27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– -Honourable members will be aware that the death occurred yesterday of His Royal Highness Prince William of Gloucester the elder son of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. He died when his plane crashed on take-off at the start of an air race at Wolverhampton. Mr Speaker, this is the second time in a few months that I have asked the House to express its condolence to Her Majesty the Queen following the death of a member of the Royal family. I am sure I speak for every honourable member in this House when I express our sincere sympathy to Her Majesty on this occasion. I have sent a message to Her Majesty conveying the Government’s condolences in her bereavement. I have sent also a message to Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
Many Australians will remember the Princes father, His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, who occupied with distinction the post of Governor-General from 1945 to 1947. We recall also that His Royal Highness visited us again in 1965 to represent Her Majesty at the Jubilee of Anzac. So the association of the late Prince’s family with Australia has been a close one. Prince William was born in 1941 and spent his early childhood in this country while his father was GovernorGeneral. After his education, which he completed in the United States of America, he served as a diplomat from 1965 to 1970. During this period he held appointments in Nigeria and Tokyo. In June 1970 he represented Her Majesty the Queen in Tonga when it celebrated its return to the comity of nations. Since his return to Britain in 1970, Prince William has followed his extensive farming interests. I move:
That an address to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the following terms be agreed to:
To the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty: most Gracious Sovereign, we, the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament
Assembled, have received with profound sorrow the news of the death of His Royal Highness, Prince William of Gloucester. On behalf of your people throughout the Commonwealth of Australia we express deep sympathy to Your Majesty, Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and to other members of the Royal family, in the loss which you have sustained’.
– On behalf of the Australian Labor Party I support the motion that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has moved and the messages that he has sent to Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. It was due to the happy inspiration of a former leader of my Party, Prime Minister John Curtin, that Prince William, when an infant, spent 2 years and more with his parents in Australia. He has proved himself since then in many ways - at university, in sport, in commerce and in diplomacy. This is a particularly poignant occasion because he had. in so many respects, justified the opportunities which came to him as a member of the Royal Family. He had already served his country very well. He was splendidly prepared to serve it for many decades to come.
– The question is: That the motion moved by the Prime Minister be agreed to. I ask all honourable members to signify their approval by rising in their places. (Honourable members having stood in their places.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I thank the House.
– 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 most humbly pray that . . .
Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at 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 Kevin Cairns, Mr Howson, Mr Brown, Mr Graham, Mr Reid and Mr Staley.
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 showeth:
That 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 so 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 Armitage and Dr Klugman.
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 showeth:
That we are concerned that young people in the 18 to 20 years of age group are deprived of a vote at elections of the Commonwealth Parliament
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will immediately introduce legislation which will grant the vote to citizens of 18, 19 and 20 years of age.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Armitage.
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:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will restore to the Australian people true religious freedom, which can exist only when Church and State are legally separated both in form and substance.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Barnard.
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:
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.
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 of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-West Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.
That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid the inundation of this lake.
That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.
And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Everingham.
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 afterschool 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 Dr Klugman.
– Has the Minister for the Interior yet received the report which Maunsell and Partners prepared in May for the New South Wales Government on the industrial growth to be expected in the Jervis Bay area if the Armco company goes ahead with the steel plant it announced 4 years ago? In view of the Commonwealth’s responsibilities at Jervis Bay, will he take prompt steps to table this report? I point out that the Maunsell and Partners report on Darwin Harbour was not made available until a year and 9 months after the then Minister received it.
– No, I personally have not received the Maunsell and Partners report. Therefore I have not studied it. I will consider the point that the Leader of the Opposition has raised.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Whilst he has indicated that new scales of taxation will be implemented from 1st September, can he inform the House when the new deductions will actually be made from pay packets? Secondly, what effects does he expect will flow from this shift of funds into the taxpayer’s pocket?
– The forms for the new tax schedules were available within 48 hours of the announcement in the Budget. They have been available from post offices. I expect that, in almost every case, the deductions will be able to commence from 1st September, as proposed. I have no doubt that the reduction will stimulate demand. As consumer demand rises, economic consequences will flow through with greater production and greater confidence. I believe that this consumer spending will flow because, after all, the great bulk of the benefit will go to the people with the most need. Fifty-seven per cent of the reduction will go to people with an income under $4,800 a year, 75 per cent will go to people with an income under $6,480 a year and 85 per cent will go to people with an income under $8,000 a year. It will be apparent, therefore, that the people who have the greatest need of extra funds for the purpose of consumer spending will have those extra funds available to them.
The most extraordinary thing about the Opposition’s attitude to the tax rebate, the deductions and the resealing is that the Opposition seems to apply the rule that anybody receiving $90 or more a week is classed as rich. I think that those on the Labor side who are frank should accept the proposition that people receiving more than $90 a week would be more heavily taxed in order to finance the very great expenditures which Labor seems to be promising. It will come as a very great shock and surprise to a great number of Australians to find that they are categorised by the Labor Party as rich because they receive $90 a week. The Opposition has tried to call the Budget a rich man’s Budget. The only basis on which it can do this is that it believes that anybody receiving more than $90 a week is rich.
– I ask the Prime Minister in the absence of the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is it a fact that preliminary negotiations with the States have disclosed that this Government, in its cost of fares reimbursement scheme announced in the Budget, is merely contemplating reimbursing the unfortunate 100,000 people whom the Government has caused to be unemployed for the cost of going from the employment office to the potential place of work, ignoring altogether the cost of getting to the employment office or getting home from the possible place of work? Is it also a fact that this reimbursement is to apply only to those who are in receipt of unemployment benefit, thus ignoring altogether those who are suffering their first 2 to 3 weeks of unemployment? How does the Government justify this scandalous attitude?
– I believe that the honourable member should have reserved comment in the last part of his question because he has asked me to establish certain facts for him. I assure him that I will do so, as to both the cost of going to the employment office and of returning home. I will refer these matters to the Minister for Labour and National Service and will obtain an immediate reply for the honourable member.
– My question, relates to the proposed inquiry into poverty in Australia. I ask the Prime Minister: When will he be able to provide further information relating to this inquiry, such as who is to head it and what its terms of reference will be?
– I have already obtained the approval of the gentleman whom we wanted to head the commission of inquiry. He has agreed to take the responsibility. He has also agreed to the terms of reference. He has asked that certain other matters be looked into and that he be informed of the answers to certain questions that he has posed. I have not yet been able to prepare a ministerial statement for the House, but I have officers working on it and I hope to be able to make a statement on this matter later in the day.
– I desire to ask a question of the Treasurer. Did the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund advance large loans at low interest rates to companies of the Sydney land developer Parkes Developments Pty Ltd? If so, why did the Government permit it to do so rather than advance the funds to Public Service building societies, whereby public servants could have stood to benefit? Will the Treasurer investigate whether any of the Parkes Developments group of companies has serving on its board a supporter of the Government - in fact, a former Treasurer - in an endeavour to ascertain whether a conflict of interests exists in these transactions?
– The Commonwealth Superannuation Fund was established by statute. There are trustees to the Fund; there is a staff that administers it; there is an actuarial investigation and there are reports made to this Parliament. I will pull together the reports that have been made recently. 1 will ask for inquiries to be made of the Superannuation Board as to the honourable member’s allegations. I will then provide the facts as elicited to the House for its information.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, refers to the first advance payment on wheat. I ask: Is the Minister aware that the present first advance of 110c a bushel was fixed in 1957 and that since that time dramatic Increases in wages and salaries and improved working conditions, in association with excessive tariff protection to secondary industry, have drastically eroded the purchasing power of this 110c? Will the Minister make early representations to have the first advance payment increased to at least 125c a bushel in order to restore economic viability to the industry pending payments to growers accruing from the vast quantities of wheat being shipped against extended credit sales contracts?
– The Government has taken into very careful consideration the problems of wheat growers at a time of escalating costs in maintaining its first payment at the level of $1.10 a bushel. The significance, of course, of the first payment is that it means that not only will the wheat grower get money into his pocket immediately but also the whole of the rural community affected by incomes from wheat will get an immediate flow of money, which helps to sustain the people in the towns and the people in the cities who are providores to those country towns. It is only to a very limited degree that the farmer has any residual benefit. As the honourable member’s question so rightly propounded, unfortunately erosion of that minimal return has taken place because of escalating costs.
In the world wheat trade there has been regrettably something of a drift in prices. It is a drift which has been accentuated because of the degree to which grains for stock feed purposes are tending to a greater and greater degree to be the norm from which all grain prices are assessed. Whereas in days gone by grain for human consumption was accepted as demanding a premium, because of the tremendous growth in the degree to which there is a demand for grain for stock feed purposes and the extent to which that is tending to dominate world grain markets there has been some erosion in prices of wheat being essentially for human consumption. I can understand the concern the honourable gentleman has for an increase in the $1.10 a bushel first advance payment to cover escalating costs, but I think wheat growers need to realise that with world grain prices easing there is regrettably a position today which sees world grain prices becoming closer and closer to that $1.10 a bushel basic payment. Under present arrangements the Government does provide a very generous guarantee to the wheat industry. It provides significant help to the industry and I believe the industry has benefited substantially from that Government assistance. Nonetheless, I will take the honourable gentleman’s concern into account when deliberations ensue prior to the initiation of the next 5-year wheat stabilisation scheme, which, of course, is due to commence on 1st July 1973.
– I ask the Treasurer: Has it been drawn to his attention that a question was asked of the Minister for
Works in the Senate in which the questioner wanted to know whether a large firm of Sydney stockbrokers had made $2.5m from what is called a bond washing operation; that the firm had been notified that the sum would be assessed for taxation; that one of the directors had telephoned the Prime Minister’s office for an appointment; and that subsequently the firm was informed that the sum would not be assessed? Did the Treasurer write a letter to the senator concerned saying that the assessment had been made by the Commissioner of Taxation but that no information could be given about it? I now ask the Treasurer: Why was the assessment made by the Commissioner of Taxation, and does he propose to leave it at that?
– By statute the Commissioner of Taxation is an independent officer. I believe that he ought to be an independent officer; and I think that he ought to fear nothing, or hold out hope of favour in the execution of his duties. The Commissioner of Taxation, Sir Edward Cain, is a man held in the very highest esteem and regard by all members of this House and by the public generally. I believe the honourable gentleman does not imply anything to the contrary in his question, but I think it is important that it be made clear so that anybody who may have listened in to the question would not have that thought in his mind.
I have no knowledge of the taxation affairs of the particular people who were named by the senator in the question which he asked in the Senate. I tabled an answer which I wrote on information provided to me by the Commissioner of Taxation. I have been informed by the Commissioner of Taxation not only that he did not have any pressure put on him but also that he did not even have any representations of any kind from the Prime Minister. The important thing which should be made clear here is that in an attempt to do some damage either to the man concerned - the taxpayer - or to the Prime Minister, it inevitably means that there is an attack upon the probity of the Commissioner of Taxation. I can assure honourable members from my knowledge of the Commissioner of Taxation - and I am sure they will acknowledge it - that anybody trying to put pressure on him would get a very sharp riposte. He has had none put on him and he has not had representations from the Prime Minister.
– Mr Speaker, can I complete this answer because it relates to me as well?
-Is the Leader of the Opposition agreeable to that?
– No. I-
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition has agreed to it.
– I was asked whether I would see Mr Dowling, and I was not at that time certain of the substance of the question or the proposal to be put to me. I delayed for some time and when I came round to examining it on the next occasion I was informed that the matter had been resolved. I did not see Mr Dowling nor did I hear any more from him.
– Would the Prime Minister make perfectly clear the attitude of the Government to the flow of international credit into this country and to the possibility of the international takeover of established industries?
– As to the last part of the honourable gentlemen’s question I think that by subtle persuasion and by a clear indication of the fact that we do not like certain types of takeover we have been-
– You break my heart.
– You have not got one to break.
We have had a considerable amount of success. I mention the proposals by the International Telephone and Telegraphic Corporation to take over Frozen Food Industries Ltd which were dropped when the Government’s attitude was made known. I mention the more recent proposals relating to the takeover of Kiwi International Ltd. Shortly after I expressed my view that it was not one that I favoured or the Government favoured that, too, was suspended. I can also refer to the Monier concrete case. There again proposals not for an international takeover but for a domestic takeover were also dropped.
It has been made clear by my colleague the Treasurer and by the AttorneyGeneral that the problem of monopolies is being investigated and that we will be introducing legislation as and when it can be produced. In that monopolies legislation we will be looking at the problem of takeovers, international and domestic, insofar as they might be against the public interest. As my colleague the Treasurer said in answer to a question one day last week, papers are now in the course of preparation - they have been almost completed - relating to private capital flows from overseas. We hope to have those papers before Cabinet soon. After they have been before Cabinet a statement relating to them will be made in this House.
– Is the Minister for National Development aware of the statement made last week by Sir William Pettingell of the Australian Gas Light Co. of the intention of his company, through a subsidiary, to let a contract for the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Gidgealpa to Sydney, with a forecast of its probable allocation to the Mitsubishi interests? Are the Palm Valley reserves on federal territory the most valuable natural resources yet proven in Australia? Has the pipe diameter been increased from that proposed in the original tenders to link Gidgealpa with these world ranking natural gas supplies in Palm Valley? What is the value of these resources? Has the Minister obtained any information on this point? What approaches have been made by the Australian Gas Light Co. to the Government?
-Order! This question is a long one.
– It is a very important one. too.
– And a very intelligent one.
-I do not doubt that, but it is very long. I think some of the information sought in it would be best dealt with by question on notice. I suggest that the honourable member complete his question,
– I would like to complete my question. I press the matter.
– Provided it is not too long, because so far it has been far too long. I ask the honourable member for his co-operation in this regard.
– Will the Minister table the relevant flies for parliamentary examination and debate before the contract is let on 20th September next?
– I hope that I will be allowed a similar period of time to answer the question as that taken by the honourable member when he asked it. This matter is a very important one. I have had discussions with Sir William Pettingell about the construction of the pipeline from South Australia to Sydney. The pipeline has no connection whatsoever with the situation at Palm Valley. The arrangement between the Sydney company and the Delhi-Santos group in South Australia, approved by the governments of South Australia and New South Wales, relates to the supply of gas in a pipeline from the Cooper basin area - from GidgealpaMoomba - to Sydney on a contractual basis. Plans are proceeding for this arrangement at present. However, as the honourable member has already informed the House, the deposit in the basin in the Palm Valley area is quite a separate matter.
I was in the Palm Valley area only recently and I inspected the No. 2 well. The No. 1 and No. 2 wells as the honourable member is I think fully aware, have been drilled down to a producible depth and are both closed at the moment. The question of proceeding with exploration in the Palm Valley and in the Mereenie areas is under consideration by the Magellan company at the moment and some discussions have been held with an overseas company from the United States in relation to an interest in this area. The matter has been submitted to the Government for consideration. I have it under examination and when some decision for a recommendation is made from a departmental point of view 1 will submit my views to the Government. The matter will be considered in relation to that particular aspect only.
It is not correct to say that the resources in the Palm Valley basin have been proven; they certainly have not. There are only 2 wells which can be operational but we believe that there is a prospect of finding a reasonable deposit there, and of course there has to be a deposit up to a certain volume before it becomes a viable proposition. In the meantime it is necessary to spend millions of dollars on exploration and proving operations in that region. It is possible that if the area is proven to be a viable proposition - and I hope and believe that it will be - the prospects for utilisation of the gas from that area are many.
At present our policy does not allow for export, except perhaps from remote areas, but is designed to ensure that Australia’s requirements are satisfied first. If export were allowed at some time in the future we could have a pipeline to the Gulf or we could utilise the then existing pipeline to Sydney which would have some capacity for carrying gas from this region. If gas in this region is used for domestic purposes it could be utilised by Sydney, using the same pipeline or a parallel pipeline constructed in the future. Perhaps it could be utilised by Perth. The Western Australian Government has indicated an interest in this region and at the moment it is undertaking a feasibility study on the construction of a pipeline from Palm Valley to Perth.
There are quite a number of prospects in mind, but certainly the project has not been developed to the stage where any definite answer can be given in relation to it. All I can do is to repeat Government policy. The present policy is that no LNG can be exported until Australian requirements are met with the proviso that if gas were discovered in remote areas such as Scott’s Reef on the north west shelf off the coast of Western Australia consideration could be given to permitting export in special circumstances.
-Order! I draw the attention of the House to the effect on question time of asking long and involved question’s which require long and involved answers. I suggest that honourable members take some cognisance of the matter. This is one of the reasons why question time is not functioning as it should. The matter is not in my hands; it is in the hands of honourable members and Ministers. If honourable members ask Long and involved questions it is not correct nor proper for me to interfere when the Minister makes a long answer in reply.
– Mr Speaker, you know I always ask short questions. My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ headed ‘Service Pensions a Scandal’? Will he clarify the position? Is it not a fact that over the years thousands of ex-servicemen who had been refused repatriation benefits had these benefits granted subsequently when additional evidence such as hospitalisation and Service conditions was put forward? Is it not almost impossible for an ex-servicemen who has suffered the effects of gas to establish his rights and privileges? Would it not be better for a few men to get benefits they are not entitled to -
-Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to complete his question. I call the Minister for Repatriation.
– I have read statements attributed to Dr Hecker which reportedly were made in Sydney yesterday when he was making a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. As these comments by Dr Hecker cover such a wide range of issues I do not intend to comment on them individually. 1 just make the general comment that it is always to be expected that when public inquiries into such complex and longstanding legislation as the Repatriation Act are being conducted opinions will be expressed for and against. As members of the House and the people of Australia will know, 2 inquiries into the repatriation system are proceeding at the moment. Both inquiries are receiving evidence from individuals and organisations. Both inquiries will present their reports in due course. When these reports are received the Government will give them both due consideration.
– The Postmaster-General would be aware that the radio programmes AM’ and ‘PM’ of the Australia Broadcasting Commission have the highest rating for listening audiences on radio. Is he aware that ‘PM’ is now to be restricted to 10 minutes instead of its present 30 minutes?
Is this in any way related to the pressure placed on the ABC by the Federal Government and its supporters? If not, why is such a popular programme being restricted?
– There have been some comments made recently in relation to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. But from my personal point of view, I have suggested it is undesirable that we should seek to make party politics out of views which might be expressed in relation to the Commission. I assure the honourable member that I believe it has always been the situation whilst I have been PostmasterGeneral that the ABC has been responsible and has accepted responsibility for its programming arrangements. Nothing that I have said in any way alters my view that that should continue. I therefore say that if there is any adjustment of any programme by the ABC, it is an internal arrangement and has nothing to do with any representations by members of the Government, particularly myself.
– Has the Treasurer seen comments referring to the parity of the dollar and the suggestion that at the meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Vienna last April he suggested that he favoured revaluation of the dollar? Will he confirm or deny these allegations?
– I have seen reports in the Press. I am unable to say whether they report accurately the honourable member for Riverina. But the reports purporting to emanate from the honourable member for Riverina say that I had discussions with 3 named persons in Vienna about the Australian exchange parity rate. I do not know why these 3 persons were nominated unless it was an attempt to give some semblance of fact to something which is a total fabrication. I had no discussions with the 3 gentlemen or anybody else about the exchange rate of the Australian dollar. The report seemed to associate Australia’s wish to become a member of the Group of Ten with an implication that there was some deal whereby we could become a member of the Group of Ten if we did something about our exchange rate. That was the implication. However, I believe that the Group of Ten as a body is unlikely ever again to play a significant role in world economic and financial affairs. It has been overtaken by a proposal for a Group of Twenty. The Group of Twenty will be formulated from those countries which have executive directors on the International Monetary Fund. Australia does have such an executive director. Australia will be given a governor’s seat on the Group of Twenty and we will be represented in that way. Indeed, I will be representing Australia myself in September at the first meeting of the Group of Twenty.
The next thing I should say is that Australia wishes to be a member of Working Party 3 or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. We are not a member of Working Party 3 and it will be an oddity that we are not because we will be the only member of OECD in the Group of Twenty which is not a member of Working Party 3. Working Party 3 is dealing with the international movement of capital and we wish to be a member of that body. I believe that we are likely soon to become a member of that body.
I can assure all honourable gentlemen and every person in the country that the question of Australia’s exchange rate has never been discussed in relation to the pursuit of our membership of Working Party 3. Therefore there is absolutely no foundation whatsoever for the statements reported to be made by the honourable member for Riverina, if he did in fact make them. Another matter referred to in the question is whether I favoured at that time, favour now or will favour at some time in the future an upward revaluation. The fact is that there is great unwisdom in talking about the exchange rate of the Australian dollar. Of course, it is the unwisdom of talking about it which is the matter before the Australian people. I have refused to discuss it. I have distributed no paper at all about the exchange rate. I have no proposal at all before the Government in relation to the exchange rate. The exchange rate of the Australian dollar was fixed in December and that is the exchange rate - full stop.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
-Order! There is far too much noise in the chamber.
– The honourable member for Mallee is making his swansong, Sir. My question concerns Sir Henry Bland’s recommendation 8 months ago that the Bureau of Transport Economics should give attention to the combined rates - can the Minister hear me?
– No, I cannot.
-Order! 1 ask the Leader of the Opposition to begin his question again. 1 ask honourable members to refrain from talking while questions are being asked. It is extremely difficult for Ministers to hear and it is also difficult for me to hear the question through the babble and undertone in the chamber, lt is unbecoming to the Parliament. Far too frequently I have to draw the attention of honourable members to the noise in the chamber.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question concerning Sir Henry Bland’s recommendation 8 months ago that the Bureau of Transport Economics should give attention to the combined rates imposed by the New South Wales and Victorian Railways on commodities carried from and to the Riverina, such as grains, fertilisers, ores, coal, fresh fruit and vegetables. I ask whether the Bureau has completed its investigation and when the results will be published.
– Sir Henry Bland made a general report on transport as it affects the State of Victoria. I am unaware of any specific interest concerning the Riverina only, although it may well be part of that report and the Bureau of Transport Economics may well have been doing a study of it. I will look at the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition to see whether I can get more information for him. But I must say I am fascinated at the sudden real interest which the Leader of the Opposition is taking in trying to rescue the seat of Riverina.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I understand that it is the intention of the Government to appoint additional trade commissioners throughout the world and to create some additional trade posts. If this is so will the Minister for Trade and Industry, when these appointments are being made, give consideration to my oftexpressed advocacy that at least 3 of our trade commissioners should have roving commissions, allowing them at once to proceed to any part of the world where trade prospects emerge and where we are not represented, and to co-ordinate the work of our network of trade posts? The Minister will know that this system has proved very successful in private enterprise.
– I have announced that some additional trade commissioner posts will be established at Sao Paulo in South America, at Belgrade in eastern Europe and in the European Economic Community. There will be a definite strengthening of our trade posts within EEC countries to take account of adjustments of trade which will result from Britain joining the EEC. The honourable member repeats a request which I recall he made to me earlier, that we ought to have roving trade commissioners. We have no positions so designated. However, a number of trade commissioners are unlisted and they do occasionally, when the need arises, go to particular countries and have discussions there. But we have no special designation of roving trade commissioner and I do not think it is likely that we will have such a designation.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Did the Minister say at a Perth seminar in a statement titled ‘Exports for Thinking Executives’ that the Government’s attempts to curtail cost inflation in 1972 had been jeopardised by a strategically planned attack on industry by organised labour, firstly, on high capitalintensive industries for a 35-hour week and, secondly, on high labour-intensive industries based on the flow-on tactic? Did the Minister then state that many of these capitalintensive industries are dominated by international corporations and emphasise that the Government expected these international corporations to resist the demand for a 35-hour week? If so, does the Minister consider that Australia’s national interests are being served by his encouragement of foreign firms to attack the legitimate demands of Australian workers in protection of their jobs, and what action is the
Minister considering against those firms which have budgeted in anticipation of increased wage costs?
- Mr Speaker, I am very interested to be asked this question, because I give the honourable member for Batman credit for having quoted me correcty. This is quite different from what the Leader of the Opposition has done and what the honourable member for Hindmarsh also has done when quoting me. They have always left out the most salient point, namely that I was referring to a 35- hour week. I did state that there was a strategic attack on industry planned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and by the Australian Labor Party on the capitalintensive industries because they were the most vulnerable. I said that if these companies were to succumb to the blackmail there would be a flow-on effect throughout the entire community which would have disastrous economic results. I stand by that statement. Nothing could be more disastrous for this country than to introduce suddenly right across the board, a 35-hour week as the Australian Labor Party has been proposing.
– It is a lie.
-Order! The honourable member for Corio will withdraw that remark.
– It is true.
-Order! I am not concerned whether it is true or not.
– It is a lie.
-Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh will also withdraw that remark after the honourable member for Corio has his withdrawal.
– I withdraw the remark made. It is upsetting that Ministers are not able to tell the House the truth.
-Order! The honourable member will not make any comment. The honourable member for Hindmarsh will also withdraw his remark.
– I have had a look at the Standing Orders and I find that even though it is true, one still must withdraw.
-Order! The honourable member will not make any comment. He will withdraw unreservedly the word that he used.
– Well, that is in the Standing Orders too, so I will have to do it.
– It is very interesting to see the reaction of the Labor Party. I think that a real statement of clarity is between the attitude of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and that of the Australian Labor Party would be interesting to the Australian community because the community is worried and deeply concerned about this economic policy attitude of the Labor Party. To introduce a 35- hour week at this time would be disastrous for many of our exporting industries which have been trying to develop new markets and have been succeeding. But worse still, its introduction would inject an inflationary pressure into our economic circumstances which would lead almost to runaway inflation. It is sheer economic insanity to be talking that way at this time and I make no apology for calling on companies, whether they be Australian or international companies, to defend themselves against these tactics if it is in the national interest. This is in the national interest.
– Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General able to inform the House whether any Federal laws would be broken if a third person were to use a tape recording of a private conversation on television or radio without the knowledge of both parties? Has the Minister any knowledge of anyone having done this recently and will he investigate to see whether the law has been broken and, if it has, commence to prosecute, no matter what position that person may hold in our society?
– As honourable members will know, there is a Commonwealth Act preventing the tapping of telephones, it being a matter which is under Federal control. Recently some use has been made of a recording made of a telephone conversation. I am not aware in detail of the precise circumstances in which that recording of the telephone conversation was made. However, it is remarkable that this invasion of privacy was made by the person concerned - the President of the Australian Council of
Trade Unions - who saw no difficulty at all in the invasion of privacy which was so involved. I recall that, at a previous time when I was Attorney-General, an approach was made by certain State AttorneysGeneral to ease this law to give police the right to tap telephones and, at that stage and on behalf of the Federal Government, I refused to relax the protection of the individual’s privacy in this matter. It is a matter for astonishment that we find someone in the position of the President of the ACTU happily using the recording of a private telephone conversation in this way. Whether a breach of the law is involved turns to some extent on the question of State law. As honourable members will know, laws have been passed in New South Wales and Victoria dealing with this subject. However, I shall refer this matter to my colleage in another place.
– Mr Speaker-
– Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. Late last Thursday night I was not able to complete a personal explanation because I did not have within the House one particular document that I had in my office. 1 want to complete that personal explanation-
– I rise ou a point of order. I ask whether it is competent for a person who is given leave to make a personal explanation to return to his vomit the next day, or day after day.
– To return to what?
– To his vomit.
– Although that word is not strictly unparliamentary I think it is a word which should not be used.
– Well, return to the first explanation on another sitting of the House. It is all right if this is to be allowed in this case, as long as it is a permanent rule applying to all honourable members. I have frequently discovered documents a week or a month later to which I would have liked to refer in support of a personal explanation which I had made earlier. As long as the rule is uniform-
-Order! The Minister is entitled to explain a matter further at the first opportunity after the Hansard has been printed. This is the first opportunity. I am not aware of what occurred on Thursday night because T was not here. The Minister has said that he has been misrepresented. It has always been the case that when a Minister has sought to make a personal explanation, providing it is at the first opportunity, permission to do so has always been granted by the Chair.
– With great respect, Sir, if the Minister does not mind sitting down for a moment-
– I wish to rise on another point of order. The Minister is not saying that he has been misrepresented in Hansard.
-Order! The Minister has informed the Chair that he has been misrepresented. I have no option in this matter and I take the Minister’s word for this. He must explain where he has been misrepresented.
– I take another point of order. With due respect to you, Sir, the Minister did not say that he was misrepresented. He said when he claimed-
-Order! 1 asked the Minister whether he had been misrepresented. The Minister said yes.
– Well, he was telling an untruth.
– That is not for the Chair to decide.
– If I can be given a moment or two of the House’s time I will make the position perfectly plain. Late on Thursday night the honourable member for Sydney, in response to an allegation I made said that the honourable member - meaning me - had told a deliberate lie. I did say something about that. I wanted to make it quite plain that the evidence I had in regard to the original statements I made was valid and proper evidence. The evidence I would give to the House concerns the Education and Science Committee report of the Twenty-Ninth Conference of the Australian Labor Party held al Launceston commencing on 20th lune 1971.
– I rise to a point of order. Standing orders 64, 65 and 66 make it plain that an honourable member may explain a matter where he has been misrepresented. But if an honourable member has failed to make his point in the original issue I do not think he is entitled to debate the matter. That seems to me to be what the Minister is doing. Perhaps it would be a different matter if the Minister asked for leave to make a statement and we were able to debate the issue. But from long experience I would reckon that the Minister would be here almost permanently trying to explain what he said the previous week.
-Order! No comment may be made on this matter. I agree with the honourable member for Wills that there should be no attempt to re-debate the matter. But, of course, the Minister is entitled to show where he has been misrepresented.
– It would have been completed if the Opposition had given me an opportunity to make the point. The honourable member for Sydney-
-Order! The Minister will be out of order if he debates this matter and refers to what has been said during a debate. The Minister will not debate the question. He will show where he has been personally misrepresented.
– Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Sydney made a certain allegation. I need to refer to that part of what occurred last Thursday to show that that allegation is false.
-Order! The Minister will be in order in referring to it but he will not be in order in debating it.
– When 1 referred to the Labour Party’s proposal or the resolution from the Queensland branch as being one which would lead to the phasing out of aid to independent schools, it was then that the honourable member for Sydney made his allegation. In support of what I say, I seek leave to table this resolution. Let me read from it. It says that the objectives of the Federal platform on education include that government secular schools be brought as quickly as possible
– The Minister says he is seeking leave-
-Order! I have not yet called the honourable member for Hindmarsh. I have mentioned that the Minister cannot debate the matter. The Minister is entitled to table a document or report at any time provided there is no other business before the House.
– Mr Speaker, am I entitled to draw the attention of the House to that part of the document which supports what I said and refutes quite plainly what the honourable member for Sydney said?
-I have said that the Minister may refer to the question, which he has already done I understand on 2 occasions, if my interpretation is correct.
– No, that is not correct.
-Order! As I interpret it, he has mentioned on 2 occasions what the honourable member for Sydney said. He will not be able to debate this question. If the Minister wishes to table a paper he is quite at liberty to do so.
– If I may seek your guidance, Mr Speaker, does it become a matter of debate if [ draw the attention of the House to the specific resolution which proves what I have said?
– It is in order, provided that it is not debated. If the Minister proposes to table the paper I suggest that he should not read the whole of it. If he wishes to inform the House of some of its contents he is entitled to do so.
– I should like to complete reading one short resolution from the document.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. Standing Order 64 allows the Minister to explain matters of a personal nature. I take it that this is not exactly of a personal nature. Standing order 65 does not allow a member to speak twice to the same question before the House except in explanation or reply. Surely what the Minister is saying to the House does not satisfy this requirement.
-Order! There is no question before the House.
– Standing Order 66 allows an honourable member to make a personal explanation in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood. If the Minister did not use these words last Thursday night they cannot be misquoted or misunderstood. If the Minister wants to have recourse to the procedures of the House he should use some form other than a personal explanation which would enable the matter to be debated.
-Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh has shown me portion of the Hansard report referred to and which I had not seen. I was not here last Thursday night. In it the Minister is accused of stating a deliberate lie. This is a grave charge to make against any member. I think the Minister should be able to refute that charge but not debate it.
– I take a point of order. The Minister is now trying to make a personal explanation on the basis that he has been misrepresented. In fact, the Minister made on Thursday evening, as reported in Hansard, the very statement which he is now trying to repeat.
-Order! I am not aware of that but the Minister has told me that he has been misrepresented. I suggest to him that he should confine his remarks and not debate the question. If he wishes to table the report he may do so.
– -I should like to table the document but I should like to read from it 2 resolutions which demonstrate-
-Order! The only thing that I will permit the Minister to do is to read the portion in relation to which he now claims to have been misrepresented. I will not allow any other portion of the document to be read.
– I rise on a point of order. Is it in order for an honourable member on another day of sitting to repeat in exactly the same terms a personal explanation which he has made previously after claiming to have been misrepresented in the first place? If this is so a member could rise after question time on each day of a session and repeat the name explanation on the same matter.
-Order! I think that the honourable member has grounds for objection but I am not aware, nor can I be expected to know, whether this personal explanation is in the same terms or in the same words.
– Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to page 749 of Hansard of Thursday last. There set out word for word in the personal explanation is what the Minisis now saying.
– That is not the case.
-Order! I cannot say whether the words are the same. It is impossible for me to remember what the Minister has just said. The words may be similar in substance, but I do not know. I would be placed in an intolerable position if I were called upon to judge without a Hansard report or some other verbatim report before me whether the same words are being used now as were used last Thursday night. I could not do that.
– Mr Speaker, perhaps I can help you on this point. This matter has been ventilated by way of personal explanation twice. This was at the end of the last session and was raised by me in correcting the Minister on 25th May, and by my colleague, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) on 30th May. If there is to be a personal explanation by the Minister for Education and Science on this matter, quite clearly there will then have to be personal explanations by me and by the honourable member for Fremantle repeating those personal explanations that we gave-
-Order! This has no relation to the point of order. The Leader of the Opposition has said that 2 personal explanations have been made in connection with this matter. The Minister should now conform with the request of the Chair, and not debate the matter. He may show where he has been misrepresented and, if he wishes to table a document, I will then consider his request.
– I have no intention of seeking to debate this matter. But if I am not to be allowed to point in the document to 2 sentences - 2 short sentences only - which are the basis for what I said, it is quite impossible for me to make my personal explanation.
-Order! I have made it quite clear to the Minister that I will permit him to read that part of the document which shows where he has been misrepresented.
– Thank you. I read the first sentence:
That the objectives of the Federal platform on education include that Government secular schools be brought as quickly as possible to the desirable standard whereby quality, accommodation and facilities are freely available to all students-
– I rise to take a point of order. How does this misrepresent the Minister now addressing the House?
-Order! No point of order arises. I call the Minister for Education and Science.
– I continue the quotation: to all students and that when this position is attained aid to independent school systems be phased out in a progressive manner.
I now read the second sentence:
The recommendation of the education committee was: Discharged, covered by existing policy, section 6, sub-section 4, headed ‘The Australian Schools Commission’.
My entire point was that that resolution was rejected only because it is covered under the existing policy of the Australian Labor Party. I table the following document:
Australian Labor Party - Education and Science Committee - Report presented by Mr K. E. Beazley, M.P., to the 29th Federal Conference, June 1971.
– (Werriwa - Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I believe that the brief way to correct the misrepresentation by the Minster for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) is to quote what I said on 25th May 1972 and what the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) said on 30th May 1972. 1 said: the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) obtruded a reference to me into the first sentence of a wide-ranging answer which dealt among other things with my Party’s last Federal Conference, at which I was a delegate. I have been unable to correct the references because it is only today that I have been able to get the minutes of the conference; I do not keep them in my Canberra office. Towards the end of the third column of his answer, the Minister said: At that Launceston conference the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party wanted to move a resolution that would have led to a building up of the scope of government schools so that State aid could be phased out.
The Minister misrepresented me and others who were at that Conference. The Queensland branch’s practice is to forward to the Federal Conference without any recommendation any item of a federal nature. When this item was reached, the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), my Party’s spokesman on education, moved that it be discharged. This motion was seconded by a Queensland delegate, Mr Neil Kane–
– I rise to a point of order. We are quite happy to allow the Leader of the Opposition to take some time of the House because of the time given to the Minister for Education and Science. I point out, though, that the Minister did not mention the the Leader of the Opposition either today or last Thursday evening and it is difficult to understand how the Leader of the Opposition can claim to have been personally misrepresented when he has not been mentioned.
– Mr Speaker, if the point of order were to be upheld it would mean that no person could correct a personal misrepresentation if the misrepresentation was in generalised or collective terms. Mr Speaker, you allowed me on 25th May and you allowed the honourable member for Fremantle on 30th May to correct the Minister’s misrepresentation on this matter because, as all the world knew, we were at the Launceston conference-
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will not debate the question. He is speaking on the point of order and I suggest that he should not bring in matters that are outside the point of order.
– I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that a Minister can misrepresent any member just by referring to a group to which the member belongs instead of mentioning the member himself. I put it to you that it is obviously relevant to this matter that the honourable member for Fremantle had the carriage of the matter which the Minister quotes-
-Order! I do not want to hear anything further on the point of order. I do not uphold .the point of order. I now call the Leader of the Opposition and refer him to page 749 of Hansard for last Thursday. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition now continue to make his personal explanation.
– The 2 concluding sentences of my previous personal explanation are as follows:
This motion was seconded by a Queensland delegate, Mr Neil Kane. The motion was carried. The honourable member for Fremantle, who has not arrived yet, made a personal explanation on this same matter-
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will not be in order in explaining what the honourable member for Fremantle did. It is in order for the Leader of the Opposition to explain where he has been misrepresented. I have referred to Hansard for last Thursday, and I believe that his personal explanation is in order: but it would be out of order for him to explain where the honourable member for Fremantle has been misrepresented.
– 1 ask you to bear with me on this, Mr Speaker. The honourable member for Fremantle was the person who moved for the discharge of the motion at the Launceston conference which the Minister has quoted. Surely in those circumstances it is open for the honourable member for Fremantle to give to the House his reasons for moving for the discharge of the motion.
-Order! That is in the hands of the honourable member for Fremantle. If he wishes to do that at some time the Chair will consider the matter, but at this stage it is not in order for the Leader of the Opposition to canvass where the honourable member for Fremantle has been misrepresented.
– I rise to a point of of order. May I ask how the Leader of the Opposition can claim to have been misrepresented when the evidence quoted in support of what was said was his own Party’s policy document and the words from that document? I have not claimed anything that was not in the policy document itself.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I call the Leader of the Opposition and ask him to be fairly brief.
– I conclude my personal explanation quite briefly by saying that the only new feature of this matter is that it tallies with a document which was printed on Commonwealth paper and circulated recently by the National Civic Council in Queensland.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement to amend an answer which I gave to a question asked by the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). At the time I gave that answer 1 had in mind a newspaper report which suggested that what had been played on tape at the interview was a telephone conversation. Since giving that answer I have been advised that there are other reports indicating that this was not a tape of a telephone conversation but of a private conversation between two individuals. That naturally would alter a very great part of the answer I gave which related to telephone tapping and, therefore, I thought I should make the position clear. I will have inquiries into the matter made by my colleague but I wanted to correct that part of my answer.
– by leave - I wish to give more detail in reply to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) about the report on Jervis Bay by Maunsell and Partners Pty Ltd. I have since had the opportunity of checking this matter. This report was not commissioned by the Department of the Interior or by the Commonwealth. We do not have a copy of it and, therefore, we have no obligation to table it. The Commonwealth’s interest in Jervis Bay is limited to the southern arm and to a lease over portion of the northern arm. Beyond that area it is sovereign New South Wales land and undoubtedly it is up to the New South Wales Government to make decisions on its use. Hence I have not seen the report, nor would 1 have authority to table it.
– Are you taking steps to secure a copy?
– I will try to get a copy.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. It has been drawn to my attention that, according to the Hansard report, for Thursday last, the last day of sitting for that week, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), in his speech on the Budget - incidentally, he spoke Ti hours after I had made my speech on the Budget - considered what I had said to be so important that he maliciously misrepresented me. He implied that in some way I had twisted the words of Dr Harold Bell, chief economist of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, in order to support my case that this Budget will not get the 100,000 men now unemployed back to work. The relevant article appears on page 11 of the ‘Australian’ newspaper. I have not been given permission to incorporate only 11 paragraphs in Hansard but I will table the article which is headed ‘Economy in need of further stimulus’. Anyone who reads this article will quickly interpret who has been selective in the choice of quotations.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Like the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) I did not have the material with me at the time. However I now have material with which to prove-
-Order! To what date does the material refer?
– Today. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) - J think he calls himself the Deputy Prune Minister - said that I advocated a 35-hour week across the board. I did not have the document in front of me at the time but 1 have it now. I refer to the ‘Platform, Constitution and Rules’ of the Australian Labor Party which states:
Public interest, therefore, demands that the Commonwealth play a positive role in cases before the Commission concerning -
provision for increased leisure time for employees in a manner which is appropriate to a particular industry and which will not affect the objective of ensuring that there is an increase in real wage and salary standards.
These provisions may include -
a 35 hour working week,
According to the circumstances of an industry, including the history of the industry, the degree of automation and mechanisation and other relevant factors. The ultimate aim is to secure a 35 hour working week in circumstances which will ensure fair treatment of all sections of the community.
I conclude by simply restating, as I have done before publicly, that it is not the policy of my Party to advocate an across the board 35-hour week tomorrow morning as the Minister suggested.
– Mr Speaker, I seek your guidance on a matter which relates to what the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) raised. I think it is very important to the standing of this House. I ask: What provisions are there for the House to protect itself against Ministers making deliberately false statements in answer to questions?
-Order! The language being used in this House is not in conformity with parliamentary usage. The honourable members remarks do not constitute a point of order. I should not be put in the position of informing honourable members of their rights in the House during debate. Therefore I shall not make any comment on the honourable member’s question. However, I draw attention to the use of the word ‘deliberately’ and also to the word ‘maliciously’ which was used by the honourable member for Adelaide. I think it is time honourable members took stock of themselves. The verbiage they use in the House ought to be explicit, but it should be parliamentary verbiage.
– I claim to have been misrepresented and I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-The honourable member does not have to seek leave; he is given leave if he has been misrepresented.
– In my question to the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) I stated that the Palm Valley natural gas deposits were the most valuable ever proven in Australia. The Minister said that they were not. The fact is that those reserves are already rated at 7 trillion cubic feet- 4 times the Gidgealpa deposits-
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the question.
– I do not seek to debate it, Sir. With due respect to the Chair, at least I might be allowed to finish my sentence.
-The honourable member may finish his sentence, but he will not go on much longer if he intends to debate the question.
– The point is that already the Magellan people are actively negotiating with American interests on the Pacific coast of the United States for the sale of that gas, with proven reserves.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, an action of mine has been misrepresented. On Friday last, in my absence, the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made a statement concerning the official documents of the Australian Labor Party. He said that they showed that the education committee of the Australian Labor Party at the Launceston Conference had discharged a motion from Queensland relating to the phasing out of State aid on the ground that it was already covered by the existing policy of the Labor Party for an Australian schools commission. I was the mover of the motion for the discharge. This was stated once before by the Minister and on that occasion I had to correct it as a misrepresentation. Therefore, I reiterate what I said on the previous occasion, that there is no Labor Party policy concerning a schools commission which uses the expression ‘the phasing out of educational expenditure for private schools’. What it says is ‘educational expenditure according to need’. The minutes show ‘that I moved for the discharge of that item.
A paper from the education committee of the Party does not constitute the minutes, nor does the name ‘Queensland’ on top of it mean, as the Minister suggested, that the resolution was endorsed by the Queensland Branch of the Labor Party. Alone among the 6 States of the Commonwealth, Queensland forwards to the Federal Conference of the Labor Party every item from every branch in Queensland. More often than not the Queensland delegation votes against those items. It takes the view that every branch has the right of access to the Conference. When my motion to discharge the resolution was moved it was seconded by Mr Kane of the Queensland Branch. The terminology used by the education committee, as I pointed out at the Conference, allowed the ambiguity of interpretation which the Minister has picked up. Consequently, without any qualification whatever, I moved that the item be discharged.
– I rise to order. This morning there have been numerous personal explanations, brought about, I contend, mainly by the attitude of the Government in misrepresenting the views of honourable members on this side of the chamber. Mr Speaker, would I be right in suggesting that you might ask the Government to be honest and forthright instead of misrepresenting our views, and thus save the time of the Parliament?
-Order! The honourable member would be out of order in asking me to do this. If I did this on one side of the chamber I would have to do it on the other and the Parliament would not work. I take the word of honourable members - as Speaker I must do this - and I intend to carry on that practice.
– Mr Speaker, may I suggest that personal explanation time now close so that we can go on with the Budget.
– That is a very good idea.
– Mr Speaker, I crave your indulgence to make a very short request of you. What has happened today is unfortunate and we should try to avoid it in future. I suggest that you might consider this matter during this week and perhaps make a statement to the Parliament after we reassemble to indicate-
-Order! There is no point of order.
– No, but would you do it?
-Order! No, I will not do what the honourable member for Hindmarsh has requested. I am here to protect the rights of individual members and the curtailment of the rights of individual members to make a personal explanation to show how they have been misrepresented would not be a course of which I would approve. However, I suggest that immediately the House reassembles after the elections there should be a thorough examination of the Standing Orders relating to the powers of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. I believe-
– We will get you to come down-
-If the honourable member for Hindmarsh does not cease interjecting while I am on my feet and speaking after he has asked me a question he will find himself outside the House and unable to listen to what I have to say. I believe that the Speaker of this House should have powers similar to those of the Speaker of the House of Commons. If he did I believe the House would work more smoothly and to the benefit of honourable members.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology for the year ended 30th June 1972.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-72, I present the reports relating to the following proposed works:
Kormilda College for Aboriginal Students at Darwin, Northern Territory;
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works foc investigation and report: Construction of primary and pre-school at Tennant Creek, N.T.
The proposed school will provide accommodation for 550 primary students and 50 pre-school children in the new developing area of Tennant Creek East. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $1.1 5m. I table plans of the proposed work.
– I second the motion and in doing so would comment that if at this late stage of proceedings additional work is to be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works it may become necessary for the Parliament to take a sympathetic view of the need of the Committee to meet concurrently with the sittings of the Parliament.
– I support the motion and commend the Government for the thought that is going into the building of this school at a time when strength in social attitudes in Tennant Creek and the interest of the people in the town in running their own affairs are becoming more apparent. In addition the economic strength of the town is growing significantly. I would urge the Government when considering the need for schools in Tennant Creek to look also at the new area around the Warrego and smelter, some 35 miles away from the town, with a view to providing facilities there in the near future.
Question 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 post office and administrative building at Bathurst, New South Wales.
The proposal is to construct a building comprising a basement, ground floor level post office and 3 upper floors of office space. The Australian Post Office will occupy all but the top floor, which will provide accommodation for the Departments of the Interior, Labour and National Service, Social Services, Health and Housing, and the Taxation Office. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $1.5m. The Committee has concluded that there is a need for the work and recommends its construction. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– One of the very satisfying features of this proposal is that a great regional centre in New South Wales is to have a complex of Commonwealth offices. I think this is a very unusual feature. On other occasions I have had the opportunity of seeing this kind of development in parts of Australia other than New South Wales. I have often thought that there has been a lack of planning, coordination and site utilisation in the construction of buildings for Commonwealth instrumentalities. In the vast bulk of regions in New South Wales, Commonwealth services are to be found scattered all over the place. That is the case in my electorate of Hughes, where the Commonwealth has put the Department of Labour and National Service at Caringbah, the Department of Social Services at Sutherland and so on.
I have seen in Shepparton a very aesthetic, contemporary and sensibly designed complex that accommodates all the services, and in some places it has been possible to make provision for the Federal member’s office to be in proximity to other Commonwealth services. I am very delighted to see this happening in Bathurst. I take the opportunity to congratulate the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), whose agitation of such long standing is bearing fruit. I believe that it is as the result of his efforts to some considerable degree that this innovation is coming to Bathurst. I know that one member of the Public Works Committee was wondering why such a complex and such a modern post office had not been built in his own area. I suppose the answer is in the personable and consistent representative capacity of the honourable member for Macquarie.
Another very satisfying feature of this proposal is that the new building is to replace another building which is of very considerable vintage. The Supreme Court complex, which at present accommodates the post office facility at Bathurst, was built in 1880. I am gratified to know that the Australian National Trust has taken an interest in this building and placed it in category A. That is the category of buildings whose preservation is regarded as essential to the heritage of the State. I am gratified to learn that in fact the building is to be preserved. If anyone ever gets into the part of New South Wales west of the Blue Mountains he should take the opportunity to see the magnificent architecture that is to be preserved.
As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), as Minister representing the Minister for Works, has said, a very effective Australian Post Office complex is to be located in the proposed building. It is designed to improve the very substandard facilities which operate at the present time. The Committee was concerned to note that the Commonwealth instrumentalities at present located in Bathurst were in most unsatisfactory quarters, and we are very pleased to see that provision is now being made for accommodation of the Taxation Office, the Electoral Office and the Departments of Social Services, Health, Housing and Labour and National Service and that the honourable member for Macquarie is to receive - deservedly, I would say - accommodation in this very fine complex. I am pleased to be associated with the work and I hope that the Parliament approves it.
– I welcome the motion moved by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). I thank him for proposing the motion and I thank the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) for his references to me. There is no doubt that the people of Bathurst have waited for some time for the construction of the new post office and administrative complex. There is urgent need for such a building. As has been stated today, the Postmaster-General’s Department is scattered through a number of buildings including the Supreme Court complex, which dates back to 1880, and a new building in Bathurst, the civic centre of that historic city. There has been an agitation in Bathurst for the construction of this building. I pay tribute to the Department of Works for its planning and for the agreeable type of design. I thank the members of the Public Works Committee for the expeditious manner in which they dealt with this important project and for their coming to Bathurst, examining the facilities and agreeing with the need.
When I review the history of the campaign for up to date telephone and mail services at Bathurst I go back to the days of my distinguished predecessor, the late Ben Chifley, and recall that the first strong representations in regard to this matter were made in 1951. At that time is was agreed that there should be a new telephone exchange building. The then PostmasterGeneral had written to Mr Chifley giving details of the proposal, but it was not until 27th March 1965 when the foundation stone of the new telephone exchange building at Bathurst was being laid that the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, declared that there would be a new post office and administrative block for Bathurst. His was the first positive statement agreeing to the establishment of the new post office and administrative building, despite the fact that the telephone complex had been discussed in 1951.
I pay a tribute to all those connected with this work lt Ls good to know that the various offices of the Postmaster-General’s Department will be brought together, for undoubtedly members of that Department have suffered great inconvenience and hardship up to the present time. There has been a problem in regard to security, in that mail bags are emptied in one place and have to be taken some considerable distance to the post office itself. All of this emphasises the need for the new post office building. 1 want to make a plea to the Government that it expedite the construction of the post office and the administrative building, for there exists a very great need for such a complex in Bathurst. At the present time Commonwealth offices are scattered throughout the whole of Bathurst. In the new proposal not only will there be a ground floor and 3 upper floors but also provision has been made wisely for 2 additional floors. In due course these will require to be erected, for the plans thus before the Parliament provide only for a period up to about the turn of the century. Branches of the Departments of Social Services, Health and Housing and of the Taxation Office will all be established in Bathurst and these offices will require space additional to that available at the present time. 1 am delighted to think that this is a day of achievement, a day of recognition of the needs of the city of Bathurst. I am sure that the citizens generally will appreciate the action of the Minister, the members of the Committee, departmental officers and the Parliament in taking positive steps to ensure the construction of the building. May I express the hope that the work will be commenced without delay and that the building will be available to the members of the various government departments including the Postmaster-General’s Department as soon as possible. I thank the honourable member for Hughes for his remarks and I look forward to the early commencement of the building.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
The work proposed is the construction of a primary and pre-school in each of the new Darwin subdivisions of Tiwi and Wanguri. They are designed to accommodate 635 and 600 students respectively and, except for a slightly larger pre-school at Tiwi, are generally of the same design. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $ 1.06m for the Tiwi school and $1.02m for the Wanguri school. The Committee has concluded that there is a need for the work and recommends its construction. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– I commend the Government on its decision to go ahead with the proposal to construct the Tiwi and Wanguri schools in the north eastern suburbs of Darwin. I wish to mention the fact that the schools are to be built in the light of a proposal by the Government to develop some 850 residential blocks in the area this year and roughly 430 next year. The proposed schools will take the children of the families which will be living in this area. I am glad to note that the open learning concept that has been incorporated in the Wagaman school, which is to be completed in 1973, is to be continued in both of these schools. The fact that 15-odd acres is to be set aside for the Tiwi school and 11 -odd acres is to be set aside for the Wanguri school shows that there has been positive and wise thinking about the necessity for space for recreation and sporting facilities, which I note have been included in the plans. I am very pleased that consideration has been given to the road safety angle. Both the schools will be close to the proposed development area and the children who attend them will not have to cross any major or busy roads. While I am on my feet I wish to commend the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works on its consistent and continued interest in the Northern Territory, on going to the Territory so often and on the good work it does while it is there.
– I support the motion. The proposed Tiwi and Wanguri schools in the Darwin area of the Northern Territory represent a new concept in education. It seems to me that if the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) had wanted to convey to the Parliament the significance of this proposal he would have referred specially to this fact. But he has been good enough to indicate his approval of my suggestion that there should be incorporated in Hansard 6 paragraphs of the evidence given by Mr A. D. Jones, Assistant Director, Department of Works, Northern Territory. I seek leave to incorporate that evidence in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
6.01 OPEN SPACE LEARNING AREAS
The sponsoring department has requested that these schools be planned and designed on the open plan’ principle. The educational theory and practice underlying this approach to primary school planning is the educators’ need for a physical environment in which teaching can proceed flexibly and which can be readily and quickly adapted to different kinds of teaching and learning situations.
Traditionally schools have consisted of a collection of similar sized classrooms designed to cater for similar sized groups of children in care of one teacher. The ‘open plan’ concept is a different kind of school in which the space can either be used as a whole for large group instruction or subdivided and arranged as required to cater for individual study or group work. In it children may move easily from large to small groups or to individual study and the teachers also move around to assist individuals or groups rather than teach in front of the children. By innovative arrangement the plan developed for these schools allows for change in the composition of these groups and the open spaces have been designed to permit one area to expand into another without subdivision, or to contract into a number of smaller units.
The atmosphere and general character of the open learning areas will be domestic and related to the needs of children. Virtually no area has been set aside in the plan for internal circulation in the open learning areas and a high percentage of the total area will be teaching space.
A feature of the proposed design is that it will be possible to revert these schools back to a more conventional classroom arrangement by subdividing the open learning areas into smaller rooms of similar size should this be required in future years.
6.02 SINGLE TEACHER CLASSROOMS
To cater for remedial and other specialist needs the open learning areas of the school have been supplemented with 4 single teacher classrooms. These will be partially separated from each other by demountable partitions extending for two-thirds of the room’s dimensions.
6.03 LIBRARY AND RESOURCE CENTRE
The library has been provided to assist students in developing their own abilities and natural aptitudes. It will be developed as a media resource centre and will contain tape recorders, tapes, projectors and other media in addition to the essential book collection.
6.04 ANCILLARY AREAS
The open spaces are essentially general purpose learning areas and as such they require a number of ancillary areas for specialised purposes. To meet the latter requirement, teachers’ rooms, store rooms, practical work areas and fully enclosed special activity rooms have been provided within each open space learning area suite. The craft room is another ancillary adjunct provided in association with the primary classrooms and open learning areas.
6.05 FUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
The functional requirements of each school resolve into the following groups of accommodation: administration library-resource centre infant department primary department assembly areas pre-school
In the planning these elements have been arranged according to their functional relationships. The infant and primary classrooms and open space learning areas have been grouped together within each department and arranged around the library and resource centre which can be regarded as the hub of the school. The kindergarten facilities have been grouped together and accommodated in the pre-school wing which comprises a further element of each school. All ‘open plan’ learning areas open onto semi-enclosed sheltered courts where infant and primary children will be able to undertake project assignments and other activities out of doors.
The administration area, with the staff common room adjoining, has been located in a wing near the main entrance and convenient to the primary and infant departments of the school.
The school canteen has been located as a division between the primary and infant sections of the covered assembly areas planned at the rear of each school and within convenient distance of the adjoining community oval. 6.06 ACOUSTIC TREATMENT
Acoustic treatment will bc provided to reduce the general noise level so that speech intelligibility is satisfactorily maintained within each ‘open space’ learning area. To achieve this the floors in the learning areas will be carpeted and ceilings treated acoustically as necessary. The special activity rooms will be acoustically separated from the rest of the building.
– I thank the House. My reason for incorporating those paragraphs is that they contain one of the accounts given in the evidence of the significance of the new open learning concept which is very different from the kind of educational processes taking place in many other parts of Australia. Another account is given by the Department of Education and Science and I would have substituted that for the Department of Works evidence except that it is longer. These schools are different in many respects and as the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) has said or implied, very beneficial and advantageous planning concepts are involved. There are such things as provision for buses actually to drive into the schools, and efforts are made to avoid children crossing roads. The schools are airconditioned. In addition, in the primary school situation there is a complex which incorporates educational opportunities for children of infant and pre-school ages.
Many people say: ‘If you want to live a decent life, live in an area which is controlled by the Commonwealth because the Commonwealth gets its hands on the proceeds of uniform taxation first of all’. In other debates we have been saying what a wonderful thing it would be in other parts of Australia if the public education system were expanded to incorporate pre-school education. Obviously the best site for preschool education is in conjunction with the primary and infant school. If it is good enough for Tiwi and Wanguri it ought to be good enough for other parts of Australia. I regard this as a great precedent which ought to be followed by the States and which ought to be financed by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth substantially has the responsibility for underwriting the States in regard to education, and if this concept is desirable for Commonwealth territories we ought to be making more money available so that pre-school opportunities are available at school sites.
The open class concept is of such a nature that the schoolroom situation can be rearranged to provide for collective teaching, that is, for the utilisation of a number of teachers at the one time in an enlarged classroom. The classroom can be reduced in area. The furniture is movable; sometimes it takes the form of lightweight fibreglass squares which can be pushed into place to be made into tables, chairs or work benches. In addition, children have the opportunity of going immediately to open door learning areas which are screened and covered from the sun, which are aesthetically designed and which in a total way represent an appealing situation in which children can operate.
The library area provides all kinds of additional features apart from those that are ordinarily seen in a library. The ceilings are acoustic and there are carpets on the floor. Children can move around the place and make noise which is absorbed. In general, they are in a convivial, acceptable and happy situation in their learning process rather than being subjected to the oldfashioned disciplinary arrangement where the teacher seems to stand on one side and the children stand on the other side. The children and teachers work together in a friendly way and they develop selfmotivation. Even the parents become part of this learning process.
I strongly recommend that those honourable members who are interested in this concept look not just at the report provided by the Public Works Committee but also at the evidence given by the departmental experts. I believe that this kind of educational system will sweep out of the Tiwi and Wanguri schools and the other 2 schools that are being built at the moment - Nakara and Brunkin, which also are in Darwin and which incorporate this open class system - and find general acceptance because it is such an obviously desirable system that it will concern Australian children generally. I am pleased that the people of Darwin will get the opportunity to use this process because I have no doubt that a very great result will be achieved in the educational standards of the children in the Tiwi and Wanguri school districts.
Question 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: Extension of 17/35 runway, taxiways and aprons at Canberra (Fairbairn) Airport.
The proposed work involves the extension of the 17/35 runway by 2,000 ft to the south with associated parallel taxiway, extension of the terminal apron and development of a new general aviation apron. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $2.25m. The Committee concluded that there is a need for the work and recommended that it proceed to construction. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– I do not want to say very much about this matter because I think that the extension of the Canberra Airport system is very desirable. It involves the closure of a roadway and the provision of a deviation as the north-south 17/35 runway is extended by 2,000 ft to the south. I think it is important to say that concern was expressed by the Queanbeyan Council and by representatives of the Australian Labour Party in the Australian Capital Territory about the possible adverse effect of aircraft noise resulting from the extension of the runway. The runway heads generally out to the extremity of Queanbeyan, which is one of the fastest growing cities in New South Wales. I think that at present it has a population of about 17,000. When that figure is added to Canberra’s population it gives a figure in the vicinity of 150,000. Obviously aircraft noise is a very sensitive matter when the extension of the Canberra Airport system is being dealt with. Very serious account has to be taken of these matters.
Without going into any detail in this regard, but having regard to the fact that the runway extension will enable the frequent use of the runway by Boeing 727s, 707s and 747s, we have been able to extract from the Department of Civil Aviation assurances to the effect that the development which is taking place in the Queanbeyan area will not be significantly affected, if it is affected at all, by the noise that results from the extension of the runway. We have been told that Queanbeyan will expand to the southwest; that is its urban expansion direction. It is possible for aircraft to approach Queanbeyan in such a way that they will be 2k miles from Queanbeyan when they are at an altitude of about 3,000 ft. Probably when they descend to a lower level, when noise will become a significant factor, they will be flying on a flight path which will not have a direct bearing on the people of Queanbeyan. Generally speaking the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works was placated regarding the earlier anxieties it had about this matter. I certainly hope that the assurance given by the departments will prove to be effective assurances and that there will not be serious inconvenience so far as aircraft noise is concerned in the developing area of Queanbeyan and in parts of Canberra.
Question 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 extensions to studios of Commonwealth Film Unit at Lindfield, N.S.W.
The proposed extensions will be of similar 2-storey construction to the existing studios and will provide additional studios, a presentation theatre, film laboratories and associated administrative offices. The estimated cost of the proposed work is$1. 7m. The Committee has concluded that there is a need for the work and recommends its construction. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I should like to associate this side of the House with this motion. The Commonwealth Film Unit at Lindfield, New South Wales, has a very great bearing on many facets of life in Australia. This authority has in one way or another, and under different names, been operating for some 50 years. It has a very great record of achievement to its credit. The present resources of the Unit are inadequate because they are scattered over the Sydney area in such a way as to make the effective and efficient operation of this instrumentally most difficult. For example, whereas the main establishment is at Lindfield there is at Chatswood some distance away, a film laboratory, what is called the ‘stock shop library’, a film storage facility, a mechanical workshop and the print check theatre. These sections occupy about 5,000 sq ft and they operate, as I indicated in an isolated way some distance from the main establishment at Lindfield.
We are told that the Film Unit produced about 334 reels of film last year, including 260 reels of film in foreign languages. The functions of this authority are to provide foreign language films; to supply film material to private producers; and to supply films, commercially and other wise, to State film centres, overseas missions and State education departments. The organisation has grown very considerably. I have been told that production of this establishment has increased by 230 per cent since 1964 and that the staff has increased by only 160 per cent since 1961. The increase in both the production output and the staff serves to indicate to some extent, I believe, the need for additional premises and additional facilities. Having regard to the important work which this organisation does towards advertising Australia, at home and abroad, bringing to Australians and other people an understanding of many facets of our life, 1 believe that the proposed expenditure of$1. 7m on studio extensions is well justified and is bound to bring very desirable results.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.59 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 24 August (vide page 737), 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’.
– In speaking on this Budget of 1972-73, I wish first of all to refer to the Australian Labor Party, the official Opposition, and use an old American Indian phrase: ‘They speak with forked tongues’. ‘They’ are the members of the Australian Labor Party. It might be asked: ‘Who are the members of the Australian Labor Party?’ They make up the political wing of the greater trade union movement in Australia and are part and parcel of the greater trade union movement in Australia. The political wing of the trade union movement in Australia - the Australian Labor Party - speaks with a forked tongue because the trade union movement itself is greatly divided and the political party is greatly divided. The division which exists in all the States of the Commonwealth is much easier to define and explain in Victoria.
In 1954 the number of people who were on the official list of members of the
Communist Party of Australia was greater than it is today. In 1955 there came the great split which divided the industrial trade union movement and the political wing alike. Out of this division came the right wing unions with a bias toward the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the militant wing unions, the left wing, with a bias toward the Australian Labor Party. From that time onward, the Communist Party commenced to dwindle in numbers and a remarkable development started to take place. The communists, knowing that the mass of Australian people were not readily accepting them and that they were becoming more clearly identified as Communists, started to pass in their official cards and join the Australian Labor Party. Over a number of years during this time there had been a small and growing group within the trade union movement and the ALP known as ‘Communist sympathisers’. These same people later became known as ‘socialists lefts’. It then became clear that the ex-members of the Communist Party had found a ready-made home for themselves with the socialist lefts in the ALP.
So whilst the numbers in the Communist Party were dwindling, the numbers of socialist lefts in the ALP were increasing rapidly and even continued to increase to the extent that the whole of the Victorian branch of the ALP is today under socialist left control. The president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party, Mr George Crawford, is presently in Hanoi and the secretary of the Victorian branch, Mr Hardy, I hear on good authority will be receiving a nomination for the Senate next year. I have been searching for some time to discover the political and philosophical difference between the socialist lefts and the communists only to find that there is little difference. At this point of time we should cast back our minds to the early war years. We know only too well the difficulties that we had in Australia, particularly on the waterfront. It was not until Russia came into the war on the side of the Allies that the communists on the waterfront decided to load our ships with war materials. I did not realise that, during the years I have been a member of the Parliament, I would ever see a member of the ALP proudly wearing a Lenin badge on his lapel. This same man was banned from attending the rocket range by the then Labor Prime Minister, Mr Chifley, because he was regarded as a security risk.
The question we must ask ourselves today is: Would a future Labor Prime Minister be in a position to bring out the troops if our nation were being brought to its knees through lack of power? Previously, the issue was coal. Today, it is oil and electricity. Communist union leaders made the following public statement several years ago in reference to Yallourn power:
When we get control of these unions we will have real power in our hands.
Have not they gained control of these unions? We remember clearly what happened at the beginning of this year in Victoria. A few weeks ago we experienced the oil strike because the unions refused to remove the 35-hour week from the log of claims. Every endeavour was made by the unions to by-pass the correct procedure of arbitration concerning the 35-hour week. The forked-tongue principle once again applies to this case, with many Labor men telling the people of Australia not to be too concerned about the 35-hour week, that they will be supporting it and it will come only through the means of arbitration, and only those industries which can afford the 35-hour week will get it. Mr Deputy Speaker, I now ask members of the Labor Party to name those industries. If they are fair dinkum, I invite them to come to Ballarat and to name those industries in Ballarat which they consider can afford the 35-hour week.
The oil strike occurred because the unions made every endeavour to bypass arbitration with the decision on the 35-hour week. Now let us examine the internal union control during the oil strike. We all know that Mr Hawke is President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. He gained his position through the votes and assistance of the communists and the socialist left. His influence and control of the trade union movement in Australia is of a vertical nature from the top down. On the other hand, Mr Laurie Carmichael, another very influential man and a self-confessed communist, has a very efficient and disciplined organisation of his own which operates through the shop stewards. Mr Carmichael at any time he so desires can cut right across Mr Hawke’s authority. We can appropriately refer to
Mr Carmichael’s influence and control as being of a horizontal nature. Two strikes this year clearly identify Mr Carmichael’s strength. I refer to the Victorian State Electricity Commission strike and the more recent oil strike.
I would now like to quote from a paper printed and presented by the socialist left of the Australian Labor Party. Once again I remind honourable members that the paper is supported by Mr Crawford and Mr Hartley. It stated:
During the oil dispute the Victorian workers were advised of the similarities of their struggle and those of the SEC workers earlier this year. They were aware that like the SEC workers they would end back in the arms of arbitration, despite their own attempts to prevent it, and so most forces, including the ACTU were forcing them back.
The paper seems to indicate disrespect for the ACTU and criticism of a return to the authority of the Arbitration Commission. The report went on:
The strength of their position was not helped by the obvious break in solidarity wilh the ironworkers and Australian Society of Engineers advocating a return over their heads at a critical point in this dispute. At this time over two-thirds were already back manning the refineries, accepted by the ACTU, and by the time Moore made his further offer it was foregone that all workers would return. Though the issue of how to escape the established forces containing the workers had not been resolved, many positive gains were made in this strike.
I repeat that that quotation is from a paper printed by the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party. In reflection on the happenings during the strike, was it any wonder that Mr Hawke had a fainting turn at a time when he realised that he had lost control to Mr Carmichael? It can now be clearly seen that the aim of the socialist left is to destroy arbitration, to work hard for collective bargaining, to produce chaos and anarchy and then revolution. Once again there is an indication of a clear division in the political party opposite, with some members endeavouring to retain arbitration and others working for the destruction of arbitration. Everybody knows that the Government believes in the arbitration system and that we have recently passed legislation to strengthen it, to make proceedings simpler and quicker and to emphasise the conciliation role of the Arbitration Commission.
The Government believes that the fairest way to distribute wage increases is through the arbitration system. It does not see that the possession and use of industrial power by waterside workers, seamen or power workers is the way to improve their position at the expense of increased prices for the rest of the community. I will now endeavour to interpret Labor’s platform on social and cultural planning. Section 1 1 1 (b) of the Federal platform of the Labor Party commits a Federal Labor Government to the national planning of the economic, social and cultural development of the Commonwealth. This is given as one of the principles of action by which a Labor Government would achieve its socialist objective. The relevance of national economic planning to traditional socialist ideology is apparent enough, and economic targets are spelled out in some detail, but the platform does not explain what the Labor Party means by social and cultural planning’. Some recent clues, however, suggest that the Labor Party now sees socialism not simply as economic reform but as a revolution in our social and cultural values. The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) recently wrote:
The basic struggles of class in society will not disappear, but in our increasingly pluralist society we have to adopt a radicalism that is no longer decided solely on the material interests of the lower income groups. It may well be that a socialist today should be more concerned with removing the legal barriers against homosexuality than he would be in taking over the banks. * See Personal Explanation at page 879.
Let me repeat that for the edification of workers who are being led by people such as this.
– I take a point of order. I do not think any Labor member will be willing to take such a backward step.
– The honourable member for Sydney is a friend of mine and I exclude him from this particular attack. Let me repeat this for the edification of workers such as my friends in Ballarat who work in factories and workshops, good solid Australians and who are being led by people who are not working in the national interest but are acting as crusaders for the liberation of homosexuals. These are the member for Prospect’s own words, not mine, and I repeat them:
It may well be that a socialist today should be more concerned with removing the legal barriers against homosexuality than he would be in taking over the banks. ls the ALP seeking to represent the workers in this community, or the homosexuals? What a decline in the philosophy of a once proud Party that its members are more concerned with enabling 2 men to get into bed together than with the profound issues which affect the welfare of the workers. Now they place the welfare of deviants above the welfare of the workers. Prominent and perspective Labor men have informed me that the new look as far as the nomination of candidates from several Labor branches is concerned, particularly in Victoria and in New South Wales, is one either of infantile Leftists or pseudoprogressives. This is given as one of the principles of action by which a Labor Government would achieve its socialist objective.
The recent decision by the Victorian State Council of the Labor Party calling for abortion on demand as Party policy as published in the ‘Australian’ on 7th August 1872, also offers clues to Labor’s social policy. An interview with the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) following the decision gives an indication of Labor Party thinking. I quote what the honourable member for Maribyrnong was reported as having said: it’s abortion on request, there is no demand about it at all. No doctor is forced to do it and no patient is forced to have one. It’s abortion on request. And I certainly hope that every branch of the Labor Party will accept this policy because as pointed out in the debate today, to do anything short of this is just to indulge in cynicism and intellectual dishonesty.
– Who said that?
– The Labor member for Maribyrnong, Dr Cass. The report goes on to quote the honourable member for Maribyrnong:
I firmly believe that the majority of Catholic women certainly are in favour of abortion. They may not be able to say so publicly, but I am convinced that women as a whole are more aware of the need for abortion law reform, and that includes Catholic women.
Dr Cass does not believe that the Labor Party will lose votes on abortion reform. He said:
I am prepared to take the risk-
– With what?
– With abortion on request Or demand. Honourable members opposite are now arguing whether it should be on request’ or ‘demand’. I do not know the difference. Dr Cass continued: because I think it is a necessary job to air these sorts of controversial issues. Too long society has been sort of kept under if you like and we have been forced to shut up and not discuss things because of the very, very conservative sections of the community who have held sway over the vast majority.
Under the heading of cultural affairs, the Labor platform states that the Party would create a Minister for cultural affairs with responsibility for the general cultural development of Australia. One of the major responsibilities of this Minister, according to the platform, would be censorship. Labor’s spokesman on arts and media and, presumably, shadow minister for cultural affairs, Senator James McClelland of New South Wales, announced that a ‘Federal Labor government would abolish all censorship except for cinema advertising’. This is the direction of Labor’s notion of ‘cultural planning’.
On censorship, the path which the Labor Party is travelling is clear for everyone to see. Senator James McClelland had this to say when interviewed on ABC television on 7th August 1972:
Why should we censor anything? What are we afraid of?
And when asked by the interviewer would he accept that the end of censorship would result in a flood of pornographic material, Senator James McClelland replied:
I would think that there would probably be an increase in pornographic material in the short run, and seeing that I don’t think that will be the end of the world, that doesn’t disturb me all that much.
I would like to say to Senator James McClelland that while he says it is not the end of the world, I believe it to be the beginning of the destruction of our western society.
Schools are being used today to bring about social and political change and are giving there own interpetation of history and other subjects. We see here once again, the socialist left influence of the Australian Labor Party. How could the independent schools possibly live within the influence of the socialist lefts? The socilist lefts know this only too well. They are conniving and using every endeavour to build up hates within the Christian religion and dividing people in the Christian religion and will go all out to prevent aid to all denominational schools. The Government’s initiatives in education repesent a balanced programme of assistance to both government and independent schools, tackling special programmes and problems, such as state government school building requirements and providing independent schools with equivalent capital aid and a solid basis of support for running costs which will allow them to plan ahead with a large degree of certainty.
On immigration, the Labor Party believes that Australia should be a patchwork quilt with all the various colours opposing each other, building up hatreds and bringing about a condition within this nation which would not be conducive to a free peace loving people. We in the Government believe our quilt should be made with coloured threads through it, but the quilt should be one quilt and the nation, irrespective of colour, should be one nation and one people.
– The honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) endeavoured to cast by aspersion some very serious charges against the Australian Labor Party and some of its members. At various times the honourable member reminds me a great deal of Lady Chatterley’s gamekeeper. ‘He is always on the spot when there is dirty work to be done’. The honourable member did not speak one word about his electorate despite the fact that, according to the last census, there has been a decline of 10 per cent in the population of his electorate. The honourable member for Ballaarat also did not mention one word about unemployment, despite the fact that there is a serious unemployment problem in his electorate. I am led to believe by reports from my fellow members that he has made a speech in the House only 3 times in the last 2 years - one to present a report, another when speaking on the Parliamentary Counsel Bill 1970 and the speech which he has just made. The honourable member o;d not mention one word about the Budget. Tn regard to the old communist bogy that has been kicked about for many, many years the fact is, of course, that there has not been one communist guilty of subversion in Australia since this Government assumed office in 1949. If there has been the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has certainly not been doing its job and should be sacked. Not one person has been found guilty or even bean charged in relation to subversive activities in Australia since 1949.
In addition, it is quite obvious from past experiences that many Government supporters seem to assume that a Labor Opposition member is guilty by association. Just let me explain that in detail. I can recall the occasion, for example, when Jim Healy, a leading communist in Australia and Secretary of the Australian Waterside Workers’ Federation, used to come to Canberra and converse with Mr Holt, who was then the Minister for Labour and National Service, about matters pertaining to the waterfront. Mr Holt would take Mr Healy to lunch or dinner. Similarly Mr Opperman used to take Mr Elliott, Secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australia and a noted communist, to lunch. Of course, if I were seen having lunch with Mr Healy or Mr Elliott I would be a communist. Members of the Opposition knew that the daughter of Senator McCallum, a Liberal senator for many years but later lost his pre-selection, who was a very close friend, incidentally, of the present Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), was a leading communist in New South Wales. We knew also that she was selected on many occasions as the leading Communist Party candidate in Senate elections. We knew that Mrs Curthoys was Senator McCallum’s daughter. However, we did not say anything about it here because we know that a daughter has every right to differ from her father - just as brothers differ - in regard to politics. But just imagine if the daughter of a Labor senator had been No. I on the Communist Party ticket. What would the reaction have been of those on the other side of the House to such a situation? Also I can recall facts about the communist bogy being rolled out.
I was rather amused to see the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) complaining about the news media and the way they are affecting the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). But do these men not recall what happened to Ben Chifley when people from over the other side of the House by malicious, filthy innuendoes said that he was a fellow traveller and pro-communist? They said these things even though half of them were not fit to clean his boots. Of course, that sort of thing went over well. The Communist Party bogy was introduced by honourable members opposite because they had to win the election. The same thing happened to Dr Evatt and to Arthur Calwell. When the newspapers - not the Opposition - do this to the present PrimeMinister supporters of the Government squeal like stuck pigs about what is happening to their Prime Minister. Little do they know, of course, what happened to Labor leaders on this side of the House, particularly Mr Chifley who was one of the most revered Prime Ministers in the history of Australia. This communist bogy is so much poppycock.
Although the honourable member for Ballaarat refrained from doing so, I want to speak a little about the Budget. I thought that before doing so I was duty bound to answer some of the innuendoes which the honourable member for Ballaarat cast against my colleagues of the Australian Labor Party. Although this Budget provides some increases in social service benefits it does not meet the requirements of those whose only income is the pension, bearing in mind that a considerable major portion of age and invalid pensioners are in this category. My colleagues and I have argued on numerous occasions that the pensioner, instead of being treated as a human being possessing pride and dignity, is being treated as a political football by a Government trying to bribe voters before this election. The Labor Party Opposition believes and recognises the Original Old Age and Invalid Pensioners’ Association as being the true voice of the pensioners. We do so because it is a diligent organisation. Above all it is non-political. In addition its claims are reasonable and just. It proposes that the single pension rate should be the equivalent of 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings. This is a goal which I sincerely hope and trust will be attained in the very near future. However, in the meantime the Labor Party policy provides that the pension should equal 25 per cent of the average weekly male earnings which at the moment approximates $96 a week.
This, in effect, would bring the pension to $24 a week or S4 in excess of the amount provided in this Budget. Such a system would mean automatic adjustments in each Budget according to increased costs of living which surely occur each financial year.
The wage and salary earners have access to arbitration and conciliation tribunals and quite rightly so. In contrast, the pensioner has been at the complete mercy of successive Liberal-Country Party coalitions which have determined the rate of pension. The sorry plight of many pensioners struggling to exist on the totally inadequate rate of pension is indeed a blot on our society. There is absolutely no guarantee that the pensioners will receive an increase in the 1973 Budget to keep pace with rising living costs. This assumption is based on the concept that by some mischance this Government will be returned at the forthcoming election. However, there is little likelihood of that happening because the people of Australia are sick and tired of this inept and haphazard Government. Many of us have vivid recollections of the grandiose, glittering vote-catching promises made in 1949 by the Menzies-Fadden coalition, the first and foremost of which was: ‘We’ll put value back into the pound’. That promise proved to be a mass of hot air. A promise was made to set up a committee to inquire into the abolition of the means test. That promise was never kept.
In addition a solemn vow was given that the value of all social service benefits would be maintained. Let us examine the outcome of this promise. Legislation was enacted in 1950 to provide endowment of 50c for the first child. It still stands at 50c despite 22 years of spiralling inflation encouraged and condoned by this Government and its predecessors. The endowment of $1 for the second child has remained unaltered for 24 years. The maternity allowance has been unaltered for about 29 years and the funeral benefit for single pensioners of $20 has been unchanged for 29 years.
Let me give a few illustrations of the manner in which the purchasing power of money has been eroded. In 1949-50 50c would buy 2 lb or more of butter. Today butter costs 58c a lb. The price of bread, milk, fruit, vegetables, groceries, shoes and clothes has more than doubled. The tram fare from Botany to Circular Quay in 1949-50 was 5c. The same journey today by public transport costs 35c. The cost of bringing a baby into this world has increased several-fold, yet nothing has been done to increase the maternity allowance and rectify that injustice. The perennial struggle of the mass of the pensioners, who are trying to exist on inadequate pensions far below the described poverty line, is indeed shameful. The blame must be sheeted home to the Liberal-Country Party Government, and also to the New South Wales Liberal-Country Party coalition because of its relaxation of the Landlord and Tenant Act which resulted in outrageously high rentals for substandard dwellings and rooms in lodging houses. Some pensioners in my electorate are paying up to $12 a week for a dingy room with little or no facilities.
I deal now with a very important aspect of Australia’s future, namely, the takeover of our mineral resources, industries and even large tracts of our Australian territory. The ex-Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party, Sir John McEwen, described the position correctly and accurately when he said that we were selling a bit of the farm each day and that Australia was fast becoming a quarry for overseas interests. Mr Vine-Hall, the notable liberal from South Australia, said that the Commonwealth Government was selling Australia to the highest bidder. In 1970-71 the total amount of capital inflow into Australia was $l,900m, which is a staggering figure. As at January 1972, the United States of America had invested $US53,500m in Australia. Britain’s investment in Australia was $US52,300m while Japan’s investments in Australia totalled $US2,600m. Present indications are that before the end of this decade Japan will own a more sizeable portion of Australia than either the United States or Britain. The Japanese will join in industrial ventures to process raw materials in their country of origin. Many overtures in this regard have already been made in Australia.
It cannot be denied that the Japanese are most able and astute negotiators when it comes to business deals. For instance, the Japanese pay Australia $10 a ton less than they pay the United States for coal of similar quality. Yet, the Australian Gov ernment sits idly by and allows this to happen. In addition to exercising a major influence on the future of Australia’s mineral resources and secondary industries, this must mean that our annual indebtedness to overseas investors by way of dividends will increase rapidly year by year. In such matters the day of reckoning must surely come. This Government is most apathetic and dilatory in searching for new markets for the products of our primary and secondary industries. Conversely we find that the new Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Tanaka, the leader of a conservative government, is now making a bold bid for close friendship ties with China. This approach certainly will enhance the prospects of Japanese industry in future diplomatic and trade relations with its near neighbour of 800 million people.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry recently announced that an Australian trade centre will be opened in Moscow. This is a step in the right direction. The Opposition fully supports this venture. But why does Australia not negotiate with China for the purpose of opening up a similar trade centre in Peking for the purpose of cultivating trade relations? China is almost totally an untapped source.
Mr Deputy Speaker, as you would be aware, Ministers particularly are unrestricted in making statements by leave and in answering questions at question time in the manner in which they choose. If they so wish, they can completely evade giving proper answers and can introduce extraneous matter. In addition, unfounded, unsubstantiated and malicious innuendoes are hurled at the Opposition as a whole without any intention of naming any Opposition member specifically. I recall to your attention the incident which occurred in the House last Thursday morning when the Prime Minister in answer to a question stated that some members of the Opposition actually condone public disorder. Public disorder’ is a very fancy way of putting the expression ‘public violence’. I took exception to that remark. The Prime Minister finally apologised and withdrew my name from that group.
The Australian Labor Party abhors violence whether it be in the trade union movement or in the political wing. We recall that in the 1966 House of Representatives election campaign, the Prime Minister of the day, the late Harold Holt, after addressing a meeting at Rockdale was manhandled as he moved outside to his car. We protested quite vigorously at that and were very sorry that the incident occurred! In addition, an attempt was made at the meeting at Mosman on the life of the then Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). The Labor Opposition does not condone violence. We do not encourageit. As a result of what happened last week, last Friday, the Administrative Committee of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party, of which I am honoured to be a member, passed the following resolution:
The New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party unequivocally condemns the use of the philosophy of violence either against individuals or property.
We also condemn the divisive policies and cynical attitudes of the Federal and State Liberal Governments on their approach to the question of Lawand Order.
While these Liberal Governments stand on the sidelines talking ‘Law and Order’, the Trade Union movement acts to uphold it by fighting these small groups of extremists prepared to use intimidation and violence.
The New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party fully supports and endorses the unanimous ACTU Executive decision of 22nd August, and the New South Wales Labor Council decision overwhelmingly carried last night– that is, last Thursday night - which state:
The ACTU Executive expresses concern at the reported violence after a mass meeting of striking members of the Plumbers and Gasfitters Union held in Sydney on 21st August.
We strongly condemn the people who seek to introduce into the affairs of the Trade Union meetings such brutality and violence.
We declare that such action is not in keeping with the principles and standards as set down by the Australian Trade Union Movement and it is completely un-Australian.
We believe that such conduct and behaviour must be eliminated, and we call upon all responsible Trade Unionists to resist such violence.
Particularly, we draw the attention of the Affiliated Unions to this resolution and request that they take action to discipline any member involved in such behaviour.
Should affiliated unions decline to take such action, State Branches of the ACTU should consider the question of continued affiliation of the offending union.’ and-
This is the resolution of the New South Wales Labor Council of Thursday, 24th August:
The Labor Council of N.S.W. notes the concern expressed by affiliated unions at the introduction of intimidation and threats of violence into the conduct of Trade Union affairs in this State.
The Labor Council endorses the stand taken by the Acting Secretary, John Ducker, when faced with this type of intimidation, and in his subsequent public statements declaring the wholehearted opposition of the Trade Union Movement to this type of behaviour on the part of individuals and minority groups.
The Labor Council notes with approval the resolution of the ACTU Interstate Executive, which also condemns the people who would seek to introduce violence into the affairs of the Trade Union Movement.
We join with the ACTU in declaring that such action is not in keeping with the principles and standards set down by the Australian trade union movement, and is completely un-Australian.
While noting that emotions run high in major industrial disputes and things are said and done by workers that would not be done in normal circumstances, and such an emotional outburst was one factor contained in the situation that took place following the Plumbers return to work meeting, the fact remains that violence is becoming a recurrent feature from among an element in the Trade Union Movement.
We therefore call on all workers to strongly oppose the philosophy of violence and to strongly defend the right of Union officials and the rank and file of all points of view to speak, without subsequently being subjected to abuse, manhandling, violence, or the threat of violence.
We regard democratic practice in the Trade Union Movement as essential to build the unity of the workers in their struggle for social progress.
We call upon all affiliated Unions to take appropriate action in order that any instances of violent behaviour at Trade Union meetings are properly, dealt with, and demonstrate to all concerned that the Trade Union Movement, can carry out ils affairs in a responsible way.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– There is no doubt that this Budget has been framed to assist those in greatest need. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) on introducing one of the most popular social service welfare Budgets post-war. In doing so, I direct my remarks to the field of social services in which some very important decisions affecting the welfare of many of our best aged citizens have been made. In saying this, I am not unmindful of the very big part played by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in strongly pressing for increased benefits, particularly insofar as the abolition of the means test is concerned. At times during the negotiations he pressed his case almost to breaking point, and in his endeavours he had the support of the Government Members Social Services Committee. The decision to abolish the means test over the next 3 years and to set up a committee to investigate the introduction of a national superannuation scheme is a significant and historic decision. Such a scheme has been contemplated by successive governments over a very long period of time. We know that there are many injustices in the present system. Unfortunately these affect many of our best aged citizens, many of whom regard their life savings as an encumbrance at the present lime.
The introduction of a national superannuation scheme would result in the phasing out of the existing age pension scheme and hence bring an end to the means test which many people regard as objectionable. To commence with it is necessary to remove the means test on all persons over 65 years of age because in its present form the means test is an impediment to any reasonable plan of national superannuation. lt is also inequitable because it deprives people of the benefit of their initiative and planning, lt discourages self-help and self-reliance and it debars people from taking casual or part time work. This could prove detrimental to their physical and mental well-being. Surely our aged citizens should not be denied the right to work if they so desire. However, with the present means test they are prevented from so doing. It should be remembered also that the age pension is one of the few social benefits which is subject to the means test. Health benefits, nursing benefits and most repatriation benefits are free of both the means test and income tax. In other words, the means test is regressive as the rich receive greater benefits through taxation concessions.
Pending the removal of the means test considerable concessions have been made in this Budget. At the present time pensions taper off once a single pensioner earns more than $10 a week and a married couple more than $17 a week. However, under the new proposals introduced by the Treasurer the tapering off will not occur until a single pensioner earns more than $20 a week and a .married couple more than $34.50 a week. This will considerably assist single pensioners as it means that they can have an income of $40 before the taper comes into effect, while a married couple can have an income of $69. Eligibility for part pension will not cease until the income reaches 3 times the pension, that is, $60 a week for a single person and $103.50 for married couples. When we consider that the average earnings are about $96 a week and that the pension is not taxable, these increased benefits are most generous. As a result of the Budget considerable benefits will now become available to those drawing superannuation and to those receiving annuities. These payments have in the past been treated as income ‘ under the means test. Under the new proposals in the Budget, superannuation and annuities which are payable for life will be converted to a property equivalent which will be taken into account along with any other property, in applying the means test. In most cases this would work to the pensioner’s advantage, but in particular cases where it did not the change would not apply.
A new benefit announced in the Budget, and one I have consistently advocated, will be paid to a person who accepts responsibility for an aged relative. I know of many instances where a son or daughter has been prevented from marrying because he or she has accepted the responsibility of looking after parents. Surely people should be encouraged to look after their parents. I have said often that families should accept a greater responsibility for their aged parents. If they are not prepared to make some sacrifice to help them they can hardly expect others to do so. However, there seems to be some tendency these days for young people to hand this responsibility to the Government. This course should never be contemplated as children can never repay their parents for the care and attention they have received over the years. If we have no respect for our parents and are not prepared to make some genuine effort to assist them in their old age there is little chance of the golden rule really working. A home for old people is certainly no substitute for the love aud care of one’s family and every effort should be made by young people to accept a greater responsibility for their aged parents.
It is for this reason that I am so pleased to see that a special benefit of $14 a week will be paid to those people who look after an aged relative. I know there are a number of people who make a considerable sacrifice to do so and they should receive every encouragement from the Government. To all those who now become eligible for these special benefits I say that these entitlements are well deserved and I extend my sincere thanks to them for providing the necessary love and care that their parents so richly deserve in old age. This benefit will, of course, encourage others to accept a greater responsibility for an aged relative and it will be a big factor in keeping many aged persons out of the nursing homes. More than half of these people would not be in homes if their families accepted a greater responsibility and if more hostels and adequate home care services were available.
I wish to single out for special mention a number of other important measures contained in the Budget. The first one is the supplementary rent assistance which has been raised from $2 to $4 a week. This subsidy is paid to single pensioners living alone and paying rent. Approximately 120,000 people come into this category. I am pleased to see that their supplementary allowance has been increased to $4. Many of these single pensioners living alone are paying between $10 and $12 a week and they are the ones in greatest need. I am glad that this additional benefit will be paid. For the first time, under this Budget a rent allowance will be paid to married couples. This is most welcome. This increased benefit really means that a single pensioner living alone and paying rent will receive an increase of $3.75 under the Budget and I do not think this is generally understood by the public. Whilst speaking of pensioners I want to say that the Government also will introduce a nursing home benefit for hospital insurance contributors. However, holders of pensioner medical service cards will receive the benefit without having to join a hospital benefit fund. This will give pensioners more security in old age, as nursing home costs will be met and there will be $6 left over to provide the few personal belongings a pensioner may need. These additional nursing home benefits will cost $9.1m this year and $21.9m in a full year. Of course, they are in addition to the $24.50 a week for ordinary care patients and $45.50 a week for intensive care patients. The additional benefits will provide greater financial protection against the increasing costs in nursing homes. This will ease considerably the burden on relatives who have had to bridge the difference between Commonwealth subsidies and nursing home costs. I know that the increased benefits will be welcomed by many people.
I now briefly mention home savings grants. The increases in this area will greatly assist many young married couples buying their first home. The maximum value of a home which may attract a grant will be increased from $17,500 to $22,500. The maximum grant also will be increased from $500 on savings of $1,500 to $750 on savings of $2,250, with an appropriate increase in the limit on the amount qualifying as savings. An important concession in regard to these increased benefits is that they will be retrospective to 15th August. This will be welcomed by all those who are eligible.
I have confined my remarks to social services. To those who say that the Government should be providing more I point out that in this Budget, which authorises the expenditure of SI 0,078m, approximately 32, 500m is being spent on social services and repatriation, which works out at about 25c in every dollar. I must say that this is a most generous proportion. Under the present programme we will always need a continuing increase in funds for social services. However, perhaps sometime in the early life of the next Government a committee should be set up to investigate the distribution of funds already made available. I repeat that $2,500m is a large sum of money. It is the second largest item of expenditure in the Budget. It is larger than the amount being spent by the Commonwealth and States on education. It appears to me that such a large sum of money should be adequate to eliminate most pockets of need in the community. It is with this thought in mind that I suggest to the Minister that consideration should be given to setting up a committee to look into this matter. Those of us who say that more money should be spent on social services should perhaps indicate where the money will come from. Should we reduce grants to the States for education, health, housing and other services, or should we raise taxes? I repeat that 25c in every dollar is a most generous contribution. I believe that it is the highest percentage ever allocated to social services by any government since Federation. For these reasons the amendment should be rejected.
– It was interesting to listen to the honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid) eulogising the Government for its plan to abolish the means test in 3 years. Let me draw the honourable gentleman’s attention to the fact that 3 years ago he and all the other members on the Government side were severely critical of the Australian Labor Party’s policy, as announced in the last election campaign, to abolish the means test in 6 years, that is, by 1975. Then we heard the usual old argument: Where is the money coming from?’ Apparently the financial magicians of the Liberal Party have suddenly discovered that it can be done. The same applies to pensions. We said that we would increase pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. All that the present increases have done is make up for the loss of earnings for which this Government is responsible by allowing galloping inflation to grip the Australian economy as it has in years gone by. The means test is to be abolished; but was it not only 3 weeks prior to the Budget that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) were both most critical of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) when he suggested that the means test should be abolished? I think everyone realises that this Budget is a political Budget brought down by a desperate Government trying to save its political hide, and it has as much chance of doing that as it has of dying to the moon.
I want to repeat once again the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), because I think it is a good amendment and clearly sets out the
Labor Party’s attitude to this Budget. The amendment seeks to insert the following words: 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.
I want to deal with one aspect of this amendment that concerns my part in the Australian Labor Party. I refer to public transport. This is a field in which the Government has failed miserably to tackle important problems. Public transport provides a means for people to get to and from their places of employment, but with a great amount of inconvenience and cost involved. The Budget contains nothing about an integrated transport system to reduce fares and freight charges, nothing about the planned use of sea, rail and road transport, the planned replacement of uneconomic rail freight and passenger services with road transport and the possible carriage of passengers by bus, and nothing to encourage the city commuter who is the single occupant of a motor vehicle to travel to work by public transport. The Government originally had ideas on this subject. The former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Gorton, on 8th October 1969 had this to say when he was giving his policy speech:
In the past, the Commonwealth Government has encouraged several forward looking transport policies - for example - rail standardisation, the development of beef cattle roads and container shipping. It will continue to implement measures which will lead to the reduction of internal transport costs. The problem of traffic congestion in the cities is one of great urgency. We have made a significant contribution to easing that congestion problem through an allocation for urban arterial and sub-arterial roads, but there is a great deal more to be done, especially in improving public transport systems.
The last sentence in that extract was underlined, so apparently the Government considered that of major importance. But what is the real position? There was nothing for public transport in the 1970-71 Budget. Admittedly there was a process of de-Gortonisation in 1971 when the present Prime Minister took over. Even though that process of de-Gortonisation should have been concluded by now, the Government still has not had any new ideas on what it will do about it.
I ask the Government this simple question: What does it intend to do about the mammoth railway debt and interest payments, and about the rundown public transport system? At the moment the railway debt stands at $ 1,590m. In 1950 it stood at S 1,025m. That makes an increase in 20 years of $565m. Today the State railways are burdened with an interest bill of $77.3m. That was for last year. Because they are continuing to borrow money and are not able to repay it, and because of limited finances, that figure of $77.3m will increase in the next year to a much greater amount. If it is not attended to very shortly we can expect the capital cities and the other large cities such as Newcastle, Wollongong and Geelong to choke up. A gigantic sum must be provided for the construction of expressways and freeways to cope with the traffic.
As in so many other national problems, the Government’s attitude is: Leave it to the States. Do not talk about it and it will go away. But, unfortunately, the problem will not go away and it is obvious that the Government has not had any new ideas on what it proposes doing about it. The Australia Labor Party’s proposal is to take over the whole of the State railway system including the debt. This is the only Parliament in Australia that has the financial resources to handle the crippling debt with which the railways are burdened today. At the same time, this is the only Parliament in Australia that has the ability to introduce an integrated rail system to overcome the parochial problems which exist in the railway systems today. For example, it is cheaper to transport goods from Kempsey to Brisbane than it is to transport them from Kempsey to Sydney. It is cheaper to transport goods from Mildura to Adelaide than it is to transport them from Mildura to Melbourne. These are some of the things that are wrong with our railway systems today. That is why I believe that only the Commonwealth Government is in a position to tackle this problem.
When that statement was made some years ago by the Leader of the Opposition, and repeated again in recent years, the States indicated that there would be bias and that some States would receive prefer ential treatment. Let us examine the airline operations, for which the Commonwealth is responsible. There is no bias towards any one State and the result is that all the States get a reasonable go as far as civil aviation is concerned. It is the responsibility of this Parliament to take over the railways, to upgrade urban transport and to draw commuters away from private transport and towards public transport. This could be done by providing non-repayable grants to the States for their public transport systems. I am referring to buses and trams. In this field there have been considerable increases in fares and charges over recent years. This field involves a lot of people. I want to quote some statistics as an example of the way in which public transport in the 6 capital cities has changed. In 1960-61, 1,105 million passenger journeys were made in the 6 capital cities. In 1970-71 that number had declined to 948 million, a drop of 14.2 per cent in the number of people using public transport. Yet in the same period the population of our capital cities increased from 5,758,000 as at 30th June 1961 to 7,502,000 as at 30th June 1971, an increase of 30.3 per cent. This is what is happening today.
The Opposition says that this situation has been brought about because the Government has not been prepared to make money available to the States to upgrade their public transport systems and to maintain fares at a fair and reasonable level. Let me cite some figures which show how bus and tram fares have increased in the capital cities from 1949 up to 1971. The increase has been one of the major reasons for people leaving public transport and going back to private transport, which they find cheaper. For example, in New South Wales in 1949 the fare for the first section was 2c. Today it is 10c. In 1949 the maximum charge in New South Wales was 7c. Today it is 45c. In Victoria in 1949 the fare for the first section was 2c. Today it is 10c. The maximum charge in 1949 was 8c, Today it is 50c. In South Australia in 1949 the fare for the first section was 2c. Today it is 10c. The maximum charge has increased in that period from 12c to 30c. These are facts that must be borne in mind by honourable members in this place when they are talking about transport. 1 have a chart here which was provided in an answer to a question I asked recently of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon). This chart discloses that from 1958-59 to 1969-70 the New South Wales bus and tram service - it would be mainly buses there - has had a loss of revenue over expenditure every year in that period. I do not have time to go through them individually. These losses do not take into consideration the interest and loan repayments which ran into millions of dollars each year. Victoria and the other States have had mixed years. Sometimes they have been able to finish in front - to finish with a profit - but in other years they have lost. If one were to deduct from the profits they have made the cost of interest repayments, one would find that on every occasion each of the urban transport systems of the 6 capital cities has shown a loss. This is of importance and of major significance. The Opposition believes it is time the Government was doing something about it.
Let us compare the capital expenditure on roads and on public transport over the last 10 years. The total capital expenditure on roads in Australia in the last 10 years has been $4,905m, of which the Commonwealth contributed $ 1,630m. In the same period, $l,605m was spent on urban roads in the 6 capital cities. What was spent in the same capital cities in the same period on railways, buses and trams? A total of Si 50m was spent on railways and a total of $48m was spent on buses and trams. Let us compare the numbers of people that can be carried in the 2 forms of transport. It is accepted that, with divided carriageways containing 4, 5 or 6 lanes as the case may be, 3,000 persons per lane/ mile per hour can be carried whereas the Eastern Suburbs Railway which is being built in Sydney has been designed to carry between 30,000 and 40,000 passengers an hour. If double-decker carriages are introduced, that number could be lifted to 50,000 passengers an hour. Yet this Government does nothing about it. In the last 20 years we have seen a mammoth change in expenditure on public transport. For example, in 1950-51 roads took up 46 per cent of capital expenditure, railways took up 37 per cent, and other forms including civil aviation took up 17 per cent. In 1970-71 that allocation for roads had increased from 46 per cent to 69 per cent and rail expenditure went down from 37 per cent to 13 per cent. From those figures it is obvious what has taken place as far as transport is concerned. 1 have not time in this debate to deal with all the States, but I point out that in Sydney today there is under construction a western distributor, for which an allocation of S9.5m has been made. When it is completed it will cost between S30m and $40m. Also under construction is the northwest expressway, for which S30m has been allocated. The Warringah Expressway has already had $26m expended on it, the total estimated cost being S80m. Also under construction is the Kings Cross tunnel which is estimated to cost $12m. But what is being expended by the Commonwealth on the provision of public transport systems? This is an area in which this Government has a responsibility.
The Opposition’s suggestion that Federal aid should be given for public transport systems is not something new. In 1969 President Nixon announced in the United States Congress that his Administration would spend SIO billion on transport over the next 12 years. In Washington Sl.lOOm has been allocated for the construction of an underground railway system. In San Francisco another system is estimated to cost $180m - with Federal aid. The same can be said in respect of Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. In Canada 2 large schemes are being undertaken in Toronto and Montreal, one estimated to cost $ 9m and the other $220m. In West Germany 10 major cities are undertaking the construction of rapid rail transport systems to be financed by 50 per cent Federal assistance, 30 per cent State assistance and 20 per cent local government assistance.
What we on this side of the House say is that there are any number of precedents in other countries for the granting of Federal aid to transport systems. In fact the United States Transportation UnderSecretary, Mr James Beggs, had this to say in the ‘Business Week’ journal of 3rd June 1972:
We’ve put around $500 billion into roadbuilding in this country, and you can bail out mass transit for far less than that. Financially, it’s double.’
We believe that in Australia it is financially do-able, to use Mr Beggs’ term. It is up to this Government and to this Parliament to accept the responsibility and to do something about this. The Labor Party has said that it proposes to do something about it. As I mentioned earlier, we will take over the railway systems and provide money for upgrading the public transport systems.
I turn now to the present financial position of the 6 State railway systems for the year ended 30th June 1970. The loss on country and interstate passenger services amounted to $39m. For the suburban passenger services there was a loss of $19m. On freight services there was a profit of $83m. In addition to those amounts the interest and loan charges were $96m. We on this side of the House believe that the two forms of transport - passenger transport and freight transport - should be separated. We know that twothirds of the suburban passenger rolling stock in the capital cities is over 40 years old and that half of the rolling stock for freight services is over 30 years old. This means a limitation on axle loadings, speed restriction, high maintenance costs and an increased number of derailments.
These are the sorts of things which can be corrected only by the Commonwealth. We hope that a Commonwealth government run by the Labor Party will be able to provide the money to take over these transport systems. We know that we can do it. We know that this would provide a better freight service. We know that it would take people off the roads. To put people into public transport would help to overcome a major problem, namely, road deaths. Evidence produced to a committee of which I am a member shows that road accidents are costing $750m a year. What we have to do is to prevent the cities of this country from being choked by the huge expressways and by a multiplicity of motor vehicles entering those cities. There is only one way in which to tackle this problem and that is to upgrade the public transport system with the use of Federal financial assistance so that people will be able to travel in reasonable comfort and at reasonable speed in trains, buses and trams.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 have listened with a great deal of interest in this debate to the speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), to the members of the shadow Cabinet of the Australian Labor Party who have spoken and I have tried to follow their reasoning to enable me to understand the reason for the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that I have finally been able to understand the thought processes which they followed and I should like to discuss just some of them this afternoon. We heard the honourable member’ for Bradfield (Mr Turner) asking the other day for honourable members not to read speeches in this House. This is my first essay into that suggested technique, and not being trained as a lawyer I regret to say that my efforts will probably be rather disjointed. ‘
In the first place I compliment the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the . Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentwoth) upon the Budget. I repeat for the benefit of those who are listening to me that aspect of the Budget which I find to be very attractive indeed. Whilst I completely support everything that has been said about the various sections of the Budget, I make particular reference to the sections which deal with health. I am very pleased that the Government has reviewed the arrangements for assisting people requiring nursing home care. The proposal to introduce new integrated measures to help not only chronically ill patients in nursing homes, but also to assist aged infirm people who can be looked after in a home environment will meet the support of all those Australians who have detected within our prosperous community a tendency for families to avoid their responsibilities to their elderly people. We shall introduce a nursing home insurance benefit for. contributors to hospital insurance organisations. Pensioners who have pensioner medical service entitlement cards will also receive this benefit as additional assistance without having to join a hospital fund.
When added to the existing Commonwealth benefits of $24.50 a week for ordinary care patients and $45.50 a week for intensive care patients, these new benefits will give nursing home patients greater financial protection against the cost of fees. The amount of the new benefit will vary as between the States. When the new Bill comes before the Parliament, the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) will announce the precise details.
The Treasurer went on to say in bis Budget Speech:
To reduce the demand for nursing home treatment a new domiciliary care benefit will be payable to a person who, in his own home, accepts responsibility for the provision, on a regular and continuing basis, of professional nursing care and supporting services required by an aged relative. The benefit will be available on the basis of medical need in accordance with requirements determined by the Department of Health and will be paid at the rate of $14 a week. As in the case of nursing home benefits, it will not be subject to a means test.
I believe that this is a remarkable and very valuable step forward in the concepts which have been introduced by this Government over recent years and it will have a profound effect upon the environment of the average family in our community. I think that this is a vital thing. 1 am sure that many elderly people in the community who look forward with great concern to their ageing years and who pray and hope that they will not be beset by ill health, will be supported in the knowledge that there is to be an increase in financial aid to them from the Commonwealth Government as expressed in this Budget.
Having referred to that particular section of the Budget I turn now to the proposals that have been put before us by the Leader of the Opposition, a Queen’s Counsel and a distinguished member of the legal profession. I have considered this Budget in the terms of the authority of the House of Representatives as expressed in the Australian Constitution, a copy of which 1 have with me, and also as expressed in the terms of the platform of the Australian Labor Party in a document produced in June 1972. It has a black cover on which is yellow lettering. Inside the cover is a picture of the handsome leader of the Australian Labor Party. The book contains details of the Labor Party’s platform and the interpretation that the Labor Party has of various sections of the Constitution. The Leader of the Opposition is trained in the law and in the Constitution. He is conscious of the jurisdiction of the sovereign states and of the limitations of our Constitution which has been amended on only very few occasions. On many occasions the people of Australia, I remind honourable members, have refused to amend the Constitution. The Leader of the Opposition finds himself in the position where with his Labor colleagues he is able to say at page 25 of Labor’s book, in the section ‘Industrial Relations’, under the heading ‘The Constitution’:
The Commonwealth’s power to deal with industrial matters derives from the Constitution 70 years old.
In this part of my speech 1 am referring to the criticisms of the Constitution because this is the important clue to the way in which the members of the Opposition think and is also the clue to the explanation for the extraordinary speeches they make about problems of government which are not properly the responsibility of this House but are properly the responsibility of the sovereign State governments in the capital cities of Australia. In referring to the Constitution as being 70 years old, Labor seems to regard it in a derogatory way. Labor’s platform goes on: lt is no longer adequate. It was found by committees which examined the Constitution in 1929 and again in 1959 to be inadequate and to have led to excessive technicality and complexity. To allow it to remain in its present form is like expecting to control modern motor traffic with laws taken from horse and buggy days.
Labor then proceeds to argue from that base in sections of its platform that envisage a completely unified control within Australia. Labor refers to matters as though, if it were in office, it would be in complete command and have complete authority over the whole of Australia, its way of life, its economy, education, transport and so on. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition states:
The House condemns the Budget because it fails to define adequate economic and social goals for Australia . . .
I would have thought that the Premier of South Australia feels that he is mainly responsible for the definition of adequate economic and social goals for the people living in South Australia. I have some reason to believe that that also applies to Western Australia where there is a Labor Premier. I was reinforced in this view recently when I noted that those States made a statement upon immigration which has long been accepted as a Commonwealth function. Both Mr Dunstan, Premier of South Australia, and Mr Tonkin, Premier of Western Australia, have made statements indicating that their State governments would be prepared to receive migrants from overseas who might not be able to meet the standards for migrants laid down by the Commonwealth. This is an interesting exercise.
– Migrants from Uganda.
– I understand that Uganda was the country involved. It demonstrates the flexibility of the Labor Party mind. It works this way: When you are in the States you can abuse the Constitution and ignore the Commonwealth’s power. When you are in the Commonwealth you ignore the States and talk as though you are in fact monarch of all you survey. It is the most extraordinary mental flexibility I have ever witnessed. I cannot help feeling that if there is one man to whom one should look for a certain degree of intellectual integrity in the process of argument it is the Leader of the Opposition, that distinguished member of that most distinguished profession, the law. He want on in his amendment: and in particular because it provides no programme for restoring full employment, no means of checking the costs, the prices of goods and land . . .
He does not refer at all to the effect of the influence of the sovereign State governments or of the Conciliation and Aribtration Commission upon these very important matters. He went on in the most trenchant way to be highly critical of the Government for a 2 per cent level of unemployment in the Australian economy in 1972 at a time when unemployment in the United States is of the order of 5 per cent and in Canada, a country to which he is prone to turn with such adoration and respect, it is almost 6 per cent. In the United Kingdom unemployment is almost 4 per cent. Nevertheless, in these circumstances he feels that the Commonwealth must be berated because unemployment has risen to about 2 per cent in 1972, for the first time over a long period.
Then to confuse us even more the Leader of the Opposition has the gall to suggest that we should revalue our currency because, if we did so, apparently we would be able to deflate our economy. I would have thought that the most juvenile of people interested in these political and economic matters would understand that revaluation of our currency would lead to increased imports into Australia and pressure upon the existing industrial structure. This would lead to increased unemployment so that in fact such a move would tend to make things harder for people in our rural industries who are trying to establish markets overseas and to secure the best prices available. The people working in secondary industries would suffer similarly.
If there were a conflict in the Labor proposals I would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition, that distinguished lawyer, would have at least been bound to try to explain some of the facts of life to those people who sit beside him. He has anxiety about employment and he proposes through various processes to increase unemployment. He has anxiety about inflation; yet his shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), has been heard in this House not once but on a number of occasions to say that he prefers inflation and full employment to having deflation and unemployment. It is really making a mockery of this Parliament to have honourable members opposite talking the way they do about the 35-hour working week.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) is a distinguished and senior member of one of the great trade unions. He has risen here and said: ‘I find it necessary to say to you that you improve productivity only by technological advances and wiser employment of resources, not by working longer hours.’ Even a child in a kindergarten knows that he can assemble more blocks in half and hour than his playmate can assemble in 10 minutes. Honourable members opposite should find the courage to go overseas, to visit the beehives that we call Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. There they can observe people who are creating enormous economic power throughout Asia on a basis such as never would have been compared 10, 15 or 20 years ago with the basis in this country. They would come to realise that Japan at the turn of the century will be one of the great economic powers on this earth.
No doubt South Korea and Taiwan will in their own particular way be very close behind.
People in Australia who can see the merit in talking about more and more leisure should ponder whether we are going to produce a whole nation of people who are more interested in leisure than they are in national productivity, because if this feeling does develop, may the Lord have mercy upon us all in due course. If that is, the case, the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues have played their part in the development of this very sad malaise which is an ultimate and a great deceit upon the Australian people. Contrasted with others who live on this earth, there are some 37 hundred million people whose mouths are opening and shutting at this very minute. Let it be said with great truth that those who work and those who achieve are most likely to survive.
I learned with great interest only last weekend, following one of those wonderful records of fact dealing with current affairs problems, in which I understand there is no such thing as bias or misrepresentation and no such thing as the employment of members of Actors’ Equity to masquerade as soldiers of the Queen - there is no such thing as this at all unless one is unfortunate enough to have discovered the facts of life from a study of the Commonwealth Budget - that there are firms in the city of Sydney which work 4 nine-hour days for a 36-hour week. Some of the young gentlemen who were interviewed by the distinguished members of the television media, good looking as they always are, said that they had other business to go to on their days off.
– Only one of them said that.
– Nevertheless, the fact remains that the statement was made. One cannot help wondering whether or not tax is paid on all the income that comes from all that business endeavour. That being the case, and looking at the cost problem that faces Australia, particularly if a Labor government revalues the currency, I feel that we should make every effort to understand the facts of the argument and to understand our constitutional power.
It must be realised that, for example, the Premiers of South Australia and Western Australia, outside this chamber, are not seeking to endorse what the honourable member for Newcastle says about railway debts and transport systems. I venture to say to the honourable gentleman, distinguished as he is and knowledgeable in trade union matters as he is, that were he Premier of New South Wales, he certainly would not be saying the same thing. He has a copious cheek, and I think he has his tongue in it. The references that the honourable member for Newcastle made to there being plently of precedent in other countries is in itself of very doubtful intellectual integrity. There are few other countries that rival Australia for being stifled by a conflict of sovereign powers. The powers of the Commonwealth Government in Ottawa and the governments in Washington and London are legal powers different from those powers that are exercised by the Commonwealth Government in Australia. I ask honourable members to bear these facts in mind and to vote against this absurd amendment which 1 can describe only as being one that is lamentable because it is bereft of any intellectual integrity.
– I rise to support strongly the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) which states: 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 out capital cities and regional centres.
The attitude of the Government to thi rural half of the nation referred to in the last sentence of the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition in this election year Budget is reminiscent of the treatment of an occupied territory. A little foreign aid is given to keep the natives happy. It seems to me that the scant attention paid in this election budget to the Australian countryside indicates one of two things - either the Government has written off the countryside from the electoral point of view or it has decided that it is invincible and that the natives will remain friendly, no matter what.
The main feature of the Budget from the rural aspect is the overall reduction or more than $60m in its rural allocations. The only hope that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) seemed to hold out for better things - this was the only mention that he made - was a rise in wool prices, and I gather that somehow he took credit for that. But the whole force and thrust of Government policy towards the countryside remains unchanged. It has been, and it remains, a policy of cutback, reduction and curtailment. We have seen the fruits of the Government’s restrictive policies in wheat. We now face a shortage for our needs at home and abroad. We have heard the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board make a plea for increased production. We have even heard Professor E. J. Donath, long a critic of the industry, make a plea for the abandonment of quotas for this year. What is the Government’s reaction? It is to maintain policies of restriction. We face a shortage of wheat, yet the Government continues to pretend that quotas are necessary. In fact, quotas should be lifted immediately for this year. If not, the Government will give further support to the black market which is growing in strength and permanency, if the Government does not take action to face up to reality then, by its actions, it will be responsible for the end of orderly marketing within Australia in the future and of most of the 60 million bushels needed for the home market.
While the dairy industry faces shortage., of material for use at home and abroad, the only word from the Government in Canberra is of restriction and cutback. Giant firms are actually bidding for the production in my own area, yet the Government in Canberra maintains the fiction that we are overproduced. The truth is that we are short of a whole range of products. We are short of wheat, beef, dairy pro ducts, coarse grains and oil seeds. Yet the Budget turns its face against expansion in the countryside and continues its policies of retreat and restriction. There is not a single incentive in the Budget to promote much needed production at this time.
The great omissions in the Budget include the enduring silence on the imbalance of Australian settlement and development. Even the overworked and discredited word decentralisation’ was not invoked on this occasion. After 71 years of federation and millions of words in support of decentralisation, Australia now is the most urbanised country on earth. Eighty-eight per cent of our entire population lives in cities. There is no Federal Minister for decentralisation; there is no Federal department of decentralisation and there is no money in this Budget for decentralisation or, as the Opposition prefers to call it, regional development. So it does not matter how many more pious platitudes come from the Ministry; the Budget speaks for itself. It provides no money for decentralisation.
The other great omission concerns the plight of local government. There is not a word about, or a scrap of recognition of, the plight of local government in both rural and urban areas. In so many places the rate payer is paying half his dollar to meet interest on old debts. We have the absurd situation where local government has more debt than the national government. The level of government least able to pay has to find the most money at present for debts for essential services. What a contrast this is to the alternative government’s positive policies to bring local government to the financial feast table with the Federal and State governments to ensure an injection of much needed revenue to the local sector. Let it be remembered that, no matter what promises and pious platitudes follow in the weeks and months ahead, the Budget contains no provision for help for local government. Promises are easy but it is in the Budget that the truth resides.
There are other major matters being discussed in the nation at present. One is tariff protection. Another is the value of the Australian dollar. In relation to both matters this Parliament has been turned into a castle of humbug by the Government. Take tariffs: Every election time, Government country members go out into the countryside to tell the electorate that the tariffs are too high, that the tariff burden on primary industries is crushing and must be relieved. Yet what do we find? Tariff protection has increased every year of the 23 years of this Administration. Four years ago the Tariff Board reported that the effective protection needed for manufacturing industry amounted to S2,710m. Honourable members might ask why I quote the position 4 years ago - in 1968. lt is because we have not had any figures since - we have had no further information. The Government has not either the competency or the will to make any later figures available, or to arrange for them. So we have not been told since 1968 what the increases might have been in tariff protection, but we know that the figure has now risen beyond S3,000m for manufacturing industry.
Some industries have 55 per cent protection. One industry has a hand-out every year amounting to $2,563 for every worker in the industry. This covers the office girl, the tea boy and everyone else. It is a continuing support. Yet for the whole of my political life I have been listening to Government speakers in the countryside telling me that they are opposed to this very thing that they have been doing. I do not want to join the procession into the humbug castle. I have not and will not today pretend that I see any general or drastic reduction in the level of tariff protection in our country. I would share the humbug if I said that I saw this, but I do not. What I have done, with my colleagues, is to recognise that the tariff burden on export industries must be eased. To do this we have approved the principle of tariff compensation. This has already been adopted with success in New Zealand where chemical inputs, for example, into some primary industries have been reduced by this means by up to 50 per cent and more. So the tariff is one of the big Trojan horses built by the Government to mislead as to what its actual policies are. It has sought to give the impression over the years that it opposes high tariffs while increasing them.
Trojan horse No. 2 has been inflation. Day after day the old work horse of wages is used as the only excuse for inflation. In fact, there has been an ignoring of the contribution to inflation by government charges, which combined with increased profit margins - mainly by foreign corporations which dominate our economy - account for double the increase in inflation and the rate of inflation compared with wages. Therefore we want to see wages justification and prices justification going hand in hand. For that reason we will establish a prices justification tribunal, have a strong monopoly commission and, in the last resort for the protection of all Australian industry and people employed in them - and that is primary, secondary and tertiary industry - have a national protection commission which would see to it that we are not 4 years behind in the essential data to consider where we stand in relation to protection.
But this is not the end of an attack which must be made on inflation. Basic to the distortions in the Australian economy is the massive misapplication of resources. In the first year of this current Parliament we saw S3,000m going to build high rise office blocks and only $300m for new factories. When one looks at the Budget papers this year one finds that there was an actual drop in the number of Australians engaged in production by manufacturing and an increase in those handling the money. So we have fewer productive workers and more parasites, if you like.
We find that in downtown Sydney $700m is currently being spent on a gaggle of new skyscrapers in an already overcrowded area of the nation’s largest city. So there has been a massive misapplication of resources.
But lel us look at the national debate which now ensues on the Australian dollar. The Leader of the Opposition quite accidentally, and in passing almost, has lifted the lid on a witches’ brew which has been boiling for some time. He made a personal comment that he thought the Australian dollar was undervalued. Almost immediately there was a call to the Treasury - the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) particularly - to make plain the Government’s position. But there was dead silence. The Treasurer said repeatedly that he would not say anything, but there was some indication that the Government had in fact been given favourable consideration to revaluation. So in one great athletic bound the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) jumped over the Treasurer, jumped over the Prime Minister, right into the national spotlight with a message that the decision had been made that the Government would not revalue and anyone who debated the matter was a criminal. This effectively made criminals out of the entire Reserve Bank Board composed mostly of Government nominees and party members; out of the Wool Board, of mainly Government nominees and party members; and one Country Party member of Parliament who felt that the currency should be devalued.
Having said everyone who referred to the Australian dollar and its value was a criminal, the Deputy Prime Minister proceeded to talk about nothing else for 3 days. He was followed by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) and the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) who also discussed the currency in such erudite terms as saying that it was not only criminal to discuss it but traitorish. The Prime Minister was not able to say anything at all for some time. He could not get a word in sideways. But when he caught up he said there would be no revaluation at this time. It was a bit late then. The lid was already off and the information had begun to flow.
It was known that the Treasurer, on his 2 visits overseas, had been talking about Australia’s reserves and Australia’s exchange as part of the general review by all the responsible Ministers and bankers he met earlier this year on world currencies. His answer to a reasonable invitation by me to report on his talks was to say that he had nol had any. He went halfway around the world and had no discussions. The Treasurer asked us to believe that he went halfway around the world to discuss only the petty cash. But he is reported outside the Parliament as in fact saying that he had discussions on currency, but only on our foreign reserves. This is superb hair-splitting and the Treasurer knows it. The only information he has given to the House is that he has not been successful in getting Australia into the big financial league so far. In fact there is tremendous trouble with a bid to get us into even a working party. I enjoyed ‘Alice in Wonderland’ when I read it. but I did not enjoy the Treasurers version that one can discuss money, reserves and other people’s currencies and problems but at no time refer to our own position and our problems. This is just not acceptable. But even if we did accept that the Treasurer went, saw and said nothing he still has. in view of the national debate now in progress, a clear responsibility to report to the Parliament on what he was doing on the nation’s business. If he sustains that he was doing nothing, saying nothing, let him say this in the context of a proper report about the price of joining the group of ten, or the twenty as it now is, what the costs and ben efi ls are, who is supporting us and for what reason. For example, he should tell us why the United States of America is sitting on the fence.
But that is only part of the matters to which the Treasurer must reply. 1 have said 2 things. One is that there had been discussions on international currency and the Australian dollar and the Treasurer hai never opposed revaluation. 1 said further that the Treasury has been formulating decisions on revaluation for months and the majority opinion favoured revaluation. Again the treasurer has never put on record his opposition. The Treasurer has not sought to deny in any way these Treasury exercises. But he has a responsibility to report them to the Parliament and the nation. So my statements stand. Thu I reasurer has noi denied in any way my statement on the Treasury and on his overseas visits and talks. He has issued only 2 unsubstantiated denials, one of which contradicts the other; but he continues - and this is the important matter - to deny the Parliament a report on what other people have said even if he does not want to say what he has said. All right, but what have other people said in the discussions and what are their attitudes to our country about our financial future? 1 fully appreciate the urgent political need for the Deputy Prime Minister to jump over the Treasurer and the Prime Minister in this matter. He knew of the discussions, he knew the decision-making and he was very anxious before they became common knowledge to head off the inevitable criticism, i give him full marks for political athletics. But 1 make a plea to end the name calling - to put the name calling on one side on this vital issue and to give the Parliament and the nation the facts so that we may weigh the costs and benefits of any action in the future on our currency.
An honourable member opposite laughs because currency obviously is a purely political matter in the short term! He displays no national responsibility at all. B it there is a reference in the Budget which ! must not overlook. This is the reference to making available $20m for long term low interest finance to a new bank. Actually the Budget did not say how it is to be mads available, but the Prime Minister has made it clear that $20m will be spent through the
Development Bank. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Primary Industry have announced, for their own part, that they are going to build a new federal rural bank. They cannot finance it from the Budget because there is no money allocated for that purpose. But they say that the private banks and the pastoral finance companies will come to the party to finance a bank to compete against themselves in the countryside. I find this to be a curious concept. I cannot really ses the private banking system and the pastoral finance companies doing any more to further this proposal than they did when at the last election. It was announced that there would be a new insurance corporation that would enable the re-scheduling of debts on a long term basis. What happened was that the private banks would not touch the scheme at all. They said: ‘No. We will not be in it. We will not release any more money. We will not make it available.’ So that proposal has died and has been carefully buried. I suspect that is what will happen with this proposal. There is no need for a new structure. What is needed is money to be made available. The Labor Party has said that using government guarantee, for a modest sum of $S0m an amount of $500m can be made available at an interest rate of 3 per cent. This needs to be done and it will be done.
There was no reference in the Budget to the need for new initiatives. 1 refer to the fact that Australia is losing the race for trade in New Guinea, and certainly is losing it in Indonesia, our nearest and most important neighbour. The Japanese-Asian coprosperity sphere is rapidly becoming a reality through Japan’s enterprise and through our lack of initiative. Not long ago the Prime Minister provided some figures for me about what is happening in Indonesia, and I believe that they should be considered in the context of the Budget. He gave me the 5-year story. It is very interesting that in the 5-year story there has been a total of 144 foreign investments in Indonesia with a value of $US356m. Honourable members will be fascinated to know that in Indonesia we have had 12 modest Australian enterprises established and these modest Australian enterprises amount to about $US21m out of that total. Let us see the countries that have left us behind in Indonesia, according to the Prime Minis ter’s figures. They are Canada, Hong Kong, Japan of course, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America. When we examine the total approved investment of the United States of America in Indonesia we note that it amounts to nearly $US554m. The United Kingdom, on the other side of the world, is having many troubles but nevertheless is doing better in Indonesia than Australia is. West Germany is doing better there than we are. This is an indictment of the Government’s present lack of initiative in that direction.
There has been a lack of overall planning. We represent surely the last of the colonies. As Australians have pulled out of so much of their own productivity, overseas interests have moved in and have acquired 250 million acres. Some little Australians have described the Ord River scheme as a white elephant. The Northern Territory section of that scheme is not even planned. Japanese interests have made inquiries to buy sections, and perhaps the whole, of the Ord. I asked the Prime Minister whether he would sell it. Well, there has been silence on that. Perhaps it is already in the process of being sold or disposed of. Certainly a new deal is needed for the countryside - a deal based on confidence which we can provide by setting out national production goals and a commitment to farm production. In respect of credit, the sort of action that I have indicated could be initiated by Government guaranteeing collateral. These days property does not represent collateral because the banking system has said that it is not really interested in equity but in earning capacity. Property is no longer collateral. I say that backed by proper national planning and responsibility, equity can be put back into property and the confidence that is needed can be restored. If ever there was a time for a change it is now, and the Budget only confirms it.
– Following his Budget address last week the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) came out with a remarkable statement. He said that the Australian dollar should be revalued upwards. What he is doing, in effect, is putting Australian export industries - primary industry, secondary industry and mining - on notice that their financial returns would be less if the Labor Party were to win the next election. That the alternative Prime Minister of this country should make such a statement a few months before an election shows a complete lack of responsibility towards the economic wellbeing of Australia and its export industries. In the same statement he also said that Australian tariffs should be cut. Implicit in that statement is the obvious fact that the Australian Labor Party, if it should become the government, would take away the independence of the Tariff Board, and it would be a Labor government that would be making judgments on levels of tariff protection in Australia.
This Budget bears many similarities to the Budget brought down in August 1969. It is fitting, therefore, that I should build oh some of the propositions that I put forward on that occasion. The present Budget sheds a clear if indirect light on several fundamental flaws in the system of democracy in Australia. I will return to this connection between the 1972 and 1969 Budgets in a moment. To govern is to engage in a chain of events wherein what happens today is very much influenced by what happened yesterday. Yesterday’s major event was the 1971 Budget. In speaking to it I said:
I believe that this Budget will put a brake on inflation, but I also believe that it will be electorally dangerous to hold the damper on the economy till the end of the financial year.
Later in the same speech I said:
There must be and there will be a boost before next August … In one of the supplementary statements the Treasurer tells us all about the long delays before new tax measures start to make their presence felt. If it works one way it must also work the other way.
I take as my starting point these 2 propositions which I made 12 months ago. The first is that the economy would be stimulated before the 1972 Budget. The record is that economic measures take time to make their presence felt.
Let me recapitulate. On 26th October 1971 the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) announced - No. 1 - an immigration cutback of 3,000 to be effective at Christmas time; No. 2 - trading banks to put an extra $5m per week into circulation and - No. 3 - falls in interest rates on some Commonwealth securities. On 1 1 th November 1971 the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) announced - No. 4 - substantial interest reductions on other Commonwealth securities; on 18th November 1971 the Treasurer announced - No. 5 - substantial interest reductions in semi-government securities. In late November-early December, unannounced, were the next measures - No. 6 - an instruction to Commonwealth departments to increase spending and - No. 7 - an instruction to Commonwealth departments to step up recruitment. On 19th November 1971 the Treasurer announced - No. 8 - $30m as agreed for a continuation of the reserve price scheme for wool. On 2nd December 1971 the Prime Minister announced - No. 9 - the non-metropolitan unemployment relief scheme to cost $2m per month; on 9th December 1971 the Prime Minister announced - No. 10 - an increase in grants to non-government schools of $15 per annum in the case of primary students and $18 per annum in the case of secondary students; and - No. 11- $20m for State school capital works.
On 12th December 1971 the Prime Minister announced - No. 12 - an extra $250,000 per month for non-metropolitan employment. On 13 th December 1971 the Reserve Bank announced - No. 13 - a reduction in reserve requirements permitting trading banks to increase lending by $132m. On 22nd December 1971 the Prime Minister announced - No. 14 - an overall devaluation of the Australian dollar by 1.75 per cent. On 6th January 1972 the Treasury announced - No. 15 - a further cut in interest on Commonwealth securities; on 3rd February 1972 the Reserve Bank announced - No. 16 - a reduction in interest rates charged by trading banks. On the same day the Treasurer announced - No. 17 - a lower interest rate on some Commonwealth securities. On 8th February 19 2 the Prime Minister announced - No. 18 - a 20 per cent increase in wheat quotas.
On 14th February 1972 the Prime Minister announced - No. 19 - a further $32m for State works and housing programmes; No. 20 - a further $10m for semi-governmental works programmes; No. 21 - a special grant of S15m to the States; No. 22 - a special loan of $ 17.5m to New South Wales; No. 23- a further $2.25m per month to be spent on the nonmetropolitan unemployment relief scheme. increasing the amount to $4.5m per month; No. 24 - restoration of the investment allowance; and No. 25 - an increase of 70 per cent in the unemployment benefit. On 5th April 1972 the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) announced - No. 26 - additional and accelerated expenditure on rural reconstruction, together with a relaxation of conditions. On 11th April 1972 the Treasurer announced the mini-Budget, which included in its provisions - No. 27 - a 2i per cent cut in income tax; No. 28 - an increase in basic rates of pensions and sickness benefits; and No. 29 - an alteration in the means test.
So, between 26th October 1971 and 11th April 1972 the Government engaged in no fewer than 29 separate stimulative acts. This brings me to the second and more important proposition that I made earlier and now repeat, namely, that economic measures take time to make their presence felt. I believe that the 29 acts of stimulation which preceded this Budget would, given the fullness of time, have reduced the level of unemployment in Australia. The reduction would have been from a level low by international standards to the still lower level acceptable by Australian standards. My belief is based on the fact that I can read Government documents. The Budget Speech and the statements supplementary to it make it abundantly clear that what I am saying is regarded by the Treasury as self-evident. Not only does the Treasury make this point overtly but also it displays remarkable reluctance in discussing the economics of the Budget. I invite everyone to compare the Treasurer’s speech and supplementary statements of last year with those of this year. The Treasury’s 1972 reticence can be ascribed to an unwillingness to enlarge upon, in rigorous exposition, that which it has overtly but briefly admitted. The admission is tersely put in the Budget Speech in these terms:
To summarise: the economy at present is moving in the right direction. A modest abatement of inflationary trends has been achieved. Demand, although patchy, is growing. Confidence generally has improved in recent months. There is, however, some slack in the economy and in the absence of further action it would be some time before it was fully taken up.
That last sentence in the 1972 Budget Speech is absolutely critical and I repeat it:
There is, however, some slack in the economy and in the absence of further action it would be some time before it was fully taken up.
What is said, of course, is that the preBudget stimuli would have proved sufficient in time, if this is so, the present Budget cannot be allowed to run its full course. Twenty-nine mini stimuli plus one maxi stimulus is clearly too much stimulation, eventually. But this is a Budget befitting the age of instant coffee and instant mashed potato. Presto, it will achieve instant full employment.
When a Government document looks at a future which is uncertain it says so. If, however, it looks at a future which is fairly certain, it says so a good deal more insistently. That is the position with the 1972 Budget documents. There is much more emphasis on policy reviews during the financial year and there is even a strong cautionary paragraph on the second page of Statement No. 2 which, incidentally, with remarkable foresight, extols the virtues of ‘flexibility in economic policy’. All this adds up to the fact that, once this instant Budget does its job and full employment is restored, measures will be introduced to prevent it from adding to inflation. The reappearance of the stop-go policies is harmful to orderly economic development, yet its causes lie at the very heart of parliamentary democracy in Australia. Two related matters stand out here. The first concerns the difficulties of democratic governments in dealing with large scale lawlessness organised by tightly knit subversive minorities. The second relates to the frequency with which governments have to go to the people. The first problem is not confined to Australia; the second problem which is an aggravating one, is.
A democratic government is obliged, and rightly so, to abide by rules and regulations. This puts it at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with organised opponents who scoff at democracy and shrug off both laws and decency. The ‘Economist’ of 29th April 1972 described the universal problem as follows:
The reason for the dedin; of British trade unionism has not been any original sin among either ordinary or leading British trade unionists. It has come about because even a band of archangels and geniuses could not properly operate a supposedly democratic organisation if it is not subject to the checks and balances on which any effective democratic system must depend. In the lower ranks of ‘elected’ union officialdom (delegales to union conferences, shop stewards etc.) there is not a natural democratic check, because most people very sensibly do not want to spend their spare time on such chores. Anybody sufficiently ambitious to pick up local union power can therefore generally gel it. Politically, this leads to a heavy over-representation in shop stewards’ committees of communists . . there is an over-representation of those who are willing to break their promises and their contracts without a moment’s compunction, who resort to threats, force, bullying tacics and some individual intimidation in order to bolster protection rackets that are mainly in protection of their own power but are sometimes more corrupt even than that
So much for the ‘Economist’, lt is the Australian counterparts of these people who break the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and provoke large scale confrontations between unions - which are composed, incidentally, in large part of decent men - and the Government, which naturally is hesitant as it knows that only a minority is guilty. It is the communists and fellow travellers who engineer the clashes within the arbitration system which result in the shameful backdowns by arbitration authorities. 1 refer to the well intentioned but utterly misguided fuzzing over of major issues by Mr Justice Moore in his precipitous ambition to settle a symptom. The Government has not yet learned to cope with industrial blackmail, and this is a major cause of inflationary propensity in Australia today. Yet there are several solutions to this problem. I will outline those that 1 know on some ether occasion. Suffice to say now that the necessary changes are fundamental and would take more than 3 years to implement; and 3 years is the maximum term that Australian governments have in office.
Let me make it clear that what is happening within the unions is an affront to all democratic parties, including the Australian Labor Party. Indeed, if elected to government, the Australian Labor Party would find the issue very divisive on account of its anti-democratic lunatic left which, mercifully, is only a small minority. On the other hand, I recall that the last Prime Minister to introduce emergency legislation with the sole and specific purpose of gaoling a small group of trade union officials was the late Ben Chifley.
Let me quote from an article on the front page of the ‘Australian’ of Tuesday, 22nd August 1972:
I appealed to one of the rank-and-file group’s leaders, Mr Frank Ball, a member of the Communist Party of Australia to calm the men … it could have led to a full scale brawl. Mr Ball . . . replied ‘You can cop il the way il comes mate’.
The speaker is a prominent member of the Australian Labor Party; he is the assistant secretary of the New South Wales Labor Council. He was attacked and kicked by the lunatic Left. Despite the fact that the people behind the strikes are out to destroy or subvert the democratic majority within the ALP as much as they are out to confront arbitration and the Government, such is the influence on the Australian Labor Party of the lunatic Left - the Hartleys, the Browns, the Crawfords - ‘that the Labor Party is forced to side with them in public. This is a disaster for democracy; it is also disastrously inflationary.
Just as it is very difficult for a government to reform a system of trade unionism within a 3 year term of office, so it is difficult to embark on many valuable projects, especially those that are unpopular in the short term. To remain in government a party or coalition must, by definition, be popular at least once every 3 years, but in practice more often than that. For example, there are Federal elections both this year and next year. So, on one side there are measures which are responsible but unpopular and on the other side there are frequent popularity contests. No wonder there is in this country a preponderance of ad hocery in Government policy. No wonder the public servants get the upper hand over Ministers who must, because the system forces them to do so, keep a sharp eye on popularity. This is basically undemocratic and disastrous for the country and 1 shall enlarge upon this in the debates on the Estimates.
To give democracy a chance, serious thought must be given to constitutional reform permitting governments to hold office for more than 3 years. 1 am not able to say what the best term of office would be. This is a matter for careful assessment by experts from various backgrounds. Someone - preferably the Government and Opposition acting jointly - should commission an evaluation of this matter. After all, sound government is something which we all believe in. or at least profess to believe in. I hasten to point out that lengthening the term of office is but one of a considerable number of measures needed to make democracy work. In my speech on the Budget of 21st August 1969 I outlined other changes. My burden on that occasion was principally to examine the proposition that ‘our democracy is not getting the most out of the skilled manpower that sits on the back benches of the 2 chambers’. 1 advocated that back bench members be activated and given opportunities to acquire specialised knowledge in selected areas of government so that a better control could be exercised over public servants, so that future Ministers could be trained and furbished with administrative skills and so that the morale of back bench members could be maintained at the highest levels.
Since that speech in 1969, to my pleasant surprise, worthwhile moves have occurred in the right directions. The committee system which 1 strongly commended has grown enormously in influence, notably in the Senate. Even more gratifying was the appointment of trainee Ministers - something quite close to what 1 was advocating in 1969. 1 do nol review my 1969 remarks with the purpose of claiming credit; it would be improper to imply that my remarks and subsequent events were connected. But I want to register the fact that we are moving forward, not backward, so far as democracy in Australia is concerned. However, there is a long way still to go. For example there has been an incredible expansion in the Public Service. Money, which could and should stay with the taxpayers or go to the poor, the pensioners, the sick and the education of our children, is being wastefully sucked into the bottomless pit of the Public Service. Since I last spoke on this subject in 1969, the Commonwealth Budget has risen from $7,000m to $ 10,000m or by about 41 per cent. In the same period the cost of running departments has risen by 50 per cent. I support this Budget and oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition but in doing so I register a plea that what I have said in support of the Budget be heeded by both the Government and the Opposition.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This being in all probability the last speech I will make in this House of Representatives it could be referred to as my swansong. Having said that-
– You are retiring, not about to be defeated.
– I am retiring, yes. It is not my intention to enter into a dialogue with the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) who has just resumed his seat. If I were to express myself fully it would take up all the time allocated to me in the Budget debate. I confine myself to saying, and I do so with a good deal of feeling, that 1 have appreciated greatly the friendship, courtesy and help given to me by each and every honourable member in my 17 years in Parliament. I extend my appreciations collectively and very earnestly. I say with a good deal of pleasure and pride that I can depart from the political scene without any regrets, without any apologies and with a clear conscience. 1 have endeavoured at all times to do the right thing by everybody with whom I have had contact and particularly with you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and with Mr Speaker.
Having said that let me join the fray by saying that I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). In speaking to the Budget I follow the lines taken by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby). I too am surprised that there have been no guidelines laid down in the Budget for decentralisation or urbanisation. Some indication of the immensity of this problem is revealed in a newspaper report of statements attributed to the Minister for Decentralisation and Development in the New South Wales Government. The report states:
The New South Wales Government wants to persuade 700,000 Sydney people to go and live in the country.
By the year 2000 it wants to create country job opportunities for 300,000 Sydney workers. Amenities will be needed for them and the 400,000 family members they will take with them. the official plan for Sydney with an expected 5 million people by the end of the century would not work unless the 300,000 workers and their families could be moved to country jobs.
Diverting the 700,000 people from the metropolitan area to country centres during the next 28 years will be equivalent to two and a half new cities the size of Newcastle,’ he said.
Or you could equate it with the creation of 23 cities the size of Wagga in a little over a quarter of a century.’
The Minister said he was sure this challenge could be met and exceeded.
But it will require positive leadership and close co-operation and understanding between Federal and State Governments, local governments and the people.’
The report goes on to say:
Mr Fuller said that over the past few years New South Wales had blazed the trail for a concerted national attack on the pressing problems associated with the over-centralisation of industry and people.
We are fully conscious of the requirements of the future and we have successfully established the necessary administrative machinery to supply the answers,’ he said.
Decentralisation was no longer regarded as an abstract philosophy but was widely proposed by big city organisations, academics, planning authorities and political parties which had previously ignored its challenge.
In its Budget this Liberal-Country Party Federal Government has ignored the challenge which Mr Fuller, the New South Wales Minister for Decentralisation and Development refers to. It could be truly said that the problems confronting Sydney and Melbourne are evident in every capital city in the Commonwealth and that, therefore, it has become something of a national responsibility for the Federal government to lay down guidelines and make provisions to tackle these great problems. Short though the report is, it does highlight this Government’s apathy towards and lack of planning for what is probably the most pressing national necessity in Australia at the present time.
After probably 12 years of agitation by way of questions, deputations to Ministers and personal correspondence, I am gratified to know that employees at the Williamstown naval dockyards and the Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermen’s Bend, Melbourne, if the programme set out in the defence statement made in this House is carried out in its entirety, will have some measure of job security in the next decade. But it has taken a long time to achieve. I feel that no-one will deny me the personal satisfaction I express at this knowledge. As one who has experienced the indignity and horror of unem ployment, I am saddened to know thai in a country which has such tremendous potential as Australia there are today about 100,000 unemployed.
On the subject of unemployment, it distressed me recently to learn that an advertisement for 48 apprentices for the naval dockyard at Williamstown in my electorate attracted 400 applicants. I am informed also that most of the boys applying had leaving or matriculation qualifications. Four hundred boys for 48 jobs! Is this a case of coming events casting their shadows before? If this is the case at the present time, what will be the position at the end of the year and in the new year? Circumstances of this nature make a mockery of Government claims - the honourable member for Moore referred to this - that it has the unemployment situation in hand. It appals me to think that a figure of 150,000 unemployed in 1973 is not altogether a figment of the imagination. Indeed, so serious are the implications arising from this advertisement that they need an answer from the Government.
I turn to another matter that has always been one of great interest to me. Much is said today about inflation and the demand for greater productivity. Industrial unrest is another very provocative subject, together with the 35-hour week. I am astounded, however, at the lack of activity or even casual interest which the Government has displayed in a factor which produces the greatest economic wastage, loss of work potential and human suffering in this country. I refer to industrial accidents. There is nothing in the Budget concerning this matter. I am indebted to the Australian Timber Workers Union monthly journal - I am a member of the Australian Timber Workers Union - for the figures I shall quote. I find it difficult to get figures that are up to date. An article in the journal states that reference to industrial accident statistics in 1964-65 in Victoria, published by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics on 18th January 1967 - that is how far back I have to go to get figures; it is very difficult to get figures on this matter - reveals the high cost to that State in human suffering, loss of work potential and economic wastage through industrial accidents. There were 30,315 non-fatal accidents in the wage and salary group of the Victorian work force in 1964.
That is approximately one in 23i, or 4. per cent, representing a work loss of 114,012 weeks or an average absence through incapacity of 3.8 weeks for each accident.
In the manufacturing sector the accident rate was higher at 5.2 per cent. The Standards Association of Australia estimates that each fatal accident causes a potential work loss of 6,000 days and that the amount paid in workers compensation claims added up to $22,815,000. To this must be added the indirect cost now generally accepted as being as much as 4 times the direct cost of work accidents. Assuming the gross economic loss to be 4 times the amount paid out in workers compensation payments, the sum of $22,815,000 increases to the staggering total of between $90m and $10Om. Quite a lot of other matters could add to this figure. The article poses the question: ‘Can the community afford to allow this enormous drain on its physical and financial resources to continue?’ I say that the answer is no.
Research shows that evidence exists which indicates that many so-called errors leading to accidents have been touched off by faulty design or construction, by poor housekeeping, and by operating practices that created hazards, or by lack of standardisation and identification which so confuses the operator that he is literally trapped into making mistakes. Thus potential accidents have been built into machines and equipment by failure to human-engineer the work place. I know that much has been written on this subject, but actions speak louder than words. At a time when ‘loss of production’ and inflation’ are fashionable phrases I suggest that the Government should set an example that could be emulated by employers at ali levels in both private and government enterprise. I am convinced that, though great is the need for research into methods of production and materials, the need is even greater for research into human safety. Therefore the question of industrial safety, because of its nationwide implications, is a problem that can be handled effectively only at the Federal level with the co-operation of the States and the trade union movement.
I raised this matter with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) on 11th April this year and suggested the establishment of a Federal bureau to assist industry in accident prevention and in handling compensation payments. The Minister said that it was not the responsibility of the Federal Government; that its responsibility was limited to the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, and of course its own employees. He went on to say that the majority of employees were covered by State awards and various State systems. All care but no responsibility. Then he said in his final paragraph:
At a recent meeting of the Commonwealth and State Departments of Labour, matters of industrial safety were fully discussed, among them the question of a national safety bureau of the kind you suggested, lt was the general opinion of the labour authorities that as safety promotional services and arrangements for the investigation of industrial accidents are provided by all State governments, the creation of an additional organisation at the Federal level was not desirable as this would only duplicate work being done elsewhere.
This is the attitude of this Government. Yet industrial accidents are costing the country hundreds of millions of dollars in loss of production, loss of life, human suffering and compensation. I say that that cost could be avoided if there was a desire on the part of this Government to set up a bureau such as I have suggested. It set up the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. Was that not a matter for State governments? But still the Commonwealth Government found it necessary to do that. I feel it is necessary to do something similar in this case in the interests of humanity. Prevention is better than cure. Compensation, whilst needed by the individual, is a loss to the community.
There are many matters that I could raise and others could raise at this time. However, I have raised the questions in which I have been most interested during my 58 years in the trade union movement and my 52 years in the Australian Labor Party. They are the bread and butter issues. I spoke of these things on my entry into this House 17 years ago. On my retirement I speak of them again. Emancipation as I knew it over 50 years ago is, as an investigation has revealed, just as prominent and needful today as it was 50 years ago. Indeed, that fact can be confirmed in the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) that the Government will make an investigation into poverty.
These emphasise my point that there is a great need to look into the matters I have just raised, namely, industrial accidents, poverty and what I call the invisible poor. They are those young people with 2 or 3 kiddies who are trying to buy a home at the shocking rates of interest that are being charged today. I suggest that if the Government were to set up a branch of the Commonwealth Bank to go out and compete with the big private banks and the lending institutions, at interest rates that they are prepared to charge on war service homes, those institutions would have to lower their interest rates and because interest on overdrafts would be much lighter, the incidence of inflation would be reduced very quickly and this would help each and every one in the community.
– I am honoured and privileged to rise to speak after the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) in what he stated he expected to be his swan song speech. He is a man who, over the many years he has been here, has won a very real place in the hearts of many honourable members on all sides of this House. I have been here only a relatively short time but I have the utmost respect and affection for him. Also, I agree with much of what be said in his speech, particularly the last point he raised relating to young couples trying to set up a home in the face of giant interest rates. I see this as one of those highly urgent priorities which the present Budget has not tackled directly but which I believe will be tackled by this Government in the immediate future.
The Budget was undoubtedly a brilliant budget, one of the most brilliant budgets that any of us can remember. Without doubt, it will get the country going again. There are many signs that confidence is returning to the Australian economy. There have been many recent economic indicators of the fact that confidence is returning to the economy. This is no easy matter, for the modern economy is a difficult, complex and and paradoxical instrument. This is true of whichever country in the Western world one looks at. We live at the butt end of the Keynesian era where we have no absolute certainty that the economic tools of the past will serve the purposes of today and even less certainty that they will serve the purposes of tomorrow. In the meantime, before we are visited by the new Keynes, we need to strike out strongly to remedy those ills which we can remedy under the prevailing circumstances. That is precisely what this Budget - which I have advisedly called a brilliant budget - does. It is designed to get the country going again, and to get the country going again in precisely the right direction for our era. I will say more about that shortly.
When one considers what a finely balanced mechanism the modern economy is, one realises that some of the recent statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) are remarkably inept, illconsidered and gauche. When one considers the psychology of the economy, one realises that some of the recent statements made by the Leader of the Opposition are remarkably unbalanced and academic. I mean academic’ in the worst sense, as being unrelated to reality. The most recent gaffe which the Leader of the Opposition made was to make it clear that he believes in revaluation. We have seen the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), who is not in the House at the moment, become very heated about this matter, but what he failed to make clear when he spoke today and in his recently reported statements in the Press was that this matter of revaluation is an issue only because of the remarkably ill-informed, ill-considered, gauche and inept statements on this matter which were made by the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition is not a private member of this Parliament. He is not a man of no consequence - or ought not to be a man of no consequence. He is a man who leads an alternative government. He is the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. This is the context in which remarks that he makes about matters of high national moment must be considered. I say that this is irrespective of the merits of the argument for revaluation and the merits of the argument for devaluation.
The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition can only harm the Australian economy because in this way he creates uncertainty and hesitancy in many absolutely crucial sectors of the economy. Also, his remarks are precisely such as could encourage a rush of investment from overseas which would come in to make a quick kill at the expense of the Australian community. There are many ways of tackling capital inflow into this country. As everybody knows, at the moment the Government is considering the policy on overseas ownership of the Australian economy. This is a very important way in which the question of capital inflow can be considered. But for the Leader of the Opposition to make remarks at this time which can create only domestic uncertainty and which can lead only to our being placed in a very awkward position in terms of international monetary movements, is remarkedly ill-considered, inept and gauche. Of course, it is not unusual for him to make statements like that. 1 have heard it said that every 5 months he makes a major gaucherie or gaffe. I am not sure whether it is every 5 months or every 4 months. Sometimes one wonders whether it is not every 5 days. A friend of mine recently suggested that the Leader of the Opposition ought to be known from now on as Mr Gaffe Whitlam, but I will not enter into that.
What troubles me is that matters of high national importance can be treated in this offhand, academic fashion. As 1 have said, the attack on the Leader of the Opposition comes not fundamentally or primarily from this side of the House but from his colleagues opposite. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who is sitting at the table representing the shadow ministry, has told us not to worry about what the Leader of the Opposition has said because he is expressing only personal comments and they are only personal statements. The Opposition Leader’s own colleague has said that they in no way commit the Opposition. That would be all right if this were some philosophical debate and if some nice semantic points were involved. But nice semantic points are not at issue here. Vital matters affecting the Australian economy are at issue. What a pity that the Leader of the Opposition can in no way commit the Opposition on vital matters like this. What a pity that on matters of the greatest national importance the Leader of the Opposition can in no way commit the Opposition. I suppose this is really par for the course in both personal and party terms, for not only can the Leader - the public spokesman - of the Party not commit the Opposition in vital areas but what is even more serious is that the elected Labor members of Parliament cannot commit the Labor Party on any policy matter. Their only role in terms of policy is to decide on the precise time when Labor Party policy might be implemented.
– What are your views on it? Tell us your views.
– This is called ‘Party democracy’.
– You have not got any views on that.
– We know your views. It is your views which have made it absolutely clear that your Leader does not represent his Party just as your Party in the Parliament does not represent your Party outside it. The Government’s position on this issue is absolutely clear. There is no question of any revaluation at the moment. I think this is a good decision and I think it will stick. As I have said, the difficulty faced by honourable members opposite - and 1 feel for them in this - is that their Party is still dominated by the trade unions of Australia. The boss of the Australian trade unions, Mr R. J. Hawke, is literally leaving the Leader of the Opposition without a feather to fly with. In a recent television debate Mr Hawke even in effect opened Labor’s election campaign. This is a right which is normally taken by the Leader of an Opposition or the leader of a Party but when he should have been debating law and order with Senator Ivor Greenwood he was in effect opening Labor’s campaign for this year’s election. The Leader of the Opposition could grow the wings of an angel but he would still only be able to flutter around in the Hawke cage, for the unions dominate the Australian Labor Party today as much as they did 50 years ago. Constitutionally the position remains the same. There has been some talk-
– To what section of the Budget are you addressing yourself?
– 1 am talking about the whole ramifications of this Budget and the financial framework of the Budget, including the direction of which this Budget talks. I am making some remarks about the sort of situation which would develop if the Australian Budget were created by the alternative government. What sort of Budget would we have? Who would create a Budget for the Opposition? We have heard it said that there are some old tired men around this country. The old tired men in this country are the men of the Opposition. The average age of members of the Ministry is very much less than the average of those in the shadow Ministry. Which party is the old tired party? The Labor Party is the old tired Party in Australia. It is a Party in which the policy making conferences are dominated by union officials. This was all right in the early years of this century when there was a role to play, but these conferences make Labor policy; they make the policy for the elected members of Parliament.
In terms of philosophy it is the Labor Party which represents an old tired philosophy, for it retains the philosophy of socialism. Some of the clever younger members have tried to redefine it but it stands as a basic objective of the Labor Party, as upright as it stood for many years. The ALP believes in the socialisation of means of production, distribution and exchange. And if you do not like it, then scrub it. This philosophy of socialism is increasingly irrelevant to the real issues of our era, for the philosophy of socialism must include more and more government, more and more regulation and more and more central direction and this inevitably entails less and less emphasis upon the individual, the person, the identity. This latter emphasis is what the Liberal Party stands for.
The real reason why this Budget is such an exciting document is that it takes new directions in terms of what I call the new liberalism. Let me illustrate my point. The child care policy of this Budget is a very carefully thought out policy. It take- months and months to produce policies in important areas. The child care policy of this Budget entails the proposition that the community will control the child care centres. We are not setting up a costly and elaborate new Commonwealth bureaucracy to do a job which people, where they live and work, can better do that job. This is the philosophy which runs through the whole of the budgetary proposals in regard to education. The notion is that the people should have the education which they will create and that it is not something which can be rained down on them from the skies but something which they create and as far as possible they control.
Also in this Budget we have an absolutely clear admission of the importance of fighting the war against poverty. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has made clear a number of times that in his recommendat.ons in the field of social welfare he was determined to beat the levels which Professor Henderson has described as th: poverty line. The Budget goes through these areas one by one in an endeavour to ensure that the particular category of pensioner’s will be so treated that they will be above the poverty line. But perhaps most important of all this Budget represents a reversal of a trend to more and more government. It is not just a question of a few more dollars in the pocket. It is not just a question of what people will take home after tax. It is not just a question of what extra amounts pensioners will receive, lt is a question of whether we believe in personal decision making. It is a question of whether we believe in people or whether we believe in governments more than in people. It is a question of whether we believe i=.i the individual or the bureaucratic State, central direction, social engineering and all that increasingly irrelevant lot.
On the other hand in recent times the Opposition has been up to all sorts of different tricks. It has been promising the world. (Quorum formed) I was about to say that the Opposition had been promising the world for months and months. Suddenly, as the 1972 election drew near, members of the Labor Party started renegeing all over the place. They were conscious that their promises would cost hundreds or thousands of millions of dollars extra each year and the Australian taxpayers would have to pay it. Now members of the Opposition are not prepared to tell us whether they are ready to foot the tax bill or what are their policies. In many vital areas they have no discernible policy whatsoever. They are having 10 bob each way. I remind honourable members of Labor’s policy on conscription. We used to be told that Labor would abolish conscription. Now the Opposition is saying that if it could not get the volunteers it would be prepared to use conscription. That is what we are led to believe by the honourable member for Bass (Mr Barnard), the Opposition’s shadow Minister for Defence and spokesman on defence matters.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) is very hard to reply to because, frankly, I was unable to discern the theme of his remarks. However, at least we should concede that it must be a great break for the students of the University of Melbourne that he was elected to this Parliament. I cannot say that we have derived any great knowledge from his speech this afternoon. I was interested to hear his comments about and criticism of members of the Opposition who dare to talk about political matters. He seems to be intent on taking politics out of politics. He was critical of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) for discussing the debasement of the Australian currency and the fact that all sorts of inflationary trends have resulted. Similarly, he seems to have abdicated in his own speech, as has the Government generally, from any proper application to such matters as overseas investment in Australia, inflation, rising prices, housing and health problems, or what have you. For that matter the attitude of the Government seems to be typified by that of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) who shows reluctance even to discuss politics now. He certainly has a quivering and quaking fear to accept the invitation of the Leader of the Opposition to appear on television and to discuss the issues of the day. Where is the country going when the Prime Minister has shown such an incapacity to stand up to public examination?
The honourable member for Chisholm talked about the processes which take place in the Australian Labor Party. He seemed to be anxious to criticise the fact that on this side of the Parliament we pursue a democratic process, I take it that he contends that it is undesirable that on this side of the Parliament we follow the traditional practice of deciding our Party’s policy at the weekly Party meetings. In that way no member of the Labor Party can just pluck policy from the sky. The Labor Party elects its leaders. Ministers and shadow Ministers. The antithesis of that action is that which apparently the honourable member for Chisholm stands for and upholds.
– They are told by Sir Frank Packer.
– lt is a demagogic process. Whether it is Sir Frank Packer or the Prime Minister whose dictums the honourable member is prepared to accept I do not know, but honourable members on this side of the Parliament uphold the democratic processes. We are disappointed that a man from an academic area who has influenced so many young Australians about political matters has not shown the same inclination. That is enough about the honourable member for Chisholm. I have wasted enough time already.
Exactly 2 weeks ago the Budget burst like a bombshell over this country with a great cloud of expectation that it would trigger off a snap election to retrieve the flagging fortunes of the McMahon Government. Somehow this cunningly conceived strategy has misfired. Despite the overdue reforms and unexpected handouts which the Budget contains, the general reaction around the country is of complacent cynicism. Where is the early election? If the Budget was filled with all that electrifying expectation, why is it that the Government has abandoned its strategy to go to the people, taking advantage of the situation and leaving the Opposition wallowing in the wake of the Budget? We have reached the stage, as 1 said a moment ago, that instead of there being a snap election the Prime Minister is no longer prepared to go on television and discuss with his counterpart of the Opposition the political issues of the day.
The people are tired of political expediency and double talk, of ministerial syndromes of mediocrity. They are tired of the blatant annual exploitation of the Commonwealth Budget and its casual preoccupation with matters of great principle which are so obviously motivated by fear of political annihilation. These issues should be regarded as great issues because of their priority rating rather than through political expediency and their potential appeal at the polls. This is a hit and miss Budget. Like the Government’s policy over 23 years of application it has brought inequality, mass unemployment and lost opportunity to Australia and many Australians.
The most effective overall measurement of these matters lies in the gross national product. In 4 successive years the rate of growth of the gross national product, which includes the cost of all goods and services in Australia, has fallen from a peak of 8.4 per cent in 1968-69, to 5.8 per cent in 1969-70, 4.1 per cent in 1970-71, and 3.1 per cent in 1971-72. There has been a steady decline which is even more disappointing when the results are compared with the target of 6 per cent that we had for the year. Turning to the gross farm product, 3 years ago the value of our rural production was $151m higher than it was in the financial year just concluded. So many other tests can be applied. The growth in average employment has slowed significantly. After rising to 3i per cent in 1970-71 it slipped to H per cent in 1971- 72, a decline of 2 per cent in the growth of average employment.
I turn now to the growth of wages and salaries. Last year our total growth in wages and salaries ran to 12 per cent. Even that figure represented a decline in the growth rate of 3 per cent, as against the 15 per cent achieved in the previous year. The figures for average earnings illustrate the point. Two years ago average earnings increased by 11 per cent. Last year the growth rate slowed down to 10 per cent. With increased productivity we had a right to expect a significant upturn in earnings - a substantial upturn - but instead there is a decline of one per cent.
I invite honourable members to direct their attention to the area of private gross fixed capital expenditure. This is the area upon which the Government heaped so much of its hopes and expectations, but a study of the statement of national income and expenditure shows yet another disappointing result. Private gross fixed capital expenditure which rose by $603m or 12 per cent 2 years ago rose by only $222m or 4 per cent over the last financial year. The year’s results are very disappointing although the Government had so much in its favour. For example, the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) conceded some of the great advantages which the Government enjoyed over the last financial year. In the Budget Speech, the Treasurer said:
In many past years, Budget policy has been inhibited by balance of payments considerations. This is not so this year. Booming exports and a record level of capital inflow have contributed to a large surplus in the balance of payments.
How can one reconcile booming exports, a record level of capital inflow and a large balance of payments surplus with the depressing circumstances referred to elsewhere in this Budget? Despite all these things that the Government had running for it, we have a very bad result.
Let me quote some of the Treasurer’s own admissions of the Government’s failure to discharge its obligations to the community. Firstly, in his Budget Speech the Treasurer said:
In admission No. 2 he said:
Costs and prices rose rapidly and there was a marked set-back to business confidence.
In admission No. 3 the Treasurer said:
Personal borrowing for the purchase of consumer durables feil off and savings ran high.
In admission No. 4 he stated:
Business investment, too, has been flagging.
Admission No. 5 was:
The consumer price index increased by 7 per cent in the year to the last December quarter.
Admission No. 6 was: . . the increasing bite of the progressive personal income tax scale has combined wilh rising prices to restrict severely growth in the real purchasing power of take-home pay.
In admission No. 7 the Treasurer said:
At the end of July, 2 per cent of the workforce . . . was registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service.
The eighth admission made by the Treasurer was:
Over the past 3 years . . . wage and price rises . . . have been the highest since the Korean war boom. The resulting heightening of inflationary expectations has been only too evident.
These are 8 extracts from the Treasurer’s Budget Speech admitting failures at various levels of the control of the country’s affairs. This is the record of the Government, as admitted by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech. In summary, the Government’s record is of rising costs and prices; a sluggish economy; excessive taxes; declining family purchasing power; serious inflationary trends; declining business confidence and the highest rate of unemployment for a decade, with some 100,000 Australians out of work. It is a depressing and a degrading record, reflected in the stinted growth and progress of the country and the community.
Now we have a new Budget which, if it ran its race for a full year, would still be lacking in the achievements we all desire. Let me offer some Labor alternatives to the McMahon Government’s Budget. First, I want to say something about inflation, because overseas investment is pouring into this country at something like $ 1,000m a year and already there is a great stranglehold by overseas entrepreneurs over many of our industries. For example, overseas companies control 58 per cent of the total value of mining production in Australia today. They control 71 per cent of the total value of mineral processing production Rising prices and inflation have been identified as a problem but otherwise have been ignored in the context of the Budget. If the price line is not held, the modest tax remissions and the paltry pension increases will be swallowed up virtually overnight. Let me remind the House of the rate of increase in the consumer price index since 1968-69. In that year, the consumer price index increased by 2.6 per cent; in 1969-70, it increased by 3.2 per cent; in 1970-71, it increased by 4.8 per cent; and, in 1971-72 which was the financial year prior to the Budget now under review, the consumer price index increased by 6.8 per cent.
Labor’s commitment to establish a prices justification tribunal would do much to arrest this threat to living standards. Overseas investment has been pouring into Australia at such a pace that serious inflationary consequences have accrued. The progressive takeover of Australian industries and resources has been going on for so long that we have increased the repatriation overseas of total profits from 25 per cent to 33J per cent in a period of 6 years. Economists have predicted that if the present rate continues we will be repatriating half of our profit overseas before the end of the present decade. Although we have been steadfastly selling our country off for some time we are now suffering the added indignity of selling it at bargain basement prices. A Labor government would act to prevent these foreign entrepreneurs from exploiting the present demeaned value of the Australian dollar by limiting investment to approved areas and preventing the takeover of additional industries.
How can anything in this Budget reduce the developing prices and inequalities in our choked cities and deteriorating country towns? Why has the financial crisis of the States and local government authorities been so neglected and almost totally ignored? On the very day that the Budget was introduced the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) wrote to me advising that he had rejected the call by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations for an annual allocation of 5 per cent of income tax for essential priority regional purposes. It has now been established, condoned and endorsed by this Budget that without a change of government there will never be an effective working partnership between the 3 arms of government, namely, Federal, State and local. While Australian shire and municipal councils languish from financial malnutrition their counterparts in the United States and Canada receive support from their national governments for the many essential services that they have to provide.
Will the prohibitive cost of land and housing be really eased in any effective way by giving $750 under the home savings grant scheme to the limited number of young couples who can save $2,250? In the week following the presentation of the Budget my office was virtually swamped with complaints from disillusioned young couples who will be denied the benefit of the Home Savings Grant Act because high land and building costs will result in their homes exceeding the valuation limitation. Others will be deprived of benefit because the legislation is not to be made retrospective. If this scheme is to be retained the Government should remove altogether the ceiling on valuations. Better still in my view, the Government should stop relating the grant to savings. It should be prepared to make an allocation, without any strings attached, to young people for the purchase of their home.
In any case, can this sort of sugar-coated panacea substitute for an effective confrontation with the need to reduce crippling housing interest rates? The average price of a bouse and land in Sydney is now in excess of §20,000. A person can get accommodation from a bank or a building society for this money but, of course, the first hurdle is to raise the $5,000 deposit. A $15,000 loan can be obtained from a permanent building society at a repayment of about $106 a month. This Government’s high interest policy results in such a loan being repaid over 25 years at a cost of some $16,805 in interest.
Where is the recognition in this Budget of the fact that some 90,000 families have joined the long and frustrating queue for homes from State housing authorities? What is the real dilemma of these families? The first, of course, is that they do not have the savings to meet the deposit on a home of their own. If this Government were serious about this matter it could find ways of overcoming this difficulty. It is possible to contrive means to encourage lending authorities to provide 100 per cent loans. The second problem encountered by these families is the repayment rates, and it is possible to extend these repayment rates over a longer period in order to meet the paying capacity of the families concerned. Yet this Government allows the queue to grow longer and longer. The worst place for people to go to in 1972 if they have a housing need is to a State housing authority, because al) they can be told is that there is no chance of their getting a house for many long years. For example, pensioners in New South Wales who, in the case of males, need to be 65 years of age before they can receive a pension, are told that they must wait 6 years before a house can be made available.
Where is the national plan to rejuvenate our country centres or to create new decentralised living areas along upgraded traffic corridors where leased land can be offered at low cost and where properly related employment opportunities will be available? Why should there be no cynicism about a Budget which ignores the fact that millions of our people live in unsewered areas? In my electorate alone, which incorporates the southern suburbs of Sydney and the northern suburbs of Wollongong, about 46.000 properties rated for water are without sewerage. The various sewerage authorities which represent the major capital cities of Aus tralia met recently and ascertained that they would need something like $2,500m in additional funds to overcome the critical problem confronting them. Almost all of them, including the Sydney Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board which has $7 13m outstanding in capital debts, are liquidating previous debts to the extent of more than 50 per cent of their present income. Millions of people, even in our capital and large provincial cities, are without sewerage at this time. Yet we have a Budget which fails to recognise that problem or any of the other great priority problems which concern the State governments, local governments and their instrumentalities. In so many ways this Government is unreal.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In a minute I will say something about the extraordinary statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and some other members of the Australian Labor Party about our currency. But before doing so I would like to refer to a speech made earlier this afternoon by one of the people who have been involved in this extraordinary affair. I refer to the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby). This afternoon he chose to be highly critical of the Government’s rural policy. He extolled to the House and to the country the latest rural policy of the Labor Party, which was recently unveiled with a great flourish - as if a rural policy which makes no mention of the Labor Party’s attitude to the 35-hour week, no mention of the Labor Party’s attitude to cost-push inflation and the part of wages in that, and no mention of the Labor Party’s relationship with the city based unions and its domination by them can be described as a rural policy at all. However, I do not want to treat it on that basis.
I want to quote, not what I have said, but what somebody else has said about the document which the Labor Party unveiled recently and which is entitled ‘A Rural Policy’. I quote not what I have said, because I would be described as a biased member of the Liberal Party, but what an eminent independent commentator on rural affairs, Mr Ronald Anderson who publishes the ‘Primary Industry News Letter’, had to say about the Labor Party’s rural policy. He said:
Now we know where all those mice in Queensland come from! They are the offspring of the numerous mountains which have been labouring for so long in southern latitudes. One such mountain is the Australian Labor Party (perhaps an alp rather than a mountain?), which - after years of cogitation, heartburning, internal argument and public confusion - has produced a very mouselike 1972 Federal election rural policy brochure. The ALP document is the product of a highly-skilled group - highly-skilled at saying nothing. It says a large number of things no one would argue with, some things which are meaningless and virtually nothing new. The whole brochure is, in fact, a delicate balancing act - each positive move being carefully balanced (not too obviously) by a welldisguised qualification. Not that there are many positive moves, apart from the establishment of a Federal Rural Commission to present to the Commonwealth Government ‘factual recommendations designed to solve problems in rural industries’. Not many people would argue with that, except those farmer organisations which might see their present behind-the-scenes role being usurped. One ALP phrase which could scare the pants off some farmer leaders is reference to ‘preservation of the nucleus of primary industry’.
That is the Labor Party’s policy. I must say that the phrase ‘preservation of the nucleus of primary industry’ scares the pants off me too. Mr Anderson continued:
But of course the ALP balances the seesaw by saying ‘selective subsidies, bounties and embargoes (the Merino embargo?) will continue to be an integral part of Labor’s economic policies’. Of course these policies will bc administered ‘with due regard to economic principles’, but then again it also believes that export bounties may be paid on farm products to ‘offset cost disabilities caused by tariffs’ and promises to ‘maintain the economic viability of primary industry’. AH told, the ALP rural policy is so vague that it is meaningless. lt wallows in the use of words like assist, review, recognises, will strengthen, will provide incentives, will encourage and will initiate evaluation … all so much verbal garbage when one thinks about it. The specific sections dealing with wool, wheat, dairying, meat and sugar offer nothing new or significant at all. The so-called promises are so vague, or are of things which already exist (or are about to do so), that they provide nothing but literary window-dressing. The ‘policy’ bears the marks of Labor’s ‘Big Three’ rural men - Patterson, Grassby and Whan - but doesn’t seem to be any better as a result. All told it is painfully disappointing and PIN can’t imagine ANY party winning uncommitted rural votes on the strength of this sort of wishy washy stuff.
I did not say that. That is what was said by one of Australia’s most respected independent commentators on rural industries about the Labor Party’s rural policy which the honourable member for Riverina extolled this afternoon.
In this Budget, as the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said, the Government has gone to the borders - not beyond the borders - of economic responsibility. In other words, it has a responsible economic prescription for the economy as it is at the present time. Everything implied in the Opposition’s amendment would push the Budget beyond the border and into economic irresponsibility. What is true of the Opposition’s approach to the Budget is equally true of its attitude to another vital part of economic policy making, namely, the level of the currency. We cannot say that we have not been warned. The Leader of the Opposition has given us all - members on both sides of the House and the electors of this nation - due notice that he aspires to be the first professed socialist on planet Earth to rule by divine right. Never mind the well founded views of his Party colleagues. Never mind the best interests, fiscal or humanitarian, of the people of Australia. The Leader of the Opposition has given us all notice that as soon as he is given the opportunity he will upvalue the Australian dollar. Once again we see him, a grotesque apparition with his Achilles heel in his mouth, determined at all costs to justify such a stance. His caucus colleagues nave entreated him to acknowledge the error of his ways but although it may well cost them the next election as indeed it should, if they insist on giving front bench space to such a Leader it is clear that he will continue to speak and act unilaterally whatever it costs them so long as his leadership life shall last. Greater love hath no man than this: That he would lay down his friends for his life. Once again, breathing heavily from on high, the Leader of the Opposition has spoken and imperiously-
– Did you write this?
– He has stilled all voices around him, including that of the honourable member for Bendigo. The dollar will be upvalued. Indeed, as it has been said of another socialist with delusions of grandeur: There but for the grace of God goes God’.
Even if subsequent events determine that the dollar is not to be upvalued, even if my faith in the inherent, basic good sense of the Australian electorate is to be justified by the decision in the near future that it does not want to be governed by the fastest lip in the West and it transpires that the
Leader of the Opposition never gets the opportunity to pave his way with our currency, be will still have done this nation a very considerable disservice in the meantime. The only virtue in all this is that once again the nation has been reminded - the reminder is most timely coming as it does on the eve of an election - that if by any horrible quirk of fate the Leader of the Opposition should attain the Prime Ministership, we can expect to be governed with a degree of responsibility roughly equivalent to that of a maddened bull in a china shop. 1 find no quarrel with the Leader of the Opposition holding the opinion that the Australian dollar is undervalued. It is a theory advanced by some very clever people at the Reserve Bank and elsewhere. But what I do find inexcusable and what I do insist makes him unfit to hold high public office is the manner of expression of that opinion. The utterly appalling thing is that he should so readily, so mindlessly transpose his opinion into a public statement of instant policy - a recommendation that the dollar should be upvalued and notice to the nation that as leader of the government of Australia he would upvalue it.
Time and again the Leader of the Opposition has displayed the trait in his character which compels him to put his foot in his mouth. This is the man who in recent months has been so free with his moralistic lectures - we have all heard them in this House - on the propriety of the actions of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and other senior Ministers on this side of the House. We have been made to believe that he, the Leader of the Opposition, is the repository of the proprietal virtues developed under the British system of parliamentary government. The instances on which he has adopted his high moral tone have been trivial to say the least. Yet he himself has fallen on his face in a matter where the conventions are significant, rigid, and to my knowledge have never been questioned. This is rightly so because nothing can be more fundamental to the life of a nation than the stability and the strength of its currency.
Opposition leaders in banana republics may speculate about the future of their currency; Opposition leaders in countries brought up under the conventions of British parliamentary government should not and, except where one like the honourable gentleman emerges with the political morals of an alley cat, they do not. Repeatedly he has caused his parliamentary colleagues and the people of this nation considerable embarrassment both at home and abroad. But the dangers to us all of his intransigence, of the demands of his superego, will be increased enormously should he be permitted to lead an alternative government. It is not as though in this particular case he did not have the advantage of a recent precedent. As the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) pointed out, he could not have failed to be aware of the example of the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Healey, who, in a parallel situation in Britain, suddenly declared that the pound sterling should be devalued. The expression of this opinion set up a disastrous chain reaction which disrupted so many markets for British goods that ultimately Britain was left with no real alternative but to float its currency.
Ever anxious to grab a headline and to divert attention from the embarrassing position in which his Leader had placed him, the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) has made the quite untrue statement that the Treasurer has been discussing the revaluation of the Australia1! dollar with the representatives of overseas governments. He has not provided a shred of evidence - although he had the opportunity to do so this afternoon - for this statement, which the Treasurer has denied. Until he does we must assume that it is a figment of imagination designed to grab a headline. This is not the first time that the honourable gentleman has done this. Recently he made a statement about South American migrant girls, which on investigation proved to be completely unfounded in every single particular. In that case all that he did was to cause a great deal of embarrassment and suffering to his innocent victims. In this case he has helped to add fuel to the fire of doubt started by his Leader surrounding the Australian currency, with all the consequences which flow from it.
Yet despite all this, the ego of the Leader of the Opposition is of such gargantuan proportions that he will not recant, though it may cost us all very dearly indeed. While his Leader was busy proclaiming on television last Thursday his resolve to upvalue the dollar the shadow
Minister for Primary Industry, his front bench colleague the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), was busy warning the rural community of what a Labor government led by the honourable gentleman has in store for it. Quite clearly and in essence, the statement of the Leader of the Opposition means that he has given farmers due notice that the alternative government will reduce their incomes at the first opportunity. He has given notice that by upvaluing our currency he will ensure that the capacities of all our export industries will be reduced, while competition which our domestic industries have with imports will become even more intense.
In a situation in which we have a number of rural problems, where there is a degree of stagnation in secondary industry and where export mining industries are finding it difficult to get prices which will make their operations profitable, the Leader of the Opposition chooses to make a statement which runs completely contrary to a Budget aimed at getting those stagnant areas of the economy moving again. He has thrown confusion into industry; he has undermined confidence at a time when it is vital to build up confidence. Theoretically, the Reserve Bank may be right. We can all have opinions about that. Perhaps an argument could be advanced to support a proposition that the Australian dollar is undervalued, but the Reserve Bank never has had and never will have to make a decision in relation to such an opinion. That is the job of the Government. That being the case, the Government cannot permit itself the luxury of speculating on what should or should not happen to the currency. The same applies with equal force to the Leader of the Opposition in the period immediately prior to an election. The Leader of the Opposition already has made the decision for the alternative government. As I have said, we cannot say that we have not been warned of both the nature of the man who aspires to lead us and the immediate effects of the decisions he has taken.
– The listening public of Australia would not believe that what we just heard was a Minister attempting to defend the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden); rather would they think it was a speech written by someone else and read b> the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). Unlike most members of the Opposition who make their speeches from copious notes, all Government Ministers read their speeches. However, I wish to deal primarily with the Budget. Firstly, 1 support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitiam). This Budget is nothing more than an accountant’s fiddle. It is dressed up to provide this degenerate Government with a fillip to its sagging electoral prospects. The Treasurer says that it is the correct economic response in the present economic climate, protesting that it is not designed to buy votes. But the fact of the matter is that in bringing down the Budget the Treasurer has earned the nickname of ‘two dollar Bill’ because he has attempted to buy the votes of the Australian voting population with a $2 tax handout.
I suppose one could say that any corrective economic measures in this economic climate would be the correct response because the Government so fouled the Budget nest 12 months ago that anything would be welcome now to give a stimulus to the Australian economy. Last year the Government budgeted for a recession which has now resulted in 100,000 people being out of work and 200,000 people being on the rural dole. The Treasurer’s strategy was to create a pool of unemployment in order, as he said, to reduce the number of unfilled job vacancies and to prevent union absenteeism. He did all these things in the guise of limiting demand. He limited demand all right - to the point of a major economic recession. The Treasurer says that this Budget is economically sound. It does the right things to get the Government out of its difficulty. In fact, it is convenient for the Government to hand out its electoral bribes masked as responsible economic measures.
This is the third Budget to be brought down in 8 months. In December of last year we saw a panic stricken Government lower the statutory reserve deposits at the Reserve Bank in order to inject money into the economy. In February the Government brought in other legislation dealing with States grants and unemployment benefits, again to try to overcome the unemployment situation and the economic slump. Now, in August, the Government has brought down its third Budget in 8 months. What is now being done is 12 months too late. What does this Budget do. anyway? Firstly, it provides for a 10 per cent average cut in income tax; pensions will be increased by Si. 75 for a single person; there is provision for the means test to be phased out in 3 years - this is something which 3 years ago the Government said the Labor Party would be unable to do because the money would not be available. But now the Government can do it within 3 years. So, after 23 years in office the Government is trying to save its bacon by phasing out the means test over 3 years. 1 turn now to the tax cuts because this is the main thing around which the Government hinges its Budget. It has provided for income tax to be cut by 10 per cent. But this is still a very iniquitous tax scheme. A table prepared by Professor Hogan of the University of Sydney - I will seek leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard -shows that to a man with an annual income of $2,000 . and supporting a wife and one child that tax cut represents a rise of 1.56 per cent in after tax income and to a man on $15,000 a year it represents a rise of 4.9 per cent. In other words, a person earning $15,000 a year receives an increase of 4.9 per cent in his after tax income, while a person on $2,000 receives only a 1.56 per cent increase. There is a lot of equality in that! An increase of 4.9 per cent of $15,000 represents a hell of a lot more money than an increase of 1.56 per cent of $2,000. I seek leave to have that table incorporated in Hansard.
Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– I thank the House. Without changing the taxation schedules, this year the Government would have collected in taxation revenue $871m additional to that collected last year. This represents an increase over last year’s figure of 23.1 per cent in taxation revenue collected. The Government now proposes to hand back 10 per cent of that increase. But when one looks at the tables attached to the Treasurer’s Budget Speech one finds that pay-as-you-earn income tax collection last year amounted to $2,888m and this year they will amount to $3,278m, an increase of $390m. That increase is despite the 10 per cent reduction. On the same page we find that last year income tax revenue received from those people who come into the category of ‘others’ - that is, people who do not pay pay-as-you-earn tax, such as those who are self-employed, including tradesmen and professional people - amounted to $880m. This year these people will pay $929m, which represents an increase of $49m. So, the total increase for those 2 categories is $439m, even though the Government has provided for a 10 per cent reduction. In spite of the Government’s handout, it will still collect an additional S439m in income tax revenue; so there is no real relief at all.
It is well known that for every 1 per cent increase in earnings there is a corresponding 2 per cent increase in tax collections. In the current year the Treasury is working on the basis of an increase of 9 per cent in average weekly earnings, which means that taxation revenue will increase by twice that amount. This 18 per cent increase means that next year taxation revenue will increase by $800m. So we have the evil genius of the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) who as Treasurer back in 1954 drew up iniquitous tax schedules which over the years have forced the taxpaying public of Australia into higher tax brackets and added to costs and inflationary pressures. It is interesting to look at some of the statistics which show the way in which people have been moved into higher tax brackets although they are on the same level of real income.
In 1951 there were 122,000 taxpayers, representing 3.74 per cent of the total taxpaying population in the $3,000 to $8,000 income earning group. In 1969 there were 2,164,000 taxpayers in the same group. So in that period the number increased from 122,000 to 2,164,000. In 1951, 0.12 per cent of taxpayers received incomes in excess of $30,000 and paid 19.7 per cent of the total tax collected. In 1969 only 0.07 per cent of taxpayers were in this bracket, and they were paying only 3.56 per cent of the total tax collected. Similarly, 20 years ago 90 per cent of tho work force received incomes of less than $2,000 a year. At that time the taxation system was such that those on incomes above $4,000 a year were taxed heavily, and this could be viewed with approval as being just and equitable. Today more than 40 per cent of the work force earn between $3,000 and $8,000 per annum. From these people is collected 50 per cent of the total tax revenue. Although 20 yean ago there were 122,000 taxpayers in this group, today there are 2 million.
This gives some idea of the way in which people have been forced, through inflation, into higher income tax brackets without the taxation schedules being changed at ali. The Government has earned no disfavour by bringing in this type of legislation, but it has been collecting $500m, $600m, $700m and $800m extra taxation revenue a year because of it. So, the cost of the schemes that the Labor Party wanted to introduce in 1969 - its national health scheme, its welfare proposals, its education policies and its national development policies - can be met because the money is available. The Government has been playing financial jiggery-pokery with the accounts of this country for 23 years and now everybody is aware of it.
The Commonwealth debt, which is something that the Government is always talking about meeting, totals, according to the National Debt Commission’s annual report, $2,731 billion. Against this an account called the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve has a balance of $2,744 billion which is more than the actual total Commonwealth debt in Australia. So the Commonwealth has enough money to meet its whole debt liability.
I would like to quote from one of the Budget Papers entitled ‘Commonwealth Authorities 1971-72 Bulletin No. 10’ at page 45 under the heading ‘Trust Fund: Investments’. Here we find that the Commonwealth Government has invested
S2,572,506,000 in its own securities. In other words, this Government has put away over the last 10 years $2.57 billion in its own securities and is paying interest from Consolidated Revenue to securities that it holds. One would not believe that but it is true. It is paying from its own funds interest on its own securities. Allocations to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, quoting again from the ‘Commonwealth Authorities Bulletin No. 10’. in 1967-68 were $3 12.7m, 1968- 69 $226.7m, 1969-70 $578.4m, 1970-71 $430.9m and in 1971-72 $523.5m. This year the Government is talking about an overall deficit but it still plans to put $127.9m into this fund. So we find that the Fund now stands at $2.7 billion. Under the heading ‘Loan Consolida’.ion and Investment Reserve’ the report of the Auditor-General for the year 1971-72 says:
In accordance with the Act, moneys standing to the credit of the Reserve may be invested in securities of, or guaranteed by, the Commonwealth, or on deposit at any bunk. Interest received from the investments is credited to the Reserve.
At page 26 we find that the interest on investments for the financial year 1971-72 totals $88,688,393. One can imagine the amount of money the Government has invested to get $88m in interest. But these investments are made in the Commonwealth’s own securities. So when the Government say that it cannot increase pensions by a few dollars a week or talks about improving its miserable’ welfare programmes it should be remembered that it has been socking away $500m a year into this fund which is to meet only a contingent liability, a liability which will not arise. At the moment we have $2.7 billion in the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. This year the Commonwealth will collect $439m more in tax. Next year an additional $800m tax will be collected. So a Labor government coming into office this year will have at its disposal in 1973 $3.98 billion for its programmes. So let us not talk of a Labor government not being able to finance its proposals. It could afford any of its schemes. In fact the Prime Minister said only a few weeks ago that ‘the Commonwealth always has the power to be able to pay for the promises it makes and the legislation it introduces’.
I have proved conclusively from the Budget documents that there is $3.9 billion which a Labor government can use in its programmes to establish Australia again as a country of high status in the Western world rather than a country, as it is today, with a growth rate of 3 per cent. This can be done without looking at the ways in which we can get revenue from the taxminimising multi-national corporations. 1 am talking only about revenue immediately available to the Commonwealth, not by chasing multi-national corporations or the other ways in which we can get revenue. It is interesting that the document which was produced by the Treasurer entitledOverseas Investment in Australia’, in relation to the taxation of multi-national corporations, had this to say on page 83:
The Commissioner has indicated ihat the main problem in applying the relevant provisions of the law is the practical difficulty of obtaining all the relevant information for the proper allocation of profits between related firms. This is a problem encountered by the taxation administrations of most countries. It can only be solved by an administrative judgment based on the best available information and the widest possible inquiries. Cost-company’-
That is a company that prices its output in such a way as to cover its operating costs only - and other price-fixing arrangements have come under lbc Commissioner’s notice mainly in such industries as the petroleum and mining industries (which are characterised by interlocking international operations) - although, as the Commissioner points out, there is no reason to feel confident that profit-shifting arrangements will be confined to companies engaged in those industries.
So there is our own Commissioner of Taxation saying how difficult it is to track down for tax purposes these multi-national corporations. On page 85 the document read:
As one means of profit-shifting there could be, in some circumstances, a tax incentive for overseas companies to levy excessive interest charges on their affiliates in Australia, especially subsidiaries.
That is a process called ‘thin capitalisation’. What used to happen is that if a multi-national corporation invested$100m in Australia, its income from that$100m going out of Australia was taxed at normal company tax rates. What they do now in order to minimise tax is to invest$1m and borrow $99m from their subsidiaries overseas and this Government allows the interest on the $99m to be taxed at only 10 per cent. There is no company tax at normal company tax rates on interest on investments from subsidiaries. So there is a major loophole in ths tax legislation which allows subsidiaries of major overseas companies to invest in Australia and to charge interest to their Australian infant company so that that company can then minimise the tax it pays to the Australian Government. These are loopholes which we could close. There are many other schemes such as excessive royalty payments and excessive know-how payments that are going to overseas industries which we could stop and so increase the revenue to the Commonwealth. So let us be done with all this talk about where the money is coming from because 1 have just instanced $4,000m we can use.
Statement No. 9 of the Budget Papers, dealing with assistance to industry, shows that subsidies to rural industries, are estimated at S232.59m in the 1972-73 financial year plus income tax concessions which are estimated to be around $350m. So we find going to rural industries by way of subsidy is an amount of $582.59m this year, almost half a billion dollars.
This is the magnitude of money that is going to rural industries in Australia; yet we still have the pathetic and tragic stories of young families coming to the cities because they cannot be accommodated on rural properties. After 23 years this Government and the Country Party in particular have done nothing to restructure rural industries. We still have high rural unemployment. And even with all this money being given under the Country Party’s subsidy syndrome rural industries in Australia are still in a sad position. With 8 per cent of the vote the Country Party can get its hand into the Commonwealth till. Like rats in the larder it has its hands on the treasury of the Commonwealth. For 20 electorates they are handing out something like $600m a year which means that for each Country Party electorate the Australian public is being fleeced to the tune of S30m a year. One of the national scandals of this country is that a party with 8 per cent of the vote can use the people’s revenue for its own political survival. I have the utmost sympathy for rural industries. I have family members on the land and I have been connected with the land myself. This Government does not work for the small rural producers; it works for the large rural producers and the big mining companies.
– And the Pitt Street farmers.
– And the Pitt Street farmers, as the honourable member for Chifley has said. This subsidy syndrome costs about $500m a year. One last matter before I wind off is the question of child endowment. For years this Government has talked about what it has done with social welfare programmes. I would like to quote a few figures which would enlighten at least some people. There has been no meaningful increase in child endowment since 1949. In the latest report of the Director-General of Social Services we find that the average number of children in each family receiving child endowment is 2.18. For the first child there is a payment of SOc; that has not changed since 19S0. For the .second child there is a payment of $1; that has not been changed since 1950. So in 23 years of Liberal-Country Party Government there has been not le increase in the child endowment payments for the first and second children. It says: ‘Oh, yes, but the Government has put in a payment of 50c for the third child’. But the report of the Commonwealth’s Director-General of Social Services says that the number of children per family endowed is 2.18. and in only one out of 12 families is money coming from the Commonwealth for the third child. There has been no increase in the endowment for the first and second children. On page 78 of the same document we find that the average annua) amount paid per family in 1949 was $90.79, and in 1971, 22 years later, it was $105.13. So it has gone up roughly $15 in 22 years. What has the cost of living done in 22 years? In fact, the value of child endowment has dropped dramatically in that period.
I conclude by saying that I support the amendment moved by the Opposition. This Budget is inadequate. It is an electoral sop. It is a hand-out to save this pathetic Government. I think that the members of the Australian public are sick of this cynical approach to politics and will reject this Government not just for its sins of the past 22 years but also for the sin of handing out $2 to try to buy their votes.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I think that the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) has re-emphasised to the people of Australia the degree to which the Australian Labor Party, were it ever to assume office, would be likely to manipulate the finances of this country to the disadvantage of every citizen. He has quite demonstrably been through the accounts in an effort, to identify sources from which he feels he could pull funds to finance the highly inflated and exaggerated proposals which his Leader and others on his side of the House believe the people of Australia seek. He has supported essentially the concept that there should be increases in taxation. Like the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and other speakers in this House from the. Opposition ranks, he has suggested that for their part they are prepared to embark on a platform of gross economic irresponsibilities.
The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition shows that the Opposition does not appreciate that in this year’s Budget the Government has set definite and adequate economic and social .goals for Australia. In the past week conflicting statements by the Leader of the Opposition, his shadow Minister for Primary Industry and other members of the Australian Labor Party show that the Labor Party is engaging within itself in a guerilla campaign of fiscal vandalism in which the guerilla forces are themselves split. For those of us who sit in Parliament, the only official spokesman for the Opposition is the Leader of the Opposition or his Deputy. The policies they have announced, the implementation of which would result in increased unemployment, must surely be horrifying to every Australian citizen. The Leader of the Opposition, in his advocacy of an upward revaluation of the Australian dollar - not in this House but outside the House - and in his advocacy at the same time that this be achieved presumably by a direct action and not through the Tariff Board, suggests that he believes that there should be reduced opportunities for Australia export industries and reduced opportunities for employment in manufacturing. The consequence is surely that the people of Australia are shown in those words and by those actions the sorts of policies that they could expect were there ever to be a Labor government.
The goals set by the Government of the Liberal and Country parties, on the other hand, in the framing of this year’s Budget are designed to build a better Australia by promoting balanced development as well as the economic and social welfare of all Australians. As a result of this year’s Budget and the disbursements contained in it, the objectives of the Commonwealth and State governments in planning for the future will be met. The policy strategy of the Budget is directed towards the co-ordination and meeting of both the Commonwealth and State objectives. The last Premiers Conference, which was so successful, illustrates the success of this approach, which will mean a stronger federal united Australia, and contrasts markedly with the attitude of the members of the Opposition.
The main economic goal of the Budget overall involves a stimulation of the Australian economy. This is a stimulation which is within reason and fiscal responsibility and does not promote the harmful effects of inflation. The honourable member for Blaxland has suggested that there should be less assistance, for example, to the rural sector. He has not read, nor has he comprehended, the analyses produced by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and demonstrating how effective the assistance given to the rural sector by this Government has been in the past. Similarly, neither he nor other members of the Opposition appreciate that what has happened in the past few years is that the Government by its budgeting has enabled the production of this Budget which works towards a domestic deficit within the realms of financial responsibility. We have done that because in the manner of our action we have conserved the forces of economic development and we have utilised them in such a way that this year we have been able to provide the stimulus that is needed without in any way detrimentally affecting the long term future.
Complementing the stimulation will be the improved living conditions of all Australians resulting from a stronger economy in which poverty will be largely reduced, the opportunities for employment markedly increased and the democratic right of every Australian to share in Australia’s growth escalated. The main economic goal of the Budget, of course, is the stimulation of the economy. This stimulation will allow Australia to register a significant increase in the national economic growth rate, to the benefit of all Australians.
The Budget, in its initiatives, is a watershed of attitudes between the Government and the Opposition. We have, set national goals which we will achieve and which the Australian people can afford, but not at the expense of the individual or to the detriment of the States. The Opposition, judging from its attacks on the Budget, is seeking only to emasculate the individual into a socialised and nationalised corporate structure. At the same time its members argue among themselves only a few months away from the time when they will be seeking; to bluff the community that they are united and responsible and have an acceptable policy programme. Unlike the Opposition, we are a low tax Government and have no intention of pursuing the high tax policies that the Opposition advocates or of forgoing unity of purpose, responsibility or the implementation of sound and acceptable policies.
For a few moments, in the few words I have to say on this Budget, I want to talk about the assistance that the. Government is providing for rural industry because I believe that this Budget demonstrates effectively not that we are just providing a supplementary sum from the taxpayer to the detriment of the long term future of rural industry but that, because we have provided this assistance, the rural industries of Australia can look to a future as secure and as sound as any they have had ‘in the past. Payments to rural industry this year total almost S233m - the second: highest on record. The payments reflect the continuing commitment of the Government to the development of all rural industries. If we analyse the areas in which there is reduction it can be appreciated that the assessment of the cost to the taxpayer and to the Budget relates entirely to the improved circumstances of significant major industries.
For example, only $lm has been allocated to cover the 36c price support scheme for the wool industry. This 36c price support scheme last year cost approximately $53m. This year, through the initiatives of the Government in the formulation of the Australian Wool Commission, the backing we gave to the Australian Wool Commission in its purchases of wool and the support given to the Australian Wool Board and the International Wool Secretariat, the market price for wool has risen. The consequence is that fortunately we have been able to budget conservatively on a minimal allocation. But the woo] growers of Australia need not be concerned. The guarantee is there. They can be sure that if the circumstances of the market change the Government will give them the support that we have undertaken to give them to ensure a minimum return. This is in a small way a recognition of, or a compensation for, the tremendous contribution that the wool industry still makes to the export revenues of this country.
It is an industry which is and has been over the years lagely unsupported, an industry which has borne the brunt of the cost of much of Australia’s development and an industry which we in the Government believe deserves to be supported to enable it to continue to play the same role in the future as k has played in the past. The Government has, of course, provided in its range of assistance not just for the support of the Wool Commission but for all other aspects of the operation of the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Commission.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was explaining that conflicting statements made in the last week by the Leader of the Opposition, his shadow Minister for Primary Industry and other members of the Labor Party show that the Labor Party is engaging in a guerrilla campaign of fiscal vandalism in which the guerrilla forces themselves are split.
The goals set by the Government, on the other hand, in the framing of this year’s Budget are designed to build a better Australia by promoting balanced development and the economic and social welfare of all Australians. The Budget is a budget of which every member of the Australian community can be proud. It is a Budget which will assist towards the development of this country and at the same time it will reduce taxation.
The debate on the Budget during the course of the last few days has canvassed an amendment which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition. That amendment attempts - but fails to convince - to set a case around the basis of the Government’s failure to act responsibly in fiscal matters. Yet on the very night on which the Leader of the Opposition delivered that attack he went outside this Parliament and spoke in a manner which demonstrated his own lack of economic commonsense. The statement he made could lead to widespread unemployment in the Australian community. It was a statement which every member of the Australian community needs to take into account when assessing the suitability of this man for the leadership of this nation. I have spoken briefly, and I would like to speak again, on aspects of this Budget which relate to rural industries. I want to explain, in complete contrast to the negatory statements made by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), about the contribution that this Government has made towards the development and security of primary industries in this country - industries which have contributed, which still contribute and which will contribute indefinitely to the betterment of life of every member of this nation; industries which in spite of the adverse circumstances of last year still generate 50 per cent of Australia’s export earnings.
By contrast, we have the Opposition generally decrying the assistance given, and a country member even suggesting that the rural subsidies and tax concessions to primary industry need to be discounted. That is just what the honourable member for Blaxland has suggested. One reads in the newspapers tonight of a demarcation dispute which at this stage is threatening the Australian wool industry’s sales. This strike presumably is supported by the Labor Party because it involves a demarcation dispute. If the Labor Party is sincere in its beliefs about the advancement of this country, it could use its best endeavours towards the settlement of industrial disputes of this nature which do little to help this country.
I have spoken briefly about the wool industry. The one outstanding achievement in this Budget with respect to rural industry is, in my opinion, the provision of S20m in the Treasurer’s Budget for the new facility for rural lending which has been intimated. At this stage the Government has not decided on the way in which this facility should be provided. Obviously there are several alternatives but, to my mind, it demonstrates that after long and critical examination of the increased capital intensive nature of primary industry the Government is moving with certainty towards the provision of a facility which will help all primary producers to meet the servicing of their debts, which regrettably are eroding their profitability and are essentially one of the causes of the past crisis in the rural industries. I am confident that this facility will be of tremendous benefit to the Australian rural industry.
Similarly, the Budget provides a sum which I believe will help to maintain the dairy industry in a state of profitability considering the high market conditions that prevail overseas. It is important, however, that the dairy industry and State governments recognise that assistance provided depends on the implementation of production controls by the State governments in order to ensure that, if there should be a contraction of market opportunities, the State governments and the Commonwealth can together assist towards the maintenance of a profitable rural sector in the dairy industry. It is possible for this profitable dairy sector to be maintained only if production controls are available. In the horticultural sector, the Budget provides similarly for significant increase of approximately $500,000 for the apple and pear stabilisation scheme for this year. In conjunction with that, the Government has provided for $4. 6m for a tree pull scheme which will again help towards the maintenance of a viable rural horticultural industry and which will help towards the maintenance of the family farmer who in the past has contributed so much to the development of our rural industries.
The Government has provided a significant sum of money - $750,000 - towards helping the egg industry to dispose of its surplus stocks which at this stage amount to something in excess of one whole year’s sales. The allocation of this $750,000 will enable the provision of 1.5c a dozen on export income returns and will enable the additional payment to all producers of that 1.5c a dozen which, when taken in conjunction with domestic pricing, will enable the industry to survive. I am told that it will also enable the untenable surplus to be disposed of by the State egg boards. I have spoken in brief about some of the aspects of rural policy which this Budget assists. In my opinion, the Budget maintains the sort of sound, positive assistace that the Government Kas demonstrated it believes the rural sector deserves.
Beyond that, the Government has also provided significantly for social services in the extension of the means test. The firm agreement to abolish the means test within 3 years means that throughout the Australian community people will .henceforth be able to benefit from the range of social welfare to which they contribute through their taxation payments. The Budget provides a significant increase of $72m in the allocation for education. It also contains an initial provision for domiciliary cars <n the field of health, and provides for the introduction of a national highways plan. The Government has demonstrated its positive planning for the future. For country residents there is, above ‘ all else, the significant advantage of the estate duty concessions. This is an area which, in the past, has meant the subdivision of rural estates. It is an area which I believe will help significantly towards the maintenance of viable rural areas. The doubling of the initial exemption and the passing of the concession through to about 95 per cent of estates which henceforth will be liable for federal estate duty, is a meaningful concession for all in that field. Similarly, the concession in gift duty and the reduction in personal income tax demonstrate the sincerity of the Government in moving towards a low tax Budget and yet helping towards the restoration of economic prosperity in the whole community.
By contrast, the Labor Party talks of a capital gains tax. By contrast, the Labor Party speaks of high taxation. In my opinion, it is particularly bad to try to dampen down the stimulus of the economy. That must be the consequence of the unwelcome remarks of the Leader of the Opposition. The statement he made calling for revaluation and wide tariff reductions - presumably outside the Tariff Board - has been repudiated by members of his own Party. This repudiation shows what trust the men who elected him have in him as their leader, and what trust they have in him as a man who demonstrably hungers for the power to govern the national economy. The conviction of the Leader of the Opposition that the dollar should be revalued and that there should be a wide tariff reduction dearly shows that he has no understanding of what effect such a move would have on those members of the community from which the ALP claims to draw its electoral base, let alone the effect it would have on Australia’s export industries - the rural, secondary and mining industries. The application of the 2 principles sought by the Leader of the Opposition would make imports cheaper in Australia. As a result, secondary industries producing goods for domestic consumption would be totally dislocated. At the same time, the export industries would find that they had been priced out of the markets they hold and were seeking, because of the adverse parity of the Australian dollar, for international trade. Consequently hundreds - perhaps thousands - of Australians could be thrown out of work; yet this is a man who claims that he is concerned for the economic welfare of the Australian worker.
We in the Country Party, we in the Government, believe in a reduction in tariffs provided it can be demonstrated that the reduction will not adversely affect the living standards of all Australians or our drive to develop a stronger Australia. To me the statement of the Leader of the Opposition came as a profound shock. I would have thought that he had more sense and would not advocate moves which would degenerate Australia’s economic growth. Psychologically, his remarks have had a damaging influence on the welcome efforts to stimulate the economy. His fiscal vandalism must rank as one of the greatest non-contributions to national economy management in Australia’s history. I reject what he has said and call on him to desist from trying to inject doubt in the minds of the community over the future of the Australian dollar at a time when Australia is actively pursuing a policy of sound, balanced economic growth directed by the responsible management team in government.
– The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and the Government have tried to make much of the alleged tax concessions in the Budget and the justice and fairness of them, but let us look at what has really been proposed. If we look at Table 1 in the document ‘Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure’ we see the estimated amounts for 1971-72 and the estimates for 1972-73. Instead of a tax reduction what we really find is that the pay as you earn taxpayers, that is the wage and salary earners who make up more than 90 per cent of all taxpayers, will be paying 13.48 per cent more this year while taxpayers who are self employed will pay only a 5.66 per cent increase in taxation. Company tax will increase by only 1.52 per cent, customs duty will be increased by 12.20 per cent, excise duty will be increased by 5.86 per cent, and sales tax will be increased by 7.86 per cent. I put this to the House only to show that the vast majority of taxpayers will be paying much more taxation this year; on the average they will pay 13.4 per cent more than they did last year.
I would like to devote most of my remarks to health services, with special reference to the most rapidly growing areas of the capital cities such as the outer western metropolitan areas of Sydney. Those health services have been completely neglected by this Government. This is not surprising. Two Ministers representing constituencies in the western areas of Sydney do not live there. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) represents Parramatta but lives in Wahroonga. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) represents Lowe but lives at Bellevue Hill. No wonder they do not care. No wonder they will not hold their seats. The honourable member for Parramatta calls past occasionally to present a flag to a local school, implying that he bought it and that we would be living under Red Chinese domination if he were not the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Prime Minister and his good lady call past Strathfield and assure the locals that they cannot make up their mind whether to send their boy to Trinity School at Strathfield or to Scots College at Bellevue Hill. I am prepared to have a good bet on Scots College and am prepared to offer 100 to 1 about Strathfield High School or Homebush High School. So it is not surprising that they do not care or, if you want me to be more kind, that they are unaware of the conditions in the western areas of Sydney. This applies to housing, transport, schools and health services.
Before dealing with the latter in more detail I should like to spend just a couple of minutes on the new economic theory in this country which the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) - I agree in this particular instance - has described as xenophobic economics. Xenophobic economics holds that immigration causes inflation, unemployment, capital loss, depletion of resources, housing shortages, inordinate strains on community facilities, excessively high economic growth and, of course, excessively low economic growth. Supporters of this theory - it cuts across economic class and contains various shades of political belief such as the Liberal-Country Party, the Australia Party and the Communist Party of Australia - have a scapegoat, the migrant. What the Jews were in Hitler’s Germany, the Trotskyites in Stalin’s Russia, and the Asians are in Amin’s Uganda, the migrants are in Australia. They are too lazy and they work too hard; they are police pimps and they run the Mafia; they are all Catholic Democratic Labor Party supporters and atheists trying to bring in the continental Sunday; they are illiterate and they win all the scholarships; they are mean and hoard all their money and at the same time they are mad gamblers; they lock up their wives and daughters and they make them walk the streets; and of course they bludge on our social services, cheat our workers compensation companies and worst of all they win nearly all the lotteries. Honourable members may think I am joking or exaggerating, but if they listen to the spokesmen for xenophobic economics they will realise that I am not.
The same people who told us 18 months ago that immigration must stop because it costs up to $50,000 per migrant family to establish them by building houses, roads, schools, hospitals, etc., and that it was uneconomic to bring them in because they were really a manpower loss, tell us that we must stop immigration because they take all the jobs. I am not suggesting that immigration on a large scale does not cause problems, but for goodness sake let us be rational about it. Maybe I am easily depressed but few things upset me more than the hypocritical patio intellectuals who lecture us on racial equality. They support the admission of Asian and African intellectuals, professionals and business people but repeatedly use value judgment arguments no different from those of the Immigration Control Association. They argue that surely it is preferable to allow in an English speaking, Christian Hong Kong graduate than, horror of honors, a non-English speaking unskilled, yes even peasant origin, family from one of the Mediterranean countries. Some of them are even Muslims and some of :them are just as dark as people from south east Asia. If they believe in racial equality, then why not compare them with Aryan, northern European professional and business people? Why suggest that darker people of Mediterranean origin are of less value, especially if they have no higher school certificate?
Let me return to the failure of this Government to do anything in. the Budget about health care. Let us look at the facts as circulated in the June 1972 survey by the Public Hospitals Planning Liaison Committe of the Hospitals Commission of New South Wales and an earlier survey of metropolitan hospitals which was published by the same Commission. These, documents show that the western metropolitan region of Sydney at present has a hospital bed deficit of 1,200. By 1975 this will be 1,442 beds. By 1980 this will be 1,800 beds, if the Government of New South Wales fulfils its promise to build a 660-bed hospital at Westmead. None of these figures includes the need for geriatric or psychiatric beds. Mr Jago, the New South Wales Minister for Health, had promised in July 1968 that the first part of Westmead would be completed by 1972 and that 1,100 beds would be in use by 1976. Nothing happened until February 1972 when he proclaimed that 400 beds would be completed by 1976 and the full hospital of now 660 beds by 1980. So even the promise has been cut by 440 beds from 1,100 to 660 beds. Last week I was told that the Parramatta Agricultural and Horticultural Society is spending $14,000 on extensions to its trotting track, which is the proposed site of the new hospital. The Society has been assured by the State Government that no tenders will be called for before 1975. Both Sir Robert Askin and Mr Jago have stated that the Westmead Hospital has the highest priority of any in the State. If they mean what they say there will be a maximum of 660 new beds provided in the next 7i years for New South Wales or until they are replaced, whichever is he earliest.
Looking at pediatric needs - that is children’s beds - the position is proportionately even worse. At present there is an estimated need for 520 beds in the outer western metropolitan area compared with a bed capacity of 170. This means that about 350 children from the outer western suburbs are in hospitals outside the area at any one time. It is estimated that by 1980 the need will be over 800 beds. An extra 120 children’s beds will be at Westmead Hospital and the total deficit will then be over 500 beds. In 1980 at any one time 500 out of 800 of the hospitalised local children will have to be treated a long way from home. To this must be added many more children who have to attend specialist clinics at the Children’s Hospital, from 15 to 20 miles away, depending on where the children live. Even now over 100 of the local children have to attend the hospital at Camperdown daily and many others have to go to the Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick. An official report of January 1969 concluded:
From these statistics it would appear that a critical situation exists in the peripheral parts of the city and examination of the hospital facilities and waiting lists for admission supports this statement. It is notable that obstetric accommodation is at a premium in almost all peripheral hospitals and this is a reflection of the young age groups resident in the areas. This concentration of youth on the fringes of the city obviously reduces the need for general beds from the theoretically determined figures, but shows up the shortage alarmingly in respect of obstetric accommodation. To this we can add pediatric beds and facilities.
The New South Wales Liberal Government’s solution to this problem is to sell 25 acres already owned by the Hospital
Commission at Colyton to the friendly land speculators and to buy a site at Mount Druitt for a proposed 210-bed hospital, but not before 1980. In the meantime the Australian Federation of Private Hospitals has no complaints, but the thousands of people in the area who have signed petitions against the Colyton sellout suggest that most people living there do have complaints. What is happening, of course, is that private hospitals are spreading quickly. Many of them are owned by doctors. These private hospitals receive the most profitable cases - tonsillectomies, appendectomies, herniorrhaphies, curettes, varicose veins and examinations under anaesthesia.
They provide no backup services and charge $25 a day plus $15 for theatre fees. If anything goes wrong, patients are transferred to public hospitals. It is no wonder that the mortality figures of those hospitals are so good. Considering their ownership, it is also not surprising that they have a very high bed occupancy rate. Dr Hughes, who is President of the Federation of Private Hospitals, is the endorsed Liberal candidate for the Australian Capital Territory. I emphasise that we on this side of the House do not believe that the vital area of community health services belongs to the free enterprise market place as though the mystical concept of perfect competition prevailed. We propose setting up an Australian Hospitals and Public Health Services Commission. Through that agency we would aim at achieving the optimum health delivery service for Australia. The Commission will help us to see our goals clearly and to provide advice so that we can decide on a specific course of action.
This Government accepts no responsibility for the provision of hospital facilities and has no plans to change this position, judging by the provisions in the Budget. Westmead Hospital will be a teaching hospital but no Commonwealth money is forthcoming. The New South Wales Government does not have the money, or so it says and I believe it. Fairfield District Hospital, in the same area, is not to be expanded from its size of 141 beds even though this capacity is quite uneconomic. It is a ridiculous approach. Dr Hogg of Parramatta, who I feel sure used to be a Liberal voter, assures me that he has repeatedly asked the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) for Commonwealth help. The honourable member for Parramatta could have helped when he was Minister for Education and Science, but he refused point blank.
During the last few weeks 11,340 Baulkham Hills residents signed a petition to try to get something done about a local hospital. A site is available but the Federal and New South Wales governments have offered no help whatever. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), who allegedly represents those residents in this House, does nothing about it, just as he does nothing about the Government’s decision to build a 24-hour a day international airport in the area of RichmondLondonderry. What is the Government doing about the provision of Commonwealth support for psychiatric hospital patients? No doubt honourable members are aware that when pensioners are admitted into psychiatric hospitals they lose their pensions and become a burden on the State Government. In New South Wales all psychiatric patients are charged at the rate of §15 a day, or slightly more than that. The debt is generally collected from the patient’s estate, if any. This principle also applies to psychiatric patients insured with hospital funds. They are not covered. The State Government does its best to expel these patients into nursing homes when the Commonwealth again accepts the burden of paying pensions and adds nursing home benefits. Surely this is not the way to deal with this problem. The enormousness of the problem can be realised by remembering that at any one time 37 per cent of the all public hospital in-patients in Australia are in psychiatric hospitals.
The Government does nothing about this situation. It happily contracts out and gives increased nursing and convalescent hospital benefits to the proprietors of these hospitals. After the Budget was introduced the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) announced certain new arrangements for patients requiring nursing care. The new additional benefits for patients in nursing homes vary from $10.50 a week in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania to $11.20 in Western Australia, $14 in South Australia and $22.40 in Victoria. The Minister stated that the rates are a reflection of the varying levels of fees applying in each of the States. The Government has of course introduced price control in nursing homes knowing full well that nursing home proprietors are likely to raise their fees immediately. If price control is to be introduced it should be fair; that is, it should be based on cost plus a reasonable return, whatever that expression might mean. In any case, we would all agree that the reasonable return should be similar in all States.
I could not see why costs in Victoria would be $12 a week higher than costs in New South Wales. This ratio does not apply to costs for public hospital beds, for which the cost is similar in both States. 1 therefore asked the Legislative Research Service to supply me with an explanation. It produced some interesting tables which I showed to the Minister at the table and I ask for leave to incorporate them in Hansard.
– To whom did you show them?
– The Minister in charge of the House at the time - the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp).
– Order! The honourable member for Prospect showed the tables to the Minister who has indicated to me that leave is granted for their incorporation. (The documents read as follows) -
Compiled at request by the Legislative Research Service from statistics provided by the Commonwealth Department of Health in answer to Parliamentary Question No. 3363, 1971.
Compiled at request by the Legislative Research Service from the ‘Annual Report of the Commonwealth Director-General of Health, 1971’.
-I thank the Minister lor granting leave to have the tables incorporated in Hansard. They show that a relative shortage of nursing home beds exists in Victoria. If Victoria wanted to equalise the position of nursing home beds, 10,000 extra beds would be required. In August 1970 the average weekly fee in private nursing homes in New South Wales was $43.33 while in Victoria the average fee was $63.07, a difference of nearly 50 per cent. The fee in Victoria averages about $20 a week more. As the Legislative Research Service put it in answer to my question: “This shortage has led to a situation where private nursing homes in Victoria have been able to increase their charges without adversely influencing demand.’ In other words, they have been able to charge much more than the actual cost.
– They charge what the traffic will bear.
– This shows that the Government’s decision to subsidise Victorian private nursing homes by another $600 a bed a year is not a subsidy on cost plus a reasonable return but, as the honourable member for Barton put it, is on the basis of what the traffic will bear. This is completely wrong and unfair to the taxpayers of Australia. It therefore is quite clear as stated in the Labor Party’s proposed amendment that the Budget provides no framework for improving the standards of health and welfare and no national plan for our capital cities. I strongly commend the amendment to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– by leave - I am pleased to announce that Professor R. F. Henderson, Director of the Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in the University of Melbourne, has undertaken to conduct the inquiry into poverty on behalf of the Government. The terms of reference of the inquiry are as follows:
To investigate -
The Government will ensure that Professor Henderson has the necessary supporting staff and that relevant Commonwealth departments provide him with assistance where practicable.
Professor Henderson will himself determine the method of inquiry to be adopted, and the time necessary for the work to b« finalised.
Professor Henderson is well known for his work on poverty. Honourable members will be aware that he and the Institute of which he is Director were responsible for People in Poverty: A Melbourne Survey’ which has been of great use to all those interested in the dimensions and quality of the problem of poverty in our land. The Government is, I think, fortunate to have obtained his services for this inquiry.
It will be seen that the terms of reference for the inquiry are very wide, having been drawn so as to enable the inquiry to be as far-reaching as possible in its field, whilst concentrating on the solution of the immediate problem of reducing poverty in Australia.
I feel confident that the decisions which I have just announced will commend themselves to both sides of the House. I present the following paper:
Inquiry into poverty - Ministerial Statement, 29th August 1972.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– This is a remarkable change on the part of the Government, on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and on the part of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). I think that the Australian community owes a great debt of gratitude to the 2 Sydney Archbishops, Archbishop Loane and Archbishop Freeman, who forthrightly declared their opposition and criticism of the Government at the existence of poverty in the community. Their forthright statements were greeted with gratuitous offensiveness in this House. I remind honourable members that, on 26th April, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) asked the Prime Minister, among other things, the following question:
The Prime Minister - also inform the Archbishop that a prelate lecturing politicians because of the presence of these twin economic evils-
That is, unemployment and inflation - is similar to politicians criticising prelates for the continued presence ef sin, which has been around the place for even longer and seems to be growing even faster?
The Prime Minister in his captious reply said, inter alia: it is obvious to me that the Archbishop does not have a very great knowledge of the problems associated with inflation or for that matter unemployment
But it would seem tonight that Archbishop Loane and the Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Sydney had a much greater knowledge of this subject that did the Prime Minister or any of his advisers and a much more forcible capacity to persuade the Government to fulfil a moral commitment. As the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) interjected as the Prime Minister concluded his statement, it is a sad commentary on 23 years of LiberalCountry Party administration of this country that, after the expiry of this period of nearly a quarter of a century, the Government grudgingly concedes, on the eve of an election when rather chilly winds of retribution are blowing in the direction of the Government, that an inquiry into poverty will be held. So one wonders just how much moral commitment there has been in the persuasive powers that have led the Government to establish and conduct this inquiry. After all, it was only in May of this year - a matter of a few months ago - when the Opposition moved a motion in this House proposing an inquiry into poverty that the Minister for Social Services said that there would be some sort of an inquiry but that it would be a narrowly conceived inquiry.
Let me quote from a television interview at about that time, when the Minister for Social Services said:
I do not think there is a need for an overall inquiry, but I do think that there is a case for further study in depth of particular areas.
The Minister went on to say:
The Minister for Social Services was confident, complacent and satisfied. He was prepared to make some small grudging concession and have a limited inquiry into poverty. He proposed in the House that the inquiry would be related to the services already existing and how best to coordinate them. The Minister for Social Welfare in the Liberal Government in Victoria reacted critically to this proposal and said that all that the Government - his colleagues here in the Liberal Federal Government - was seeking to do was to have an inquiry which would shift the responsibility from the Federal Government to State Government authorities because of the imminent Federal election. As Mr Smith rightly pointed out, the State Government sphere is neither the right place for the blame to be laid, nor is it the right place from which to expect the resources to be supplied, because of the limitations of finances available to the States.
On 15th July the Prime Minister is quoted widely in the national Press as saying that he was ‘pretty certain’ that there would not be a formal Federal Government inquiry into poverty in Australia. The Prime Minister is quoted again by the Press as saying:
I think you can take it there won’t be and I don’t think one could be completed before the elections, even if one were commenced.
Between then and now, in that short period of time, there has been a radical change of opinion. One wonders where the force came from that compelled the Government to have an inquiry. The records show that every member on the Government side has voted against not one but several motions moved in this House by the Opposition either calling for an inquiry into poverty or arguing that, at the very least, social service benefit payments should be lifted to at least the poverty level. Every member on the Government side has consistently voted against such propositions.
The Australian Labor Party first committed itself publicly in 1967 as a policy pledge, to an inquiry into poverty. This was less than 12 months after the announcement of the findings of the Melbourne poverty survey, a survey that showed a rather alarming extent of poverty in a very wealthy country. We have repeatedly committed ourselves to such an inquiry. The Australian public has had to wait more than 5 years for such an inquiry and then, with only the fear of an adverse result at a Federal election hanging over the shoulders of the Federal Government, has this commitment been made. The last commitment that was made for the Labor Party was made by me on 3rd August this year - only a matter of a few weeks ago and well before there was any knowledge that the Government was to hold an inquiry into poverty and indeed, in the face of public statements by the Government that there would be no such inquiry. On behalf of the Labor Party I went further than proposing just an inquiry into poverty. I said that we would set up a wide-ranging committee of inquiry with open terms of reference to inquire into the broad aspect of social welfare that would have special emphasis on the subject of poverty and would progressively report to a Labor government and that we would establish this inquiry, announce its terms of reference and announce the personnel of such an inquiry within 3 months of being elected to the government. The progressive findings and reports of the committee with priority on the subject of poverty would be the basis on which we would act to overcome this problem. We proposed prompt action and I rather suspect that our contribution also had some influence on the Government’s present proposal.
The Prime Minister has at last grasped the nettle. I hope that he does not let go of it. What 1 want to put to him is that there seems to be need for a little more definition than has been given in the terms of reference. They do seem to be wideranging but the extent of that wide-ranging nature will be established, by the way in which poverty is interpreted or defined. Professor Henderson is a man who would have the respect of all members of this Parliament, but I feel that Professor Henderson’s contribution would be enhanced if there were more than one representative on the committee. There could be representatives of multi-disciplines, as it were. For instance, I feel that there is a strong case for having a legal representative on the Committee. There is a very powerful case for having a representative from the medical sciences, particularly someone connected with social and preventive medicine- a subject which is directly related to the needs of people living in the poverty area. I believe that there is a need for people representing the behavioural sciences, especially sociologists and social workers, who can explore more widely than will a man such as Professor Henderson. He will certainly ‘ do a job in considerable depth, but his contribution or qualifications are largely in economics. The report quoted by the Prime Minister, which Professor Henderson helped to compile, published under the title ‘People in Poverty; a Melbourne survey’ had this to say:
There are other kinds of poverty - cultural poverty due to mis-spending of income. But examination of poverty in terms of inadequate income is the most fundamental, basic approach to the problem and the provision of adequate income is a primary need which in a rich, civilised community can and should be met.
I have no quibble with that as an immediate statement on an immediate objective. But poverty goes much further than this. As Professor Henderson has indicated in the report, it goes much further than the economic concept of what poverty is about.
I am rather fearful that in the haste to get a conclusion Professor Henderson may restrict himself to the monetary area. There is such a thing - and Professor Henderson referred to it in the report - as secondary poverty which is the incapacity adequately to handle limited resources, although they may be adequate in terms of a narrowly conceived austere poverty line. Also, there are the problems of cultural poverty. All these things go together. If we give extra money to people suffering primary poverty - that is inadequate income - there will be a very high probability that these people, even given the extra money, will still live in poverty because they have suffered cultural deprivation and accordingly suffer from handicaps in adequately handling any budget provided to them. This is not said in any patronising or superior tone. This is made as a clear statement of fact, well established by surveys into this sort of problem.
Accordingly, this inquiry must go much further than merely dealing with monetary needs. It must talk about things such as cultural deprivation and how we are to attack this. It must talk about how we will in fact develop an enriching process through the education system; how we will adjust and create a pre-school educational pattern which will reach out in this area; and what sort of resources we shall mobilise in the deprived suburbs not only for the very young children but for the older children who need this sort of enrichment. On the experience in America much of this, when done, will be wasted unless we are also able to reach into the homes and get to the parents and help them to understand what is happening. We have to try to the extent that it is possible - and I regret it seems to be limited on the American experience - to enrich the parents so that they in turn can encourage and foster the sort of cultural enrichment processes that we are trying to reach out to children. We have to ascertain what sort of health services are needed in these communities. Also we need to know what sort of housing needs exist.
All of these things have to be considered. Merely to restrict ourselves to money, as I suspect will happen and I think is the conception behind what the Prime Minister has said, is to restrict ourselves too narrowly altogether.
Will the inquiry cover Aborigines? Certainly we conceive that it would. The deprivation, discrimination and repression of Aborigines in the Australian society, whether they are fringe dwelling urban residents or living in rural communities, stand as a monument to the selfish and cruel indifference of this wealthy community of ours. I wonder just how morally concerned this Government really is about poverty among these people. In February 1971 Dr William Langsford, the Director of the Northern Territory divisional office of the Department of Health, was ordered to slash his expenditures by $200,000 and it is reported that he noted in his diary that day ‘disaster day’ because he knew that the people who would surfer as a result of this reduction would be the unfortunate Aborigines of the Northern Territory where infant mortality rates are 6 times the Australian rate for the white population; where in that area tuberculosis is 60 per 100,000 population compared to IS per 100,000 for the rest of Australia.
We know these things. There is no need for a poverty survey to establish these things. We could act on these things immediately - we ought to act on them immediately. If it was possible, as in fact it was, with a national campaign to reduce tuberculosis rates among the non-Aboriginal population from 52 per 100,000 in 1947 to 15 per 100,000 by 1970, why have we not shown similar initiatives and resourcefulness and a similar moral commitment to the welfare of Aborigines.
If we go through the whole range of the morbidity pattern among Aborigines we will find that in any form of morbidity Aborigines have a rate considerably higher than Europeans in the Australian population. We know these things. We could have acted on them a long time ago. This Government is guilty and the fact that it is having a poverty survey now is in my opinion nothing more than a sop with an election coming up. If the Government were to be returned - and not many people expect that it will be - one suspects that there would not be too much action on the sort of recommendations which will be put forward.
There are immediate things which can be done to eliminate monetary poverty. For instance, the standard rate of the age and invalid pension has finally and grudgingly been brought to the poverty level if we include $4 a week supplementary assistance for rent allowance. But by the end of this financial year the rate will be some $2 below the poverty level. The widows’ class B pension is nearly $3 a week below the poverty level. When updated, and allowing for supplementary assistance, it will be nearly $5 a week below that level by the end of the financial year. The unemployment benefit for a man, wife and 2 children is nearly $14 below the poverty level. It will be nearly $19 a week below the poverty level by the end of the financial year. These things can be fixed without any trouble at all. It is a matter of having the determination and establishing the priorities.
I suggest that what was really needed here was a much more wide-ranging or widely representative inquiry than has been proposed. I suggest a clearer and much more positive statement by the Prime Minister that the sort of areas of poverty to be analysed and researched would have been the broad conspectus of poverty - primary, secondary and cultural - all of which exist in this community of ours.
– What we have just heard deserves only a few words in reply. I will not reply at any length. I think the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) overestimated the generosity of this House when he said that his statement would commend itself to both sides. He had a reasonable expectation of this but it did not turn out that way.
The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) is not really concerned with poverty. He is concerned with the election. It is quite repulsive to hear the way in which he was not concerned at all really with this inquiry. What he is concerned with is trying to make political capital out of the plight of the poor, out of the plight of anybody. Time and time again I have heard honourable members for the Opposition gloat, absolutely gloat, about the misfortunes of Australia or the misfortunes of individuals in Australia. I have heard this too often and over too many years. But I do not remember an occasion on which this has been done more blatantly.
The honourable member for Oxley shows that he is not really worried at all about the substantial matters. He is only worried about trying to abuse the Government. He is only worried about trying to make his own marble good in the coming election. I think that the country will repudiate this kind of activity. The Government- has a genuine concern here. We are told that one is not enough to conduct this inquiry. There is nobody in Australia that would have the same breadth of experience and general respect that Professor Henderson has in this field. It is not necessary to say: ‘He will not be able to look at the medical, social or some other aspects’. Just the opposite is the case. He will have complete freedom and will be able to call evidence and get the assistance of whomever he so desires in this matter. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) made it quite clear that the conduct of this inquiry would be determined by Professor Henderson himself. There is no thought of tramelling him nor any thought of confining him within the terms of bis reference, which are wide and far reaching. He will have full freedom of action to do as he thinks fit and there is nobody who would be more capable of knowing where to go, where to look and what to do.
The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) had some disparaging words to say about the terms of reference. He said: Is this going to be only monetary poverty or primary poverty? What about cultural poverty, social poverty and so on?’ He contradicted himself, because in introducing his remarks he made a quotation from Professor Henderson’s own book which showed that Professor Henderson did not take this narrow viewpoint. He quoted from the book People in Poverty: A Melbourne Survey’ to show that Professor Henderson does not think solely in monetary terms but also in these wider terms. The honourable member for Oxley must acknowledge that the terms set down are wide and far ranging. They do not confine the Professor and there is no reason at all to think that he will find any inhibition in going in whatever direction he may think fitting and desirable.
What Professor Henderson has written gives the lie to what the honourable member for Oxley said, namely, that there is a possibility that this inquiry will be only narrow and confined within the mere monetary sense.
Even in the mere monetary sense I think that the House must realise that in this last Budget a great many of the residual pockets of poverty have been eliminated. I will not go into detail at this stage. There will be other opportunities to do this. Furthermore, I am not trying to override the proper function of this committee, the Government is undertaking this inquiry honestly and above board. It has made only one mistake, that is, in believing that it would commend itself to both sides of this House. I think we shall look with disgust on the narrow and partisan approach of the honourable member for Oxley who sets himself up in this matter as the spokesman for the Opposition.
-Order! The honourable member for Prospect will withdraw that remark and apologise.
– Is the word ‘hypocrite1 unparliamentary?
– Yes. The honourable member will withdraw it.
– In that case I withdraw it.
– And he will apologise.
– And I apologise.
– He is an honourable hypocrite.
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley will withdraw the words honourable hypocrite’.
– Is ‘honourable hypocrite’ not parliamentary?
-I think the honourable member has been here long enough to know the answer to that. I suggest that he withdraw the term immediately.
– I withdraw the statement that the Minister for Social Services is an honourable hypocrite.
– Having heard a few moments ago the bitter and tendentious speech of the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) I know exactly the kind of thing that is in his mind where he uses terms like that. There is nothing else that I need to say. I told the House that there was little that needed to be said. I draw the attention of the House and the country to the way in which the Opposition treats this serious question and the way in which it looks on the poor as people who are to be exploited simply for political purposes. It is no accident that it regards as its blue ribbon seats the ones in which there is most poverty. It is no accident that members of the Labor Party and their State confreres are always distressed at anything that is done to alleviate poverty in their seats, because they believe that it is on poverty that they get votes. This is a disgusting attitude and the country will repudiate it.
– Honourable members and the listening public will be able to judge the sincerity of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) by recalling his own words when, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I moved on 10th May last for discussion in the House the following matter:
The need for a national and independent public inquiry into poverty and all related areas of social need.
In proposing that matter for debate I quoted the documents which had been prepared by the Church of England social welfare authorities in the diocese of Sydney - at Redfern and at Mount Druitt. Following me the Minister for Social Services spoke. These were his opening remarks:
The speech of the Leader of the Opposition has been, I think, typical and transparent. He is out to get votes and he does not care bow he kicks people around in order to get them. He does not care whom he rubbishes. He is entirely without heart in these matters.
He went on to say more in the same vein. When my colleague the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) moved that the House should express the opinion by vote that the Government should establish a national and independent public inquiry into poverty and all related areas of social need the Minister for Social Services was one of those who voted against the proposition. On this occasion he has adopted exactly the same attitude and is resorting to abuse and vilification of anybody who suggests that the terms of the inquiry could be wider than they are. Nobody is going to suggest that Professor Ronald Henderson is not a person who has for very many years devoted himself to inquiries into social and economic matters involving poverty. He has been, of course, the man who has published the pioneering works and has conducted the pioneering surveys into poverty, particularly in the monetary sense. My colleagues and I for some years have quoted his test as to the poverty line and have moved motions in the House suggesting that it should be regarded as the starting point for social service payments.
Indeed, I agree that the Government is fortunate in having his services for this inquiry. I yield to no-one in my admiration of the gentleman and, as I say, my colleagues and 1 have consistently put before the House his facts on monetary poverty. These have been disparaged again and again by honourable members opposite, and not least by the Minister for Social Services who has made claims concerning the money value of social services which Professor Henderson and his colleagues in the Melbourne Institute have disposed of long since.
The honourable member for Oxley has pointed out that the terms of reference, though wide, do not really touch many aspects of social deprivation. I would have thought that the Minister for Social Services would have seen this point because, having launched into his vituperation against me for having had the hardihood to raise this subject, he mentioned the usual alibi of the Liberals in this place that the areas of deprivation upon which the Anglican social workers had concentrated were all matters in the State sphere - alienation, poor services, municipal services, hospitals, schools, assistance, advice and so on. The honourable member for Oxley and many others of us have constantly pointed out that it is not merely a question of what a person’s income may be, even when that person is injured, bereaved or unemployed; it is also a question of the availability of advice and services in the community. The terms of reference here are not calculated to cover those matters which on 10th May the Minister for Social Services emphasised. A person with quite a large income may be socially deprived. These are the mtaters to which the honourable member for Oxley pointed tonight. He was perfectly entitled to point them out. The terms of reference are wide in the sense of monetary poverty, certainly, but they are not nearly as wide as those of the Canadian inquiry which we have used as our example for many years.
The other suggestion which has been made by the Australian Labor Party and by the Australian Council of Social Service is that it is too much for any one man or any one woman to conduct as wide ranging an inquiry into social welfare as this country needs. As the Council has pointed out, it is necessary to have on such an inquiry people who are familiar with running State, local government and voluntary agency services. There is a need to have sociologists and users and consumers of these services. People who come into the whole range of these categories are needed.
Professor Henderson has : been immersed in this inquiry for many years,, particularly in the field of monetary poverty. He has headed an institute which has. conducted pioneering work and published the results of that pioneering work. But it is legitimate to point out that it is too -much for one man or one woman to carry out an inquiry of the magnitude which is heeded. The terms of reference do not cover those other matters which it is necessary in a federal system to co-ordinate and provide. The whole of this inquiry could be carried out and there still could be avoidable deprivation in this federal community. The instances which were given to the House on 10th May by the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) and myself from the Anglican social workers related’ to people who in many cases would still fall outside the terms of reference given to Professor Henderson. As far as the inquiry goes, of course, it is a step in the right direction. Nobody looking at the voting list - those honourable members who are trying to interrupt me were among those who on 10th May voted for the. . idea of having an inquiry-
– Why do you ‘not-
-Order! The honourable member for Mitchell will cease interjecting.
– The honourable member comes from an area where he should know that if a person loses ,his job
– I have done more than you ever thought of.
– Order! That is the third time the honourable member for Mitchell has interrupted in spite of my warning which he has ignored. I suggest that he cease interjecting.
– One of the most audible honourable members in the House is. the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) and he should know the deprivation which is suffered in many fields of social welfare by the people who live in so far flung an area as his area on the outskirts of the metropolis of Sydney. If a man. loses, his job in the electorate of Mitchell he may well have to travel 20 miles to seek other employment. We have seen such cases. If a woman is deserted in the electorate of Mitchell she has to go a very long distance to appear before a chamber magistrate. In order to secure an order against the desert- = mg husband she has to go very many miles indeed. Having obtained such an order, she has to go very many miles to a branch of the New South Wales Department ofSocial Welfare before she can get the forms of assistance available from that Department. When 6 months has elapsed she has to go very many miles to a branch of the Commonwealth Department of Social Services in order to get a widow’s pension. A person resident in the electorate of Mitchell who requires health treatment for herself or her children in case of sickness or injury probably has to go further than anybody else who would be said to live in Sydney. This is an area which the honourable member for Prospect was illustrating earlier tonight will have a much larger deficit of hospital beds at the end of this decade, even if every prospective hospital programme is fulfilled, than it has at the present moment.
It was an area similar to the area in the electorate of Mitchell which the Anglican social welfare workers showed to me when I made my visit early in May. In that area can be found people who are unemployed, people who are bereaved, people who are injured, and migrants, and they are the people who are socially deprived in Australia. It may be that in some terms they do not have a low income, but when one takes into account the amount of money they have to pay to buy a block of land, to pay off their house when they get one and to spend on fares to get to and from work, and the amount of time they have to spend in getting to hospitals or to welfare agencies* it can be seen that these are people who are deprived even if they have an income which is larger than that which Professor Henderson regards as the poverty line. If the honourable member for Mitchell would only go around his electorate he would see how people like this are deprived. They will continue to be deprived until the Commonwealth accepts in the Australian federation the degree of responsibility that is accepted by the Federal Administration in the United States, or the Federal Government in Canada or in West Germany. Iti this federation, the amount of resources in the financial sense available to the Federal authorities is very much greater than that available to the federal authorities in West Germany, Canada or the United States.
All that one finds either from the Minister, for Social .Services or members such as the honourable member for Mitchell is that they blame the States for every social shortcoming, every municipal shortcoming and every welfare shortcoming in this country. This excuse would not be accepted in any other federal system. When Ohe looks at the fact that the total share that: the Commonwealth has of total government revenues in Australia - it is 78 per cent Or 79 per cent compared with 62 per cent in the United States, 51 per cent in Canada and 49 per cent in West Germany - one sees how much more is the responsibility of the Australian Federal Government than of any other Federal government. Even if there is an inquiry into monetary poverty, it will not alleviate the position of people who lose their job, who are deserted, who are bereaved or who are injured. This is so particularly of those people who reside in the outer areas of the metropolitan zone such as in the electorate of Mitchell.
I doubt that Professor Henderson will be charged to inquire into these matters, and that is the gravamen of the comments which the honourable member for Oxley ‘ made on the Prime Minister’s statement. Certainly the Prime Minister’s statement marks an immense advance on his thinking and on the thinking of the Minister for Social Services back on 10th May. It shows a much bigger advance on the thinking of the Prime Minister as displayed a week before when he patronised his good friend, but economic innocent, the Archbishop of Sydney.
– The Minister for Primary Industry said that it was an academic question and it ought to be left to the academics.
-Order! I do not think your leader needs any assistance.
– The Deputy Leader of the Country Party did make this statement. He had always made the excuse that it was not for Federal authorities to inquire into matters of welfare or social services, that these were academic matters which were better discharged by the researchers at the universities such as, of course, Professor Henderson. Professor Henderson has been given his opportunity to inquire into monetary poverty, but the inquiry should be wider in its terms and it should be wider in its membership; and a Labor government will see that it is both.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, grossly misrepresented. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) did not visit any homes within the electorate of Mitchell when he was looking at poverty. He went to the electorate of Chifley, an area that I have to service very fully, where the State member took no interest-
-Order! The honourable member for Mitchell will not debate what the Leader of the Opposition said. He will make a personal explanation to show how he has been misrepresented.
– I have given one part of the misrepresentation. The Leader of the Opposition said I should get around. I challenge him or any other member of his Party to do half of what I do in the electorate of Mitchell.
-Order! The honourable member is not making a personal explanation.
– by leave - As a result of the new nursing home and home care benefits announced in the Budget, some 67,000 chronically ill people and their relatives throughout Australia will have their financial burden very greatly reduced. My colleague, the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), in a statement to the Senate on 16th August outlined the results of the Government’s’ decisions following its comprehensive examination of the role of nursing homes in caring for the chronically ill aged and how best to extend furtherassistance to nursing home patients and to other aged people in the community who need nursing services. Legislation is now being prepared to implement these new benefits arrangements and will be introduced into this House during the current session.
In brief, there are 3 new kinds of benefit for nursing home patients and aged persons who are chronically ill. Some 37,000 pensioner medical service patients in nursing homes are to receive additional Commonwealth benefits ranging up to $10.50 a week in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, to $11.20 in Western Australia, to $14.00 in South Australia and to $22.40 in Victoria. Ten thousand non-pensioner nursing home patients will be eligible, if insured, for the same weekly benefits through the health insurance system. It is estimated that 20,000 chronically ill aged people will attract a new domiciliary nursing care benefit of $14 a week. It is the intention of the Government to implement the new nursing home benefits on 1st January 1973, and the domiciliary care benefit on 1st March 1973. To supplement the information already provided in the Minister’s statement on 16th August, I can now give further details of the way in which these new bentfits will be provided.
The additional benefits will give pensioner medical service patients coverage against the fees charged in all but the most expensive nursing homes. In New South Wales taking into consideration the existing . benefit entitlements, the maximum Commonwealth benefits available will be $56 a week in the case of patients receiving intensive care and $35 a week in the case of ordinary care patients. The maximum benefits in the other States will be as follows:
On top of this, of course, pensioners receive their substantially increased social service pensions and supplementary benefits
Up to date, pensioner patients in nursing homes, after having contributed their full pension, in many cases still required assistance from relatives to meet the gap which remained between the nursing home benefits they received and their actual nursing home fees. The implementation of the new benefit arrangements will mean that pensioner patients in the majority of nursing homes will be able to meet the costs of their nursing home care and in most cases still retain about $6 of their pension for their personal needs. These arrangements will not only remove from pensioners and their relatives the worry of meeting the costs of nursing home care but will also, I suggest, help to maintain the pensioners’ sense of personal independence and dignity. These arrangements for pensioner medical service patients will cover some 80 per cent of the people in nursing homes and will involve the Commonwealth in additional expenditure in a full financial year of $2 1.9m. For patients who do not have pensioner medical service entitlement cards the Government has decided to use the voluntary health insurance machinery as a vehicle to extend similar assistance towards nursing home costs.
The present gap between the benefits provided and the fees charged will therefore be significantly reduced. For single pensioners in most nursing homes this gap will be fully met by the pensioner contributing some 75 per cent of his pension entitlements. For other patients a similar contribution - amounting to some $18 a week - will be necessary. This contribution is seen by the Government as reasonable, bearing in mind that the nursing home is the patient’s residence as well as the place where he receives his nursing care. Patients in the most expensive nursing homes will, of course, be required to meet the larger gap from their own resources. However, I would stress that the majority of patients’ contributions will not exceed $18 a week. The benefits to be provided for patients who do not have pensioner medical service cards will be paid through hospital benefit funds and will initially be financed by the funds out of their reserves. These patients, to receive the new benefits, will need to be insured with a hospital benefits organisation of their own choice. All people who are at present covered for hospital insurance will receive the nursing home benefits if they become nursing home patients. In other words, the hospital benefit system will in future cover- nursing home care as well as hospital treatment. The cost of these insurance benefits will be $5 .4m over a full financial year and, as I have already mentioned, will initially be financed from hospital fund reserves.
I have mentioned that these new arrangements will provide very good coverage against present nursing home costs. Obviously, however, consideration must be given to ensuring that this favourable position for patients is maintained. The Government has therefore decided that the new benefits will be paid only in respect of patients accommodated in nursing homes which agree to charge patients fees agreed to by the Government. The machinery by which this will be achieved has already been spelt out by the Minister in his 16th August statement.
Some nursing home proprietors have expressed opposition to the requirement that fee increases above the amounts being charged at 30th June 1972 should be restricted to those receiving Commonwealth approval. Some of this criticism has, I feel, been based on a misconception that nursing home fees are simply to be pegged. This, of course, would be unreasonable at a time when costs are increasing in all sectors of industry. The situation in fact is that nursing home proprietors will in future be required to demonstrate that proposed fee increases above the levels being charged at 30th June 1972 can be justified. In cases where fee increases are justified, adjustments to the fees will be permitted. The Department of Health has in fact recently written to all nursing home proprietors advising them of the general grounds on which they may make application for fee increases.
The Government, in its comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of chronically ill elderly people, has decided to introduce domiciliary care benefits. This will break new ground in the field of social welfare in Australia. The Government, in its study of the care of sick elderly people, was aware of the social and medical advantages which apply when aged people needing only light nursing care are able to be maintained within their own family circle. There are obviously many cases where patients would lead happier and fuller lives if their family financial situation enabled them to remain in their homes and to receive an appropriate level of nursing care.
From 1st March 1973, the $14 a week benefit will be available to relatives caring for chronically ill aged people in need of continuing professional nursing care equivalent to that which would be received by nursing home patients. As this benefit is designed to provide a viable alternative to nursing home care, the eligibility criteria have been set to conform with those applying to the majority of nursing home patients. The majority of ordinary care nursing home patients are over 65 years of age and require, apart from general supportive services, at least 2 hours a week of professional nursing attention. As a rule, home care patients will qualify for the new benefit if they need and generally receive daily visits by a registered nurse. Other cases, of course, will be dealt with on their individual merits. The estimated cost of the new domiciliary care benefit in a full financial year is $14.5m.
To help in the development of this whole home care concept, the Government will increase its present subsidies to organisations providing home nursing services. From 1st September 1972, the maximum subsidy payable under the new rates will be $4,300 per annum for each additional nurse employed on home nursing. This increased assistance will provide further incentives to these organisations to develop and extend their services to meet the increasing demand for nursing care at home. It is worth noting that, since 1956 when the home nursing subsidy scheme was begun, the number of nurses employed by home nursing organisations has increased from 210 to 1,000. The Commonwealth will also discuss with State governments means of extending the range of other home care services presently provided. These new benefits are the result of the Government’s comprehensive review of the particular needs of the elderly chronically ill people in our community. Nursing homes have played a most important role in providing for these needs in the past, and it is in recognition of the fact that this role will be continued that the new nursing home benefit arrangements were introduced. However, expert professional opinion is increasingly aware of the social advantages in retaining our aged people, wherever possible, in the home environment. The requirement is for a balanced approach, having due regard to the real needs of the aged. In many cases, nursing and medical care form only part of these needs with the remainder able to be adequately provided by the family, relatives or friends.
The number of elderly people in our population is increasing each year and therefore the requirement to provide community services and benefits based on the particular needs of this segment of the population needs to be given special consideration. It is also a fact of modern day living that the evolution of the so-called nuclear family tends to exclude, often through necessity rather than choice, the care of parents or grandparents in the same home as their children or other relatives. But it is also true that there are many families who feel deeply a sense of family totality and who make considerable sacrifices to keep elderly relatives within the home even when they may require constant nursing. Such people are to be admired. But the Government wants now to see that they receive, on behalf of the community at large, more than just admiration. We trust that the new domiciliary care benefit will not only assist people to meet the financial consequence of their dedication to sick friends or relatives but also help maintain that special sense of service, security and satisfaction which grows out of such dedication. These new nursing home and domiciliary care benefits, taken together with the other initiatives in the field of social welfare announced in the Budget, demonstrate the determination of the Government to correct imbalances of opportunity within the community and to assist those who need it to receive health care and comfort without loss of dignity or independence. I present the following paper:
Nursing Home and Home Care Benefits - Ministerial Statement, 29 August 1972.
Motion (by Dr Mackay) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The statement by the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) is in face a restatement, albeit in condensed form, of a statement made by the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in the Senate the week before last. Presumably because it did not float much publicity there, an attempt is being made to refloat it on this occasion. Nonetheless, there are some proposals which attract some interest from this side of the House. The Government will legislate part of the policy of the Australian Labor Party by introducing a prices justification board to control effectively nursing home costs as part of its proposed amendments to its nursing homes programme. On this score Labor welcomes this initiative and endorses the need for such action and the change of philosophy on the part of the Government which has allowed it to take such a step. If we look at the statement by the Minister we find that there can be no quibbling about this. What in fact is being proposed is a prices justification board. We are glad that this small entry into the doorway has been made by the Government. It has always opposed such propositions from the Opposition in the past. Hopefully, it will expand its interest between now and election time. Hopefully again, we will hear some constructive and responsible commitments from the Government to expand the concept of a prices justification board.
The Minister’s statement makes clear the basic philosophy behind what the Government is doing and the practical effect of its purpose when applied in the system. The Minister said:
The situation in fact is that nursing home proprietors will in future be required to demonstrate that proposed fee increases above the levels being charged at 30th June 1972, can be justified. In cases where fee increases are justified, adjustments to the fees will be permitted.
There is an imperative nature about what the Minister was saying. There is not much opportunity available for people conducting nursing homes in the community. The Opposition believes that this sort of thing is overdue, and it supports such, a proposition. But let us not gild the lily. t. repeat that it is a prices justification board that the Government is applying in relation to nursing homes.’
The proposals fall down seriously because they fail to provide for establishing and supervising effectively standards of excellence in the provision of accommodation, facilities and services for’ inmates’ of nursing homes. Too many old residences, rambling and depressing in their aspect, which Were never meant to be nursing homes and which are unsuitable for this purpose- Will continue to serve as such. These homes create an institutional complex which’ insidiously destroys old people physically abd mentally. Even some new homes seemingly well appointed, with furnishings and light, can be disastrous in their influence 6n the aged because of the absence of professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and dietitians. These are some of the factors that ought to have been discussed by the Minister in the course of his announcement on nursing homes. All that has in fact been done is a slight tinkering with a very unsatisfactory system, a proposal to pour much more good money from the taxpayers into an inherently bad system.
Let us look at some of ‘ the aspects of what the Minister said. I wonder why ii is necessary for such wide variations to exist in the sorts of subsidies being proposed. For instance, there will be a range from $10.50 a week in New South Wales to as high as $22.40 a week in Victoria. What justification can there be for this sort of wide disparity? One can make allowances for differences in wage rates for nurses in different States. They are marginal between States. One can make allowances for differences in other sorts of costs between States, but really in the contrast between the subsidy charges I have just quoted, the differences in costs are marginal. Then why is there this big disparity? The honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) referred to one of the factors for this. There is a shortage of nursing home beds in Victoria, there is an absence of adequately developed domiciliary care services and there is not much choice for many old people but to go into a home. I think that the Marrickville survey carried out several years ago by some academics showed that a very high proportion of the aged had no relations to assist in their support. In this situation there is not much choice but to go into a home. Accordingly, the private speculators able to move into the market, to use the nursing home industry as an opportunity to garnish very generous profit rates, are able to charge these excessively high prices.
I want to say something about how the market forces can be influenced by direct public intervention. What the Labor Party would do would be to build public nursing homes throughout the community. It would identify areas which would have some sort of priority for this purpose. The Labor Party would supply a wide range of plans from which a choice could be made, so that there would not be a dull uniformity about the sorts of buildings which would be constructed. Most probably local authorities could have immediate responsibility for administering these sorts of homes, although we would hope that voluntary agencies would staff and operate them. We are talking about a much greater public involvement in the provision of these homes, and this is needed. Between 1963 and 1971 the percentage of nursing home beds in the public sector, as a percentage of the total number of these beds, fell from 37 to 27. It is clear what occurs in this situation. The distortion isin favour of the private sector. Accordingly, with relatively fewer public beds available, the capacity of the public sector to contain prices - to act as a restraint on the private sector - is tremendously diminished. When you have this sort of situation of general scarcity of nursing home beds, largely because of inadequate domiciliary services, there is not much choice for consumers of this sort of service. Accordingly, the private sector is able to bump up the cost of the services it is offering.
One feels oppressed as one moves about and sees so many of these homes, as I mentioned earlier, often totally unsuitable buildings, but even more importantly, providing nothing more than minimal nursing services and a bed, providing no stimulation and no occupational challenges for the people in these homes so that they become institutionalised. They get on to a sort of sickness syndrome and are destroyed physically and mentally by the dullness and the lack of stimulation in the environment in which they are living. It is a well established and depressing fact that so many people when they enter these sorts of institutions go into a rapid state of physical and mental decline. To the extent that people have to go into these homes - I want to say something about trying to prevent this - there ought to be professional people such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists and dietitians who could help these people, keep them stimulated, keep them interested and keep them involved even within the institution. This is the whole problem with the way in which we approach the role of nursing homes. We over-institutionalise. The whole complex is orientated towards institutionalisation. 1 have some figures which have been supplied by the New South Wales Council on the Ageing which are interesting. They show for a number of countries the persons over 65 years of age per 1,000 of population in different sorts of institutions. In the United States of America the rate is 10 in nursing homes and 14 in hostels, making a total of 24 per cent overall institutionalised. Honourable members will notice the proportion favouring the hostel service. In England and Wales the rate is 17 in nursing homes and 21 in hostels, with a total proportion of 38 per cent. In New Zealand the rate is 14.3 per 1,000 in nursing homes and 30.7 in hostels, with a total of 48 per cent. Honourable members will notice the disproportionate favouring of hostels where there is more independence and supportive care for an inmate. But when we come Australia we find that the rate in the nursing homes jumps dramatically to 43.4 per 1,000 population and in hostels it is only 16 per 1,000 population giving an overall institutionalisation figure of 59.4 per cent. That is very imbalanced and it shows up something that is not quite attractive about public responsibility on the part of the Liberals. The whole concept has been to stuff old people into nursing homes and not to provide the services which would allow them to stay in their own homes, to stay with their families, to stay in the suburbs where they have been born and bred, where they have reared their children and where they have a spiritual relationship, which is a very important thing and which has been wrecked and shattered to the great disadvantage not only of those people but also of society, because there are social costs involved in this sort of thing.
In the meantime, the philosophy behind what has been done by the Liberals ~n nursing home programmes has been to foster the private sector. I have quoted figures to show how this has occurred under the Liberals. The private sector of nursing home services has become a high cost real estate speculative area, bringing in big returns, with advertisements proposing a 20 per cent return on dividends to investors. That is a high earning area. One cannot help but feel strong objections to the fact that what should be a key public service, as health and welfare in other areas are regarded as a public responsibility, is not regarded in that way. This area should not be part and parcel of the private profit making sector. Certainly, some homes will continue to be provided in the private sector. They will be more in the line of opulent service for those who want to afford that sort of thing. But by and large, for the bulk of the community the high standards of excellence which the Labor Party aims at in public nursing homes, run relatively autonomously at the local regional level in terms of administration, are the things that ought to be aimed at.
If you can develop these sorts of nursing homes you immediately create a situation in the market where you have an offsetting factor working against the high profit makers, the speculative private enterprise sector of the nursing home service. Accordingly you can apply market pressures to control prices. In regard to these standards of excellence, I am thinking not only in terms of the hardware that we put into the place but the sorts of services and the type of staff and the quality of satisfaction given to these people. I quoted earlier some information which the New South Wales Council on the Ageing provided. Let me quote from a letter which was written by this body in reference to the provision of food in nursing homes. It reads:
As to the next big ‘pay-out’ for nursing homes - the food bill. It is interesting to compare food costs per day and the words of a nutritionist.
The letter goes on to give the cost in terms of the true cost today. It reads:
Sydney Hospital, 90 cents per day;
Church of England Homes, 84 cents per day;
Some private nursing homes, 47 cents per day.
That is the sort of investment in the provision of food for aged people for whom some of the private nursing homes are responsible. That is nothing but sheer crude and inexcusable exploitation of aged people in serious need. The letter goes on:
The words of the nutritionist, Dr’ Joan Woodhill (Chairman, Division of Nutrition, and Dietetics, Prince Henry Hospital):
Illness, too, sometimes reduces appetite and we have a vicious circle because if the nutrition is poor the appetite does not improve. This is one of the interesting responses which prove that proper nutrition gives an increase in appetite.’ -
They are some of the reasons why we believe there must be a greater public involvement in this.
Let me quote some figures extracted from an answer to a question asked by the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy). They refer to the’ average costs of private nursing homes in relation to public nursing homes to June 1971. They show a disparity, in terms of weekly costs, for private nursing homes when compared with public homes. In New South Wales for the intensive care the cost is15 per cent greater, and for ordinary care 56 per cent greater. In Victoria for intensive care the cost is 41 per cent greater- that is $21 more than in a public home- and for ordinary care it is 170 per cent; or $44 a week, more than in a public home. In Queenslandthe cost is 30 per cent greater for intensive care and 50 per ‘cent greater for ordinary care. These figures, to me, dramatically illustrate the point I made earlier. How can the Government justify this wide disparity and this differential system of subsidies which it is proposing when it is clear that some private nursing homes are exploiting the present market situation. We would build these nursing homes, as I mentioned earlier, but we would also develop adequately and extensively, and undertake as a vigorous obligation, the provision of domiciliary services.
In the case of the home nursing services, which must be seen as part of domiciliary services, one sees that the programme to date has not been as successful as the Government would suggest on the figures it supplies. Given the fact that the allocations available are not fully utilised, one wonders how the Government expects to achieve worthwhile improvements in these services. (Extension of time granted.) The amount has not been fully taken up because the amount that the Government is prepared to spend is related not only to the maximum aggregate figure but also to the level which State governments are prepared to spend. For the 10 years up to June 1972 the allocation available was underspent by $2.2ra and more than half of that was underspent in Queensland. What does this mean in real terms? It means that if the Commonwealth did not tie allocations in this way an extra $1 could be spent on every $4 which was spent. Voluntary agencies such as the Blue Nursing Service in Queensland would have no trouble in absorbing this extra finance. I suggest that the sort of thing we have in mind is to sunder these artificial ties which consciously have been defined by the Government to restrict its outlays knowing full well that the State governments are constrained in what they can provide for the development of these sorts of services.
In the case of home care services, it will be remembered that in 1969 the Minister for Social Services with some grandiloquence outlined a programme of home care services, paramedical services, senior citizen centres, welfare workers to be provided in these services, plus nursing homes. He claimed that an amount of $2.5m a year would be spent during the next 5 years on the development of these services - key services in terms of domiciliary assistance especially for aged people. By cleverly tying the allocation or the’ expenditure of the Commonwealth to equivalent State expenditures the Government has tapped down very successfully the amount of actual expenditure. In the 3 years so far the Government has spent $2m. It promised to spend $2.5m each year. So accordingly already it has underspent by $5.5m the amount of money which it was going to provide for this purpose. The Minister for Social Services at that time said:
In addition to estimated Commonwealth expenditure of Sim a year under the present Bill the estimated Commonwealth expenditure under the Bills to be introduced by my colleague is J 1.25m a year. So the total will be $2.25m a year.
But this figure has never been reached. As I have pointed out, the Commonwealth Government - the Liberals - has already underspent its promise by $5.5m.
Let me restate some of the things which we propose to do. We would take steps to break this dependence on State commitments and go direct to the community, direct to the voluntary agencies and local authorities to see that the development of these sorts of services is adequately funded. We would build nursing homes as part of public health services in the community, the aim there being to develop market forces which would restrain the speculative exploiting tactics of certain, but not all, private investors in nursing homes. We would provide money for the development of adequate domiciliary services in the community and would give this higher priority than nursing home services for the reasons I stated earlier. We would look at ways in which we could effect a system of grading nursing home services. The way in which no distinction is effectively made between the qualitative standards of nursing services being provided in the community is quite crazy. We would move to phase out progressively those nursing home institutions in the private sector which are clearly inferior in the standards of accommodation and service provided. We would develop ways to provide through the public nursing homes we have in mind the service of dietitians, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. We are not going to fiddle around with a deceitful device such as tying our commitment or our expenditures to State allocations in an effort to minimise actual expenditures. We will go dirctly to the community and effectively develop these sorts of services.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. When the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) was speaking earlier this evening he attributed certain views to me, but those views are not mine. I saw him after his speech and asked him whose views he had given. He agreed that they were not mine and said that he would retract any implication that they were my views. He has not done so. Therefore I would like to put the record straight. They are not my views although they were attributed to me by the Minister. Subsequently the Minister has admitted that they are not my views.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. When the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) spoke earlier this evening he said that I repre sented the Castle Hill area but had done nothing about the building of a hospital in that region. I want to tell him now that 1 am in collaboration with the chairman of the district hospital and also with the New South Wales Minister for Health on that issue. I presently have a full submission before the Federal Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). The honourable member for Prospect also referred to the possible location of an international airport at Richmond. I want to tell him that the forces I have assembled ensure that there is.no possible chance of an aerodrome being established at Richmond, New South Wales.
Debate resumed (vide page 825).
– When the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) spoke in the Budget debate last Tuesday evening he did not have one good word to say about the Budget. He levelled many charges against the Government. He made many criticisms of the Government and that is fair enough, because he is quite entitled to criticise, but the public are equally entitled to know the facts and they should not accept his criticisms at face value. The Leader of the Opposition criticised inflation, unemployment, social service benefits, taxation reductions and Australia’s growth rate. I would like to examine some of those criticisms to see just how valid they are.
No-one likes inflation and I would like to see it at a lower rate but I would not like anyone to run away with the idea that
Australia is the only country which is suffering from inflation. Inflation is affecting most countries. The latest issue of the monthly review of business statistics put out by the Bureau of Census and Statistics includes a table which lists the changes in the consumer price index for 22 countries including Australia. The table takes 1963 as the base year. It shows that of the 21 other countries listed 3 had marginally better rates of inflation than Australia. Two other countries - West Malaysia and Singapore - had much better rates than Australia and 16 other countries had higher rates. In those 16 were the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland. I do not believe that Labor’s policies are designed to reduce inflation rates. Labor wants shorter hours, longer holidays and higher pay.
– Hear, hear.
– The honourable member for Wills agrees, but Labor does not have any regard to increased production. Shorter hours and higher pay without increased production must result in higher prices. The Opposition stands for a 35-hour week. It has been estimated that the cost of introducing a 35-hour week without increased production would be from$2, 500m a year to $3,000m a year. Honourable members may be interested to learn that industrial stoppages to the end of May this year, according to figures supplied by the Department of Labour and National Service, caused a loss of more than 2½ million working days and a loss to workers of nearly $38m in wages. Surely these factors must add to inflation. The last annual report of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd showed that industrial stoppages had cost the company enough money to pay 800 men full time for one year. On the waterfront the time lost through stoppages was equivalent to that required to keep one ship in operation for 1½ years. I do not believe that the Australian Labor Party can avoid taking a very large share of the responsibility for whatever inflation we have in Australia.
Let us have a look at what the Leader of the Opposition had to say about unemployment. Presently it is running at about 2 per cent of the work force. The Leader of the Opposition says that that is too high and I agree, but not many years ago the Australian Labor Party spokesman on these matters accepted 5 per cent unemployment as being virtually full employment. Personally, I would like to see that every person who wants a job and is capable of taking a job is in employment, but other things have to be considered in regard to unemployment. Bad as the unemployment rate of 2 per cent is, it is one of the lowest rates in the world. For example, it is better than the unemployment rates at present in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Italy. At present about 100,000 people are registered for employment. That figure includes married women whose husbands are in employment, but I do not know the number of married women included in the number registered for employment. However, I do know that the 1947 census showed that 8 per cent of married women were in the work force. The 1972 census showed that 35.2 per cent of married women are in the work force so I think it is fair to assume that a substantial number of registrants for employment are married women whose husbands are working.
We are entitled to ask ourselves why these people are out of work. As I said earlier, 1 do not believe that the Labor Party is blameless in this matter. The industrial stoppages to which I have referred affect the employment not only of the people directly involved but also the employees in the servicing industries. Strikes cost a great many people their jobs. The Leader of the Opposition has said that 2 per cent unemployment and 100,000 registrants for employment are too high. That is so, but evidently the honourable gentleman is prepared to risk a much higher rate of unemployment than 2 per cent. I say that because of what he has said about tariff rates. He said that generally speaking the tariff rates are too high. Everyone knows that high tariff rates are designed to protect the jobs of Australian workmen. The Leader of the Opposition is against protect the jobs of Australian workmen against imports. The Leader of the Opposition has had thrown at him quite a lot his view that the Australian dollar is under valued and ought to be revalued upwards. As has been pointed out by a great many of my colleagues, if the dollar were revalued upwards it would make it much harder to export our primary products and manufactured goods. It would make much easier the entry of imports into Australia. This would threaten the jobs of many Australian workers and they should take notice of that possibility. The employment position has one positive aspect. There are more people in jobs in Australia than ever before. A higher percentage of the population of working age is in the work force. But let me return to consider unemployment.
– A good idea.
– 1 am told that that is a good idea and I am glad to hear it. The Labor Party expresses concern for unemployment and showed its concern when last in office by paying an unemployed man with a wife and 4 children $5 a week unemployment benefit. That was a long time ago. If we increased that rate in accordance with changes in the consumer price index the same man would now receive $13.70 a week unemployment benefit. But what unemployment benefit does the Government pay? The Government pays to an unemployed man with a wife and 4 children unemployment benefit of $43 a week.
The sentiments of the Labor Party in regard to social welfare and unemployment benefit would ring much more truly if it practised what it preached. Actions speak louder than words. I have detailed what Labor did when in office and that is what is important, not what it talks about doing while it is in opposition. Members of the Labor Party speak with 2 voices. The Leader of the Opposition has criticised what this Government is doing in the field of social services. He is very much more vulnerable on this subject than on any other subject. He has criticised the recent increases in pension rates and has said that they are not enough, although pension rates have been increased twice in the last 6 months. While in the last 12 months the consumer price index has moved upwards by 6.14 per cent, this Government has increased the single pension rate by 15.94 per cent and the married pension rate by 13.11 per cent. The Leader of the Opposition in referring to these increases in basic rates glossed over many other benefits. These increased rates represent only a very small part of the story of what the Government has done in this Budget for the less fortunate people in the community.
In case many people do not realise this, when the Budget measures have been passed there will not be a single pensioner in Australia who is entirely reliant on his pension and has to pay rent who will receive less than $24 a week. No married couple who now become eligible for a rent subsidy and who are entirely dependent upon *heir pensions will receive less than $38.50 a week. When the Australian Labor Party was last in office a single pensioner lost his entitlement to receive anything at all when his income reached $6 a week. He also lost his entitlement to a pension if his property had a value of $1,500. That figure completely disqualified him. But today, under this Liberal-Country Party Government, a single pensioner can own his own home and have $10,800 in the bank and he will still receive the full pension of $20 a week. He does not lose his entitlement to some pension until his property, other than his home, reaches a value of $31,600. If he has no property he does not lose his entitlement to some pension until his income reaches $60 a week.
A married couple may have property to the value of $18,740. They may derive what income they can from the $18,740. They can invest it at any rate of return and the income is exempt. This is not as it was under the last Labor government. The married couple will still qualify for a pension of $34.50 a week. The figure at which they receive bo pension at all is when their property other than their own home reaches a value of $54,640. If they have no property but have provided for themselves by way of superannuation, they do not lose their entitlement until their income reaches $103.50 a week. That is a long way different from what a pensioner ever received under a Labor government. When Labor went out of office in 1949 it paid the single pensioner $4.25 a week. Since that time the consumer price index has moved upwards by 174.6 per cent, which means that the single rate pension today should be worth SI 1.75 a week. But this Government has not increased the rate only in line with the change in the consumer price index. The Government has increased it by 370 per cent and it now pays the single pensioner $20 a week. In addition to that, the Government will pay him supplementary rent assistance of $4 a week which he would not have received under the last Labor government. Let me point out to honourable members the difference in the effect of the 2 means tests. Under Labor, only 39 per cent of persons who were eligible by age received age pensions; today, more than 61 per cent of such people are eligible to receive a pension because this Government has greatly eased the means test.
The Leader of the Opposition criticised Australia’s growth rate. He said that Australia had one of the lowest growth rates in the world. He criticised the Government because the percentage growth of Australia’s gross national product has fallen over the past few years. I obtained a table from the Bureau of Census and Statistics which shows the percentage growth of the gross national product at constant prices for quite a number of countries. This table indicates that, over the same period that the growth rate of Australia has fallen, the same thing has happened in the United States of America, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands and the countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. As for Australia having one of the lowest growth rates in the world, the same table shows that, for the last year in which comparative figures were available, the Australian rate was better than that for the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and the OECD countries.
Let me now turn to the subject of taxation. The Leader of the Oppisition said that the Budget will not reduce taxes. I would suggest that he try telling that to the workers who will receive extra money in their pay envelopes after 1st September. As the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) pointed out in the Budget Speech, a man with a wife and 2 children, in receipt of $98 a week, which is the approximate average weekly male wage, will gain an additional $2.75 a week. If he has a wife and no children and receives $85 a week, the increase in his pay envelope will be $2 a week. I should like to say one more thing about income tax. I refer to a leading article which appeared in the ‘Australian’ on Thursday, 24th August. I will not quote the entire article which is headed: ‘Whitlam must explain tax policy*. I shall quote just 3 sentences. The article states:
It is now clear that the most embarrassing question anyone can ask Mr Whitlam during the election campaign will be whether he is prepared to guarantee not to raise taxes if Labor wins office. . . . The inescapable conclusion is that Mr Whitlam will not be cutting income tax; he will be raising it by 10 per cent or more.
The article claims that if Labor is elected to office and keeps all its promises, Mr Whitlam will have to do just that. I have heard it said that the Government should have cut sales tax to reduce the price of goods and give the public more spending power. I know that the Government has looked at the area of sales tax but there is no guarantee that any reduction in sales tax would benefit the consumer. It could well be absorbed in the price margins of the wholesalers and the retailers, who could then say: ‘We were going to increase prices but the reduction in sales tax will enable us not to do so’. But by granting income tax reductions the Government has ensured that the worker will receive the money in his pay envelope and he knows what the tax reduction is worth to him.
During the course of his speech the Leader of the Opposition said that the Australian Government takes a greater share of the national revenue resources than any other federal system in the world but provides directly fewer government services than does any other comparable system in the world. I do not know whether or not that is true; I have not been able to check the figures. However, what I have been able to check is that, in its Budget presented in its last year in office, the Labor Party returned to the States 18 per cent of its total revenue. In this Budget the Government is returning to the States in excess of 25 per cent of its total revenue, so if what this Government is doing is not enough - I do not believe that it is - Labor’s record in this field is very much worse than the record of this Government.
The Leader of the Opposition has been peddling a theme: ‘It’s Time’. I quite agree; it is time that the people of Australia realised that this Government is responsible for the introduction of most of the social welfare legislation now in operation. The Government introduced the pensioner medical service, the nursing home benefits, homes for the aged, age tax allowances, hospital and medical benefits and guardians and mothers allowances, lt is time; it is time that people realised that this Government introduced housing grants and Commonwealth scholarships. It is time that the people realised that, under this Government, Commonwealth expenditure on education has increased by nearly 2,300 per cent over the amount provided by Labor in its last Budget. It is time that the migrants realised that it was this Government that - reduced from 20 to 10 years the residential qualifying period necessary for them to receive age pensions. It is time that migrants realised that it is this Government which introduced portability of pension rights which will enable them to take their pensions with them when they leave the country after they have qualified by residence and after other countries have passed reciprocal legislation.
It is time that the people realised that the Australian Labor Party stands for the abolition of censorship, the recognition of Scientology, the breakdown of the standard of our immigration programme, the importation of unemployment, because of the stated views of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to tariffs and the revaluation of the Australian dollar and because the Labor Party is pushing for shorter working hours without any regard for increased productivity. It is time that people realised . that if they want to continue to live iri a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world, in a country which is free from racial strife, in a country which provides incentives for those who are prepared to work and in a country which offers security to its citizens, they can ensure this by working for and voting for the return of this Liberal-Country Party Government which has served them so well over the past 23 years.
– We have seen the amazing spectacle of Government speakers attempting to blame everyone but the poor Government for unemployment and inflation. I would appreciate it if Government supporters did not dodge the issue that they are responsible for the situation which exists in Australia today. I express my disappointment at the many areas of problems that the Budget fails to rectify for the people of Western Australia. I refer in particular to the employment situation in my electorate where industries such as steel fabrication works are in a serious situation due to the scaling down or, in fact, the stopping of development projects caused by the international economic situation, the effects of this Commonwealth Government’s previous budgets and the failure of the Commonwealth to recognise the impending consequences of the situation and to take action on a national scale to rectify the crisis that it had .itself assisted to create.
The Government will say that the future is better: ‘We promise you that things will be better in the future. We promise that the Budget is designed to do this’. Before we move into the area of promises, what about the record number of bankruptcies, of companies in voluntary liquidation or in receivers hands? Who is responsible for this? Were those concerned all bad business men or were they caught up in the national mismanagement? What about those who, as a result of the collapse of the businesses, have not been paid and have had to go heavily into debt to survive? How long will it take them to recover? Will the Government departments, such as the Taxation Office, give a sympathetic hearing to their problems and wipe the debts? Of course not. So the small Australian businessman in the main, in the past a supporter of this Government, is wiped out financially and has to look around on the already overcrowded employment market for a position. However, he finds that he is too old or too inexperienced in the work offering or cannot compete with the unemployed migrant who is similarly distressed. Of course, a number of these people who cannot find decent employment are migrants and they have no hope of repatriation to their homelands, if they should desire to return home.
This is a distressing human problem. It is of no use promising a tax reduction to those who have lost ail and cannot earn a living. Even if they do start to earn they cannot trust the stop-go policy of this Government on economic and taxation matters. Let us face facts: This is an election Budget and on the proven past performance of this very same Treasurer (Mr Snedden) we will have a further mini Budget which will no doubt impose fresh taxes and be used to curtail any, in the Government’s opinion, inflationary tendencies in the economy. That is, of course, when the working man begins to purchase new cars and consumer goods, and to save money for holidays and the future security of his home and retirement. This Budget will encourage and, in many cases, force the working man to spend. The old saying of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer may apply. But a more appropriate saying would be that the overseas companies get richer and the Australian companies and resources get taken over. Not one indication of real protection is offered to Australian initiative and resources in the Budget. Even in a Budget of only promises this is hard to understand. But again I dare say that if the promise of protection for Australian industry had been made, it would no doubt be as shallow as promises that have been made on the means test in the past by this Government and its predecessors.
Let us look at 1928 when the BrucePage Government introduced the national insurance scheme. Prime Minister Bruce attended the Nationalist Party meeting which disapproved his legislation. He went back to his office saying that as he was not told to withdraw his legislation he would continue with it. But the final result was that the legislation was dropped, no doubt due to Party pressure. In 1938 Lyons promised that if elected he would introduce a national insurance scheme. The Temple Court financiers, the backers of the Liberal group, ordered Lyons not to proceed with the Bill without their permission. The result was that the legislation went through but was never proclaimed. It is still buried in the statutes. Remember that some of the inquiries associated with that legislation took 5 years. We then had to wait until Prime Minister Chifley of the Australian Labor Party was in power before any firm move was made to bring in the final planning for the abolition of the means test. A charge of ls. 6d in the £1 for social services was imposed to cushion the impact of the abolition. This collected £180m or S3 60m in today’s currency. Menzies won the election in 1949 on a promise that he too would abolish the means test. But what happened to the $360m? It went straight into the Consolidated Revenue Fund to finance the Menzies regime. Newspapers called it ‘The great steal’ when the truth was revealed.
Now, incredibly we have another promise to abolish the means test by a government with a history of betrayal in this area. People are expected to believe the Government. However, there has been no indication of where the money is to come from or what it will cost the community. There is to be just an investigation. If a national insurance scheme is to be brought in by this Government it would be brought in only to benefit the private insurance companies, not the people of Australia. How can the Government be trusted? In the words of an old proverb quoted by Prime Minister Chifley: ‘Only a fool allows the same dog to bite him twice’. In this instance the Liberals are coming up for a fourth bite. I know that the Australian people are not fools. They will not be bitten by this pie-in-the sky promise. Facts are what they want. They want performance, not promises. They will not be bitten by a Government whose first action in taking office 23 years ago was to dispose of the finance set aside to do away with the means test. This Government has made only a vague election promise to investigate ways and means of eliminating the means test, and we will find subsequently that it will not be doing so.
In 1938 benefits that were provided under the legislation at that time covered sickness, disablement, old age, widows benefits, dental treatment, travel to hospital, home nursing, infectious sickness, convalescent homes and many others of a comprehensive nature. This legislation was too progressive, and now 34 years later we are still waiting for complete protection in these fields. So much for the promises that have been made in this area. In the social welfare area there is so much to be done. Let us face it, we have a long history of neglect. On the one hand the Government says that it will provide home nursing care. Is this to be for our aged who must exist in rooms and substandard accommodation? We are made aware of the lack of Government initiative and of human understanding when the Government says that voluntary bodies will finally be formed, as did happen in the aged persons homes area. The Government did not have the courage to say to our aged community that it would tax them $2,000 to $4,000 to obtain admission to an aged persons home. Instead the Government said it would do it on the cheap. The Government would pay two-thirds of the cost and someone else would have to bear the rest. The Government said: ‘If you do not have the money, it is just your bad luck’. Does the Government not realise the personal sacrifices that have had to be made by so many people, in some cases involving all of their retirement funds? I am not decrying the fine efforts of so many voluntary bodies. In fact, I belong to one myself. What I am saying is that assistance must be extended to include State governments which have waiting lists of people not able to . be accommodated by these voluntary bodies. Accommodation must be supplied with no charge for rent.
There is no real relief for the working mother. If genuine concern had been felt, immediate taxation relief by way of tax deduction for money expended on child minding in day care and family care centres would have been provided; These mothers’ efforts to maintain themselves and their families should be rewarded. The diligence and initiative of these mothers- in not placing their burdens on the community should be recognised. This is particularly so in the case of the single parent. If the Treasurer listened to the voice of protest in Western Australia and paid attention to the current signing of petitions in this regard he would take another look at the matter. Many of these people are Working for a subsistence wage because of the charges which they must pay to child minding centres. Some are receiving a lower real wage than they would receive if they were on social services.
The Budget also highlights the situation of the separated couple where a person paying maintenance is not able to achieve further taxation relief. He has 2 families to support. This restricts and retards the future of the children of both families. With the lesser amount of money to be distributed between so many, what chance is there for the children of either family to go on to higher education and to enjoy future prosperity. It is not enough to say that we cannot be responsible for (he breaking up of parents. Of course we cannot. But we can legislate to protect our most valuable migrants - the children of Australian citizens. The Government’s record in this area is appalling. A fixed child endowment without a means test was introduced in 1941 by a Labor government. I venture to say that if it had kept pace with and been attached to wages and the current cost structure, we would have had a natural increase in the size of Australian families. This assistance would have obviated the necessity for a large number of our working mothers to continue at work. After all, the day when a woman worked by choice is gone. She must do it of necessity. It is another of the confidence tricks performed on working mothers by this Government. Paltry sums received in endownment are promptly absorbed by child minding fees or by necessities. Whatever the amount of payment is, it is totally inadequate.
In the social welfare field it is always a case of too little too late. This is what happens to our pensioner community. When the Government is going bad and is in need of votes the age pensioner receives an increase at the whim of that Government, irrespective of the Party in office. There is no tribunal to which pensioners can appeal They must take up a political campaign to put their message across. Any increases that come are far too late and have no retrospectivity, and are given after the Government has had the maximum of publicity from them for the purpose of obtaining votes. This is not good enough for our senior citizens, who have been granted an increase which is now $3 per week below the recognised present poverty line.
So the pensioner will be asked to support a government that has refused to attach the pension to an independent scale as requested by thousands of petitioners to this Parliament - that is, a fixed percentage of the average weekly national wage. No wonder they are frustrated as they realise once again that pensioners are being given an inadequate rise because of the lack of proper recognition of their plight by this Government which wishes to retain the ability to use pensions as a political ploy at some future date. The Government is not really interested in the pensioners’ welfare.
Another disaster is this Budget’s refusal to recognise the unemployment situation in Australia, in particular in the metropolitan area of Perth. No emergency grants are provided to relieve unemployment or to repatriate migrants affected by unemploy ment. Many of the people who came from overseas during the boom years for construction work are now unemployed, heavily in debt, and have little future. All they want to do is to return to their home country. Many of the unemployed are New Zealanders or from the eastern States. The very least that the Government could do would be to make repatriation relief available to these people. But what does this Budget do? It foreshadows the arrival of 140,000 migrants who will only add to the employment queues and to the cost to the Australian taxpayer of social services, and who will offer further competition to our already record and increasing level of unemployment. Of the 132,000 migrants who came to Australia in 1971-72, 11 per cent are registered as unemployed. The figures do not include the part time workers, the building workers and the people who are just too proud and are not registered for unemployment relief. The figures issued are at best a guesstimate, not an estimate.
The building unions in Western Australia have written to overseas countries requesting that no further migrants come to Australia until the situation changes. It is up to this Government to take immediate steps to stop immigration to Western Australia until the employment situation eases. More importantly, it must take a direct interest in the welfare of migrants who have been brought to this country by private project development firms which have nominated migrants and made promises which cannot be kept. Their entry is based purely on home project building and profit projects of the nominating company. They come not on the initiative of the Commonwealth or State governments but at the behest of private firms which have no responsibility whatever to the migrant, the taxpayer or the electorate. I ask that the franchise of these usurpers of the economy be withdrawn and that an investigation of firms so involved be made. I do not believe that any firm which nominates people, has them accommodated in its flats at the going high rentals and then sends commission salesmen to sell the migrants the company’s project homes or first and second mortgages and in some cases, offers personal loans at interest rates of up to 14 per cent, should be allowed to continue to operated unchecked. I do not believe that firms such as this should be able to add to the already high unemployment figures that exist in Western Australia or should have any say as to what happens to Australia’s immigration. It must be a matter for the Government alone.
What has the Government done about the situation? Has it stopped immigration and redirected the finance saved to unemployment relief? Of course not. It wants to play politics with the human misery of the unemployed and the bankrupt. Why, we even have the situation of political canvassers representing Government candidates knocking on doors saying that the Government will cure the situation and blaming the State Government for the problems. Even newspaper advertisements have been used. It is incredible that after 23 years of Federal Liberal administration a national employment and financial crisis has been created. The Western Australia Liberal Government left the present State Government with a growing unemployment problem and a State Treasury deficiency of some $12m - approximately $lm a year for each year of its office. No wonder the average man refuses to believe anything that is promised by people who support this Government.
Performance not promises, is what the public wants. The performance to date has been that of a stop-go economy, of stop-go welfare schemes and broken promises, particularly on the means test, and of Federal Government bond rate moves which have caused soaring home loan interest rates that have been passed on by building societies. No attempt has been made to ease this burden. In the area of home ownership and of direct assistance to existing home purchases there is a pitiful lack of assistance or of the understanding for the need to assist. But this lack of understanding and of compassion is again reflected in the failure of the repatriation benefit percentage payments to move forward. If a repatriation pensioner is receiving a 10 per cent or 20 per cent disability pension, or whatever the percentage might be, he is appalled by its diminishing value. In an inflationary economy it becomes poor reward for the sacrifices made. While other repatriation benefits move forward this aspect remains stagnant.
All people are amazed at the lack of firm provisions to establish prices justification machinery. If this Government or any government wishes to control its economy, the inflationary spiral needs to be checked. This can be done only if the cost of goods and services to the community is stabilised and the employer, the worker and the arbitration authorities have time to stop and look at the overall costs which every worker in the community must meet. Then wage justification and price justification can be linked and time allowed for the economy to stabilise. Instead, we have price increases, often in anticipation of wage increases. But why is this allowed to continue? Why is a stand not made in the interests of the community, the farmer and the worker? I suspect that it is because this Government has not the courage to stand up to overseas companies, finance houses and the banks that own the finance houses, and say that this has to stop.
The Government continues its never ending feud with the trade unions, provoking arguments by appointing a referee in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and then saying to that referee: ‘We don’t care what you do so long as- our side wins. If it does not, look out’. Australia is a nation known for and proud of its sportsmanship and fair play. So let politicians start acting in keeping with our tradition of national sportsmanship of which we are so justly proud. Let the referee decide industrial matters and let the Government stop intimidating the referee. In fact, let us appoint more referees to decide prices, and pensions. Above all, once a decision is made on such matters let us respect that decision. Of course, it is good tactics in an election year to stir up a few strikes and to create a situation where employers and employees fight each other publicly. Threats from Canberra, always made with an eye to the uncommitted voter, are not needed in such a situation. Recent industrial disputes in which members of the genera] public have been the principal sufferers show the need for genuine preventive conciliation.
Australia needs industrial peace and an end to using the trade unions as a whipping boy. It needs a government’ that will treat the unemployed as people and not as statistics. The poor and unemployed will always be with us as long as a LiberalCountry Party government is in office. Previous performances indicate that members of the Government are devoid of any political morality. Their duty should be to govern Australia in a way that will benefit the entire country. Instead, their decisions and their whole attitude to government are based not on whether Australia will benefit but on whether they will keep the LiberalCountry Party coalition in power. The Government’s attitude to unemployment in Western Australia is a case in point. The majority of the 12,846 persons now out of work in that State are in the Perth metropolitan area. The Government’s attitude is: They are Labor voters, so why help them? Providing work for the unemployed would bring benefits to everyone in Western Australia. Indeed, with more money in circulation from the wages that those people would earn, the Government might help to bring about an end to the recession it has caused. But from the Government’s point of view, money spent on helping the unemployed in Western Australia is wasted money because it will not bring the Government more votes. Very few members of the general public see the report issued monthly by the Department of Labour and National Service on the employment situation. Not many people would choose it for light entertainment. Month after month it has made grim reading. Page after page of it contains statistics that record the failure of the McMahon Government to come up with any ideas, suggestions, programmes or even sympathy with the unemployment situation it has created.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the Budget brought down by the Government. It provides for an estimated expenditure of $10,078m, which represents a huge increase over last year’s expenditure. It indicates the great growth which is taking place in this country, even taking into consideration the inflationary tendencies. It is a good Budget and has met with acclaim across Australia. When the Budget was introduced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) we on this side of the House noticed the grim faces of members of the Opposition. It was quite evident that it was a Budget that was good for the people of this country. It is more generous than was expected. Income tax is down; age, invalid, widow and service pensions are up; and the means test has been eased. Indeed, the means test will be eliminated over the next 3 years. This, is excellent news because it will benefit thousands of people in Australia, particularly those people on station properties and elsewhere who have been hard put , to meet their financial obligations.
Under this Budget it is proposed to increase the limit of permissible income from $10 to $20 a week in the case of a single pensioner and from $17 to $34.50 a week in the case of a married pensioner couple. The homes saving grant will be increased from $500 on savings of $1,500 to $750 on savings of $2,250. This will benefit many young couples who are desirous of building their own. home. Nursing home insurance benefits.! are to be introduced for contributors: to hospital insurance funds. In the field of child care, $5m is to be spent on child minding centres. The exemption limits on estate duty and gift duty have been liberalised. In the education field, there will. be more secondary, university and advanced education scholarships. This is something that we have desired for some time, and it has become a reality under this Budget. Those people involved in this field will be delighted with the increased opportunities for young students to obtain these scholarships.
Under the Budget income tax has been slashed by an average of 10 per cent. This measure rightly has been designed to favour the low and middle income earners, despite the attempts by the Austraiian Labor Party to reject this fact. Dependants’ allowances will be increased by $52, while the minimum taxable income will be raised from $417 to $1,041 per annum. This news has been greeted with enthusiasm and will help the family man and assist in improving the economy. These taxation measures will come into operation on 1st September. Already taxation forms showing the new scale of tax are available in post offices. This shows the Government’s concern that the lower tax rates should operate promptly. Honourable members opposite have endeavoured to put up a case to the effect that the resulting increase in wages and salaries will be eaten up by inflation before these measures come into effect. This is sheer nonsense, and salary and wage earners are applauding the prompt action taken by the Government, lt is all right to criticise moves by the Government to reduce taxation and to say that the reduction should have been greater, but the fact is that action of a positive nature has been taken to the extent of approximately $583m. That is some relief, and it has been very well received.
In the field of social services, the Budget will provide further assistance to all types of pensioners. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) has done a magnificent job in research and effort to bring in these increased benefits through the Government and with full acceptance by its supporters. An increase of $1.75 per week in the pension paid to single age and invalid pensioners and widows with children brings the new rate to $20 per week. The combined pension for married -couples has been increased to $34.50 per week, an increase of $2.50. This Government has increased pensions at frequent intervals during the last few years. Only in April of this year pensions were increased by $1, and they were increased last year also. It is >all right for the Opposition to talk about more increases, but the fact is that this Government has been accomplishing these increases. It is introducing them for the benefit of the pensioners.
Opposition speakers during the Budget debate have been most critical of the number of unemployed in Australia as shown in the latest figures released. The Opposition has been endeavouring to blame the Government for the situation that has arisen by pointing out that 95,733 members of the work force are unemployed. When we look at the situation we find that of these unemployed 33,427 are in New South Wales; 24,037 are in Victoria: 10,050 are in Queensland; 12,136 are in South Australia; 12,537 are in Western Australia; and 3,546 are in Tasmania. The biggest increases in unemployment in this country have taken place in the 3 Labor controlled States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. One would think that the Premiers of the Labor governments in those States would do something about this position. I have no doubt that they wish the figures were
17902/72- R~ 1301
much higher. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and other members on that side of the House have been talking since last year of the prospect of 150,000 and 200,000 being unemployed. This does not do their Party any good and it does not do this Parliament or the nation any good. It indicates to me that they are trying to frighten people into a situation in which there will be a colossal amount of unemployment in this country.
These people mentioned figures of this nature late last year, as I have mentioned already, and it would appear that they would be in full support of increased unemployment. We on this side of the House are pledged to full employment. For many years we have maintained in this country an employment level of 99 per cent. Now it is down to 98 per cent, which gives concern. However, no doubt this figure is the envy of. most overseas countries whose unemployment figures are far in excess of that operating in this country at the moment. The Government realises that the present rate of employment is not acceptable and it has taken measures to overcome the problem. We have eased monetary conditions, given unemployment relief in non-metropolitan areas, increased State works and housing programmes, and provided for income tax reductions and increased pensions. I was interested to read in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 26th August a letter written by a lady from Moree. It is signed ‘J. R. Hobson, Moree’. The letter is headed ‘Who wants to work?’ and reads:
Sir, The headline news on Channel 2 on’ 14th August was that there were 100,000 unemployed.
My son has been advertising m a widely read newspaper for a station hand. The conditions: over award wage: fully furnished, near new house, all electric: meat, milk, power and eggs, all free; school bus to local school, 2 miles. Result: no takers.
I also approached a professor’s daughter in regard to a mother’s help- good wages and full keep. She was not interested, she said, as she was drawing unemployment relief 1 wouldn’t know what it is costing the Government a month for unemployment relief, but it must be considerable.
There are many positions throughout bur countryside that are not being filled, such as those mentioned in tha: letter which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.
It is available to anybody who is interested in seeing it. The reasons for unemployment in Australia can be set down in quite a few ways which are outside the control of the Government. Excessive wage demands being made by the unions are forcing employers in this country to find ways in which to continue in business with a minimum number of employees. Wage increases have been running at the rate of 9 per cent per annum while prices have been increasing at the rate of 7 per cent per annum. This is a clear indication of excessive wage levels. Industrial unrest with unnecessary strikes and stoppages caused by communist-controlled unions has resulted in considerable unemployment. The recent strike by maintenance men employed by the oil companies caused a loss of millions of dollars to the nation and resulted in a big increase in unemployment as many industries and the petroleum distributors who are still having trouble with stocks have had to put staff off. The strike by the Victorian power distribution employees earlier in the year, caused a loss of millions of dollars to the nation and to the men and their families who were affected by it. All these happenings bring another squad of unemployed and loss of confidence in the industry concerned.
In the country districts of Australia unemployment has been created by the fall in wool prices and 3 drought years which have been experienced in the grain growing areas. These 2 factors have been responsible for the increase in unemployment in rural towns and districts and this trend has carried over to such secondary industries in the cities, as the agricultural machinery manufacturing industry, the automotive industry, the rubber and tyre industries, the iron and steel industry and a host of other. They have been severely affected and will not pick up again until the price of wool recovers and good crops of grain are harvested. This clearly shows that the cities are dependant upon the prosperity of the countryside to lift up their business activity with a resultant increase in job opportunities. This is one of the very good reasons why there has been unemployment and, if the Government were not assisting with grants to country areas, it would be much worse. The working man in Australia would now have his greatest opportunity to provide the necessities of life for himself and his family if it were not for strikes engineered in the main by communistcontrolled unions. It would be in his interests to rid himself of this cancer which has taken over key unions of this country, to get rid of the communist leaders and have good, sane leaders take over, leaders who are prepared to abide by arbitration and get on with the’ job of production which is so necessary to our economy.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) has mentioned the establishment of a national rural bank. In the . Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) it was announced that S20m would be provided to improve the long term loan position of farmers. This is an initial allocation to be used in facilitating increased availability to farmers of long term loans and the establishment of a national rural bank. This proposal is the result of exhaustive studies by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics into the rural credit supply situation and of talks with primary producers and institutional leaders. Full credit must go to the Government and to the Minister for Primary Industry for instituting this progressive step. The Minister has had conferences wilh the Commonwealth Bank df Australia and private banks on the proposal. Existing institutional advances in excess of $2,100m are outstanding at the present time in the normal banking system and it is apparent that Government funds alone cannot meet the demand in an increasingly capital intensive rural sector. Full details of the national rural bank proposal are yet to be finalised but no doubt the Minister will be giving us the facts and figures in the very near future. Other countries have this type of finance available to primary producers and with our varying seasonal conditions “ across the board it could be the means Of solving credit facilities here.
It must be remembered that the Commonwealth Development Bank was founded and commenced operations on . 14th January 1960. It was established under the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959 and had as its starting point the assets and liabilities taken over from the industrial finance and mortgage bank departments of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, together with S5m in new capital. That was the equivalent of SI Om. Its total capital at that time was £15,857,000 with £5,428,000 from the mortgage bank department and £5,429,000 from the industrial finance department. I quote those figures to show how this Bank has grown. Today its capital is $61,714,000. I have no doubt that when the rural finance bank is started, with a capital of $20m, it will grow and build in the same way the Development Bank has.
The Government’s policy to reduce the level of estate duty has been widely accepted. This reduction will apply to 95 per cent of dutiable estates and will mean that approximately 50 per cent of all formerly dutiable estates will be totally exempted from duty. The taking of this step follows a long history of representations from rural industry organisations. For many farmers facing a struggle in the near future to provide for the payment of estate duties, the Commonwealth’s move will be very welcome. It must be remembered that when the total estate duty bill is added up the Commonwealth’s share is less than one-third of the States’ tax. Therefore it is hoped that the States will follow suit in this connection. All rural producers will benefit. The thinking behind the Commonwealth’s action to reduce estate duties flows from 2 factors. The first is that estate duty exemption limits generally have remained unchanged for all estates since 1963. with the exception of the exemption granted to rural producers in 1970. The second is that rising money values have meant that an increasing number of quite modest estates have become dutiable, thus causing great concern to people on the land who built up studs and other agricultural assets over the years.
In this Budget all statutory exemptions from estate duty have been doubled. This move means that the cut-off point for primary producers will be $48,000 where the estate passes to close relatives and $24,000 where it passes wholly to others. These exemptions will taper off at the same rate as exemptions for ordinary estates taper off - the complete taper off points for primary producers being $240,000 and $120,000 respectively. I have a table which clearly sets out the new estate duties, the point at which they cut out and the estate duty payable on the various estates. I ask that that table be incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted?
– No. I would like to see the table first. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, there is an arrangement in regard to the tabling of documents. If the honourable member had had the courtesy to show the table to me I would have looked at it. If he brings it to me I will look at it, but these things should be done properly.
– A lot has been said in this Parliament about foreign capital flowing into this country. This matter is an important one and one which must be looked at carefully by the Government. A country such as Australia must have a certain amount of foreign capital to assist in the overall expansion of industry and in the development of our natural resources. However, the inflow has reached a point at which we as a nation must ask whether we need it in the form in which ownership and control pass to foreign hands. We have finished the financial year with a capital inflow of about $2,000m.’ The overall balance of payments surplus is about $1 ,500m, which means we have reserves of about $4,000m at the end of the financial year. This reserve gives us cause to examine immediately foreign investment in this country. We must act quickly to examine foreign ownership and control. It must be looked at realistically and decisively. Possibly new policies are necessary in various areas. There is the question of interest rate policy and the extent to which higher rates in Australia contribute to the flow of certain kinds of capital from abroad.
I know that the Government is looking carefully at the whole area of overseas investment in Australia, including takeovers. One of the many questions is whether we need to set up some kind of screening process to ensure that overseas capital is employed in ways which are to our mutual advantage. Australia is such a prime target for overseas investors that surely we can afford to be selective and to set reasonable conditions. We should establish rules and mechanisms which are compatible with the continuing flow of desirable foreign investment, which prevent undesirable foreign takeovers and which contain foreign domination of important industries. There must be a mechanism to preserve for Australia the opportunity to have a stake in great new developments. Our responsibility to future generations of Australians is to leave them as owners, not tenants.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 have no objection to the table which the honourable member wishes to have incorporated being incorporated, but certain courtesies should be observed in this matter. The usual practice is that material which an honourable member opposite desires to have- incorporated is submitted to our side first. Subject to that, I have no objection; but I think that the rules should be observed. If members on our side want
– It must be disappointing to the troglodytes in the Country Party corner that the Budget is an absolute fizzer. As far as one can tell from conversations around the country, the ordinary citizen just says: ‘Well, why did they not do it years ago?’ The facts are that pensions are still inadequate and that unemployment is still creating great hardship. My colleague, the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe), who seems to belong to a long past age, says: ‘The something incorporated we submit it to a Minister, and if honourable members opposite want material incorporated they should submit it to the Opposition.
– If I have - infringed any courtesy of the House I am very sorry and I apologise. I have seen certain documents presented in the manner in which I sought to have my table incorporated, and I thought that was the way to do it. I thank the honourable member for ‘Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) for drawing my attention to the correct procedure. I shall follow that procedure in future. i
– Leave is granted. The paper will be incorporated in Hansard. ‘ ;. (The document read as follows):-
workers won’t work’. He says that a farmer advertised for somebody to work on his farm, but nobody would turn up. The worker was to get a house, but the advertisement did not tell prospective applicants that they would pobably be expected to work 128 hours a week in the O’Keefe employer tradition.
The honourable member for’ Paterson has suddenly made a sort of death bed repetance after this Government has been in office for 23 years and said that we
ought to do something about overseas investment. The honourable member is obviously against a decent wage level in the community. This is the continuing grief of members of the Country Party. They are not unhappy about a high level of unemployment. As far as we are concerned, and I think as far as any humanitarian person is concerned, if any person is out of work the level of unemployment is too high. On the question of a bank for the rural industries, I cannot see why the Government does not use its power and make the Commonwealth Bank do its work.
For days now we have heard a Labor exposure of the deficiences of the Budget and the deficiences of the Government thinking behind it. lt has been answered almost invariably by a kind of pop politics from the other side, as in the disappointing speech made this afternoon by the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) and the equally disappointing one from the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley), who 1 do not think even knew we were discussing the Budget. Of course, the speech of the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) was remarkable for the nonsense he talked. He is the man who represents Eureka, and from his activities politically it is no wonder that at Bakery Hill, one of the symbolic spots of Eureka, the plaque on the wall of the building there is decayed and falling off - at least it was when I last passed that way.
Let me outline the issues as I see them. First of all, there is just sheer bad government. Nothing the Budget can do can repair that. The Government has failed to examine the needs of society in any depth. I believe that what is more elemental is that it has failed to grasp the simple fact that in modern times in a country such as this a government or a nation can control to a great extent its own destiny. The Government seems to think that we are in the grip of some sot of objective force which we cannot control, and so it gos on tinkering from day to day and year to year with currency and such items without getting down to the facts of life. We have not looked at the world of 1972 to see what we can do about it. One of the real concerns in the community which is of even greater importance than the issues that my friend the honourable member for Paterson was talking about is simply bad government as such - a failure by the Government to administer the country in any kind of effective fashion.
I will run through three or four instances. First of all, there was the opportunity to purchase Everard Park station in northern South Australia. For nearly 2 years it was available for the Government to buy. Everybody who is associated with it agreed that it ought to have been obtained. The Minister concerned had only to lean across the table and say: ‘Buy that’, and it could have been bought. The opportunity passed by. It was not until there was an outcry that the Government started to take some action - kind of Government by public clamour. Then there was the case of the Aboriginal ‘embassy’ in front of Parliament House. If any sort of reasonable negotiations had been undertaken there would have been no need for the piece of Government thuggery that took place outside Parliament House.
We should have given orders perhaps 12 months ago for the project N aircraft which we developed in Australia and had it properly launched around the world before this time. I instance also the case of the Victa aircraft which we were developing here in Australia. We are now buying it back from New Zealand. I suppose nothing demonstrated the greatest possible limits of Government incompetence than the handling of the position in Canberra during the recent petrol dispute. The buses in Canberra ran out of petrol. Many of them were off the road. At the same time, I drove from Melbourne and bought petrol all the way to Yass. I passed a tanker along the road which contained 8,000 gallons of niel. Yet the simple minded Government in Canberra could not keep the buses moving. I believe that that is one of the ‘issues.
However, I want to deal with what might be called some of the ‘odd thinking’ that goes on behind all this - the mythology of the Budget, if you like. I do not believe that the Budget is likely these days to produce the kind of magic which will change the political, social and economic life of the nation. It is produced in the House once a year. We can almost see the bated-breath, Christmas eve atmosphere: Be quiet; do not tell anybody what is in it; go to bed; do not wake up until 6 o’clock in the morning and then look in your stocking for what the Treasurer has given to you. The total impact of it is nonsense. It does not happen that way. Firstly, I ask: Why all the secrecy? What would it matter if almost every part of this Budget were known beforehand? There are a few items such as sales tax or excise which must be kept quiet so that they are not introduced in such a way that people can profiteer. But what would happen if we had known that the Government was to do something about pensions and estate duties? It is simply that we are living in the past. This does not belong to a modern administration. I believe that the Estimates which will come up for debate in a few weeks ought to have been dealt with before the Budget was presented. There is just no reason why estimates for each Department could not have been considered by some committee of the House. People could have examined them and those who are interested could have said: ‘We would have liked to have seen something better done in relation to hospitals, Aborigines or in this defence area or in that education area’.
There is no reason why, in many of these areas the Parliament could not participate instead of this mystic group of men in the Cabinet room fooling around with the matter week after week. I do not believe that this Budget demonstrates any real effort to control the economy. No imagination is shown. Perhaps it is old hat to refer back to the Labor government of 23 years ago. On the other hand, it is the done thing now to quote, for instance, that the education vote is now umpteen million dollars higher than it was in 1786 or some such magical period when nothing was happening. But what happened in 1947, 1948 and 1949? I recall that the Snowy Mountains scheme which was launched in 1948-49 was a project involving the expenditure of about S900m. That represented about one-fifth or one-sixth of the gross national product at the time, the equivalent these days to launching a project costing about $8,000m. Can honourable members imagine that happening?
I give another instance of the way in which a government can control a situa tion: Countless thousands of Australian servicemen returned to civilian life in 1945-46. They were all paid their deferred pay on the dot. I think that it was in 1945-46 that they were paid $144m or about 5 per cent of the gross national product at the time. It is the equivalent to an extra pay-out in this year of almost S2,000m. Yet prices were kept under control. Everybody came back to full employment. It is the total lack of imagination that bothers me about this. One of the constant things has been the story about inflation. One would think that the Government had never read history. Let us turn back to the first Budget Speech of this Government. The Treasurer at the time said:
That was the Budget Speech of 1950. But what did the right honourable gentleman have to say 12 months later, after his first practice? He said:
The recent steep rises in . prices and costs bears witness to the acuteness of the problem of inflation. . . . This rise in prices and costs has, of course, grave social and economic consequences for many sections of the community.
So it has gone on year after year. The late Mr Harold Holt had this to say in the first Budget that I heard when I came to this place: .. . costs and prices have, beep tending to rise for the past couple of years and . . . latterly the rate of increase has become more rapid. The movement has reached a stage At which it is beginning to affect seriously the relative economic position- of the nation and everything else. Then we come to the Budget Speech of 1960-61 - 12 years ago - and we find that the Government was talking about the same thing. The Treasurer at the time said:
Prices and costs rose sharply - oyer last year and, so far, the rate of increase does not seem to be slackening.
He said that these were matters for concern. Let us turn to the last Budget. After 23 years of practice the story goes on and on, but the battle against inflation stemming from cost pressures will have to continue unabated.
Is it not time that we stopped in our tracks and asked what it is all about? I suppose, first of all, it is something to do with an expansion of society and the complexity of its nature. But surely to goodness, this constant theme of inflation means that there is something deeper happening to society and economics than that which we face with a tinkering of taxes and changes here and there. I do not know what the answer is. Perhaps it is true enough that so far nobody has found the answer. I believe that honourable members opposite are not even looking for it. For instance, the honourable member for Paterson concluded his speech by referring to the tremendous destructive effects of the trade unions and the frightful workers who wanted decent wages and so on and who used to strike. That has been a constant theme, too. Sir Arthur Fadden, in his first Budget Speech, said:
With these ends in view, the Government brought down legislation to deal with those enemies of Australia who, working through the trade union movement, were organising industrial strife and deliberately fostering practices which hold back production.
Only this week the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) made similar statements to the effect that attempts to curtail cost inflation in 1972 had been jeopardised by a strategically planned attack on industry by organised labour.
– Joseph Cook said the same thing.
– That is right. I find it continually dispiriting. Now honourable members opposite are weeping about the 35-hour week. I represent an industrial area of Australia. I do not go campaigning for the 35-hour week. I do not need to. It is as inevitable as the sunrise. There has been a tremendous rise in productivity in every factory in the country. One only has to go to a factory and ask the management: ‘How many shirts could you make next week if you were fully employed?’ How many cars could General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd and the Ford Motor Company of Australia and the rest of them turn out7 The thing that is completely overlooked by my colleagues opposite is the extraordinary rise in the productivity of every person in the work force. As I have said, we do not need to campaign for the 35-hour week; it will just happen.
The reality seems to me to be part of what one might call the profit psychology. There is something in the community that makes people jack up the prices no matter what. For instance, let us take one little issue. In Melbourne cement costs $1.50 a bag. In Canberra cement costs $2.10 a bag. Why is that? Why does this Government not do something about it? Here it has a laboratory to practise economic theories. We could do several things here. We could introduce a form of price control, I suppose. We could introduce complementary competitive Government action in all these areas. Now there is another villain in the field - metrication. For instance, a month ago 2i lb of Bega cheese cost $1.38. It is now marked ‘1 kg’ - which is, of course, a little less than 2i lb - and the price has gone up to $1.50.
The other area is that of mark-ups in retailing. I visited a shirt factory in my area which turns out a very high quality shirt for about $2.35 to the retailer.
– What make?
– This is a Henderson shirt. It is very effective. There is also J. Boag (Clothing) Pty Ltd and there are a few other manufacturers. R. J. Henderson Pty Ltd makes this quality shirt and it is sold by the retailer at about $4.50 to $5. The mark-up has now become habitual in many parts of retailing at 80 per cent to 100 per cent. About 20 years ago a shirt was made for say 15s and was sold for, say, 18s lid. We must launch an attack on this area of profit psychology. It is the same over the whole field of economics and a great deal of this in in the hands of the Government to control. It ought to make an effort to establish control over this area of profit; it ought to make an effort, particularly in Canberra, to control it. There is a constant weeping and grieving and wringing of hands about the inexorable inflationary spiral - which has in some ways, I suppose, been going on since the end of the Middle Ages - which ought to break the citizen’s heart.
In these areas of present problems such as unemployment, would it be terribly difficult to put 100,000 Australians to work on some of the social needs of the community? How many people would be involved if the Government decided to rebuild all the obsolescent schools in Australia, of which there are perhaps thousands? Or if the Government decided to modernise the Australian railway system and so put everybody to work in that area by standardising the track and rebuilding the rolling stock and so on, with the flowon right back into the steel mills and so on? These things are all part of a pattern. Somehow we are caught up with the mythology of it all, the myth that there is so much money, that there is a pool of it somewhere and that that is all we can use. This piece of mythology ought by now to have died a natural death. I have been through the figures shown in this document and I have found by looking up the amount of money in circulation, the gross national product, the amount of money in the banks, the overseas reserves and so on, that there is no necessary relationship between any of these things. There is no such thing as a pool of money. It is not a material factor at all. It is obvious that the decisions about these matters of employment and whether we can do this or that have nothing to do with what one might call a pile of gold in a corner somewhere. These are decisions by Treasury officials, by the Treasurer, by the Reserve Bank and by the banking system and so on. It is the government’s job to control these developments and to direct them towards the social welfare of the people of Australia. This country has extraordinary strength; I suppose it demonstrated this strength by maintaining full employment and growth despite the general incompetence of the governmental manager. It is one of the world’s largest manufacturing countries; its primary production has become embarrassing; it has mineral wealth almost beyond the belief of the rest of the world; it is one of the world’s largest trading nations, and we have productivity in almost every area which is equal in efficiency and certainly in capacity to that of almost every 0:her nation except the 7 or 8 very large ones. Out of all this it should be possible to produce the kind of society and the way of living for the people which will result in a satisfactory life for everyone. I do not see any evidence that the Budget has given any thought to this at all. If one takes all these areas of self reliance, capacity to organise ourselves because of these resources so that we can control our own destiny, then I do not believe there is any substantial future even in, say, international trade in this area. We have to work towards a largely self-reliant capacity, because that is what is happening throughout the rest of the world. That is what is happening with primary production around the world, with the green revolution whereas 4 bushels are being garnered in Mexico and Pakistan. 25 years ago there was only one. We are not going to be able to sell our shoes, ships and sealing wax, because countries are developing self-reliance. As I examine the capacity of this na’.ion, the opportunities at its door and the failure to do anything about them with 100,000 people unemployed, the costs of things rising, and ineffective efforts made to control the situation, and as I see the resources at our disposal and the first class administrative system that is available, 1 can only come to the conclusion that it is incompetence with a touch of genius that can get the country into such serious economic difficulties.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
However, speaking from an Australian point of view, I disagree with the view taken by Professor Ehrlich.
I lean towards the view expressed by Sir Peter Medawar in his Presidential Address to the British Association ‘On “The Effecting of All things Possible “ ‘, when he said that ‘The deterioration of the environment produced by technology is a technological problem for which technology has found, is finding and will continue to find solutions.’
The Commonwealth has taken, and will continue to take, appropriate action within its constitutional responsibilities to protect the environment in ways appropriate to Australian circumstances, e.g. by looking into the desirable level of the Australian population; establishing co-ordination of Commonwealth and State activities in the environmental field; and taking part in international activities such as the recent Stockholm Conference on the Environment.
*‘The Closing Circle: Nature, Man and Technology’ by Barry Commoner.
Sir Peter Medawar, Presidential Address to the British Association ‘On “The Effecting of all Things Possible” ‘.
The Doomsday Syndrome’ by John Maddox. immigration’s Role in Australian Population Policies’, an address to the 1972 Metropolitan International Relations Seminar (Association of Apex Clubs) at Picton (New South Wales) by The Hon. A. J. Forbes, M.C., M.P., Minister for Immigration on Sunday, 21 May 1972.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What is the present cost of training Army, Navy and Royal Australian Air Force cadets (Hansard, 23rd February 1971, page 549).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The present estimated costs of training a cadet in each Service are:
There arc also limited entries at the Naval College at the Junior or School Certificate level. The estimated cost of training these cadets to Matriculation level is S20.500. which is additional to costs shown above.
The reduction in the cost of training of nonAcademy Cadets to qualified pilot stage, from $41,000 shown in Hansard of 23rd February 1971 to $36,000 as shown above, is due primarily to a change in the course syllabus.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
As at 1 1th August 1972 the information sought by the honourable member is as follows:
Six persons sentenced to imprisonment for offences against the National Service Act are still serving sentences.
On 27th August 1971 Gary James Cook was sentenced to two years imprisonment for an offence against section51 of the National Service Act. His sentence was reduced to eighteen months by the passage of the National Service Act 1971.
On 21st January 1972 Ian Robert Turner was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment for an offence against section 51 of the National Service Act.
On 7th February 1972 Kenneth Joseph McClelland was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment for an offence against section 51 of the National Service Act. On 18th April 1972 his appeal against conviction and sentence was dismissed and the sentence confirmed.
On 25th February 1972 Robert William Martin was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment for an offence against section 51 of the National Service Act.
On 26th April 1972 Robert Geoffrey Scates was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment for an offence against section 51 of the National Service Act.
On 27th April 1972 Michael Kocan was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment for an offence against section 51 of the National Service Act.
I refer the honourable member to the answer given by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, to question No. 2666 in the House of Representatives on 21st April 197 1 - Hansard, page 1853, and to the answer given by my colleague Senator Wright on behalf of the Minister to question No. 1699 in the Senate on 1 December 1971 - Hansard, page 2227. In those answers it was explained what action is taken by the Department of Labour and National Service to detect those who do not register under the National Service Act when required to do so.
Failure to register (sec. 48) - 185 Making false statements (sec. 48b) - 1 Failure to attend medical examination (sec. 49)- 42
Failure to submit to medical examination (sec. 49a)- 1
Failure to comply with call-up notice (sec. 51)- 23
Leaving Australia without permission (sec. 56)- 2
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
At which meetings of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General has discussion taken place on legal aid on (a) divorce cases and (b) other matters since his predecessor’s answer on 23rd February 1971 (Hansard, page 549 and Hansard, 17 May 1972, page 2656).
– The Attorney-General has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
State Railway Systems: Acquisition by Commonwealth (Question No. 6026)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Have there been further discussions or correspondence with New South Wales or Victoria about the acquisition of their railways by the Commonwealth (Hansard, 6th May 1971, page 2908).
-I am informed that the the answer to the honourable member’s question is no.
asked the Minister represent ing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Why was the report which Mr Justice Jenkyn made on 8th February 1972 on the operation of the English Divorce Reform Act, 1969, not tabled before 1 June 1972 (Senate Hansard, page 2430).
– The Attorney-General has asked me to give the following reply:
Initially the intention was to include this report, because it was a somewhat technical document, as an appendix to a background document being prepared in my Department to assist the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs in its consideration of the subject of the law and administration of divorce, custody and family matters. In view, however, of the growing public interest in the subject of divorce law reform, I concluded that it should also be tabled in the Parliament.
asked the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Hon. R. J. D. Hunt, M.H.R., Minister for the Interior, representing the A.C.T. and the Northern Territory and also representing Commonwealth interests on behalf of the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities;
The Hon. V. O. Dickie, M.L.C., Minister of State Development and Minister for Tourism, Victoria;
The Hon. J. D. Herbert, M.L.A., Minister for Labour and Tourism, Queensland;
The Hon. D. A. Dunstan, Q.C., M.H.A., Premier, Treasurer and Minister of Development and Minies, South Australia;
The Hon. A. D. Taylor, M.L.A., Minister for Labour, Prices Control, Consumer Protection and Tourism, Western Australia;
The Hon. J. B. Poe. M.H.A., Ministerial Member for Trade and Industry and Minister for Tourism, Papua New Guinea.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice;
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The terms of reference and the membership of the inquiry into poverty will be announced as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honour able member’s question is as follows:
In relationto (1) (iii) - pensioner bed days - it should be noted that Commonwealth pensioner hospital benefits are paid only for hospitalisation in public wards of public hospitals. It should also be noted that Commonwealth hospital benefits were restructured on 1st January 1963, and the earliest year for which comparable figures are available is 1963-64.
Note: Separate figures are not available for Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory; Northern Territory is included in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland; Australian Capital Territory is included in New South Wales.
Details in respect of separate categories of hospital are not available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The explanations for the apparent inconsistencies from year to year in the pattern of the figures shown in columns (iii) and (v) is that they depend, not only on the size of the total deficit incurred for the year, but also on the overall number of contributors to the funds which incurred the deficits. For example, where a major fund was among those funds which experienced a deficit for a year, the total deficit is spread over a larger group of members resulting in a lower estimated adjustment to contribution rates which would have been necessary to avoid the transfer from reserves.
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Will he bring up to date the information which he gave on 12th October 1971 (Hansard, page 2225) on post-graduate students.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice: (1)Is the management committee of the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia composed mainly of medical practitioners.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720829_reps_27_hor79/>.