27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth: That the undersigned believe . . .
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist.
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners 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 Mr Fairbairn, Dr Forbes, Mr Hunt, Dr Mackay, Mr Howson, Mr Brown, Mr Cope, Mr Reid and Mr Scholes.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectively 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 short age of teachers in the secondary teaching service. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Malcolm Fraser, Mr Brown and Mr Fox.
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, Dr Klugman and Mr Luchetti.
To the Honourable 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 Davies, Mr Sherry and Dr Solomon
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 thatthe House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to provide the necessary finance to enable State’ education departments and local government authorities to establish:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Foster, Dr Klugman and Mr Reynolds.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the State of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
We need 3 new kindergarten classrooms urgently. Of the 4 now in use, only one in the main building, is adequate in size for modern teaching standards. The other 2 are conducted in the ‘Annexe’, the original school building over 110 years old!
Your petitioners, therefore, respectfully pray that your Honourable House will (i) make immediately a substantial Federal emergency grant to all State Governments for education services and (ii) carry out a public national survey to determine needs of the States after 1975.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Fairbairn.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the members of the House of. Representativesin Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the State of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
No assembly Kill
Insufficient art room space
Insufficient library space
Insufficient senior study area
Insufficient change room
No shower facilities
Insufficient laboratory space.
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your honourable House will ‘ (i) make immediately a substantial Federal emergency grant to all State Governments for public education services and (ii) carry out a public national survey to determine needs of the Slates after 1975.
And your petitioners, as in dutybound will ever pray. by Mr Beazley.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the members of the Home of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition ofthe undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That we are concerned (hat 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 take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government schools system for which the governmentis truly responsible. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Lionel Bowen.
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 stall’ 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 asembled. The humble petition of citizens of Australia respectively showeth:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Foster.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Victoria respectfully showeth:
That hospital fees paid on behalf of pensioner relatives suffering from chronic illnesses and hospitalised in Private Rest Homes are not allowed as concessional deductions with respect to income tax:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the government will take immediate action to alleviate the hardship being experienced by persons who pay such hospital fees.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Fox.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That on 10 December 1948 Australia signed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’
Yet, 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people live in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person- languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necessary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate- 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployed benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness’, fractures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the $5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals. 10 per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public inquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Keith Johnson.
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament aseembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth: That the undersigned believe:
That the Federal Government should conduct a survey into poverty within Australia. We believe there should be ‘an informed approach to overcoming poverty ‘which could only be adequately carried out after such a survey.
That the Government has special responsibilities with regards to: the rights and welfare of the Australian Aborigines.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that:
Australia’s official aid to overseas countries be raised to 1% of the Gross NationalProduct. (This excludes voluntary aid, military aid and investments in developing countries.)
Contributions to, registered overseas aid organisations by Australian citizens be tax deductible.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefitto the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditionsfordeveloping countries. by Mr O’Keefe.
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 respectfullyshoweth: ‘
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, it implemented, would avoid inundation ‘ of this lake.
That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.
And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. Ail 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 MrUren.
– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972 leave be granted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works until the end of the present period of sittings to meet during sittings of the House on each Tuesday.
– Does the Minister for Labour and National Service know that, as a consequence of the amendment to the Conciliation and Abritration Act which he introduced to the Parliament in the last session, it is no longer possible for parties to a dispute to settle their differences by an award, or consent award or industrial agreement if the award or agreement contains any reference to standard hours, annual leave or long service leave, even though the reference does not constitute any change in hours, annual leave or long service leave, unless it is approved first by a hearing of the Full Bench of the Commission? Is it true also that this requirement operates even when the award or agreement makes no change in those conditions? Will this amendment mean that the national wage flow-on to every single one of the many hundreds of awards and agreements under Federal jurisdiction, as well as roping-in application, also will be subject to a hearing and approval by the Full Bench? Was it the Minister’s deliberate intent that this procedure should apply when there is no alteration in hours or in leave, or was it a draftsman’s error, or was it due to the Minister’s failure to study or to understand properly the effect of his amendment to the Act?
– Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to finish his question. It is far too long.
– Can the present complement of presidential members cope with the Full Bench obligations? If not, does the Minister intend to bring up a Bill this session to rectify the error?
– I know that the honourable gentleman has been anxiously waiting for some days to pose a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I am only sorry that he has not directed his attention to some of the substantial questions which ought properly to be before the Parliament at this time. I think here of the matter of unemployment, and also of the degree of Communist influence in relation to the trade union movement. The honourable gentleman might have directed his attention to matters which are properly the subject of basic concern in the Australian electorate.
The honourable gentleman raises this morning what really is a technical question. He has drawn attention to a matter which has been before me for some days, namely, the technical implications arising from the matters to which he has referred. I say to him in broad terms, in the first place, that these matters have been before me already for some days; in the second place, officers of my Department in conjunction with officers of the Attorney-General’s Department are assessing the implications of the present position, and, in the third place, the honourable gentleman overstates the importance of the matter at this time. I am confident, having regard to earlier discussions which I have had with officers of my Department, that the matter can be resolved, and it will be resolved in the course of the present session.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I know that the Minister is aware of the increase in imports of cheap shirts and blouses and other made-up garments totalling $46m in the past year. Has he noticed that as a consequence some garment manufacturers are retaining staff only by working a 32-hour week? Would it not be better for Australia to adopt import quotas for the purpose of swelling the pay packets of workers in Australian factories rather than those of workers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and other Asian countries?
– There has been a great concern in the textile and clothing industries about the competition they are facing from imported clothes and textiles. Indeed, the Prime Minister and I received a deputation of representatives of this segment of the economy only last week. They expressed their concern at a situation which they felt was not improving. If anything, they were very depressed about the outlook for the industry, I was able to tell C.em that we have had discussions with various countries trying to arrange voluntary restraints. Whether this will be the answer I am not at liberty to say at present, but we have tried very hard to find an answer to this problem which is causing people to be laid off, to be placed in the unemployed group or to have their working hours substantially reduced.
If we are to keep our economy buoyant, which has been the objective of the Budget, we will have to look very seriously for the most satisfactory method of achieving that objective if we cannot reach a conclusion with the countries causing the problem so that they exercise voluntary restraints. This brings me back to the second point. When there is a problem like this in a section of an industry, its personnel and leaders must worry very much about the double hunger that has been thrown in their faces by the Leader of the Opposition. I refer firstly to his support for appreciation of the Australian currency, which would cause imports to come into Australia very much cheaper and so worsen the already difficult situation of the industry, and secondly to bis comment that he believes our tariffs are too high and should be reduced. All I can say about the Opposition is that it seems to have a policy of wanting to spell death and doom for these industries which give tremendous employment, particularly to females.
– My question, which I direct to the Prime Minister, arises from a question asked by the honourable member for Hawker last Tuesday, a question asked yesterday by the honourable member for Cunningham, and the answer given by the Minister for National Development dealing with supplies of natural gas in central Australia. I remind the Prime Minister that the Minister for National Development has said several times that it is Government policy not to export natural gas at this time. Is the Prime Minister aware of reports that an American corporation which is largely concerned with supplying American needs for natural gas - Pacific Lighting Corporation - has signed with the Palm Valley consortium comprising Magellan Petroleum Australia Ltd and other large American dominated companies a S900m agreement to export natural gas? ls this in expectation of a change of Government policy? Has there been a leak to this effect? If not, will the Prime Minister quash any such speculation?
– The Minister for National Development will answer the question.
– Yesterday in reply to a question asked by the honourable member for Cunningham I referred to a contract negotiated between Magellan Petroleum Australia Ltd and an American company. That American company is Pacific Lighting Corporation, to which the honourable member referred. I have had discussions with representatives of that organisation as well as with representatives of Magellan Petroleum Australia Ltd. The position is as I indicated yesterday. The contract which has been negotiated is subject to Government approval because, as I pointed out yesterday, an export embargo has been placed on liquefied natural gas. There is no export embargo on liquefied petroleum gas, it being a refinery by-product. Liquefied natural gas is found as natural gas and must be liquefied before export. Both the companies concerned know the policy of the Government in relation to this matter, namely, that there is a general embargo on the export of liquefied natural gas. It cannot be exported until we are satisfied, firstly, that Australia’s requirements for the foreseeable future will be met. Secondly, the policy which has been stated by the Government and which is clearly understood by all the State governments, because I have discussed the matter with every State government over the last month or so, recognises the possibility that, in remote areas such as tb~ northwest shelf off Western Australia, it may not be a viable proposition to supply natural gas from that area to some other areas in Australia. There may also be a surplus in that region for export. In those circumstances, consideration could be given to issuing export permits. Honourable members must remember that reserves in the northwest shelf, for example, will not be proven for some years. We anticipate that it will prove to be a very substantial deposit but it will not be proven until after many millions of dollars have been spent in that region. In regard to the contract that has been negotiated between Magellan Exploration Pty Ltd and the Pacific Lighting Corporation, as I stated yesterday this matter came first to my attention and it has been submitted to my Department for examination. We will have to consider all aspects of the issue, particularly the conservation of our reserves for our own requirements in the future and also, if we desire it, the encouragement of further exploration and the impact that this would have on our own industries. All these matters must be considered very carefully. As 1 said, the position has been discussed with all States and we have had their reaction to it. After the study, which will take some time because there are so many important aspects to be weighed, I will submit the matter to the Government for consideration.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Immigration. In view of the unemployment problems in Western Australia, will the Minister investigate the possibility of immediately curtailing further Commonwealth immigration to Western Australia except of those persons who have guaranteed employment and housing or to reunite families and will not displace or add to the employment difficulties of people who are already citizens of Australia? Will the Minister make repatriation more readily available to those migrants who are unemployed and who wish to return to their home countries, including New Zealand? Will he make the additional funds obtained by the curtailment of immigration available for relief in the unemployment area until unemployment is relieved?
– As the honourable gentleman would be aware if he has followed the statements made by the Government, the administration of the immigration pro gramme has been remarkably sensitive to the situation of employment in Australia. There has been very close consultation between my Department and the Department of Labour and National Service and, during the period in which unemployment has been higher than we would wish, regular instructions have been issued to our overseas posts to make absolutely certain or as certain as one can be that people are not brought to Australia in occupational categories in which they would have difficulties in finding employment in Australia. I have received advice about the number of migrants in migrant hostels and the periods for which they have waited in the hostels before obtaining employment. The advice is that things have been better than normal throughout this period. I believe that this is a remarkable effort on the part of the Government and the 2 departments concerned. That being the situation, I do not believe that the second and third parts of the honourable member’s question apply.
– Can the Minister for Social Services provide any details of the proposal to accelerate the provision of hostel type accommodation in aged persons’ homes? When will the necessarylegislation be introduced into the House?
– The Government’s plan of assistance for the ailing aged will be implemented partly through my Department and partly through that of my colleague the Minister forHealth Hostels for aged persons are an integral part of our plan and there are 2 aspects of it. The first is that we are doubling the personal care subsidy paid to people over 80 years of age in these hostels and it will be $10 a week. Those people comprise not quite half of the inmates. The result of this, in conjunction with the increased rate of pension and supplementary assistance, will be that the non-profit organisations which conduct these hostels will be able to meet the full costs from the pensions payable and the subsidy and still leave to the residents enough for amusement and a decent life. This aspect will be dealt with in the Bill which I am hoping to bring in in the next sittings of this House - the main Social Services Bill.
The second matter is the crash programme for 3 years to increase very quickly the number of hostel beds available. This plan will be contained in a separate Bill which I would hope to introduce into this House as soon as we reassemble after the next recess. I hope it will be ready by then. I do not think I should take up the time of the House now to give details of this Bill but I assure honourable members that it will be of the most far reaching nature and that it will be considered to be extremely beneficial to these people. I shall give details when the Bill comes before the House, which, I hope will be immediately after the next recess.
– I ask the Minister for External Territories: Who makes, administers and interprets the laws applying to the Territory of Cocos Islands? Since the last annual report on the Territory was tabled in the week before last and covered the year before last, I ask: What has the Minister done since taking over this portfolio to bring the laws and procedures of. the Cocos Islands out of the feudal and paternal conditions which Australia accepted from Britain in 1955?
– The Commonwealth’s attitude so far as the non-self-governing Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands is concerned is that the Commonwealth Government has absolute sovereignty and control over the islands. I shall answer the honourable member’s question also in relation to some publicity which has appeared in the last 24 hours about a report which I received concerning the inhabitants of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I would say that although the reports are accurate they present one side of the conditions on Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
– It is a pretty tough side.
– I would agree that it is a pretty tough side. If honourable members will bear with me they will receive my response. They will recall also that the Leader of the Opposition asked what action I have taken since administering the portfolio. Reports were placed before me after I assumed control of my Department and it was obvious and it was the opinion of my Department and of my predecessor, who received the report shortly before his retirement, that relations between Mr
Clunies-Ross and the inhabitants of Home Island - that part of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands on which his plantation is largely located - were not good. It was the firm view of my Department and myself that the relations between Mr Clunies Ross and those inhabitants required a fundamental reappraisal. I directed that this reappraisal should occur. When I talk of a reappraisal or a total reconsideration I remind honourable members that it could not be made overnight and that I am not referring to our acknowledged sovereignty over the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I stress that firstly, because the relationship between Mr Clunies-Ross and the inhabitants is one that is based on the concept that he holds, namely, (hat he has absolute sovereignty over the inhabitants. This is a view with which I do not agree and we have expressed our view to Mr Clunies-Ross.
It will be recalled that Mr CluniesRoss’s ancestors received control over the lands and that, in fact, he holds freehold title to the overwhelming portion of the lands in Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The Australian Government purchased portion of the lands from him and also holds other portions under licence. I say that the matter could not be solved overnight because of the differences of opinion I have just mentioned together with the interests of other departments. But it is the relationship between Mr Clunies Ross and the Home Islanders particularly that Government regards with such concern. It is a matter of regret that I was not able to visit the Cocos (Keeling) Islands last week-end but this visit will be taking place within the course of the next few weeks. We have been, as I say, acting for some months on the basis of the report which I received. We view the matter with concern. We are seeking to rectify it. The reappraisal, however, does not relate to the Australian Government’s control over Cocos (Keeling) Islands but, in fact, to the relationship between Mr Clunies-Ross and the inhabitants of the Island. I intend to supply further details to the House after I have reported to the Government subsequent to my visit to Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
– Can the Minister for Defence advise me whether prior to recent moratorium demonstrations Service personnel, including members of the Citizen Military Forces, were instructed not to wear uniform on such days? Were Citizen Military Forces recruiting drives to be held in shopping centres on such days cancelled? If this is correct will the Minister advise the House of the reason for such a decision, in view of the fact that an Australian soldier should be proud to wear his uniform and not be ashamed? Will the Minister assure me that such a decision, which has a lowering effect on Service morale, will not be repeated in future?
– 1 have no personal knowledge of the matter which the honourable member raises. It comes within the direct and personal administration of the Minister for the Army. I will make some inquiries of him and see that the honourable member gets a reply at the earliest possible moment.
– J ask the Minister for Defence a question. He is well aware that a. review of the code of military law has been in progress now for almost 11 years. He will recall also that one of his predecessors, Sir Allen Fairhall, said 5 years ago that quite exceptional progress was being made in completing the report. Can the Minister tell the House what stage the review has now reached and when it will be completed? Is the main problem still the insistence of the Navy on retention of traditional aspects of the law applied on ships at sea? Is there any prospect of a uniform military code for the armed Services being introduced in the not too distant future?
– Considerable progress has been made in this field but (here are still some outstanding matters. I made it clear to the Parliament recently that because of the legislative programme with which it is faced before the forthcoming election, it would be quite impossible for the parliamentary officers to draft the necessary legislation. Even if we were ready to give instructions immediately, there would be no room in the programme to allow for the introduction of the legislation. But this is a matter of policy on which Cabinet has not yet made its final decision, and therefore it will not be until after a decision has been made by Cabinet that a uniform miliatry code can be implemented. It will certainly not be implemented before the forthcoming election.
– I ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he has seen a report in the newspapers of a statement attributed to the United States Ambassador, to Australia in relation to the future of American defence base installations in Australia? Has the Minister considered the implications of the reported statement?
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The Standing Orders say in effect that a member asking a question based on a newspaper report has to verify the accuracy of the report: that he has to take responsibility for it.
-If the Leader of the
Opposition wishes me to do so, I shall ask the honourable member to verify the accuracy of the report.
– Sir, I particularly asked that the honourable member should do this, because the Minister who has been asked a question today was yesterday asked-
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition will not canvass what the’ Minister said. If the Leader of the Opposition is taking a point of order in relation to this matter, it is my practice, as he knows, never to ask an honourable member to verify the accuracy of a report -until somebody asks for that to be done. If the Leader of the Opposition requests, me’ to do that, 1 will ask the honourable member to verify the accuracy of the report. That resolves the point of order raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Yes. because this Minister
-Order! I will not allow the Leader of the Opposition to debate anything that the Minister said yesterday. Does the honourable member for Warringah vouch for the accuracy of the. statement in his question?
– In my question I mentioned that there was a newspaper report of a statement attributed to the United
States Ambassador to Australia and 1 also asked whether the Minister has considered the implications of the reported statement.
– Mr Speaker, will you hear me?-
-Order! I would think that this is a rather unusual position. The honourable members for Warringah has not referred to the contents of the statement. He has referred only to a reported statement and has asked whether the reported statement is accurate.
– The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) yesterday asked a question based on a newspaper report and I have no doubt that the honourable member believed the report upon which he based his question was accurate. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) answered the question on the basis of this newspaper report which he also had seen. Later he had to make an explanation to the House that this report might have been wrong; it certainly differed from another newspaper report. Mr Speaker, I take the point that a member is on very uncertain ground in asking a Minister to answer a question based on a newspaper report. Yesterday we heard the name of a person mentioned in the House quite inaccurately. The Minister later, and quite rightly, had to vary his answer.
Mr- SPEAKER-Order! 1 should think that 60 per cent or more of the questions asked in this House are based on newspaper reports. My predecessor allowed such questions. In a full statement he issued to the House in relation to this matter he said that he would allow this practice to be followed unless somebody requested that the accuracy of the quotation from a newspaper be verified. I have followed that practice. I think it is in the best interests of the House that questions based on newspaper reports be allowed, otherwise I do not know from where a lot of the members of this House would get information on which to base questions.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has been clearly understood in this House that a member who asks a question based on a newspaper report must be prepared to verify that report. The honourable member for Warringah, in asking his question, used the phrase ‘attributed to’. He was not certain. I suggest that you ask the honourable member for Warringah whether he is prepared to verify the accuracy of his statement. If he cannot do that the question is out of order.
– On the other hand I point out that a Minister should not be asked to verify the accuracy of newspaper reports, nor should any other member of this chamber, unless he quotes from a newspaper report. The honourable member for Warringah has asked a question based on a reported statement. He has not quoted from or verified a statement; he has asked a question based on a reported statement.
– But he cannot verify the accuracy of it.
-Order! He has not been asked to verify the accuracy of it because he has not quoted from it.
– Mr Speaker, may 1 take another point of order. Sir, your predecessor before last ruled - it may be in the Standing Orders, too - that questions cannot be asked concerning the head of another state. I suggest that the same principle should apply to the representative of the head of another state. It is a mischief if controversy arises in the House about any ambassador or about the head of another government which the ambassador represents. I believe that you ought to enforce the rule in this case. Sir, could I help you to recall a previous example? Mr Speaker Cameron disallowed questions about the late President Sukarno. There can be no end to what can arise from questions about ambassadors, presidents or monarchs.
– Order! I do not think that there is any substance in the point of order in relation to ambassadors. I have heard a number of questions asked in this House about ambassadors over the years. In fact, they have been the subject of great debate in this House on occasions. I took part in such a debate on one occasion. Therefore, I do not think that there k any substance in the point of order in relation to the extending of the ruling on questions about heads of state of other countries to ambassadors. I do not think that would be right.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. Perhaps I may be permitted to borrow a book from the
Clerk, lt is a pity you have not referred to the parts underlined in red in this book, which read:
The facts on which a question is based may be stated briefly provided the Member asking the question makes himself responsible for their accuracy. Subject to this condition, a Member may direct attention to a statement (e.g., in a newspaper, news report, etc.) but may not ask whether the statement is true and may not quote extracts.
The book goes on to state that a member may not ask for an expression of opinion and may not ask a Minister to announce Government policy. Sir, I have read from a book called ‘The House of Representatives’ which was issued under your authority and which you now seem to be ignoring.
– Not ignoring the fact that I ruled in that way, the honourable member for Warringah is in order. I call the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
-I did see a newspaper report of a statement made by the American Ambassador, and it dealt with 2 aspects. One related to the fact that he said that the Leader of the Opposition had said he would investigate the role of American defence installations and that he, the Ambassador, was confident that, if such an investigation were made, in the event of a change of government, the new government would be satisfied that these bases should remain. The second thing was that the Ambassador thought that if there were a change of government the new government would maintain in full force the ANZUS commitment. I expected a question from the Opposition on this matter yesterday. The statement was made on Monday. I checked as to whether the statement was made, and I understand that it was made at Perth airport.
The first thing that emerges from it is that the Ambassador is strongly in favour of the Australian commitment to the ANZUS treaty, which is Liberal-Country Party policy. He is also strongly in favour of the American defence installations in Australia, which also are Liberal-Country Party policy. The strange thing that emerges is that after listening to the Leader of the Opposition, either publicly or privately, the Ambassador should feel that Labor policy will change and the Labor Party will adopt Liberal-Country Party policy on these 2 matters should there be a change of govern ment. May I point out that so far as the ANZUS treaty is concerned, we had the Labor spokesmen on foreign affairs addressing the Australian-American Association stating in the clearest terms, using even pejorative terms, the ANZUS treaty is completely irrelevant to modern conditions. We had him describing the South East Asia Treaty Organisation as an irrelevant dead horse. May I point out that when United States Secretary of State Rogers was out here for the SEATO conference, he said that if Australia withdrew from SEATO that would be the beginning of the end of ANZUS; the 2 things were linked inseparably.
There is no question as to the current policy of the Australian Labor Party on these 2 issues. The Launceston, conference made it quite clear that its policy is that all military content should be eliminated from the ANZUS treaty. Businessmen who have been addressed by the Leader of the Opposition have been convinced that if the Labor Party were elected tq office it would adopt Liberal-Country Party policies, that as far as businessmen were concerned there was nothing to fear. But the point is (fiat Labor policy is not determined by the Leader of the Opposition but is settled by the Federal Conference of the Labor Party. It is quite clear that Labor policy on ANZUS is to eliminate all military content from it, and the Labor policy on installations in Australia is to impose conditions which are known to be unacceptable to’ the American people.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that 2.5 million man days production were lost last year through what is loosely termed industrial action? Will the Minister agree that an extra 60,000 people have been unemployed because of Government action and ‘ that this number of people represent 12.5 mil1 lion man days lost production? If this is the case, will the Minister agree that the Government’s action is at least 5 times as detrimental to the economy as industrial action attributed to so-called militant trade unions?
– I certainly would not agree with the figures which have been mentioned by the honourable gentleman, nor in fact would I agree with the conclusions which he has drawn from the figures which are a mis-statement of the present position. The honourable gentleman queries, first of all, the degree of industrial unrest during the course of the past 12 months. I welcome that question because the facts are that during the course of the past calendar year 3 million* man days were lost; there was an increase in the number of strikes of 28 per cent over the previous year’s figure, the previous year itself showing an increase of 24 per cent; and during the course of that year Australian wage earners lost $46m which was an increase of 46 per cent over the figure of the previous year. It is, therefore, as the honourable gentleman might well have said, or suggested by way of implication, a disturbing situation. He then proceeded to compare the number of mandays lost with the unemployment position, but he would be very well aware if he were to study the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician that those figures greatly understate the extent of industrial unrest in this country. The Statistician’s figures relate simply to those establishments in which a strike takes place and do not measure the repereussive effects of strike activity on other industries. For example, during the strike involving the State Electricity Commission of Victoria in February this year some 11,000 workers were actually on strike but in fact 200,000 people were out of work because of the lack of fuel and essential supplies to other industries. So the position is that one cannot draw any parallel whatsoever between the level of unemployment and the figures to which the honourable gentleman has referred.
Unemployment in this country at the present time is very largely, as my colleague the Treasurer has made abundantly clear, bound up with the question of confidence in the Australian economy. The position can be improved by increased investment by the business sector and a change in the spending patterns of consumers. The simple fact is that the industrial unrest to which the honourable gentleman has referred is a very significant factor in producing a lack of confidence in the economy.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to Press statements concerning VIP flights to Western
Australia? Can the Prime Minister indicate the purposes of such flights?
– I have seen some articles relating to VIP flights to various parts of Australia. There are, as it were, guidelines laid down for the Minister for Air and, in certain cases, for the GovernorGeneral and for me to approve of flights to various parts of Australia. I can say in relation to one newspaper report of alleged visits to a dentist that there has never been a single occasion when the gentlemen involved has gone to Western Australia on other than primarily official visits, although he did during some visits incidentally visit a dentist. I can say also that the dentist referred to was not his dentist and was not even known to him. I will go a little further - and this will be pleasing to the honourable gentlemen who asked the question - and say that the Government regards Perth and Western Australia as part of Australia anc’ consequently within the jurisdiction of the person concerned.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I am prompted to do so by the question which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked of the Minister for Defence concerning the modernisation of the military code, one of the obstacles to which hitherto has been the death penalty in some of the incorporated legislation. I ask the Prime Minister whether he has yet raised at a meeting of the joint Government Parties the Death Penalty Abolition Bill which came to this House from the Senate on 21st March. I would point out that the then Leader of the House in moving the adjournment of the debate on that Bill stated that the Prime Minister had given him an assurance that the matter would be raised at a meeting of the joint Government Parties. I also point out that this is the second time that the Senate has passed a Bill to abolish the death penalty in Commonwealth statutes and ordinances.
– While it is unusual to be stating what goes on in the party room of either the Australia Labor Party or of the Government Parties I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that the matter was placed on the business notice paper for a meeting of the joint Government Parties but was withdrawn. I was willing at that time to have it discussed.
– My question is directed to you, Mr Speaker. You will recall, or I will recall to your mind, that a few minutes ago the Minister for Foreign Affairs quoted the American Ambassador as saying that if there were a change of government the new government would maintain its ANZUS commitment in full force. 1 ask you: Did you hear, as I heard, an interjection or interjections from the Opposition ‘That is not true’?
– I do not think that 1 should have to answer that question or to make any comment on it. 1 do not believe the interjection was answered. I do not think I should say anything regarding it. If it had been answered by the Minister, it would appear in Hansard.
– 1 desire to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In yesterday’s Hansard, which 1 received a few minutes ago, the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) misrepresented me. Referring to me he said:
Recently be made a statement about South American migrant girls, which on investigation proved to bc completely unfounded in every single particular.
That statement is untrue and misrepresents me. The matters I raised in this House were referred by the Minister for Immigration to the Director of Migration in Sydney. A conference was held with the girls concerned and representatives of the Good Neighbour Council and the Catholic Immigration Office. The girls’ requests were supported. They are now being met. I wrote to the Minister and thanked him for the action of his officers. Either the Minister’s memory is faulty or he misrepresented me quite deliberately.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been misreported, if that is the correct word, or misrepresented. Yesterday in my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General I referred to a tape recorded conversation. It has been reported in many newspapers today that I refer, e J to a tape recorded telephone conversation.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Yesterday afternoon the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), who we all know, is an extremely unscrupulous person and who was sacked by the former Prime Minister
-Order! The honourablemember will withdraw that remark. ‘
– Who we ‘ all know-
-Order! The honourable! member will withdraw that remark. ,
– What particular remark?
-The honourable member knows what he said ‘ regarding the personal conduct of another member’ of this House. Therefore he will withdraw’ that remark.
-I withdraw it, and l will leave it to the judgment of honourable members when I point out what. he. said and how he behaved yesterday in this House.
-I suggest to the honourable member that he not debate the question and, as I have been saying to each and every person who has made a personal explanation, that he confine himself to the situation where he has, been personally misrepresented. ..
– Yesterday afternoon in the House, as appears at page 779 of yesterday’s Hansard, the honourable member for Ballaarat, an ex-Minister, said:
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 on the material interests of the lower income groups.
From that he developed an argument that I was opposed to working for the interests of the lower income groups. This article was written in early 1970 and the quotation differs from it. I quote from the article:
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.
There is a significant difference between the 2 passages, I think you will see, Mr Speaker. The rest of the statement is completely wrong. Can I ask for the Hansard report to be corrected because, after all, this statement was given as a quotation? It should have been the duty of the Hansard staff to check the quotation, as it normally does.
-Order! Hansard presents a verbatim report of what is said in this House day by day. What the honourable member has said in his personal explanation will also be in Hansard.
– Pursuant to section 30 of the Canberra College of Advanced Education Act 1967-70, I present the report of the Council of the Canberra College of Advanced Education for the year ended 31st December 1971.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report of the Department of Education and Science for the year ended December 1971.
– by leave - At question time yesterday the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) asked for information related to the investment of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. I undertook to make inquiries and inform the House. The questions he asked and answers are as follows:
Did the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund advance large loans at low interest rates to the companies of the Sydney land developer Parkes Developments Pty Ltd?
No. The President of the Superannuation Board states that it is not the policy of the Board to make loans at low interest rates; neither is it policy to lend money to land development companies secured on housing subdivisions.
If so, why did the Government permit it to do so rather than advance the funds to Public Service building societies, whereby the Public Service could have stood the benefit?
As stated in my interim reply yesterday morning, the Superannuation Fund is established by statute which places a clear authority for the investment of the Fund upon the Superannuation Board. This is an important responsibility and the Government would not consider it proper to instruct the Board in carrying out its trustee functions.
Will the Treasurer investigate whether any of the Parkes Development group of companies has serving on its board a supporter of the Government - in fact, a former’ Treasurer- in ah endeavour to ascertain whether ‘ a conflict of interests exists in these transactions?
I have ascertained that in a Press ‘report on 5th July 1972 it was announced that Mr L. H. E. Bury had become a director of Parkes Management Ltd as from 16th June 1972. As honourable members will know, Mr Bury is a former Treasurer. Because there have been no ‘ transactions of the kind raised by the honourable member, there is no substance in the allegations imputed by his question. I am reliably informed that Mr Bury has never made any representations to the Superannuation Board in support cif investments by commercial organisations.
– by leave- I am not satisfied with the reply the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has given. In the last annual report of the Commonwealth Superannuation Board presented to the Parliament, that for 1969-70, in the summary of investments held, which appears at page 16, the amount shown for mortgages on land totalled $80.7m. Page 19 of the report shows that in New South Wales alone for 1970 investments other than in mortgages on land totalled $36.5m. A constituent approached me about this matter, and I am happy with the accuracy of the matters he put to me. The Treasurer ought to be aware of the seething discontent in the Public Service at the fact that money contributed by public servants is not available to them for loans but goes out to other organisations. The answer that the Treasurer gave, Mr Speaker, is just too clever by half. In his answer to the first question I raised he said, among other things:
I never mentioned anything about loans secured on housing subdivisions. I talked about the companies of Parkes Developments Pty Ltd. What about its subsidiaries and nominees? I am sure that the Treasurer is aware that most loans that are advanced from the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund are on the basis of an equitable mortgage which is a floating charge over the assets of the borrowing company and not a loan secured on land subdivision. Will the Treasurer now give an assurance that he has investigated the whole position in relation to loans on mortgage, and say whether any advances have been made or are about to be made to any land development companies or their subsidiaries? Will he tabic in the House details of the mortgages made to date by the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund? The only way in which I can satisfy my constituent is for the Treasurer to table details of all mortgages made by the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund up to the present time. I ask him to do so.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement responding to what the honourable member for Blaxland has said.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce- Treasurer) - Firstly, I wish to indicate that I had no part in formulating this answer to the question. It was formulated by the President of the Commonwealth Superannuation Board. When I read it 1 agreed that 1 would state it because I was relying on the advice of that gentleman. I believe that I have a proper basis on which to rely on his advice. The answer does not represent any of my authorship but I do not discount responsibility for it; I accept responsibility for it. 1 am making it clear that it has come from the President who has a statutory duty. I will make sure that what the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) has now said is drawn to the President’s attention and it can be discussed by the Board. Until I have had an opportunity to look at the matters raised I would not give an undertaking to present the details to the House because 1 am not aware of how much authority 1 have to make that decision. If the honourable gentleman looks at the Commonwealth Superannuation Act he will find that it gives an entitlement to the trustees and the Board to decide what they will publish. I would not force them or attempt to force them to publish something which they in their judgment decided they would not publish.
The next point to make is that implicit in the honourable gentleman’s question yesterday was an imputation against both the Board and my colleague, the honourable member for Wentworth, Mr Bury, whose name has been mentioned. I am glad that today the honourable member has sheered right off that tack; I think it is proper that he should. Quite clearly, there has been no attempt by my colleague in any way. There should be that acknowledgement that any imputation which may have appeared to arise from a question is now disposed of absolutely. From what the honourable gentleman has said today we now have a clear issue - of whether the investment of funds by the Commonwealth Superannuation Board is a correct method of investment. On that basis, I am quite prepared to have the matter pursued.
Mr KEATING (Blaxland)- I ask for leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I accept what the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) says in relation to the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury). But I would ask the Treasurer to look at the question of tabling in the House a list of the mortgages up to the present time.
– I will look at that.
– by leave - The Government has, in the past few weeks, reached decisions on several major matters of civil aviation policy, and it is appropriate that I should report the details of those decisions to Parliament. The Government and the Australian people have every reason to be proud of the civil aviation achievements of this country, in both the domestic and the international field. Civil aviation is one of Australia’s major industries. The Commonwealth itself has approximately $425m invested in a wide network of airports and airway facilities, while the value of aircraft and other assets of the airlines and general aviation operators exceeds $680m. Total employment in the industry is more than 50,000 people. Last financial year our airlines carried 8 million passengers. Our aviation policies, therefore, are of utmost concern to the nation.
As honourable members know, for some time now the Government has been conducting an extensive review of Australia’s competitive 2-airline system. The 2-airline system, established in 1952 and renewed in 1961, is the cornerstone of our domestic aviation policy and provides for 2, and not more than 2, domestic airlines operating on the trunk routes of the Australian mainland. That review was, in part, deferred for some months earlier this year because of a takeover bid for Ansett Transport Industries Ltd which is the private enterprise party to the 2-airline system, and because of subsequent actions taken both by the Senate through its standing committee system and the Victorian State Parliament. The Government has now decided that the 2-airline competitive system should be extended for at least a further 5 years beyond 1977. We have based that decision on the widely recognised fact that the competitive 2-airline system has produced for Australia a safe, stable, modern, wellequipped, efficient and economic airline system of great value not only to Australian air travellers but to the nation.
The system is really a duopoly operated by a Government owned arm, the Australian National Airlines Commission operating Trans-Australian Airlines, and a private enterprise arm, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. They are free to compete with each other, the purpose being to give equality of access and opportunity for both themselves and the Australian people. In saying this, we are pleased that, after many years of criticism, the Opposition agreed recently, through its spokesman on civil aviation matters in this House, that the competitive 2-airline system had sufficient merit to warrant its continuation. Australia is a large country both in a geographical and civil aviation sense. In terms of work performed, our domestic services are fifth in the world in size and our international flag carrier Qantas is eleventh. Overall we rank sixth in world standing. This would not have been achieved without the system we have adopted.
The present agreements on which the competitive 2-airline system is based are due to expire on 18th November 1977. We have decided that it would be appropriate to extend those agreements, subject to 5 years notice of cancellation by the Government or ATI at any time after 18th November 1977. The practical effect of this is to extend the competitive 2-airline system for at least 5 years until 1982. Legislation to approve a new agreement will be prepared for introduction in the Senate as soon as possible during this session. This decision to extend the agreements at this time is based on the Government’s belief that the competitive 2-airline system is not only the best policy for Australian domestic air services but that it is also supported by the large majority of Australians. Ansett Transport Industries sought a 7 year extension. The crux of the company’s case was that continuation of the stable economic environment created by the competitive 2-airline system was absolutely vital before the ATI board could involve its 50,000 investors in the substantial loan commitments needed for additional aircraft, the repayment of which would extend well past the present agreement expiry date of 1977. To underscore the importance of this point, I should mention that in the mid 1960s, the funds invested by Ansett Transport Industries in aircraft totalled $44m. By the mid 1970s they will reach an estimated $130m Equipment costs of course are bound to continue to rise, making the problem even more acute.
The Australian civil aviation industry has been characterised by high growth rates. These have been on the average well above the growth rates of the economy as a whole. Although there has been a temporary slackening in the last year, the industry must continue to plan for a substantial growth. The re-equipment plans to cater for this have to be thought out many years ahead. New types of equipment like the wide-bodied jets must come up for consideration. It is only fair and sensible in the interests of the Australian community and the operators that security should exist for proper plans to be made well enough ahead. In the circumstances, therefore, the Government believes that its proposed 5 year period of notice is fair and reasonable and adequately safeguards the public interest and the interests of future Parliaments. I anticipate, of course, that there will be some who will criticise the Government for extending the competitive 2-airline system late in the life of the present Parliament. The simple answer to this is that no government can allow the legitimate business of the country to stagnate simply because an election is approaching. If this philosophy were to be followed no government would take any major decisions in a election year. Another factor to be considered, of course, is the point that I mentioned before - that the Government had hoped to complete its review early this year, but had to suspend this consideration until other matters outside its immediate control were resolved.
Let me outline the other major decisions the Government has made in connection with this extension of the competitive 2- airline system. The legislation we plan to introduce into Parliament will include a provision making the new agreement determinable by the Commonwealth if a certain proportion of the voting power in the private enterprise airline, which is party to the agreement, is in the bands of any one foreign owner, or if total overseas ownership and control exceeds certain limits. The precise limits have yet to be determined, but the matter is under close study by the Government’s advisers.
Before leaving this particular aspect, honourable members will recall that the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade, in its excellent and thorough report on the Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd-Ansett Transport Industries Ltd affair, considered in detail the matter of foreign ownership and control of air transport enterprises operating in Australia. The Committee expressed the view that Air Navigation Regulation No. 322, which covers this question, was imprecise and did not offer adequate guidelines to the Director-General or the Minister for Civil Aviation in their con sideration of licence applications by enterprises having some foreign participation. The Government agrees with the general views of the Committee and proposes to have the regulation examined and amended. In doing so, the comments by the Committee, and any subsequent views put forward by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control, will be taken into account. I believe that ali members of this Parliament, and indeed the vast majority of Australians, will support these proposals to maintain ownership of air transport enterprises in the hands of the Australian people. I am sure there will also be universal support for the requirement that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd should produce separate accounts of its airline operations. These will be presented to Parliament and thus permit more informed debate and assessments of the competitive 2-airline system.
Another major decision arising from the Government’s review is to give additional routes and opportunities to the Government’s own airline, Trans-Australia Airlines, which will be authorised to operate air services between Perth and Darwin in competition with the Ansett subsidiary, MacRobertson Miller Airline Services. These TAA services will be phased in over a 2-year period starting next June and having regard to the state of the traffic on the route from time to time. This arrangement is designed specifically to minimise any disruptive effect on the staffing of MacRobertson Miller’s present operations, although traffic growth on routes throughout Western Australia has fallen considerably in recent months, due mainly to reduced mining activities in the north west, the Government nevertheless believed that the Perth-Darwin route could no longer be denied the benefits that competitive services have brought on other major trunk routes throughout Australia. It is interesting to recall that, in pursuance of this policy of granting equal access when economically justified, Ansett Airlines of Australia received rights from Adelaide to Darwin and Brisbane to Darwin in 1961. The total revenue on the network of services linking Perth-Darwin is now sufficiently large to justify competition by all the yardsticks adopted in previous instances where monopoly routes have become competitive, as I referred to earlier.
I should add that the approval for TAA to enter the Perth-Darwin route does not involve the Commonwealth Government in any express commitment to upgrade airport facilities at any proposed intermediate airport to cater for a particular aircraft type. Trans-Australia Airlines also will be given immediate rights to operate air services in competition with the Ansett airlines between Darwin-Gove and between Cairns-Weipa-Thursday Island. In the case of this latter route, the Department of Civil Aviation will take all practical steps to minimise the effects of the operation on Bush Pilots Airways Ltd which operates a service calling at intermediate points. The Government has decided further to give TAA greater opportunity to undertake outside engineering works, including Government contracts, and to enter into mutually beneficial arrangements with surface transport carriers and hotel-motel operators. This is designed to improve TransAustralia Airlines’ abilities to continue to compete effectively, especially now that it faces additional competition.
Mr Speaker, let me add that the Government does not pretend that the competitive 2-airline system is faultless, even with the proposed changes that I have outlined. Therefore, in negotiating a new agreement, we propose to require, as a prerequisite, several additional special undertakings from TAA and Ansett designed to further reduce some of the more objectionable areas of parallel scheduling; maintain and encourage the operation of country air services; encourage the airlines to pursue actively the introduction of further promotional fares to stimulate the domestic tourist industry; stimulate air freight growth; and keep operations during jet curfew hours at Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, to an absolute minimum. Nor have we neglected the important role played by operators outside the competitive 2-airline system.
Regional operators like East-West Airlines Ltd, Connair Pty Ltd, Brain and Brown Airfreighters Pty Ltd, Air Express International and Business Jets Pty Ltd will be encouraged to continue to show initiative and enterprise and, according to their specialist abilities, develop such traffic as low-cost inclusive tours, tourist traffic to country centres and specialist freight and passenger services. This encouragement and expansion will be permitted within the framework of an economic 2 airline policy. As concrete evidence of this, the Government has decided to authorise Business Jets to acquire a Fokker Friendship to develop tourist traffic particularly to country centres like Swan Hill. Brain and Brown Airfreighters, which has a long record of successful air freight operations to the Bass Strait Islands, has been given approval to import a Carvair freighter aircraft, and East-West Airlines has been given a clear indication that it can introduce a medium jet on to its regional routes when it considers this economically justifiable. The role of Connair Pty Ltd in maintaining air services to more than 120 centres throughout the Northern Territory over a period of 34 years is well know. Faced with steeply rising costs of operation, Connair has had to receive much higher subsidy payments from the Commonwealth in recent years, and the Government, in consultation with the company, is seeking ways and means of arresting this trend and reducing Connair’s dependence on Commonwealth support, while ensuring the continuation of essential services in the Northern Territory. Here again, the Government has been able to facilitate some expansion of Connair’s activities with the prospects of beneficial financial results, and other avenues of this nature will be explored. Each of these moves separatley and collectively will be of benefit to rural air services and tourism.
The Government has closely examined applications by TAA and Ansett Airlines for airline licences to operate over the route Alice Springs-Mt Isa-Cairns. At present, Bush Pilots Airways Ltd provides a commuter service between Cairns and Mt Isa and Connair operates an airline service between Alice Springs and Mt Isa. Both the major airlines operate many charter flights over the route between Cairns and Alice Springs, catering specifically for parties of overseas tourists, but normal sector traffic is not carried on these flights. It has been decided to defer a decision on the airlines’ applications for Alice Springs-Mt Isa-Cairns licences so that further studies can be made to determine precisely what impact the operation of such regular services would have on Connair and Bush Pilots. In the meantime, the major airlines will continue to enjoy unrestricted rights to operate charter flights to cater for the important tourist trade.
Although not part of the competitive 2- airline system, it is appropriate that I refer to the proposed new arrangements on TAAs staff superannuation schemes. As mentioned by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech, the Government is requiring Trans-Australia Airlines to change its accounting arrangements relevant to the operation of these superannuation schemes. The changes proposed will mean that TAA’s superannuation arrangements will be similar to those adopted by over 30 other Commonwealth instrumentalities, including the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, the Overseas Telecommunications Commission and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. At present. TAA uses a large part of its accrued employer’s contributions to staff superannuation funds in financing capital works and day-to-day operations. The use of superannuation funds in the business in this way is contrary to the normal practice for a commercial enterprise of the Commonwealth. In the circumstances, the Government believes that TAA should terminate this unique arrangement.
In effect, TAA has 2 superannuation schemes. The first is for its non-flying staff, who are contributors to the Commonwealth superannuation scheme. It is proposed that, in this case, TAA will pay to the Commonwealth its employer’s contributions to the scheme under payasyougo arrangements similar to those applying to Commonwealth authorities generally. The Commonwealth will then assume responsibility for pensions when they fall due. The second scheme is that of TAA’s flying staff, and the proposal here is that the employer’s contributions will be paid into a trust fund, as are the employee’s contributions at present, and the trustees will be responsible for investing the funds and meeting pension commitments.
The proposed new arrangements involve a payment by TAA to the Commonwealth of an estimated S21m to discharge its accrued liability in respect of non-flying staff as at 30th June 1972 and the liability accruing this year. Provision has been made in the Budget for an advance of $25m to enable TAA to do this, and to withdraw from the business and pay to trustees its accrued contributions to the flying staff superannuation fund amounting to an estimated S4m. This advance will be made by way of loan monies at commercial rates of interest, and will not form part of the capita] of TAA. It will be necessary to amend the Australian National Airlines Act to enable TAA to borrow this amount, and an appropriate Bil) will be introduced for this purpose. I stress that the entitlements of TAA employees under the various superannuation schemes are in no way affected by the new arrangements. Nor is any change proposed in respect of employee superannuation contributions; these have always been invested outside the business. The changes relate only to employer superannuation contributions.
The general aviation operators experienced difficulties in 1971-72 similar to those of the previous year. However, this important segment of the industry again flew over one million hours last year and reports suggest that, in the closing months of the year, there was some improvement in activity and that this was tied to the recovery in general economic activity.
The Government welcomed the move in March 1972 by the Australian Aerial Agricultural Association and the Association of Commercial Flying Organisations to merge and form the General Aviation Association (Australia). The Government approved a special establishment grant of $8,000 to enable this new Association to develop as an effective force in the industry.
Recognising the depressed economic state of the general aviation industry, the Government has decided that the 5 per cent increase in air navigation charges announced in the Budget to become effective on 1st December, 1972, will not be applied to the great majority of general aviation operators. The Department of Civil Aviation will join with the General Aviation Association to conduct an economic survey of the industry in the next few months, and this will be valuable background material for both the Government and the Association in formulating policies which affect general aviation.
Turning now to our international operator, the Government has decided to increase Qantas’ capital by $25m, and appropriate provision has been made in the Budget.
This will raise Qantas’ capital to $64.4m. It is the first time for 10 years that the Government has had to advance additional capital to the airline. Qantas Airways Ltd has been a most remarkable Australian company. Prior to the injection of these additional funds, capital has been stationary for quite a long time and, in the last 10 years, in dividends and taxation, the company has returned to the Australia, taxpayer more than its capital. It has been a substantial earner of foreign exchange for Australia as well as carrying the flag of a great trading nation around the world. Due to over capacity on the world’s air routes and increasing costs, it is going through a difficult time, but we are quite confident as a Government that it will emerge from this to show greater growth and success in the future. The money will help to meet essential commitments such as Qantas’ fifth Boeing 747 jumbo jet and the repayment of loans raised earlier to finance aircraft and building projects.
I believe this capital increase, together with the Government approval announced a few days ago for Qantas to proceed with the $44m first stage of its new Australian headquarters, indicate very clearly the Australian Government’s intention to support Qantas and provide it with the facilities, capital and backing necessary to maintain its pre-eminent position in international aviation.
I wish to comment briefly on one other important subject. This is the special position of aviation in Papua New Guinea. More than half a million passengers and almost 20,000 tons of freight and mail were carried by airline operators in Papua New Guinea in 1971-72. Charter operators also continue to play their traditional and significant part in providing air services to more isolated communities. Air transport and the aeroplane obviously have a vital role in almost every phase of Papua New Guinea’s development.
The extensive, safe and efficient aviation industry which now exists in Papua New Guinea is soundly based on the network of aviation facilities and supporting services developed and maintained by the Department of Civil Aviation over many years. This has cost a great deal in money and effort. It is pleasing to note, therefore, that a Select Transport Committee of the Papua
New Guinea House of Assembly has acknowledged that, when Papua New Guinea becomes independent, it will inherit a more advanced and efficient aviation system than probably any emerging country in the same position.
The Government has encouraged the move of Papua New Guinea to self government and eventual independence. In civil aviation, we have in mind the eventual handing over to the new nation of responsibility for the operation of air services and the maintenance of the complementary network of aviation facilities. To further this aim, it is the intention of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) to visit New Guinea shortly for personal discussions with the Chief Minister, Mr Somare. These detailed discussions follow talks recently between the Minister for External Territories (Mr Peacock) and the Chief Minister. I am confident that we can work out with the Chief Minister and his colleagues a programme for the acceptance by the local authorities of responsibility for civil aviation in Papua New Guinea.
At the outset I referred to the size of the civil aviation industry and the important place it occupies in Australia. In particular, the industry is a major one in terms of governmental control and policy, and I have made this statement to the House to indicate some of the things this Government has done and proposes to do in this vital area of its responsibilities. I hope that honourable members will have found my remarks both ‘-formative and helpful. I present the following paper:
Civil Aviation: Policy - Ministerial Statement, 30th August 1972.
Motion (by Mr Kevin Cairns) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– I commend the Government for making this statement on civil aviation. I ask and strongly urge the Government to throw this matter open for general debate, not necessarily today because it will interfere with the Budget debate but at least immediately following the Budget debate. This will give honourable members on both sides of the House an opportunity to debate this very important paper. I know that this is a progressive move for a government to take. I have been asking for
Some considerable time that Ministers present the equivalent of a White Paper, Green Paper or Blue Paper; I do not care what colour it is. I have asked that the Government give us at least some statement of Government intent on the operation of trading undertakings, and if not on trading undertakings then at least on what the Government is thinking. This is what the Government has done on this occasion.
J do not want my moment of weakness in commending the Government for this action to be understood as meaning that I agree with everything the Government has said in this paper, because I do not. Tt is an excellent paper and I want to deal with it as well as I can in the limited time now available. First, 1 cannot see any justification for granting Ansett Transport Industries Ltd and extension of another S years in relation to the 2-airline system which all told would take the agreement up to 10 years. It is obvious that Sir Reginald Ansett realises that this Government is on the way out - it has only a few more weeks to go - and that the Australian Labor Party will then be reviewing the agreement. This is what, we will do. If the exact wording of the agreement does not meet with our requirements we will take action in the next Parliament to amend it and to write into the agreement those things which we believe should be written into it to bring about a genuine 2-airline policy that will give both airlines equal opportunities. Even from what the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) has stated to date there is no indication that there will be a genuine 2-airline policy. The agreement will continue to be loaded in favour of ATI as it has been ever since it was written by this Government.
Admittedly, some of the things which are forecast are an improvement on what has been in existence over the years during which this agreement has been functioning. One of the things with which we agree is the investigation into foreign ownership. For years the Labor Party has been saying that there is too much foreign ownership of Australia’s national resources, industry and commerce. If the Government puts a limitation on this we will support it. As I said earlier, if we do not agree with the policy in this instance we will amend the agreement and write it in the way we want it. We welcome the announcement of sep arate accounts for Ansett Transport Industries airline operations. Personally I would prefer 2 separate and distinct airline companies: Trans-Australia Airlines as it is at the moment and Ansett Transport Industries, a company formed to conduct airline business and associated activities. But at least if there are to be separate accounts for Ansett’s airline operations we on this side of the House want those accounts to be audited by the Government AuditorGeneral. If this does not happen then, to use a term, the books can be cooked. We have no doubt that this is what would happen. We know that at the present time the Ansett airline is operating in a fully protected field and that some of its money is being used to bolster the revenue of Ansett television stations. Recently 1 asked a question, about this matter and the Minister was not prepared to answer. After some considerable time he gave me the reply that this was the business of ATI. It is not the business of ATI. This is a protected industry. It has the full protection of this Government from any outside competitors. Therefore the taxpayers, the people who use the airlines of this country, are entitled to know the conditions under which both airlines operate. These are matters which we want brought out.
I deal now with the proposal finally to grant TAA access to the Perth-Darwin route in Western Australia. This will be phased in during the course of the next 2 years. Why is that period involved? I ask the Minister to make a statement at some later stage on why this new operation will be phased in during the course of the next 2 years. As part of this phasing-in process, will TAA be required to take some of the F28 aircraft - the pure jet Fokker Fellowship - off the hands of MacRobertsonMiller Airlines which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries? We believe that MacRobertson-Miller Airlines will have a couple of those aircraft spare. Trans-Australia Airlines has followed a policy of concentrating on 4 aircraft, the Boeing 727, the DC9, the F27 and the Twin Otter. Will TAA be forced, as it has been on previous occasions, to fall into line with ATI although TAA had made the right decision in the prevailing circumstances? 1 instance the occasion when TAA made the right decision in purchasing Viscount aircraft and ATI made the wrong decision when it purchased the DC6 aircraft. I hope that the Minister will clarify some of these points in detail when the relevant legislation is presented to the Parliament some time this session.
As I said earlier, Ansett Transport Industries does not want the Labor Party to review the 2-airline agreement. We will not do anything that is unfair to Ansett. All we will do is to put TAA on equal operating terms with Ansett.
– You will not have a chance.
– Of course we will. We will be doing it. The Minister has realised that the ship is sinking and that is why he has announced his intention to resign. He does not wish .to be a back bench member. That is why he is getting out. He has enough sense to get out and I commend him for that.
One aspect of this statement that concerns me is that the right of TAA to greater operational opportunities in Western Australia will be subject to the condition that the Government will not face additional costs for airport facilities. I understand that a technical problem is associated with tyre pressures used by aircraft operating in this area. I hope that this will not be one of those little conditions, literally in small type, which in reality places an additional financial burden on the new operator. I hope that that will not be the position. Although I have not sufficient information on this matter as yet to refer to it in detail, I do believe that there is some problem in that respect. I hope that these small technical details will not be used to the disadvantage of TAA.
We are happy that TAA is being granted access to the Darwin-Gove route and to the Cairns-Weipa-Thursday Island route. This is something which should have been done long ago. In fact, I feel that this approach to the problem of equalising routes for each of the airlines is just a piecemeal one. The Government should conduct a survey of the amount of traffic to which TAA has access, the amount of traffic to which ATI has access and then share that traffic evenly between them. On some of the routes on which it will not be an economic proposition for both airlines to operate, one airline should have access to those routes in one State and the other airline should have access to similar routes in another State. What I am seeking is a complete genuine 2-airline policy or, as I said in March of this year, an even-handed 2-airline policy.
The Opposition welcomes these improvements. It welcomes also the decision to permit TAA to contract and to tender for general engineering work. I spoke about this need also in March of this year. TAA has highly specialised equipment which has been lying idle for a good deal of the time. Under this new agreement TAA will be able to tender for outside work as ATI is able to do with its engineering works. 1 turn to parallel scheduling. Once again, we welcome the announcement of the new proposals, but I hope that these proposals will not be as phoney as were the parallel scheduling proposals which were made by the Minister in the autumn session of the Parliament and which he said were a great improvement. In fact, on the Sydney/ Melbourne run 92 parallel scheduled nights were conducted. This was supposed to be the great improvement to which the Minister referred. He really tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the people in that case. We will be pushing for the breaking up of the schedules. I think every traveller using aircraft today would welcome a change in the policy that has been pursued by the 2 domestic airlines for many years of having their aircraft take off and land at times very close together. It is farcical and ridiculous. There is no reason why on the Sydney/ Melbourne run TAA could not operate on the hour and Ansett on the half-hour. If there were any advantages to one airline under that system, next year Ansett could operate on the hour and TAA could operate on the half-hour. We will be looking with interest at developments in that field.
Naturally we are hopeful of a greater improvement in country air services. This is a subject on its own. We are critical of the inadequacies of civil aviation services to remote country areas. Both major airlines and the commuter airlines should work together to provide better services. Similar remarks could be addressed to our domestic tourist industry. There has been no real move until recent months to stimulate tourist activity. Greater co-operation is required between the airline operators and people in the tourist industry so that people may be attracted to this country and provided with air services to all our places of interest.
Recently I had brought to my notice some information about air freights. Earlier this year a large freight forwarder approached both airlines to enter into an arrangement to book certain space on their aircraft. The freight forwarder would pay for the space irrespective of whether he used it, under an arrangement similar to that between road hauliers and the railways. My information is that TAA was prevented from entering into an agreement by a ministerial decision. After that decision was made Ansett Transport Industries was prepared to listen to the freight forwarder but was not prepared to enter into an agreement. It is about time the Government stuck a pin in both domestic airlines to get them moving.
Another important aspect of civil aviation is the curfew arrangements. This is a most contentious point at many airports. My colleague the honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett) has a major problem in respect of the Perth airport. The honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) and other colleagues with electorates in the vicinity of the Adelaide airport have similar problems. The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) is in the chamber. He was chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, a major recommendation of which was that the curfew on flights of jet aircraft between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. should be rigidly enforced. The Government has failed to implement that recommendation. Last year nearly 400 jet aircraft were given permission to operate within curfew hours. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) approved those flights.
The Labor Party will implement the recommendation of the Select Committee. There will be consultations between myself and the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison), the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen), and the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds), who is also vitally con cerned with the aircraft noise. The Labor Party will enforce the curfew to lessen the noise annoyance in the residential areas around Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. We will not allow prop and turbo-prop aircraft to use runways involving flights over residential areas during curfew hours. If such aircrafts are to operate in curfew hours they will have to conduct nose to nose operations over Botany Bay by using the 16/34 runway. That is the only way we will approve flights by those aircraft in curfew hours because people are entitled to their rest. I repeat that in the last 12 months about 400 flights by jet aircraft have been conducted in curfew hours. That is not carrying out the recommendations of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise.
We have been concerned for a considerable time about Connair Pty Ltd. 1 hope that the Minister will give me an extension of time, as promised. The Australian Labor Party is not happy with the scandalous rate of subsidy that has been pM in recent years to Connair Pty Ltd. (Extension of time granted). I thank the Minister tor National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) and the House for extending the time available to me. For example, in 1970-71, Connair received a subsidy of $838,000. I draw the attention of the House to the way that the subsidy increased from the 1969-70 figure of $447,739. We are not happy about this subsidy arrangement because there are rumours that there is a secret agreement existing between Connoir and the former Leader of the Australian Country Party, Sir John McEwen, which has resulted in this bonanza to the company. That agreement, which is of decided advantage to the Country Party, has been allowed by the Government to continue for political reasons.
Connair is being run in an extremely inefficient manner. New management, a choice of different aircraft and the provision of regular services under air navigation regulation 203 instead of the present arrangement would give the people of the Northern Territory district who are covered by this service the same standard of service at a cost which would call for an essential rural development subsidy of about $500,000 less than the subsidy of $838,000 which was paid to Connair in 1970-71. At present, this subsidy is being spent on nonrural air routes such as the run from Alice
Springs to Ayers Rock which purely and simply is a tourist attraction. This is a blatant waste of public funds. I believe that this run could be operated much more cheaply by other operators. If Connair Pty Ltd were taken over by Trans-Australia Airlines or even by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd, the cost to the Government - ‘that is, the taxpayer - would be cut immediately, possibly with no subsidy being necessary, without in any way jeopardising an adequate service to the 120 or more centres in the Northern Territory. Connair has been badly mismanaged over the years. It has its own expensive offices in too many centres. It operates the wrong sort of aircraft for its requirements. For instance, the Opposition believes that TAA or Ansett could operate the Katherine service for about one-tenth of the present cost. We are not happy with what is happening to Connair and a Labor government would do something positive about it.
The other scandal revealed in the statement which has been made by the Minister for National Development deals with superannuation. This is something that Sir Reginald Ansett has complained about for many years but it was written into the Austral ion National Airlines Act of 194S and 1961. Section 32 deals specifically with the superannuation funds. The use of those funds by TAA was to be taken into consideration in assessing the profit that the company makes. At present, TAA is using its superannuation funds but it is paying to the fund 54 per cent interest on the money that it is using. The Government’s new proposal will require TAA to lodge its superannuation funds with the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund and an amount of 54 per cent interest will be paid by the Commonwealth to TAA. Based on the Slim which will be required to finance its scheme in an operation year, this will cost TAA $516,000 a year in interest. I ask the Minister for National Development: What is the Government going to do about this?
TAA has had access to these funds ever since the Act to which I just referred was introduced. In future, when TAA wants money to carry out some work in the operation of its airline, it will have to approach the Treasury which will have to approve in principle the proposed expenditures. Having finally condoned what the business management of TAA considered a reasonable proposition, the Treasury will then charge TAA an interest rate of 7i per cent. This is why this proposal will cost TAA over $500,000 a year. The use of these funds was taken into consideration originally by the Government. It was part of the payoff to TAA to compensate the company for its lack of diversification which was available to Ansett Transport Industries. So, a Labor government will permit TAA to use its funds in future.
At the present time Ansett has a superannuation fund but it does not cover as many employees as does the TAA fund. Ansett invests in policies with the Australian Mutual Provident Society, which in turn is a substantial shareholder of ATI. Therefore so far as AMP is concerned it will be doing all right out of this. Ansett has access to its superannuation funds and can use that money to build offices and things of that type and can carry out capital development. TAA uses its funds if it wants to enter into an arrangement with a group of hotels or tourist organisations. It can use those funds to buy shares in the companies concerned but in the future the Treasury will have to authorise this and we know that the Treasury can be pretty niggardly when it comes to these questions.
In the limited time left to me I want to refer to the profits being made by TAA. There is a requirement to return a profit or dividend of 10 per cent annually to the Government. This is far too high in a protected industry such as this 2-airline policy provides. The Australian Labor Party will require TAA to make a profit no greater than the long term bond rate, or possibly just a little in excess of it. This will bring about an immediate reduction in airline fares. TAA is required to make this 10 per cent profit each year so that Ansett in turn can make a similar profit and continue to pay its shareholders what we consider is an exorbitant profit in a protected industry. We are going to upset that arrangement. Honourable members may rest assured that this is one matter with which we will be dealing when we become the government in the new year. We will reduce the dividend rate, reduce the profit margin, and in turn bring about a reduction in fares.
The Opposition welcomes the decision to give more assistance to Qantas Airways Ltd. I hope that the Government will take note of the serious over-capacity that exists at present on the Pacific route. It could do something positive about this by reducing the frequency of flights. In the 30 seconds left to me I draw attention to the fact that at present the Department of Civil Aviation is completely and totally responsible for civil aviation operations in Papua New Guinea. All the technical staff at present are Europeans and no opportunities are being given to the indigenous population. In Papua New Guinea today the indigenes are the labourers. Labouring work is the only sort of work they do. They do none of the technical work associated with airline operations or DCA operations. I hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) will look at this matter very closely when he is in the Territory so that these people can be part of the establishment when they get independence. I hope that when independence is granted TAA will be given rights equal to those of ATI.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– No. Are we going to have further discussion on this?
– Too late.
– No, it is not too late. I can call for a division or move dissent. Are you going to debate this further?
-Order! At the moment there is no motion before the Chair. The motion has been agreed to.
– What motion was that?
-The motion agreed to was: ‘That the debate be adjourned and that the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting’.
– I am going to oppose this adjournment unless we get some undertaking.
– A Bill is to be introduced.
– Good. That is all right then.
Second Rearing (Budget Debate)
Debate resumed from 29 August (vide page 856), 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’.
– This is the most successful Budget of recent years. I say that because of the way that it has been received by the public and the Press - in fact by everybody concerned. They have indicated that they believe it will be beneficial to so many people and should therefore receive acclaim. For instance, the Government is pouring $592m of extra cash into circulation. Out of this amount, tax cuts make up $432m. This puts more spending money into pay packets. Pensioners will receive $145m and repatriation benefits will increase by SI 5m. The stimulus of this at retail trade level will be felt by everybody. Not only will the effect be seen in the supply of goods and services but also it will circulate right through the entire wholesale industry and back through the manufacturing industries and so result in more employment.
This is the objective of the Government and this is what it will achieve. We can expect from this a more buoyant economy. We can expect more projects to be started, more home building and more business ventures. People, instead of sitting back and waiting to see whether things will improve some time or other, as has been the unfortunate tendency of the doleful prognostications of the Opposition, will feel now that they can have confidence to commence their projects because they know that Australia has all the attributes required for success and that they can hope for better business. Of course, in doing this, there will be a certain amount of pressure on prices and possibly some tendency towards inflation - inflation being the result of somebody having the opportunity to make a little more money because the demand does not require him to follow the practice which some people have tried to encourage of giving people goods at cheaper prices.
For this reason I believe that we should have a prices justification tribunal. 1 do not mean that we should have any degree of price fixing such as we had during the last war. Those of us who had to endure flint sort of thing will fight against it as hard as we possibly can,, but there should be some means by which to show that a price increase has some justification. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has called this ‘prices notification’, but 1 want a little more than that. 1 want someone to say: ‘Well, yes, we accept your notification of the increased price’. I have no doubt that all the criticism of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd for increasing its prices a little while ago without, it was said, any reference to government to obtain approval for doing this, just on its own volition-
– A board of directors.
– Yes- done by its board of directors on the facts the board had before it. lt would have been no trouble for its board of directors to have gone to somebody and said: ‘This is the position: Our costs have gone up because of the strikes and the go-slows and the increased wages demands. This is the figure that comes out. lt is necessary to put the price up’. Then it would have been approved. I do not think there is any worry about that. 1 also like the proposition that is being put forward in the Senate at the moment by the Democratic Labor Party senators, for an additional curb by way of legislation to prevent manufacturers from increasing prices - a price limiting Bill. We all know the effect which uncurbed increases had last year. Collusive arrangements were made in the metal trades and many other trades - collusive arrangements between management and unions. These arrangements are made outride the processes of arbitration. The one great need in Australia today is to curb the inordinate demands of outrageous increases in wages. I say outrageous because the oil maintenance people wanted an increase of S27 a week - an increase, mind you. They got away with an arrangement for a $13 increase - $8 now and $5 later. Ground staff at airports asked for $30 a week extra - an increase of $30 a week which I regard as quite ridiculous. This illustrates the sort of pressure exerted by these outside arrangements. Much has been said about the form in which the Budget has been presented and the fact that it makes benefits available in so many areas. It has been said that this has been done only to win an election. I am sure it will win an election but that does not mean that the Budget has been presented in this form purely and simply for that purpose. People should know of the hard work that has been undertaken by a lot of committees that were appointed last year - not this year, suddenly to rub something up for the election. People have been studying the various areas in which the Government could make improvements, which is naturally the objective of any government in its administration. All of that work has been done behind the scenes. The results of that work have been made available to the Ministers concerned and as a result, very successful moves have been made to improve conditions.
One particular aspect I would like to mention is the help to be given to people in old people’s homes. This is a matter on which I will elaborate further when the relevant Bill is presented because it will be of inestimable benefit, lt is something that we have needed for a long time. As a result of the committee work that has been done behind the scenes this is one matter contained in the Budget. There are many other matters.
Many people regard the great urban crisis - as it is called - as the problem of the decade. Australia is the most urbanised nation of all. with 86 per cent of its people living in cities which are bogged down with traffic congestion which lack proper amenities - particularly on the outskirts - and which have antiquated transport due to the suburb sprawl. There is only one solution to the problem, and that is to attract the population away from the cities. But even if one million people could be transferred to suitable regional centres in each State, the effect on crowding in the cities would be extremely marginal, lt is most unlikely that this would reduce growth, it would only lessen the impact of the present rate of growth by decentralisation.
There are really 2 problems to solve. Concentration of population in cities results in high social costs in those cities; it creates major inequality of social and economic opportunities in non-metropolitan areas. But worse still - and this is the problem with which I am concerned, although the other is of great importance to the community as a whole - all of these difficulties, inequalities and limitations are emphasised by the economic stagnation of inland towns. Regretfully, the record of the Commonwealth in this area is very poor. The New South Wales State Government has made some attempt to tackle the problem, by appointing a Minister to concentrate on it, and it has been moderately successful. The Victorian State Government has made some half-hearted attempts to tackle the problem by carrying out door-knock programmes in order to acquaint the people and manufacturers with the advantages of going to the country.
State governments allow freight concessions and things of that nature, but almost in the same breath they discount these concessions by placing a limitation on the use of road transport. Very little encouragement has been given by offering financial assistance. Local municipal councils have done their bit. They have offered rate concessions, but this is not fair to the other ratepayers. They borrow money with which they build factories and they make special efforts to provide roads and services for the people who go to their towns. Local municipal councils have produced quite elaborate booklets. A lot of work has gone into the production of these fine booklets which point out the merits of particular areas. All of this is very good; but it is obviously not as good as it should be because it is not getting results. A different approach is needed. To be effective the population must be built up to a worth while level. A population of around 200,000 seems’ to be a reasonable figure. A city of that population can generate its own expansion. The available market is sufficient to attract service industries and amenities can be established at a level that makes them attractive. It is also possible to have the schools, hospitals, libraries and other things that go with a reasonable sized city. The building up of regional centres would mean that the towns within 50 to 60 miles of them - within one hour’s driving time of them - would benefit from a reflection of the advantages in those regional areas.
Probably the best region for development in Victoria is the Latrobe Valley, with Morwell as the hub and embracing in a 10-mile radius or less Moe, Yallourn, Traralgon and Churchill, where there is already an overall population of some 60,000 and there are the major facilities of a base hospital, the basic heavy industry of power production, a paper mill, an already established substantial industrial work force, which is very essential, and access to the port of Westernport at the present time but preferably the establishment of a port at Welshpool in the future. There are ample natural resources, such as water, and facilities for recreational and cultural activities. There is an adequate provision of high schools and a technical college.
There is also the opportunity, which unfortunately is not being taken advantage of, of making the Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education one of the State’s finest education centres, which would be the case if it were not starved of funds. The Commonwealth-State allotment of finance to the Institute for the next triennium can only be called a starvation diet. The Institute needs $7m for its minimum requirements. It needs that amount just to function at the level at which it was established. But the allotment for the next 3 years is Si. 6m, which will mean stagnation - certainly stagnation as far as making it possible to extend the number of students which that institution can accommodate is concerned. My point is that governments do not seem to care or even to be prepared to honour their intentions. We know that they meant this Institute to go ahead. So, for regions like this to expand it is necessary for the people concerned in the development of the area - the people who would benefit from the growth of the region as a centre for Gippsland as a whole - to do something about it. 1 am hopeful that the Government Parties will come out in their election policy speech with a statement about the provision of some assistance for decentralisation. But even that is unlikely to be adequate when one considers that any assistance provided would have to be spread over the whole of Australia. It is an enormous problem. So, I have proposed a self-help scheme which I believe would be a major contribution to overcoming the problem. I want the leading citizens of the region to get together in a private company, with a capital of $250,000, for the sole purpose of going after industries which they feel can operate profitably and permanently in the region. I want these citizens to reverse the process of expecting industry to select an area as suitable. The citizens themselves should go out and select the industries that they believe the area needs and put up proposals for joint ventures, particularly for joint ventures which will take advantage of the local natural resources.
I - think everyone knows that the major resource of the Latrobe Valley is its brown coal deposits. It has enormous deposits of brown coal. At the present rate of usage and growth in demand it has enough for hundreds of years. This brown coal can be converted into dozens of final products. Already there is an active char industry which is doing very well. There is plenty of scope for plastics, and probably one of the most interesting industries would be the conversion of brown coal to oil for the production of petrol. With the failure of the Government to support oil exploration on a scale commensurate with the vital importance of supplying future oil requirements, and also with the vulnerability of our off-shore supplies in the Bass Strait, it would be a sensible precaution and a commendable step in national development to make available finance for a feasibility study, in which the old gas and fuel complex could be used as a base, to see just what the cost would be. Expert advice from similar projects carried out in Africa and Europe indicate a net cost for high octane petrol of approximately 10c a gallon, which makes it very competitive wilh the price motorists are asked to pay now. This would be so even when the burden of excise duty was added.
One very pleasing feature of this Budget is the reduction in the level of estate duty. This is a benefit which will extend to 95 per cent of present dutiable estates. So a lot of people eventually will reap some benefit from this provision. Approximately 50 per cent of all former dutiable estates will be totally exempt from estate duty.
But having gone this far, the Government should have gone to the full extent of removing what is a mean tax that we could well do without. The real purpose of this tax has long since vanished. We no longer want to break up estates in Australia. We do not have large estates to be broken up. This is a mean tax which imposes hardship and despair on people who already have suffered a tragedy in the loss of a loved partner and breadwinner. At the very least there should be no tax whatever imposed when the estates goes to the widow of the deceased person.
I want to commend the efforts of Senator Negus in another place, not only for what he is doing there but also for getting around the countryside and letting people know the tragedy that can result from their ignorance. I attended a meeting with Senator Negus the other night. It astounded me to hear him recounting the many cases of hardship that have come to his notice because of the fact that he has specialised in this field. In my personal experience I have come to know dozens of people in my electorate who have been affected by this tax. I feel that one avenue in which the Government could well benefit the people, if it wishes to make an adjustment to do so, is by completely getting out of the field of estate duty. Of course, the States would have to get out of the field of probate duty as well, because the situation would be hopeless if the Commonwealth stepped out of a field and the States stepped in and took over. Of course, the Australian Capital Territory would be exempt from these duties if the Commonwealth got out of this field of taxation. This is an area in which hardship is placed on people when they have to dispose of their property. After spending a lifetime building up a worthwhile asset, and just when everything is going along nicely, the head of the family might die unexpectedly, leaving the family in the impossible position of having to dispose of their hard earned assets just to satisfy the Treasury.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I am extremely disappointed that no constructive measures have been included in the Budget to come to grips with the problem of unemployment. The present pool of unemployment was deliberately created by this Government in its 1971 Budget. We find, as we did last year, that the people well out on the fringes of a metropolis are the first to be affected. This has happened in the island State of Tasmania. We in Tasmania are the last to feel the effects of any real stimulus to get people back to work. The Premier of Tasmania has sought a Premiers Conference with the Commonwealth in order to have a constructive study of this urgent problem undertaken. Rural unemployment grants are readily acceptable as a short term measure and local councils have been able to carry out some essential and worthwhile projects involving a fair labour content, thus relieving unemployment in these areas.
These grants favour rural areas but they should be applied equally to metropolitan areas. In Tasmania for the month of July 1972 the number of unemployed rose by 12 per cent over the July 1971 figure in non-metropolitan areas but the rise in metropolitan areas was 70 per cent. Tasmania has the unenviable record of having the second highest proportion - second only to Western Australia - of its citizens on unemployment benefits. That proportion has doubled within a year from .62 per cent in July 19,1 to 1.23 per cent in July 1972. Furthermore, of total unemployment there is a higher proportion of juniors than there is in any other State. The statistics show too that the proportion of juniors has increased during the last 12 months. Whereas the total unemployed rose by slightly over 1,000, from 2,687 to 3,704, the number of unemployed juniors rose from 1,001 to 1,621, an increase of 620.
Whatever can be said about older people, no-one can claim that young people who have only recently left school can be blamed for not being able to find work. I am extremely concerned about these young people who have had to leave our State and to seek opportunities elsewhere. Not all of those who leave the State can get a game of football with St Kilda. The trend is clearly shown in Commonwealth statistics which reveal that Tasmania has the highest birth rate per thousand of any State. The age distribution tables at the census dates of 30th June 1947, 1954, 1961 and 1966 and the figures estimated for 1970 show that Tasmania has the highest proportion of its population in the under 19 age group. In 1947 the percentage of under 19s was 36.5, 3.8 per cent above all the States average; in 1954 the percentage of under 19s was 38.7, 3.6 per cent above all the States average; in 1961 it was 41.4, 3.5 per cent above the all States average; in 1966 it was 41.7, 3.3 per cent above; and in 1970 the estimated figure - the figure has not yet been determined from the census - of 40.6 per cent shows that Tasmania was 3 per cent above the all States average that year. However, the tables for the next age group, 20 to 29 years, equate with the national average, indicating that many of these young people have left the State at the age of 20 to seek job opportunities denied them through the lack of stimulus and through transport difficulties, both of which are the direct responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. It is not their own fault but is due to mismanagement of the total economy, not the Tasmanian part in particular.
More than in any other State, high economic activity in Tasmania is bound up with buoyancy in the economy elsewhere, a buoyancy which is singularly lacking at the moment. Whilst the number of unemployed in Tasmania rose by 1,000, the number of unfilled vacancies for males increased by only 1] and for females by 21. So we now have 5 males chasing each vacancy for males and 6 females chasing each vacancy for females. There is very little that Tasmania can do directly to remedy this desperate situation. Certainly there is very little in this Budget to bring any substantial stimulus to the island. More than half of our unemployed females are in the category of clerical and administrative. There are 750 unemployed in that category and the total number of females unemployed is 1,336. There are only 53 unfilled vacancies in that category. In other words, 750 unemployed are trying to fill 53 vacancies. There are 1,676 unemployed males in 2 categories. This figure is out of a total of 2,368. In the unskilled or manual category there are 874 unemployed and 41 vacancies, and in the semi-skilled category there are 802 unemployed and 87 vacancies. This situation will not just go away. As I shall show later, it is more likely to deteriorate further.
The background paper submitted recently by the Chief Secretary and Minister for Transport, Hon. Neil Batt, on behalf of a Tasmanian delegation, to the Federal Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) pointed out that Tasmania has resources which are of considerable importance to the national economy. But their development is being inhibited by the difficulty and the cost of sea transport. Added to this difficulty is the general rundown of the economy, the blame for which lies at the feet of the Federal Government. The background paper submitted shows that Tasmania is not progressing as fast as the other Australian States. Already Tasmania has the lowest income per capita of any State, a relatively high unemployment rate over recent years and the lowest rate of population growth. As the Budget Papers indicate, at Federation we had 4.57 per cent of the population of the Australian States, but 70 years later our percentage of population of the Australian States had fallen to 3.07.
Apart from the general rundown in the economy, there is no doubt that the other factors contributing to this situation are the disabilities of sea transport and other problems associated with Tasmania’s geographical location. Not only is it becoming more and more difficult to attract new industries to Tasmania but there is a real possibility of losing existing industries to the mainland. As an island State, Tasmania has only 2 methods of transporting its imports and exports - that is, by sea and by air. Only 8 per cent of our exports are carried by air, and these exports are restricted to smaller parcels of goods. Sea transport is the only effective or practical method of moving the bulk of Tasmania’s exports and imports. In this respect our position in the Australian federation is unique, as the other States have road, rail, sea and air services available for use if they are needed. We are entirely dependent upon the services provided by the Australian National Line.
I refer now to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade, which inquired into freight rates on the Australian National Line shipping services to and from Tasmania. It recognised Tasmania’s unique position in the Australian federation as regards its dependence on sea transport, the high proportion of export trade and the small domestic market. The Committee confirmed - these decisions by the Committee are important ones - that in terms of freight costs Tasmania is at a disadvantage relative to other States and that as an island State Tasmania has no interstate links except by sea and air and in this respect its position in the Australian federation is unique. It also confirmed the inherent inflexibility of shipping which puts Tasmania at a disadvantage in the absence of alternative modes of transport and the fact that the Australian National Line has a special role in Tasmania’s trade.
The Senate Committee recommended that an investigation be made into the feasibility of the operation of a daylight passenger service and the separation of passenger and general cargo traffic. Many people in Tasmania and many tourists who use our passenger services believe, as 1 do, that our passenger ferries to the mainland should operate during daylight hours. This must inevitably result in a considerable reduction of costs to the ANL. lt would reduce the number of stewards, with whom we apparently have a lot of trouble, and it must reduce other costs such as laundry costs, because the linen in the cabins has to be laundered every day when the ship comes into port. Daylight crossings would provide a far better and more enjoyable passage for tourists over Bass Strait than they now enjoy crossing at night time. I make a plea to the Australian National Line or to the Minister in charge of the operations of the Line for this Government to consider introducing daylight crossings between Melbourne and Tasmania by the passenger ferries. I believe that this would result in a stimulus to our tourist trade and would also offset the disadvantages that will flow to us from the recently announced increases for the shipment of cars and caravans by the ANL.
I wish to refer also to the other recommendation of the Senate Committee that the ANL be empowered to act as a freight forwarder. Freight costs are made up of 3 components: The freight forwarding segment, the sea leg costs - which has the greatest labour cost component - and the port dues levied by the marine boards, which have remained fairly constant over recent years. The cream of the operation lies, of course, in the freight forwarding segment, which increased its charges another 10 per cent earlier this year without any public outcry. Is it any wonder that Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd can offer up to S50m to take over Ansett Transport Industries Ltd, that the Union Steam Ship Co. has been taken over and that vast transport monopolies have been built up in this country.
Let me give an example. The ‘King Islander’ for years carried on an excellent service between King Island and Melbourne. The islanders used to go down to the wharf al Currie to collect their goods that came in on the ship. Freight averaged about $12 a ton. When the ‘Straitsman’ came into service in May the freight forwarders took over the collection and distribution of the freight. The freight rate jumped from $12 to $18 a ton. The shipping company received about $6, from which it paid S2 in port dues, leaving it $4 a ton for the sea leg. The freight forwarders took the cream - $12 a ton. Was it any wonder that the islanders were hostile at the sudden savage increase in freight with the introduction of the ‘Straitsman’? The freight forwarders were getting 3 times the return that the shipping company received, even though the company has the responsibility for the intensive labour cost component. I would like to know what percentage of the freight costs across Bass Strait represent the sea leg cost borne by the ANL and what percentage is received by the freight forwarders, over whom there is no control. The freight forwarders have the lucrative part of the business. The ANL should be empowered to act as its own freight forwarders. I repeat my belief that daylight crossings should replace the night services now provided by our passenger ferries.
I turn now to the point I made earlier, that if the unemployment situation is to improve we must have greater protection for our industries. The Country Party has recently criticised the Labor Party’s attitude on tariffs, but let me say that we believe in adequate protection of efficient Australian industries against unfair competition from outside. This is far different from the attitude of the Country Party. The primary producers of this country will never forget or forgive the Country Party for destroying the economic viability of the vegetable growing industry both in the mainland States and in Tasmania, but more particularly on the north and northwest coast of Tasmania. Despite strong opposition from the Labor Party, the Country Party has succeeded in phasing out import duties on processed peas and beans from New Zealand under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Growers who today remain in the industry have to accept far less than they received years ago for their labours, and all this despite the increases in costs over recent years.
We are a protectionist party. We believe in safeguarding employment in secondary industry by a system of tariffs against cheap imports from overseas. I have in recent months made several representations to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) against the imports of paper and requested him to take action in this regard. 1 asked him whether he would follow the lead of the Tasmanian Government and direct Government departments and instrumentalities to use Australian made paper. The Minister said in reply to a question from the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Allan Fraser) that he would consider making it a condition of private contracts for Government printing work that Australian made paper be used.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sittings for lunch I mentioned that the Minister for Trade and Industry had said that he would give consideration to making it a condition of private contracts for government printing work that Australian made paper be used. But I want to point out something that has happened since then. The Minister’s own Department, the Department of Trade and Industry, issues a publication ‘Australia Now’. This is a glossy quarterly promoting Australia among influential Americans. The Australian News and Information Bureau in New York has given this important printing job to American printers. As the group general manager of Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd, Mr J. J. Graham, pointed out recently, the publication ‘Australia
Now’ gives an authoritative review of Australia’s economy and that being so it should also be a show-case of Australian capabilities.
The printing industry is our fourth largest industry and the magazine should demonstrate our abilities in the graphic arts, plate making, printing and paper making. The actual printing, if it were carried out in Australia, would cost less than in New York and our printers would do a better job. But price considerations aside, it is important that the money be spent in Australia to benefit Australians - the unskilled workers, tradesmen, primary producers, printers, manufacturers and investors - all of whom are taxpayers in this country. With the work being done in New York, Australian taxpayers are supporting American printers, paper makers, investors and others. I need to point out only that APPM paid $3m in company tax last year and employs 6,000 people who pay income tax to the Government. So we are justified in asking the Minister for Trade and Industry again to grant tariff protection and to guarantee that Government departments and instrumentalities use Australian made paper and also that it be a condition of private contracts for Government printing work that Australian made papers be used.
Imports are a real threat. Last year, 1970-71, we saw a spectacular rise in the import of papers comparable with those produced at Burnie in Tasmania. These imports are coming mainly from Japan and Canada. The import of banks rose by 66 per cent, bonds by 26 per cent, offset printing paper by 9 per cent and duplicating paper by 70 per cent. The imports from Japan rose by 70 per cent to represent now 44 per cent of the total imports of banks while imports from Canada rose by 100 per cent to represent 22 per cent of total imports. I am indebted to the Parliamentary Library Legislative Research Service for supplying me with the latest figures available which indicate that the imports for the year ended June 1972 are 53 per cent higher than those for the corresponding period ended June 1971. The impact of these imports and the reduced sales are reflected in the drastic fall in the group profit of APPM for the first 6 months of last financial year. Group profit fell from $2,750,000 to $750,000 and the recently commissioned $27m plant at Wesley Vale in Tasmania is working to only 75 per cent of its capacity. This lies wholly and solely at the feet of this Government.
In the brief time that I have left to me I refer to pensions and to the need for increased child endowment. Pensions have been increased and I support any move in this regard. However, there is nation-wide support for pensions to be related to average wages with provision for pension increases to keep pace with wage increases. There will need to be further increases in pensions to reach the Australian Labor Party’s objective of a single pension equivalent to 25 per cent of the national basic wage. There has been a partial easing of the means test and now because of strong public demand the Government has reversed its earlier stand and imitated the Labor Party’s plan to abolish the means test within 3 years. Since the Budget was introduced I have found many people who are critical-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) expressed concern in his speech about the degree of unemployment. I am sure that all members agree that we want to reduce the level of unemployment. However, the honourable member criticised the Commonwealth Budget from that angle. I just want to say that the Budget generally is designed, and I believe will do so very effectively, to stimulate the economy and this is the best basis upon which unemployment can be relieved. Therefore I believe the Budget is in fact one which is designed to help relieve unemployment by way of stimulating the economy.
By common consent this is one of the most comprehensive Budgets ever presented to the Federal Parliament. I compliment the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and the Government on it. Also I would say - and I do not think I would be speaking in any biased way - that it has been one of the most favourably received budgets because it has provided great benefits for many people in a responsible way. The Budget will give more substantial benefits to more people in total and in relation to the population than any Budget for a very long time, if indeed there has ever been a Budget that has given such substantial benefits to the percentage of the population as are provided by this Budget.
As I have said, the benefits are to be provided in a very responsible fashion. An overall deficit of $630m in a Budget of approximately $10,00Om is not a big deficit; it is by no means a large deficit when compared with the total involved. The Budget domestic deficit is only $60m. We have constantly heard - and during this debate this has been one of the subjects which has probably been most strongly stressed - about the problem of inflation in Australia. I would like to tell the Parliament and the people of Australia that Australia’s performance in coping with inflation will stand comparison with other nations around the world. Figures have been given in relation to this matter, but I would like to quote some figures which I have received from the Research Service of the Parliamentary Library. The figures relate to a comparison made between Austrafia and Japan, the United Kingdom, France. West Germany and the United States of America. I will not mention the West German figures because they do not go far enough for purposes of a comparison to be made across the board. Therefore, I will compare Australia with Japan, the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America. I think that honourable members will agree that they are nations which have great resources and which are among the affluent countries of the world.
For the purpose of the comparison I asked the Research Service to obtain figures for a 5-year period - 1965 to 1970. Taking the base as 1965 equals 100 points we find Australia in front of them all. From 1965 to 1970 - and these are the latest figures that I was able to get - inflation in Australia rose from 100 to 121 points; the United States, which was nearest the Australian figure, rose from 100 to 122 points; Japan was next rising from 100 to 124; and the United Kingdom and France rose from 100 to 127. Therefore, from these figures we can see that any suggestion that Australia has not coped with its problem of inflation equally as well as the nations 1 have mentioned can be completely refuted.
Even more than that, if we take the last 2 years that were available to me - that is 1969 and 1970 - the figures are even more complimentary to the Australian handling of the situation. Using the same base, I find that the level of Australian inflation rose from 117 in 1969 to 121 in 1970. The nearest country was France which had an increase from 121 to 127 points. Therefore, Australia had a rise of 4 points against a 6 points rise for France. In other words, France the country nearest Australia in this comparison, had a rise of almost 50 per cent greater than that of Australia. Inflation in the United States rose from 115 to 122, a rise of 7 points; in Japan the rise was 7 points - from 117 to 124; and in the United Kingdom the rise was from 118 to 127, or 9 points. I asked that the figures which were made available to me be not taken from any specific area. In fact, I think that the figures which were made available to me show in no uncertain fashion the success that this Government has achieved in coping with inflation compared to what has been achieved in other countries.
I believe that one of the most important parts of this Budget, not only from a rural industry point of view but also from a national point of view - and I am very pleased there has been some acceptance of this as a national need - is the provision of long term loans for primary industry. I believe that this is the most welcome part of the Budget for many primary producers who are suffering from a shortage of finance. This is a problem which has confronted primary industry for many years. Long term loans for primary industry are essential if we are to enable many people in rural areas to carry on their businesses. The Budget provides $20m for this purpose.
We know that there are various means by which financial assistance can be provided, but whatever means are used, whether the scheme is implemented through a new rural bank or in some other way, the scheme must be got under way. The point that I want to stress in connection with this is the urgency of providing assistance. It has been said that legislation will be brought down during this session to implement the scheme. I urge the Government to act quickly. If there is to be any delay in establishing the new bank I would suggest that as a next best thing the Commonwealth Development Bank should be rechartered to allow it at least to provide long term loans for primary industry, the need for which is essential. A rechartering of the Commonwealth Development Bank in the way I have suggested would not be detrimental to the establishment of a new rural bank because the division of the Development Bank dealing with long term rural finance could be used as the nucleus of a new rural bank which would follow and which I believe is necessary.
During my travels throughout my electorate I have found the most talked of subject to be this provision of finance to give assistance to rural industry and the fact that in the past rural finance provided in many areas has not been sufficient to give the across-the-board assistance that has been necessary. In the past people have been assisted because they have been in grave difficulties. Many very deserving people who have not reached that stage are nevertheless in need of finance. I hope that action will be taken as quickly as possible to implement this measure.
One problem associated with this is the extreme difficulty that we have always experienced in overcoming the attitude that we are adopting a sectional approach by providing rural finance. So often it has been designated in that way by the metropolitan media. However, they have overlooked the fact that this finance is required for industries which are vital to the welfare of Australia as a nation and that it could do much to encourage people to remain in areas other than the capital cities. They forget also that any viable contribution towards this end is ultimately of advantage to our nation and to our overcrowded cities. One of the heartening factors in relation to the acceptance of a national approach for long term finance for rural industry is demonstrated in an editorial which appeared in the Sydney Sun’ on 17th August this year. The editorial, under a heading ‘Easing Despair from Debt’, stated:
Most of us have got some idea of what it’s like to be in debt.
But nothing can be quite so despairing as being in debt and trying to make a living in the country.
The outlook for many thousands of people, farmers little and big, is not just daunting - it’s horrifying.
Many of them owe everything except their pride and determination to see it out.
Many more owe so much they have been driven to the cities. Shouldering their bad debts for the rest of their days.
I emphasise the next part, which stated:
This is a nation that owes its existence to what its rural industries earned overseas.
Industries still vital to Australia.
The plan for a national rural bank revealed yesterday by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Sinclair, is one welcome way to help them.
Help stall the creditors and promote sound investment other than handouts.
The farmers haven’t had much of a break. Not even with the weather.
They don’t want charity. Just understanding and time to pay.
That is the sort of approach that I welcome in the metropolitan media. I hope that this editorial will be followed by a broader approach to this question throughout the media of this country. It was certainly heartening to me to see the change of attitude in this article.
I should like now to touch on another matter which is affecting the country generally and rural areas in particular. Let me refer to the discussion about the appreciation or otherwise of our currency. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has taken the stand that the Australian dollar should be appreciated. Whatever excuses might be offered in regard to what he said - for example, that it is only an expression of personal opinion - the fact is that the Leader of the Opposition has taken a clear stand on this issue, and if his views do not reflect the opinion of the Opposition, if he is out of touch with the Australian Labor Party’s policy, if his opinions are not worth anything to the members of his Party, he should resign and make way for someone who can speak authoritatively for the Labor Party. However, I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition will be placed in that embarrassing position because I am of the opinion that he is voicing the majority Labor Party viewpoint on this issue.
Despite the fact that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), the Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Primary Industry, has expressed opposition to that statement, I do not believe that the honourable member for Dawson and those few people in the Labor Party who support him will cut much ice in the general Labor Party Caucus. For very clear evidence of this let me refer to what happened at the meeting of the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party at Launceston when the policies of the honourable member for Dawson were rejected in favour of the policy put up by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). The honourable member for Dawson was so put out about it that he appeared on television and was highly critical of the decisions of that Conference. He said that he felt sorry for Labor members in rural areas holding marginal seats. Here is a noise coming in. The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), who is trying to interject never stops talking, and never says anything.
No doubt efforts will be made to patch up, at least publicly, the division that is obviously showing within the Labor Party. ] believe that the thinking that exists in the Labor Party will favour the Leader of the Opposition instead of the honourable member for Dawson, because the Labor Party - even in its efforts in this House - has shown itself to be a fragmented body of people without the capacity to govern. All the media have agreed that Labor has once again shown publicly the extent of the serious differences of opinion that exist within its ranks. How can Labor be an effective Government when it has these divisions which cannot be kept under cover, which cannot even be kept within the Party room and which are ventilated on the floor of this House in no uncertain fashion?
I hardly need emphasise the tragic effects of the policy expressed by the Leader of the Opposition because the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), the honourable member for Dawson and others have done this quite effectively. Nevertheless, I would again stress the fact that while such a policy would be disastrous for primary producers and would perhaps be the last straw for them, it would also be the last straw for many manufacturing industries which would not then be able to compete with imports. Thus unemployment would be very greatly increased. The honourable member for Braddon who preceded me in this debate spoke about unemployment. I believe that revaluation would be one way in which unemployment would be very greatly aggravated. I can imagine nothing which could be more likely to cause an inflow of capital into Australia in the hope that a change of government would almost certainly result in a substantial appreciation of the Australian dollar than the statements of the Leader of the Opposition. These are the facts. I emphasise them again. They have been mentioned before but I think some of them are worth repeating. There is a very great fear in the minds of the Australian people that any possible alternative government would be absolutely disastrous for this country.
I want to refer now to estate duty. One of the outstanding features of the Budget is the substantial reduction in estate duty. The burden of providing insurance to cover these duties has become quite beyond the capacity of many primary producers, and other people as well. The position has been reached in which a family could be in a sound financial position one day and could be virtually insolvent the next day as a result of the death of the father. This intolerable position will now be very greatly relieved. Mothers of families will be able to live without the fear of having to meet an assessment for death duties which they know is beyond their capacity to pay. This humane aspect of the Budget is worth emphasising. The Government has accepted its responsibility in this field and is carrying out a policy which I hope will mean the complete abolition of death duties. This will be an added incentive for young men to stay on the land, as they will now have a more reasonable chance of carrying on the family property after the death of the father. This did not apply in Queensland a few years ago, before the Federal Government and the Queensland Government made a reduction in death duties. But that reduction was not enough. The proposed very substantial reductions in Federal death duties will be a very welcome relief. I trust that the State governments will follow the lead which has been set by the Federal Government, as was done previously by Queensland. State governments collect considerably more in death duties than the Federal Government collects, and the need for a further reduction in State fees is quite obvious.
In the comparatively short time remaining to me in this debate I want to refute the suggestion that this is a rich man’s Budget. It has been constantly put that this is a rich man’s Budget. But when one looks at any section of it one sees that this is not the case. Let us look at the subject which I have just been discussing - estate duties. In regard to suburban estates going wholly to close relatives, an estate with a net value of $40,000 at present attracts duty of $937, but the new duty will be nil; for an estate with a net value of $60,000 the present duty is $3,500, but the new duty will be $937; and an estate with a net value of $150,000 is at present subject to duty of $25,500, but this will be reduced under the terms of this Budget to $21,642. So how can the Opposition claim that this is a rich man’s Budget? The examples which I have just given emphasise that it is not. Honourable members can go into every other aspect of this Budget and find that the position is the same.
With regard to taxation, a man with an annual taxable income of $40,000 will have his tax reduced by 7.2 per cent; the tax on a taxable income of $20,000 will be reduced by 8.7 per cent; at $10,000 the reduction will be 12.6 per cent; and at $5,000 it will be 22.4 per cent. I could go on giving example after example to refute completely the Opposition’s story that this is a rich man’s Budget. It is no such thing. It is a Budget which caters for the more deserving sections of the community which the Australian Labor Party claims to represent. The Opposition has moved an amendment in respect of this very worthwhile Budget, which of course it had to do because it was in a spot and had to try to catch some votes somehow in the face of a very well received Budget.
One other matter to which I wish to refer is the problem faced by wheat growers in rural areas. The growers have had to try to carry on over many years with a payment of $1.10 per bushel, but their costs have been increasing all the time. It is a fact, however unpleasant it may be to hear about it, that growers will find it impossible to continue to meet these constantly rising costs without some increase in their net returns. I believe that, as has been pointed out, the market at the moment does not offer a lot in this field and that the position should be examined to see what can be done to assist growers. One way of assisting them could be by consultation between State governments and the Federal Government with a view to reducing government charges. Freight charges also could come under investigation. In regard to local government rates, assistance for local authorities is something which is very urgently in need of examination. Land rents in many instances are much too high in relation to the earning capacity of the properties. I think that we have to look at the question of whether the basis on which land rents are charged is equitable in the light of present day conditions.
Finally, as the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) is at the table, I would like to refer to another way in which I believe people in rural areas could be helped, and that is by regarding telephone calls to the main centre of business as local calls. I have always felt that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department should be a department which is not only one which is of service to the community but also one which can be used to help to promote decentralisation throughout Australia. I believe that there are avenues in which this Department could be used to achieve decentralisation. The greatly inflated telephone charges that have to be paid by both individuals and businesses in rural areas represent a major handicap to any effective decentralisation policy and a severe social disability to country dwellers.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 am privileged to participate in this Budget debate. Before entering into a discussion of what I consider to be the most important aspects of this Budget I want to make brief reference to some of the comments made by members of the Government parties who have spoken in this debate in the last day or so. The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), whose personal integrity is highly regarded by honourable members on this side of the House, spoke of wrangling in the Labor Party because of a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on the upward revaluation of the Australian dollar. I understand, though 1 have not given a good deal of thought to it, that this was a personal opinion expressed by the Leader of the Opposition when questioned about revaluation. The Leader of the Opposition readily succumbs to majority decisions in the party room and practises true democracy in that field. The honourable member for Maranoa makes no reference to the fighting and wrangling within the ranks of the Liberal-Country Party coalition about the intended development of a rural bank. There is bitter and strong opposition in the Liberal ranks to the Country Party’s domination of decision making in this particular field. I challenge any member of the Government to deny that statement.
I fear that the honourable member for Maranoa has been participating in too many witchety grub eating contests and viewing too many lizard races in his electorate in the outback of western Queensland. He should get down to the realities of what is going on. Yesterday the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) made one of the frankest confessions that has been made in this Parliament for some time. The honourable member who succeeded that distinguished Australian, the late Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes, when speaking in the Budget debate used these words which are attributed to him at page 804 of Hansard:
Without doubt, it will get the country going again. There are many signs–
– Hear, hear.
– The honourable member for Angas says ‘hear, hear’. The passage in Hansard goes on: 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.
Who created this chaotic state of affairs? The Government which has been in power for almost 23 years has created it. The Government frankly admits that public confidence in it has slumped to an all-time low. What a confession to make. I must congratulate the honourable member for Chisholm on his frankness.
– Hear, hear.
– Obviously the truth slipped out. The honourable member for Angas again says ‘hear, hear’. He has been a member of this Parliament for a lot longer than has the honourable member for Chisholm, and he has participated in bungling the affairs of the country, a situation which the honourable member for Chisholm so readily admitted yesterday. The honourable member for Maranoa has suggested that the Leader of the Opposition should resign. What a sigh of relief would go up from members of the Government parties if the Leader of the Opposition did resign. They would be able to sleep peacefully in their beds, because the first time the Leader of the Opposition led the Labor Party to the electorate he captured 17 or 18 seats from the ToryCountry Party Government. That is why they want him to resign. They know the writing is on the wall. They know that they are about to incur political annihilation at the hands of the electorate. The Budget under debate is the effort of a demoralised, dying Government clutching at straws like a drowning man does. Honourable members opposite are trying to save the old coalition boat. The old Liberal-Country Party ship is sinking. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) are running around with inferior putty trying to plug the holes. The ship is waterlogged. She is sinking. She has no buoyancy tanks. I tell honourable members that the old mixed marriage is breaking up as mixed marriages invariably do.
The Government is handing out a few crumbs to pensioners and some small tax concessions in the hope that it may be reprieved by the people of Australia at the next Federal election from the political scaffold. Through bungling, internal fighting and sadistic jealousy the present Government is a government with a cabinet in exile. Will the measures proposed by this Government remove the economic ills of the nation which have been suffered for so long? We of the Opposition say affirmatively no. Unemployment continues to grow. The unemployment figures in Newcastle and the Hunter electorate have reached saturation point. The position of the coal industry in Newcastle and the. Hunter electorate is more acute than it has been for many years. The few remaining coal mines operating are threatened with closure. Homes, public property like hospitals and schools, and the ruination of coal seams are threatened. The future education of children - which touches me more than anything - is in jeopardy. I consider that this is the most important factor of all. The Government has failed repeatedly to implement a national fuel policy to control the orderly marketing of our export coal. The Government by its attitude has allowed international consortiums like Utah Development Co. and the Mitsubishi interests - who have formed a multinational consortium known as Central Queensland Coal Associates - to dominate the export coal industry of this nation. The Government’s action is virtually bringing about the closure of townships in coal mining areas. This has caused great consternation to my colleagues from the South Coast area of New South Wales such as the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) who has forcefully spoken on this matter during special debates and the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), because the matters to which T have referred have affected their areas, their townships and their people.
Open cut coal is invariably close to the surface and can be mined more cheaply than underground coal. There is a growing imbalance between open cut coal mining and underground mining, particularly in Queensland where the Queensland CountryLiberal Party Government allows international consortiums to go on their happy way unmolested and ungoverned. In 1970-71 underground coal mined in Queensland amounted to 3,449,000 tons. Open cut coal mined was almost double that figure at 7,498,000 tons. The total amount mined was 10,974,000 tons. In New South Wales where the Joint Coal Board has some jurisdiction over the production of coal under the Joint Coal Board legislation operated by the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments there is an entirely different set of figures. In New South Wales for the year 1970-71 underground coal produced amounted to 32,608,000 tons and open cut coal produced amounted to 2,547,000 tons, making a total of 35,155,000 tons.
In Queensland it is expected that in the next 2 years the ratio of coal from underground mines will be only 20 per cent of total production. Eighty per cent will come from open cut mines. Does this not mean that international consortiums are going to rip - if I may use the vernacular - the very guts out of the coal industry, getting cheap coal at a quick profit for overseas investors. The savagery of open cut coal mining because it temporarily offers big profits to international consortiums should be repelled and controlled by the implementation of a national fuel policy. For many years the Australian Labor Party has been protesting to the Government about the uncontrolled flow of foreign investment into this country. I hope in the next few minutes to reveal some astounding figures with respect to overseas investors, particularly the investments of the United States of America in various countries of the world. I remember that in 1964 the former honourable member for Scullin, Mr Ted Peters, who at that time had written a booklet on this subject, protested to the Commonwealth Government at the domination of Australian industries and our economy by overseas investors. After years of protesting by the Australian Labor Party the Government now is showing some interest in this matter. The former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins, (Mr Gorton) could see the dangers that were being exemplified by the Australian Labor Party and he advocated that guidelines should be adopted with respect to foreign investment. He obstructed the takeover of the Mutual Life and Citizens Insurance Co. by overseas investors. Of course, we know that he was criticised by the Liberal hawks who guide and manage the Liberal Party machine in this country. They demand that he be replaced because he was interfering with foreign investors.
I wish to spell out to the Parliament the views of 2 Harvard economists on United States investment overseas. They are Thomas Weisskoff and Frank Ackerman who computed figures from United States Government data to show that the rate of profit on private foreign investment by American corporations has consistently exceeded their return on domestically invested capital. These economists state that from 1950 through to 1969, after tax profits on domestic capital fluctuated between 6.3 per cent in 1961 and 9 per cent in 1951, with the exception of the 11.1 per cent rate in 1950. The rate of after tax profits on foreign investment reached a peak of 17.3 per cent in 1951 and averaged 11 per cent to 12 per cent through the 1960s, which was nearly twice the level of domestic profitability.
On top of that, Weisskoff and Ackerman point out that the share of total corporate profits derived from foreign operations has been climbing steadily. In the early 1950s, foreign earnings constituted between 7 per cent and 11 per cent of all corporate profits. By the late 1960s, 14 per cent to 18 per cent of all corporate profits were coming from overseas operations. Can we not truly say that Australia is being used in the same way as other countries are being used? American foreign capital is dominating the economies of these countries and they are being used virtually as milking cows for the United States investors on Wall Street. Moreover, there are 2 sources of understatement in the statistics of these 2 forthright economics. I refer to the statistics of profitability on direct investments. Firstly, profits made by overseas affiliates, these economists say, are affected by deductions for exploration and depletion costs, especially in the oil industry. This is something of which most Australians are aware. These profits are affected also by artifically high prices paid for inputs purchased from parent companies in the United States. The 2 Harvard economists mention also that there are strong indications that for the 200 or so corporations which increasingly determine the state of health of the economy, foreign profits are decidedly more important than those reflected in the statistical averages, impressive though they are in their own right.
For example, in 1970 the International Business Machines company - the organisation which is spreading its computers throughout the world, particularly to Australia where it has a firm footing - earned over half of its net profits from external operations. During 1970, the Chairman of IBM, Thomas J. Watson, stated that more of IBM’s profit was derived outside than inside the United States, and that this was a most exciting turning point in the history of IBM. For both the National Cash Register organisation and the Gillette company, 51 per cent of total profits were generated abroad. The Dow chemicals organisation, a supplier for the germicidal and herbicidal war in Vietnam, to its everlasting disgrace, made 44 per cent of its profits overseas; Goodyear 43 per cent; Revlon, a company well known to the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), because it has earmaked certain land on the south coast of New South Wales, 40 per cent; Johnson and Johnson 36 per cent; Otis Elevator 35 per cent; Union Carbide 29 per cent; General Electric 21 per cent; and General Motors, which has a big share of the Australian motor industry, 19 per cent. Other companies with high foreign profit ratios were Armco Steel; Alcoa, which is well known in Australia; Bucyrus-Erie, Eaton Yale and Towne: Colgate Palmolive, the old ‘PickaBox’ show; Proctor and Gamble; Polaroid; International Harvester; Caterpillar Tractor; Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing; Uniroyal; National Biscuit; Eastman Kodak; Chrysler; Ford; Pfizer; Singer; Woolworths; and all the international petrol companies.
Recently the international oil companies almost brought this nation to a stop sooner than see the workers who helped them to make their lucrative profits receive a just and fair wage. Government supporters blamed that situation on the unions, but the unionists were fighting for justice and a respectable wage to pay off expensive homes and land, to rear and educate their children and to ensure them a decent footing in their own country. I have not mentioned the celebrated ITT conglomerate - International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation - the extensive overseas operations of which have involved it waist deep in foreign politics from Chile to the Common Market countries. Former Belgian Prime Minister Paul Spaak is one of the fathers of ITT and a board member of ITT in the United States of America.
For the major banks, too, the proportion of deposits, loans and earnings acquired through foreign branches is large and is increasing. Among the few large banks with substantial earnings gains in 1971, according to the magazine ‘American Banker’, higher profits were derived largely from increases in their international earnings, reflecting the large rise in total assets and liabilities of United States branches in foreign countries. They rose from $47 billion at the start of 1971 to almost $57 billion at the end of September 1971. This is United States international imperialism to which the late Lord Russell of Britain referred not long before he died by naming it as the greatest threat to world peace amongst all countries in the world.
Richard Wolff, an economist of Columbia University, New York, has found that by late 1970 from 26 per cent to 46 per cent of all deposits of the 8 biggest New York banks was foreign. Chase Manhattan, David Rockefeller Foundation, Standard Oil and the First National City Bank, the leading international banks, had from 40 per cent to 46 per cent of their total deposits overseas. The Government is at the end of its tether. The people of Australia are demanding that a true Australian government take over the Treasury bench of this Parliament to legislate in the interests of all Australians. I believe: It’s time.
– This Budget has thrown the Opposition into complete disarray. Honourable members opposite have been searching desperately to find something to criticise in the Budget. They have solved their problems by talking about practically anything but the 1972 Budget. We have just had a very good example of that technique demonstrated to us by the harangue of the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). This avoidance of the issue of the debate is scarcely surprising. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) had to dredge the bottom of the barrel to find anything to criticise in tax reforms which totally exempted 600,000 taxpayers from income tax, and decreased the tax payable by the remainder by amounts varying from 14 per cent at the bottom of the income scale to 6i per cent at the top. In addition to this, deductions for dependents are increased, and expenses for self -education are deductible for the first time.
It is worth noting that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition does not mention tax, despite all his talk about ‘a rich man’s budget’. This is obviously because his lavish expenditure promises in every direction could be met only by a great increase in taxation. The measures for new expenditures in this Budget are socially desirable and economically responsible. We will have the opportunity to debate them in detail in the Estimates debates. The decision to abolish the means test obviously threw the Leader of the Opposition into a panic, and he is now arguing, with considerable sophistry and nimble footwork, that when he said 6 years, he really meant 3 years. This is alarming arithmetic from one who claims to be the alternative Prime Minister.
– Where is the money coming from?
– As I said, the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition makes no mention of where the money is coming from.
– Where is the money coming from?
– I am talking about where the money is coming from. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition made no mention of taxation for the very obvious reason that all the promises he makes can be redeemed only by greatly increased taxation, as some of the members of his own Party are honest enough to admit.
What we must get over to members of the community, as, I think, many of them already realise, is the fact that increased productivity is the key to all the things the community is striving for - improved education, better social services, a more pleasant environment and so on. For too many the concept of a fair days work for a fair days pay is a thing of the past. They think they should be paid more for working less, forgetting that the inevitable effect of this will be either higher prices, or a sharp drop in profits, resulting in a lowering of capital investment and a decline in the rise of productivity. In either case the community as a whole is worse off. The idea that we can have more by working less is absurd. Equally absurd is the attitude of people such as the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) on the 35-hour week. He claims that the Australian Labor Party would pick only on the wealthy industries although he knows that the shorter week would immediately flow on to similar industries, whether they could afford to pay or not.
The pattern is obvious. Pick on the capital intensive industries which cannot afford to be struck, and the rest will follow. Mobilise suspicion of foreigners by picking on industries with a high level of foreign ownership such as the oil industry, ignoring deliberately the fact that the oil industry is one of the few industries which has price control for its products, and that this price is set by the Prices Commissioner of the Labor State of South Australia.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I call your attention to the state of the House.
Order! Ring the bells. (The bells being rung).
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member for Hunter will come into the House. (A quorum being present).
– Mr Deputy Speaker 1 raise a point of order. I am not sure whether you were absolutely correct in calling the honourable member for Hunter into the House. He was not within the precincts of the House, as the Standing Orders require, so you had no right to call him into the House. He was at the door. Am I correct? Does the Clerk say that is correct?
-Order! I do not think there is any substance in the point of order.
– But you had no right to call him in.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter was sitting in the Speaker’s Gallery.
– You had no right to call him in unless he was within the precincts of the House. He was not within the precincts of the House. He was at the door.
-Order! I will accept the point of order. I call the honourable member for Isaacs.
– Much of the talk about foreign oil interests gouging money out of the poor Australian worker is so much cant and humbug. The truth is that the trade unions are the only remaining centres of uncontrolled monopoly power. Many of them use their monopoly power with restraint, but an increasing number of them are prepared to use it ruthlessly and selfishly. It is the task of government to restrain the abuses of monopoly power, whether by management or by unions. This is the reason for the importance of the arbitration system, which is the sole bul wark of the community against the abuse of their monopoly power by unions. Honourable members opposite who wish to destroy the arbitration system want to give complete freedom to union monopolies regardless of public interest. But of course, union monopolies are not the only monopolies that need to be controlled in the public interest although at the moment they are the most ruthless.
I should like to take the opportunity to make some comments on the foreshadowed legislation of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), on restrictive trade practices. One of his most important proposals is the establishment of a monopolies commission to examine monopoly situations and mergers or takeovers - local or foreign - which might lead to monopoly situations. I wholeheartedly support this concept, but 1 have a number of suggestions. I think it is most undesirable to give the Government the sole power of referral. I accept that the Government must have power of referral, particularly with regard to takeovers, because these may arise at short notice and may require immediate action. But I can easily envisage circumstances in which it would be particularly difficult for any government to order a desirable investigation of a monopoly situation. For this reason I believe it is essential that the Commissioner of Trade Practices should have power of referral to the monopolies commission under the same safeguards as are proposed to govern his referrals to the Trade Practices Tribunal.
There is also a great deal of special concern about the takeovers of efficient Australian firms by foreign companies, whether this leads to monopoly conditions or not. I am aware of the economic arguments in favour of these takeovers - that they would release Australian capital for other purposes and also that foreign companies may bring in new skills. Nevertheless, the Australian public - rightly in my opinion - is deeply suspicious of such takeovers. Canada, which admittedly has a much more serious problem - twice the level of overseas ownership, and all concentrated in one country - is establishing a foreign takeovers commission to examine all foreign takeovers of Canadian firms above a certain capital value and not to approve them unless the commission believes that the takeover is in the interests of Canada. I believe we should do likewise, and a monopolies commission would be an ideal instrument for this.
With regard to the Trade Practices Tribunal mentioned in the Attorney-General’s statement, I disagree very strongly with the apparent assumption that the resolution of a few test cases will cause most of the thousands of restrictive agreements to melt away voluntarily in a short time. The only evidence for this, in my opinion, very over-sanguine assumption seems to be British experience. If this is so, 1 would suggest that United Kingdom experience is not a sound guide, for 2 reasons: Firstly, I am told that many of the United Kingdom agreements were of long standing, and many of the firms concerned welcomed the chance to be rid of them. In my experience, this is certainly not the case in Australia. Secondly, the register in the United Kingdom is open, and once a practice had been ruled illegal, it would be very difficult for other practitioners to continue. In Australia the register is secret - and in my opinion must remain so - and no such pressures would develop.
In my opinion, most Australian companies will retain their restrictive agreements until they are forced to give them up. After all, the agreements are to their advantage - or rather, they believe them to be - and there is no publicity and no penalty. 1 find it unbelievable that many of them will be voluntarily given up. What I think will happen is that the Commissioner will slowly chew through them, a few dozen a year, and it will be many years before he will make a significant impact. In fact, new agreements will probably be registered at a faster rate than that at which old ones are cleared up.
The importance of competition as a spur to industrial efficiency and as a restraint on price inflation is very great, and we must make the proposed Trade Practices Act much more rigorous. Fortunately, we have a lead in the resale price maintenance legislation. In the present Act, resale price maintenance is illegal, although there are a number of gateways through which one can escape if one can show that the activities are in the public interest. Surely we should apply the same principles to horizontal agreements. How are collusive tendering, price fixing, quota restrictions, zoning and boycotting different in principle from resale price maintenance? I believe they must be banned, with gateways of public interest as set out in the AttorneyGeneral’s statement.
Of course, I believe that in certain circumstances monopolies can be in the public interest. Industrial production being what it is, in some industries efficient manufacture can support only one firm, but the gateways which the AttorneyGenera] has proposed would allow such industries to show that their monopoly situation was in the public interest, and this is what I believe we should do.
The Attorney-General’s statement said nothing about collusive tendering, but I must say that I agree with the remark of the Commissioner of Trade Practices on page 19 of his third annual report, when he said:
What the Act does is to prohibit collusive tendering subject to an exception that is more important than the prohibition itself. Collusive tendering is not an offence if the agreement is on the Register and does not relate to the one tendering occasion only. The condition is quite easy to meet, lt means that systematic collusive tendering pursuant to continuing agreements is generally removed from the risk of prosecution . . . There has been no prosecution so far under the Commonwealth Act.
I think this escape clause must be eliminated, and collusive tenderers should have to justify their behaviour, if they can, on the same public interest criteria as other questionable horizontal agreements have to be justified.
The recent amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act seek to bring the public interest into consent awards between management and the unions. The obvious danger, and the obvious intention of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is the taking of consent agreements outside of the conciliation and arbitration system. (Quorum formed.) Our aim surely must be to encourage or. if necessary, force such agreements into the arbitration system, where the public interest can be taken into account. I think the Restrictive Trade Practices Act should be used for this purpose because it is the legislation which deals with monpolies. 1 would therefore suggest that the Act should be amended to remove the exception for agreements relating to working conditions of employees and that agreements by groups of employers supposed to be in competition with each other on wages and conditions of employees should be illegal if concluded outside of the conciliation and arbitration system. The agreements could have the same ‘gateways’ before the Trade Practices Tribunal as have other illegal horizontal agreements.
I have devoted some time to the restrictive trade practices legislation because it, together with a tariff review and Conciliation and Arbitration Commission consideration of the public interest in wage decisions, is the key to the control of the costpush inflation from which we are now suffering. Fiscal measures can help to control demand-pull inflation, but they do not have much influence on cost-push inflation. The only cost-push area in which fiscal measures might have much impact is salaries. If salary increases are not moderated in tune with wage increases, I believe, as I suggested in the Budget debate last year, that we should make average salary increases above a certain figure - say 5 per cent a year - not a legitimate business expense and therefore subject to company tax. That could be a reserve measure which would be necessary only if salary increases outpace wage increases.
The Budget will certainly achieve its aims of stimulating confidence, giving increased discretionary spending power to individuals and giving increased social justice. I wholeheartedly support it and reject the Opposition’s amendment.
– It is interesting that the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) took to task the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and members of the Opposition for not talking about the Budget and then spent the whole of his speech talking about legislation which may or may not be introduced into the Parliament at some future time. If he were honest I think he would have acknowledged the fact that very rarely in Budget debates do honourable members talk in detail about the contents of any Budget - good or bad. This Budget is a little better than the last; in fact, we hope that it is 100,000 unemployed better than the last. I want to deal with a number of matters but firstly I want to express extreme disappointment in the speech which was made yesterday by the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin). There is a saying of long standing that the person who is without sin should cast the first stone. I do not believe that that person exists on either side of the Parliament or in any section of the community, lt is a pretty poor state of affairs in the Parliament when an honourable member tries to make cheap political capital out of supposed moral issues and in doing so misquotes members of the Opposition.
Also, it is fair to say that the electors of Ballaarat would have been better served if the honourable member had drawn attention to the situation which exists in that area where there are over 1,000 un:m.ployed and where in the last 10-year period there has been only a 4 per cent population growth while in the last 5-year period there has actually been a drop in population, according to the Commonealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. These are serious matters in what is one of the most important provincial centres in Victoria. These problems are not isolated in that area; they are a fairly general malaise of rural and provincial areas throughout Australia. But this Parliament should have its attention constantly drawn to the fact that the non-metropolitan areas in this country still exist and are entitled to and should receive the attention of the Government, attention which, despite the words we hear from the Australian Country Party, is not now given. Major parliamentary and other inquiries on many subjects have been instituted by this Parliament. Committees have been established by the House of Representatives and by the Senate. However, one of the most important single subjects, the maintenance of population in country areas, has been put forward as a subject of inquiry for a parliamentary committee in this place 3 times since I came into the Parliament and on every one of those occasions, the most recent being in December last year, every member of the Government parties has refused to support the establishment of such a committee.
So we have a situation today in which it is reported that in Melbourne the beaches may be unfit for people to swim at because of the effluent seeping into the sea from unsewered areas of the city. People have been shifted out of country areas because they could not get employment opportunities there and they have been forced to settle in areas which will not have community services for many years. This is a serious subject and is one which this Government should have dealt with urgently. Now the future Labor government will have to consider the problem very seriously and solve it. The States are not capable of dealing with the problem; they do not have the (financial capacity. It is about time someone took this matter more seriously. I heard the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) suggesting earlier that an amount of $20m which was included in the Budget would establish a rural bank or a bank of that nature. I do not know whether the honourable member is aware of the total rural indebtedness in Australia or whether he was merely adding to the pressure applied to the Liberal Party by the Country Party. It appears now that the Liberal Party has no say in the affairs of government. It has been forced into a situation in which it must accept whatever is put forward by its minor party colleagues. The total rural indebtedness at the moment is over $2,000m so I do not think the $20m provided in this Budget will go very far. lt is worth mentioning also that the total amount of money made available for rural industries in this year’s Budget is $60m lower than it was in last year’s Budget.
I want to deal with one other very important matter, but before I do I want to deal with 2 minor matters. Last week in this Parliament the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) made a statement which 1 think indicates the Government’s approach to its employees. The Minister said that the secretary to the Leader of the Opposition was not entitled to campaign at week-ends for a seat in this Parliament because he was a Commonwealth employee and was paid an allowance for overtime which covered week-ends. I do not want to make a special issue of this case but to refer to all private secretaries to Ministers because the position of all secretaries is exactly the same. They receive a salary of $8,000 a year with an allowance of $1,400 a year for overtime. If we take the overtime rate as time and a half and leave out week-end work, which carries higher penalties, the allowance means that secretaries are per mitted to work 5 hours overtime a week, or one hours overtime a day. That is the actual rate which the Commonwealth is paying private secretaries to Ministers - one hours overtime a day. Today those private secretaries will work not less than 17 hours. For at least 6 of those hours they will be paid nothing. So much for the industrial relations policies of this Government. The Minister says that the allowance for overtime also covers Saturdays and Sundays. One wonders whether the gentleman concerned will have to get special permission from the Prime Minister to get married in Commonwealth time on Saturday afternoon, because that is the sort of thing that he implied. I absolve the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson), who is sitting at the table, from guilt in this matter, lt was the Minister for the Navy who made the suggestion. 1 believe it is totally wrong to make the allegation that he did in this Parliament.
The honourable member for Isaacs said that in the public interest the Commonwealth must intervene in the fixation of wages. When did the Commonwealth ever go to a meeting of a board of directors and say that the fees fixed for the directors of a company were wrong? Where is its legislative approach, or any suggestion of it, to this matter. When did the Commonwealth Government ever say to a board of directors: ‘You should not pay your executives such and such a salary’? The Government is consistent in the belief that those persons who receive the highest salaries in the community should fix their own salaries or have their salaries fixed with total lack of interference, but when we get down to the day labour employee of the company the same executive cannot be trusted to fix a salary. Salaries at this level must be fixed by other means, even though both parties may be in agreement. It is tantamount to saying that if a person goes into a shop and buys goods not only should the businessman selling the goods and the purchaser be involved but a government agent should go along to make sure that the purchaser does not pay too little for the goods.
– The Commissioner of Taxation still taxes those people.
– He taxes the people who make award agreements voluntarily too. But the honourable member may have missed that point. The other point I want to make before I go on to the final matter is that in the Budget we have altered our tax scale. It is also proposed that the rent assistance to pensioners will be extended to pensioner couples. I want to deal with the pensioner couple who own their own home. I know there is the suggestion that to assist in rates would not be equitable or that it would be in some way different, but there is an established precedent. The Commonwealth assists most ratepayers in paying their rates. The only persons who receive no Commonwealth assistance are those people who have no taxable income. I will use an extreme example because I think it shows exactly the structure of the whole system. A man with an income of $40,000 a year, who is anything but poor and anything but unable to pay his own rates, will receive from the Commonwealth on rates of S400 a $250 subsidy in the form of a direct reduction of the amount of income tax he must pay. But a pensioner couple with a combined income of $34 a week, paying SI 50 in rates, pays the lot. Pensioner couples receive no assistance from the Commonwealth. So for the person earning S800 a week the Commonwealth provides a subsidy of $250, and for the person receiving $34 a week the Commonwealth says: ‘You can well afford to pay your own rates.’ In fact, after the Commonwealth subsidy is taken into account, both couples pay $150.
I want to deal with unemployment. This is a very serious matter and it is more serious in provincial areas than it is in capital cities. This has been the case for a long time. I am concerned about the Government’s approach, especially the approach of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch). It would appear, if one studies the statements issued by the Minister every month, that he lives in some sort of a fairy tale world. The realities do not exist. I think it can reasonably be assumed that, if the Minister does not recognise the realities, there is no hope of his dealing with the problem. I have here the first sentences of the Minister’s Press releases for the last 6 months. 1 will read them to the House because if Government supporters believe what the Minister has been putting forward on their behalf they are a lot dumber than they look. In February the opening phrase of the Minister’s statement was:
There was a substantial reduction in the number of persons unemployed in February.
In the following months he said:
There was a substantial fall in the level of unemployment in March.
In April there was again a marked reduction in the number of persons registered as unemployed with the Commonwealth Employment Service.
The employment situation was generally unchanged during May, with movements in both registered unemployed and unfilled vacancies broadly consistent with seasonal expectations.
During June an increase in unemployment of 2,566 was almost entirely in non-metropolitan areas where there was a temporary decline in the number employed in the rural relief scheme.
The number of persons registered as unemployed wilh the Commonwealth Employment Service fell by 21 during July.
Anyone reading those figures would believe that there had been a variation of only about 2,000 in the period of 6 months. The fact is that this is not a peripheral issue and it is not an area in which there have been continual declines, as the Minister’s statements implied.
At the moment we have nearly 50 per cent more persons unemployed - on a month by month comparison - than we had 2 years ago. That is a very serious situation in an economy which was, until certain Government activities took place, able to provide full employment. If the Minister is making statements like that, obviously with the advice of his Department, the only thing I can suggest is that the Minister should re-examine his own thought trends. Someone should explain to him that when numbers go up it is no good saying they fall because other people can read too, or else he should demand that his Department - which in all probability prepares these Press releases - take a really serious look at the structural problems which exist in the employment market in Australia.
At this stage the number of people registered for employment is 100,000. That is not the total number of people out of work. There is a very low increase in the number of persons employed - which is an even better guide to the employment situation in Australia - and, added to that, in the provincial areas there are very substantial imbalances in employment opportunities and some 12,000 people are working on the dole. There is no other way of describing it. They are being provided with menial employment - usually nonproductive employment - to reduce the numbers shown as unemployed and to avoid the responsibility of the Government to deal with the structural problems of the economy. I suggest that the Department of Labour and National Service would do well to examine seriously its methods of examining the employment situation. Some 2 years ago a booklet was produced on the employment of women in provincial areas. It showed some very serious trends. But nothing whatsoever has ever been done about the matter. A report has been presented, but the matter has been totally forgotten.
This Budget is designed to stem the mounting criticism of Government inactivity. lt is a facade to try to cover up unadmitted errors of the past. It does not deal in any depth with the real community problems which exist. It does not and the Government will not deal in depth with these problems because the Government does nol believe that it should accept the responsibility of ensuring that the people in our community have equality of access and equality of opportunity. The Government consistently puts forward the laissezfaire proposition that all people, except farmers, should have to maintain themselves by their own efforts. The facts of life are that many thousands of people are unable to do this and they need community assistance. As we profess to be a Christian community, 1 suggest that we must accept responsibility for meeting the needs of those persons who are dependent on the community in which they live. We are not doing this, and this Budget does not endeavour to solve that problem. I hope that in the future this Parliament will deal more seriously with the real problems or the structural problems which exist in Australia.
I also suggest that it would be of benefit to honourable members opposite to spend 3 years in Opposition so that they could find out that they are not doing the sort of job that they would have us believe they are doing. It would be of real benefit to them and it would most likely be of benefit to Australia as well. The Australian economy has been under Liberal-Country Party control for 23 years.
– Hear, hear; splendid.
– I am glad that the honourable member accepts the responsibility for the mess. About 100,000 people are unable to obtain employment. I suggest that, instead of talking about the problems, it would be a great idea to take some action to solve them. We will not get action under any circumstances from a Liberal-Country Party government.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, it will come as no surprise to you to realise that I do nol agree with the remarks of the last speaker, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I believe that there can be no doubt that the Budget we are discussing has proved to be very popular with the public. More importantly, I believe that it has proved itself to be a responsible Budget in every regard. It is fair to say that the Budget has tackled the economic situation truthfully. It has shown that this McMahon Liberal-Country Party Government is concerned with the welfare of every section of the community, and its concern for the social welfare of all Australians has been clearly demonstrated.
What this Budget has highlighted, in effect, is that, contrary to what the Opposition has said during this Budget debate, the Government has been prepared to lay its cards on the table and to show the people of Australia not only What it is going to do but also what is to be done right now. The reduction in personal income taxation is immediate. The size of the tax deductibility which has been set to favour the family man and to assist oneincome families is not only popular; it is proper, just and immediate. We have shown that when the Government speaks it acts. We have shown that the Government means business.
As a former Secretary of the Government Members’ Taxation Committee 1 am particularly pleased to see the fundamental and progressive change in the tax structure provided for in the Budget. Mr Deputy Speaker, it is not my intention to go through the Budget and discuss the general economic situation. That has been adequately and very well covered by members on this side of the House. I do support the concept of a deficit Budget in these times that require stimulation, and I believe it has been correct economic strategy to have followed the paths that have been laid down by the Federal Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in this most successful Budget.
There have been some splendid speeches on this side of the House, not the least of which was the speech by the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) who properly posed the question regarding the response of the spending public to this Budget, for it would be truthful to say that no government could have done more with the tools of the Budget available to it, to have stimulated economic growth, than has been done in this Budget. We now have to wait and see whether the concessions which have been made, whether the Budget strategy that has been mapped, will have the desired effect of getting the public to spend wisely as well as save wisely, and to spend money for consumer items. However, as the honourable member for Moore so clearly pointed out, the Government has not been static, it has not waited for the Budget before bringing in measures to stimulate the economy during 1972. It is, I repeat, a good Budget and one that has had no meaningful or fundamental criticism. Having been in the field of economics before coming into this House, I am particularly impressed with the overwhelming support that has come from economists normally highly critical of all things in the economic field.
But what of the Opposition? What have we heard from the Opposition? Quite surprisingly we find members of their front bench are, in the main, giving personal opinions only. We find that the shadow Treasurer of the past 18 years, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), one of the most responsible men in the Opposition, when questioned on speeches he has made regarding Labor Party policy on income tax deductions, not committing his Party but rather, if I can quote one of the newspapers, exploiting some ruminations of his own as distinct from actual Federal Labor policy.
What then is the policy of the Labor Party on the deductions and the structure of the taxation system itself? Who in this House will do more than give a personal opinion? Who in this House can or will give the policy of the Labor Party vis-a-vis present economic and social conditions? We have seen a situation wherein the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has claimed that he will now bring the means test abolition by his Party from a declared and presumably agreed 6-year programme back to match that which has been brought into this Budget by the Government. Is this more exploitation of personal ruminations, or has the Leader of the Party the power to declare policy without reference to the Federal Executive of his Party? Is there any basis for assuming that the statement by the Labor Parliamentary Leader can be more than a mere recital of his personal thoughts and ambitions?
The Leader of the Opposition, after a Budget speech wherein he had limitless time - and we should remember that the Leader of the Opposition, by tradition, had no limit to the time available to him - immediately upon leaving the House after his Budget speech, makes a statement that he believes the value of Australian currency should be changed. No mention of this vital economic subject was made in what must be regarded as his annual economic assessment. No, it was a post-speech Press release. Yet we find another member of the front bench of the Labor Party, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who has mentioned the subject of currency values in this House, going on to say that when his Leader spoke outside the House on this most vital subject relating to economic planning and economic assessment, he, the Leader of the Opposition, was speaking from personal reminiscence only. And for once, we hear the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) agreeing with the honourable member for Dawson on matters relating to economic rural policy, and we find the honourable member for Riverina putting in his bid and saying that the Leader of the Opposition is speaking personally and not officially for the Labor Party.
How many of the Labor Party front bench, how many of the Labor Party speeches during this Budget debate have represented Labor Policy, how many have represented personal opinion? There is no doubt this question must be related to the Leader of the Opposition, my good friend the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, the honourable member for Dawson, and perhaps even the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). Are they speaking personally whenever they speak in this House? If their reference, at all times, on all subjects, cannot be resolved among themselves, must they go to the Federal Executive of their Party for approval? Of course they must. And yet we are asked to believe that in response to this excellent Budget brought down by the Government, the Opposition will amend its time programme for the abolition of the means test; nothing else, just a date for the abolition of the means test. Presumably those in the Opposition who have spoken on currency revaluation have also proffered personal opinions only. What, in all the contributions from the Opposition during this Budget debate, represents solid Labor policy on this subject?
Even last night when talking on the enquiry into poverty, we find the honourable member for Oxley stating what he would do personally. Like many members on this side of the House, as I listened to the Budget speech given by the Leader of the Opposition on 22nd August I began to think that we were listening to the Labor policy. I began to think that as we listened to the beautifully worded and exquisitely phrased speech by the Leader of the Opposition, here at last was a statement on Labor policy regarding current economic problems. Whatever else it was, the speech was certainly no such economic analysis. That same speech did not contain a reference to currency revaluation, the subject which within that very night the Leader of the Opposition was to regard as being of national importance and of vital significance to the country at the present moment. The Leader of the Opposition was, in fact, making good prose. He was certainly not making economic sense. He was not presenting an alternative economic assessment. He remained, as ever, personal.
But so much for the Opposition, so much for the Leader of the Opposition’s grand strategy. All we want and all the public want is some statement, some official statement, on some major policy, to bring the voters into the secret which the Labor Party has kept a mystery right up to date. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition does not think it is necessary; perhaps the Leader of the Opposition is concerned that when he does announce his economic policy it will be economically irresponsible and socially incompetent. Let us hear in the remaining time in this debate some firm statements about the costing of Labor policies, let us hear some of the honourable members opposite tell us what they think is Labor policy when their leaders speak, and what they think is personal statement. The voting public is keen to know. What is known is that this is a popular Budget, and that the voters appreciate the real advantages they have gained from it.
One of the features of the Budget and related Government moves shows that this Government is declaring itself .publicly, for public scrutiny. Let us see the Labor Party do the same thing and let the Opposition benches get down to some of , the ‘nittygritty’. What would the Opposition have done for the pensioners now;, what would the Opposition have done for; returned servicemen now; what would the alternative Government that sits on the Opposition benches have done for the family man now; what would the Opposition have done for the disabled now?. Let us hear some frank statements of policy from that side of the House related to present economic conditions and the- . assessment of honourable members opposite/of the economic future of this country. . .
As I mentioned earlier, the LiberalCountry Party Government has shown a total concern for the social welfare of all Australians in this Budget. In the field of repatriation benefits I believe that it is one of the most effective Budgets’ we have yet seen. I have had many favourable responses in my own electorate from exservicemen and their families, whether they are in receipt of a Service pension or not. With all the hoo-ha going on in the Press at the present time about wasting money on repatriation benefits, I remind those people who are being hypercritical of the system that there is an element in repatriation benefits which revolves around the basis of common decency. It is based on the premise that those people who have served their country in times of peril and have suffered as a result should receive remuneration for, and equally important, recognition of their services to their country. Furthermore, my experience as a member of the Federal Parliament when helping many of my constituents in thenappeals against appeal tribunal determinations has been that it is not an easy task to have such a determination changed on medical grounds.
In regard to social services, it is fair to repeat that proposals in this field provide the most dramatic and extensive changes in our social service system that the Federal Parliament has ever known. The precise figures have been repeated constantly throughout this debate and had I the time 1 would go through them all again, for they certainly are well worth repeating. I believe that the increase in the basic rates of pensions has been very well received. However, 1 am concerned that all the beneficiaries provided for in the Budget are not as yet fully aware of what they are to receive. I doubt whether many married pensioners are aware that it is now possible for them to earn $60 a week and still receive the full pension and that part pensioners will continue to be paid until their means reach $103.50 a week, in the case of a married couple, before the pension cuts out.
I believe that the new means test that will be applied by this Budget will be of particular interest and of great benefit to ali who are already on superannuation. It will be of great comfort to the hundreds of thousands of people who will reach 65 years of age in the near future and of great solace to their families as well. The Budget certainly provides a new deal for pensioners and many of my constituents with whom I have had contact in the past 2 weeks have been frankly unbelieving. 1 have spoken to many of my constituents who made applications over the years for allowances as pensioners’ wives and were told that they were not entitled to receive them. When I told one constituent last week that he would receive an increase of $16.25 a week he frankly did not believe me. When this Liberal-Country Party Government, which the last speaker, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes), claimed has no regard for a social conscience in this country, introduced the tapered means test 3 years ago people did not believe that they were entitled to the pensions they went on to receive. I hope the Department of Social Services will again conduct an extensive advertising campaign not only in the daily Press but also in the suburban Press throughout Australia to tell the people that they are entitled to receive pensions and to tell them to apply for those pensions. It has been estimated that the liberalisation of the means test will make over 50,000 people eligible for some part of the pension for the first time and the interesting point is that they must apply for the pension. As we know, those already receiving a pension will have their pensions increased automatically but those people who will become entitled to a pension for the first time will have to make an application to the Department. I suggest to the Government that it spares no effort in informing of the fact, those people in the community who will be entitled to a pension under the new proposals.
There are 2 more points in the field of social services that I would like to repeat for they have not received the publicity that they should have received. Firstly, I would like to mention the new payment of $14 a week which will be given subject to medical certification to those people caring for sick, aged persons in their own homes. This is a most humane move and I commend the Government for having introduced this measure. Again, there is a need for people to be told about this new benefit and I would hope that members of the Press, who manage to write so much about the Government, will have the fairness on this occasion to give plenty of publicity to this new proposal. The second point which again was mentioned by one daily newspaper only in Australia was the Government’s decision to impose strict controls on fees charged by nursing homes for the aged as part of the Government’s new plan to assist patients and their families. This is one of the most forthright proposals contained in the Budget. The stringent new controls will prevent exploitation of people in hardened circumstances and again I hope that we will receive plenty of publicity from the Press in regard to this matter, not because this will advantage the Government - we are far too noble to suggest that - but so that those who are entitled to the benefit will eventually receive this advantage. Of course I support the Budget and of course I oppose the superficial and, I presume, personal amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– What are you smiling for?
– Because we have you on our side of the House. In conclusion, I would like to express the personal satisfaction I received when the Royal Lifesaving Society of Australia and the Surf Lifesaving Association of Australia received an increase in the grants in aid from the Department responsible to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) who is now sitting at the table. I can assure the Minister that the increase pf $16,000 which I was privileged to support on behalf of each body has been well received; they are very grateful for it. The other point I would like to make in regard to grants in aid and which again has gone unheralded is that this Goverment, which is said to have no concern for conservation or for the ecology of the country, has managed to increase its grant in aid to the Australian Conservation Foundation by 300 per cent.
As I started my speech by saying, this is one of the finest Budgets that We have ever seen in the Federal Parliament. It is a Budget that, I repeat, has received no meaningful or fundamental criticism either in this House or around the country. It is significant that those who give economic advice on all matters to all sections of the community have been surprisingly supportive of this Budget. I commend it not just to the House and I support it not just as a Government supporter but I also commend it for what it will do for the future of Australia.
– In the Budget debate I usually examine the incidence of the Government’s fiscal policy on defence spending. This year I want to make some general comments about the economy and the impact of the Budget. The attention of this Parliament to the Budget has been distracted by a highly emotional debate about the valuation of Australian currency. In many ways, economic policy has supplanted defence as the most emotive issue concerning members of the Government parties. Ironically, it seems that we have succeeded in directing the defence debate into responsible and rational channels at the expense of generating hysteria over economic policy. Australian Country Party Ministers in particular have reached heights of vilification in reaction to expressions of opinion about the proper value of Australian currency. Accusations of treachery and felony have been levelled at the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) for expressing an honest opinion about the future of Australian currency. The Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) has been in the forefront of this very dubious activity with a blanket condemnation of the expressions of intellectuals. Apparently his definition of ‘intellectual’ is anything that is. anti-Country Party. This crude approach debauches what should be ‘ a significant debate’ oh a very complex matter.
Surely it should be possible’ to conduct a vigorous and even partisan debate on this question without resorting to the excesses which have disfigured the defence debate in recent yeaTS. In no other country is economic debate conducted on the level of charges of treachery and felony- based on the expression of an opinion on the proper level of the national currency. This is a question which above all demands skilled and sophisticated analysis. It is a question, moreover, where the parameters of decision change from week to week and even from day to day. No exchange rate is inflexible. A notorious example is the deutschmark whose value a German chancellor once declared as being immutable forever. A few months later the deutschmark was allowed to float, and was then upvalued - an action which effectively made a mockery of the chancellor’s boast.
Only a fool would make a hard and fast prediction about the future of the Australian dollar. There are a host of international factors beyond the control of the Australian Government to influence. It is obvious that Australia’s reserves are at a high level, the inflow is continuing and important inflationary implications are in this build up. The Government effectively has rejected all traditional ways of dealing with this situation, including currency adjustment and exchange controls. Either it has some innovations in standard monetary techniques up its sleeve or it has accepted the inflationary impact and is content to let it flow through the economy. Undoubtedly this is a very important issue and it should be debated publicly without prejudice. It is not a question on which the Opposition has formed a strict policy attitude; accordingly it is inevitable that there is a wide range of opinion and conjecture within the Labor Party on this issue. There is just as wide a range of opinion among members of the Government although the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has done his best to stifle this in typical opportunist fashion.
I do not know what the proper level of the Australian currency should be. This is a decision which must be the prerogative of the government of the day in the light of prevailing circumstances. An example was the readjustment of the currency made in December last year when the Government, after 3 days of meeting, reached a compromise decision designed to placate both the Treasury and the Country Party. In the light of subsequent developments it succeeded in neither objective. It is common knowledge that the Prime Minister, who already has adhered slavishly to the Treasury line, devised this compromise as a face saver although he and the present Treasurer (Mr Snedden) at the time favoured a higher valuation on the Australian dollar.
The head of government most plagued by the activities of the international money bandits, as the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) chose to call them, was Mr Harold Wilson. Mr Wilson, as British Prime Minister, had only to make a departure from his daily routine to start ripples of speculative monetary movements. Despite the intensive speculative pressures his Government sustained Mr Wilson did not try to inhibit in any way his opponents from expressing contrary attitudes on international monetary policy, in particular on the proper value of sterling. This is an example which could well be emulated bv our Deputy Prime Minister who has displayed yet again his immaturity and his lack of the proper qualities necessary for the leadership of an Australian political party.
In isolation this Budget has many interesting features and many measures which warrant praise. Unfortunately it is not possible to separate consideration of this Budget from the previous disastrous Budget nor is it possible to consider it without premonitions about the next Budget if the Government is returned to power. Since the 1971-72 Budget was delivered there has been a marked easing of monetary policy in a vain effort to get the economy moving again. This has been supplemented by a series of fiscal measures, most notably the grants to relieve rural unemployment late last year and the so-called mini-budget in April this year. This combination of restorative measures failed to work and unemployment continued to mount. Often these decisions have to be made in quite a hurried fashion in response to swift developments in the international monetary scene.
Now this present Budget has been introduced in an effort to stimulate consumer spending. There are grounds for extreme scepticism about whether the Budget will have the effect of loosening the purse strings for consumption. The basic Saw in this approach is that with unemployment still rising the impulse to spend is very low. Consumers have been warned so often about the onslaught of inflation and its harmful consequences that they are afraid to spend. Moreover, they have before their eyes the evidence of the queues for jobs. Extra purchasing power is not being used; resources are being diverted to savings. Undoubtedly there is plenty of scope in the economy for a substantial increase in consumption which would lift the economy. It is doubtful whether the necessary increase in consumption can be produced in the present economic climate. The danger is that people will by-pass consumption and savings and put their resources into speculative investment.
The feeble reaction of the stock market to the Budget shows there is little scope here for the absorption of excess resources. Besides, the recollection has not faded of fingers burnt in the mining boom of the late 1960s. However, there exists a very real danger that these resources will be diverted to a speculative land boom on the lines of the early 1960s. This would only accentuate the severe difficulties of economic management now bedevilling the Government. The Government has created a cyclical effect in which people are shying off consumption while unemployment is increasing and unemployment will remain high while consumption is languishing. Whatever the merits of this Budget, it does not seem to have the cardinal virtue of prising money for consumption out of the pockets of people who are scared to spend. Perhaps the only solution to this sort of economic log-jam would be the restoration of confidence produced by a change of government.
Turning to the defence provisions of the Budget we find that the vote proposed is 1,323m. As the Treasurer pointed out, this is an increase of SI 06m, even allowing for the reduction of 4,000 men in the national service component of the Army. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) made an extensive statement on the 5-year rolling programme after the Budget papers were tabled. This allowed a reasonable defence debate which contained some flashes of enlightenment. We will again have the chance to debate some defence issues in the Estimates debates which grow more truncated every year.
I want to look at some aspects of the defence budget, particularly at changes in the balance of spending within the overall appropriation for defence. In broad terms it seems that spending on defence as a percentage of the gross national product will be fairly static in 1972-73. It will probably be around 3.3 per cent if we project a gross national product of around $40 billion. This should be possible if the Treasurer’s claim of a growth rate decisively strengthened is sustained. A level of defence spending of this order would be virtually the same as the proportion of national resources flowing to defence in 1971-72. Defence spending has been declining in recent years and it seems to have settled to a steady level of around 3.3 per cent.
The defence budget built up from a trough of 2.5 per cent of gross national product in 1963-64 to 4.6 per cent at the height of the Vietnam war in 1967-68. In the following years it has dwindled from 4.3 per cent in 1968-69 to 3.7 per cent in 1969-70, to 3.4 per cent in 1970-71 and to 3.3 per cent in the last year. It is difficult to see any further reduction in the share of national resources allocated to defence maintenance. Already there is a huge commitment to pay and administration. In 1971-72 these components of the defence budget absorbed about 76 per cent of the defence vote. Any savings brought by the cut in Army strength are likely to be more than offset by the flow-on from the Kerr Committee reports, so it seems that we can look forward to at least three-quarters of the defence vote going on basic housekeeping costs. This makes the rock-bottom level of defence spending without any consideration of new equipment about 2.5 per cent of the gross national product, so an allocation of resources around 3.3 per cent of the gross national product seems probable in the years ahead, whatever the complexion of the Government.
There has been a world-wide trend to lower defence spending in recent years. Some quite spectacular results have been achieved. For example, Canada has cut defence spending by something like 350 per cent, and no one would describe it as a negligible defence power. Australia has followed this trend more modestly, but it seems defence spending has now levelled out. lt is worth analysing these figures a little further to show how the reduction in relative resources for defence has been achieved.
The Army has sustained its share of the defence vote pretty well despite the end of Vietnam. The Navy has shown a slight decline but it has held fairly steady in its demand upon resources. ‘ The most significant trend has been wilh the Royal Australian Air Force which got the same share of the vote in 1967-68. as the Army. In the subsequent years its share has been effectively halved, so quite obviously the main weight in the cut-back of defence spending has fallen on the Air Force. This may reflect the completion in substance of payment for the Fill but, nevertheless, it is a most significant trend.
The future balancing of resources available for defence among the 3 Services will be a very delicate exercise. Obviously, more resources will have to be found for the Navy; the Opposition has not questioned this, although it has expressed uneasiness about the cost-effectiveness of the Navy’s plan for capital spending. There is very little room for manoeuvre in restructuring defence spending in line with the trends disclosed in the Government’s 5- year rolling defence programme. Unless resources can be freed from the administrative side of the defence budget it will be very hard indeed to free resources for the capital equipment items delineated in the 5-year programme.
It would be utter futility to have defence forces in which all spending was absorbed in administrative costs, yet this is the sort of ‘marking-time’ situation we are approaching. This makes it disturbing that so little has been achieved in the reform of the defence structure to make it cheaper and more effective. The Australian defence structure is one of the most intensively administered in the world and there is no sign that the process is being reversed or even halted. Countries with much more elaborate defence systems get by with fewer administrative units and a much greater level of integration of defence functions.
Very little has been achieved in reforming our defence structure since the pioneering days of Sir Allen Fairhall and Sir Henry Bland in the Department of Defence. In fact, gains made in this area may well have been sacrificed in the subsequent years. This is not intended as a criticism of the individual defence departments: quite obviously, impetus for substantial reorganisation of the existing structure must come from the Government. Any sense of the urgency of rationalisation of the defence structure is completely absent from the policy planning of the present Government. I have dealt with this question at some length in previous speeches in Budget debates and it remains a source of extreme disappointment that so little has been achieved. When we look at the dollar outlay we are putting into defence it often seems that the tangible results fall far short of expectations. Admittedly, there are difficulties in maintaining an adequate defence of Australia which are not experienced by comparable defence systems. Even making allowance for these difficulties, it is hard to escape the conclusion that too much of defence spending is not getting through to the crucial task of giving more muscle to the fighting Services.
This is a job that will have to be done in the context of an allocation of national resources for defence spending at much the same level as now applies. Any sharp increase in the volume of defence spending would not be acceptable in a period of low- threat and with very heavy demands on Government spending. The only solution is a redistribution of resources within the limits of the present budgetary allocation for defence. I would like to support these observations by looking a little more closely at the defence vote of the Army.
The statement by the Minister for Defence on the 5-year programme referred to investigations and evaluations being made for basic items of Army equipment. These included fighting vehicles and artillery. What needs to be emphasised is the difficulty of financing new capital equipment from the resources allocated to the Army. Despite the end of Vietnam and the reduction in the national service intake, the trend of spending on pay for servicemen and civilians with the Army is still absorbing more than 20 per cent of the total defence spending. This manpower cost is more than half of the total Army vote. Administrative costs absorb another quarter, leaving a bare 20 per cent for arms, armament and equipment. This was the way the Army allocation was spent in 1971-72, and it is very likely that a similar split-up will apply in the present budgetary year. This discloses that even the present modest re-equipment programmes conducted by the Army are putting a strain on resources with manpower costs still rising.
The Army has had no major procurement programmes in recent years, but it seems one is imminent from the hints contained in the Minister’s statement. By any token the programmes foreshadowed by the Minister for Defence are important ones. The Centurion, which is the current battle tank, is more than 20 years old and has been superseded by advances in tank design. All of the Army’s 100 or so tanks have been used extensively in training and about 40 were used in Vietnam. The Minister did not refer to armoured personnel carriers, but presumably the Army’s projections provide for replacement of these important items of equipment. Neither tanks nor armoured carriers are made in Australia, so the Army is evaluating 2 foreign tanks, the United States Army’s new battle tank and the German Leopard. Artillery is not made in Australia, so it will have to be procured from abroad. These are 2 major items of equipment which will impose strain on the Army’s defence spending which cannot be accommodated within the present pattern of resource allocation. It emphasises again the folly of not encouraging our own defence industries for items which could easily by manufactured in Australia. These are relatively simple pieces of equipment, well within Australia’s industrial capability.
Another source of pressure for increased spending for the Army is the Citizen Military Forces. With Vietnam out of the way the future of the Citizen Military Forces should be one of the major preoccupations of the Department of Defence and of the Army. There is little sign that the importance of this aspect of Army policy has been recognised. The Minister for Defence managed to deliver a lengthy statement on the 5-year rolling programme without a single reference to the CMF.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Budget has proved the capacity of the present Government to manage to the best advantage the financial affairs of Australia in a period of world monetary difficulties. In every respect the Budget is evidence of the strong leadership of the nation by the Liberal-Country Party Government to the advantage of all sections of the community. It was nothing but sour grapes, of course, for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to refer to the Budget in a very disparaging way and to be followed by moans from his supporters. Some Australian Labor Party supporters have referred to it as a milk and honey Budget. However, this criticism has failed completely to gain any public support. Likewise, I am sure that the moans of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), to whom we have just listened, have failed to arouse interest in some of the points he tried to make - except, of course, to give us warning of the policies and the attitudes which he supports.
The Budget is expansionary and will further assist growth and development in Australia. According to the preliminary national accounts estimates, the gross national product grew by 9 per cent in 1971-72, but in terms of real growth the increase was due to higher prices. The
Budget could well produce a 5 per cent real growth rate through new economic growth, without undue heightening of the inflationary pressures, provided the demands of militant unions, urged on by some members of the Opposition, do not inflict greater pressures through extravagant wage claims.
The strategy of lower income taxation is simply to put more money in the hands of the income earner without the pressure of higher costs which result from increased wages. Consequently the demands of some militant sections of the trade union movement for exhorbitant wage increases should be discouraged in the interests of those concerned as well as of all sections of the work force and the community in general. But will this be the case? Honourable members opposite should do some real soul searching on this issue.
I am pleased to see the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) in the House. To say that the shadow Minister for Labour and National Service proposes and Caucus disposes could well be to state the real position. Recently the honourable member for Hindmarsh denied charges by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) that Labor’s policy was to put unions above the law where strikes and industrial disputes were concerned. The honourable member for Hindmarsh said that he and a Labor government would be utterly opposed to anything that permitted trade unionists to destroy property or cause injury without being liable to the criminal and civil law. His confidence in what a Labor government would do is hardly justified by the rejection of the Labor Caucus of other proposals put forward by the leader of the Australian Labor Party and his shadow Minister for Labour and National Service. For instance, during the pre-election campaign that the Leader of the Australian Labor Party undertook with a great flourish of trumpets recently, the honourable member for Hindmarsh said that Labor’s policy on arbitration would provide that unionists who broke a registered agreement would be liable to a fine of $20 a day. But what support did those 2 gentlemen receive from their Party colleagues? I believe that this proposal was unceremoniously rejected by the Caucus when it came before it.
The real attitude of the Labor Party towards sanctions imposed against unions and unionists was revealed when the Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, authorised the payment from public funds of more than $7,000 in court costs awarded against a union secretary. The costs were legally imposed by the South Australian Supreme Court against the secretary of a union which had imposed a black ban on shipments to and from Kangaroo Island. The ‘Australian’ newspaper commented on this matter at the time. I think its comments are worthy of mention. It wrote:
The South Australian Government has taken action in a union’s interest which it would never have dreamed of launching for the sake of a private individual This amounts to using a government position to safeguard union concerns.
In other words, one could say that it amounts to using a government position to safeguard a particularly favoured clique. Of course, the honourable member for Hindmarsh has indignantly denied any intention of the Labor Party to put unionists in a special class above the law, but his denial has a very hollow ring in the light of what left wing militants in the union movement have done during the recent industrial disputes that have resulted in turmoil and public concern. The fact that these militants dictate to the Labor Party and ride roughshod over it should be perfectly clear to the community at large. There has been no evidence, either in this House or outside of it, of any attempt by members of the Opposition to urge or recommend to their friends the adoption of a more harmonious attitude to industrial negotiations, particularly to wage claims. Perhaps the recent remarks by Mr John Ducker, the Assistant Secretary of the New South Wales Trades and Labor Council, will be taken to heart by some sections of the Opposition. An article in the Sydney Sun’ reported Mr Ducker as saying:
Unless we are careful, unless rank and file members become interested, the union scene will become reminiscent of the violent roaring twenties in America.
The article continued:
Mr Ducker said the policy of violence had been advocated in a magazine article by the Secretary of the Builders Labourers Union, Mr Jack Mundey.
Mr Ducker was also reported as saying:
The communist takeover of the Builders Labourers Union could be repeated quite easily in other unions. This was a deliberate attempt at intimidation - a policy advocated by the Australian Communist Party. I am not one to kick the communist can but I warn all unionists that communist inspired violence will continue unless they are vigilant.
Of course, these remarks followed the notorious 38-day strike by plumbers in Sydney. In the recent oil strike we saw an example of the influence exerted by Mr Carmichael and Mr’ Halfpenny - 2 wellknown communists - over union affairs. The point I want to make is that the concern of the Government and ils supporters has been very great in regard to the important matter of the growing influence of communists in the trade union movement of the country. The Australian Labor Party has tried to play down this matter, but it has been exposed in its attempts to cover up the extent of the seriousness of it. I believe that the danger that is inherent in it and its implications for the industrial scene are very real.
– Why did the Government put on the strike?
– In asking that question the honourable member for Kingston is obviously trying to distract attention from the truth of the matter, particularly from the fact that communist influence was so dominant in what took place during the oil industry strike. The Australian Labor Party would love to sweep this matter right under the carpet. It does not want to have anything to do with it. The Labor Party does not want to face the electors on it. Of course the words of the honourable member for Hindmarsh a few weeks ago were designed deliberately to cover up the real truth of the matter. Of course one cannot but be very concerned. It is not a matter of kicking the communist can. The truth of the matter is that the views of the supporters of the Government who had so seriously looked into this issue, who could see the implications of it so crystal clear and who had expressed concern about it have been well and truly vindicated by the occurrences that have taken place since.
– What is the Government going to do about it?
– Another honourable member who, I am sure, is very desirous of seeing an extension of all the ills of industrial disruption asks what the Government is doing about it. What we on this side of the House want to know is what those who purport to represent the Australian Labor Party are going to do about it. Because of their associations and affiliations with the people directly involved they are in a position to do something about it.
– Is that your answer?
– The Government showed what it was prepared to do about it. It took the issue to the extreme limit by asking the Parliament to reassemble in order to deal with it Of course those concerned saw what the issues were and very quickly decided that it would be a good thing if they were to sweep the whole problem under the rug. I believe that the economy of the country will be in a perilous situation white there is a persistence of the attitude which has been so evident in this House this afternoon.
The Budget is intended to produce a climate which will benefit all sections of the community. I wish to refer in particular to the problems of the primary producer and those who are of necessity surviving on fixed incomes. These people are not able to pass on rises in costs. Overseas markets and home consumption markets, which are invariably competitive, usually remain fairly static. In many instances they have remained so for years. Australia cannot alter this situation. But the present Government has worked unceasingly to negotiate better deals wherever possible in trading arrangements and the like. The attitude of the Opposition - the alternative government - is again crystal clear on this matter. Not only has the Leader of the Opposition advocated revaluation but also the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and said that his Leader is right in what he said and supported to the hilt the Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for the Riverina (Mr Grassby) and other members of the Opposition who take the view that there is some merit in undermining the stability of Australia’s currency. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition had the temerity to say that the Leader of the Australian Country Party had displayed immaturity. What hypocrisy! If there is any immaturity being displayed it is certainly being displayed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I am sorry to interrupt a Country Party member-
– Order! Is the honourable member taking a point of order?
– Yes. The word hypocrisy’ I was going to say is unchristian, which it is, but it is also an unparliamentary word and even though it is uttered by a Country Party member it should be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the word but I fail to see the point made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh. The truth of this matter is that revaluation of the Australian dollar would cause the dollar to be worth a larger amount in overseas currencies and, of course, this carries with it the implication that it would have effects on important sectors of industry. Rural exporters usually have difficulty in increasing the overseas price for farm products such as butter, grains, wool and meat in order to maintain the sales level of earnings in Australian currency. The effect of revaluation on the whole, therefore, would be to reduce the gross income of the farm sector, depending on the sensitive overseas demand and, of course, on prices at ruling world price levels. The future of Australia is still very dependent on the stability and progress of Australian rural industries.
– What about the costs to rural industries?
– The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) asks about the costs to rural industries, yet a few moments ago he interjected when the point was made that industrial disruption and strikes in this country were the prime cause of cost rises, as well he knows. The honourable member for Bendigo who is always to be heard in this chamber talking on a certain aspect of education, and the needs of education, denies the truth of this matter. And here he is, coming from a rural electorate, doing exactly the same this afternoon. The Budget provides the second highest level of financial assistance on record for primary industry and includes some new and highly significant provisions for primary producers. The main one is the proposal for a new kind of Commonwealth rural bank to provide long term loans for primary producers. I believe this will be one of the significant features of the term of office of this Government, a government which will go to the people in a very short space of time to seek a mandate for a continuation in office, lt undoubtedly, on the record it will put forward, will receive a resounding majority, much to the dismay of members of the Opposition who would like to believe that they are already on the Treasury bench.
The Budget, in brief, supplies some very useful features so far as the average member of the community is concerned. I refer to the reduction of income tax by 10 per cent, the increase in the allowance for family dependants as an income tax deduction by $52. The maximum taxable income, affecting 600,000 taxpayers, will be increased from the present $417 to $1,041. This in itself is very significant. In addition, the minimum value of a gift before it is taxable will increase from $4,000 to $10,000 and so the story goes on. Reference was made earlier this afternoon to the increased benefits that have been provided, particularly in social services. It was quite remarkable to hear the Leader of the Opposition say earlier this week that some challenge had been thrown out when the Opposition had proposed the removal of the means test. The challenge had been: Where will the money come from? But he did not for one moment admit that his proposal was to extend over a 6-year period. He is now wanting to say that the Labor Party had proposed this shorter period all the way through. The truth of the matter is that the Government’s proposal has run so far ahead of the Opposition’s proposal that the Opposition is now searching for something to put in Us place and it is having a pretty hard time finding something worth while which will inspire the thoughts, the hearts and the minds of the people.
The Budget contains other very advantageous increments to the provisions for housing, health, education, child care and, not the least important, death duty which will benefit the interests of family people both in the primary industry sector and otherwise to a very remarkable extent. This is to say little, of course, of what has been accomplished thus far under this Government in all these fields. The provisions in the Budget are not novel. They are an extension of a positive policy which has proved to be successful and one which the people of this country since the introduction of the Budget 2 weeks ago have recognised very clearly to the point that I have not been able to find one newspaper leader critical in any way at all of the Budget. Again this certainly disappoints the Opposition.
There are many matters one- would like to refer to when speaking in this House in the Budget debate but time precludes coverage of all matters in which honourable members would be interested. In my remaining few moments I want to mention the importance of the introduction of a proposal to provide $lm for .tourism. This will be of tremendous significance to enhance, in co-operation with’ the States, Australia’s tourist industry. It is a forward step and one for which a number of honourable members on the Government side have fought for a long period of time. We are all very happy to see this provision included in the Budget; it will be a worthwhile starting point for Commonwealth direct assistance to the tourist industry of this nation. In so many other respects there are progressive moves in this Budget.
– The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) who is always so critical in this House is no doubt disappointed to find $2.5m provided for the Eyre Highway. This is again breaking new ground and we will see, as forecast in the Budget, the creation of a new era for the highways of this nation. There will be allocations budget by budget henceforth, to improve, upgrade and assist the development of Australian highways and relieve some of the burden which now falls on local government. In addition the Government will foster decentralisation and do a very worthwhile job on the progress and development of this nation. There is so much to praise in this Budget and so little to criticise. I am proud to be associated with it as a supporter of the Government and am sure that any thinking members of this House will be very hard pressed indeed to find reasons to support the motion moved by the Opposition in criticism of the Budget.
– J find it quite fascinating that the Government should have to rely on the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) to talk about industrial relations. It is no wonder the Minister is walking from one honourable member to the other cracking jokes. The honourable members to whom he has spoken are laughing hilariously. The Minister is almost in hysterics and so are the members of the Australian Labor Party to whom he has spoken. I wish I were free to repeat the joke I shared with the Minister a few moments ago while the honourable member for Cowper was speaking but decency demands that I keep it private, and so I will leave it at that. It is a remarkable thing that we have the honourable member coming into the Parliament always seeming bent on being a jack of all trades and a master of none. I have never known him to master any particular subject and as he fails in one subject he moves on to another with the same dismal result. Last time I heard him he was pontificating on how to run the Post Office. Today he was speaking on everything from catching fish to producing first class honey. That is what it sounded like. It may not have been honey that he was talking about but it sounded like it. He laughed all the way through his speech, indicating that he did not mean what he said, and this typifies the sort of gentleman that he is. Ever since he became a dilutee Minister be has spent most of his time walking around the corridors with books under his arm trying to look important but knowing very well that those of us who know him well realise how unimportant he is. Consequently the kind of remarks that he made today about industrial relations could in normal circumstances be brushed aside for the nonsense that they are. But it does give me the excuse for touching upon these subjects myself.
The honourable gentleman talked for a start about Senator Greenwood’s reference to something that the Australian Labor Party has written into its platform about taking civil action for torts. I do not think he knows much about torts. 1 would like to have a talk with him later about the subject to see how deeply knowledgeable he is on the subject of torts, because this is what we are talking about - torts for civil wrongs committed in pursuance of industrial actions for the purpose of achieving an industrial objective. It does not mean, as the Minister tries to pretend that it does or as perhaps he is foolish enough to believe that it does, that unions are free to commit all kinds of civil wrongs free from any action from the courts. It does not mean that unionists can smash property and inflict grievous bodily harm or any bodily harm on other citizens in the pursuance of industrial actions. It does not mean that; it has never meant that; and it will never mean that.
What it means is that the old law of England of 1871 which gave the unions immunity from civil action for damages as a consequence of loss caused by strikes applies to anybody who takes strike action to achieve an industrial end. In 1902 this was altered by the Taff Vale case. In 1906 the House of Commons altered the statute to restore that privilege to trade unionists. The law remained like that until 1964, when the case of Rookes v. Barnard seemed to put the clock back to 1902. In 1965 the law was restored to the position which the House of Commons thought it was creating in 1871.
For about 50 years the law in Queensland has provided that no action can be taken against a union, a union official or a union member who causes loss to an employer because of industrial action by either boycott or strike, and any effect of that strike action or boycott which caused somebody else not to be able to fulfil a contract is not actionable in Queensland. Although the Country Party has been in office in the unilateral system of government in Queensland ever since 1957 it has had the good sense to leave that law on the statute book. Let me tell the honourable member for Cowper that in the United States of America, the very citadel of capitalism, it is not possible to sue for damages in the same way as the Kangaroo Island squatter sued Mr Jim Dunford for damages for loss caused by the boycott of his wool on Kangaroo Island. The only time that an employer in the United States can sue for damages as a consequence of loss caused by strikes is when, during the currency of an agreement, a union or its members repudiate that agreement and, as a consequence of the repudiation, cause the employer to suffer loss. The employer can then sue for the full extent of the damages caused by the repudiation of an agreement.
In Sweden much the same situation applies, except that it is in a more refined sense. If an agreement is entered into and during its currency there is a breach of that agreement or a repudiation of it involving a strike, the union can be sued, as in the United States, for damages to the extent that the employer can prove loss. But if the union can show that the executive body of the union had not been culpable in respect of the dispute, that the members of the union who stopped work did so of their own volition and in defiance of a union instruction to the contrary, all that the employer can do is take action against the individual unionists concerned. The maximum penalty is $50 for each employee who commits a breach of the agreement in defiance of his own union’s executive. In the states of West Germany. France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada the right to sue for damages caused by strike action or boycott is unheard of.
The honourable member for Cowper, if I judge him right and if I understand what he is putting to the House, apparently has the temerity to say that the law of Australia should be taken back to the state of the law in England prior to 1871 and that unions ought to be liable for civil action for damage caused by breach of contract or by loss of trade brought about by boycott or strike action. I would like him to come clean and say whether that is what he means, because I can assure him that it is not the policy of the Labor Party to grant immunity to trade unionists who destroy property, inflict harm on individuals or resort to physical violence. He knows, or if he does not know he ought to have a talk to a lawyer, that that is not the policy of the Labor Party. Senator Greenwood’s saying that it indicates either that he is unfit for the position he holds as Commonwealth Attorney-General or that he ought to take a refresher course in the law.
I move on to the new Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I notice that the Minister for Labour and National Service, after laughing at the contribution of the honourable member for Cowper, has now left the chamber because he apparently cannot find anything to laugh about in the contribution I am making. The Minister is not much brighter than the honourable member for
Cowper, as is evidenced by the kind of amendment he brought down to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act only this year. Let us have a look at what he did. He altered the Act in such a way as to provide that it is not possible to renew any one of the 151 industrial agreements or renew any of the 527 federal awards unless each time any one of these 670 instruments is renewed, even though it does not alter the hours, annual leave, the basic wage or the long service leave provisions,’ there is a full bench sitting of the presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Aribtration Commission. Could anything be more absurd? We would need at least 100 judges employed full time. Every time there was a national wage case decision or an increase in the minimum wage it would not be possible even to extend the flow-on of the national wage increase to the other 700-odd instruments unless there was in each case a sitting of the full bench of the Arbitration Commission. During that period of activity about 500 judges would be needed, because no fewer than -3 would be sitting together each time.
This position is so absolutely absurd that it must indicate, if any indication was needed, that the Government just does not understand anything about industrial relations or industrial law. The honourable member for Cowper has demonstrated clearly that he knows nothing about industrial law, and, as for the technicalities of law, he has made himself look an utter goat, if that is a parliamentary term that I might use in this case. The Minister ought to walk around the House laughing his head off every time the honourable member for Cowper speaks, when he himself is little better fitted to speak on industrial relations than is the honourable member, who at the moment though embarrassed remains, with a forced smile on his face, sitting in the Country Party corner.
There is no doubt that this Government brought about or endeavoured to bring about a confrontation between the oil companies and the trade union movement in the recent oil industry dispute. There is no doubt that is what it set out to do. There is no doubt that the Minister for Labour and National Service was in constant touch with the top executives of certain oil companies, telling them not to negotiate. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said: ‘We do not want any negotiations. It is not conciliation we want. What we want is arbitration. Jam it down their throats. Make them take it. Call out the troops. This is the way to run the country’. Of course, the whole thing was preposterous, and in the end the employers realised that they were being held as hostage for the Prime Minister’s own failing political fortunes. They said: ‘Look, turn it up. We would like to keep you but we do not want you so badly that we are prepared to go broke trying to create the political climate necessary to get you back. So for goodness sake, lay off’. So the Government did finally lay off. The result was that the dispute was settled but not by arbitration, which the Prime Minister said was the only way it could be settled; it was settled finally by negotiation and by conciliation. It is to the eternal credit of this maligned man, Bob Hawke, that we are in a situation of peace today and that we are able to go to the nearest petrol station and fill our cars with petrol. If it were not for the good common sense of Bob Hawke and some of the other union leaders who are maligned by Country Party members every day this House is sitting we would not have petrol and a lot of other things. So much for the nonsense honourable members opposite talk about the oil strike.
I wish I bad time to talk about the oil strike all day because I could tell some things about the machinations of Government Ministers in the oil dispute that would put your hair on end, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Country Party members should be ashamed that they are part of the coalition that gave to the BHP-Esso group the sole rights to exploit the whole of the Bass Strait oil basin which has the richest oil bearing permeable sands in the world, ranging in depth from 280 ft to 320 ft. It has the richest and lightest oil supply in the world, so rich that the oil refineries that were built before the Bass Strait discovery have to add Arabian oil to the Bass Strait oil to reduce the quality sufficiently for it to go through the refineries. They are able to extract from a 35-gallon barrel of oil 30 gallons of refined high grade petrol. What do they pay? They pay to the Australian people who own it - we own it; i: was not put there for BHP - the miserable sum of 1 1 ic a barrel royalty for the richest oil in the world. The sheiks of Arabia - those people wearing turbans and walking around in the desert of Arabia - have been able to force the Americans to pay as much as 70c royalty a barrel. They can then put it on the ships for Si. 40 a barrel. We have to pay BHP $2.08 a barrel. In order to make sure that BHP will be able to force the Australian motorist to pay this exorbitant price for Australian produced petrol, the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government conducted the miserable conspiracy - that is what it was-of forcing the independent oil companies that were not part of the Standard, Mobil and Shell complex to buy crude oil in strict proportion to the amount of refined petrol they import, knowing full well that those companies cannot sell the crude oil they are forced to buy and knowing that they cannot refine it in any of the refineries here.
This morning we heard a lot about secret documents concerning Cocos Island. The Minister for Labour and National Service is now in the chamber. I would like him to stay while I talk about another secret document that relates to his Department. The Department of Labour and National Service is very good at producing figures to show that the wages share of the gross national product is rising. To do this the Department starts off from either 1954-55 or 1955-56. It produces a set of figures which apparently are fed into the Minister. The Minister has a look at them and says: T do not like going back to 1948-49 and seeing what the comparison is for the last 20 years. Give me another set of figures. Will you try starting with different years until you get to a point where it looks as though the wage earners are getting more of the GNP than they used to get? So the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service say: ‘If those are your instructions, Sir, we will do our best.’ They go back and say: ‘If we go up to 1952-53 it is still bad from the Government’s point of view because it shows that the workers have still received less’.
Then they suddenly discover that, after the country had been governed by the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government for about 4 years, the situation changed and that the wages share of the gross national product fell considerably below the level of 1948-49. So, having reduced quite drastically the wages share of the GNP from what it was in 1948-49 to what it was in 1954-55, that then becomes the new norm. The new norm is no longer the percentage that operated under the last Labor Government: the new norm becomes the figure to which the Government was able to reduce the share in 1954 and in 1955. Those documents are in the hands of the Department of Labour and National Service. Moreover, they show how deceptive the Government has been and - I think I can say that the Government has been hypocritical as long as I do not say it about an individual - how hypocritical the Government is when Minister after Minister comes into this place and quotes figures to make it appear that the wages share of GNP is rising. I know from the secret information I have at my disposal that the Department of the Treasury also has those figures and that it as well as the Department of Labour and National Service is rigging the figures. But it is doing it simply because it wants to please the Liberal and Country Party members, I have another secret document from which I would love to quote but I do not have time to do so.
I would like to deal with the question of industrial agreements but, unfortunately, time is running out. I suppose I might as well not start on that subject if I cannot finish. Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you for the tolerance you have shown me. I am sorry that I have only 10 seconds left and that I cannot therefore touch upon things like the 35-hour week, enforcible industrial agreements and slavery in the Cocos Islands, because I have an interesting document here.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I thought it might be a good idea to bring the debate back to the subject of the Budget and to dissociate myself from some of the remarks made by the previous speaker, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), particularly his personal remarks about my colleagues and his attack on some of the Arab states. That racist attack could well cause a diplomatic war here. I take the view that the Budget is a highly successful and highly responsible document. There is a difference between motions moved by honourable members on this side of the House and amendments moved by honourable members opposite because whatever we promise-
– I can’t put up with you, mate.
– I am very relieved that the honourable member for Sturt is leaving the chamber. It will give me a chance to say something. The amendments moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the promises that he has made are unattainable. The position is that we are in Government and whatever we promise, we have to deliver. That is exactly what we will do during the course of the next few weeks. I would like to draw attention - I do not think it has been done yet - to certain deficiencies in the statements of the Leader of the Opposition which have accumulated over the last few months and in particular I would like to draw attention to his amendment. If one examines the amendment carefully one will find no reference whatsoever to defence, costing or taxation. He attacked the Treasurer (Mr Snedden). and accused him of, using rhetoric. I think that is. a typical ploy of a person who has done just that himself.
We on this side of the House - I think 1 can speak for us all - put defence at the top of our priorities. If we have not enough gumption to defend our country or if we are not prepared to defend it and to make available the necessary expenditure, then we do not deserve to have the country. It was interesting to note that the Leader of the Opposition did not even mention defence in his amendment; nor did he mention taxation, for the simple reason that he would have to increase taxation enormously to finance the promises which he. has made. What I have done is, as far as possible, to cost some of the promises made by the Leader of the Opposition. This was difficult because they are all so very vague. The first promise was simple to cost. He advocated an immediate pension and unemployment benefit payment of $100m. The second one was a reduction in sales tax. He did not indicate by how much he would reduce this tax, but I imagine that there would be an across the board reduction of, say 10 per cent which would mean a cost of $70m for the current year. He said that he would lift unemployment benefits, but again he did not say by how much. The Government has increased them from $44m to $77m, a rise of 20 per cent. I expect that it would be reasonable-
– That is because there are so many unemployed.
– Do not get too excited, old friend. The Government has provided for an increase of 20 per cent. I imagine that honourable members opposite would say, if we could pin them to a figure, that Labor would give at least a 10 per cent increase in benefits, which is half of what we have done. So, there would be an increase of $12m in unemployment benefits. The Leader of the Opposition said that if Labor is elected it will increase hospital benefits, but once again he did not say by how much. I imagine that it would be by at least as much as we have increased them, that is, by $43m. So, we have to include that amount. The Leader of the Opposition has said on several occasions that, when elected, the Labor Party will spend enormous amounts of money on schools, preschool education and free universities. This promise has been costed publicly. It is estimated that in one year the cost would be $540m. In an instant policy decision of his own - not one of his Party’s - he announced that he would see that the means test was abolished. I do not know why the age should be 69 years. On our costing, net or after tax and prior to the new rates of pension, this would cost $200m.
Those half a dozen items on their own total over Sl,000m or $1 billion, yet they do not include various other promises which I will mention very briefly. The Leader of the Opposition has said that he will increase pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. I do not know what that would cost. He will introduce a national insurance policy. Heaven knows what that would cost. His promise in regard to urban transport would cost at least as much as his education promise. He said that he would pick up the tab on the deficits incurred by the railway systems. 1 listened last night to the speech of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) who made the point that that is exactly what the Labor Party would do. Whether Labor would refer this matter to the Labor Premiers and the other Premiers or not, he did not say. He was delightfully impractical, because the net loss by State railway systems over the last 12 months amounted to $66m. So, that amount would have to be added to the cost of the other promises. In one breath the honourable member for Newcastle said that he would upgrade urban transport and in the next breath he was critical of the amount being spent on roads. He did not mention how Labor would finance its proposals.
The Leader of the Opposition mentioned also the ownership of Australian resources and how Labor would control these resources. Presumably he means our mineral resources. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) talked about extra home savings grants and reduced interest rates on housing mortgage loans, should a Labor government be elected to office. He, said in his speech yesterday that a Labor government would acquire land for home building purposes. He did not say . where, a Labor government would get the money. He said that a Labor government would reduce to 4 per cent the interest rate charged to borrowers. That cannot be done without cost because the Government has to borrow money overseas at rates of 6 per cent and 7 per cent. So where does the money come from? That is what we want to know. I hope that the speaker from the Opposition side who follows me in this debate will give us some information on this.
– You will not be disappointed.
– Thank you. We do not want a personal denigration, in relation to some other attitudes; we want direct answers as to where the money will come from. Company tax cannot be increased any more, I would not think, because Australia is one of the highest taxed countries in the world for company tax. So, the money can only come from direct taxation or by cutting down on the defence vote, because Labor proposes to give more money for everything else, across the whole spectrum. I take the view that this is a completely irresponsible attitude - financially and morally. The cost of reducing tax for the family man, as announced in the Budget, is S480m a year. If we were to agree that some of the Labor Party proposals could be financed there would be an increase in taxation on the family man by 10 per cent or 15 per cent. Heaven knows by how much, because the
Labor Party has not been explicit enough on this matter. What I am asking the honourable member who is to follow me in this debate to do is to be completely honest and tell us where the money will come from, whether or not taxes will be increased and whether or not the defence vote will be reduced.
I draw attention to a couple of matters of ideology on which honourable members opposite are very much astray. Their proposal to lend money at special interest rates to people who borrow money on home mortgages is not really in the interests of people on lower incomes because the higher the mortgage the higher the saving. In regard to the abolition of the means test, we do not know why the Leader of the Opposition has selected the age of 69 years. This is not in accordance with Labor policy. It is also not to accordance with Labor’s philosophy because it tends to make the margin between the poor and the wealthy even greater. So I hope that the honourable member who follows me will answer some of the questions I pose. What about the service pensioner who is 60 years of age? Will he, under a Labor government, get a pension in this new plan? What about certain categories of widows? What about the fringe benefits? Does the Labor Party propose to nationalise the doctors or in some way force the doctors to come into such a scheme? These are questions we would like answered. We do not consider that it is a properly considered policy. It has something for everybody. It is full of tricks and contradictions.
Because there is not much time left to me in this debate I will skip over a few matters and discuss what is activating the Leader of the Opposition and the reason why he is panicking. There is no doubt that he is really in a panic at the moment. I think that the true answer is that the Leader of the Opposition is terribly worried about the result of the next election and he is terribly worried about his own leadership. I believe that his actions are those of a totally insecure man - and when one looks around him it is no wonder. There is no doubt that if an election were held today for the leadership of the Labor Party in this place the
Caucus of that Party would dump him. He has shifted his position from that of an apparent right winger right round to that of an obvious left winger. He has attacked some of his colleagues quite unnecessarily and has lost their support. Just in the last day or so we have seen a disagreement between him and the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) over revaluation. Whatever one says about the honourable member for Dawson, there is no doubt that he has at least an academic knowledge of rural matters. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition probably would not know a bull from a cow. I am quite sure that he does not even begin to recognise a steer. He had a disagreement with the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) over the feather-bedding of pensioners statement. He has managed to upset a number of good loyal members of the Party.
We remember in the last 12 months or so the Leader of the Opposition’s repudiation on immigration of the honourable member for Grayndler, the architect of Labor’s immigration policy. The honourable member for Grayndler cannot have any love for his Leader. The Leader could never safely rely on his vote in a Caucus leadership struggle if one took place now. We also know where the honourable “member for Reid is placed in the spectrum. Does anybody think that the honourable member for Reid would support the Leader of the Opposition in a leadership struggle? We remember what happened in the redistribution affair when the Leader of the Opposition interferred in an attempt to get endorsement for his son. Do not tell me that the honourable member for Reid would support the Leader of the Opposition in a struggle for leadership of the Labor Party.
I have a great affection for the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls), as I have for some other honourable members opposite. Not all the good guys are on this side of the chamber. Most of them are, but there are some good ones on the other side. I was very much distressed by an incident involving the honourable member for Bonython. About 6 or 7 years ago the Leader of the Opposition appeared on the Seven Days’ programme on ATN7 in Sydney. In an interview in which the
Federal Executive of the Labor Party was discussed the Leader of the Opposition had this to say:
One of our mates, Mr Martin Nicholls who has been in the House of Representatives for 2 years - I am certain nobody outside his own State has heard of him . . .
Does any honourable member think that the Leader of the Opposition could rely on the support of the honourable member for Bonython in a leadership struggle? Do not honourable members think that the Leader of the Opposition is enormously worried because of the lack of support for him not only in caucus but outside in the ALP organisation? On the same television programme, talking about Mr Chamberlain, Mr Hartley and some other moderate people on the Executive, he said that 4 other members of the Federal Executive were members of the Parliament. He said that only one of them - Mr Webb - had ever made the grade or ever would make the grade in the Federal Parliament. He said that Mr Webb was the only one who would ever be a Minister. But Mr Harry Webb has been dumped oS the front bench of the Labor Party. I do not know the names of the other 3 members to whom the Leader of the Opposition referred but if I were one of them the Leader of the Opposition would not get my support in any caucus vote. in going through the list of people behind the Leader of the Opposition who have been upset by him one comes to the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns). I think it is fair to say that the honourable member for Lalor and I take different views on a number of matters, but we all know where he stands. He does not change position. You can trust him. Some years ago the Leader of the Opposition repudiated the honourable member for Lalor on Vietnam and other matters. The Leader of the Opposition has now taken up a position further to the left than the honourable member for Lalor on Vietnam, breaking the law and so on. His actions are like those of the prima ballerina in the ballet ‘Swan Lake’. He tippy toes to the right a couple of paces; then he tippy toes to the left a couple of paces; then he does a pirouette, with Mr Hawke playing the male lead.
The Leader of the Opposition has problems outside this place in Labor’s organisa tion. I remind honourable members of what happened in the New South Wales election of delegates to the ALP Federal Conference. Normally the New South Wales delegates are moderates and right wingers. Whatever else they may be, they are strong supporters of the Leader of the Opposition. But in the last election there was a strong move to the left with the election of Mr Heffernan, Mr Gietzelt and their dear old friend Mr Robert Gould, manager of the Third World Bookshop, as delegates. Mr Gould is so far to the left that he thinks that card carrying communists are moderates. In academic circles Professor Arndt of the Australian National University has resigned from the Labor Party organisation because of the behaviour of the Leader of the Opposition in China. He did not resign because of the Leader of the Opposition’s trip to China but ‘ because of his behaviour there. All the way along the line the Leader of the Opposition is losing support. He is very worried and that is why he is making extravagant promises. He will promise anything to get a vote.
The Leader of the Opposition looks over his shoulder and sees Mr Hawke. Both Mr Hawke and the Leader pf the Opposition look over their collective shoulders and see Mr Carmichael and Mr Halfpenny. Dare I mention them? They are the communist strong men in the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union. He sees amalgamations to the right of him while to the left the communists are getting stronger and stronger in the grass roots organisation of his Party. He sees what men like Mr . Mundey have been doing. The Leader of the Opposition adopts the classic attitude of coming out strongly and then running away from the brawl. About six or seven years ago he said
I will resign if the Party takes no action against collaboration between AL? and communist unionists.
He made that sort of statement on 2 or 3 occasions. Although he threatened to resign about 7 years ago he is still there. I think I should also refer to the Townsville declaration which we fleetingly referred to by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). It is part of official ALP policy. I hope that the honourable member for Grayndler who is to follow me in this debate will say whether it is really a part of the official ALP policy. The declaration stated:
Union officers shall be immune from legal actions for offences committed in furtherance of a trade dispute. (Quorum formed) In the few moments left to me I want to say that there can be no union peace in this country until the grass roots members of the unions are prepared to attend union meetings and to stand up to the muscle men, the communists and fellow travellers.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Corbett)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I support the amendment. The honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) who has just spoken in this debate is one of those members of the Government Parties with a quaint title. He is the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Civil Aviation. He is one of those mysterious and ghost like figures elected exclusively to boost the numbers of votes for the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon in the party room. If anybody wonders why the Government is in trouble he has only to look at the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Civil Aviation. Everybody knows that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) wants assistance but he has certainly got a liability.
The honourable member for Boothby asked me to say where the Labor Party will get the money to fulfil its promises to the Australian people. A fair question deserves a fair answer. I tell him that we will get the money from the same source as the Government is getting it in an attempt to fulfil the promises and undertakings given in the Budgets and to abolish the means test we will get the money from precisely the same place as the present Government will get it to abolish the means test within 3 years. I hope that answer is satisfactory to the honourable member. That source has been tapped by the Government and therefore it must be available to the Opposition. I think that should answer satisfactorily the honourable member’s question. Anybody who was in the Parliament on 15th August must have wondered whether he was at an Eastern bazaar, so much was being given away. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) an nounced a Budget with an expenditure of Sl0,078m and a deficit of about $730m, and the Budget was introduced in an election year. What a contrast this Budget is to that of last year when a gloomy Treasurer told with foreboding of the inability of the Government to do anything for the poor suffering sections of the community. But this year, there is to be an election and so the sky is the limit. The Liberals took the hat off. They found money that they said was never available before and they produced for all to see a bonanza unequalled, so we have been told, in our time. I say to the Australian people that if they want anything out of a Liberal-Country Party government they should make sure that they have an election every year for the simple reason that the only time the public gets anything from the Government is in an election year.
Let honourable members listen to what the Government gave us in this Budget. The Government gave something for all - you name it, you got it. The Budget will provide for taxation reductions, pension increases, social services, the lifting of the means test, housing, health, education, child welfare, estate duty, Aborigines, defence, shipping, airlines, gift duty, nursing homes, special grants and fares for the unemployed. Not a thing was lost. The Government would have said to a Labor Party proposing these benefits: ‘Where will you get the money?’ We say that we would have got it from the same source as the Government has used to produce this bonanza.
Nobody has been forgotten in the Budget. Even that quaint organisation known as the National Council of Women will receive $5,500. That organisation was formed in 1896 and it has taken the Liberal Party 76 years to find it. So, the Liberal Party is moving along. Because of this budget bonanza 76 years after the establishment of this organisation, those dear old ladies must today be weeping tears of joy because the Government has found them. I believe that the motto of the Victorian branch of this organisation is the golden rule: ‘Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you’. So, we must expect those dear ladies to return the compliment after 76 years and vote for the hapless Liberals. 1 would not have raised what I am about to raise had the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) not raised it. I do not like to hear people speaking of disunity in Liberal parties and, particularly, in government parties, but, as the honourable member for Boothby raised it, I think I should make passing reference to what is happening in the ranks of this once great Party and show how today the disunity is not on the Opposition side but amongst those who sit on the Government side. We know that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) is facing imminent political doom. He will not have to wait for the people outside this Parliament to do it; there are a couple of dozen honourable members sitting on the other side with knives a foot long, waiting for him to fall over. They would stab him politically at the drop of a hat. We know that the Government fears that it is doomed. We know that the prestige of the Prime Minister is at an all time low. The gallup polls showed his popularity to be below that even of the former Prime Minister of Japan who at least had the decency to resign when he fell that far down the scale. Members of the Press, radio and television continually point to the disunity in Government ranks and the eternal dissension of the Parliamentary parties. The honourable member for Boothby spoke about the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), yet a GetGortonBack committee has been formed. An article in the ‘Australian’ of 6th December 1971 is headed: ‘Voters want Gorton back as PM, supporters claim’. There are quite a few of his supporters in the parliamentary Liberal Party at this stage. The article states:
Supporters of the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, outnumber Mr McMahon’s by almost 6 to 1-
I think that they have underestimated; I think it is 10 to 1- according to trends in a Get-Gorton-Back opinion poll conducted at the weekend.
The Get-Gorton-Back committee claims to have knocked on more than SOO doors in the Melbourne electorate of Casey, to test public opinion of the merits of Mr Gorton and Mr McMahon. The committee president, Mr Peter Buff, said that with about 100 ‘postal votes’ still to come, Mr Gorton had captured about 70 per cent of the vote’.
I wonder what the honourable member for Morton (Mr Killen) would say to that. I think that he would be one of the 70 per cent. The members of the Australian Country Party have no illusions about the Prime Minister. Let us have a look at what they think of him. An advertisement placed in the ‘Courier-Mair of 25th May this year states:
While Australia searches fora leader Queensland has found Joh. Bjelke-Petersen; that’s why the 70s belong to Queensland.
This is the great stalwart Party in this nation which is supposed to be right behind its leaders. They are . eating out of each other’s hands, right up. to the elbow. There is no doubt about that. This is the Party that talks about unity- and dissension. .:(.
A couple of days ago, the former lecturer at Melbourne’s Monash1 University, the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) went on television to say that it is still not too late to change the Liberal leader if. events decide that that should be done. He was supported by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) who also said that, they could change the Prime Minister, if necessary; ,We all know that the honourable member for Morton has never hidden the-, fact that the Government is- Carrying a political lightweight and that even he could do a better job. This is the situation hi respect to the parliamentary Liberal Party. Honourable members opposite talk about disunity on this side of the Parliament. In Tasmania recently the Tasmanian Executive of the Liberal Party failed by only one vote - I think a Liberal walked out and was not game to vote - to pass a resolution demanding on the eve of the Federal election the resignation of the Prime Minister. This is jungle warfare of a kind unknown on this side of the Parliament. This type of thing is unknown in the Australian Labor Party. Honourable members opposite know as well as I do that the poor little Prime Minister with family worries and everything else walks in fear and trepidation of political annihilation by the very member amongst others on the other side of the Parliament-
– Mr Deputy Speaker. I raise a point of order. Is this the appropriate moment for me to point out that I have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Grayndler?
– The honourable member can state where he has been misrepresented at the conclusion of the speech of the honourable member for Grayndler.
– I thought that I had let the honourable member off lightly. The point I make is that an honourable member opposite pointed out that we on this side of the House were disunited. The people of this country know that the Government’s political doom is imminent. Nothing would have forced the Treasurer to have brought down this Budget but for the facts that I mentioned a moment ago. This is known not only in this Parliament but also by every person throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Never in our time has a Prime Minister had such disloyal colleagues and never in our time has a Prime Minister been in such fear of defeat, not so much from the Australian electorate as from those who sit behind him.
That is the position to which I refer today and that is why the Treasurer had to produce a bonanza in the Budget on 15th August. Would honourable members opposite, with a sordid background like that, not want to get away from their sins? Would they not want to take the public’s mind off the matter? Would they want the public to know that the old shotgun wedding is on the rocks on the eve of a Federal election and that members of the Country Party are at the throats of the Liberals? The honeymoon is over. The Country Party does not want the Liberals and the Liberals do not want the Country Party. Would honourable members opposite not want to hide this behind a lot of matters about which people can talk? It is not the wish to care for the people that is behind this Budget but rather the fear that the people will realise what is happening in the ranks.
In this country today 112,000 people are unemployed under a Government which in 1949 said that it would maintain full employment. Today, 112,000 people are being denied the right to work. Even with the bonanza that the Government will give out on this occasion, not a penny extra will go to this section of the community and the poor devil who is unable to get a job and who is willing and able to work must exist on $25 a week under this Government at a time when the average income is about $100 a week. With these things happening personally and politically, the sky had to be the limit because, with this situation and with an election pending, what else could the Government do?
I do not have time to cover everything contained in the Budget but let me say this: This Government cannot be trusted. Why trust the Government? It was elected 23 years ago. It is discredited, unpopular and unprincipled and is bringing out of the hat now rabbits that should have been produced more than 20 years ago. This Budget is nothing more or less than a cynical attempt to purchase votes. Nothing has been possible for years but the Government now is providing everything on the eve of an election in an endeavour to save the discredited collection of members who masquerade as a government on the other side of this Parliament.
Let us have a look at what they did in 1949. Who will ever forget the promises they made? That is why on this occasion the public should never believe the promises of this Government. Remember when the Liberals said they would put value back in the £1? I do not say it facetiously, but the reason that the Government changed the currency was to get away from that promise and that is why the people of this nation today have dollars instead of pounds. Now the Government says in this Parliament that it will abolish the means test. I should like to quote from the policy of the Liberal-Country Parties in 1949 - 23 years ago. Even the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) was a young man then. The aspiration for full employment was one thing mentioned. In respect of the means test, the policy stated:
Australia still needs a contributory system of national insurance against sickness, widowhood, unemployment, and old age. It is only under such a system that we can make all benefits a matter of right, and so get completely rid of the means test.
During the new Parliament-
This is 1949, mind you - we will further investigate this complicated problem, with a view to presenting to you at the election of 1952 a scheme for your approval. Meanwhile, existing rates of pension will, of course, be at least maintained.
Now, 23 years later, the Liberal Party has not come down with a plan for the abolition of the means test; it simply proposes setting up an inquiry. The Government cannot be trusted to do this and the people of
Australia should know it. Again in 1951 the Liberal Party mentioned this matter in its policy. I frankly admit that it has not had as good looking a leader for a long time as it had then. In the 1951 policy, in respect of pensioners, the Liberal Party said:
We will look after them. We may be relied upon to do full justice to their needs, as we have done before. Meanwhile we are, as we promised, working on the important problem of providing national retiring allowances on a basis which will not discourage thrift.
So I say to the people of Australia that at the speed the Liberal Party has been going, finding the Women’s Liberal League after 76 years, and planning to abolish the means test 23 years later, it will be the year 2001 before a plan is brought down for the Australian people. That is why in this Parliament members opposite should not be trusted.
With respect to the proposed taxation concessions, I will bet 2 bob to a penny that they will all be removed if this Government gets back next year. The former Prime Minister, the late Harold Holt, had a 5 per cent taxation concession going on and off, playing ducks and drakes with the Australian people for so long that we forgot when the concession was on and when it was off. If this Government continues in office I suspect that we will face the same situation because the fact of the matter is that the Government cannot be trusted in respect of its policies. The Government has no unity on any question. We have heard of the means test proposals of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). According to the ‘Age’ of 27th June he described the means test as unjust but on almost the same day - it was the day before, 26th June - the Treasurer was reported as saying that he was against the abolition of the means test for pensions. He is reported to have said that the Government felt unable to abolish the means test because it would mean a substantial redistribution of income from the working population to people with income or property large enough to exclude them from full or part pensions. When the Treasurer announced the Government’s proposal the other night he said:
The decision to abolish the means test is a historic decision and represents a major social advance.
The situation is almost as silly as a Laurel and Hardy comedy. With the Treasurer and the Minister for Social Services it is a case of on again, off again, yet they tell us that this is a great and major reform. The people are being taken for a ride. Everyone knows that this is just an election gimmick and that there is no promise in the Budget that the means test will be abolished. The Treasurer has said that he does not believe in its abolition. If honourable members study the Budget Speech they will see that the abolition of the means test is only going to be investigated. If the honourable member for Boothby, the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Civil Aviation, asks me where the money will come from, 1 can only say that he must not know where the Liberals will get the money to implement its proposal. They are in’ the cart on this particular issue.
I particularly want to .mention one or two other matters relative , to the Budget. The Prime Minister speaks, a lot about law and order and supporters of the Government tackle members of. the Labor Party on this question. Recently I- picked up an edition of the ‘Age’ and I thought that what I read was strange, coming as it did from a Prime Minister who claimed that he was a law and order Prime Minister. A report in the ‘Age’ of 20th May states: .
The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) is confident that his Government will ‘murder’ the Labor Party at the coming Federal election.
I think you could say we will murder the brutes,’ he said last night in an election rally party in a fruit packing ham at Nare Warren North.
That town sounds as though it could be, somewhere in the electorate of the honourable member for Mallee. The Prime Minister talks about law and order yet says ‘we will murder the brutes- meaning mc. Opposition members, the Leader of the Opposition and people generally. According to the Press report the Prime Minister then did a barn dance. I have been told that he was even out of step in that. The Prime Minister is a modest fellow - ‘Cassius McMahon’ we could call him. The ‘Age’ report continued:
Never in the history of Liberal Government,’ he said, ‘whether with Sir Robert, whether with Harold Holt, whether with John Gorton or not, 1 believe that in the past 14 or .16 months we have carried out a series of reforms- that have never been equalled’.
That is a modest statement from a modest little man, yet this is the man who is going to ‘murder the brutes’. Is it not shocking to hear this?
I summarise briefly what I want to say on this Budget. The Government has given to the greedy instead of to the needy. If one checks the proposed taxation concessions one will find that they help most those who do not need them so much - the high income group - rather than the lower income groups. Pensioners will get $20 a week from this magnificent Government at a time when the average weekly income is $100. Married pensioner couples will get $34.50. If they have no other income that is all they will have to exist on at this stage. Almost 250,000 are in this category. Government policy, right down the line, has been to give the minimum to those people who most need it to give more to those who might well do without. The Government’s proposals concerning supplementary assistance to pensioners, abolition of the means test and the wife’s allowance all have been plundered from Labor Party policy over the years.
If a person examines the concessions to pensioners he wal find that a situation exists under which those with nothing at all will still suffer under the Government. The unemployment and sickness benefits is unchanged and a man and his wife will receive only $25 a week. It is a good thing that we have an immigration programme because the maternity allowance of $30 to $35 has been unchanged since 1943, almost 29 years ago. I think that most members of the Liberal Party are so old that they have forgotten what, kids look like otherwise they could not possibly have neglected to increase the maternity allowance. Child endowment remains unchanged after 24 years. Pensioners cannot afford to die because the funeral benefits are so meagre. Guardians’ allowances are unchanged as are mothers’ allowances. Recipients of all these benefits will suffer because the Liberal Party does not care for them. It merely looks for votes.
If honourable members examine the proposed taxation concessions right down the line they will find that this Government has now decided that a person earning up to $20 a week will not have to pay taxation. If a person gets $20 a week his taxation will be reduced by 10c a week. Is that not really lovely? The person earning $100,000 a year will enjoy a reduction of $2,565 a year in his taxation and he will pay the some rate of sales tax as a pensioner. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. The Government has refused to deal adequately with the inflow of overseas capital and with the development of the nation. It has handed out, like a bonanza, benefits which it thinks will save it. I think it is too late to save this Government which is trembling on the brink of political doom. Its discreditable, cynical and unprincipled misuse of the Parliament and the nation’s finances for blatant political gain is clear. I think that even you, Mr Deputy Speaker, will agree that it is time for a change. It is time for a Labor government. I support the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, by the honourable member for Grayndler when he claimed that I had said that it was not too late for the Liberal Party to change its leader. In fact, in the television interview I said that in politics anything could happen but that a change of leadership was extraordinarily unlikely. I made it quite clear that there was no case whatsoever for a change of leader. I described the Budget as brilliant and as an illustration of the McMahon style of governing, which was based on hard work, research and real policies.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. The honourable member has the right to make a personal explanation of a point on which he has been misquoted, but be cannot make a speech. He has to define clearly where he was wrongly misquoted and he certainly has done that. He is now proceeding to make a speech and I will continue to take points of order if he continues with a speech.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, on the point of order, I saw the honourable member for Chisholm on television and anybody who saw it would realise that what the honourable member for Grayndler has said was a deliberate distortion of what the honourable member for Chisholm said. The honourable member is now stating what he said and allowing the House to judge-
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I am speaking on a point of order.
– Are the words ‘deliberate distortion’ allowable?
– On your point of order, they are allowable; they are parliamentary.
– Has he agreed to withdraw them?
– No, and he does not have to withdraw them.
– If the honourable member for Chisholm is allowed to say 2 more sentences the House will then judge for itself whether or not the honourable member for Grayndler distorted, deliberately or not the words used by the honourable member for Chisholm. I submit that he is in order, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– On a point of order; Mr Deputy Speaker, as you know I never distort speeches I make whether deliberately or not deliberately. I was drawing on my memory - which shows that one should always have the relevant Press cutting with one when making a speech - of what I understood to have been the statement made by the honourable member for Chisholm. To say that I deliberately distorted it is not correct and, from my recollection, what I was was a true summary of the situation as I understood it and of the statement that was made.
-Order! I want to draw the attention of the honourable member for Chisholm to the fact that he cannot debate this matter, but if he concludes in 2 sentences I will allow him to continue.
– Mr Deputy Speaker I make no attempt to debate the issue. I leave it to the House to judge the motives of the honourable member for Grayndler who has given us an explanation of how he saw the repotted statements. I simply would point out that the misrepresentation was entailed in the fact that a few words - or maybe a sentence - were taken from an interview, and those few words in isolation completely distorted my meaning in the bulk of the interview. I was merely illustrating the remarks that I had made throughout the interview, which show quite clearly that, deliberate or not, it was an utter distortion.
– I certainly also viewed the television session in which the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) was interviewed, and I totally agree that he was subjected to the grossest form of misrepresentation by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). But, of course, one listens to the honourable member for Grayndler for entertainment but rarely for instruction, and nothing that he can say in this House can hide the fact that this is a magnificent Budget, which has been well received by all sections of the Australian community. No amount of crocodile tears which have been shed by honourable gentlemen opposite can obscure that reality.
The views which have been expressed by the various spokesmen for the Opposition in this debate once again illustrate not only the inadequacy of their diagnosis of our economic problems but also the vagueness and irrelevance of the remedies which they have put forward. The Opposition has made great play of the charge that our economic strategy in the last Budget was to produce unemployment. I say now, as I did last year, that this charge is totally false and mischievous. At this time last year we were faced with a situation of acute cost-push inflation which held very grave dangers for the growth and stability of the economy and for its employment capability. Our economic policies have in fact succeeded in containing the inflationary problem, thereby providing the basis now for further sustained economic growth in the years to come. Had the inflationary situation been allowed to run out of hand, our entire full employment policy would have been undermined and our growth prospects would now be dim indeed. Thus, far from creating unemployment, our economic policy was designed to secure and protect the level of unemployment in the long run.
Nevertheless, the average level of unemployment in 1971-72 was much higher than we have been accustomed to in the past. This was neither planned nor intended. The main reason for the unsatisfactory employment experience is that as the year 1971-72 progressed the economy suffered a number of unexpected external and internal shocks which affected employment prospects. Externally there was an international monetary crisis and a slowdown in the Japanese economy, which affected the expansion plans of our mineral industries. Internally we experienced in the first half of the year a major slump in wool prices. At the same time consumers, in a situation of rapidly rising money incomes and prices, growing industrial unrest and reduced job security, reacted more cautiously than expected, lt was the combination of these influences which produced a change in the labour market situation.
As honourable members are aware, the Government reacted quickly to the change in employment prospects. The list of measures taken by the Government is well known. I need only remind the House that the first measures were initiated as early as October and have continued steadily since that time. That the economy failed to respond quickly to these measures was substantially due to the slow recovery in consumer and business confidence. The Budget is of course designed to give a direct boost to private sector confidence as well as acting directly on the conditions of demand. It must be seen as part of an expansionary economic policy that began some 9 months ago.
As a corollary to its claim that the Government has deliberately created unemployment, and also to attempt to cover its lack of consideration of the effects of industrial unrest, the Opposition has often produced, as the honourable member foi Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) produced today, the charge that the loss of man-days through unemployment is much more socially and economically wasteful than the loss of man-days through strikes. There is in fact no real basis for making a comparison between man-days lost through unemployment and those lost through strikes. The statistics published by the Commonwealth Statistician on the amount of time lost as a consequence of industrial disputes reveal only the tip of the iceberg in that they relate solely to employees directly or indirectly involved in the establishments in which stoppages of work took place. Clearly this is a gross understatement of the full impact of industrial action especially where the dispute is in an essential service or public utility. In the State Electricity Commission of Victoria strike in February up to 200,000 workers in Victoria and some thousands in other States were stood down. But the official figures would have indicated that only some 11,000 workers were on strike. Nor do the official statistics take account of the disruption to operational efficiency, training programmes and investment plans or the damaging effect on business confidence.
Not only is it impossible to measure the full loss to the economy from industrial unrest; it is also fatuous to assume that industrial unrest and unemployment bear no relation at all to each other. The Riverstone Meat Co. Pty Ltd experience illustrates that jobs can be placed in direct jeopardy as a result of persistent industrial strife. More importantly, the recent stubbornness of unemployment in part reflects the depressant effects on confidence of industrial unrest.
The Opposition has also attributed some of the present unemployment situation to deep-seated structural changes in employment opportunities, particularly in manufacturing employment. This is grossly misleading. The slow-down in manufacturing employment is due to the temporary slowdown in overall economic activity, and the Government is confident that as the rale of economic growth picks up, the level of manufacturing employment will also resume its more norma] trend.
Of course, structural changes in employment are occurring with very great frequency in the economy. They are occurring because of technological change, rationalisation of plant operations, shifts in the pattern of domestic or overseas demand, exhaustion of economic reserves in particular mines, and so on. These changes are unavoidable in a complex growing economy open to overseas trade. They are not a new phenomenon that has just emerged. They have always been with us and always will be; it is incorrect to imply otherwise, as the Opposition has sought to do.
This is not to say that structural changes do not create some areas of difficulty. When technological, demand or cost shifts take place, some industries may be forced to cut back and some people may be retrenched. The problem becomes serious when these retrenchments occur in relatively remote isolated areas, or in areas offering a limited range of employment opportunities, or in areas temporarily affected by adverse economic conditions. In such cases, the task is one of redeployment and retraining of labour. This is a task which the Government is facing up to, through the activities of the Commonwealth Employment Service, and through its wide range of training schemes. At the same time the pattern of Commonwealth expenditure is partly geared to the pattern of demand for labour. The nonmetropolitan unemployment relief scheme is certainly one example of this approach. New manpower policy initiatives have been announced in the Budget and a detailed statement has already been brought down on this matter.
The Government is not treating lightly the problem of structural imbalance in the economy - whether this imbalance is geographical, occupational or industrial in character. But we will not give the imbalance importance out of all perspective. A significant proportion - perhaps one-third - of the present unemployment can be described as structural in the sense of arising from an imbalance between the skill pattern and location of the unemployed on the one hand and the skill requirements and location of available jobs on the other. But the numbers involved are not increasing rapidly, as the Opposition would have us believe. The Government has no doubt that only a small proportion of the increase In unemployment in the last 2 years has been caused by structural changes in the economy of a deep-seated lasting character. This is not to say that structural unemployment will not increase in importance in the future. One factor which could have this result would be a continuation of excessive cost pressures, which might have the effect of bringing costs in particular industries out of line with those existing in competitive indus tries in other countries. This is one possible danger which could result from the application of a 35-hour week that we would do well to keep in mind. I shall return to this point at a later stage.
Having falsely laid the blame for our unemployment problem on the 1971-72 Budget and on major structural changes in the economy, the Opposition has sought to claim that the present Budget will further increase unemployment. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), told the House last week that implied in the Budget was an increase of 100,000 in unemployment in 1972-73. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has supported the reasoning behind this judgment. As a basis for his calculations the honourable member for Hindmarsh quoted the following excerpt from Statement No. 1 of the statements attached to the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden):
In 1972-73 gross national product at constant prices seems likely, on present indications and unforeseen major new developments apart, to increase by about 5 per cent. This estimate should be reflected in increases of the order of 2 per cent in employment and 3 per cent in productivity.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh has drawn a completely false inference from that statement because he failed to see it in its proper perspective. Statement No. 1 goes on to say:
These estimates relate to year on. year comparisonsthat is, 1972-73 on 1971-72. During 1972- 73, however, growth in employment … is expected to be greater than suggested by the foregoing figures. lt is obvious from these statements that the Treasury is forecasting an increase in employment considerably in excess of 2 per cent during the current financial year.
Equally the estimate made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh of a potential labour force growth of 190,000 is somewhat wide of the mark. The growth in the available labour force almost certainly will be less than 190,000 in the current financial year. In the last 6 years the labour force increase has averaged 132,000. The largest increase was 188,000 in 1969-70 but this was a year of very high immigration, when net settler arrivals totalled 159,000, including 72,300 workers. In 1972-73 the net settler intake is expected to be close to that of 1971-72, that is, around 100,000, including some 40,000 workers. This, of course, is substantially below the 1960-70 figure. Thus, the member for Hindmarsh is very much astray with the figures which he has produced to this House. The simple fact is that the Government’s economic policy is based on the assumption that employment will grow at a faster rate than the labour force during the current financial year and that unemployment will therefore show a decline from the present levels. The Government is confident that this policy will succeed. To speak of an increase of anything like 100,000 is simply to act irresponsibly.
Predictions of gloom have also been made by other members of the Opposition. The Opposition’s shadow Treasurer predicted a few days ago that Australia could expect 150,000 people to be unemployed after the Christmas period. The honourable member for Lalor, Dr Cairns, chose a vastly different but higher figure of nearly 200,000. Such predictions, confused and divisive as they are, by Shadow Ministers on the other side of the House can only have the effect of undermining confidence in the Australian economy.
It is certainly not unusual for members of the Opposition to be wide of the mark in their forecasts of future unemployment trends. In October 1971, the shadow Treasurer and honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), suggested that by the following January 150,000 would be out of work. He happened to be wrong by 20,000. The Leader of the Opposition followed a similar pattern in February when he forecast a rise of 50,000 in 3 months. He was wrong by 30,000. Any forecast now of what the figure will be in precise terms at the end of this year or early next year is purely speculative and irresponsible in the extreme and can serve to do nothing else but undermine confidence throughout the Australian community.
What can be confidently said, however, is that with the various measures which have been already taken by the Government, including this expansionary Budget, employment prospects in the period ahead will be considerably enhanced.
It is evident from the available economic indicators that economic activity is already gathering pace. The national income estimates for the June quarter show that the gross national product at constant prices increased by 2 per cent during the quarter. A similar increase was also recorded in real personal consumption. Dwelling activity has continued to improve, as have motor vehicle registrations. Wage and salary earners in civilian employment increased at an annual rate of 2.4 per cent in the 3 months to June compared with an annual increase of 1.5 per cent in the previous 3 months. The growth momentum will be accelerated by the stimulatory impact of the Budget. This stimulus will find expression not only in personal consumption but also in the boost to private, sector confidence. Therefore, any suggestion that unemployment will increase by 100,000 in the coming months is obviously made in ignorance of the current economic trends and the impact of the Budget.
Although the Opposition has been more than willing to analyse and make predictions about unemployment trends, it has been noticeably far less vocal on the present bout of inflation. The national income estimates attached to the Budget’ Speech provide further documentation of the principal and pre-emptive element in this inflation, namely, wage costs. In 1970-71 unit labour costs increased by 10.0 per cent while prices rose by 5.5 per cent. In 1971-72 unit labour costs increased by a further 8.2 per cent while prices rose by 6.9 per cent. It is a common ploy of the trade unions to argue that the Government is adopting some form of dual standard by attempting to restrain wages but not prices. It is clear from the evidence which has been quoted that excessive wage ‘ increases triggered off our recent inflationary problem. Profits have in fact been relatively sluggish. This being so it is perfectly sensible to concentrate on wage restraint. As far as prices are concerned, the Government is seeking - through trade practices legislation and a review of the tariff - to promote a vigorous, competitive environment. This will ensure that profit margins are kept within reasonable bounds. To go beyond this - for example, through a wideranging system of price controls, as the Opposition would implement in the period ahead - would be to create rigidities and inefficiencies which could do incalculable harm to the Australian community.
Not satisfied with the present bout of wage-cost inflation, many trade union leaders are now seeking to add further to those inflationary pressures through the introduction of a 35-hour working week. It is not my intention in this debate to seek to analyse that problem in any depth, except to refer in passing to the simple fact that it will add greatly to inflationary pressures through its addition to costs in the Australian community and, of course, will adversely affect the 4 major groups which are disadvantaged as a consequence of rises of this type. I refer to the pensioners and the superannuants, those on fixed incomes and those in the rural community. If the Opposition believes that one can contain the application of concessions of this type to particular industries, then it is naive in that belief. I repeat, in closing my speech on the Budget and referring to the many significant advances which have been made, that this is a magnificent Budget, one of the finest Budgets which this Government has brought down. It no doubt has caused crocodile tears to be shed by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) and other honourable members opposite simply because they realise that they have no answer to it - and, of course, that is the case. In all 3 areas of which I have been speaking - inflation, growth and social welfare - this is a Budget which deserves the commendation of this House just as it has had the commendation of the Australian people.
I want to refer to the events during the course of this week when the question of violence in the trade union movement was properly raised in this House. What those events have shown is that the degree of communist influence in certain trade unions in this country is very real and significant, as certain officials of the Labor Council of New South Wales have pointed out. What is equally clear is that violence is not a new phenomenon. It is not something which has just emerged in the Australian community. We have seen it on a number of occasions.
However, what is new now is that the Australian Labor Party must be forced for the first time to recognise a phenomenon which it has conveniently refused to recognise over a long period of time. What we have said is that the Labor Party by its omission to comment on this issue, by its support for collective bargaining, by its rejection of conciliation and arbitration, by its concept that draft dodging is not a crime, by the fact that it has refused to be critical of any of the trade unions, is in fact giving support to what has taken place in Sydney in recent days. This whole policy confirms exactly what the Government has been saying through many of its Ministers for a long period. But the Opposition has ignored the fact. It can no longer ignore it and it is high time the Leader of the Opposition was prepared to speak out and condemn policies which he has refused to condemn in areas which the Australian community knows to be of very real and significant substance.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Corbett)Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– In rising to join in this year’s Budget debate I would like to make some comments about the remarks made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) who has just finished speaking. In the closing stages of his contribution he made some pious reference to violence in the trade union movement. I find that very strange coming from a representative of a government that is violent, a government that practises violence, a government that has blood on its hands from Vietnam, the blood of the children of Vietnam and the blood of Australian men. It is a government that supports the regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia and then piously speaks about violence in the trade union movement in Australia.
It seems that the Minister was arguing against himself on more than one occasion. He mentioned the unemployment figures and disputed the forecasts that had been made by members of the Opposition. He accused members on this side of the House of not accurately representing the situation. I would level the same accusation against him because his department - probably under his instruction and, I would think, his deliberate instruction - does not accurately present the picture of the number of unemployed in Australia. His Department presents to us the figures of those who are registered for unemployment but these figures do not take into account the housewives who leave industry and go back home because there are no jobs for them. They do not register as being unemployed nor do they receive unemployment relief as their husbands are employed. The Department’s figures do not take into account the number of students who went back to school at the start of this year, who will still be there at the end of this year and at the start of next year. They are unemployed people, or to put it another way, they are a labour resource which is not being used. There is a big difference between those registered for unemployment and a labour resource or labour potential that is not being used. This situation is caused by the direct action of this Government. The Minister has said that the list of measures taken by this Government are well known. He was speaking of the unemployment situation. The actions taken are well known. They are well known to 100,000 men walking the streets every day looking for work. He said that the figures df the number of man-days lost through strikes show only the tip of the iceberg. That could be right, but his unemployment figures are also only the tip of the iceberg.
He mentioned the strike involving the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and the oil industry strike and the hardship that they caused the workers who were put out of work because of them. But he neglected to tell us that both the SEC strike and the oil industry strike - which was a national strike - were the direct result of Government interference in industrial affairs. He did not tell us that Sir Henry Bolte, the then Premier of Victoria, played a direct role by requesting the Chamber of Manufactures to advise its members to close their factories and stand men down so that things would look bad for the unions.
He did not tell us that the McMahon Government played a very significant role in the oil strike. I can assure the Minister that the people of Australia are saying that the oil companies had only one spokesman and that was the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). Everybody knows Mr Hawke and that he was speaking on behalf of the unions involved. They all know Mr Halfpenny and that he was speaking on behalf of the unions. But nobody heard anybody except those in this Government speak on behalf of the oil companies. This Government put itself in the position of being the spokesman for the oil companies during the strike because as part of its desperate plan to find some sort of issue to bring up for the coming election - it knows it has lost the elections - it was casting around trying to draw on the law and order issue and trying to associate the trade unions with it.
Members on the Government side certainly have reduced this debate to a level of personal attack on members of the Opposition. One after the other - the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) and the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) and many others - they have refrained from speaking about issues relating to the Budget. They have all used glowing terms to describe it.’They have referred to it as a magnificent Budget. Magnificent for whom? That is what I would like to know. They have dragged out every adjective to describe the Budget but’ it is still as bad as it was the day it was presented. The Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) made one of the most dastardly contributions I have ever heard in this House; in fact he made no contribution at all. I am surprised that he so demeaned himself and stooped to such a level. The Australian people will not be hoodwinked by the desperate actions of these desperate men.
Leaving that matter on one side, I would like to read to the House the amendment which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). It said:
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;
That is the part to which I would like to draw attention - 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’.
It is in that context that I would like to raise the matter of local government. People usually close their minds when local government is mentioned. I have heard it referred to as a Cinderella. The Leader of the Opposition has moved this progressive amendment and it has received the expected response from Government members who have reached deeply into their armoury and brought out the ultimate weapon: Where is the money to come from? That expression has worn thin with use. The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) ignored local government, both in philosophy and fact, in this Budget He ignored the feature which is common to all Australians, rich and poor, city and country dweller, northerner and southerner, mainlander and islander, easterner and westerner, employed and unemployed, factory owner and housewife. The feature of which I speak is local government, involving cities, boroughs, shires and their respective councils, their officers, ratepayers and their functions. The role of local government in Australia has become that of collector of unpopular taxes.
Sitting suspended from 6.10 to 8 p.m.
– Before the House suspended its sitting for dinner I was outlining how the superficial Government in the superficial Budget it has just introduced had neglected and completely overlooked the position of local government in the whole scheme of things. It would be true to say that successive Liberal Party, Country Party and Democratic Labor Party coalition governments have used local government as a repository for tasks for which the Federal Government wishes to have no responsibility. The present system of local government was imported from Britain in the mid-nineteenth century, and its original role was to tend to local matters such as roads, bridges, drainage, water supply, garbage collection and sewage disposal, planning and like matters which are considered fundamental to people living in communities and sharing benefits which they have Jointly provided. So came into being the expression that local government is closest to the people. It is perhaps closest in the sense of providing the basic needs of people, but it is as aloof in administration and representation as any other organised governmental activity. Rather than 3 tiers of government, I see an integrated system of government with no one level being nearer to or more aloof from the people than any other. Each level of government - Federal, State and local - is responsible for areas of jurisdiction and areas of tax collection.
Let us never forget that we as citizens of Australia wear many hats. We each pay taxes on our incomes, taxes on our purchases, rates on our land whether we rent it or own it, and rates to our water and sewerage authorities. We also pay many other taxes. Therefore when we speak of taxpayers we are speaking of ratepayers and vice versa. However there is one vital difference between rates on land and taxes on income, and that is that taxes take account of capacity to pay while rates take account only of the fact that people live, and they fall heavily on the poor and lightly on the rich. This brings me to the point which I wish to make, and I trust make strongly. Municipalities raise revenue to provide citizens with services, and many of the services provided can be measured and the cost allocated to recipients on an equitable basis. As an example, the total cost of the collection of household garbage is known and can be divided by the number of houses serviced so that the average cost of collecting a can of garbage from a house can be accurately measured. In the same way the cost of lighting streets, sweeping channels and maintaining drains and roads can be accurately measured and equally allocated among the community. In other words all share equally; therefore all should contribute equally.
But other services are thrust upon the municipalities for which they are not equipped to raise finance equitably. In this area we find health services and social services generally. It is not possible to measure the costs of these services and apportion them between rich and poor as they should be apportioned. The poor need health and welfare services, whilst those in better circumstances do not. However, as long as this function is thrust upon local councils and their system of revenue raising remains unchanged, we find that those who need social services are asked to pay more in rates so that better social services can be provided for those who cannot afford to pay the higher rates to their councils. Mr Deputy Speaker, if you find that statement confusing and circular in its logic, let me assure you that that is the confusing, illogical situation which exists in every one of the myriad of municipalities throughout the land.
The salient problems confronting municipalities today differ depending on the nature of the area for which the local council is responsible, but again they have a common denominator and that is the need for an injection of funds from outside the municipal area. Infant welfare facilities, pre-school centres, sporting fields and pavilions and public halls command priorities in newly developing areas and must compete with road, drainage and bridge construction. Of course the latter works gain the lion’s share of available funds. The other necessary works must be deferred and on many occasions the deferment lasts until the children who required the services are grown and have spent their childhood without the benefit of these facilities. Developed areas, especially if they are old established areas, face other problems. Their needs are for municipal assistance to supplement the incomes of pensioners and for alleviation of the financially crippling burden of reconstruction of assets, especially roads, which have deteriorated because of usage and age.
The provision of a library service is regarded in this day and age as an integral feature of the education of the community; yet the ratepayer again bears the biggest share of the financial burden. In my own State of Victoria the running cost of libraries is shared between the State Government and the municipality. It was originally shared equally, with the State Government not being prepared to contribute more than 40c per head of population in the metropolitan area and 50c in the country areas. That ceiling has remained unchanged for many years, so that now the average cost of operating a municipal library is of the order of $1.20 per head of population a year. As the State still contributes only 40c the residents must contribute at the rate of 80c per head. This is another area in which the Federal Government can and should give a lead in assisting the municipal governments.
Debt servicing is completely out of hand and is assuredly responsible for municipalities going to the wall. Many examples can be quoted, but the record shows that total indebtedness for Victorian local authorities increased by 74 per cent from 1962 to 1967 as opposed to an increase of State Government indebtedness of 36 per cent. If other authorities such as the Metropoli tan Board of Works are included the percentage is higher and the Board of Works is paying more than 50 per cent of all its revenue just to service debts. It is obvious what is happening. Commonwealth and State governments show a dereliction of responsibility in their approach to problems, and poor old local government is being left to carry the ball. It just cannot go on. Cities, factories and denser habitation bring enormous environmental problems and the municipalities, through their health inspectors and limited testing facilities, will undoubtedly be left to try to cope. These facts are brought about either directly or indirectly by the action of the Commonwealth Government. It encourages factories, the growth of cities and closer and denser habitation of areas, but nowhere in the Budget does the Commonwealth Government accept any share of the responsibility for ensuring that municipalities are able to cope with this problem, which like so many others, especially the problem of social services, is being thrust upon them. We cannot allow this situation to continue or else the whole fabric of our society, which has become threadbare after 23 years of irresponsible government, will disintegrate entirely.
It is not my intention to be hypercritical and then leave it at that. Rather do ( trust that I can make some worthwhile contribution towards a solution, as I know that after the next Federal election, when a Labor government is installed, this problem will be not only assaulted but resolved. Firstly, it will be necessary to define, areas of responsibility and to recognise the peculiar skills and talents that pertain to each level of government. Government at the Commonwealth level is ideally structured to raise revenue equitably. Only a Commonwealth government can get into the pay packet and assess a person’s capacity to pay taxes. The Commonwealth has also attracted great skills and talents in the administrative field. The States, on the other hand, are limited in their methods of raising revenue, but they have attracted people who are skilled at performing work and resolving technical problems, whereas the local councils are admirably equipped to inquire into and advise on the needs of their relatively smaller areas and are poorly equipped to raise finance on an equitable basis.
After defining these areas of action, I feel that it would be reasonable to say that a ratepayer as such should be responsible for the actual cost of measurable expenditure such as expenditure on the collection of garbage, lighting and cleaning of streets and related items as well as expenditure on the share of administration associated with these functions. The Commonwealth should be entirely responsible for the cost and provision of social services, health and social welfare programmes as advised by local councils and considered by a board or committee. Municipal libraries should be financed by the Commonwealth as part of the general education programme, as should preschool centres and child minding centres. Reconstruction of roads should be financed from taxes paid by motorists in the form of excise on motor fuel. A larger share of this revenue should come to municipalities. The exemption from rates enjoyed by properties owned by the Crown should be withdrawn, and the Crown should pay rates as any other landowner. Loan funds should be made available to local councils at a nominal rate of interest so that works can be carried out without local governments incurring crippling burdens to service these debts.
To sum up, this Budget makes no mention either by statement or inference of any attempt being made to rearrange the area of responsibility of governments. It mentions no effort to evolve a system of equitable financing. It contains just the usual conservative approach that that which exists will continue whether it has served us badly or not. Because of the importance of this subject there is much more that can be said. I have no doubt that at a later date it will be explored much more thoroughly than I have been able to do in the limited time available to me this evening. As long as the present structure continues we are going to have hardship thrust upon the people of this country who are ratepayers as well as taxpayers. There will be no relief because they will be bound to pay their rates as they are bound to pay their taxes. These will fall more heavily on the poor than on the rich. They will become more of a burden for those who cannot afford them and an ever-lightening load for those who can. The pensioners in our community and those who exist on social services are prob ably hit harder by municipal rates than the community generally. Yet once again, under the structure that exists, only those who pay rates are called upon to make a recompense to those who are pensioners. This is clearly a function of the Commonwealth Government in the Budget which has been described in glowing terms by honourable members on the other side of the House. I think they do this for a particular reason. There is no way known for any relief by local governments for those who are not in the position to pay their local rates. I call upon the Government to reconsider its position, to take this into account, to take some serious action and to give serious thought to resolving this very important question.
– I support the Budget and oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). When one looks through the Budget, reads the Budget Speech by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and gives consideration to the factors that he mentioned in that speech one has an understanding that this is a Budget presented by a government that has given consideration to the responsibility of government on the Treasury bench and also to the need for some stimulation in the economic spheres of our country and in relation to certain sections of the community. If one reads through the Treasurer’s speech one will find that he refers to additional payments to pensioners. Attention is given to the social welfare section in the Budget and to the primary industries which are still vitally important and which in some quarters are still not given the consideration that is due. Many members on the Government side of this Parliament have referred to the comment made by the Leader of the Opposition relating to the value of the Australian dollar.
In the sphere of education additional responsibility has been accepted by the Commonwealth Government. I will have something to say about that at a later stage. In regard to centralised control by the Federal Government on all these matters I believe that we have to assist the States to assist local government, as the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) said. I will have something further to say about that also later. I sometimes fear that too much emphasis is being placed upon the role of and control by the Federal Government. I think too much control would be detrimental, irrespective of what Party is in power, but particularly if the Labor Party were in office. I have said this on a number of occasions in this House. I am extremely gratified by the social welfare provisions in the Budget, particularly the additional assistance to be given for home nursing. A number of years ago I had the privilege of being a member of a committee that was set up by the then Minister for Health, Dr Cameron, to look into the assistance being given in relation to home nursing. Two valuable points need to be mentioned. One is that, in many instances, a person is able to stay within his own home and receive that attention in his own home, and this has a psychological advantage for the patient. The second point is that this system frees a number of beds in our hospitals that would otherwise be occupied. This is of tremendous advantage in relation to the hospital bed situation we find in this country.
My friend and colleague the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) spoke earlier today about the long term loan scheme that is to be put into effect. I have been advocating this for quite a considerable period of time, lt will be of tremendous advantage. People on the land are sometimes faced not only with the problem of availability of finance but also with the difficulty they have, if it is only short term finance, of making the repayments and covering the interest. If this finance is spread over a long term it gives them the availability of finance so that they are able to plan ahead those things which are to their economic advantage on the land, to give them an opportunity to increase their production and at the same time to give them a return which will allow them sufficient time to make those repayments. In many instances people have borrowed money to extend their property or to increase their production. The repayments and the interest have caused them to lose the value that this additional production and area would normally give them. I view with a great deal of satisfaction that this scheme will be given further consideration by the Government and will ultimately come about
I think my colleague the honourable member for Maranoa spoke about the Oppo sition’s rural policy. Of course, it is extremely difficult to find out what that policy is because it changes almost every day. 1 do not think that even honourable members opposite know what their rural policy is. In the field of local government I hope that the Government will be able to see its way clear to match a grant that at the present stage is given to local government by the State governments. 1 am thinking particularly of NewSouth Wales. The New South Wales Government gives financial assistance to local government and I hope that the Federal Government will see its way clear to match that grant on a dollar for dollar basis. This would be of tremendous advantage to local government although a great deal of assistance has been given to it. This is one way in which the Federal Government could assist without necessarily having a great deal of control. I think we should give as much assistance as possible with a minimum amount of control.
I want to comment on something that the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) said. I did not take down the actual words he used but his theme was that people are becoming tired of being told what to do and what to read by this Government. I think that if the honourable member for Robertson were to go out into the cities and the byways he would find the exact opposite applying. He would find that in this country there are many people who are becoming concerned at what we might call our permissive society and that, although we do not want to have too much censorship, there is also the other side of the story, namely, that we can have too little. I believe that the time has come when we really have to look at this situation and ascertain what advantages have accrued by lifting some restrictions perhaps a little too much.
I think that we also should remind ourselves that a Budget is only one instrument of policy and that there are many instruments of policy of a Federal government - vitally important each and every one of them - for example, foreign policy, defence policy, industrial relations policy and policy on something that is rearing its ugly head in this country, namely, the climate of violence. I believe that the Opposition is using the phrase ‘It’s time’. Of course the theme of the phrase ‘It’s time’ is that because of the length of time this Government has occupied the treasury bench it is time for a change. One might ask the question: Change to what?’ I think that the people of Australia should really look at the answer to that question because if one decides to change one endeavours to change for something better.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
– A quorum?
– That is right.
– Whenever an honourable member says something sensible the honourable member for Sturt calls for a quorum. (Quorum formed.) I am really very satisfied because whenever the honourable member for Sturt or some other honourable member calls for a quorum it means that he does not like what is being said. It shows that what has been said by honourable members on this side of the House throughout today is basically true, namely, that unfortunately the Labor Party will not face up to its responsibility. The Labor Party tries to keep covering up this thing that has been facing it for the last 20 years. Until it faces up to this, it will remain in Opposition in this Parliament. It will remain in Opposition after the next election. I say to honourable members opposite that, with all their gallop polls, with all the indications that might have been put out and with all the criticism - in many instances unfair criticism - of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the members of the Australian public basically still have a common decency and do not want to see this country develop into the situation into which it has tended to develop in recent months. This is the very point which has been made this afternoon by some of my colleagues and which is being made by so many people. The silent majority, on the day when this country goes to the polls, will return this Government to power because the people are frightened of what might happen if the Opposition ever occupied the treasury bench. The editorial in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 24th August 1972 reads:
Mr Whitlam’s very emphasis on the Budget as a national cure-all is consistent with his strong centralist instincts and beliefs. . . .
Altogether this speech augured ill for the rational and responsible debate which we have a right to expect in the campaign ahead.
This, Sir, is so true. I want to emphasise the point that was made by 2 or 3 of my colleagues earlier this afternoon; that is, this tendency for violence to occur whenever something happens which a left wing union or a communist inspired union or group does not like or which appears to them to be something that will be a disadvantage to them in their desire to take control of and dominate those people over whom they desire to assert authority. We had quoted to us this afternoon something said by Mr Ducker to this man Ball, who is a communist. He literally pleaded with Ball to see that there was no violence. If I remember correctly, this is what was said by the man Ball to Mr Ducker: ‘You will have to take it as it falls, mate’. There are some members of the Opposition who do not want violence. There are some members of the Opposition who oppose it. But they must accept their share of responsibility because violence has reared its head. They cannot ignore it.
Let me take the minds of Opposition members back to what happened at the time of the tour by the South African rugby team. Whether we agree or disagree with apartheid or whether we agree or disagree that the tour should have taken place, the fact is that hooligans and ratbags threw crackers underneath the hooves or horses in an attempt to impose their will upon people who wanted to watch a football match. Recently there was a similar incident in the United States. I commend to honour, able members a book called ‘Capable of Honour’, written by Allen Drury. This book is something of which I think, in certain circumstances, some members of the Opposition should take note. Although it is a story, it was written by a journalist who has the thoughts of a journalist and is the type of person who can write such a story. He wrote something which shocks the imagination. Yet we heard about the incident which happened in the United States recently and involved the Republican Convention. In the United States there are people such as Jane Fonda and even the Democratic presidential candidate McGovern, both of whom are saying to Hanoi and to the North Vietnamese: ‘Hang on long enough and it will be all right because we will undermine the very things that are happening’.
– I raise a point of order. The honourable member for Lyne is the Deputy Speaker of the House and-
– Order! What is the point of order?
– My point of order is that the honourable member for Lyne has for the time being left the chair and you, Sir, have replaced him; so is it in order for an honourable member who acts as the Deputy Speaker, and who should at this time be presiding over this House, to make such a partisan and bitter attack on the Opposition?
-Order! There is no substance at all in the point of order. Before I ask the honourable member for Lyne to resume his speech I want to say to the honourable member for Grayndler that he has been in this House for very many years and he should know perfectly well that what he is doing is obstructing the business of the House. He is not raising a point of order at all. I call the honourable member for Lyne.
– I am rather surprised that the honourable member for Grayndler, who has in his mind and heart, I think, some of the traditions of the Labor Party, should try to do something like this. I should now like to quote some words which appeared in a Canberra church magazine. They were written by the Very Reverend Hector Harrison. He wrote:
Now that, with few exceptions, all our Forces have returned from Vietnam, the police are, as always, the ones, who in our own country, run the risk of suffering casualties, even to the sacrifice of their lives. In Canberra, where there are so many demonstrations, they have to deal, not only with decent protesters, but with male and female hooligans who join in whenever and wherever there is the slightest hint of revolt. The police are called upon to enforce the law and in doing so they often meet with determined resistance. In the news ‘police brutality’ is often mentioned but rarely, if ever, is there any mention of ‘mob brutality’. The wonder to me is that policemen are as tolerant as they are, for mobs so often try and goad them to stern measures beyond what is necessary.
The Australian public, Christians especially, should realise that the police force is an integral and valuable element in the life of the nation. Very often those who are quick to criticise are quick also to call ‘Send for the police’ when they are in trouble.
The Armed Forces - Here again there has been revolt against the Government’s attempt to keep the armed forces up to full strength by supple mentary national service. The Church has a duty to stand by conscientious objectors but those who defy the law for any other reason should not complain if they have to pay the penalty of their defiance. The choice is to leave Australia defenceless or to train men for its defence.
Those are the words not of a man caught up closely in political life as we are are but of a man who has fought and served his country both in peace and in war. I believe that he has expressed the type of thinking we should be putting forward today. That is why we on this side of the House have been pointing out the danger of the communist infiltration of unions and stressing the influence and essence of that danger.
The Labor Party has the catchcry of ‘It is time’. Let me say again that it is time for many members of the Labor Party to search their own hearts. They must stop evading the issues, closing their eyes and saying that the very things that happened in Sydney only last week do not happen. Unless this country wakes up to its responsibilities these things will continue to happen. It is time that the Australian people realised that, as 1 am sure they will. On the day of the election the silent majority who believe in the progress and future of this country will return this Government to continue the policies in defence and economic matters that it has followed in the past 23 years.
– We have just heard from the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) another tirade of abuse of the Labor Party. He has continued the policy of the Liberal-Country Party Government over the last 23 years, using scare tactics as a weapon against the Labor Party. But I am afraid that it is too late. The Australian people irrespective of what the Government does, will make their decision within a few months and I am positive that the Government will be tossed out of office. I wish first in dealing with the Budget to turn to the pension increases. We do not oppose them but we feel that they do not go far enough for pensioners who rely wholly and solely on inadequate pensions. When Labor comes to power we will raise pensions to a level which will allow pensioners to enjoy a decent standard of living.
It is true that the Government plans to abolish the means test. We have advocated that move since 1954 but numbers of
Liberal-Country Party governments have decried the suggestion year after year, election after election. They have said that it could not be done. Now, because of the influence of the gallup polls which show a trend against the Government, Government supporters are feeling the hot breath of the Labor Party down the back of their necks and they can suddenly find that it is possible to follow our suggestion. We certainly do not oppose the move and I assume that we will give the legislation enacting the social service improvements a swift passage through the House. In that way pensioners can soon receive the full benefits to which they are entitled.
Improvements are made in the area of supplementary assistance for pensioners who are paying rent, but pensioners who own their own homes and have no income but their pensions have great difficulty in paying council rates. The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) referred to this difficulty. I am a little disappointed that recognition has not been given to this problem. Pensioners have told me of the problems they face in paying rates. Some local government bodies do give assistance. Submissions have been made to the Federal Government to grant assistance to pensioners to pay their rates but unfortunately no such assistance has been provided for in the Budget.
In this debate various references have been made to the days of the Chifley and Curtin governments and to the child endowment paid before the Chifley Government was defeated. In purchasing power the child endowment then paid would be worth much more than it is today. In 1949 the Menzies Government promised child endowment for the first child. That factor helped to defeat the Chifley Government but since that time Liberal and Country Party governments have not given the same consideration to people receiving child endowment. It certainly has not retained its purchasing power.
The social service provisions of the Budget will certainly not assist a great deal the people who are living purely and simply on their pensions. We will need to correct that situation when we become the Government after October or November. The Budget is certainly aimed at some key middle class electorates in the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, as was claimed by the Leader of the Opposition. The people in those areas seem to be receiving the benefit of the Government’s generosity while many lower paid workers and less fortunate members of society are being ignored.
I wish to refer once again to the taxation provisions of the Budget. Many grandiose . statements appeared in the Press about how in this Budget there are taxation benefits for everybody. The average back bencher in this Parliament will receive about an extra $16 a month as a result of the tax cuts, but the lower paid workers will certainly not get . very much out of the Budget. On the night that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) presented the Budget he handed out a document giving examples of the tax benefits. It showed that a man receiving $67 a week, with no dependants, will pay $1.09’ a week less in taxation. Many people in my electorate - semi-skilled and unskilled workers - receive a great deal less than $67 a week. A taxpayer receiving $67 a week who has a dependent wife and 2 dependent children will pay $1.21 less a week in -taxation. A similar taxpayer with a dependent wife and 4 dependent children will pay $1.29 a week less. The document also instances the worker on the average national wage of $98 a week. More than 65 per cent of workers do not receive that amount. A man receiving $98 a week who has no dependants will pay $2.14 less a week in taxation. A worker on that wage who has a dependent wife and 2 dependent children will pay $2.75 a week less in taxation. A worker receiving $98 a week who has a dependent wife and 4 dependent children will pay $3.09 less a week in taxation.
Where is the generosity of the Government to be found in those figures? I could give many other examples but I have given an illustration of the effect of the tax cuts on the 2 most important classes, a worker on the average national wage and a semiskilled worker or somebody of about that classification.
The only conclusion we can reach after studying the document issued by the Treasurer is that the Budget is designed for the middle and upper class income earners. The examples I have given show what is in the Budget for the lower paid worker. He misses out not only on child endowment increases to assist him in maintaining his wife and family at a decent standard but also on taxation remissions. The Treasurer provided a lot of percentage calculations to serve as a smoke screen for the real figures.
I turn now to deal with health matters which should be considered by the Government. The first matter was raised by me with the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) a few months ago. It concerns hush hospitals at which there is no doctor. There are no permanent doctors stationed at a number of hospitals in my electorate, and anyone seeking medical treatment must rely on the services given by a fully qualified nurse. These are services which, h* one lived in a city or a town where there are doctors, would normally be provided by a doctor who would issue his patient with a prescription and the patient would be able to claim and recoup his expenses from his medical insurance fund. But because there are not permanent doctors at these hospitals, the people seeking medical services are treated as outpatients. They can claim as often as they like from their medical insurance funds but they will get nothing back. This happens in the 2 opal mining towns of Coober Pedy and Andamooka in my electorate. These people subscribe to a medical fund but unfortunately they receive nothing back from it unless they can visit the flying doctor on his regular fortnightly or 3-weekly calls. There are also throughout my electorate many small community base hospitals that are caring for pensioners and which now receive from the Federal Government $5 a day to cover the costs incurred in caring for these pensioners. Many of these hospitals are in grave financial difficulties. According to the last figures which I saw, it costs Si 6 to $20 a day to keep the pensioners in these hospitals but there has been no increase in the amount of $5 a day which is paid by the Government to bush hospitals.
I should like to say a few words on the question of transport. I suppose that on this question, my electorate possibly did come out the best from the Budget in that the Government, after a lot of prodding and submissions by the State Government of South Australia, has agreed to provide $2.5m to the South Australian Government to allow it to complete the sealing of the Eyre Highway to the Western Australian border over a period of 4 years. This is certainly welcome and we hope that the provision of these funds will enable the job to be expedited. However, this finance is long overdue and its provision shows a change of attitude on the part of the Federal Government which, in the past, has thrown the whole responsibility for the sealing of this highway on to the South Australian Government. I would also hope that, in the survey of our national road systems, the Stuart Highway will receive a fair amount of attention as it is important not only to the lower part of South Australia but also to the Northern Territory. The South Australian Government has been doing its bit in that it is sealing sections of the Stuart Highway but I do not think that the South Australian Government can do the job alone. If it did, it would take quite a considerable amount of time. I could mention the question of subsidies on shipbuilding and the proposed imposition of excise on liquid petroleum gas and other gases used for fuel but I know that these matters will be discussed at a later date in the debate on the Estimates.
One other very important point for which the Government stands condemned is the unemployment problem in Australia today. The Opposition knows that the current level of unemployment is a direct result of the last 2 Budgets and we do not believe that the measures the Government proposes to take in this Budget will greatly reduce unemployment. We are at a stage where there is no growth in employment opportunities and we can look forward only to the unemployment figures at the very best remaining where they are. They may even get worse. The Australian Labor Party certainly hopes that the unemployment situation does not worsen but 1 am afraid that the moves which the Government has made are a little late. All that the Opposition hopes for from the Budget is that it does reduce unemployment. Unemployment has had a serious effect in South Australia. In any turn down in the Australian economy, South Australia in usually the first State to be hit because it relies in the main on its consumer durable industries. As soon as there is a slackening off or a turn down in the economy, the goods that South Australia produces are first hit. This has been the effect in South Australia. The Dunstan Government has recognised the problem of the State’s complete reliance on consumer durable industries and has made every effort to try to broaden the industrial base of that State so that, in any period such as we are now going through, there will be other industries with a broad base that can cushion the effect in South Australia. Unfortunately, we also find that it is in these industries where the greatest number of migrants are employed and when there is unemployment in these industries and a slackening off in employment opportunities, it is the migrants who are the first hit.
I should like to refer to another matter which did not receive much mention in the Budget - in fact, I do not think it was mentioned at all - and that is the question of decentralisation. There is no doubt that at present, with the growth of our major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne and with the difficulty experienced by these cities in providing services for their increasing populations, decentralisation or the setting up of regional centres becomes of great importance. Unfortunately, this matter has not received a great deal of attention in the Budget and the Opposition feels that the Government stands to be condemned for this omission. Perhaps I could refer again to the pre- 1949 years, when the Chifley Government did plan for decentralisation in Australia. We had an example of this in South Australia in the setting up of an industry at Wallaroo. However, unfortunately in later years, because of certain factors, this industry had to be closed. In his 1949 policy speech, Sir Robert Menzies promised the following: . . a positive decentralised national programme of rural production, to be carried out cooperatively with the States and with regional and local authorities.
However, this undertaking remains unhonoured. In 1964 when Sir John McEwen was Acting Prime Minister of Australia, it was agreed to establish a conference of State and Commonwealth officers and a committee on decentralisation was set up. I understand that this committee has met on only 3 or 4 occasions and, up to date, we have seen no tangible results of its formation.
It is obvious that the whole question of decentralisation has been left completely in the hands of the States. Of course, some of the States are trying to overcome the problem while others are doing absolutely nothing about it. Perhaps I could refer again to South Australia because the South Australian Government is trying to set up areas outside the Adelaide metropolitan area. South Australia did set up the city of Elizabeth, about 17 miles from Adelaide. This was carried out by the benevolent dictator, Sir Thomas Playford, but, as Elizabeth is only 17 miles from Adelaide, I do not know whether it can be called decentralisation. However it was an effort to move people away from the heart of the city. South Australia has gone a long way in trying to provide an incentive for industries to move away from the major city of Adelaide. Perhaps I could summarise some of the assistance which the South Australian Government gives to industries which are interested in moving to country areas. What assistance the Government does give, it is prepared to provide anywhere in the State. The Government has established an industries assistance corporation which is prepared to assist with finance. It is prepared to back loans up to 100 per cent, lt is prepared to back loans for people who want to purchase land and buildings, for plant and machinery and for research, development and expansion. The South Australian Government is prepared, through the South Australian Housing Trust, to provide houses for employees in areas where these industries are set up and it has built a number of houses in country areas. The figures for areas such as Port Pirie, Whyalla and Port Augusta would show that the number of houses owned by the South Australian Housing Trust in those areas is considerable.
The South Australian Government, by paying subsidies, has made country freight rates uniform with those applying in the metropolitan area. The tariff for electric power in country areas is also uniform with that applying in the metropolitan area. The South Australian Government is prepared to assist in the provision of design and aid and also in the purchase of premises. The South Australian Government has attempted to do all these things. Decentralisation is one of the main points in the platform of the Australian Labor Party. At the conference that was held in
Launceston last year a definite policy was laid down to encourage industries to move away from the capital cities and to achieve regional development. It was resolved at Launceston that: a Labor government would establish a Department of Housing, Urban Affairs and Regional Development with responsibilities which would include:
As I say, I think it can be expected that a Labor government will be elected at the next general election irrespective of what is said on the Government side of the House. I hope that as soon as we win government we will set up that ministry and will be able to move into an area that has been completely ignored, namely, regional development, and take the weight off our large cities where land is at a prohibitive price and where services cannot be provided. The outskirts of all our major cities are unsewered. The only way we can do this is by establishing regional areas to take the weight off our cities and provide a decent life and good living standards for the Australian people.
– 1 give my approval to the Budget that has been presented and reject out of hand the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I think that it is an effective and a well proportioned Budget. It is responsible, and helpful to all sections of the community. It is helpful and beneficial in its social services and in the many welfare increases given right across the board. It will assist industry and employment, lt will assist industry because of the confidence engendered by the Government in taxation reduction and by making available more funds to the States which, in turn, will increase activity in industry and employment. Those payments are increased by S395m to a total of
S3,449m. The Budget will assist industry by the extra assistance given to the housing industry and to those proposing to build.
These factors, and many others which time does not allow me to elaborate upon, will also assist employment because confidence is essential to industry to enable it to provide employment. One other factor that assists the economic position is that our exports are up by 13 per cent. That is also welcome and assists the general economy. When we look at the taxation position it is worth stating again that the minimum taxable income is increased from $417 to $1,041. This will exempt 600,000 taxpayers. It is no mean feat to be able to give such assistance. The dependants allowance has been increased by $52 per dependant and personal income tax has been reduced by an average of 10 per cent. We recall that in April last there was a taxation reduction of 2i per cent also.
This Budget completely stunned members of the Opposition and they have not recovered yet. As a consequence, they have made irresponsible statements, many of them far removed from the Budget. If they say to me that these statements are not irresponsible, we can accept the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that he wishes to appreciate the dollar as being responsible. We can accept that as Labor policy. It is either irresponsible or responsible and if we accept it as responsible we know such an appreciation will decrease export income to rural and secondary industries, cause unemployment and make our exports uncompetitive in many markets.
– Where do you stand?
– I stand against any appreciation of the dollar. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has declared himself on this issue. But let the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) and other members of the Opposition declare themselves. If they do we will know whether they are in favour of more unemployment because that will be the effect of appreciating the dollar. There can be no confidence in the Leader of the Opposition. Of course, leaders come into the question of an election very much in these days. I have no confidence in him because of the divisions that he has created in the Party he professes to lead. We have the division on the dollar appreciation which I have just mentioned. We had the division on immigration. He sacked the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) as shadow Minister for Immigration. He would sooner support the extreme policy outlined by the South Australian Premier. We notice that the honourable member for Grayndler, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) and some of the other members of the Party do not agree with him, but they have to remain silent. AH but the right honourable member for Melbourne seem to swallow their convictions and say nothing about this matter. They just accept his views. He creates division on industrial matters. He and his colleague have had to accept dictation from the Labor Executive. Apparently they would like to forget the statement made by Mr Haylen who was the honourable member for Parkes in 1949. Since the honourable member for Grayndler has quoted from 1949 let me give a 1949 quotation from Mr Haylen when he gave Labor’s approach to unemployment. He said:
So long as it is no more than 3 per cent it is to all intents and purposes full employment.
That is in Hansard.
– Who said that?
- Mr Haylen, a leading Labor member in 1949. Honourable members may see it in Hansard. I repeat that he said that so long as unemployment did not exceed 5 per cent it was to all intents and purposes full employment. What a wonderful record the Government has when compared to the approach of a leading Labor member at that time. I want honourable members to hear this also: The Leader of the Opposition has had to forsake principle for expediency. Despite his earlier opposition to communism and extreme leftism he finds it easier to run with the crown that dictates to him. He has created division on moral matters and permissiveness. I agree 100 per cent with the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) in regard to the comments he made on that matter. I know that all honourable members do not agree with the Leader of the Opposition but there is a division in the Labor Party and he is not the leader to get the unity that results from confidence in the leader of a great party.
– I am beginning to think you do not like him.
– I am stating facts about him. If we cannot have confidence in him as prospective Prime Minister, the nation should never think of electing him to that position because confidence, honesty and integrity are the essentials which are necessary in the leader of a country. It was very interesting to hear the honourable member for Grayndler advert to the year 1949. It is a wonder that he did so. Apparently he forgot Labor’s insistence on nationalising the finance system of Australia plus its determination to retain war time controls as late as 1949. Labor refused to lift the controls on petrol rationing. The banking issue and petrol rationing were 2 of the main factors that lost Labor that election. We promised that control of petrol would be removed and within 7 weeks of the Liberal-Country Party Government being elected the controls were removed from petrol and they have not applied since.
– Except in South Australia more recently, with a Labor government.
– Is that so? I do not want to take the prerogative of the very worthy Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) but I do want to say a few words about defence. I believe in the necessity adequately to defend this country. The Opposition’s attitude to the defence of this country is absolutely void of responsibility. To all intents and purposes, honourable members opposite would leave our country isolated and defenceless. They intend to neglect or dissociate us from our allies, friends and treaties. They intend to reduce our Army from 9 battalions to 5- from 41,000 to 29,000 men. This is what their spokesmen say. How can we effectively defend this country with 29,000 men? No doubt the Opposition will dispense with or sack all those experts who are available for training men in excess of those required in the 5 battalions. The Opposition will sack those experts and create more unemployment.
I presume that the Opposition - and I ask honourable members opposite to listen to this because I challenge them to refute lt - will release those men now on reserve who were called up under the national service scheme, because to be consistent, if the Opposition will not maintain the national service scheme in order to get the required number of men for the Army, it cannot have men under obligation on reserve. So that means that we get back to the volunteer only. It will be a matter of leaving it to the poor volunteer so that honourable members opposite can sit back in their affluent jobs and say: ‘Let the other fellow look after our country’. That shows their love of this country. They have no love for it.
– You have such a love for the country that you have to conscript people.
– I believe that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and I go all the way with that. I love my country and I offered to defend it when the war was on.
I turn now to rural finance. Every business required capital to enable a continuation of activities, and the business of rural activity is no exception to the rule. Because of seasonal circumstances, producers require capital to carry on in time of adversity and for development. Various forms of assistance have been provided by lending authorities, by banks and by the Government. I want to deal particularly with this Government’s activities which I think have been very widespread. The Government has been fairly generous, but it has not met the position to the full. This Government has provided financial assistance, under the very generous war service land settlement scheme to those who were eligible to receive assistance under that scheme. Finance has been guaranteed by the Government under approved stabilisation schemes which have been implemented from time to time. A Rural Credits Department has been created, and advances have been made to commodity boards for first advances and interim payments as required. By meeting the amounts of the guarantees provided under various Acts this Government has assisted many industries.
In addition, term loans have been arranged through the banking system in which the weighted average of the term is 7 to 8 years, but most rural loans are for shorter periods than that, and that is not a satisfactory financial system. The Commonwealth Development Bank was created with a special limited charter which required that the finance provided by the Bank had to be used for developmental purposes. Advances are not always available from the Development Bank when producers, because of necessitous circumstances or to meet altered requirements, have to invest in machinery and equipment such as refrigerated milk vats in the dairying industry or irrigation plants to make their present land holdings more productive. That does not come within the category of development and many producers have been refused assistance in those circumstances.
An allocation of Si 00m has been made for rural reconstruction. The term implies reconstruction of properties which have been adversely affected by drought and other circumstances. The advances made in Queensland, in many cases, do not meet my concept of reconstruction or need. Applications are determined on the security offered, and even though a property is viable, need is forgotten. This merely allows banks and other lending institutions off the hook of their responsibility. Over recent years the Commonwealth Government also has assisted generously by providing grants and loans to overcome drought and to meet other urgent circumstances. These are the ways in which assistance has been given.
Therefore, noting that there is still a need to meet the position of the rural producers of this country, I am glad to see included in the Budget the provision of $20m for long term lending to the rural community. There is a need to make long term loans available to farmers, because the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has reported that farmers’ indebtedness has increased by 7 per cent annually since 1945. So their commitments have increased gradually, and we have to meet that need. There is a need for greater flexibility to improve the evolving trends in rural adjustment which is necessary in order to ensure that rural production is tailored to meet rural market opportunities both on the export and domestic markets. This is especially so as we can see possible market changes taking place because of Britain’s entry into the Common Market.
If, as some people have suggested, the Development Bank is to be used as the medium for the use of the $20m provided in this Budget, then the whole charter of the Bank must be widened, liberalised and made more flexible. The charter in the present Act is too limited. But I strongly prefer that there be established a national rural bank which would use effectively the $20m to be provided. Such a bank could also attract other funds for its use. In this way the scope of the bank’s activities would be considerably widened. I wish to quote a leading article in a responsible newspaper, the “Gympie Times’. It states:
Existing banking institutions and pastoral firms have strained their resources to help financially the man on the land but they could not give the same assistance and security as could a national institution specially designed to provide long-term low-interest credit to those engaged in rural pursuits, including local district farmers, graziers and agriculturists.
That newspaper gives its full approval of this proposal. The economy of this country would be greatly strengthened by the creation of such a bank, because rural industries are still vital factors in the Australian economy. That is the basis of my approach to the question of rural finance. I hope that there will be no undue delay in the establishment of the necessary medium to make these and other funds that can be accumulated available to the rural producers of Australia. I strongly support the Budget.
– As a layman attempting to follow the arguments about the Budget, I find certain illogicalities which seem to me to be glossed over by the experts. At the beginning of his speech the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) observed that the international monetary crisis last year led to capital expenditure cutbacks in the mining and other industries. Then he said:
These uncertainties were reinforced domestically by the continuing upsurge of wage pressures.
We have heard often the implication that the workers are the cause of all ones troubles, that all troubles are due to their demands for higher wages. The Treasurer indicated that, together with this wage pressure, there had also been an apparently welcome increase of about 13 per cent in the public sector of spending, a 13 per cent increase in exports and a 6 per cent increase in housing construction. But these encouraging factors were not enough to offset the weakening in consumer spending and business investment.
The Treasurer claimed that the failure to spend was due to people who did not have money not borrowing to spend on goods and to those who had some spare money banking it rather than spending it. In addition, according to the Treasurer, the increasing bite of the progressive personal income tax scale has combined with rising prices to restrict severely growth in the real purchasing power of take home pay’. The Treasurer said that this unwillingness - in my view, inability- of people to spend ‘has been basic to the economy’s lack of punch’ - a lovely word! But the Treasurer cannot have it both ways. If the wage rises were unjustified and, to compensate for irresponsible action by the unions and the arbitration tribunal, prices were increased to cover this extravagance, surely after the prices rose the situation should have been restored to what it was before. But the Treasurer himself has admitted that this is not the case. He has conceded that the total effect has been ‘to restrict severely growth in the real purchasing power of take home pay’. That is a euphemistic way of saying that the wage earner in fact gets less and the Government gets more whilst the business community gets at least as much as it used to get before the rise. What else could the Treasurer’s words mean? Could it be that he does not know what he is talking about?
The result, of course, was a sharp rise in unemployment, so that the total purchasing power of those still in employment was nowhere near enough to purchase the goods available. That is what the Treasurer meant by a ‘slackness in consumer spending’. To try to balance this and restore the total purchasing power of the community so that it can increase its spending and so restore ‘punch’ to the economy, the Government pays out unemployment benefits from its increased taxation revenue. In addition, it increases its handout - as a condescending gesture of charity rather than a recognition of a right - to pensioners and its grants to the State governments for the emergency employment of the unemployed in a few crucial areas. The purpose is to restore the total purchasing power of the community. But what an indignity this imposes upon the pensioners, the unemployed and others who receive insufficient for their real needs and who have to accept money gratefully as a charity rather than as their just right. And what of the morality of a system which, for its survival, depends upon crises like this?
Is such inhumanity really necessary? Should we not ask whether this system is necessary? Should we not change it? But wait! Barely 3 or 4 paragraphs later in his Budget Speech the Treasurer changed his tune and informed us that the consumer price index had risen at an average annual rate of 5 per cent over the last 3 years whilst the earnings rose on average by 10 per cent annually. If that is so, why the disastrous effect on the real purchasing power of take home pay that was mentioned before? If the workers in fact have more money, why the slackness in consumer spending? Just how equitable has been the distribution of the earnings rise? Has it gone evenly to all income levels or mainly to the rich? Has there not really been a redistribution of more to the higher income salary earners who can afford to save some as they do not need to spend it all on living expenses and who bank their savings, thus accounting for the rise in savings? At the same time has there not been a real reduction to the many low income earners who spend all they get and who still do not have enough on which to live as well as they did before, let alone buy all the beautiful goods that are available, thus leading to the slackness in consumer spending observed by the Treasurer, despite his claim now that earnings have risen by 10 per cent annually?
But wait, dear friends - the Treasurer has more to tell. In the very next paragraph of his Budget Speech he informed us that the consumer price index had increased by 7 per cent in the year 1971. Did he have to tell us that when we have all noticed how much less we can buy for our money? So far, to June of this year, the index has continued to rise at 6.1 per cent per annum, which is not news to any of us. When one adds to those increases the automatic increase in taxation mentioned by the Treasurer, one can understand the ‘slackness*.
I come now to the section of the Treasurer’s Budget Speech headed ‘Philosophy and Objectives’. The Treasurer said that public sector spending has run ahead very fast with private sector spending lagging. Since private spending was lagging it was a deliberate policy of the Government to encourage spending in the public sector in an attempt to restore ‘punch’ to the economy. That is good socialist technique. Beware, the Treasurer warned, important as public expenditure might be it costs us money in the form of taxes. But I thought the Treasurer had said that, with the criminal increases in wages, there were automatic increases - innocent, unexpected increases - in taxation revenue for the Government. What is the Government expected to do with this windfall - sit on it? Now comes the real cry from the heart. An added burden of increased public expenditure, warns the Treasurer, is that the private sector as a whole finds its room for growth constrained. Aye. There’s the rub! The private sector fails the community by being unwilling to spend when the welfare of the community is at stake. As the only way out, the Liberal-Country Party Government is forced to adopt the socially responsible techniques of the Australian Labor Party and increase Government spending in the public sector. This then limits the possibilities for the private sector, which means less profits for the boys - the supporters of the Liberal Party. It also means that more responsibility is taken by the Federal Government, as has been suggested by honourable members on this side of the House for ages. How sad for the Treasurer!
But enough of this. Skimming through the pages of handouts for this, that and the other, which can be better discussed in the debate on the Estimates, let me pause at the heading ‘Industrial Training’. As is the case with many of the Budget suggestions, there is no firm philosophical basis for the elaboration of policy on this matter. Clearly the Liberal view is to leave the real responsibility for industrial training in the hands of industry. That means nothing of a comprehensive nature will be done. In a paper given recently to the Industrial Relations Society of South Australia the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) indicated the policy of the Labor Party in the following terms:
It is the responsibility of society to ensure that there is adequate notice of changes -
That is, changes due, for example, to technological advances - that there is, where, possible, absorption of employees affected so that losses to them may be minimised and that there is proper and adequate planning for retraining of employees who become redundant.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh went on to discuss the responsibilities of the Commonwealth Employment Service to provide the facilities for retraining and gave a clear indication of the reason why the Liberal approach is inadequate and why ‘it is not good enough to say that training and retraining is the sole responsibility of industry and not the concern of Government’. Ironically the reason is one which should have been apparent to the LiberalCountry Party Government. He said: ‘It is unreal to expect one employer to meet the cost of training labour for his competitor’s workshop’. The Liberal Party approach, as outlined in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech, is short-sighted, inadequate and has no philosophy of basie rights or justice either for individuals or industries.
The next point that comes to notice in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech is the reference to assistance with fares. This proposal is hopelessly inadequate and a farce. What more can one say about it. The next topic that catches my eye as warranting some comment is external aid. With some pride the Treasurer indicated that external aid will amount to about $220m or 0.56 per cent of our gross national product. This places Australia fourth among the advanced nations of the world. Laudible as that might seem it is hopelessly inadequate in terms of the needs of the underdeveloped nations. As is often the case with this Government, gesture^ like this are more an insult than a help. Added to that is the view that we are doing something to help them, the depressed of the world and that they should be grateful. The fundamental reality is not that we are helping them but that we are helping ourselves to avert a tragic crisis, a crisis which would flow across national boundaries and affect the whole world. Any aid we give is not for their sakes, it is for our own sake and for the future safety of our children. If we and all the advanced countries continue in this crude, insensitive way to provide inadequate aid we will sink with the underprivileged. We are all on the same spaceship and all dependent on the same basic resources.
– What do you do about Uganda?
– I quite agree about the problem there. We are in need of control of the degradation of those resources. There is no way in which we can insulate ourselves from their disaster. We can only help prevent disaster from overcoming us all. Looking through the Budget a bit further we come to social welfare, and the first item dealt with specifically is education. There is a lot of talk about extra millions of dollars here, there and everywhere. lt seems a lot but if we add it all up it amounts to an increase of about $172m. But let us be generous and say that the Government will increase its spending on education by about $200m in the coming year. Some years ago, in about 1969 or 1970, the State Ministers for Education submitted a report in which they estimated that there would be a shortfall of funds amounting to about $ 1,440m in the 5 years from 1970. In other words they felt that in that time they needed an extra $300m a year. This year we are promising for the first time something approaching $200m, but this is still $100m short of the need indicated by those Ministers for Education.
In real terms and in comparison with countries of standing similar to our own we should be spending about 1 per cent more of our gross national product on education - that is, a bit over $300m a year - and it should come from the Federal Government. That is a minor point really - although I know it is important if we have not got enough school rooms or teachers - compared with a far more serious crisis facing the whole community. I refer to a crisis in education itself. What is education? It seems that the Government has not heard of that question. There are articles about it in the newspapers every day. In one of today’s newspapers our education system is described as obsolete and there is a discussion about the futility of many of the schools today, the point being made that the way in which most schools are organised prevents effective learning. What is education about? What are we educating people for? We remain preoccupied with the need to provide technological skills, to train people to be doctors like myself so that they know how to cut a belly open, but our education system still leaves us as ignoramuses in terms of the real meaning of the word ‘education’. Meet a collection of lawyers and you have met a group of the most ignorant people in the community, although they may well be skilled in the law.
Education is something far more than providing what we teach in our schools today. Even school children are beginning to recognise that, but it seems as though we in this Parliament are unaware of it. School children are aware of the fact that even with all the increased technological skills they are given they are finding it increasingly difficult to find and maintain a place in the world. They need an education in the broader sense to enable them better to cope with the stresses which will inevitably confront them. In any case we need to start asking ourselves: Development, education, greater skills - what for? It seems that the philosophy driving us on forever is: ‘Produce, produce, produce’. It seems that our purpose in living is to work. It should be that we work in order to live - a quite different emphasis.
Leaving education we come next in the Budget Speech to health. I will skip housing; I will leave that subject to the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). Once again there has been a long discussion of the way in which we will cope with, if you like, the derelicits, the failures of medical care. There has been a long discussion about what we should do to help the elderly, their hospitalisation, nursing home treatment and home nursing care. We are failing to recognise that at the moment medical practice in this country is not coping with the medical needs of the elderly. All we are really seeking is to find places where we can dump the elderly out of sight and out of mind so that they can languish and die and not pester the rest of us. What is really necessary is a new comprehensive approach to the whole health scheme.
I do not know how many honourable members on the Government side have read this publication which I have here. They probably saw my name in it as one of the Australian Medical Association study group on medical planning and decided that it was a communist publication. It is not. The Australian Medical Association put the publication out. There is a very good dissertation in it on the Australian Labor Party’s policy - not that the study group knew that is what it was doing when it wrote that part of the publication, mind you. It discusses scientifically the needs of general practice in this country and comes to the conclusion which the Labor Party has already accepted, that the way medical practice would best develop in this country would be to encourage the establishment of health centres. With their integration into the public hospital teaching complex we could improve the standard of medical care. We could improve also the education of medical practitioners who have already graduated and we could improve the training of medical students.
There is a supplement of the Medical Journal of Australia which discusses education of medical students and which comes to the same sort of conclusions and recommendations in relation to the place of these health centres in educating medical students to understand the problems of general practice. The sad reality is that medical students until very recent years,’ and in some universities still, are not taught anything about general practice. They are taught specialised medical practice. Those dwindling numbers who choose to go out into general practice have to learn by their mistakes in general practice. They are not educated for it. All the proposals which are made in the publication seek to overcome this and at the same time dramatically increase the efficiency of the hospital and medical services and overcome the problem of inadequate care for the elderly so that there would be less need to find nursing home beds in which to sequester them and get out of the way. These people might even be restored to more active participation in the community and in their families.
Finally we come to social services. Again there is a complete lack of philosophical understanding of the needs of people in the approach of the Liberal-Country Party Government to this problem. There is no suggestion of tying pension payments to automatic increases in, say, the average weekly earnings, which is what the Labor Party has proposed. For how much longer will we have to observe the spectacle year after year of pensioners making their annual pilgrimage to the Parliament of Australia to beg for a handout from the Federal Government, hoping that there will be a bit more for them in the Budget? They should never have to do that because they should know automatically that they will get increases as average weekly earnings go up. It is only with an understanding of the basic needs of people as human beings that any government can come up with a far more wholesome approach to the problems of this society and get away from the stop-gap inhuman solutions which the LiberalCountry Parry Government forever seems to offer us.
– I was a little disappointed in the speech made by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) tonight because he has a reputation of usually saying something outrageous. When he does not one feels a little disappointed. I admire his sincerity and courage in saying the things he does say in this House. This is a commendable quality in any character. The Budget which was presented this year by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has been overwhelmingly received by the Press and public alike as an excellent one, and rightly so. However, it is easy when we think of the 10 per cent tax cuts, the increase in pensions, the widening of the means test and help for housing and education benefits, all of which mean so much to so many people, perhaps to forget the wider aspects. It has become a custom in an election year to expect an election winning Budget from the encumbent Government. If there was ever an election winning Budget, this surely must be one. I think that the comment of the Melbourne Sun’ summed up the situation accurately when it said that this Budget steered an intelligent course between generosity and responsibility. This Budget is a responsible Budget because it aims to remedy certain sluggish conditions which have crept into the economy in recent months. In short, its overall effect will be to increase the buying capacity of Australians, which in turn will boost production and cut unemployment. This is the right kind of Budget for this time.
I could not help but feel that the most momentous announcement was that the means test would be widened considerably, that it would be abolished within 3 years and that a committee of inquiry would be set up to examine ways and means of responsibly financing a national superannuation scheme. I think that all Australians are sick and tired of the continual doling out of $1, $1.50 or $2 to pensioners to improve their lot or to keep them abreast of the cost of living. Less affluent countries than Australia have workable national superannuation schemes. If they can do it, so can we. I believe that we should have a situation where all contribute during their working lives and where all benefit as of right and not as of charity in their retirement. While the means tests remains, even in its wider form, inequality and injustice will always occur at the cut-off point. The announcement about the means test is a welcome one. I believe that the Government is wise to set up an inquiry into a national superannuation scheme rather than to rush headlong in and institute a scheme.
I was also gratified at the reduction of 10 per cent in personal income tax on lower and middle incomes. Not only will this stimulate consumer demand; it will be of great assistance to the family man who is endeavouring to pay off a home and provide for all the needs of a growing family. As the Treasurer pointed out, 57 per cent of the reduction will go to people with an income under $4,800 per annum, 75 per cent will go to those with an income under $6,480 per annum and 85 per cent will go to those with an income under $8,000 per annum. It is obvious from these figures that those most in need of extra funds for consumer spending will benefit most; yet the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), in search of a criticism, has called this a rich man’s Budget. Surely he is not serious in classing anyone earning $4,800 per annum or $90 a week as rich. If he is, I think all those earning $90 a week or more should beware of a Labor government, because it is obvious where the added taxation will fall to finance the pie in the sky which the Labor Party is already promising if it becomes the government this year.
I was pleased to note that the Government planned to keep the immigration quota at 140,000 migrants for the coming year. The rate at which Australia has absorbed new settlers has undoubtedly placed considerable strain on our economy in the field of housing, education, hospitals and all the other various facilities which a rapidly growing community requires. It would be easy for a government which was looking for short term remedies to cut down on migration and hope to ease the strain in this way. But the Government has taken a more far sighted view and has not chosen to do so. I do not believe that Australia has any moral right - nor will it be allowed by future generations - to occupy this vast continent with a small population. Australia’s migration policy has aimed at maintaining a homogeneous population to avoid the racial problems which are so apparent, and so explosive, in certain other countries, yet at the same time we have allowed into our country, approximately 9,000 non-Europeans per annum, a figure which it is felt Australia can readily absorb without undue strain. The Government’s positive approach to migration contrasts strongly with that of the Opposition - that is, if one can ascertain just what the policy of the Labor Party is in this regard. Whereas the Leader of the Opposition has been most guarded and vague concerning Labor’s policy on immigration, it must be remembered that he replaced his shadow Minister for Immigration, who is at present sitting at the table on the Opposition side, when he was expounding policies similar to the policy of the Government and that the Labor Premier of South Australia has made a call virtually to open the flood gates to non-European migration.
Australia has always played a forward role in aid to underdeveloped countries, and it was pleasing to note that aid in the coming year will be increased by 10 per cent to $220m. Australia ranks third, in terms of aid as a percentage of gross national product, and not fourth as was said by the honourable member for Maribyrnong, in the list of donor nations. The front runner, France, gives 0.65 per cent of its gross national product, the Netherlands 0.63 per cent of its gross national product, and Australia, the third country, 0.59 per cent of its gross national product. Such relatively wealthy countries as Canada and Japan give only 0.43 per cent and 0.23 per cent respectively of their gross national product. Unlike many other nations our aid to underdeveloped countries takes the form of grants rather than loans; so Australia does not add to the interest bill of developing nations. Much of our aid. of course, goes towards the development of Papua New Guinea, an effort of which we can be justly proud.
The decision to match expenditure by the States on a SI for SI basis for the development of tourist activities is a sound one. Situated at a great distance from Europe and America, with high and controlled air fares, Australia has too long missed out on earning overseas exchange which tourists would bring into this country. The grant of $2.5m to South Australia for the sealing of the Eyre Highway between Adelaide and Perth will make it easier for Australians themselves to travel around this vast continent of ours. There is an urgent need however, for the restructuring and sealing of the highway between Alice Springs and Adelaide. It seems a ridiculous situation in this day and age, that an Australian tourist must put his car on a train in Adelaide if he wishes to tour from Alice Springs to Darwin. If this road were sealed it would greatly expand the number of southern tourists travelling to the Northern Territory. New motels and attractions would spring up and a whole world of new development would occur in Australia’s north and northwest. I hope it will not be too long before the Government takes the initiative in this regard.
It was interesting to note, Mr Deputy Speaker, that there was absolutely no mention of defence in the reply of the Leader of the Opposition to the Budget. This is really not surprising as it has always been difficult to ascertain what the Labor Party’s policy is in this vital sphere. In its Federal platform, defence is relegated to the twentieth item, coming after such items as cultural affairs, cities and transport. Are we to assume that this is the importance with which the Labor Party regards benefit of the nation, if you are unable to and primary duty of any government is the protection of the national interest. It is not much use making other proposals for the benefits of the nation, if you are unable to implement them because you do not control that country. By contrast, defence was one of the first matters to be dealt with by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech, and the defence vote proposed has been increased by $106m to $l,323m. Expenditure on capital equipment has increased from $140m last year to $200m this year. On the advice of the Government’s military advisers, it has been the policy of this Government to maintain an army of between 40,000 and 42,000 men. It has been pointed out that any reduction below 40,000 would result in under-manning of some units, to the extent that it would be necessary to abandon them. Yet what do we hear from honourable members opposite? The honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) has advocated an all-volunteer army, with a strength of about 30,000 men, which he claims would meet current defence requirements.
– Hear, hear
– I am glad to hear the honourable member for Wills, who is not in his seat, say: ‘Hear, hear’ because it is obvious that this must be the policy of most members of the Labor Party. The honourable member for St George has further claimed that a 5 or 6 battalion permanent force would be more efficient than the present 9 battalion force. I understand that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) advocated a similar major reduction of the Army in his address to the Returned Services League National Executive in Canberra on 14th August. As the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) pointed out recently, a reduction in the strength of the Army from 40,000 to 30,000 - which is a reduction of 25 per cent and a serious reduction in any man’s language - would cause the disbandment of 5 to 6 infantry battalions and would leave this country with an army of very little significance. The defence policy of the Government has 3 main objectives. They are: The maintenance of national independence, the prevention or removal of possible threats to that independence, and a greater degree of self-reliance on the part of Australia’s armed forces. They are admirable objectives, and the Budget provisions go a long way towards fulfilling them.
Payments to the States have been increased considerably in the Budget and constitute the largest single element in Commonwealth expenditure. Under our Federal system we have a situation in which the Commonwealth and the States are involved, both jointly and severally, in the expenditure of those funds. Under this system it has been only too easy in the past for the States to blame the Commonwealth for any shortcomings, and the result has been that the elector has not known which government to blame or on which government he should put pressure. However, the State Premiers came away from the Premiers Conference in a much happier frame of mind this year. The increased payments to the States in this Budget must make the task of the States much easier. I believe that tied grants from the Commonwealth to the States should be kept to an absolute minimum. The States are given certain functions to perform under the Constitution, and tied grants should not be used as a means of getting around the Constitution.
In the field of education this Government has again shown its particular concern for the education of all Australian children. The demand on taxpayers’ funds for education has become exceedingly great. Direct expenditure by the Commonwealth, including payments to the States for education, will rise by $72m this year to a total of $426m. There is a vast difference in the approach of the Government and that of the Opposition to education. Under the Constitution education is laid down for administration by the States. The Labor Party policy is to set up a schools commission here in Canberra virtually to centralise control of all government and nongovernment schools - primary, secondary and technical. Not only would it run contrary to the spirit of the Constitution but also it would not, I believe, be in the best interests of the schools or of the students. It would be the act of a centralist party and would lead virtually to the nationalisation of all education under the one central government authority centered here in Canberra. Presumably the aim of this schools commission would be, on the decision of some bureaucrat in Canberra, to grant government assistance to some schools and to deny it to others. It would virtually nationalise education.
It is ridiculous for Opposition members to talk of grants to so-called wealthy schools. The government per capita grants to independent schools are not, in effect, grants to the schools. They are actually subsidies to keep the fees of these schools within the reach of the average citizen if he is prepared to make the large financial sacrifice necessary to ha- a choice of the school which his child will attend. Per capita grants are in fact grants to the parents to help meet the cost of rising fees. If, due to rising teachers’ salaries and other costs, the fees of these schools were to increase to such an extent that only the children of those on high salaries could attend them, they would indeed become the province of the wealthy. This would be class segregation at its worst.
The increased expenditure on Aboriginal advancement announced in this Budget of 70 per cent to $S3m this year is welcome news. Since Federation successive governments have fallen down badly on their responsibility to Aboriginal advancement. It is a great indictment of us as Australians that, 200 years after the white man came to Australia, the Aboriginal is not in a better or more secure position. However, since the referendum was passed giving the Commonwealth power in regard to Aboriginals we have seen positive steps taken to improve their lot. The Commonwealth is indeed fortunate in having the services of Dr H. C. Coombs as Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. We must be on our guard, however, to see that the 144,000 Australian Aboriginals are not used as a political football by certain groups for their own purpose. Last year the Communist Party paper ‘Tribune’ called for a mass movement to make land rights for Aboriginals the big issue in 1972 to replace the Vietnam war which it claimed was winding down. Let us hope that the Aboriginal people will not be used by these people for their own ulterior motives. It will only do harm to the cause of the Aboriginal. We must recognise that we will not solve their problems in one generation and that the clamour for land rights will not in itself overcome their disabilities.
One section of the community which has been greatly disadvantaged in the past is the chronically in in nursing homes. The Government is to be commended for the steps it has taken in this Budget to improve the situation of these people. The introduction of nursing home insurance benefits, the additional nursing home benefits for pensioners and the increase in subsidies for home nursing organisations will do much to relieve the stress and worry which these people have suffered in the past. The impetus given to the development of hostel type accommodation for the aged who cannot look after themselves, and the payment of $14 a week benefit to a person who, on a regular and continuing basis, gives professional nursing care to an aged relative will do much to improve the comfort of our elderly and chronically ill citizens.
It is impossible in the time allotted for a member to cover all the points he would wish to make concerning the Budget, particularly when the Budget is as comprehensive and far-reaching as this one is. I have listened with some considerable interest to Opposition speakers from the Leader of the Opposition onwards - or perhaps I should say ‘downwards’ - and I have not heard any practical propositions put forward which could responsibly improve on this Budget. The Leader of the Opposition challenged the Government to hold a general election on this Budget. This Government is not afraid to face the people at any time. It has an inherent faith in the good sense and sound judgment of the average Australian. But the Government has given certain undertakings in the Budget and it will see them fulfilled before it goes to an election this year. The Budget is not the only issue which will decide which Party governs Australia for the next 3 years. There are other issues such as foreign policy and defence. Can we afford to neglect industrial relations or the climate of violence - issues on which the Labor Party knows it is highly vulnerable? The election must be fought on all issues, because then and only then will it be clear to the voter the ill which would be wrought to this country if the Labor Party were to gain the Treasury bench at the end of this year.
– I will not go into too much detail on some of the points raised by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). I always find it curious when conservative members of Parliament who send their children to some of the wealthiest private schools come out and gush and pine about the wealthy school? and say that they are doing all they can to provide the best facilities for the nation. It is almost ludicrous. It is incredible. One really wonders whether they live in the same world as most Australian people when they talk about subsidies to the rich private schools being aimed at ensuring that the children of all income sections of the community are able to go to these wealthy schools. After all, what are they talking about? They are talking about schools that charge anything up to $1,000 a year in fees. One can just imagine the tumult from all those children from working class and migrant families when Melbourne Grammar drops its fees from $1,050 a year to $1,025 a year or when Geelong Grammar drops its fees from $1,000 a year to $950 a year. Of course, those are the schools they are always worrying about! I am sure that the honourable member for Deakin who has just resumed his seat is one of those people who has displayed his lack of confidence in the state education system by sending his children to the schools he is so busily financing here today.
However, I am primarily concerned about life in country areas and, in particular, about the very serious problem of unemployment that has been created by this Government’s policy and that is being deliberately left untouched by this Government’s policy. I can see nothing in this Budget that is aimed at relieving the very severe problem of unemployment in country areas. I can see nothing in this Budget about decentralisation that is aimed at producing a whole programme for reviving country areas. There is nothing like that in this Budget. In recent times unemployment in country areas has been getting very severe. For example, in Victoria the number of people registered as unemployed in non-metropolitan areas increased by 31 per cent this July over July of last year. The number of registered unemployed rose from 6,865 to 8,996. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits also reflected a very dramatic increase of 53 per cent from 2,824 in July last year to 4,321 in July this year. Of course, those figures themselves do not disclose the actual situation because the Government has disguised unemployment by its rural unemployment relief scheme. I am not criticising that scheme. If one tries to create unemployment, as this Government has done so effectively and on such a large scale, then at least one does something when one gives people some sort of a job - even if it is only a pick and shovel job that is given to one in every 5 of the people who are unemployed in rural areas.
The point is that basically this Government, by providing this money, has tried to buy votes and to disguise unemployment which this Government has created. If we include the number of people who are getting unemployment relief work with those registered as unemployed, the situation is far worse. On that basis the number of registered unemployed rose from 6,815 last year to 11,564 this year. In other words, there is a disguised unemployment level in country areas. It has increased by 68.4 per cent over the last 12-month period. That is something of which the Government is not at all ashamed and it is something about which this Government is going to do nothing. We have some assurance that rural unemployment relief will continue because, after all, the conditions which have created the need for it will continue. But for how long will it continue? This is a cynical Government. Supposing that this Government is returned to office in November, how long can we guarantee that this rural unemployment relief scheme will continue? At least it is giving work to one in 5 of those people who are unemployed in country areas.
In my own electorate I feel this unemployment very seriously. People come to my office in Bendigo time and time again and ask me: ‘Can you get us a job?’ I ask them: Have you been to the Commonwealth Employment Service in Bendigo?’ They say: Yes, of course, but there are hundreds on the waiting list there’. This is typical of the situation in country areas throughout Australia. There is nothing that I can do. I try. I try to make contact with the employers. I try to make contact with the Employment Service, but there is no work. We have a desperate situation.
For example, in Bendigo about .25 per cent of the people who are receiving unemployment benefits are people who have been receiving them for more than 6 months and these are people who are just left to rot in the countryside. There is no hope of rehabilitation for them. They cannot go to the city, which is the only place where they can get the retraining necessary. So they are asked to lie around the countryside with no work - which they want to have - to live on this miserly unemployment benefit and to keep their families living in poverty just because they cannot get jobs.
Nothing has been done about decentralisation. The situation in Bendigo is that there has been a rather dramatic increase in unemployment over the 12-month period from July last year when there were 608 registered unemployed to July this year when the number of registered unemployed was 814 - an increase of 34 per cent. There has been a 59 per cent increase in the number of people receiving unemployment benefits from 258 people last year to 411 people this year. That is an indication of continual unemployment.
In another part of my electorate, the Seymour employment district, there has been a 92 per cent increase in the number of people receiving unemployment benefits. This is a very serious situation. There is nothing in this Budget, as I see it, that will restore confidence among the people who make the basic economic decisions in this country. Most importantly of all, there is nothing in this Budget that will seriously tackle the chronic lack of credit facilities which rural producers need. Until the large scale problem of rural indebtedness has been tackled there will be no revival of the countryside. It is a most disturbing situation. In my opinion rural credit is the key to rural stability. This has been found in western European countries, in the United Kingdom and in North America. But in Australia we are still fiddling around with election eve sops tossed out in the form of $20m to the farmers on the pretence that the Government is doing something about rural stability and the chronic problem of rural indebtedness when in fact it is not doing any such thing.
– There was no problem like that when Noel Beaton was in, was there?
– It has been there for years and it is getting worse under your Government. Let us take a look at the rural reconstruction scheme. What a sham it is! It was introduced in May 1971. It is going very badly. Large numbers of farmers are being rejected when under a better financing system they would be regarded as efficient and viable farmers. Some of them are very good farmers who have fallen on very bad times and fallen into a situation where the availability of credit is artificially limited by the strings that this Government has attached to the grants to the State reconstruction authorities. For example, in Victoria there is now only enough money left in the State’s reconstruction fund to reconstruct the debts and build up the farms of about 400 farmers. That is in the entire State of Victoria. When those 400 farmers have had their debts reconstructed and their farms built up by acquiring other properties, all the money will have run out. What will happen after that we do not know. I suppose there will be another meeting. There is a meeting every few months because the scheme was never planned as an effective and continuing programme.
At the present time the Victorian Government has something like $29. 8m to use for reconstruction purposes in Victoria. Already $19. 6m has been used. The money is so short in Victoria that at the end of July about 74 per cent of all farmers who applied for debt reconstruction were being rejected. In other words, for every farmer who was lucky enough to be accepted for a loan for debt reconstruction 3 were being rejected. This is the worst situation in the entire Commonwealth. I have done some calculations which suggest that by July 1973, on the funds available at the present time, the Victorian Government will have helped about 1,200 farmers under the Commonwealth rural reconstruction scheme. So far it has helped about 800. In other words, the great achievement of this Government is to give financial assistance to 1.5 per cent of all farmers - owners, lessees and share farmers - in the State of Victoria. The assistance that will have been given by July next year will have helped to cope with 7 per cent of the $41 lm debt which was the gross rural debt as calculated in 1970. Honourable members on the other side of the House say that this situation is due to the change in the electorate representative. In fact it has happened because there has not been a change of government.
The situation throughout Australia is a serious one. At the end of July about 64 per cent of all farmers who applied for assistance with debt reconstruction were rejected. Of those who applied for assistance in the States for farm build-up, 59 per cent were rejected. So far the State governments have committed $76m or 61 per cent of the money that is available to them for this purpose. About $ 124.5m is available. In other words, there is not a great deal of money left to meet the needs of farmers. How many more can be helped throughout the Commonwealth of Australia? I calculate that, on the present basis of an average $24,000 debt reconstruction loan, about 1,833 farmers can be assisted. Probably about 444 farmers can be assisted with farm build-up. In other words, by the middle of next year, when all this money has been expended, a total of about 5,000 farmers will have received assistance under the Commonwealth rural reconstruction scheme - about 2.5 per cent of the nation’s 200,000 farm owners, farm lessees and share farmers.
No significant impact is being made on the colossal problem of rural indebtedness, which was calculated to be about $2, 100m as at the middle of last year. The money that will have been made available by the middle of next year will cope with only about 5 per cent of that debt, which is one of the basic reasons why there is this continuing stagnation in the countryside. Yet the Commonwealth Government is pouring this money into rural unemployment relief, although one would have to say that on the whole it is not being used as efficiently as it could be if it were put into reconstructing the debts of farmers so that they could return to viability and so that they could get the economy of the country areas moving again. Money is being wasted for the purely dogmatic and political purposes of this Government.
– Will you tell us what the Labor Party would do?
– We will come to that. The honourable member might like to join in the debate. He might like to come out in public and debate the point. If he did, he would be the first one on that side of the chamber to do so. A few more aspects of the rural reconstruction scheme are most disturbing. The rehabilitation part of it is supposed to have been a major social welfare step in rural reconstruction. It was supposed to have been a great achievement of this Government. Apart from lengthening the period of the farm build up loan the sole achievement was to increase the amount available for a person for rehabilitation from $1,000 to $3,000. That move in April last was quite an achievement. All that Mr Borthwick, the poor old Victorian Minister for Lands - a Liberal - could find to say about the changes made in April was that the new S3.000 loan goes further to recognising a social problem. What an achievement! In Victoria by the end of July 3 farmers had been offered rehabilitation loans of $3,000 each. I suppose that is quite good for the Liberal Party. Throughout the Commonwealth, 51 farmers had been approved for rehabilitation assistance of $3,000, yet we know that in Victoria alone hundreds of farmers are being forced off the land. Throughout the Commonwealth thousands of farmers are being squeezed off their properties. What is happening to them? They are getting no assistance from this scheme.
Let us have a look at another of the Government’s fundamental approaches to the problem of reconstructing agriculture. I refer to farmer retraining. By July this year about 70 farmers had been approved for retraining throughout Australia. In Victoria the number rose dramatically to 23. Earlier this year when the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) and I raised these problems the Minister, said that everything was going very Well. So it was going very well - by this Government’s standards. Only 23 farmers were approved for assistance in Victoria yet there are abou.. 200,000 farmers of various kinds throughout the Commonwealth. A study of the Budget papers will show how much was allocated for 1971-72 for the retraining of farmers and employees. Only 9 per cent of the amount allocated was actually spent in 12 months. Yet this Government is going to the farming population and saying that it is genuinely concerned about their needs.
This Government is based purely and simply on materialism. It has no concern for the social and spiritual welfare of the people of this nation. It is continuing the disastrous series of blunders and mistakes. One that comes to mind is the women’s retraining scheme. In Victoria after the scheme had operated for 18 months 111 women were being retrained. What a fantastic effort! Probably about 20,000 women should have been eligible for retraining. Let us look again at the retraining scheme for employees who have been superseded by technological change. When the honourable member for Kingston raised this matter a few months ago he discovered that the amazing number of 2 employees throughout the entire Commonwealth bad been offered retraining under this scheme. Is the Government really serious? What does it care about? Does it really care about the human wellbeing of the people it is supposed to represent? Of course not. It cares only about profits and prices. It is based on utter and undiluted materialism.
Let us also consider the new programme to deal with rural indebtedness. This is the Liberal Party at work. The sum of $20m is all that it can offer so far to the Australian farming population to tackle the fantastic problem of rural indebtedness totalling about 8200m. One can only conclude that it is a hoax on country people aimed at dressing up a last minute election gimmick. It is not a genuine solution to the chronic problem of rural indebtedness. In fact, that $20m is the only sum that has been guaranteed for assistance to farmers. When it is shared out amongst the States Victoria will receive about $3.3m. At present the average debt reconstruction loan in Victoria is about $25,000. In other words a few simple statistics show that this scheme in Victoria will provide assistance for about 130 farmers. Perhaps this is not so unbelievable because it is par for the course for this Government.
I repeat that the only guaranteed sum available so far is $20m and of that amount Victoria’s share is likely to be about $3. 3m. On the current rate of loans in Victoria for reconstructing farm debts under the rural reconstruction scheme this trifling sum will provide loans for only an extra 1 30 farmers in the entire State. In Victoria so far about 1,600 farmers have had rejected their applications for reconstruction of their debts. Unless further moneys are added the sum guaranteed will provide loans for only 8 per cent of the 1,600 farmers who have been rejected so far. To cater only for the 1,600 farmers who have already been denied debt relief would require not an extra $3. 3m, not even the sum of $20m provided for the whole Commonwealth, but an extra $40m for Victoria alone.
The new programme will not get within a bull’s roar of tackling the problem, but of course it is not really supposed to do so. lt is interesting to study the politics behind the scheme. It is an election eve gimmick dreamed up the night before. Things are not done in haste in the Liberal Party - the conservative party. They are done 2 months before the election. That is the measure of its concern for the welfare of the farmers. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) made a statement and later the Liberal Party made a statement. Obviously some very bitter divisions exist within the coalition parties over this matter. For example, the Deputy Prime Minister has been publicly advocating a new and separate bank while the Prime Minister is insisting that the money should be provided through the Development Bank. The Prime Minister has said that if there is to be a new bank it should be the product of co-operation between the private trading banks, the pastoral finance companies and similar bodies. But Mr Anthony wants to have a glittering new institution for the farmers that he can call a rural credit bank.
This proposal for a new bank will go the same way as the Government’s 1969 election promise to set up a rural loans insurance corporation to guarantee more long term low interest rate loans. Few honourable members will recall that offer in 1969. The proposal was scrapped after the election and has not been heard of since. I believe that the Commonwealth Bank should be strengthened and expanded to provide more facilities for farmers. A national reconstruction authority should be established so that there can be co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in a joint planned programme of reconstruction and rehabilitation for the whole of the countryside. Until we tackle the basic problem of rural indebtedness I do not believe that there will be any significant move towards abolishing the disturbing level of unemployment in country areas.
– In this debate the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) has spoken basically on rural credit and rural unemployment relief. He presented a mass of statistics in his best educationist style but he should realise that they are no substitute for an understanding of the rural problem. If rural credit is so important to the Labor Party why has the alternative Prime Minister, the Leader of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), failed to mention it at all in his Budget speech? The honourable member for Bendigo also criticised the rural unemployment relief programme because it was being used to employ people in country towns when it should have been going, he said, to the farmers. I am sure that many people in the country cities and towns would be very pleased to hear of that lack of concern by the Labor Party for their welfare. The Opposition believed until the revaluation blunder of last week that it would form the next government of Australia. Therefore its criticism of this Budget and more importantly its alternative proposals should be of considerable interest to the people of Australia.
In the Budget the Government has clearly stated to the Australian public its priorities of expenditure. It has indicated its intention to tax people as lightly as possible and to maintain and to encourage the federalist system, as is shown by the large increases in revenue grants to the States. The Australian people have every right to ask what are the priorities of the Opposition. Prior to the Budget the public would have been confused by the numerous and often contradictory statements about what Labor would do, made by the various shadow Ministers or by Opposition members competing for possible ministerial positions. In the speech of the alternative Prime Minister on the provisions of the Budget the least that Parliament and the Australian public could expect was to hear specific proposals in priority areas. But what did we hear? I do not ask honourable members to take my word for it. An article in the ‘Australian’ of 23rd August stated:
It is a pity that Mr Whitlam’s Budget speech to the national Parliament last night was practically devoid of economic content. . . . Mr Whitlam presents a grand vision of increased public spending over a wide range of areas which are highly desirable.
However he does not give any indication of priorities except to agree with the Government that the means test should be abolished over three years and ‘in future Labor Budgets the education sector will be the area of greatest growth*.
If honourable members do not like the Australian’ I shall quote an article written by Maximilian Walsh which appeared in the
Australian Financial Review’ on 23rd August. The article stated:
Opposition leader Gough Whitlam’s Budgetcumelectioncampaign speech to Parliament last night failed to stir either his supporters or opponents.
Written in classical Whitlam-esque style - a mixture of pedagoguery and secular evangelism - the speech was delivered with a metronomic precision.
For different reasons, both sides of the House appeared to see it as bland and bordering on the irrelevant.
The Leader of the Opposition was not specific. He gave no order of priorities and said nothing to bring order to the uncoordinated statements of the shadow Ministers. Nothing was said either about financing the lavish promises. Sales tax cannot be increased by a future Labor government because his speech contained a commitment to lower sales tax. As one newspaper said, soaking the rich’ will not provide the necessary extra income; there are not enough of them.
Therefore, the taxes paid by the average income earners will have to be increased it a Labor government is ever in power. These are the very people - the average people of Australia, the average income earners in the metropolitan seats - that the Labor Party hopes to seduce. And what a seduction this would be when the Budget provides at least a 10 per cent tax cut for these people. Labor’s proposals, if logically sorted out, would necessitate a tax increase of at least 10 per cent not on the new Budget proposals, but on the tax scale operating prior to these Budget cuts. In other words, under a Labor government there will be an increase of approximately 20 per cent in taxation. Once again, there is no need to believe me on this matter. The editorial of the ‘Australian’ of 24th August 1972 states:
If Mr Whitlam is elected to office and keeps all his promises, he will have to find finance for boosting pensions to 25 per cent of average earnings; ending the means test; handing out an immediate $100 million to pensioners and unemployed; reducing sales tax; raising unemployment benefits; extra spending on schools and hospitals; pre-school education; free university education; a national insurance schema; and regenerating urban public transport The inescapable conclusion is that Mr Whitlam will not be cutting income tax; he will be raising it, by 10 per cent or even more.
If one does not want to believe the Australian’ one has to turn only to the This Day Tonight’ programme of 7th August in which Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), indicated in an interview that Labor’s idea of somebody whose taxes would be increased is somebody earning about $90 a week or more - in other words, barely the average income earner of Australia.
Above all this criticism of taxation is the irony that the alternative Prime Minister criticised the tax cuts to be introduced by the Government in the following way:
Taxation is not down. The rate of tax increases has merely been taken down a notch. The process of pushing the low and middle income earners into ever higher tax brackets by leaving the tax schedules fundamentally unchanged is to continue as damagingly as ever.
His criticism was that the tax cuts of 10 per cent on average were not meaningful when it is obvious that, if the Labor Party were in power, ft would have to increase taxation by about 20 per cent. The Leader of the Opposition criticised these tax cuts in a way that precludes Labor, if it is ever successful at an election, from taking advantage of the natural growth in tax revenue.
So, if Labor is successful and is to carry out any of its promises, taxation will have to be increased markedly, unless of course present Government expenditure as outlined in the Budget is significantly reduced in certain areas. However, nobody on the Opposition side has said that Labor is prepared to reduce expenditure on any of the Budget items. But perhaps if one listens to the shadow Ministers, who may be better called the sparring partners fighting over the monetary cake, certain clues emerge. Anyone who listened to the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) and the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) at and after the Launceston Conference would realise that rural support will suffer. But the honourable member for Dawson also weakens in his concern for rural industries when the going really gets tough. I quote from the speech made by the honourable member on 17th March 1971 in relation to the wool situation. He said:
The Australian Wool Commission has panicked because of its failure to bludgeon the wool market into accepting higher prices. Grave fears are now arising that the Commission’s activities could wreck the entire economic foundation of the wool industry.
This speech was made at a time when the underpinning of the activities of the Australian Wool Commission by this Govern ment was the cornerstone that brought about a resurgence of confidence in the wool industry and higher wool prices. Yet at the height of this crisis we heard the great spokesman for the rural wing or rump, as it is sometimes called, of the Labor Party preparing to scuttle the ship.
The alternative Prime Minister does not actually mention any primary industry in his speech so, in a negative way, he appears to confirm what the honourable member for Oxley believes, namely, that too much is being spent on rural matters. But how happy can the honourable member for Oxley be when his diligent preparation of a national superannuation scheme in conjunction with the abolition of the means test, which was costed over 6 years and which required an increase in taxation of 2.73 per cent to finance it, was overnight reduced from 6 years to 3 years? If honourable members do not believe what I say about the cost of the scheme I shall quote from the speech of the honourable member for Oxley on the Budget last year. It appears in Hansard of 9th November. He was talking about introducing a superannuation scheme. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) had interjected to correct a figures and the honourable member for Oxley said:
Yes, $l,800m. We are already providing something over $700m in current outlays and the extra cost is only about $l,000m.
Of course, that is about 10 per cent of the total Budget expenditure. The honourable member for Oxley continued:
Let us weigh this up against the fact that insurance claims for income tax deductions in 1966-67 exceeded $565m.
I think that to be fair I should include the remark about income tax deductions for life insurance because it also confirms another suspicion that is gaining credibility, namely, that if the Labor Party is elected to office, it will cut out the tax deductibility of life insurance premiums. If the Labor Party intends to do this it should let the people of Australia hear about it.
However, overnight this diligently worked out proposal of the honourable member for Oxley which was costed over 6 years has been altered by his Leader to 3 years to match the Government’s proposals. No reference was made to the shadow Minister or to Caucus or, more importantly, to the Federal Labor Executive by the
Leader of the Opposition before altering these figures. Incidentally, where does this leave Labor’s superannuation scheme, which was an integral part of the abolition of the means test? Does it mean that it now has been dropped or does it mean that, in view of the fact that the scheme has been reduced from 6 years to 3 years, we will have to double the extra tax level to implement the scheme to over 5 per cent for that matter alone? Perhaps the alterative Prime Minister was only expressing his personal opinion and was not expressing the policy of the Labor Party when he spoke about abolishing the means test in 3 years.
What about Labor’s national health scheme which, on present costing, will require an increase in income tax of 1.35 per cent? What about the $100m direct grant promised in the speech on the Budget by the Leader of the Opposition? Is this $100m to be in addition to the increases in age pensions to 25 per cent of the average income? This proposal would cost about an extra $120m. The alternative Prime Minister also hinted at massive finance for the cities and local government but again nothing specific was said. He also gave a very strong hint of increased Commonwealth control in the dread field of centralism. The Leader of the Opposition stated:
Any function of our society will grow in strength, quality and equality to the extent that the Commonwealth involves itself. But if Commonwealth involvement is limited just to providing cash, then there is no true national commitment at all to promoting the quality and equality of that community service. It is not enough for the national government to help in paying fees for doctors, for hospitals or for schools. That does nothing to reduce costs or to improve equality. The national government must involve itself in planning the service, and in the services themselves, not merely the costs.
In other words he is talking about taking over the role of State and local governments. Perhaps the desire of the Opposition to extend Commonwealth control in these fields can be explained by another article in the ‘Australian’ of 25th August which is headed: ‘A.L.P. money man out of the shadows’ and which is an interview with the ALP shadow Treasurer. I quote from the article in which the shadow Treasurer is reported to have said:
Of course it is a different matter with local government. Many of these people could not run a school pie stall efficiently and it is obvious that there is a need for new administrative arrangements here.
If the Labor Party believes that local government could not run a school pie stall efficiently why does not it say so? Perhaps that is just the personal opinion of the shadow Treasurer and not Labor Party policy at all.
These free wheeling statements are not restricted to finance either. What about censorship? The shadow Minister sees no need for censorship at all. Has anybody contradicted him? Does that mean it is Labor Party policy or is it his personal opinion? Last weekend we had an interesting exchange on Scientology. The shadow Attorney-General wants it; the Opposition Whip does not want it. Are both these views personal opinions or Labor Party policy? But the greatest inconsistency of all these things is not as between the alternative Prime Minister and his shadow Ministers, but in the speech on the Budget by the alternative Prime Minister himself. He was very critical of the present level of unemployment but he implied in his speech that our currency should be appreciated, and he has confirmed this on several occasions since. Everyone, including the honourable member for Dawson, agrees that this would lead to increased unemployment. Only the alternative Prime Minister’s parallel initiative on tariff cuts by government action in place of Tariff Board recommendations could increase unemployment more rapidly. Not only would this mean massive unemployment but a direct contradiction of the increasingly super protectionist policy of his shadow Minister for Trade. Are these personal opinions or policy?
The Australian public has 2 choices when looking at these series of proposals in the speech of the alternative Prime Minister: Either to accept all these propositions at face value - I am sure that he would want them to do that - but with them accept increased taxation, increased unemployment and a real drop in the living standard of Australians; or to believe, justifiably, that the things proposed, like revaluation, and the whole Budget speech of the alternative Prime Minister and the promises of shadow Ministers are only personal opinions and not to be taken seriously at all. I support the Budget.
– I have listened with interest to some of the speeches that have been made this afternoon by members of the Government Parties. I am sick of the cant, the hypocrisy and the tongue-in-cheek accusing of this side of the Parliament, the Opposition, of not being able to form an effective government. I make this challenge to the Government here and now: Man for man we can outmatch it and we can beat it. There are more qualified people on this side of Parliament, on the Opposition benches, than on the Government side. One only has to look at the historical record. We have men of the calibre of the shadow Treasurer, Frank Crean, a graduate in 3 faculties of the University of Melbourne.
Order! The correct reference is to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports.
– The correct reference is to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports but the future reference will be to the honourable, the Treasurer, come November or whenever the Government agrees to calf the general election.
– Why not wait and see?
– It is not a case of wait and see. I heard the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) speak of the silent majority. I listened to him somewhat more in sorrow than in anger because he and I are members of the Christian Fellowship. I once heard it said of him - I do not say this offensively but in sorrow as it was such a long time ago - that he came into the Parliament with a Bible in one hand and a machine gun in the other. I do not say this offensively but when the chips are down we hear what honourable members opposite think of us. I do not wish to put this matter on a personal basis, but the cant and hypocrisy that I heard this afternoon and yesterday has sickened me and I am certain that it has sickened the rest of the community.
I turn now to a matter which has concerned me since I have been in this Parliament - the restrictions which are placed on me as a former officer of the Taxation Office with which I served for 34 years. I am proud of that service. I refer to section 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act which refers to the necessity for officers to observe secrecy. Sub-section (1 .) of that section states:
For the purposes of this section, ‘officer’ means a person who is or has been appointed or employed by the Commonwealth or by a Slate, and who by reason of that appointment or employment, or in the course of that employment, may acquire or has acquired information respecting the affairs of any other person, disclosed or obtained under the provisions of this Act or of any previous law of the Commonwealth relating to Income Tax.
Sub-section (2.) of the same section - this is the important one - states:
Subject to this section, an officer shall not either directly or indirectly, except in the performance of any duty as an officer, and either while he is, or after be ceases to be an officer, make a record of, or divulge or communicate to any person any such information so acquired by him.
I am an ex-officer of the Taxation Office. I am still bound by that oath of secrecy. The penalty for violation of that oath of secrecy - this is one of the things that frightens me and that is the reason I observe the oath - is a fine of $500 or imprisonment for 12 months. I wish to goodness that I could reveal some of the things that I know as they apply in the Taxation Office for the benefit of the people of Australia. I cannot because I am bound by that oath of secrecy.
I have the highest respect for the present Commissioner of Taxation, Sir Edward Cain and his second commissioners, other senior members of the Office and also members of the staff of the Office for their dedication. Their integrity is unquestionable but, unfortunately, I say advisedly that I cannot speak in the same laudatory terms of some of the present Commissioner’s predecessors who have been susceptible to political pressure, whether conscious pressure or unconscious pressure. As I said previously, unfortunately I am still bound by an oath of secrecy and the very heavy burden that it entails. But this thought has crossed my mind: Should an oath of secrecy of that nature apply to members of this Parliament? Whether it is a good thing or not I do not know. In my view the national Parliament should be an open forum where abuses are disclosed and gain the full light of day. Perhaps one day some government will look at this aspect and give the members of this national Parliament a free and unfettered right to disclose abuses by all government authorities where the public interest is involved.
Speaking of the members of the Taxation Office, the situation when I left it in 1969 was one of complete frustration at the staffs inability to do anything about the known tax abuses. It was suggested to me - I believe it is true - that the position of the taxation officer can be likened to that of a boxer engaged in a fight with his hands tied behind his back. This Government has done nothing - I emphasise nothing - to assist the work of the Taxation Office to collect revenue. It is a wellknown fact that the bulk of the revenue collected from income tax is borne by one section of the community and one section alone - the poor old salary and wage earner.
Honourable members are aware of the results of the computer check. If some poor old wage earner happens to claim $70 or $80 in chemists’ expenses, his claim is thrown out by the computer and he is asked to verify the claim. If he claims for medical expenses and if, on the basis of the figures which are fed into the computer, he does not show sufficient rebates from a hospital fund, he is forced to verify the claim. All this attention is given to the average person - the average salary and wage earner who cannot escape his liability for paying tax. He has got no chance.
But what happens with the wealthier section of the community - the wealthy taxpayer, the large company? I have seen the results, and I am not breaking any oath of secrecy when I say that they are getting away with it, right and left. The reason they are getting away with it - and I can quote the figures - is because there are insufficient investigation officers throughout the whole of the taxation system. I will quote figures from the last report which I have been able to obtain. I cannot quote the figures relating to the number of investigation officers as at 30th June 1972 because the annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation for the last financial year has not yet been published. But as at 30th June 1970 there were only 830 income tax investigation officers throughout the whole of Australia, and by 30th June 1971 the figure had fallen to 794. But there was no fall in the number of income tax returns coming in, particu larly from companies - the bogus companies and the phoney companies where the need for investigation is the greatest.
Why did the number of investigation officers fall? I can tell honourable members one reason for it: This Government has no interest at all in collecting revenue from the people who can afford to pay it, and I say that sincerely and advisedly. The reason why the Government does not want to collect this money is that the Government is helping the interests which keep it in office, the interests it is protecting. I should like to read to honourable members some excerpts from the 50th annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation. One can sense the frustration running right through what the Commissioner, Sir Edward Cain, said. He said:
The task of administering the Australian taxation system raises some basic problems. These are in no way peculiar to Australia but are reflected in most developed nations. The accurate determination of a person’s liability to tax- particularly income tax - may often involve an inquiry Into facets of a taxpayer’s business and private affairs which are peculiarly within his own knowledge. When this task has to be performed in relation to the entire community, without an unacceptable level of interference in private affairs, delicate balances have to be maintained. An over-rigorous enforcement of a taxation system can imperil public respect for the system itself - it would require also that what might well be regarded as an unacceptably large proportion of public funds would have to be allocated for revenue collection purposes.
This is the important part of the Commissioner’s report. It underlines his frustration. He said:
On the other hand, a taxation system will enjoy community confidence only when it is possible to ensure a sufficiently high degree of compliance to satisfy fair-minded taxpayers that they are not being called upon to bear an excessive share of the total burden.
Then he says:
The basic operations of issuing six million assessments and accounting for the tax assessed - in themselves quite formidable - are complicated by the enquiries, disputes and misunderstandings that inevitably arise from such a huge volume of transactions, and by the problems of dealing with the minority of taxpayers who seek to evade or avoid their proper liabilities or who are unable or unwilling to pay the tax assessed.
The next paragraph in the report is a further example of the Commissioner’s frustration, and I ask honourable members to listen to it sincerely and let it sink in. He said:
When all this has to be done with strictly limited resources, particularly in times of financial stringency . . .
What he is saying there, in so many words, is that this Government will not give him the staff to do the job. I accuse this Government of that. I know the effect that this has had within the taxation investigation section where I worked. Because of the shortage of staff at the lower level in the assessing areas, investigation officers are employed for a fairly substantial period of the year not on investigation duties but on routine assessing work. They could be better employed on investigation work. In my opinion, that is a waste of the time of senior, highly paid investigation officers who could be better employed doing the job which they are paid to do - collecting revenue. There are not enough investigation officers. There should be more of them. The Government should relax restrictions on recruitment to the Public Service, or at least to the Taxation Office, in order to allow recruitment at the lower level. There are sufficient trained staff in the assessing area and there are enough trained accountants, but more men are needed in the investigation field where they can be used fully and effectively in collecting - and I say this quite advisedly - hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars payment of which is being evaded by the section of the community that can afford to pay.
I should now like to turn to one matter that has greatly disturbed rae. It has only recently come to my attention. I refer to tax havens. We have read a little of this in the Press recently. I refer to an article headed ‘Australians join rush to tax haven’ in the ‘Australian’ of 28th August last, which states:
Australian companies are setting up offices in Vila, capital of the New Hebrides - a chain of islands that is rapidly becoming an international tax haven.
I want to quote from a publication which is freely available on the desks of the ANZ Bank in Sydney. It is titled ‘Melanesia Internationa] Trust Company Limited’ and it states:
The Melanesia International Trust Company Limited, which is incorporated under the British Law of the New Hebrides, offers a wide range of trustee, corporate and financial services within the New Hebrides and in other areas of the world. The shares of the Company are owned by a group of leading banks, trust companies and financial institutions in the Pacific area and on both sides of the Atlantic making the Company an international organisation fully equipped to offer a service comparable to any available elsewhere.
The publication which, as I say, is freely available, states that the sponsors of this company include the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, the Australian International Finance Corporation Ltd, the Bahamas International Trust Co. Ltd, Barclays Bank, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd and the Bank of Bermuda Ltd. What does this company offer to do? It offers services such as acting as trustees of inter vivos settlements providing investment management, custodian service, collection agency service, custodian and nominee services and - this is the important one - a reinvoicing service for international companies. This is the latest tax lurk - reinvoicing.
Probably somebody will ask me, and rightly so: ‘How is it done?’ I will tell honourable members what happens. An international exporting company in Australia will form a subsidiary company in Vila in the New Hebrides, which is a tax free area. Let us say that the cost of a unit is $5 and that it is selling for SIO. The company in Australia invoices the unit out at $7 to the subsidiary company in Vila which has been set up by the Melanesia International Trust Co. Ltd. That brings to account a profit of only $2. Then the unit is re-invoiced out from Vila at $10 or more. In other words, the amount of taxable income which would have been paid in Australia is cut by more than half. It is being openly done. The publication by Melitco. as the Trust Co. is commonly called, says, among other things, that it offers facilities for investment management in all the major financial centres. It also states:
Since there is no income tax in the New Hebrides, it follows that there are no double taxation conventions with other countries. Dividends and interest paid to the New Hebrides Croup are subject to applicable withholding taxes levied a* source by the paying agent. However, interest oi certain governmental and other investments in thi United Kingdom can be paid to non-resident! thereof free of United Kingdom income tax.
By ‘non-residents’ it means non-residents of the New Hebrides, and there are many Australian companies there. This interest can be paid to these ‘non-residents’ free of United Kingdom income or any other tax, including Australian tax. The New Hebrides - Vila in particular - has become the Bahamas of the Pacific, but up to date the Commonwealth Government has done nothing about it. Since I have been a member of this Parliament I have raised many tax avoidance issues. There are 4 known schemes that I have raised and the Government finally succumbed to my persistent hammering and announced that it would close the loopholes in the legislation. Here is another one. The loopholes in this instance can be closed up. It is about time they were.
-How would the honourable member suggest that it should do that?
– The Government has competent staff in the Taxation Office. It is skilled and trained staff, ready, willing and able to assist. The Government has only to ask. It is all right for the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Garland) to interject. He knows that as well as I do. If he does not know it he should sack the Commissioner of Taxation and his staff because it means he has no confidence in them. I have complete confidence in them. There are many other tax avoidance schemes, but I do not have the time to talk about them tonight. I conclude by saying that the Government has been lax in its administration of the taxation legislation. When the Australian Labor Party gets into office there will be no laxity in closing off the tax avoidance scheme. Action will be taken.
– Will there be no secrecy?
– No question of secrecy is involved. The Taxation Office knows about these taxation avoidance schemes and, to my knowledge, it has recommended the closing up of the loopholes in the legislation but the Government has done nothing about implementing its recommendations.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
Oil Industry - Repatriation - Medical Benefits Funds- Political PartiesThe Parliament - Law and Order
Motion (by Mir Garland) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I make the charge in the House tonight that the Liberal-Country Party Government has been protecting the large overseas controlled oil companies of the international oil cartel and has been acting in collusion with those companies in attempting to squeeze out of existence the only 2 wholly Australian-owned companies - 2 very small marketers called IOC Australia Pty Ltd and XL Petroleum Pty Ltd. The overall result of this Government’s action - or in some cases inaction - has been, I believe, that the price of petrol in our community has been 2c to 3c a gallon more than it need otherwise have been. In case anyone is wondering at this early stage why the Liberal-Country Parties should have allowed this to happen, may I say quite bluntly that I believe that it is because the 2 Government Parties receive donations amounting to thousands of dollars for election purposes from the companies of the international oil cartel.
Now to the facts. Firstly, let me name the ‘cartel’ companies to which I am referring. Mobil - owned 100 per cent by the Mobil Oil Corporation of America; Esso - owned 100 per cent by the Esso Standard Eastern Inc. of America; BP - owned 100 per cent by BP of the United Kingdom; Caltex - owned 100 per cent by California Texas Oil Corporation of the United States of America; Neptune and Shell - both owned 100 per cent by the Royal Dutch/ Shell Group of Holland and the United Kingdom; Amoco - owned 100 per cent by the Standard Oil Co. of Indiana, United States of America; Total - owned 100 per cent by the Compagnie Francaise de Petroles, France; regrettably, I must include Ampol - owned about 20 per cent overseas and certainly in the pockets of the multi-national giants because it relies on its crude oil from their sources; and H. C. Sleigh, owned nearly 30 per cent by the California Texas Oil Group of America and in this case entirely in the hands of Caltex for its refining.
Pressures are applied by these giants of the international oil cartel, with the connivance of the Liberal-Country Party Government on these small independent companies in a number of ways. Let me enumerate them. Firstly, they will not refine the Australian crude oil which the small independents are bound to take at a reasonable price under the Federal Government’s crude oil policy. The House will remember that all petrol marketers in Australia are bound to take a percentage of locally mined crude oil in direct proportion to the ammount of oil products they sell in the market - otherwise the marketer is obliged to pay a prohibitive penalty. As all the major oil companies I have mentioned, except H. C. Sleigh/Golden Fleece, have their own refineries and as Sleighs are in Caltex’s pocket and Caltex has its own refinery, the Federal Government penalty under this indigenous crude oil policy hurts only the little blokes - IOC and XL. However, this would not be too bad if one of the major companies would refine the crude of IOC and XL at a reasonable price. But not one of them will. Nor has the Federal Government done anything effective about this iniquitous situation.
True it is that the Government appointed Sir Leslie Melville as an independent arbiter to report on the cartel’s terms and conditions for the refining of indigenous crude oil on behalf of the independent markets. Sir Leslie reported in October 1971. But for all intents and purposes the arbiter’s report - in other words, the umpire’s decision - was ignored; it was circumvented by, in plain language, what I would call a rotten trick. Sir Leslie’s recommended prices for refined petrol exrefinery were 15.25c a gallon for super and 12.25c a gallon for standard petrol. In fact IOC is obliged by Mobil, its refiners, to pay 17.3c to 17.5c a gallon for super and 14.3c a gallon for standard - 15 per cent higher than Sir Leslie’s recommendation. These higher costs have been forced by Mobil by insisting that IOC, in contravention of an earlier agreement signed prior to Sir Leslie’s report, collect its petrol from terminals well away from the refinery. So Sir Leslie’s ‘ex refinery’ price is meaningless. The cost of getting the petrol from the refinery to the terminals is loaded. Furthermore, the petrol is made available to IOC only at night when, of course, IOC is obliged to pay penalty rates to its employees. 1 could say more about the costs for refined petrol that are loaded by the cartel on to the small independent companies. For instance, Mobil has raised the price of the refinery processing fee from SI. 52 a barrel to $1.58 a barrel and the freight rate in respect of Bass Strait crude from 11c a barrel to 16c a barrel and Barrow Island crude from 46c a barrel to 50c a barrel. In addition to that I could say how, because Mobil will not allow IOC to take refined petrol from the Mobil refinery in South Australia, the South Australian outlets have to be served from Victoria with the added cost of the petrol- going in tankers from South Australia to Victoria.
In my view, any self-respecting government which had the endeavours of the small man at heart and which respected a small wholly Australian-owned company in its fight against the cartel would have allowed IOC and XL to export their quota of indigenous crude rather than be exploited by the Mobils and the Essos in this way. But not the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth Government - in particular, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), whom I did inform that I would be raising this matter tonight - has gone from bad to worse.
The little blokes, IOC and XL, found a source of petrol away from the supply sources of the multi-nationals, namely, in Asia. To be exact, they found petrol in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore which could be landed here f.o.b. at the price of 9.5c to 10.3c a gallon. What did this Government do? It hit these little people, who, incidentally, have about one half of 1 per cent or 0.5 per cent of the market - with a ‘tentative normal value’ f.o.b. of 13.34c for super and 11.19c for standard petrol. Immediately, the Asians jacket up their prices more or less to this figure. Why should they charge less when the Australian Government was merely taking a margin as dumping duties. Three cents or so a gallon which might have gone into the pockets of the Australian consumer was forced by the Government’s action into the pockets of the Asian producers. When I raised this matter with the Minister a few months ago he referred it to the Tariff Board. The latest information I have been able to ascertain is that the Tariff Board has not started on its inquiry - so the Australian citizen goes on paying more for his petrol for months and months.
There are other examples of Government collusion. The cartels persuaded this
Government, through the Customs Ministry, to demand cash or - the same thing - bankers cheques for amounts owing on the spot to the Government. As I understand it, everyone else is allowed 30 days terms. This was forced originally at a time when there was a bank strike. It was hoped by Mobil and others, I believe, to use the Government to force IOC into liquidation. This did not happen, but one result was that IOC lost to Mobil a few of its best independent outlets by misrepresentation. I wish I had time to give the facts. The point is that the Government was a party to this maneouvre
I believe that IOC and XL are playing a vital role in our economy by deterring rises in petrol prices. Certainly, because of their size, they can market more cheaply than their competitors. This is what we want. If it was not for them, there would be no 4c to 8c discount war in Victoria. This is entirely motivated by the desire to run IOC and XL out of business. So far this campaign has not succeeded, but it is no thanks to this Government or to the present Minister for Customs and Excise.
Let no one weep crocodile tears for the multi-national companies; they are sitting pretty. A look at their taxation provisions shows that they are not disclosing half the profits they make. At least, by using section 136 of the Income Tax Act, the Taxation Commissioner is taxing them on more than they disclose. He realises they are fiddling the price of their crude. It is the citizens of Australia who should weep because we are beset by this monopoly which has littered our country with too many inefficient service stations. Let us hope we shall soon have a Federal Labor government which will apply some planning to this situation and which will champion the little man, the IOCs and XLs of this world, the little man who provides some competition and some lower prices for our people.
– I will not take up the time of the House for very long. The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) has an obvious advantage over me in that he has done some homework on the specific area to which he has applied his mind. However, there is an area to which he has not seen fit to apply his mind and it relates to his own statement that this Government is culpable for not, in his own words, looking after the endeavour of the small man or not having the endeavours of the small man at heart. Quite patently the position of the oil industry, as I understand it, is that the interest of the small man, the consumer, in Australia is very largely protected by the South Australian Prices Commissioner. South Australia at present has a Premier who i3 a very well known person and who is, I think, a close colleague of the honourabb member for Adelaide.
– And a very competent fellow.
– Yes. I just ask whether it is he or the Prices Commissioner who is not competent. Let us face it, we cannot have it both ways. The Prices Commissioner was appointed to look after the consumer’s interests in South Australia. As far as I am aware, he controls the prices of a series of petroleum products throughout Australia every time he makes a decision in South Australia. We on this side of the House have had to sit for some time over the last few weeks listening to debates going backwards and forwards on whether or not unions should use force and pressure on large companies which have the capacity to pay. The debate has been very largely centred on whether the unions have been a trifle over the fence or a trifle unfair by trying to impress their latest wage claims on petroleum companies. The unions and the Opposition have had 2 things running for them. One has been that some of these petroleum companies are overseas-owned companies and the other has been that they are said to have the capacity to pay. There is meant to be no doubt about this.
How have these companies got the capacity to pay what is sought if the South Australian Prices Commissioner is doing his job? Surely the job of the Prices Commissioner is to look at price levels to see whether the prices of those oil companies are exorbitant. Either they are exorbitant and there is some essence of truth in what was said tonight by the honourable member for Adelaide or they are not exorbitant and the Prices Commissioner is doing his job. There seems to be no way in which to prove whether this is so, and I will acknowledge in passing that possibly the speech made by the honourable member for Banks (Mr Martin) has some relevance to this matter. Honourable members on this side of the House at any rate did not necessarily come down in the last shower. We understand very fully some of the invoicing tactics which are adopted by companies, no matter whether they are small companies, may I hasten to add, or large companies in the fuel industry. The only reason I rose tonight was to say that if there is exorbitant charging by those companies, the Prices Commissioner in South Australia, if he is competent, would not award rises in the price of petrol. His job is to protect the consumer. One presumes that sometimes the theory of price control might have some merit. If the honourable member for Adelaide is correct in his contentions-
– He fixes a maximum price.
– Quite true - it is only a maximum price. If the honourable member for Adelaide is correct in his contentions tonight, in effect what he is saying is that price control or price fixing, which is such a favourite hobby-horse of his, cannot work.
– Briefly I want to raise 2 matters which involve what 1 regard to be defective administration, perhaps due to defective legislation. The first matter relates to a constituent of mine called Stanley MIllward repatriation no. MX1 93820. He enlisted at the age of 19 and had 5 years service during the Second World War which took him to the Middle East. He also saw service against the Japanese in the Near East. He has received a repatriation pension, for an anxiety state and a duodenal ulcer, of $2.41 a fortnight and his wife 81c a fortnight. He appealed to an assessment tribunal that he should also be granted a pension entitlement for a condition of essential hypertension. The appeal was conducted on his behalf by the Legal Service Bureau. At that appeal he submitted evidence from his own medical practitioner, Dr Patterson, and a specialist, Dr Armati Both these doctors clearly indicated that in their view his essential hypertension was directly related to the fact that he had an anxiety neurosis and a duodenal ulcer both of which had been accepted as being due to war service. It followed therefore, that his essential hyper tension should be considered in the same light. Doctor Armati produced clear medical evidence to show that this man’s essential hypertension was due to these 2 earlier causes. Section 7 of the Repatriation Act says that the Commission is under the control of the Minister. I am grateful that the Minister has found time to come into the House.
The next matter I want to refer to concerns the provisions of the Act which relate to what might be deemed the rights of the individual against an injustice which could be perpetrated by a denial of natural justice. Section 31 of the Act states that whenever it appears to the Commission that, under this Act, sufficient reason exists for reviewing any assessment, decision or determination the Commission may review it. Section 47, which is most important in this case, says that the Board of Appeal is 10i to be so concerned with the technicalities or legal rules and shall give a claimant or applicant the benefit of any doubt. Section 47 (2.) waives some of the responsibility on the claimant and says that the appeal tribunal shall draw from all the circumstances of the case and from the evidence furnished all reasonable inferences in favour of the claimant. Then we come finally to the provisions which are directly relevant and which are contained in section 64 (3.) relating to the appeal tribunal. Sub-section <3.) states:
If, upon the hearing of an appeal by an Appeal Tribunal, no further evidence is tendered which, in the opinion of the Tribunal has a substantial bearing upon the appellant’s claim, the Tribunal shall decide the appeal.
Sub-section (4.) states:
If, upon the hearing of an appeal before an Appeal Tribunal, further evidence is tendered which, in the opinion of the Tribunal, has s substantial bearing upon the appellant’s claim, the Tribunal shall-
I repeat the word ‘shall’ - again refer the claim to the Commission for reconsideration.
In this case the medical evidence of Dr Patterson and the specialist Armati was submitted. It was further evidence and the Appeal Tribunal did not refer it to the Commission for reconsideration. The Tribunal decided the matter itself. War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal Nv.. 2 does not comprise any medical practitioner; it comprises 3 laymen, and they decided that the medical evidence they had, which was in favour of the appellant, was not sufficient and they denied this man’s appeal. In this case there has been a denial of natural justice and a decision has been made contrary to the provisions of the Act. The only consideration to which I think this man is now entitled would appear to be consideration under section 64 (6a.), which states:
A decision made by an Appeal Tribunal under sub-section (3.) . . . which is adverse to the appellant does not prevent the Commission reconsidering the claim of the appellant at any time when it appears to the Commission that there are sufficient grounds for so doing.
In this case I earnestly ask that this man’s appeal be reconsidered because the medical evidence submitted was never considered by the Repatriation Commission. One other point that I shall raise in the Estimates debate is that it startles me that the decisions by Appeal Tribunal No. 2 in favour of an applicant were only 10 per cent of the total as against 40 per cent of the decisions made by Appeal Tribunal No. 3. There is something wrong here and we hope to delve into it and perhaps produce some statistics at the time of the Estimates debate. A personality cult appears to be developing.
Another matter I raise concerns one of your constituents, Mr Speaker. It has apparently fallen to my lot.. It concerns Mr Sharpe of Melody Street, Coogee, who is a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner. He is married and in receipt of superannuation benefits of $34.40 a fortnight. In a nutshell that means that because of the means test applied by the Government it is deemed that he and his wife are entitled to a pension of about $12 a week each. I understand that under the revised scheme which this Budget is foreshadowing the pensioner medical entitlement will not apply to them because they will be deemed to have too much in the way of means. Losing the pensioner medical entitlement means losing a lot of other benefits such as concessions on local government rates and water rates. He also has to meet his wife’s chemist and other medical expenses, and he would have to take medical insurance for her. It is submitted in this case that water rates, particularly in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, are about to be increased by 100 per cent because of the method of valuation and the large inflationary costs of properties and land. Because of the assessment of the war pension plus superannuation benefits as net income these people are worse off than ever because they lose all the fringe benefits. The fringe benefits, which would relate to hospital expenses, chemist expenses, fares, council rates and water rates and other amounts could well be assessed in excess of $400, and that would be no exaggeration.
Mr Sharpe is aged 76. He finds it difficult to understand why, when he has been able to get a war pension because of his war service, he is now penalised because the pension is deemed to be net income. He further finds it difficult to understand why, when he receives a superannuation payment from a fund to which he subscribed, it is deemed to be net income. He makes a very forcible submission that if he were in fact submitting a taxation return showing these 2 items as income he would be able to deduct from that return items such as rates and other expenses, particularly medical expenses, to get a net income. He now asks why he should not be entitled to deduct from his gross income, to get a net income for social services purposes, the outgoings that he is obliged to expend because he does not get the fringe benefits. In other words, why can he not deduct the $400 outofpocket expenses that he must now pay? He makes the further point that because of his age and medical disabilities he cannot do the normal things around the home that any able bodied man can do such as cut the lawn and keep the home in repair. He is obliged to expend moneys on all these jobs as well, and he gets no concessions for that.
So I earnestly ask that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) have a look at this case on the basis of precedent and the fact that really the only income the man is getting is something he has earned for service to his country and by contributions he has made to his superannuation fund. He is being penalised and cannot get the fringe benefits that every other pensioner can get in the way of the pensioner medical entitlement. His request is simple, reasonable and just. Net income should be deemed to be that - net income.
He should not be given the burden of having his TPI pension and superannuation payments classed as net income when he cannot deduct from the income for income tax purposes all the other deductions which I have mentioned and which any other taxpayer can make.
– I would like to comment on the repatriation aspects of the speech of the honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen). The honourable member mentioned to me tonight that he would be speaking about a repatriation matter, but I do not have any particulars of the case to which he referred. If he would like to supply me with particulars of the case I will be only too pleased to look at the matter, discuss it with him and ascertain both from information I can obtain from the Repatriation Department and from discussions with him whether there is anything that either the Department or I can do to be of assistance to him in this case. He mentioned the difference between the number of claims allowed by different tribunals. As the Minister, it is nothing new to me to hear that there has been a difference in the number of favourable decisions given by the various tribunals that exist in Australia. 1 can supply the honourable member with a great deal of information about the tribunals’ official and legal status, but the basic fact of the matter is that these tribunals, both the War Pension Entitlement Appeal Tribunals and the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunals, are bodies which are completely independent of the Department and which are charged with the sole responsibility of viewing the evidence and weighing al) the factors that are before them and then coming to a decision which is a correct one in their judgment.
I take a short moment to speak about a case that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) raised on the adjournment last Thursday night. He referred to a repatriation case. He did not give the name of the person concerned. However I have ascertained the name of the person to whom he was referring. In referring to this person vis-a-vis his dealings with the Repatriation Department he used rather intemperate language which was really unjust to the Department and unnecessary in bringing this serviceman’s case to the notice of the
Parliament, the Repatriation Department and myself as the Minister. Since the honourable member for Sturt raised this case, I have caused investigations to be made into the matter. I have made my own inquiries and as a result of these inquiries I have informed the honourable member for Sturt by letter that I have arranged for the serviceman if he so wishes to be examined by a special medical board to assess his present incapacity. The Deputy Commissioner in South Australia will be in touch with this serviceman in the very near future, if he has not been already, to make this offer to him. If he accepts this offer the special medical board’s report will be considered as soon as ‘ possible by the appropriate authorities.
– I would like to take a few minutes to deal with the lack of democracy in the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia. With the federal election imminent we shall undoubtedly be faced with attacks on the Australian Labor Party’s alternative health scheme. These attacks will come mainly from the Voluntary Health Insurance Council of Australia which is a front organisation representing the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia. This large ‘mutual benefit’ organisation pretends to speak of nearly one million contributors plus 2 million to 3 million dependants. But what actually happens? Neither the Federal Council of the Medical Benefits Fund nor the State Executive Committee provides for a single person elected by contributors. The contributors, who paid over $68m to the Medical Benefits Fund during 1970-71, are told their rights in clause 18 of the articles of association which I have finally obtained. Clause 18 reads:
Contributory members shall not be entitled to attend or vote at any gene al meetings or to receive notice thereof.
Only medical members have a vote. Clause 7 reads:
Medical members of the Association shall be elected by the Council or by a Committee appointed by the Council wilh power in that behalf.
In other words, the Council elects the people who elect the Council. To make sure that not too many tame medical members need be found, clause 37 states:
Five medical members personally present shall be a quorum of a General Meeting.
This general meeting then elects the council. This ‘representative’ body then deals with the affairs of a fund which in 1970- 71 had an income of over $68m from its members and over $45m from the Commonwealth. It showed a profit of over $10m for the year, and this was added to the net current assets making them nearly $48m of contributors’ money on 30th June 1971.
The Medical Benefits Fund often denies that it is run by the Australian Medical Association for the Australian Medical Association, but let us look at this. It was formed by 17 persons ‘desirous of being formed into a company’ - the MBF. They described themselves as surgeons - 8, medical practitioners - 7, and physicians - 2. Their signatures were witnessed by officers of the, then, British Medical Association, and 14 of them have been BMA or AMA State presidents. The net effect of this control by the AMA is the restriction of benefits to services rendered by medical practitioners.
Under the Government’s rules up to 5 per cent of income can be spent on unmatched services, that is, ancillary services such as physiotherapy, optometry, nursing, attendance at public hospitals and so on. But the Medical Benefits Funds spends only 1.5 per cent in New South Wales and 1.4 per cent in Queensland, its 2 main States. This is the lowest percentage of any of the many funds. Can the Council really argue that this is acting in the interests of its contributors? On the other hand, it spends money on anti-Labor propaganda. Even though the articles of association show quite clearly that there was never any intention to allow contributors any say, their claim now is that there is no common roll for elections. If this is so, this is breach of article 21 which states:
There shall be a register of members kept by the Association and there shall be entered in such register the full name and address of each member.
The present members of the Council of the Medical Benefits Fund include 12 active AMA members plus a consultant for the Development Finance Corporation Ltd and former deputy general manager of the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Ltd, the national executive director of the Australian Institute of Building, a Country
Party Member of the Legislative Council in New South Wales and director of country newspapers and television, another board member of Development Finance Corporation Ltd and director of light companies including Australian Fixed Trusts Queensland Division, Queensland Oil Refineries, the National Bank of Australasia, City Mutual Life Insurance Society, Ltd, Mutual Acceptance Ltd, and a Tasmanian Liberal ex-member of the House of Assembly. They are the people who claim to be representing the Medical Benefits Fund contributors and controlling the policy and huge reserves of that fund. I appeal to the people of Australia to remember that, when they issue their antiLabor propaganda, they do not speak for the one million-odd contributors of the Medical Benefits Fund.
– I wish to correct a personal explanation I made which is reported at page 833 of Hansard of 29th August. Referring to the Leader of the Opposition, 1 stated:
He went to the electorate of Chifley, an area that 1 have to service very fully, where the State member took no interest -
You will remember, Mr Speaker that you told me I could not debate the question. I was referring to that part of the electorate of Chifley which takes in the State area of Wentworthville. The honourable member to whom I referred was Mr Quinn. Let me give one incident as an example. A young married couple with 7 children was to be evicted by the Housing Commission of New South Wales. I asked the young man why he had not interviewed Mr Quinn. He replied that he had and that Mr Quinn had advised him that he could do nothing for him and told the lad to endeavour to find another house to rent. I took the matter up with the Housing Commission which at first remained adamant but which, on further strong representations by me, agreed to withdraw the court order. Mr Jim Southee is the State member for Mount Druitt. He is one of the good and great members of the Australian Labor Party, a similar type to the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) and the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) - a man of great conviction and dedication. Mr Southee has done a great job in and out of Parliament. He has applied himself diligently to the work, of the Parliament, his constituents and the community. He was chairman of the Blacktown Hospital Board for many years and proved himself to be an administrator of outstanding ability. Further, he befriended the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage). It would be true to say that, but for Jim Southee, the honourable member for Chifley would not be the member for Chifley.
The honourable member for Chifley repaid Mr Southee’s kindness, assistance and help by, as Mr Southee states, stabbing him in the back and prevented him from gaining preselection for Mount Druitt. I want to advise the House that the honourable member for Chifley has done the community a disservice that the people will not forget nor forgive. I am advised that the honourable member for Chifley was afraid to attend a ball in Blacktown for fear of being hooted. This reminds me of a question posed to me by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). He asked whether I thought the ALP had found a seat for the honourable member for Chifley that not even that honourable member could lose. I replied that I had my doubts. Mr Southee assisted the honourable member for Chifley to gain preselection, at the special request and behest of the then President of the New South Wales branch of the ALP. I am informed that he was a disturbing and dislocating influence within the branch. Mr Southee did not desire to do as requested, because of the loyalty of local people who had assisted and worked for him over the years. However, he acceded to the request and canvassed for the honourable member for Chifley against his better judgment.
Now I want to deal with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). He does not know that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) and the Government have opened up regional employment offices at Parramatta, Hornsby and Blacktown, a district office at Penrith and an agency at Windsor which social service officers attend regularly. This would not entail the travelling suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. He knows full well of my servicing of the electorate and that I have not absented myself from my electorate for one day since being elected to this Par liament 9 years ago, except on parliamentary and official business. Earlier this year the Leader of the Opposition was so disturbed at the unemployment position that he left for overseas with a retinue larger than Molotov had in his heydey. The Leader of the Opposition once represented a portion of the present electorate of Mitchell. I have gained pensions for people whom he told he could not assist. One outstanding example was that of a woman whom he told he could not help further. I got her a pension within a week. The irony, of course, is that had her case been properly presented in the first instance she would have been receiving a pension over a period of 7 years.
– It is quite obvious that the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) has a deep resentment, almost to the extent of a psychotic resentment, of my return to this Parliament. Ever since I came back to this Parliament I have displayed as much tolerance, as much patience and as much charity towards him, out of respect for his very great age, as I could. However, there comes a time when one’s patience is exhausted, particularly when statements of the type he made are made in the cowardice of the protection of this Parliament, not outside it.
– It is said outside the Parliament. You know this. Why don’t you take action?
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Mitchell. He has already spoken in the debate. I suggest that he cease interjecting. As he has already spoken on this subject rather provocatively, I suggest that he give the honourable member for Chifley a hearing in this House.
– The honourable member for Mitchell dealt first of all with Mr Quinn, MLA - a colleague of mine who represents the New South Wales State electorate of Wentworthville. The honourable member spoke about some particular Housing Commission case and he made an allegation against Mr Quinn on the say-so of one individual who apparently came to him and told him that Mr Quinn said he would not deal with the case. I do not believe it. I know that Mr Quinn is a particularly conscientious member of the New South Wales Parliament. I think that the honourable member for Mitchell ought to state the name, address and file number of the person concerned so that we can get out the file and find out what the real position is. I think that would be common justice to the honourable member for Wentworthville in the New South Wales Parliament.
In regard to Mr Jim Southee. MLA, the honourable member for Mt Druitt in the New South Wales Parliament, it is correct that we have been friends for many years. It is equally correct that he has had some very had health in recent times. It is equally correct that unfortunately, as I understand it, he reached the age limit set under the rules of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party, although I have never actually heard him admit this. Nominations for Party pre-selection were called for in New South Wales. It is a rule of the New South Wales Branch of the ALP that a person is not eligible to nominate if he will turn 70 years of age during the course of the Parliament for which he is seeking pre-selection. I think that is correct. As 1 understand the position, a nomination was submitted but it did not have a birth certificate attached to it, and accordingly it was not possible for the head office of the ALP to endorse Mr Southee. I regret this because, looking at it from my point of view, I am now in a position where, instead of having in the State Parliament a man with long experience representing a new, vital and quickly growing area, I will have a new member of the State Parliament. Mr Johnson, the new endorsed candidate, who has been pre-selected, is an excellent young man. I have no doubt that he will fit wonderfully into the position. But, as the Federal member representing this area, I feel that it is much easier if there is an experienced man in the State sphere.
It is unfortunate that Mr Southee was not in a position to be endorsed. That had nothing whatsoever to do with me. It was a matter of applying the rules of the New South Wales Branch of the ALP. The rules are quite explicit. They had to be adhered to. I think it is known throughout the area that the age limit was and is the barrier in this case. The honourable member for Mitchell has now come into this House with accusations. I think it is a question of privilege. He has made false accusations. The whole of his information is utterly and com pletely incorrect. He has made charges against Mr Quinn and against me, which have not one iota of truth in them. I think that you, Mr Speaker, should give protection to members of this Parliament against senility of that particular type.
-Order! I would like to say to the honourable member for Chifley that no question of privilege arises. I cannot, nor would I, interfere in such a case.
– Mr Speaker, I object to the last sentence. If the honourable member wants any example of what I can do to him in regard to age-
– He referred to senility, and to me that is objectionable because I-
-Order! The honourable member for Mitchell will resume his seat. As I understand it, the honourable member for Chifley said ‘senility of that type’.
– Today the work of this House has been interrupted continually by members of the Opposition frivolously calling for quorums in this House. Perhaps the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster), who appears to be about to leave the chamber, ought to stay. For those people who read Hansard or those who may not know, perhaps I should explain that a quorum is the attendance in the House of at least onethird of the whole number of members of the House. This is laid down in the Standing Orders and at the present time the number of members required to make a quorum is 42. During the Budget debate, particularly in the latter stages of the debate, quite often a quorum is not present. Most of the points relating to the Budget have been covered and most honourable member prefer to listen to the debate over the loud speakers in their offices while they go ahead with work concerning their constituents, research for their speeches and the 101 other tasks which a member must fit into a day.
However, an honourable member has the right, under the Standing Orders, to draw the attention of the Chair to the state of the House or, to put it in layman’s terms, to the fact that a quorum is not present. Opposition members have, I believe, deliberately abused the provisions of the relevant standing order because by calling for a quorum not only do they cause those listening to the debate, either in the House or over the broadcasting system, to lose the thread of what the speaker is driving at but also they cause the speaker to lose approximately 2 minutes of his allotted speaking time. It is an abuse of the Standing Orders and I believe it shows a very petty approach.
– Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the House.
– My point is proven, Mr Speaker. (Quorum formed)
– Order! During the ringing of the bells I heard a word used. 1 think the honourable members for Sturt is going beyond the reasonable bounds of behaviour in this House. I will not mention the word that I heard him use.
– That is what he called me.
-It does not matter who said it or what was said. I think it is disgraceful and such expressions should never be used in this House. But for it being the adjournment debate I would take firmer action.
– The fact that the honourable member for Sturt has in a petulant manner called a quorum at this time of night has proved the point I was making. He is probably the worst offender in this regard. 1 believe that the Standing Orders Committee of this House should look at ways and means of preventing members such as the honourable member for Sturt from using the forms of this Parliament for their own mischievous party political reasons. 1 find most amazing the repeated statements by the honourable member for Sturt to honourable members on this side of the chamber whenever he or one of his colleagues have irresponsibly called a quorum. He shouts out in his usual manner: ‘It is your job to keep the House.’ It is on this remark that I would like to make one point. If a quorum is not formed within 2 minutes of a call for a quorum the work of the House ceases and at considerable cost to the taxpayers the House is adjourned until the next day of sitting. This actually happened when the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) called a quorum last year. I would like to point out to the honourable member for Sturt that even though he is an Opposition member, as an elected member of this Parliament he is paid the same salary and has the same responsibility as any member of the Government Parties to be in this House when he is required.
The taxpayers who pay his salary and the electors who put him here have every right to expect that of him. Let him cease to say in his usual manner that it is not his duty or that of his Labor Party colleagues to come to the House when a quorum is called. The electors send him here to do a job just as they send any other member here. They have every right to demand that he accept his responsibilities just as members of the Government Parties do. Last year, as a member of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee I sat on an inquiry into a report by journalist Alan Reid that Labor Party members walked out of the House when a quorum was called, leading to the collapse of the House on that occasion. The matter was referred to the Committee on the initiative of the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope). The Committee found no evidence that members of the Labor Party walked out of the House when the quorum was called but it is no secret that many members of the Opposition do not consider that it is their duty to come to the House to help to maintain a quorum. They seem to think that it is solely the duty of members of the Government Parties. I believe that this is an irresponsible attitude of certain Labor Party members and I want the electors of Australia to be aware of their attitude.
– Many speeches relating to law and order are made in this House but few are made about the personal protection of the individual in his dealings in the commercial world. I wish to deal with a very grave situation which exists and is associated with the bankruptcy laws of the nation. A constituent of mine - a Mr Whitelaw of St James - has drawn to my attention a serious situation which can arise when a company goes into liquidation without redress being open to the debtors. Mr Whitelaw had contracted with a company called Kempton Swimming Pools Pty Ltd for a swimming pool at a cost of about $2,500. Mr Whitelaw is a self-employed business man who is widely respected in the community for his diligence and honesty. Naturally he treated the firm on face value and its principals on the same basis. At great personal inconvenience and expense he arranged the finance, borrowed on the security of a maturing life insurance policy, paid a deposit of $50 to secure the contract, $695 for excavation and $1,200 for concrete work. He never heard from the company again to complete its end of the contract. The firm had gone into liquidation, leaving an unfinished hole in the ground, with no-one to sue, no bonds entered into and the only assistance offer to rectify the situation was quotes from other firms ranging from $1,500, representing a total cost of $3,500 for a pool originally quoted at $2,500.
The alarming situation is that the principals of the company, through family relationships, are back in business - it is alleged - at the same address with a different company name. I ass further given to understand that several other people were left with holes in the ground and further uncompleted contracts and that there was no hope of these unfortunate people being able to obtain protection or redress. In times of hardship which exist today incidents such as this one are being highlighted. People might say that pools are a luxury but that is not the point. Where laws exist which allow such duplicity to continue it is long past time that the attention of the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) was devoted to rectifying such laws to ensure that people in industries are bonded to protect their clients, that some form of insurance is enforced to protect the client, and that where evidence is available that the sharp practice of liquidating a firm to avoid existing debts or unfulfilled contracts and where no genuine effort is made to meet obligations before going back into the same industry, individuals are protected. I ask the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson), who is at the table, to draw the attention of the Attorney-General to this loophole which exists.
No doubt the State authority will take all steps open to it to clean up any industry which becomes involved in such practices. But the State cannot legislate retrospectively. It would find it equally difficult to rectify the current situation of companies liquidating to avoid the completion of contracts. I ask for federal investigation and protection because not only do the clients suffer but the suppliers of basic construction materials and commodities also go unprotected. Some bonding system in this area is required for we can have the same people coming and going in an industry, to the disrepute of the industry and to the misfortune of clients and suppliers. This is one aspect of law and order which needs the attention of this Parliament and of the Attorney-General who should cooperate with the State to eliminate this practice.
Motion (by Mr Giles) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– That places me in a somewhat invidious position because I want to draw to the attention of the House something that happened in the last 3 minutes and that I consider to be most serious.
-I am sorry, but there is a motion before the Chair.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Mouse adjourned at 11.38 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Defence, upon notice:
The Question was transferred to the Minister for Shipping and Transport on Notice Paper 183 of 18th August 1972.
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Yokohama 4,487 miles 4,775 miles Hokkaido
Dampier-Hay Point, 2,580 miles Dampier-Gladstone, 2,810 miles Pt Hedland-Hay Point, 2,474 miles Pt Hedland-Gladstone, 2,692 miles.
Note (1) The above figures are for special and general enlistments only, including females but excluding Pacific Islanders.
Note (2) These are mainly applications withdrawn or not proceeded with, and include some where the applicant was unsuitable for specific employment sought, outside age limits, etc.
Can he say whether -
Can he also say whether -
Public Authority Revenue: Percentage at Each Level (Question No. 5906)
Will he bring up to date and consolidate the information he has given (Hansard, 6th May 1971, page 2875 and 2nd December 1971, page 4121) on the percentages of government revenue raised by Federal, State and local government authorities in Australia, the United States of America, West Germany and Canada.
The Commonwealth Statistician has provided the following table, which presents the latest information available to him. In relation to the figures given for Australia the honourable member is asked to note that a separate figure for the revenue of State semi-government authorities has not been provided, for reasons outlined in my answer to his question No. 5905. He is also asked to note the comments preceding the table given in my answer to his question No. 2317 (Hansard, 6th and 7th May 1971, page 2876).
To obtain the information would involve all departments and authorities in considerable research and 1 am reluctant to authorise the time and effort entai’ed.
However, if the honourable member wishes to know what action may have been taken in this way on a particular subject I will examine the matter lo see what information can be provided.
The Honourable P. J. Nixon, M.P., Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport (Chairman).
The Honourable M. A. Morris, M.L.A., New South Wales Minister for Transport
The Honourable E. R. Meagher, M.B.E., E.D., M.P., Victorian Acting Minister of Transport.
The Honourable K. W. Hooper, M.L.A.,
Queensland Minister for Transport.
The Honourable G. T. Virgo, M.P., South
Australian Minister of Roads and Transport. The Honourable J. Dolan, M.L.C., Western
Australian Minister for Police and Transport. The Honourable N. L. C. Batt, M.H.A.,
Tasmanian Chief Secretary and Minister for
Proceedings of Council are confidential. However, public information statements are made generally by Council during sessions concerning the progress of its work.
The items which may involve legislative and/ or administrative action, and on which public statements were made during the 37th Meeting, are as follows:
Diesel vehicle exhause emissions
Motor vehicle noise
Vehicle recall system
Australian Design Rules
Mechanical inspection of buses
Performance standards for high speed cars
Development of transport
Metric speed limits.
The Minister for the Interior attended; the Minister for External Territories was unable to attend.
Election Proposals: Cost Question No. 6186)
At that time, however, certain proposals were under consideration which would have affected the position of persons receiving special benefit because they were required to care for invalid relatives. Payment of the increases to this class of special beneficiary, which was deferred until these proposals had been fully considered, was authorised, with full arrears, as soon as practicable in the circumstances.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720830_reps_27_hor79/>.