a month on hire purchase terms. This young lady wanted the assistance of her local member in getting a house for $30 to $35 a week. There was no way in the world of getting her a Government house. There was no way in the world of getting her a house on something like one-fifth of the take home pay of her husband, which used to be the ideal in the immediate post-war years when Labor governments were in power in at least New South Wales and the Commonwealth sphere.
– What is the answer to that?
– Let me finish and I will tell the honourable member. One way would be to get rid of the present Government. Those are 2 stories on the opposite side of the coin. As I have said, one concerned a young lady under considerable nervous strain who did not know the answer to her problems. I have not much time in this debate but I can tell the House that the Housing Commission in this city cannot help and will not help. To come back to the businessmen, let me tell you what is shown by the survey of how top executives see Australia’s prospects. I hold up this booklet which must be available to any honourable member in this House. This report is not the one which led to the meeting held yesterday. It preceded that report and it came out in July 1972. The synopsis reads:
The nation’s top businessmen are worried about Australia and the way it is developing.
That is after 23 years of Liberal-Country Party Government. The synopsis continues: This emerges from a W. D. Scott and Co. survey of over 370 chief executives, conducted during July.
In particular, these chief executives are concerned about Australia’s performance on inflation, industrial relations, productivity and age pensions. A considerable number of them, too, see major problems in the present Government.
This is a Liberal-Country Party Government. It is no secret that it is a government of big business. It is a government pledged to the capitalist - sometimes called free enterprise - way. The two are not the same. This Government does not believe in free enterprise; it believes in capitalism which is something quite different. But here are the people it represents, the top businessmen of Australia, saying that it has done a bad lousy job. This survey goes on to say:
In the short term-
– You are reading.
– I am reading from the synopsis. I am putting some evidence before you, even for your closed mind. It reads:
In the short term Australia’s economic performance is expected to improve somewhat. But only a minority of chief executives intend to take expansionary action, in their own companies, over the next six months. Most are adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude which will make it difficult for the economy to move ahead at anything approaching full-speed.
– What date was the survey?
– This was in July 1972, and the meeting took place yesterday. There is to be another meeting in Melbourne tomorrow and the same number of people are expected to attend and the same depression is expected to prevail.
– Tell us which group n is.
– Just let me finish. I will give the honourable member the facts and then see if he can make up his mind. Here is an interesting thought for members of the Liberal Government. The synopsis, which is the finding of the survey of top business executives, reads:
The chief executives indicate overwhelmingly that they would like to see the development of specific growth objectives for Australia in the next 5 to 10 years.
That is something which this Government, representing people such as these, has consistently failed to do because it means something called indicative planning. Let us look at some of the things which exist in thb country at the moment. Let us have a look at inflation. This Budget budgets on a deficit basis - the classical type of budget in a situation of this sort to encourage inflation. This Budget assumes inflation.
– What is the deficit?
– Never mind. This Budget assumes inflation and the Government will know that the only way it has managed to get its surplus in previous years has been to leave the tax scales as they have been, let inflation run away, let people who were once thought to be on low incomes - marginal incomes - nominally be moved into high income groups and be called upon to pay high rates of income tax. That is what has happened over the years and that is why this Government has had a surplus. The figures speak for themselves. If this Government had not reduced income tax by 10 per cent about an additional $871m would have been received in revenue this year than was received last year - that is, if nothing had been done about the rate at which income tax is levied. That is built into the system, so what has this Government done? It has given a 10 per cent rebate. That is very nice. It now means that the Government will receive through its generosity about $400m more than it received last year. So much for its generosity.
But let us think about the inflationary aspect. People talk about it. What does inflation mean? What is wrong with inflation? I will tell the House what is wrong with it and why budgetary measures should be taken to stop it. It favours the person who can turn his money over. It prejudices the person on a fixed income. It prejudices the person whom I described who saw me one Saturday morning, that young lady of 23 years and her truck driver husband who are battling on $75 a week. They are the ones who suffer when inflation gets away. Inflation does not prejudice the person who can turn bis money over, who can increase the rent on his investments or who can sell one portfolio and not another. He can do very well out of inflationary trends. Because inflation prejudices people on fixed incomes it is a ready built-in measure for industrial dispute, because as prices go up wages have to follow them, and when wages do not follow them sufficiently well - I am not over-simplifying it.
– It is not nonsense. It is as plain as the look on your face. When prices go up - that is inflation - and wages try to . chase them but . they do not adequately chase them the result is industrial unrest. Honourable members on the other side of the House are the ones who complain about it but they, have really encouraged this situation to continue. They prompted it and they have encouraged it to continue. Let us look at unemployment. Before I do so, does anyone want to argue that inflation is a good thing? I have not heard even the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) say that. Where is the step in this Budget that is intended to slow down inflation, to curb it or to stop it in any way at all? This Budget assumes that inflation will continue because it is a deficit Budget which encourages it. It is a lousy way to allocate resources because it favours the rich and prejudices the poor. So much for inflation. Let us have a look at unemployment. A year ago. this Government introduced a Budget which was the complete opposite of this one. This Budget is a reversal of everything which the previous one stood for. Therein lies something that concerns the businessmen for whom I am trying to talk in this speech.
– Who are they? You have not told us that yet.
– I will come to that in a moment. This Government’s 1971 Budget produced 2 per cent unemployment, the highest in this country for many years. This is producing a great deal of hardship, and heaven knows the hidden unemployment which is not revealed in the figures. Heaven knows how many school children are staying at school because there are no jobs to which they can go. Heaven knows how many married women want to take work but cannot find it. Heaven knows how much hidden unemployment exists in this country at the present time. The figures will show up early next year. What does this Government do about unemployment? It does not, say, embark upon a course of public works. It does not put money into the pockets of the people who can spend it. It puts money into the pockets of the people who will not spend. Let us look at the tax concessions. Take a person on a salary approximately equal to that of a member of Parliament, say $9,500 or $10,000 a year. This Government gives him about $7 a week as a result of the tax concessions which it has now introduced. I think it stands to reason - it is almost commonsense - that the majority of family men on $10,000 a year are not going to rush out and spend it. They have what the economists call a low marginal propensity to spend; they have a high marginal propensity to save. They are not on the bread line.
– Are you talking about a member of Parliament? You must be crazy.
– No, I am talking about a family man on $10,000 a year. I repeat that he has a low marginal propensity to spend and a high marginal propensity to save. What does this Government do for the man in receipt of the national average income of $90-odd a week, the man with 2 jobs who works a mass of overtime? It gives him a little less than $3. He might go out and spend it but the Government does not give him enough to make any significant difference. What about a man on, say, $67 a week, who really would go out and spend everything he could lay his bands on because he is suffering economic hardship. I refer to the truck driver whom 1 mentioned. What does this Government give him? It gives him about SI. 50. The Government says it will pour money into the economy, but it is not doing so. It is pouring money out to those people who will not spend it because - and there is a political message here, of course, that has been touched on by a number of other speakers - this is not an economic measure. This Budget has very little to do with economics; it has a lot to do with politics. The target of this political Budget is the Liberal voter who traditionally comes from the group receiving about $10,000 or more a year - that being a figure, incidentally, which I plucked out of the air. These people have been deserting the Liberal cause in such numbers that this Budget is a vain gesture or hope that in some way the Government will buy them back and prevent still more Liberal voters from deserting the cause. <Let us be honest and say that that is the Budget’s political purpose, to stop people voting Labor. But think of the other purposes that the Budget should have. It should have some justice and some equity. Where is the equity in this Budget? Consider the man on $10,000 a year - and as a politician I would like to have a salary increase. Compare my situation with that of the young lady and her husband who came into my office last Saturday. Should I have $10 a week more in my pocket or should she and her husband have $10 a week more in their pockets? The Government makes these laws, not I. Is it just that I should receive that $10 or that that young lady and her husband should receive it? The facts speak for themselves. The issue goes a lot further than that. They should not be paying tax at all on their income. But they should also have cheap housing and proper public transport so that they could live and at the very least have those child minding expenses which are incurred so that she can go to work allowed as a taxation deduction. Better still, they should not have to pay those expenses at all. All those are things which should have been included in the Budget and have not been touched upon at all. One could go on for a long time.
The gist of this Budget is that it is political and is not an economic measure. To call it an economic measure is to indulge in farcical language. It assumes that a very bad feature of the Australian economic system - cost inflation - will continue. It assumes that unemployment is not important. lt fails to take any immediate steps to cure unemployment, steps such as increased public spending by Government, for example by the re-building of schools and, to mention a pet project of mine which I think is Labor Party policy, encouraging the formation of a Commonwealth development corporation which would in advance take care of cyclical trends in the trade cycle, and develop projects which would be held in reserve, pre.evaluated, pre-engineered, pre-costed and ready to roll at short notice in situations like this when the economy is run down. This would enable a government to be ready to react, not as this Government reacts, for short term political advantage, but to give a better deal to the people such as those whom I saw on Saturday morning, as well as the people that honourable members opposite claim to represent, the businessmen. Six hundred people went to that meeting yesterday morning and insisted upon making plans, insisted upon the right to say: ‘What are we going to do in this country? At the moment we have excess capacity but we have to sit back and wait and see and cannot be given any confidence at all because this Government which is reaching the nadir of its experience now has nothing to offer us.’ There is no way forward, there are no investment guidelines or policies and there is no certainty. A year ago this Government said: Full stop - all brakes on. Turn the fountain in Canberra off; turn everything off. We will stop inflation and create a pool of unemployment’. The Government now says: ‘Start again. Take the brakes off and away we go.’ What a sudden reversal! How on earth, given the kind of economy which honourable members opposite claim to represent, can they expect to generate confidence when they behave in that manner?
– The 1972 Budget could be seen as the hinge of Australia’s political history. It tells a vivid story; its detractors tell a starkly different one. What are its major facts? The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) summarised it by saying ‘taxation down, pensions up, strong growth on the way again’. This is only part of the reality. Even in these matters it is hailed as sound and responsible by most experienced commentators. But it is far more than that. This Budget stands as a beacon of achieve ment of change by parliamentary process in the economic and social policies of the Government. It stands too in an atmosphere of threat. It is time, some say, time to change the basis of government. But for what? Let me inform honourable members. It would be for the introduction of a system of economic and social revolution. The Australian Labor Party wants to alter the basis and fundamentals of our society, not just in economics but in our entire social structure. If by mischance Labor is elected to office then let the people not say that they have not been warned.
Let me point to 3 statements which have been made; firstly, the statements made by the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) on a recent ‘Monday Conference’, secondly, Mr Peter Westerway’s interview with management consultants in Sydney and, thirdly, the address of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) to security analysts. All these statements tell the same vivid story. If Labor is elected there will be a destruction of the existing basic fabric of our economy. It will be drastic and probably irreversible. That is the clear evidence of Labor’s intentions and it is publicly available. Does Australia warrant this radical surgery? How does Australia stand? Let us leave the knockers with their slogans and propaganda aside and look at the picture, the picture of unemployment, for example. It has been stated that the unemployment level is as high as 2 per cent. That, by the Government’s terms, is still much too high but it is the envy of most nations. Then in relation to economic strength, with our natural reserves and the manufacturing capacity of this nation, the talk in Australia and around the economic world is of the possibility of upgrading the dollar.
Take the area of social adjustment. We live in what is virtually a classless society, compared to most other nations. We have a stable and scandal-free Government and until very recently we had freedom from violence and threats to security. This is a great place to live and we all know it. We do have areas where change is needer? and let me name now some of the areas which in past years have demanded change. For example, there has been the fear of inadequate security for retirement, illness, the education of a family and the provision of a home. Then there has been the frustration of unfair tax burdens on the middle and lower income groups as well as the fear of exploitation by power groups in both capital and labour or by foreign interests. Finally I mention the fear of ultimate national insecurity in terms of defence. This Budget tackles nearly all these great and challenging needs and it does so responsibly. It tackles them in the context of proven performance and it builds on proven foundations and through parliament-based change. Let me illustrate this. Some years ago I coined the phrase: The mad, mad arithmetic of the means test’. I meant it. Thrift and initiative were held at nought. I felt deeply incensed at what I saw of fine men and women who had served the nation in peace and war reduced to the level of ne’er-do-wells and wastrels by the soulless mathematics of the 100 per cent taxation of the means test. I worked and worked for a . solution. With Mr Ian Wilson-
– You voted for it.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, can I have some relief from this babble?
– Order! The honourable member for Sturt will observe the Standing Orders.
– I worked- (Quorum formed.) Before the call for a quorum, I was saying that the tapered means test means that tax now is reduced to 50c in the dollar. For every dollar of selfproduced income, a pensioner now would be better off by at least 50c.
But that was not good enough. The base of $10 a week, before deductions started, was far too low. This Budget doubles that base. The permissible self-income before any deductions is now $20 a week. Now, superannuation is no longer an incubus, to be taxed at 50c in the dollar thereafter. Now it is to be treated as a capital asset, as of course it should. It is another form of saving for old age. That means that only 10c in the dollar after the first $20 a week will be deducted. Within 3 years - I hope well within that time - we will see that there will be no penalty at all. Do you see what I mean, Mr Deputy Speaker? There has been a vast and fundamental change in the basic structure of our social service concern for aged persons, not the revolutionary change advocated by Marx-
Leninism which is what the Australian Labor Party is planning . and threatening but a responsible, evolutionary change by persuasion and legitimate democratic process. The same is true for other spheres such as in education and in health. I want this written firmly into Hansard today. I am mighty proud of Australia and of the achievements of this McMahon Government. I have never seen better or more far-reaching legislation in my lifetime. If this Government is fairly judged on its record rather than by the splenetic jibes of its detractors, it will hold an all-time high in terms of public regard.
I refer now to another area, small in terms of numbers and money,. but large in terms of human values, namely, the Aborigines - these bewildered, gentle folk of another civilisation whose land we share. Today, the savage apostles of race hatred and class division try to fan their problems into issues calculated to harm our society. What is the truth? Are they brutally neglected and disregarded? In some places this may still be true, but a great new concern and practical commitment is abroad. This year the Government will spend $53m in direct aid to 144,000 Aborigines, which amounts to about $370 a head, .man, woman and child. A family of 5 - that is, with 3 children - have, in addition to the benefits and entitlements of all Australian citizens, an average expenditure on them of $1,850. Money is not everything, nor does the Government see it that way. In the Northern Territory, 75 per cent of Aboriginal children of preschool age are in such schools. This is the highest average in the land. Over 90 per cent of Aboriginal children of primary school age are so enrolled. Special leases provide land for them on conditions that are peculiarly lenient and sympathetic. Their growth in numbers by natural increase exceeds that of the white population. Yet at our very doors the apostles of class and race hatred have stirred up many good people to support a cause which is aimed at the creation of apartheid and race friction.
The Government is not prepared to see a separate race within a race developed in Australia, with an embassy from the Aborigines to the Government of Australia as though they were a foreign power. Like all other groups within our widening society, we welcome their participation and their political aspirations as part of a family, not as aliens holding the nation to ransom. We have a long, long way to go to help these ancient people into the 21st century. It will not be done in one generation, not by anyone, but we are doing a very great deal right now. But once again Labor stands, in most of its expressions, with the apostles of radical and even violent action to divide and denigrate this nation in our own eyes and in the esteem of the world.
This Budget, which raises aid to Aborigines by 70 per cent - or over $21 m - shows a better way. It is the way of responsible change by evolution towards an even better and more just society. The Australian Labor Party has another way. It is dedicated to the dismemberment of our society, and nothing less. It is determined to build on the old discredited basis of Marx, which thinks of everything but human values, incentives and initiatives. It will go ahead to nationalise banks, insurance companies, hire-purchase companies and the like. We are told that it will wipe out all taxation deductions other than for family allowances - that is, all education allowances, insurance allowances, medical allowances and expenses in earning income. Income taxation will be radically rescaled so that it will be, in the words of the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), a means of enforcing a restructure of society. Businesses will be radically reconstructed.
I heard a pathetically naive argument from some leading manufacturers recently who repeated assurances given to them by Australian Labor Party apologists. They said: ‘We need not fear. Labor will not use tariff changes against us if jobs would be threatened’. Let them listen to Westerway and the honourable members for Lalor and Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). It is time for them to do some homework. The tariff is seen as a bounty or as a weapon to be wielded by the Government in achieving its socialist objective. It is not just an economic instrument. What is more, if it alone will not do the trick, then discriminatory, specially directed taxation will be used to bring unco-operating industries to their knees. The honourable member for Lalor said so bluntly. He said:
If you can’t induce people, persuade people as n result of using (tariffs) that will get a desired result. You can also do it the other way. You can do it by taxing the things you don’t want
As for workers’ jobs, the honourable member for Lalor speaks in the same breath of re-training and redirecting workers from one industry to another. Not only would there be at once a capital gains tax, but Labor speaks of a wealth tax, to be levied not only on the sudden windfalls of speculation but on value-growth and what is vaguely called ‘Otherwise’. The honourable member for Lalor said that he will tax, appreciation of capital, capital values, sometimes as a result of speculation, and otherwise’, whatever that may mean.
So far, I have not even mentioned the trade union power base. A student of the statements and actions of the ruling elite for Labor’s tomorrow can but tremble at the thought of power in the hands of men who, like Lenin, see little value in the decisions of this bourgeois Parliament. Their appeal is to the streets and, behind the mob, the bitter bargaining behind the locked doors of the Trades Hall. Force not philosophy holds sway there, Mr Ducker, President of the State Australian Labor Party has declared:
I warn all unionists that communist inspired violence will continue unless we are ‘ vigilant. The Communist Party is using these vigilantes just as Hitler used storm troopers to gain power.
I see the institution of Parliament in peril if men like Hawke, Carmichael, Halfpenny and Slater have their way. The honourable member for Lalor has given expression to this when he declares that Parliament is not the only place for important decision making on this level.
On the other hand, what has the Government to offer? We have achieved the elimination of the greatest fear of old age - insecurity and poverty. Now, and especially as soon as the means test goes completely, despite inflation, no person in Australia need fear the dire poverty found in some limited areas today. To one’s private savings, whether by superannuation or investment, will be added a weekly pension, which is bound to change with the cost of living, and which is already above what Professor Henderson called ‘the poverty line’. The McMahon Government has already increased pensions by $4.50 a week and is making them portable, of value especially to newcomers to Australia. Such pensions will soon go to all and, what is more, this will be quite fair, because those with higher incomes will pay much higher rates of tax on the lot - pension and all. This is a magnificent step forward.
Add to it great strides in health matters, especially in care for the aged sick. That is another very reassuring story but it needs more time than I have tonight. Add to it the true view, not the knocker’s view, of our aid for education. We are moving ahead at an unprecedented rate in the whole field of education. I could go on and on, but read and study the Budget for yourselves. How is all this to be done? Where does the money come from? Will it mean the iron prison of Labor’s taxation proposals? Far from it. All this is going on now with a general average reduction in taxation of 10 per cent and, what is more, it gives 50 per cent of the benefits of new tax deductions to those with incomes under $4,000, and of it all 75 per cent goes to those with incomes under $6,500. That is change for you, basic and fair. And this change is occurring within the context of a great leap ahead in defence spending and preparedness. The armed Services are soon to get sophisticated new ships, planes, tanks and guns which will spell a new era of national security. Here is high responsibility.
I conclude as I began by saying that never in the history of this nation have we seen a more courageous, encouraging, adventurous and yet prudent Budget presented at a time of such solemn national decision. Australians will soon go to the polls. They will have to choose whether they are prepared to discard the certainties and realities of Government achievement through parliamentary change for the superficial, slogan-ridden propaganda of the socialists, and underlying them the unreachable power of the union bosses. Thank God that so far we are free to choose. I hope and trust we will always remain so. It is time; it is time to think, Australia.
– I thought that after the bringing down of the Budget last Tuesday night we would never hear from the other side of the House the question: Where is the money coming from? I thought that ghost had been laid once and for all. I think what we have to consider and what the people of Australia have to consider - it is time for this very shortly - is whether this Budget heralds a new thinking by the LiberalCountry Party coalition which has been in government in this country for 23 years. Is it new thinking which has caused the revision of social welfare? Has the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his second budget suddenly found that Australia can afford higher pensions and the abolition of the means test within 3 years - a promise, incidentally, made by the former Liberal leader, the then Mr Menzies, in 1949. It has taken 23 years to get around to promising it in another 3 years.
I do not believe that we will hear any longer the question: Where is the money coming from? It has now been found in this Budget by budgeting for a deficit of $630m. The Government and its supporters - the members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party - must feel that Australia can afford to do this. This is a budget of necessity. It is like the coalition itself - a marriage of necessity. Now these marriage partners find that they themselves are involved in the eternal triangle with a third partner joining in the cooing and the wooing. But as my friend me honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) has often said, it was a shotgun wedding and it will come to the same end.
This Budget in itself condemns previous budgets which have been introduced by successive Liberal Party and Country Party Treasurers. It does not. reflect the true attitude of the people opposite. Last year the Treasurer called for restraint in consumer spending and imposed increases in income tax .and indirect taxes such as sales tax. He was found to be more successful than he could have believed. Consumer spending fell suddenly; savings increased; so too did unemployment. The recipients of pensions were found to be joined on the poverty line by the increasing numbers of unemployed. In so many cases their problem was even worse than that of the pensioners.
By December of last year the Commonwealth was giving $2.25m a month to the States for the relief of unemployed in nonmetropolitan areas. This had to be increased to $4.5m in February 1972. At the Premiers’ Conference in July the rate was increased to $6m a month, to be paid out to the States at least until the end of this year. Yet the number of registered unemployed continued to grow until now it has reached the all time high of 2 per cent of the work force. This in itself highlights the fact which the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) mentioned, that the number of registered unemployed does not give the true figure of those people who are actually seeking jobs; who are available for employment and who are unable to find it. In many cases we find that this money which is being given to local authorities and being spent by them is being used to employ farmers’ sons and farmers who no longer can make a living off the land from which they and, in many cases, their parents before them earned a good living. They find that they have to go out to work for wages, and it is not just a drought that has caused this situation to arise. It has been caused by a recession in prices and other recessions that have been brought about by the policies of this Government.
I am certain that this unemployment relief money is appreciated by the local authorities in these areas. In some ways it is a breakthrough in Commonwealth-local government finance, even though the State governments still administer and distribute the money to the local authorities. But the question which is always before these people in local government is: How long will this money continue? ls the best use being made of it? Each year at about this time or a little earlier councils all over Australia meet. After deciding what work needs to be done they decide what work they can afford to do, and they budget accordingly. In order to finance this work they increase the rates within their own local authorities. As I say, they plan for this work. In some cases they have to obtain loans to carry out this work. Then this unemployment relief money is suddenly thrown into their lap on the condition that they use it immediately and put men to work. Mostly it is men who are put to work. It is an unfortunate aspect that in many of these non-metropolitan areas there are many single women who need work but whose local authority is not able to provide employment for them; and the State governments care little about them. So the local authorities have been given this money and have been told to use it. They have to use it before a certain date.
They employ men because one of the conditions of this money being granted is that the work must be of a high labour content. So they employ men to carry out the work, but they feel that they could make better use of the money had they known beforehand - preferably at the time of formuating their own budgets - that they would be receiving a certain sum of money so that they would be able to plan accordingly and get the best use of it.
The Treasurer described this Budget as pensions up and taxes down. But is this correct? Overall receipts from taxes will increase by $567m in this Budget compared with last year. Receipts from indirect taxation will increase by $95m; receipts from company income tax will increase by $28m; and receipts from personal tax - the pay-as-you-earn tax on personal income and wages - will increase by $389m. So despite the reduction in the rates of tax this year, the result will be that more tax will be paid. It is not a case of taxes being down. The man with a wife and 2 children and a taxable income of $50 a week will receive a taxation benefit of 90c a week. A little higher on the income scale the man with a taxable income of $80 a week will pay $1.75 a week less in tax. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) clearly showed that there is no relationship between this reduction in income tax and the promise made by Prime Minister Gorton in 1969 to introduce tax reform. His first Budget reduced income tax by 21 per cent but this was subsequently restored by the next Treasurer in the time of the next Prime Minister. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has pointed out, the inequalities of the old system remain and are bolstered by this Budget.
Provision is made for deductions of up to $1,200 for life assurance payments. A $1 a week increase in the rates of child endowment would have been of much more value to the families of Australia than the increase of $52 a year in the allowable deduction for each dependant of the taxpayer. I believe that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has dealt adequately with, the inequalities of this system of remissions for dependants.
No provision has been made in the Budget for a topic which is always popular with honourable members opposite at the time of elections, namely, decentralisation. The major cities of Australia grow larger, placing an increasing burden on the home buyer, increasing the price of land and housing, wasting the time of workers in travelling to and from work because of traffic jams and increasing the need for local, State and Commonwealth authorities to provide such services as freeways to allow easy access to cities and a free flow of traffic through them. In many cases by the time resumptions have taken place and freeways have been completed, they are no longer adequate to deal with the increasing demands being placed upon them. Now is the time to balance the cost of providing civil services and works to the ordinary people in cities against the cost of providing funds for the establishment of industry in country centres. The Government should grant tax concessions, not only freight concessions, and make land available. Industries would be encouraged, through taxation concessions, to establish in country centres outside the crowded metropolis. For the benefit of the House I will quote section 96 of the Constitution which allows the Commonwealth to provide funds for such a purpose. It reads:
During a period of 10 years after the establishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
I believe it is time to do something about this matter. While I am speaking on the subject it might be appropriate to mention a particular case in my own electorate of Wide Bay. I believe there is discrimination against country based industries. The major towns of my electorate of Wide Bay - Bundaberg and Maryborough - are fairly well catered for by air services of both domestic airlines. But I refer to the fares that must be paid by those people travelling north from the Bundaberg or Maryborough airports. Both these cities have traditional ties with the sugar industry. They are both manufacturing towns with fairly large decentralised industries associated with the manufacture of sugar milling machinery. Bundaberg particularly is recognised as a centre for cane harvesting machines. Both of these centres do a lot of servicing, through their associated industries, in towns like Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. Because of the scarcity of direct air services to the north, most people travelling in that direction find it more convenient to go to Brisbane and then fly back north over the same route in a larger aircraft. For the benefit of the House I point out differences in the costs to my constituents or their employers who send them north in such circumstances. To travel to Mackay from Bundaberg via Brisbane costs $68.70 or $29.40 more than the fare for a direct flight. The flight from Maryborough to Brisbane and on to Mackay costs $33.40 more than a direct flight. From Maryborough to Townsville the difference is $17.10. From Bundaberg to Townsville it is $24.60. Persons may travel on northbound flights from Maryborough or Bundaberg to Mackay on Mondays and Tuesdays only - 2 nights a week. I suppose these nights have been chosen because they are the times of greatest demand. I point out that in this small instance of sending people backwards and forwards in the area - persons not only from the sugar industry but also from the cattle industry - many people find that the quickest way to reach northern areas is very often the cheapest. But why should they be asked to pay in one case $29.40 and in another $33.40 just because they happen to live in a certain area. My understanding is that people who live in Newcastle, which is shockingly served by air services to my way of thinking, pay the same air fare from Newcastle to Brisbane whether or not they travel through Sydney. I think that this should be so. We have spoken of rationalisation of air services. I believe that some method of rationalisation of fares should be introduced so that people living in these centres who travel, sometimes for business purposes and at other times on holidays because they want to go to the wonderful tourist centres of Mackay, Proserpine, Townsville and Cairns, will not be penalised as is the case with people who live a certain distance outside the city of Brisbane. If this can be done in the case of Newcastle I do not see why it cannot operate similarly at other centres where people have to backtrack to get a plane and then have to pay the additional fare just because the air services do not run through a smaller centre.
Mention is made in the Budget of assistance to rural industries. An amount of S20m will be used to provide a bank. Nobody knows too much about this, how it will be operated, whether it will be operated through the free banks, whether money will be made available to them or whether a separate branch of the Reserve Bank will be set up. When we think of this $20m I think it is good to make a slight comparison. Recently $100m was set aside for rural reconstruction. It was to be spent over a 4-year period. We find that $S6m of the amount that is left of this rural reconstruction money will be spent this year. All of it will be spent in 2 years, and another $15m besides. So, in 2 years $115m will be spent, which was originally to be spent in 4 years and which up to date has proved to be totally inadequate for the requirements of people in rural industries.
In some respects it is shocking to see the way in which people have to prepare cases. One farmer told me that he knew of 18 cases within his district in which applications had gone to the Rural Reconstruction Board and one had been approved. In other cases farmers have changed their approach and each time an accountant has made out their case it has cost them another $38. These people are living from hand to mouth. They are being badgered by hire purchase companies for their commitments and by oil companies to which they owe money. In some cases the companis have even threatened to walk in and take over whatever crop they have had. This year in some cases they have had a good season. All this money has been committed. Give them another year and they might be able to meet their commitments.
The Treasurer spoke about $20m to provide long term, cheap finance for rural industries. I am sure that all honourable members on this side of the House will agree with me that that is totally inadequate for the purpose for which it is intended. For that reason I believe that the Budget is a short term measure. It is one to appease the electors. It is one of necessity. It is one that will be followed closely by a minibudget next year, make no mistake about that. This Government and these parties have a history of mini-budgets. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer said that we cannot be too sure; we cannot look too far ahead. The Government is not looking any further ahead than the election date, and the sooner the election comes about the better it will be for the people of Australia.
– It is always a great thrill to speak in this House at about 23 past 10, to see the Press galleries of Australia crowded and to know that whatever one says will be regarded with about as much attention as would be given to somebody down in the pub on the street corner. Both the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen), who preceded me, and I do our best for the people of Australia. It was interesting to listen to the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) and the honourable member for Wide Bay. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory said this was a political Budget. The honourable member for Wide Bay said, amongst other things, that the action taken by the Government was taken because of necessity. I suppose that there is a certain amount of truth in what both of them have said. It is amazing to listen to the speeches on the Budget by honourable members opposite and to find that so many of the things that have been doneleaving aside the political content - have been what the Opposition has been saving has been necessary for some time. But now that it is done, it is all wrong.
– Oh, no.
– The Opposition cannot have it both ways. I will admit that certain things that the Opposition has said should be done have been done. Honourable members opposite can accuse us, if they like, of taking ideas from them on some matters, but they cannot have it all ways. When it is done, do not say it is wrong. One finds running through Opposition speeches the continual theme that nothing is being done to encourage full employment and that the whole economic situation has been brought about by the Government.
– That’s right.
– It is all right for an honourable member, like a parrot, to keep saying That’s right’, but he should admit that it is right when he is making his speech. No member of the Opposition ever refers to the international financial collapse of last year.
– I will say that for you.
– I am glad. I have a high regard for the honourable member because he is not on the low plane of some of his confreres. Honourable members will recall that the overseas financial market last year created incredible problems within, the Australian economy in respect of mineral resources and other matters on which the economy of this country depends. There was a marked setback. But this is not even admitted in all honesty. It is never admitted by the Opposition that there was a fall in the overseas wool and other produce markets and that this was not within the internal responsibility of government. The Government can plan and do what it likes, but it cannot have much effect on the buying of overseas nations which are not prepared to buy our product or to pay the price for our product if they do not feel inclined or are unable to do so. Therefore there was a great effect on the economy and there was a recession, without any doubt.
In rural areas there was, without any doubt, increased unemployment. People were forced to put off men working on their farms. People in country areas were forced to cut down on their expenditure. This is a fact of life; it is not a matter of being a smart politician. Therefore, within these country areas and country towns there were many people who were not able to buy an extra car, or even a car. People were not able to buy as many consumer goods as they had bought in the past. This situation moves to the storekeeper in the country town who is not able to sell as much. If he is not able to sell as much, he is not able to employ as many people as he employed previously. Then this has its effect on the manufacturer in the big city because, if he is not able to sell as many cars out in the country areas to the farmer and the farmer’s employees, he then cuts down his production and decides that he cannot employ as many people either. So, there were reasons, above and beyond any smart talk about the Government’s intention or the Government doing this for a set purpose. There is no reason in the world for saying - surely it cannot be sup ported - that the Government at that time could have done a heck of a lot in respect of overseas buying and the flow-through effect.
To say now that the Government does not want full employment is just stupidity, because any member of the public knows that the Government is doing everything possible to improve the employment situation. There is only one party that can gain by unemployment and by the moaning, the continual complaining and the continual forecasting of doom in this country. The Opposition speaks about confidence. When has any leading member of the Opposition - from Mr Hawke down and including Mr Whitlam as second in command - ever spoken of confidence or of the need to build up or to start to engender confidence in the manufacturer - in the person who employs labour? They say: Tt may be 2 per cent now. It will be 200,000 in 3 months. It will be such-and-such a figure in February’. How the devil is this expected to give confidence to anybody who may be considering . increasing his manufacturing, expanding his factory or starting up and re-employing people in the country areas? This foreboding of doom by the Labor Party is assisted by certain of the trade unions that wish to bring about a continual state of unemployment in this country up until the election time because on that basis they consider that they can win.
Let us look at the unemployment figures for the last month. Is it not a fact that, through the efforts of Mr Carmichael and his merry men - the supporters and confreres of the gallant gentlemen on the other side - the petrol supply in Sydney was reduced almost to nil? Is it not a fact that in Sydney industries dependent on petrol were forced to close down? Is it not a fact that when industries are forced to close down people are put out of work? Is it not a fact that in South Australia the Labor Government was forced to regulate and restrict petrol supplies? Did this not affect industry and did this not affect unemployment? But not one word from my parrot friend over there, not one word from anybody as to these factors in the Australian economy.
One of the things that should be realised by the Australian people at this time is that whatever the Australian Labor Party may say there is no other country in the world that can be pointed to which has a greater stability and a higher standard of living than has Australia and with which the majority of people from the other parts of the world would like to swap. I think it is reasonable for the Australian Labor Party to use the slogan ‘It’s time for a change’. I think there is in any nation’s life sometimes a time for a change. But my complaint is that the people of Australia are entitled to be told to what a change will be made. I think this is the message that the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) was delivering.
Do the people of Australia clearly understand what is envisaged and what is involved in the so-called time for a change, lt is not just a case of a swinging leader of the Opposition with his Saville Row suit or with a T-shirt displaying the words ‘I love Whitlam’ or ‘It’s time for a change’ or Tommy Hanlon Loves Me’ or whatever it may be. This is not the essential point. The essential point is: What is the true policy of the Australian Labor Party and how will it affect every man, woman and child in this country in the future? If we took each Labor candidate into a room and questioned him on the major points of Labor policy I doubt whether we would get one to agree with another as to what the issues were. Who in this country clearly knows what is the Labor policy in respect of tariffs or nationalisation of industry? The Leader of the Opposition says: ‘We do not intend to nationalise industry. We are all liberals. Look, I dress like one’. There is no doubt about it. It is most interesting to read some of the things that the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) said on the television programme ‘Monday Conference’. He said that if you do not want to extend or expand some industries you can tax them to a stage where it is difficult for them to operate. He goes further. He says that if there are certain things you want to discourage you can tax against those things. What things are they? Perhaps the Labor Party should tell the people.
What is the Labor policy in respect of immigration? Amongst the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), the right honoruable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), the new shadow Minister for Immigration who deposed the honourable member for Grayndler, and Mr Don Dunstan and Mr Bill Hartley on the Federal Executive of the Labor Party, there seems to be some confusion. But on television they assume the attitude that if you adapt yourself to your audience and fill them with these ideas, perhaps you will get away with it. In my book the true policy of the Labor Party will not be found until Labor gets into office, if it gets into office.
What is the true policy of the Labor Party in respect of defence? What is envisaged? I was with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), the shadow Minister for Defence, in South Australia at the Returned Services League symposium. It seemed to me that he was changing his moods like a chameleon. Every time he got a different question he gave a different answer. He does this every time he is on television and in every country he visits. What is the true policy of the Labor Party on defence? Surely the people of Australia are entitled to know this. The Leader of the Opposition talks about the cities he will build. It is incredible. The more you listen to him the more you can see Brazilias being set up all over Australia, the great meccas of the Labor Party. We can see them - the great edifices with loopovers, fly-overs, ups-and-downs and what have you. But can he say how industry will be encouraged to go to the cities? Will he compel people to live in them? Is this another harebrained scheme of the Labor Party such as that the British Labour Government entered into under the leadership of Wilson or such as those seen in other socialist countries where the government has taken the money from the people and wasted it in building schemes it has not thought out?
In respect of other matters, such as land and housing, the Labor Party has promised subsidies right, left and centre. Admittedly the honourable member for Wide Bay said: We envisage a deficit Budget’. But a deficit Budget eventually has to be paid for. How is the Labor Party going to do it? The shadow Treasurer has said that the Labor Party would cut down the allowable tax deductions except the allowable deductions in respect of families. It has been suggested that life assurance companies could be compelled to put money into specific areas. What specific areas? Are they to be the builders of these great towns? What sort of towns, we do not know. But the assets and savings of life assurance companies are the assets and savings of ordinary people. If this Utopia does not work, what is the end result?
What is Labor policy in respect of arbitration? Do the people of Australia clearly understand it? Surely the people of Australia will not be fooled by a pack of television idols singing a song and a couple of parakeets from the Labor Party taking points of order and making speeches in this House. If it is time for a change the honest thing to do is to tell the people of Australia clearly what that change will be to. I think the people of Australia are entitled to know what has been the deal between the Leader of the Opposition and the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I have heard honourable members on the opposite side suggest that there is such a deal. What is the policy of the Labor Party in respect of arbitration? What is its policy in respect of strikes, the right to strike and compulsory unionism? If you do not conform will you be able to get a job? How will the Labor Party pay for the 35-hour week? How will it pay for ail the things it has promised? If it wrecks the economy of this country it will take a long time to build it up again. There may be people who are tired of a Liberal Government.
– You have wrecked the economy already.
– Honourable members opposite say that we have wrecked the economy, but let them point to any country comparable to Australia which has 2 per cent unemployment which we hope to reduce with the co-operation of the Labor Party? What other country of the same calibre, of the same opportunity, has this level of unemployment? What country has had the stability of business, opportunity and advantage that we have? In what other country do people have such freedom? What we are being sold is that it is time for the socialist dream? We can see the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) as Governor-General of the Common wealth. (Quorum formed.) I hope that before long, Mr Deputy Speaker, we can have installed in this chamber a machine to deal more expeditiously with requests for the formation of a quorum. Again I emphasise, as I did at the start of my speech, that it is the right of the people to know what is going to happen in this country. We saw on television the great debate between Mr Hawke and the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood). In that debate we heard nothing whatever from Mr Hawke except that the people had the right to break the laws of this country. A feeling is current in Australia that everything is not right. I think the people believe that everything is not right with the leadership that might be given by the Opposition and also with the encouragement given to people to break the law. I ask any member of the Labor Party to answer this question: When your Leader says that it is right to break the laws, and when Mr Hawke, your deputy leader, says that it is right to break the laws, will this right be given to the people of Australia if the present Opposition should become the Government and its laws are found to be not what the people of Australia want?
– It has been said many times in this debate by honourable members on this side of the House, and it bears brief repetition, that the Budget is a misrepresentation. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) described the Budget in these terms: Taxes down, pensions up.’ I want to cite some figures which give the lie to that description. It is estimated that income tax revenue will rise by $439. A single pensioner is to receive an extra $91 a year, not in buying power but in inflated money. A single man receiving $15,000 a year will have his tax reduced by $420 a year. That is called a modest rise of 7.1 per cent. A family man with a wife and 2 children, receiving $5,000 a year, is to receive a tax reduction of $141 a year, yet he is alleged to be getting a princely benefit of a 17.6 per cent reduction - 2i times the percentage but only one-third of the amount. The take home pay of the man on $5,000 a year will rise by a much smaller percentage than the take home pay after tax of the man receiving $15,000 a year. The rebates will largely disappear for the low income earner because of the inflationary effect on money, which will increase the income tax receipts of the Government. It is complete misrepresentation to say that taxes are down and pensions are up when the percentage of the average weekly earnings represented by the pension rise will be eroded within 12 months.
One sector of this Government’s Budgets in which payments have been increasing is that of payments to industry. On average they have risen by almost 21 per cent a year, and this is one feature of the Budget to which I want to draw attention tonight. This Government has acted to increase the size of the slice of the cake going to nonwage and salary earners. The percentage of the cake that goes to wage and salary earners has been reduced in a period when those people have been accused by the Treasurer, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and spokesmen for the Government, both inside and outside Parliament, as being mainly responsible for rises in prices. The evidence submitted by the Government to the Arbitration Commission showed that salaries and wages were responsible for less than half of the increase in prices. Partly the increase was due to inflation and partly it was due to migration. Wage and salary increases represented less than half of the increases in prices, yet Ministers and Government spokesmen inside and outside this Parliament who are opposed to the Labor movement have blamed wage earners as the main cause of inflation, price rises and excessive demands in the economy.
The 2 Budgets preceding the present Budget were framed on the presumption that the demands for higher wages would place enormous pressures on prices and cause them to increase tremendously. That has not eventuated. In the last IS years the average percentage of the national cake - the gross national product - that has gone to wage and salary earners has risen by 024 per cent per annum. It would take over 40 years for the wage earners’ share to increase by 1 per cent. Over a period of 15 years wage and salary earners have received about 60 per cent of the national cake yet they represent 90 per cent of the income earners in this country and their numbers are growing faster than is the share of the cake they are receiving. Even so, attempts are made to saddle wage earners with the responsibility for the inflationary position and for price rises brought about by the Government.
The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) has asked us to state our position. For a long time we have been saying that the Government should be doing certain things. The honourable member now says: We are doing the things that you said we should be doing but now you are saying they are wrong’. We are not saying they are wrong. We have welcomed the positive aspects of the Budget. We have said that the Government has acted deceitfully by misrepresentation. It has not done the things that we have been saying it should be doing. The Government has been forced to move a little way towards our point of view but it has not reversed the trend of favouring the rich more each year and taking more from the poor each year. The trend has been continued with this socalled give-away Budget. The honourable member for La Trobe says that it is not admitted that the Government bad problems last year. He said: ‘We had problems with a slump in the minerals market and in the wool market’.
– You have had problems with your leadership.
– At least the Labor Party has leadership, which is something Joh Bjelke-Petersen of Queensland said Canberra is looking for. The people of Australia have shown in their response to gallup polls that they think the Australian Labor Party has a better leader than the present leader of the country. Of course the Leader of the Australian Labor Party will be the next leader of the country.
I shall deal further with the question of leadership, which was also raised by the honourable member for La Trobe, but before doing so I wish to say that the mineral slump, the wool slump, the drought 15 years ago in central Queensland and all the other adversities and hardships that the honourable member for La Trobe complained about as being responsible for the decline in the economy, the decline in employment opportunities, the decline in morale and the uncertainty in business and investment should affect Australia far less than similar adversities and hardships would affect the developed nations of Europe and North America, which depend far more on overseas markets than Australia. Australia is essentially a self contained and self sufficient nation. If all the ships were stopped tomorrow we would still have a fairly good standard of living. The sorts of benefits that we get from exports are being very rapidly offset by the ill effects that are resulting from the blanket policy of the Government on foreign investment in this country and on the servicing of that investment, which is going to give us increasing balance of payments difficulties in the near future.
The honourable member for La Trobe asked to what it is time for a change. He raised the matter of a swinging leader. I say that it is better to have a swinging leader than not to have a leader at all. ‘We are all liberals now’ were the words that he put into the mouth of the Leader of the Opposition. I suppose members of the Australian Labor Party do claim to be small ‘1’ liberals. But I would remind the honourable member for La Trobe that when he first came to power the former Prime Minister, John Gorton, made the famous statement: We are all Socialists now’. So where does that put us? Apparently one of the reasons why he lost the leadership of the Liberal Parry of Australia was because some of the members of it objected to being described as Socialists. I will outline briefly what I consider a Socialist to be. First of all, Socialism is not, as the honourable member for La Trobe seems to think, nationalisation.
– -Yes it is.
– A budding Socialist on the other side of the House claims that it is. The honourable member for Chisholm says that nationalisation is what Socialism means.
– That is right.
– The honourable member for Chisholm confirms that. Socialism is social ownership and control of the means of production, distribution and exchange.
– That is your policy.
– That is my policy. Social ownership is not necessarily ownership by the nation.
– Of course it is not.
– No, of course it is not. Social ownership is ownership by the society. It may be ownership by the people who work in the industry; it may be ownership by a co-operative of producers in a primary industry; and it may be ownership by a co-operative of consumers in a retail industry. That is one of the main components of the labour movement in Britain, which is one of the bodies that sends delegates to conferences of the Labour Party in that country. I might say that the Labor Party in Queensland has a rapidly growing retail co-operative and the people of this co-operative send delegates to conferences of the Labor Party in that State. Has any honourable member ever heard of a cooperative sending delegates to conferences of parties of other political colours?
– They do not have any delegates.
– The other political parties do not have any delegates because they do not believe in co-operative ownership. They believe in elitist ownership. They believe in capitalism. They do not believe in social ownership. They do not believe in ownership in the interests of society. They believe in ownership in the interests of the owners and those owners may never be the society; they must always be an elite. I am not saying that Labor governments always espouse this principle. I am not saying that there have not been times when they have unwisely nationalised things. I think Mr Wilson did things in Britain in a way which was not in the interests of the labour movement, even though his motives may have been social ownership. It is a fact that there were increases in the inequalities of income and property in Britain under the Wilson Government. I am not saying that that is what the Labor Party would want to bring about in Australia. I am saying the opposite. I am saying that it is the Liberal Party which wants to increase the inequalities of income and property and that its record shows that it has achieved this aim.
– What about the inequalities of power?
– The inequalities of power are very evident in the different administrations of the parties that sit on the opposite sides of this Parliament. On the other side of the Parliament are the power drunk leaders who kick upstairs or downstairs at will anybody on their front bench. On this side of the Parliament we have a democratic party system of election to the front bench and we have democratic decisions by all of the elected representatives on policy.
– But the policy is not made by the elected representatives and the honourable member knows it.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jarman)Order! There are far too many interjections.
– The Australian Labor Party has a democratic and open method of deciding policy that is not recognised by the power drunk leaders on the other side of the House. The honourable member for La Trobe asked what would happen to Australia’s assets if the Utopia did not work out. At least more of them would stay in Australian hands. At leas; there would be more Australian assets. At least the assets would remain Australian and would not be sold out for cheap royalties or for cheap political gains. Our assets would not be sold out in the vain hope that the great and powerful friends to whom we sell them so cheaply will be here to protect us from the red hordes or the yellow hordes coming down from the north. There are better ways to protect Australia’s assets than to sell them cheaply to our great and powerful friends. There are better ways of defending this country than by antagonising people by way of sabre rattling and atomic bomb rattling. There are better ways of defending this country than by asking somebody who has a bigger bomb to look after the country for us and becoming big meek serfs in a new economic era of neocapitalism.
Under this Government decisions have been kept secret. Decisions have been made by advisory committees on which sit men like Sir William Gunn, Sir Frank Selleck, Sir Albert Axon, managers and directors and senior executives of Comalco, the Australian Gas Light Co., Felt and Textiles, Imperial Chemical Industries, Australian Consolidated Industries, Drug Houses of Australia, the Shell Co., and Elder Smith Goldsbrough Mort Such men sit on all sorts of commissions and committees, advis ory and otherwise. There are also men from Qantas Airways Ltd, Trans-Australia Airlines and the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission - everything from the Material Handling Advisory Committee to the Australian Immigration Planning Council and the advisory committee to the Atomic Energy Commission.
– Would you change the Board of Qantas?
– Senior public servants and senior company officials change places as freely as if they were switching from one department or firm to another. Would I change the directors, asks one of the Government backbenchers. What I would do is to see at least that the Government of this country is decided by the elected representatives of the country and not by the elected representatives of private capital, of multi-national corporations like Shell, General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd or Imperial Chemical Industries.
– A dirty word.
– An honourable member opposite calls multi-national corporation a dirty Word. I will say this much about multi-national corporations: At least they have a world outlook which this Government has not. They do recognise world citizenship much more freely than does this Government which will not even put a resolution to the United Nations on reform of the United Nations Charter to achieve democracy at world level because it wants to cut democracy off at the national level. But let all the multi-national corporations come in and dictate policy through all the advisory committees. Nationalisation in these circumstances would be a very democratic procedure because it would be decentralising control by taking control out of the hands of the multi-national corporations and putting it on a national basis. Nationalisation is not the only road to socialism. It may be a road in the other direction but at least in many cases it would be far prefer.ble to what this Government is doing.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnes) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I rise to make a plea tonight for a New South Wales industry and more particularly the growers who are the foundation of that industry. I refer to the canned fruits industry and to hundreds of farmers who have been left to wither in the winds of adversity, none of their making. It is not my purpose tonight to deal with the broad scope of the problems confronting the canned fruits industry nationally but I do want to make a plea to break government inaction in relation to New South Wales industry and New South Wales growers. The situation is that New South Wales canning fruit growers are in an industry sponsored by government particularly to service the British market. The growers have followed almost to the letter every recommendation of government, on how much to plant, on what varieties to plant. They heeded pleas to become more efficient and in fact New South Wales apricot growers have the highest per acre output in the world; peach growers have doubled their per acre output in the past 10 years and are now in the top 3 in the world in efficiency.
The problems of the industry do not stem from New South Wales growers or the New South Wales industry. Those problems stem from government decisions in Canberra and elsewhere. We have a situation where South Africa has a 20 per cent currency advantage over us and the long awaited government promise to consider some protection for affected industries has not yet materialised. We have a situation where the New South Wales Government increased freights by 15 per cent. We have a situation where the canneries have been forced to buy higher priced Japanese tinplate because the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd could not or would not supply it.
The entry of Britain into Europe has thrown great shadows over the 60 per cent of production which still goes to Britain. On the present basis after 12 months we could be faced with that export being halved. Faced with all these difficulties all canneries were in trouble but the giant SPC cannery in the Goulburn Valley was specially in trouble because of multi-million dollar losses associated with management.
The government decided in all the circumstances that the Victorian growers should be paid for fruit they had worked to produce and had already delivered. The Commonwealth made $4.2m available to the Victorian Government to enable the growers to be paid, to avoid bankruptcies and hardship to families and entire communities. The Opposition supported the measure on humanitarian grounds. We anticipated similar treatment for New South Wales. But what happened was that Griffith Co-operative Cannery was abandoned completely by both the State and the Commonwealth and 43 growers lost $250,000 in cash owed to them for fruit already grown, delivered and sold. Now we face a situation where hundreds more growers have received no direct help at all. All that has happened is that some Commonwealth and State bank debts have been adjusted - a book entry only and a saving of interest of $114,000 already offset by increased Government charges for freight and by decisions on the currency.
So we have a situation where growers in 4 New South Wales towns - 2 large and 2 small - are walking about being owed $1.2m for fruit grown, harvested, delivered and in some cases sold. This is on top of the fact that growers have to pay a levy of $7.10 per ton and pay income tax on fruit delivered and canned for which they have not been paid. The growers face bankruptcy, their families face hardship, the towns’ prosperity is hit hard. The farmers who have done everything they were told and advised by government to do have been abandoned by government.
The Premier of New South Wales, Sir Robert Askin, has said it is a problem for the Commonwealth. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) has stated in correspondence that it is a matter for the States. He added also that the Government - I quote from a letter from him of 16th August - ‘still has under consideration requests from several industries including the canned fruits industry for measures to alleviate the effects of the currency realignments of December 1971’. But since then the English pound has floated to make another 6 per cent difference and there is still no action. But the main point I underline tonight is that when the Victorian growers were faced with personal hardship and disaster they received $4.2m without any argument. In contrast, the New South Wales growers in the Riverina were firstly denied $250,000 and now the people in the Griffith district are owed $1.2m. They feel cheated, let down and in fact double crossed by somebody.
This feeling is all the more reinforced when they listen to the Country Party leader in Victoria, Mr Peter Ross-Edwards, advocating the phasing out of the industry, the farmers, the canneries and the workers in New South Wales. I ask the Minister tonight to break the merry-go-round of Federal-State inaction. I ask him to reject the solution advocated by his State leader in Victoria. I understand that there were hopes of getting something going but it is a matter of time and there is family hardship where the banks have decided to close down by saying that there would be no more money and where cheques have been dishonoured despite the fact that the growers concerned are owed large sums of money for fruit which they produced, harvested and delivered and which has been put in cans.
I hope that the vigorous attempt to throw up a smokescreen about revaluation does not mean abandoning good men and women for political expediency. The Minister and the Government know the decision to revalue is theirs - it has been done. We are 20 per cent worse off compared with South Africa. The Opposition has made it clear that industries should be protected, particularly the most vulnerable fruit industry. There has been an attempt to distort, dishonestly to create decisions which should never have been made and will not be mads by the Opposition. Those attempts and distortions must be rejected. I reiterate that such a campaign of misrepresentation of the Opposition does not solve the problems of the countryside, does not bring help to the growers, and does not even the balance between those who in one State will receive $4.2m and those in another State who will receive nothing directly. I make a simple plea tonight for justice and help and 1 ask the Minister to take the initiative to bring the States, the canners and the grower’s representatives together to take action on the money owing to men for the fruits of their labour. I make that plea directly to the Minister for Primary Industry.
Any attempt to create a Trojan horse out of any passing references to the value of the Australian currency is to be deplored in the national interest. As a matter of fact I was surprised to hear on national television this evening that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitiam) and all members of the Australian Labor Party had made a decision that there should be an alteration to our exchange rate. If that had been announced by the Leader of the Opposition or any major spokesman of the Party it would have come as a great surprise to me, but when it came from the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) it created tremendous astonishment because no organ of the Party - not the Leader, the economics committee, the rural resources committee or Caucus - had made such, a determination and never intends to make such a determination. The Opposition is clearly bent on preserving-
– Do you denounce the statement?
– There was an interjection from the Minister. I do not want to do him any discourtesy. If it is a relevant interjection I do not mind, but I want to make it quite plain that these pipe dreams and Trojan horses are no substitute for action where action is needed. I make that point clearly and definitely. I come back to the point I directed particularly to the Minister for Primary Industry tonight on behalf of the people who have no part in these major decisions but who are directly affected by them.
– I desired to read a letter which appeared this afternoon in the Melbourne Herald’ and to comment on it. The letter reads:
May I make a strong protest against continuous smearing of our Prime Minister, Mr McMahon. Never before has a Prime Minister been so unfairly treated.
– What number is he on the Liberal Party ticket?
-Order! I have just warned Assistant Ministers for interjecting. I suggest that the honourable member for Chifley and the honourable member for Prospect take the hint that the warning is for them as well.
– The letter continues:
He has been maligned, slighted, ridiculed by people whose only claim to fame is being photogenic on TV, vocal on radio and able to ‘push a pen’ for the press.
Isn’t there any sense of fair play left in Australia? Mr McMahon is an efficient and kindly Prime Minister. He can take over any portfolio in his Cabinet and run it with excellence.
Further he does not criticise the petty-minded people who are always sniping at him.
There are many Labor and Liberal supporters who are heartily sick of these attacks on him.
I want to comment on this letter because I think there is a lot of truth in it. In this House I have heard the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) insulted in a way that one would probably not hear in any other place in Australia, although one might if the same people were there. He has remained cool and has replied to the insults thrown at him in a calm and courteous way. I will enumerate some of the things he has been blamed for. Firstly, he has been blamed for overseas currency difficulties - was he to blame for them? The collapse of the wool market through lack of overseas demand caused by the overseas currency difficulties to some extent - was he to blame for that? Inflation - that is a world condition and everybody knows it. Drought - why blame the Prime Minister for the drought in Queensland and other places? The Australian Labor Party would do it if it could but it is hard to get away with it. Strikes, trade union irresponsibility and, to sum the whole thing up, general misrepresentation - he is blamed for all these things. Since I have been in this House I have tried to play the game fairly and no one has accused me of not doing that.
– No one has accused me of it. Even the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has not done that. I know that the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) is introducing him into the debate by way of a joke. The honourable member for Grayndler has never done that. The lady writing this letter has struck a note to which anybody with any idea of fair play must give attention. I want now to touch upon one or two general things which she said. She said:
Further he does not criticise the petty minded people who are always sniping at him.
How true that is. I have not heard him criticise people who are sniping at him all the time.
– Does he ever ring you up?
-Order! If the honourable member for Prospect, whom I have warned 3 times today, does not heed my warnings I will name him.
– I have heard people say that one of the Prime Minister’s faults is that he does not make a statement on some vital issue and carry it out; but those people do not know how a coalition government works. They are not used to the procedures of a coalition government. The point is that the Prime Minister of our country cannot do that. If he could do it he would be a dictator - there is not the slightest doubt about that. We do not want a dictator. If the Prime Minister wants to put something forward he has to have the support of Cabinet and the joint Parties. I am not giving Party secrets away by saying that every time we have a joint Party meeting, at the top of our agenda is the item Bills to be explained’, and the Bills are explained. More than once or twice - 7 or 8 times - after a Bill has been explained and even after it may have passed through Cabinet, I and other members of the joint Parties may have objected to it and the general feeling led to the Bill being withdrawn. Honourable members know this. No vote has been taken. All Prime Ministers since I have been here, starting with Sir Robert Menzies as he now is, have said: ‘By the tone of the meeting it looks like the members are not in agreement with the Bill’, and the Bill has not been brought into this House. How would a Prime Minister be if he made some statement that he would do this or that without knowing whether he could get the Bill into the House until it had passed through the democratic processes of the coalition government? This is true democracy which members of the.
Labor Party who criticise the Prime Minister and insult him in this House do not understand. I mention this matter tonight because I want to see fair play. Surely to goodness the Opposition and the people of Australia can extend it to the Prime Minister of this great nation.
– Last Thursday evening when speaking during the adjournment debate I told the House of 2 cases where unfortunate people had money taken from them by salesmen who had failed to honour promises or to refund life savings. I explained to the House how 2 age pensioners - the husband is 85 years of age - had paid all the money they had collected over a lifetime and how despite representations made to Alco Sales Pty Ltd for the return of their $420 they were disappointed and disillusioned. This happened 12 months ago and my constituents, whom I know well, were distressed to think that their life savings had disappeared. The main features of my speech were reported in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ last Friday morning. Later that morning I received a telephone call from the solicitor of the company who told me that the managing director was distressed by the publication of my remarks. I was told that 2 representatives had left the company, that papers were mislaid and that my elderly constituents would have their money returned to them. I was particularly pleased to receive that information and I promptly told the solicitor that I would welcome confirmation in regard to the matter. I was delighted to find that the money would be returned and consequently received a letter from Mr Maurice Allen representing Alco Sales Pty Ltd. The money was given back to my constituents - money which was their life savings. I now have the letter from Mr Maurice Allen, representing Alco Sales Pty Ltd and I ask leave of the House for it to be incorporated in Hansard so that the record as far as the company is concerned might be made straight.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) - Dear Mr Luchetti,
I refer to our telephone conversation today relating to your statement in the House of Repre sentatives reported to have been made on 17th August, in relation to our clients, Alco Sales Pty Limited.
I have been asked to inform you that our clients are most disturbed at the allegation, quote: an elderly couple in Lithgow, both pensioners, had been defrauded of $240 by Alco Sales Pty Limited,’ being the terms of the report in a newspaper.
Our client is a reputable Company operating under franchise from Homeshield Pty Limited, a subsidiary of Hunter Douglas Limited.
Our client’s business is conducted in an honourable and proper fashion.
An investigation of the matters to. which you refer, disclosed that a contract had been signed by Mr and Mrs Pickering, the persons referred to in your statement, and some correspondence received in connection with the matter some twelve months ago.
This correspondence included a letter from the Public Solicitor in New South Wales, Unfortunately, the matters took place during the absence overseas of the Managing Director of our client Company and were handled by a Clerk and Director, neither of whom are now in the employ of the Company.
The correspondence was filed and not referred to the Managing Director at any lime and the correspondence has remained there without ‘ any attention until today. Under no circumstances would our client retain money under the circumstances referred to nor is its policy to do so where the purchaser is unable to obtain finance. Had the Managing Director been aware .of the matter himself, these things would not have occurred.
Our clients vigorously reject the suggestion that in any manner their conduct has been improper, although regret that due to the events which have transpired, the matter was not attended to earlier.
Our clients have repaid to Mr and Mrs Pickering the $420.
We therefore have to request, that now that these facts have been brought to your attention, you bring them before the attention of the House and thereby correct the record as to what has occurred.
I would be appreciative of your advice that the explanation in this matter is regarded as completely acceptable by you and that the record has been corrected accordingly.
I appreciate your continuing interest <n this matter and look forward to hearing from you.
Yours truly, MAURICE ALLEN. 18 August 1972
– I thank the House for its indulgence. This letter will help to put the point of view of Alco Sales Pty Ltd. Whilst I welcome the action of the company I should like to emphasise these points: Firstly, a year elapsed since my constituents paid the money and signed the contract. Secondly, every effort was made by my pensioner friends to cancel the contract, without success. Thirdly, they wrote to the company and failed to receive an acknowledgment. Fourthly, at great inconvenience and expense they travelled from Lithgow to Sydney and hired a taxi-cab to visit the North Sydney office of the company only to find that its address had been altered. This cost the pensioners $7.90, which was a sum that they could ill afford to spend. In addition, a letter from the Public Solicitor had failed to bring a refund from the company.
Whilst I accept the explanation that a clerk and a director had left the company, it seems to me that rather bad management seemed to exist in the company at that time so that ali of these documents - a contract, a deposit which perhaps should have been in a trust account, a letter from the Public Solicitor and correspondence from the clients - could have, been mislaid over a period of 12 months and that no notation was made of the visit by my pensioner friends to the office of the company. Naturally, I am happy that my friends have had their money restored to them. However, I feel sure that this satisfactory ending in fact is due to the matter being raised by me in the Parliament and, furthermore, to the fact that the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ published my words. I thank the ‘Daily Telegraph’ for its public action in giving justifiable mention to a matter which called for prompt and immediate corrective measures.
Not only was this matter raised by me in the Parliament but I also drew attention to the case of the mother of 11 children who had handed $2,663 to representatives of Trelawney Developments Pty Ltd which, she was led to believe, would provide a dwelling. She has not been given a house nor has her money been returned to her. This company, too, has changed its address. It has moved from one office to another. My constituent, who lives in the Emu Plains area in New South Wales, certainly parted with her life savings when she paid $2,663 to the company. When I raised these matters in the Parliament last Thursday evening I made a plea to the Minister at the table to take the text of my remarks to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) to see what action could be taken by the national Parliament to protect the rights of people in this country. We talk of law and order. We talk of people observing the rules of the game - the rules of life and of moral attitudes - yet it seems to me that the national Parliament, the State parliament and all of our- agencies of government seem to be immobilised and have a feeling of inertia when it comes to the protection of people who have been defrauded in this scandalous and shameful way.
Because of the publication of my remarks in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ I have now received a letter from a Mrs Doris Mary Brown, a war widow of IS O’sullivan Road, Leumeah, New South Wales, in which she brings evidence to me in a statutory declaration of her personal problem and how she has had $4,195 taken from her by the same firm, Trelawney Developments Pty Ltd. Surely these matters call out for action. If the Commonwealth Government cannot do anything about it, at least the good offices of the Attorney-General should be directed to the lawmakers in New South Wales - to those administering justice in New South Wales - to protect this widow of an exserviceman and to see that justice is done. This statutory declaration gives names, addresses and all the details of the sordid arrangement and the manner in which this poor woman has been defrauded by Trelawney Developments Pty Ltd. It is a most important statement. It gives the details of the whole arrangement in a clear and unambiguous manner and I ask that this document also might be incorporated in Hansard for the benefit of the AttorneyGeneral. It will provide him with the detailed information.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
DORIS MARY BROWN states:
I reside at 113 Flowerdale Road, Liverpool. I am a pensioner by occupation. On or about November 1970, I obtained from Trelawney Developments Pty Limited, a brochure illustrating holiday homes. After pursuing the brochure I decided to purchase “The Seabreeze’ cottage.
I again attended the company’s office in George Street, Sydney in February 1971, where I spoke to a person who introduced himself as Mr Keating. I said, ‘I have decided on “The Seabreeze” for my land at Kanwal. Would you please arrange for the plans to be passed by the Council.’ He said, For the plans to be passed it will be $100.00’. I said, ‘I haven’t got $100.00. I have sixty dollars.’ He said, ‘That will be alright. That will come off the deposit of the home.’
At the time of paying the sixty dollars ($60.00) to Mr Keating I did not obtain a receipt. The plans which were apparently submitted to Wyong Shire Council by reason of that Council’s stamp thereon were returned to me.
In March 1971, Keating attended 113 Flowerdale Road, Liverpool, and obtained the plans from me. At the time of taking the plans from me Keating said, ‘In view of your circumstances I will try and get it cheaper for you’.
Shortly after taking the plans from me I received regular telephone calls and telegrams from Keating requesting me to ring him at his home after 7 p.m. At the time of receiving these telephone calls and telegrams I was in residence at East Hills operating a small shop. When Keating would ring or 1 would ring him the conversation would go: Keating, ‘Have you heard anything from Probate. Have you got the money through yet?’ I said, ‘No’.
During one of my conversations with Keating he said, ‘I am leaving Trelawney and going to work for Vanlex. You will have to do something about the plans as the Council only gives you a certain time. You will have to have the plans extended/
Shortly after I went into the office of Vanlex to speak to Mr Keating I was informed thai Keating had left their employ. After an employee of Vanlex was told of my position he said he would try to have the Council plans extended. I did not go back to Vanlex.
In February 1972, I again attended the office of Trelawney Developments Pty Limited where I spoke to a person by the name of Lyons re the construction of my cottage. I said to Lyons, 1 have got the money through from Probate and I am ready to have the house built’. He said, ‘It will not cost you any more for plans as you have already paid for them. As soon as you arc ready for the kit you just ring and we supply it.’ Lyons further said, ‘I will have to have a deposit on the kit. I will send Angelo out to your place to pick up the money.’
On 18th February 1972, Angelo visited my residence at IS O’sullivan Road, Luhmea. Angelo said, ‘1 have come for your deposit. I will take you up to the bank. Can I have cash.’
With Angelo 1 then went to the Commonwealth Savings Bank, Campbelltown, where 1 withdrew the sum of $2,250.00 in cash and paid the same to Angelo who issued me with Receipt No. 1804 dated 18th February 1972. (1 produce that receipt.) After paying the money to Angelo I requested a quotation from Lyon re the cottage. On or about 25th February 1972, 1 received a written quotation on Trelawney Developments letterhead. (I produce that quotation.)
After making the first payment t attended the office of the company where I again spoke to Lyons. I said, ‘When can I get the kit delivered’. He said, ‘When you have paid the balance of the price’.
On 21st March 1972, Angelo again visited my residence at 15 O’sullivan Road, Luhmea, requesting payment of the balance of the purchase price in cash. Angelo took me to my bank at
Campbelltown where I paid him the sum of $1,885.00 in cash and obtained Receipt No. 1807. (I produce that receipt.)
Shortly after paying the total purchase price for the cottage I again attended the office of Trelawney Developments Pty Limited with my daughter-in-law where I spoke to Angelo. I said, I have come for a set of plans for the plumbers and to query the foundations’. He said, ‘You haven’t paid for foundations. You will have to get your own foundations.’
Whilst being interviewed by Angelo he received a telephone call. After completing this telephone call Angelo said to me, ‘1 am sorry, I have to leave, as ten houses have been stolen from our factory at Newtown. I cannot tell you anything else as we have to all go.’
As Angelo left with another gentleman, the gentleman said to me, ‘This is serious, one of them is your house’. Angelo then said, ‘I will contact you when we have another house for you’.
After this visit I kept ringing the company up to obtain some bolts for the foundations so that the bricklayer I had employed could put the foundations up for the cottage. Shortly before Easier, 1972, I attended the office of Trelawney Developments Pty Limited in George Street. Sydney, where I again spoke to Lyons. I said, ‘1 think you had better give me a cheque for my money back. I am not very happy as you have all my money and it could be in my bank making interest for me.’ He just laughed and said, ‘We have recovered twelve of the thirteen houses stolen. You can have yours as soon as you are ready. Just ring me.’ I then obtained the bolts from Angelo. These bolls are still in my possession.
On Tuesday, 15th May 1972, I rang Trelawney Developments but obtained no answer. I then rang Mrs Lyons on telephone number 337 4026 who stated she would give her son a message. I left my telephone number at Flowerdale Street for him to ring me. Lyons did not ring on Tuesday so I went into the office in George Street, Sydney, where I observed a note on the door which said, Closed for Stocktaking’. I then inquired of the solicitors next door who informed me someone was there but they had been closed that day. I telephoned Angelo at telephone number 31 2703 but he told me he had left the company three weeks ago. Although I have made every effort to contact the company or some person connected therewith I have not been able to do so.
– I thank the House for its indulgence; it will save me the problem of reading the statutory declaration. This document provides names, addresses, the manner in which money was withdrawn from the bank and reveals that the men who posed as the salesmen of this company asked for the money to be paid to them in cash and indicates how they defrauded this most valuable woman in our society - this mother, this widow of a serviceman. If the governments of New South Wales and Commonwealth cannot act in a matter of this kind,
I feel that they should have another look at the whole law-making structure of our country. We cannot go on and hold our heads up if we are going to permit the repetition of incidents like this. According to information coming to me, this is one of many similar cases of this kind. I condemn it and I ask this Government to take action to clear up the matter.
– I apologise to the House for a certain loss of volume tonight and hope that it will bear with me. I am particularly anxious to take up the remarks of the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and for once to inform him that I also am very perturbed about the plight of the canned fruit industry and the growers of the raw material behind this industry. I have been so perturbed that I have had several telephone discussions with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) in relation to the matter. I have also written several letters and I have with me a copy of one of them dated 8th August 1972. This letter deals with the possibility of section 96 grants; it deals with suggestions relating to subsidies on various forms of freight; it deals with the possibility of some increased payment for sugar rebate; it deals with reduction of various interest rates on borrowed moneys that could affect these canneries; it deals with compensation against losses due to revaluation being pegged on statistics for 1967; it deals with voluntary quota restrictions; and, in more depth, it deals with the possibility of extending the terms of the tree-pull scheme. I am of the opinion that, if we could enlarge the scope and conditions behind that scheme, it might eventually prove to be the cheapest way out of the industry’s problems. So I have developed that, as I have developed the problem of orderly marketing, on the hypothesis of a 2-price scheme which will remind honourable members of other industries. Also I have gone fairly fully into the matter of the possibility of lowering other cost inputs in relation to this industry.
That deals with those initial approaches. As well as that quite recently the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), every Government senator from my State and I waited on the Minister and made certain other suggestions in discussing the headlines, if I might put it that way, that I just mentioned from that letter that I wrote on 8th August. So my concern over this matter has been very great indeed. Of course, if one has been, as I have been, in consultation with some of the industry leaders over a long period of time, one finds that the case they produce bears very markedly on the problem that they had to put up with due not only to one of their competitors - South Africa, which devalued by 12.8, from memory, as against sterling, but a greater valuation of that as against the American dollar - but also a subsequent floating of the £1 sterling and altogether a price disadvantage on export markets of something well over 20 per cent in a short period of time. This is only one of the problems of the industry.
I will not bore the House, if honourable members can hear me, by going through all the problems, but the main problem is that of exports due to currency re-arrangements and the fact that 60 per cent of volume is sold on: the United Kingdom market - a volume that might well turn out to be 30 per cent or less if and when the new conditions applying to Britain joining the Common Market come into effect. So fundamentally, I think, it is a short term problem of an over supply of the raw material on the one hand and possibly a short term problem of too many canneries to get an economy of scale into the industry on the other hand. My own State, for instance, is not so concerned with pears, either fresh or canned, as, for instance, is the State of Victoria. I have looked at the forecast statistics which make it quite plain that within 4 or 5 years there could well be a shortage of peaches, which is the main primary produce in my area of Riverland. So one cannot altogether say with a sweep of the hand that it is a matter of industry over-planting or over-supplying, because this is not the whole story.
The main reason I am on my feet tonight is because there were some elements of the speech by the honourable member for Riverina with which I agree. But I also wish to point out that the worst thing that could happen to the canned fruit industry and to pretty nearly all export industries would be if a move were to be made in this Parliament tomorrow to appreciate the Australian dollar as against other currencies. I was astounded and shocked this afternoon to hear the reported comments by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) which I can only feel is indicative of the policy his Party would adopt if it took over the reins of government.
– If the honourable member says it is misrepresentation, all I can do, as 1 heard the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) do after question time this morning, is read out from the document that has been tabled already. Would the honourable member think that that is misrepresentation?
– By whom - your Leader? I have here the script of what Mr Whitlam said. Now where is the misrepresentation? Mr Speaker, I think all I can do is read the question and repeat the total answer so that there is no chance of doing a ‘Hawke’ and quoting only half of the answer. The question was:
On inflation, and in reference to the Reserve Bank statement of the other day, would you endorse what they have had to say about Inflation, that it could be reduced either by revaluing the dollar . . .
There the Leader of the Opposition cut across the question which had not been quite completed and said:
Yes. 1 agree with that entirely. I think the Australian dollar is under valued, that as long as that remains it will promote Inflation in Australia. lt will promote this useless inflow of money from overseas. It is not something that politicians like to talk about because with an election coming on people will immediately assume that if we are elected, that’s what we will do. But you ask me, I am quite convinced that the Australian d oiler ought to be appreciated in value.
There is no other way I can interpret that remark and I do not believe there is any other way that my electorate can interpret it. I do not believe that there is any other way the electorate of the honourable member for Riverina can interpret that remark. I do not believe there is any possibility of that statement not being a true statement of the thoughts of the alternative Prime Minister of this country. If the honourable member for Riverina wishes to get up and shed crocodile tears on behalf of an industry which concerns him not nearly as much as it concerns me in my electorate, I think be should start to go to work on his own Leader and try to make sure that small industries representing decentralised towns in this country are not put to the sword on the capricious whim of an unthought-out statement by a leader of a political party. I have no doubt that he meant what he said. I will conclude my remarks with that comment. I regard this as a genuine document. I must presume that the Leader of the Opposition knows what he is talking about. I think it is a crying shame if small industries in country towns are to be subjected to the sort of pressures that this statement put on them.
– The matter I wish to raise tonight is one which falls within the responsibility of the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme). It is one which also is causing considerable concern and hostility throughout the Shire of Esperance and within a substantial area of the Shire of Dundas. Both of these shires are situated in the southern portion of my electorate. At the latter end of last week I received by courtesy of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) advice that a tender had been let for the construction of a building in Esperance itself to house equipment for the television station which is to be established at that centre. This has disturbed me very much because the letting of such a contract at this stage suggests to me that despite very strong protests the Commonwealth is persisting with its decision to provide only a second rate service; that is, simply a low powered station, which will mean that a considerable number of people resident within the shires to which I have referred will be denied any television reception at all from this particular station, with no assurance or even suggestion that other means will be used for the purpose.
What is really required for the area is a station of sufficient power as will provide a satisfactory reception over a distance of some 60 to 70 miles. There is very good reason why this should be done. Tn support of our argument for the establishment of a high powered station I wish to point out that Esperance is a growing district both in population and production. It has developed very considerably over the past few years and now has a very substantial farming community. The growth in the farming interest has extended into part of the Shire of Dundas, a part which cannot possibly obtain any television reception from the station at Esperance which is the main centre of the shire. The station at Norseman is also of very low power. So if the Government persists with its decision to set up only a low-powered station at Esperance also, it will mean that the people resident beyond a few miles from both Norseman and Esperance will be in no man’s land with no prospect of receiving a television service for many years to come. In other words, almost the entire farming community of the Dundas and Esperance district will be denied at least for several years the benefit and enjoyment of a facility which has now been available to city people for quite a long time.
This disregard for country requirements is not good enough, particularly when people in those areas make such a valuable contribution to the nation’s requirements. I am not in a position to give any accurate figure of the amount of capital which has been invested in the Esperance district over the past few years, but it would be considerable and certainly would amount to several million dollars. Much more will be invested in the future. There can be no doubt that the population of the Esperance hinterland and of Esperance itself will continue to increase and will in turn continue to make an ever increasing return to general revenue. In asking for a television station with a wide coverage we are not asking for something which will not have much value in relation to the numbers of people concerned. Actually the opposite will apply. In fact we are asking for something which will increase in its service value and will prove, in the not too distant future, to be money well spent.
According to the Broadcasting Control Board there would be no technical difficulties in establishing a high-powered station. The only argument the Board and the Postmaster-General raise against this is one of finance. The Postmaster-General informed me by way of an answer to a question on notice that his Department estimates that 6,000 people are resident in the area which would be served by a lowpowered station and that only another 1,000 would be included as the result of the installation of a high-powered station. Those figures are disputed by people in the area who claim that figures of 5,500 and 1,500 respectively would be more correct. Of course, the latter number would increase significantly. But irrespective of whose figures are correct, the fact remains that the Government apparently believes that $600,000 to provide a powerful station in the areas to which I have referred is apparently unwarranted. That is the message we have received. In the next breath the Postmaster-General tells the nation that his Government, within the next couple of years, will establish colour television in Australia at a cost of $43m. This will be provided for people who have now not only the benefit of television but also a choice of several stations.
The Government apparently believes that providing 38 stations in country areas at a total cost of $5m is a magnificent gesture for which the people should be eternally grateful. Indeed, I was told by the Board that to provide a high-powered station in each instance would increase the total cost to an astronomical figure. So it would seem that $20m to provide a proper service in 38 different country areas is absolutely unthinkable while to provide colour television at a cost of $43m to areas already enjoying a good service is just a natural process. However I was not satisfied that each of the 38 stations in the 7th stage would necessarily require a high cost station. I did not know the present situation or the future prospects of the hinterland of each main centre so on 12th April this year, over 4 months ago, I placed a question on notice to try to obtain the information so as to be able to compare their various present and future requirements with those of Esperance. 1 asked the following question:
Up to now I have received no reply. The question remains on the notice paper. This can mean only that very little investigation was carried out in the first place in those several areas to determine their future requirements or even the present population service situation; because if investigations had been carried out properly before deciding that only a low-powered station was necessary to service the areas my question could have been answered within a few days. The only other conclusion one can come to is that in relation to population outside the radius of a low-powered station Esperance is in a different position from other places or that just a few are in a similar position to Esperance and that the cost of providing high-powered stations where actually warranted in the 7th stage would he nowhere near the amount suggested by the Board and the Postmaster-General. But if on the other hand I am wrong in my conclusions in that respect - 1 hope I am - and if those other areas are in a similar situation to Esperance then they also are entitled to a high-powered station.
If the cost is such as would mean that colour television had to be delayed for a few more years - actually I do not think it would - no great harm would be done. In any case I understand that television receivers for colour television will cost about $1,000 each so thousands of people will not be able to alford them anyway. People in country areas, including children - or, perhaps in relation to education, particularly children have the same right to a television service as people in the cities. We must expect that to provide that service it will cost more per head of population. While 1 have no desire to deny to people who already have television the enjoyment of colour television, 1 believe that we are getting our priorities mixed if we come down on the side of high expenditure for colour television rather than the provision of normal black and white in the first place for those areas of reasonable population where at present no service at all is provided. I suggest that the hinterland of Esperance is one of those areas.
In conclusion, I again ask the PostmasterGeneral to reconsider his earlier decision in relation to Esperance and I trust that having done so he will appreciate that a highpowered station is warranted for the district and will take the necessary action before it is too late. I hope that he will now take the opportunity to tell us whether he will or whether he will not. We are not being unreasonable in our request. We are not asking for something which is not available to the majority of the people. We are not asking for something which in a few years will have no value or even depreciate in value in relation to a service to the people. We are not asking for a luxury item. People in country areas have very few amenities and there is very little in that respect and several other respects to encourage or attract people to the country districts. But television is popular and will help to retain and to build up population and development in outer areas. So. again, f ask the PostmasterGeneral to give this particular request his favourable consideration. Earlier I indicated to the Postmaster- General that .1 intended to raise this matter tonight but I understand that unavoidably he is unable to be in the House so I ask the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) to pass on to him the remarks I have made for his consideration.
– I agree with the 2 earlier speakers tonight that :he canned fruit industry is in trouble. But that is about the only thing on which I do agree with the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) in relation to this subject. I think the present problems that face the canned fruit industry can be solved far better if we stick to facts. The Goulburn Valley is by far the largest producer of canned deciduous fruits in Australia. Virtually every day I am in contact with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and the industry on this problem. The honourable member for Riverina mentioned a loan - I think he used the word loan* - of $4.2m to the Shepparton Preserving Company, one of the Goulburn Valley canneries. He inferred that if only the same sort of general assistance were provided not just to Victorian fruit growers but to New South Wales fruit growers this would be better - it would be more equitable. The Leeton cannery, which is in his electorate, received $900,000 from the Commonwealth Government, and the New South Wales State Government provided a further $800,000. Two other major canneries in the Goulburn Valley have received no assistance at all. Over the last few years Commonwealth assistance to the canned fruit industry has been considerable - devaluation compensation of nearly $14m since 1967, advances to canneries in 3
States, including those in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, and the recent announcement of $2. 3m for tree pull reconstruction assistance.
The negotiations for the tree pull scheme went on with the States for some time. Originally it was hoped that a proposal whereby the States as well as the Commonwealth would contribute would be accepted and that this scheme could be introduced considerably sooner than it was. Unfortunately at the final point of acceptance one of the States refused to agree. The Minister for Primary Industry then had to start negotiating again a purely Federal scheme. During the latter stage of these negotiations within the Federal Government, the honourable member for Riverina came out with a great headline: ‘S4.6m of fruit imported into Australia. This is a major cause of the problems of the canned fruit industry’. I submit that it prejudiced the case being put for and on behalf of the canned fruit industry in Australia at that time - at the latter stage of negotiations for the tree pull reconstruction scheme - because it tended to make people believe that the only thing that needed to be done to correct the problems of the industry was to stop these imports of canned fruit. Of equal importance is the fact that the honourable member’s statement was not correct.
This morning in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ the honourable member for Riverina had a letter headed ‘Abandonment of fruit growers’. Right through the letter he blamed government, but in it he completely blurred the difference between the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government. They were both lumped together as ‘government’. During the currency realignment negotiations last December, when Australia devalued relative to sterling and most other currencies, the Australian Labor Party was conspicuously silent on what its attitude would be to a currency realignment. Unfortunately, 2 of the few countries that devalued relative to the Australian dollar - South Africa and the United States of America - happen to be the only 2 other major exporters of canned fruit. South Africa went down by 12 per cent and the United States by more than 6 per cent. To compound these problems the rand has floated downwards with sterling. So the Australian canned fruit industry is now competing against a 20 per cent advantage held by South Africa. This is a tremendous burden for any industry to be confronted with.
At the present time the canned fruit industry is negotiating with the Government for compensation for these currency realignments. I certainly am supporting the industry and doing all T can to see that it is given compensation which will help growers to meet some of their overdue payments. What about the Labor Party and the canned fruit industry? What statement has ever been made by the Leader of the Labor Party on this most important rural industry? Last night we received, in an indirect way, his view of the canned, fruit industry. He said that the Australian dollar should be revalued; it should be appreciated. The canned fruit industry is already suffering the major blow of a 20 per cent devaluation within the last 12 months; yet that is what the Labor Party’s Leader thinks of this important rural industry. He wants to add to its already heavy burden another burden.
– I take a point, of order, Mr Speaker. Is it in order for the honourable member to speak on a Bill which is now before the House?
– No, it is not a Bill before the House at all. As I understand it, this statement was not made in the debate in the House in any shape or form.
– So much for the concern of a member of the Labor Party who stands up and says that he believes that something should be done for the canned fruit industry, when he cannot even convince the Leader of his own Party that the Australian currency should be kept at a competitive level for the canned fruit industry. The canned fruit industry is in real trouble at the present time. Stocks have risen. Now that the tree pull scheme has been introduced, more detailed negotiations are being conducted to look at more of the problems confronting the industry. But, if anything is to be achieved for this industry, it will not be achieved by people blurring fact, making mis-statements and grandstanding for their own support and their own aggrandisement rather than working with the industry and for the benefit of the industry.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– 1 have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Murray and I wish to correct the misrepresentation. The honourable member stated that I had quoted incorrect figures in a statement on imports of canned and processed fruits into Australia, f just want to say that the statement [ made was based on figures supplied by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics and I will make them available to the honourable member on request.
– I do not very often speak on the motion for the adjournment of this House. In something like 20 years I think that I have spoken on it on about 3 occasions. But I feel impelled to speak tonight because of the systematic attempt that seems to be made for what I could not call anything else but grandstanding on the part of the Australian Country Party in order to raise what must be at any stage a very significant matter, and that is the exchange rate of one’s own country or, if you like, the purchasing power of one’s own currency relative to that of other countries.
Of course, this all began with the presentation of the report of the Resereve Bank and, after all, the Reserve Bank is either the left hand or the right hand of the Government. If any rebuke for starting speculation as to what might happen about the exchange rate is justified it ought to be laid at the door of the Reserve Bank. I am one who believes that there ought to be intelligent discussion about matters of this kind, but people on either side of politics should not make statements which might provoke a situation over which often we do not have a great deal of control.
It is a bit like the question of the 35- hour week. Whatever is wrong with the canned fruit industry or with the apple and pear industry exists whatever the exchange rate is, and clearly the present exchange rate can be varied by this Government if it wants to do so. Whether currencies should be slightly appreciated or slightly depreciated is a matter that involves a considerable number of factors, and I think that members of the Country Party are doing no service to this very central problem by handling it in the way they did this evening. I can see a subtle attempt being made to try to take the mind of the public off sins that have been committed for a long time now by talking about some matters which have not happened yet but which might happen. People may differ on this question, and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is as entitled to his opinion about what might happen as is anybody else. What does the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) think about the present value?
– ft is too high.
– There you are. Is the honourable member prepared now to have an argument about devaluation? Is he prepared to have a debate about devaluation and revaluation or does he want just to stay put? If members of the Country Party are not prepared to come out and say what they think ought to be done, I think they are just humbugs. This evening they have certainly attempted to take out of context something that was said last evening. As the Leader of the Country Party. (Mr Anthony) read out today, the Leader of my Party was asked to comment on something that had been said by the Reserve Bank. Why do not members of the Country Party level some criticism at the Resereve Bank? Fortunately, they have more control over the Reserve Bank than they have over the Leader of the Opposition. The Reserve Bank is an instrument of the Australian Government. The fact that monetary matters perhaps have not been managed very satisfatorily in Australia is probably the seat of many of the difficulties that have been raised tonight.
I am surprised at the honourable member for Murray, who is a new member, because f know that he is just on a band wagon tonight. I can almost see the instructions that apparently go out to the Parties. I have heard tonight what the honourable member for Melbourne Ports said about something at an address somewhere or other. I am a little bit flattered to learn that what I apparently say casually or to provoke discussion is somehow regarded as holy writ, while something that the Treasurer says one night may be accepted as writ although on the following day it may be looked on as un-writ. I have been very careful about what I have said on this question of the interest rates on a good number of times when the matter has been delicate. I have not jumped in to say that I disagreed with the Treasurer or with the Government about certain things.
I hope there will be less of the kind of talk we have heard tonight, because if anything helps to precipitate a rush on or a crisis about a currency it is people beginning to talk about whether it may go up or it may go down. Nobody in Australia knows at the moment whether the high level of reserves we have is influenced by speculative capital coming into the country. I would hope that when better international monetary arrangements are evolved the speculators will be cut out. I do not think there is anything worse as a social phenomenon than people speculating about the future of international exchanges. International exchanges should primarily be concerned with trade. If the honourable members of the Country Party had devoted their attention to what are the fundamental things wrong with the canned fruits industry in terms of trade they would have known that the position of the industry will not be varied much if there is a minor adjustment of the exchange rate.
I would say that the industries they are talking about have been more influenced in the last 3 or 4 years by the fact that inflation last year was running at the rate of 6 per cent and the year before 5 per cent. Inflation influences costs of production and narrows the margin between whatever price the producer finally gets and what he calls income. To wrap it around words upon which you can put different interpretations is a very poor exercise on the part of both the Liberal Party and the Country Party members here. I hope they have a little bit more respect for the importance of the integrity of the currency of one’s country.
– Like Gough?
– He was merely saying that, taking into account the views that he had been able to discuss, he thought that the likelihood was that there would be appreciation rather than depreciation.
– Be consistent.
– The Minister for the Army says that there should be a depreciation. Do all members of the Country Party support that point of view? If they do let us have a full scale debate in this House about whether or not the Australian currency should be depreciated. But if someone says that it might be appreciated and members of the Country Party try to make capital out of that I think it shows how poverty-stricken their record in the past has been.
Motion (by Mr Fox) agreed to:
That the question be now put. Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.5 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I understand that at no stage did Mr Connally bring up the question of a trading bloc during his talk with Mr Sato last November, nor was the matter raised by Mr Sato.
Australian Army: Holsworthy Range Firings (Question No. 6108) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
How many rounds of artillery, mortar and antitank ammunition were fired at the Holsworthy Range in 1971-72 (Hansard, 25th August 1971, page 740).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Records show that some 49,166 rounds of artillery, mortar and anti-tank ammunition were fired on the Holsworthy Range during the 12 month period 1st July 1971 to 30th June 1972. The break up of the particular type of ammunition
Overseas Students in Australia (Question No. 5843)
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
en - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Statistics are available for Australian Government sponsored students who arrived in Australia during the first 3 months of 1972 (the principal intake period for those who undertake academic studies at educational institutions) and for those who were studying in Australia at the end of 1971. Both sets of figures appear below.
United Slates of America.
Equipment to Schools -
Equipment will be supplied during 1972-73 to the SANZAC School (Sabah, Australian and New Zealand Army Corp Memorial Medical School, Sabah).
Australia has provided instructors and equipment to the school since 1958. Between 1967 and 1972, Australia contributed to the cost of the construction of a Motor Mechanics Training wing and provided’ instructors. workshop’ equipment and vehicles at a total cost of approximately $A900,000. A similar programme is planned for an Electrical Wing between 1972 and 1978.
Australia is financing the building of an administrative block at the Institute at a cost of $500,000. In the past it has provided a Professor of Coastal Engineering to the Institute and currently has a member on the Board of Trustees.
An Australian lecturer in English is currently working at the Department.
In the past, assistance has also been given through the provision of experts to the North Bangkok Engineering School, equipment to the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, University of Medical Sciences and a transmitter to the Bangkok Technical Institute, for educational broadcasting.
Since 1966, Australia has provided technical instruction and equipment to the Institute.
Australia has and is continuing to provide examiners and lecturers for medical degree examinations.
Equipment, and expert services to assist in its installation and to train teachers in its operation, and to advise on a suitable curriculum, will be provided to the Institute during the 1972-73 financial year.
A teacher has been sent to conduct an intensive English language course principally for members of the legal bureau of the Institute.
Australia is supplying equipment to help equip the telephone exchange unit at the school.
Yongsan Technical School -
From 1964 until 1969, a total of $395,000 was spent on equipment and electrical trades instructors for the school. It is intended that a further $111,000 of equipment will be provided during the 1972-73 financial year.
Bataan National School of Arts and Trades-
A quantity of mechanical equipment is being supplied to the school at present.
Three Australian teachers lecture at the College in English and Social Sciences.
Australia has provided a substantial portion of the school supplies usedin. Lao primary schools. This programme has been in operation since 1962 and items in the sixth consignment will be delivered between 1972 and 1974.
This school, which is currently being constructed by Australia, will train Laotian forestry rangers. The school is being made of prefabricated Australian buildings and is staffed by two Australian lecturers and Laotian support staff. It is run in co-operation with a LaoAustralian reafforestation project.
Bien Hoa Hospital -
The Australian Surgical Team at the hospital has, since 1969, assisted with the training of nurses at the nurses school attached to the hospital.
Australia will continue to assist the University of the South Pacific through provision of lectureship subventions and some equipment in the 1972-73 financial year.
The Head of School for business studies at the Institute and a lecturer are provided under the Commonwealth Co-operation in Education Scheme.
In addition, arrangements have been made to build up educational facilities in the above countries by:
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Was the People’s Republic of China represented at the meeting of a committee of governmental experts held from 9th to 17th May 1972 on problems raised by transmission of broadcasts via space satellites. (Hansard, 17th May 1972, page 2745 and 25th May 1972, page 3198).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The People’s Republic of China was not represented at the meeting of the committee of governmental experts held from 9th to 17th May 1972 in Paris and sponsored jointly by UNESCO and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Commonwealth Sanctions Committee (Question No. 6050) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
en - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Meetings of the Commonwealth Sanctions Committee were held in London, and attended by the Australian Deputy High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, on the following dates: 5th May 1970 2nd September 1970 30th September 1971 19th October 1971 10th December 1971 19th June 1972 29th June 1972.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720823_reps_27_hor79/>.