28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 11 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 humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will move to make available to the Tasmanian Government a special grant for the purpose of securing Lake Pedder in its natural state.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hamer, Mr Hurford, Mr Killen, Mr Lamb and Mr McLeay.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -
That the proposed ‘free’ national health scheme is not free at all and will cost four out of five Australians more than the present scheme.
That the proposed scheme is discriminatory and a further erosion of the civil liberties of Australian citizens, particularly working wives and single persons.
That the proposed scheme is in fact a plan for nationalised medicine which will lead to gross waste and inefficiencies in medical services and will ultimately remove an individual’s right to choose his/her own doctor.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government will take no measures to interfere with the basic principles of the existing health scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. by MrHayden, Mr McMahon and Mr McLeay.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the undersigned Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginals respectfully showeth that there are serious problems in matters such as Housing, Health and Education in the Torres Strait area.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives urge the Government to take over all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands affairs.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bryant.
Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of certain Aborigines respectfully showeth:
That they are concerned about Housing, Education, Employment, Health, Legal Service and Social Welfare for Aborigines in Victoria.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House urge the Australian Government to take full control of Aboriginal Affairs in these matters in Victoria.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bryant.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatves in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of certain citizens of Coburg respectfully showeth: 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 therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives urge the Government to show its goodwill by increasing its percentage of Gross National Product, up to and above the approved United Nations’ target, as aid for developing countries.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bryant.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. We, the undersigned citizens of Wills Electorate, are concerned with the plight of the majority of the world’s population, wish to submit the following petition:
We therefore humbly ask:
That the Federal Government substantially increase the amount of Official Development Assistance to at least . 6 per cent of the Gross National Product for the year 1973-74.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bryant.
– The Minister for Housing has stated on many occasions and again only last weekend that there is a serious crisis in housing and that more money must be made available to catch up on the housing shortage. Does he really believe this to be true or is he palpably ignorant of the economics of housing? Is he aware that there are between 30,000 and 40,000 houses and flats vacant in Sydney alone and that about 3,000 of these were advertised to let only last Saturday in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’? Does he realise that it is becoming increasingly difficult to let houses or flats at a rental that would give the owner a reasonable return on the current market value? How does he explain his statement-
– Order! Would the honourable member finish his question?
– Yes. I ask: How does he explain his statement in the light of the Treasurer’s statement in the Budget Speech when he said: The continuing housing boom is straining resources and adding considerably to the upward pressures on prices of homes and land’?
– Of course there is a housing shortage in Australia. Of course there is a housing boom. Of course there are a number of houses which are vacant. There seems to be some deterioration in the honourable member’s capacity to engage effectively in his previous profession. There is a serious housing crisis in Australia and there is a boom in housing which, together, put a very unreasonable strain on available resources. This undesirable and highly deleterious situation is the product of the previous Government’s indifference to the obvious need to engage in effective planning. I think the honourable gentleman and the House might be interested to know that I, with my Department, am currently engaged in negotiations with the various sections of industry - trade unions, manufacturers of materials and builders - in order to contrive the ways and means of setting targets and objectives. I told the honourable member for Wentworth recently that we have not as yet achieved that, but I certainly did not indicate to him that it was intended to do nothing about it.
At present we have this shortage of houses, a shortage of building tradesmen and the like. I have heard what the Treasurer has said. He has talked about the need for a moderate abatement in the flow of housing finance in order to ensure that we get the inflationary pressure off the industry so that houses can be made available at reasonable rates to the people who need them. I do not fall completely for the economic pundits whose attitudes in the past have resulted in a boom and bust situation. I believe that it is necessary to bring stability to this industry. I have often said that it has been described as the burnt offering in economic crises. I do not want it to be the sacrificial lamb because housing is a primary necessity. So I am hoping - I have talked to the Treasurer about this - that the moderate abatement which is predicted and proposed will have some relationship to the country’s capacity effectively to equate its tradesmen resource to the flow of finance, especially to the unplacated and unsatisfied demand of housing. This Government is determined to overcome as quickly as possible the desperate housing shortage in Australia. Towards that end we will be bringing things into relationship one with the other - manpower, materials and the flow of money. Towards that end we will be setting up proper planning processes. In the interim we have to put up with the problems referred to.
More especially still, we are looking at the cost of materials. In that respect we have set up a parliamentry committee, and it is dealing with the fundamentals of life - food, clothing and shelter. Currently it is looking at building material prices. In addition we have innovated our Prices Justification Tribunal which also will become involved in this matter. Thirdly and importantly, we do not intend to be inactive any longer about the spiralling cost of land. My colleague, the Minister of Urban Development, has already been in effective consultation with the States for the purpose of establishing land commissions so that we can make an assault on this basic problem - a problem in respect of which too many people in this Parliament have waxed fat over the years. We want to get land out of the excessively exploitive area. When leasehold land becomes available on a large scale it will have a regulatory effect on land prices. All these things together will bring to bear the kind of answer which for too long has been lacking in this country.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I refer to the proposal to discontinue the income tax exemption in relation to gold mining. Before taking any steps towards implementing the proposal will the Treasurer first discuss its effects with the leaders of the industry in Western Australia? Will he also first conduct a thorough investigation to ascertain its effect upon employees and others - some 50,000 persons in Western Australia - who are directly or indirectly dependent upon the industry? Will he investigate its effect upon the general infrastructure which is presently valued at approximately $150m, with a potential running into thousands of millions? Will he first measure the value of the proposal against the capacity of the industry to generate further funds for the State and Federal Governments? Finally, will he give an assurance that no action will be taken which could have a detrimental effect on the industry, the people or the districts concerned? In conclusion, may I say that I do not need any help from the Country Party or the Opposition in general because I know that they wanted to phase the industry out years ago.
– The honourable member for Kalgoorlie, with his usual devotion to the interests of his constituents, has already approached me about this matter.
– The question was another Dorothy Dixer.
– Occasionally they are legitimate. It saves a great deal of confusion afterwards if you have some indication of the matter beforehand. As the honourable member knows, I have received telegrams and other representations from mining interests and from the gold mining industry in Kalgoorlie in particular. I regret very much that parliamentary duties will preclude my being in attendance in Kalgoorlie on Thursday. I hope that will be understood by the citizens of Kalgoorlie.
– We will provide a pair for you.
– I believe that the general interests should sometimes have consideration over the particular interest and I feel it is the duty of members of Parliament to be in Parliament when it is sitting, and Parliament is where I shall be on Thursday. However I point out that the decision to remove the taxation concession on the profits from gold mining was taken after careful consideration. The price is one thing about which the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and I have differed over the years. He came closer to being right about what the final price of gold was than I did, but nevertheless the present price of gold compared with what it was certainly has changed the circumstances of that industry. It was felt that therefore there was no longer any justification for a decision that had been taken more than 30 years ago still to prevail now. I repeat that the decision was made after careful consideration.
However I can understand that it impacts with particular incidence in the area of Kalgoorlie, which area is virtually unique in Australia in that regard. If it can be demonstrated that hardships occur I shall look at them. Given the additional income now being earned by that industry, I find it a little hard to believe that the taking away of half of the profits of the industry - that is what the announced tax measure will mean - would bring the amount of desolation and destitution in that area that some people have suggested. However, as I have said in relation to other areas, if problems are created as a result of Government decisions I am perfectly open to receive deputations or even go and see the scenes of trouble. I give that assurance to the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. It may be easier for him to bring people here than it would be for me to go to Kalgoorlie because the deputation might want to see other people in Canberra as well. But insofar as it can be demonstrated that a real difficulty has been created I will look sympathetically at the situation, as I said in the adjournment debate the other night in respect of a certain tax on fruit products. I now repeat that offer.
– I address my question to the Minister for Services and Property in his role as Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Electoral Office. Could the Minister confirm or refute that the divisional returning officer for the electorate of Parramatta was ordered to vacate his offices in the Parramatta Town Hall by the Labor-controlled Parramatta City Council within 48 hours of the announcement of the Parramatta by-election and that these offices have now been handed over to the Australian Labor Party for use as campaign rooms?
– I would be very surprised if the statement made by the honourable member is one of fact, but I shall investigate it. I remind him that the Commonwealth electoral office at Parramatta during the last Federal election campaign was outdated and outmoded and in every way unsuitable as an electoral office. I understand that, in accordance with the progressive policy of this Government to provide electoral officers with the best of conditions in which to work after their long suffering under the previous government, we have secured new offices. Probably the officers moved into them in order to ensure that the Parramatta by-election is conducted in circumstances and with facilities which are better than those which existed on the last occasion. I shall investigate the allegations mentioned by the honourable member, but I would say that they would be completely inaccurate.
-I warn the honourable member for Griffith, who just made a remark which I heard from here and which no doubt went over the air, that he should be very tolerant of answers given by Ministers and not use such language.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether his attention has been drawn to reports that the great train robber, Ronald Biggs, left Australia with a forged passport made available by an English criminal in Australia. Is this report true? If so, will the Minister explain what action has been taken in relation to this passport?
– I did notice a report of an allegation that an Australian passport was used to facilitate the departure from Australia of Ronald Biggs. I had immediate inquiries made and am pleased to tell the honourable member and the House that no Australian passport was involved. The report was that an overseas criminal had made his passport available to Ronald Biggs so that Biggs could leave Australia and that he subsequently applied here for the replacement of that passport. Inquiries which I made immediately the report was drawn to my attention indicated that no Australian passport or Australian officer was involved. I want to add that the movement in and out of Australia of Ronald Biggs does indicate the need for the closest possible liaison between Australian and British authorities in matters such as this. I hope that in future there will be even closer co-operation and liaison to ensure that international criminals do not use either country as a kind of public convenience.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the concern of all the people along the River Murray system in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia for an adequate supply of quality water, could the Prime Minister state his Government’s position and attitude to the completion of the Dartmouth Dam in the light of conflicting statements in the weekend Press to the effect that the Prime Minister said there should be a delay in the project whereas the Minister for Immigration said that there should not be?
– Honourable gentlemen will remember that the Coombs task force raised the possibility of deferring the letting of any further contracts to build the Dartmouth Dam - not the cancellation. I do not have to repeat what it said. In considering the Coombs task force comments the Cabinet decided that the agreement of the governments of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales should be sought to the deferment of the letting of any further contracts pending the outcome of the review of River Murray salinity control needs and measurements and the water requirements of the Albury-Wodonga growth centre with the aim of seeing whether by the use of presently unused storages in Blowering Dam construction of the main dam could be slowed. Last Wednesday I wrote to the 3 Premiers concerned seeking a meeting on this matter. No replies have yet been received from any of the Premiers.
The Budget provides an allocation for the Dartmouth Dam. There have, however, been two particular features since the original plans and original timetable were drawn up for the Dartmouth Dam. The first is that the Blowering Dam will hold water which will not be required for the original purposes envisaged when it was undertaken. The other reason is that pursuant to the initiative of the Premier of South Australia and myself, and the meeting held between us and the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria on 2 March last - the first time that heads of the 4 governments concerned had met for nearly 60 years to consider the River Murray waters - it was decided that there should be a survey of the salinity situation in the Valley. One of the reasons for embarking upon the Dartmouth project was to see that the salinity in the Murray was reduced. It may be that the problem is now so grave that it cannot wait for the Dartmouth Dam to be built. As the Minister for the Environment and Conservation told the House last Thursday the report of the committee inquiring into the salinity problems of the Murray will be received within the next few days and is due to be considered by the Ministers of the 4 governments concerned.
In view of these 2 facts - first, that other measures may need to be taken to counter salinity in the Murray, and secondly, that for some years ahead there is surplus water in the Blowering Dam - there is a case for the 4 governments concerned to defer or to reduce the rate of expenditure in the next couple of years. But there can be no question that the present Government is determined to see that there is water in greater quantity and better quality for Adelaide than is possible under any existing arrangements. The other city where the same provision is being made is Townsville. There can be no question that more and better water will be provided for all the people who use the waters of the Murray River. The question is, however, how best the 4 governments concerned can spend their money. There is a case, we believe, for saying that to spend money at the proposed rate on the Dartmouth Dam will not have the best effects in the next few years. I shall be happy to discuss this with the 3 Premiers concerned. I await their replies.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that the Minister’s migrant task forces in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have been unanimous in criticising migrant education? What is the position in relation to workshop classes which in some countries are compulsory for employers to institute? Does he believe that they are satisfactory in Australia at the present time? In other words, does he believe that employers’ participation in this vital part of our immigration program is being carried out?
– The honourable member for Melbourne, I might say, is vice-chairman of the Victorian migrant task force. At present there are only 11 factories in Australia with about 250 workers in workshop English classes. Last year there were something like 600 workers in workshop classes in 13 factories. Most of them were in Victoria. In some States there are no such classes at the workshop level. What the honourable member says about other progressive countries with large numbers of people who do not speak the national language is quite correct. For example, in Sweden there is legislation which provides that if a factory is employing large numbers of people who do not speak the national language, the arrangement under the law is that workshop classes must be held to help them with the language and with citizenship. In Australia this has not been done to a satisfactory degree. That is my answer to the honourable member. I hope that this year the present level of 250 participants will be much improved and the number of participating factories will be increased.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry. I refer to the 25 per cent across-the-board tariff cut announced in July and the proposals for adjustment assistance to be administered by the Department of Secondary Industry - in particular, the undertaking to pay assistance at a weekly amount equal to the average wage in the previous 6 months for an employee who loses his job. While appreciating the expediency of making this provision with a view to ‘selling’ the tariff cut proposal to the Australian Labor Party’s trade union controllers, I ask: Is not unemployment benefit at this rate highly discriminatory as compared with the $23 a week standard rate and $40.50 a week married rate established by Act No. 1 of this year as amended by the recent Budget? Is it to apply in respect of all economic policy initiatives by the Government? I have in mind that, according to the Treasury, the tariff cut was akin to a revaluation of the order of 2i per cent. No such provision was made, was it, for employees displaced by the much larger 7 per cent devaluation of December?
-Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to frame his question.
– What is the position of employees who are to be retrenched in defence production establishments, especially those in country areas, as referred to by the Minister for Defence at page 25 of his statement on Wednesday night last?
– I think it has been obvious for a great many years that it is necessary for considerable improvements to be made in the provision of benefits for those who happen to be unemployed or disemployed. For 23 long years I watched this miserable unemployment benefit being paid out by our predecessors. One of my early intentions was to do all I could to have that advanced and improved. I was concerned, first of all, to gain acceptance of the principle that where any unemployment was caused by the application of government policy we would not require those adversely affected by it to go on living on the unemployment pittance that prevails generally.
– That would apply, too, to dairy fanners, I hope.
– Dairy farmers, who so far have been pretty adequately provided for by legislation which the Leader of the Australian Country Party had a considerable hand in designing, have not been overlooked. The point I am making is that the unemployed for whom he feels no similar responsibility have been overlooked considerably. As Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry, it has been my intention to make sure that we do not overlook those people who have been adversely affected by the 25 per cent tariff cut.
– What about the 100,000 people whom the previous Government put out of work?
– The Minister for Social Security reminds me of the more than 100,000 people whom our predecessors put into unemployment the year before last as a result of applying government policy and for whom they made no provision at all. I contrast that with the method adopted by this Government. I am confident that the overwhelming majority of the Australian people will support the steps taken by this Government. We intend to apply that principle more widely to all the unemployed as we can afford to do so. The honourable member for Berowra, being an economist, would know that there is a limited amount available for any government to provide these improvements. Unfortunately, sometimes people who are badly off have to be denied because of the overall effect of increased expenditure on the economy. But this principle will be applied to an increasing number of people until, I hope, we reach the stage already achieved by advanced countries in the Scandinavian area and elsewhere. I remind the honourable member who is now interjecting that such people do not have any sidelines such as writing articles for the financial Press.
The principle has applied in advanced countries for a long time that when people are out of work they receive something like the income they received before - something like the average income of the community. So there is no fall in income when a person happens to be unfortunate enough by industrial changes or by government changes to be unemployed. The concept of most of my conservative opponents who are interjecting, that unemployment is evidence of a particular fault of the individual for which he should be punished, has gone - and it has certainly gone from the policy of this Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. In yesterday’s ‘Age’ under the sub-heading ‘Minister plans to by-pass State’, the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Mr Dickie, is quoted as saying that the Australian Government’s initiatives concerning Aboriginal housing were ‘just another example of the Commonwealth bulldozing the States out of the way’. Will the Minister indicate whether the incident at the weekend will inhibit initiatives to improve Aboriginal housing in Victoria? Does the Minister intend to by-pass the States in this matter?
– I visited the Gippsland area at the weekend, and for part of the visit I was accompanied by the honourable member for Gippsland, who is much better as a member of the Opposition than he was as a member of the Government. In the course of my visit I discussed with a large number of Aboriginal people the housing situation in the area. The policy that we are following is this: We will deal with groups of people who wish to take initiatives on their own behalf, and deal with them directly. We will deal with municipalities which wish to take initiatives in their areas, and we will deal with them directly, we will deal with State governments which have programs and projects wherever they are willing to co-operate. We will take whatever steps are necessary to overcome the serious deficiencies in housing and other social needs of the Aboriginal people in the same way as we do in the repatriation system.
I am doing my best to encourage journalists, commentators and State Ministers to stop using the words like ‘by-pass’, ‘take-over’ and so on for this is nothing of the sort. It is a long tradition in this country for the Australian Government to deal directly with people for services for which it is responsible. We do that under the repatriation system. We deal directly with the individuals, we use cooperation with the States and we use other institutions. We do the same thing under the social security legislation. I have written to Mr Dickie to try to clarify these questions of the use of English and to make clear to him that the system is principally based upon the assumption that in a democratic society people are entitled to deal directly with the government responsible for the facilities which it supplies to them.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that South Australia will receive an additional contractual right to water only when Dartmouth Dam is completed? Does he propose to re-negotiate the agreements so that an additional contractual right to water from other storages can be made available to South Australia at the same time as would have been the case had Dartmouth proceeded according to plan? Is he aware that to improve the quality of Adelaide water it is necessary that the River Murray system be flushed and that the con struction of the Dartmouth Dam is an essential means of providing water suitable for this purpose? Why does he express concern for water for Albury-Wodonga whilst ignoring Adelaide and the proposed regional development at Monarto?
– All arrangements concerning the River Murray waters including the waters of the rivers which feed into the Murray can be altered only by the unanimous consent of the governments of Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Accordingly, any of the matters which the honourable member mentions can be altered only if all 4 governments concur. The Coombs task force suggested there might be savings for all 4 governments in deferring or re-examining the timetable to construct Dartmouth. The salinity problems in the River Murray are graver than was thought at the time that the Dartmouth project was undertaken. It is possible that there are quicker and more effective ways of dealing with that salinity problem than by completing Dartmouth according to the original program. Furthermore, there is water to spare for some years ahead in the Blowering Dam and it may be quicker and more effective to use that water to flush the Murray than to wait for the completion of Dartmouth. There can be no question that everybody who uses the Murray waters is entitled to better water than he is getting now, and that applies to whether he uses it for agricultural, pastoral or industrial purposes or, above all, residential purposes. The people of Adelaide clearly have a greatly increased need for pure water. So also will the people in the new regions and growth centres of Albury-Wodonga and Monarto. The Australian Government is anxious to have another conference with the State governments concerned to see how quickly, how best we can get ample and pure water for all the people who use the Murray.
– Is the Minister for Northern Development aware of the many Press reports emanating from overseas that the European Economic Community is opposed to a new international sugar agreement? To what degree can the EEC influence the outcome of the forthcoming international sugar negotiations designed to formulate a new agreement, and does the Minister agree that a new ISA is vital to the stability of the Australian sugar industry?
– Answering the last part of the question first, there can be no doubt that in terms of the stability of the Australian sugar industry and the world sugar industry the International Sugar Agreement is a most vital agreement. The Agreement directly affects the prosperity of many areas in eastern Australia where sugar production really is a monoculture. The honourable member for Leichhardt knows full well the great advantage to his own area of Cairns of an international sugar agreement. Certainly we do not want to go back to the position that existed prior to 1968 when we saw the world price for sugar rise to above £St100 a ton and then a few years later drop to the disastrous price of £Stg 12 a ton. The successful negotiation of the 1968 International Sugar Agreement and the position that has existed for the last 5 years have shown the tremendous importance of this Agreement. In fact, almost every economic clause in the Agreement has been tested and proven to be successful.
I am aware of the attitude of the European Economic Community and particularly the attitude of France. At the May negotiations France opposed a new agreement. The EEC - this view was mainly held by France - wanted an extension of the present agreement, and there were some grounds for this as far as the EEC was concerned in regard to its common agricultural policy on beet sugar. Also there was the possibility of problems relating to Britain’s entry into the EEC as that affected developing countries and Australia. Consequently the EEC argued that there should be an extension of the Agreement. However, every other major importing and exporting country - including Australia, Cuba and Brazil as exporters and Japan and Canada as importers - were 100 per cent behind a new agreement. Although the EEC is not a member of the International Sugar Agreement I can say that it has acted very responsibly in the last 5 years. It has not done anything such as dumping of export sugar or anything detrimental to the world price of sugar.
It is our hope and the hope of most nations in the world participating at the forthcoming talks that the European Economic Community will join the International Sugar Agree ment. I have no need to inform the honourable members that sugar is the most dynamic of all commodities in international trade because of world politics. Honourable members opposite who took part in negotiations know full well the difficulties with respect to the agreement brought about through the existence of the great trading blocs such as Comecon - the Soviet bloc - the European Economic Community, and the strength of nations such as Japan and the United StatesEach of these nations participates in talks as a member or an observer. I can assure the honourable member that it is the express policy of the Government to do anything possible to negotiate a successful international sugar agreement at the forthcoming talks.
– Does the Treasurer accept as a policy objective that the unemployment benefit should be equal to a person’s former average weekly earnings?
– The level of the unemployment benefit generally is a matter for Cabinet decision. The matter of special payments in special circumstances is also one for Cabinet decision. One would hope that in a wellorganised community unemployment would not exist. Surely the higher that the unemployment benefit is the more disposed will society be to face up to the problem that it has still to pay a person the best part of a wage for doing nothing, and that a more constructive attitude is to -pay a living wage for doing something.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General: Is it a fact that the Australian Government in areas under its direct control - that is the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory - is taking direct action to combat the world wide problem of inflation? Is it also a fact that the Government is prevented from taking similar action to protect the rest of the Australian population from soaring prices because the structure of our outmoded Constitution leaves power over prices with the 6 States instead of with the nation’s Government where it belongs? Will the Minister inform the House of the steps that the Government will take to rectify this and other distortions at the constitutional convention to be held in Sydney next week?
– In the Territories, one of the few places where the Australian Government does have power on these subjects, a certain amount has been done in recent months. There would not be time to give a full list. For example, in the Northern Territory that popular commodity - beer - is now selling in a place like Katherine at 3c below the price at which it was being sold there, say, a month ago. Other examples could be given. In the case of the Australian Capital Territory we held the price of bread down here for much longer than it otherwise would have been held down. We have depressed the rents on residential leases. Beer at present is selling for less in the Australian Capital Territory than in New South Wales. Petrol at this time is5c a gallon cheaper in Canberra than it is in Queanbeyan. It is clear that certain things are being done and we hope to do others in the future. A measure is not too far off, I hope, that could be fairly objectively called a charter for shopkeepers in the Australian Capital Territory - I hope that it will also ‘be implemented in the Northern Territory - to stop or at least reduce-
– What about lawyers?
– I will come to lawyers in a moment. It is hoped that the measure will stop or reduce the exploitation of shopkeepers that takes place from time to time. I am reminded by one of the honourable gentlemen sitting opposite of lawyers’ fees. Following discussion with representatives of the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory a month or so ago of the Government’s proposals in the area of conveyancing law reform, lawyers in the Australian Capital Territory voluntarily substantially reduced their conveyancing fees. I come now to what the honourable member for Hawker had in mind. It is a great pity that some of the States cannot do some of these things. I am reminded of a meeting attended by the Prime Minister and some of the Premiers - the Treasurer was there and I was fortunate enough to be present in the role I play as Minister for the Capital Territory and Minister for the Northern Territory - at which the States were informed of the sorts of measures they can implement. Very little has been done in this area. One would hope that at the Constitutional Convention in Sydney there will be little grandstanding and little showmanship but a lot of objective appraisement and a realisation of the problems facing Australia in this day and age. For economic management the ultimate source of power and responsibility rests with the Australian Government, where it should lie. but that power is denied to it. On the other point I am reminded by the right honourable member for Higgins-
– I did not say anything.
– No, but seeing the right honourable member sitting there reminded me of the absurd state of the laws of defamation in Australia where an action can be brought claiming damages in respect of a newspaper article published in the Australian Capital Territory or a program broadcast or televised in the Australian Capital Territory which is read or seen by people in Queanbeyan and Goulburn and which can be read and seen by people in Victoria and perhaps Queensland and South Australia and where the plaintiffs chances of success vary because each of those places has a different set of laws on the subject. How very absurd that is. I have described some of the steps which have been taken by the Australian Government in its Territories. I hope that many more will be taken. One would hope that the States will take measures of a similar kind. One would also hope, particularly when we get to the committee stage of the Constitutional Convention, that substantial reforms and recommendations will be made and implemented.
– Order! Pursuant to stat ute, I present the following paper:
Audit Act- ‘Finance - Report of the Auditor General for year 1972-73 - accompanied by the Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure.
Ordered that the paper be printed.
– For the information of honourable members I present the report of the Designs Law Review Committee relating to utility models.
– For the information of honourable members I present the annual report on the Territory of Norfolk Island for the year ended 30 June 1972.
– Pursuant to section 168 of the Trade Practices Act 1971-1972, I present the sixth annual report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices with respect to his operations during the year ended 30 June 1973.
– I ask leave of the House to give to the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) the information he sought in connection with the Parramatta electoral office.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Following the question asked of me by the honourable member for North Sydney, I inquired of Mr Ley, the Chief Electoral Officer, regarding the situation in Parramatta. The Chief Electoral Officer has advised me that the Parramatta Municipal Council gave notice to vacate to all tenants in May 1972 on the grounds that the Council required the premises for its own purposes. New premises were acquired for the Electoral Office at 28 George Street, Parramatta. They have been occupied by the Electoral Officer on and from 2 June 1973. The Town Hall was in fact too small and cramped for Electoral Office purposes. In any event we were seeking alternative accommodation. Parramatta Council gave a deferment to the Electoral Office until I January 1973 on account of the House of Representatives election. This was further deferred until 2 June 1973. It is understood that the ALP has since occupied the premises formerly occupied-
– It is understood that the Australian Labor Party has since occupied the premises formerly occupied by the Electoral Office but there is no connection between these moves. I ask the Leader of the Australian Country Party whether he will take the word of the Chief Electoral Officer on that matter or does he say in contradiction to Mr Ley that there is a connection?
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented in yesterday’s Melbourne Age’. I was misrepresented in an article mentioning me and the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) in relation to an inquiry into the Commonwealth Public Service. The article was written in very extravagant terms. There were disparaging references to the Chairman of the Public Service Board. I have not given an interview to any reporter from the Melbourne ‘Age’ and I cannot recall ever having spoken to anyone from that newspaper. While I have expressed some criticism of the organisation of the Public Service under the Public Service Act I have never referred to any personalities involved in the machinery of the Service. In fact, I have a high regard for most of the officers at management level of the Service.
– by leave - I move:
That Dr the Honourable A. J. Forbes, M.C., being a member of the Liberal Party of Australia, be appointed a member of the Australian Parliament’s delegation to the Constitutional Convention in place of the Honourable N. H. Bowen, Q.C., the latter member having ceased to be a member of the Parliament.
The purpose of this motion will be well understood by honourable members. As honourable members know, the honourable Nigel Bowen resigned from this Parliament recently in consequence of his appointment to the Court of Appeal of New South Wales. It is therefore necessary to appoint a member of this House to replace him as a delegate of this Parliament at the Australian Constitutional Convention, the first meeting of which will be held next week. To preserve the balance of the delegation as agreed to by this House in May, the member appointed to replace the Honourable Nigel Bowen should be a member of the Liberal Party. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has advised me that his Party desires that Dr Forbes should be appointed to the vacancy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) agreed to:
That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of the resolution agreed to by the House of Representatives.
– Order! I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) nominating Mr R. I. Viner, M.P., as an alternate member in place of Dr the honourable A. J. Forbes, M.C., M.P., during that part of the Sydney meeting of the Australian Constitutional Convention when Dr Forbes is unable to attend.
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Australian National University Act 1946-1971 this House elects Dr Klugman and Mr Mackellar to be members of the Council of the Australian National University for a period of 3 years from this day.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Australian National Airlines Bill 1973.
State Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1973.
Debate resumed from 31 May (vide page 2943), on motion by Mr Whitlam:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When this Bill was previously introduced into the House I had a few words to say on the matter and I have very little to add now. I do, however, wish to reiterate quite strongly something which I suggested at the time. That suggestion was to support the establishment of the Film and Television School on the site of 5 acres which is being bought from Macquarie University. But it was also to urge the Government to consider once again acquiring a larger site in the same area in Macquarie University, a full 30 acres if possible, so that there could be established in that area contiguous to each other a number of training schools concerned with the creative and artistic endeavours of the country. The suggestion was that there should be set up not only the Film and Television School but also the National Institute of Dramatic Art, or another institute of dramatic art, and the Ballet School, so that possibly there could be a cross-fertilisation of these particular areas of creative arts, and other arts.
I have heard some objections to this proposal which I think carry very little weight. The major objection has been that the exist ing controllers of the National Institute of Dramatic Art or of the Ballet School do not wish at this stage to move to any new location. This may or may not be true. But a nation is not going to stay indefinitely frozen at one level of population or at one requirement for opportunities to train people in dramatic arts. Anybody who says that because somebody now does not wish to move to a new location and therefore that no new location should be provided is completely overlooking the fact that nations grow and that there can be a requirement for a duplication, if you like, of the National Institute of Dramatic Art and a requirement for a new ballet school, including the one that we have, for music direction and for other matters. It seems to me to make this idea more difficult, if not impossible, by refusing to acquire this additional area. It is merely an indication of a complete lack of vision and a complete lack of understanding of what the Australian community may require in the future.
This may be our last opportunity to establish such a complex in Australia. It seems to me that it is a case where it is impossible for the Government to lose because if this area of land is acquired now and if it is not ultimately used for the purposes for which I suggest it may be used, then without any doubt at all the Government can dispose of the land at some later stage, having the added charm of novelty that almost certainly a very great profit would accrue to the Government when the time came for that disposal. I hope it is not considered that I am in any way seeking to criticise the Government on this proposal. I am not. The proposal has extended over far more than one government. I am merely doing what I can to say that I hope that this last opportunity to buy in one area land where a complex concerned with all of these creative arts can be built will not be passed up at this stage. From the point of view of the Government and of the artistic community, it is a case of ‘Heads I win, tails you lose’, because there cannot be a loss to the Government by going ahead.
Thereis one other matter to which I wish to refer. It is not directly connected with this Bill, but I think that it is sufficiently closely connected with it and its objectives to be in order and I hope that you, Mr Speaker, will agree with that view. The establishment of the Film and Television School is basically a desire to see that there is as much excellence as possible in those who direct and produce films, those who light them, those who design the scenery - those engaged in all the technical aspects of films. This, of course, is good. Added to it is the desire to teach people how to write film scripts. The whole of that is good. But what is equally necessary is that once this institute to provide technical excellence is established and once that in turn produces Australian films of high standard, those films should have an opportunity of being shown to the Australian public.
Tied up with the concept of this Bill providing excellence and with the Film Development Corporation providing finance for the making of Australian films is also a requirement that there should be provided to those who make these films a full opportunity to show them to the Australian people. That is part of the whole complex. At the moment this is not being done. At present the 2 large overseas chains of theatre owners in Australia make it almost impossible for an Australian film to be shown at their theatres. No one expects them to show a film that loses money but one expects them to show an Australian film that makes money, even if its does not make as much money as they would make from an imported film. In addition, the independent theatre owners - there are diminishing numbers of them - are finding it difficult to get films which are brought to Australia from overseas makers and are in danger of being crowded out of business altogether. If that should happen that area for the distribution and the showing of Australian films also would be lost.
I notice that Dr Coombs has suggested that some action might be taken to buy or run theatres to show Australian films. I suggest that we might go further and that the Government might well consider taking some action to persuade overseas film distributors to show Australian films. Such persuasive action can be taken, I suppose, through various taxation measures which would take account of the number of Australian films shown. Action also can be taken to try to protect Australian independent owners of theatres in this nation. As I said, this is not directly connected with the Bill but clearly it is an extension of the desire expressed in the Bill and one which I urge the Government to study. Other than this I can only express great satisfaction that the Australian Film and Television School is being established and great hopes that steps will not stop there.
– The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) introduced the Film and Television School Bill on 31 May and on 22 June he appointed a permanent Council for that school under the chairmanship of Mr Barry Jones. Not even the very greatly increased appropriations for the arts announced in last Tuesday’s Budget speak more clearly of the seriousness with which Australia’s new Government is taking its responsibilities in the field of the arts. I think that it was duplicity - that word is not too strong - delay and procrastination on this matter of the film and television training school more than any other single matter which cost Australia’s former Government its credibility among people in whose eyes the arts are a major determinant in the quality of life. Honourable members will recall that the need for an Australian film and television training school was raised originally by the Australian Council for the Arts, that the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) undertook in his 1969 election policy speech as Leader of the Liberal Party to establish an interim council to investigate and report upon the project and that at the time when the right honourable member removed himself from office the report was in hand and a start was to be made. When, a few minutes ago, the right honourable gentleman said that a complete lack of vision had been displayed over this project he took the trouble to point out to the House that he was not referring to the current Government.
Honourable members will recall how the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) as Prime Minister and my predecessor in Casey, as Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts endeavoured, in the parlance of the day, to de-Gortonise this project along with many other projects in a manner that was highly disruptive to the unity of the Liberal Party and damaging to its electoral prospects. It may turn out that the name of the film and television school is engraved on the heart of the right honourable member for Lowe in much the same way as the word ‘Calais’ was engraved on the heart of an earlier national leader. On 8 September 1971 the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts said in answer to a question without notice from the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley):
Whilst the Council’s enthusiasm for this project is fully apparent, the continuing economic stringencies and the substantial cost of its proposals - estimated to be over $7m during the next 5 years - have led to consideration of the proposals being deferred for 12 months.
On 10 September 1971 he told the then Leader of the Opposition that the cost of land for the school would be $2.4m and to spend $7m to provide 12 graduates a year is rather expensive at the moment.’ On 16 September 1971 he told the right honourable member for Higgins and the honourable member for Diamond Valley: we can get just as much aid for the film industry over the years at a very much less cost than by setting up an expensive school from which, at the moment, we cannot be certain that we will need all the graduates.
It was true that the Minister had been instructed in a telephone call from the then Prime Minister to abort once and for all the film and television training school which had been so great a source of satisfaction to his predecessor, but it was not true either that the cost of establishing the school would be $7m or that its output would be limited to a dozen graduates. The right honourable member for Higgins rightly was not prepared to let the matter rest. He protested with such effect that on 7 October 1971 the Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe, told the former member for Shortland: it has not been abandoned but merely deferred . . . within recent weeks I have had discussions with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, and I have pointed out to him that he is to proceed as quickly as possible to collect all the evidence that becomes available to him so that the proposal can be presented to the Government well before the next Budget and not necessarily therefore in a Budget context.
On 13 October the right honourable member for Higgins told the House that the cost of land for the school was not $2.4m but $320,000. He disclosed that the 12 graduates a year to which the Minister had referred represented in fact an intake of 50 students annually and an annual capacity for absorbing between 30 and 40 graduates on the part of the industry. On 25 October the Minister had an exchange of messages with the Interim Council substantiating the figures put forward by the right honourable member for Higgins, and he drew these messages to the attention of the then Prime Minister. But that right honourable gentleman preferred to ignore them in his statement of 26 October supporting the Minister. It was only after sustained questioning by the then Leader of the Opposition, the then Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) that this additional information was produced. The then Prime Minister told the House on 23 November 1971:
On 24 November he told the House that the letters had been received by a committee which, I think, is under the chairmanship of my colleague, the Treasurer, and also has the Attorney-General on it’. It was clear that day from the expression on the face of the Treasurer - the present Leader of the Opposition - that if the committee existed that was the first he had heard about it. On 2 December the then Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe:
Did the Prime Minister, before establishing a group of Ministers chaired by the Treasurer to handle the matter of the national film and television training school, advise the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts of his intention to do so?
He was told by the Prime Minister:
I advised all Ministers at roughly the same time. In other words, the decision to establish the committee was mine, and, in accordance with normal Cabinet practice, I then advised the Ministers through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
On 19 April 1972 the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts announced that the Government had received a third report from the Interim Council. He said that on the basis of this report it would establish a film and television training school at a capital cost of $2. 7m and a recurrent cost totalling over 5 years $ 1.61m and that during the establishment process there would be an interim film and television training scheme costing annually $150,600. On 24 August the Minister announced that Mr Storry Watson had been appointed as director of the interim training school. The matter rested at that point until the new Government introduced this Bill on 31 May.
No debate on this matter would be complete if it omitted a tribute to the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) for the vision he showed in the matter of the film and television training school and for the persistence with which he pursued that project. I believe it is safe to say that if the right honourable member for Higgins had not been Prime Minister when the Australian Council for the Arts produced its proposal for the establishment of the film and television training school that project would not have been taken up by the government of the day. I believe equally that if the right honourable member for Higgins had not displayed very great persistence and some political courage in the months immediately following his departure from the Prime Ministership to the Ministry for Defence, the project would certainly have been dropped by his successor. This country is the richer for that vision, persistence and courage. The right honourable member will find a number of places in the history books of this country, not all of which I think he will appreciate or would have chosen himself, but in this one I think he will long take pride.
One of the disappointing aspects of the debate which took place in the latter months of 1971 about the film and television training school was the very narrow focus given by the government of the day to the potential application of graduates from the school. To have heard the then Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts talk at the time one might have supposed that Australia had no film industry and that there would have been no opening for the graduates of the school other than in our limited number of television studios. In fact the Minister grossly underestimated the capacity both of the television industry and our budding film industry to absorb graduates. But the most depressing feature of his stand was that he completely omitted to give consideration either to the enormous scope which exists for graduates from such an institution in the schools of this country or to the new possibilities for such graduates in areas only now being opened up by technological innovation in the electronics industry. The prospect of the introduction of cable television in this country, operating on the basis of viewer payment at the point of delivery, and the prospect of the introduction of video cassettes open up enormous new fields for the independent Australian producer, writer, craftsman, cameraman - in a word, for every member of the production team.
Whereas since 1956 a very few television channels, facing very formidable problems in obtaining an adequate return on their heavy capital investment, have dominated the market for television material, new opportunities are now opening up for the production of film and particularly of videotape by individuals and groups who will be able to move into the field on the basis of quite slender capital investments. The film and television training school has a very large contribution to make in ensuring that maximum advantage is taken of these new technological opportunities.
I should say, too, that one of the encouraging features of education in this country is the way in which, for the first time, the visual media are being taken with a seriousness approaching that which schools have always brought to the printed word. Many of us have thought quite disproportionate in recent years the number of hours the English syllabus of schools at all levels, and for that matter at tertiary institutions, have devoted to the printed word to the exclusion of a critical consideration of the visual media, and chiefly of television, with which the ordinary Australian is much more intimately involved and over which he spends an infinitely greater proportion of his leisure hours. If we are to have the matter of the visual media tackled at a proper level within the English syllabuses of schools we will need a new sort of teacher. It is not enough to expect teachers trained in the traditional discipline of English and having perhaps an amateur’s interest in the visual media to undertake the responsibility for inculcating in their pupils a proper critical awareness of the material which is put before them on their television screens. It is necessary, if such a critical appreciation is to be inculcated, for those responsible for the process to have not only an aesthetic understanding of the visual media but also a feel for the technical and technological background of those media. I believe that the film and television training school, in addition to lifting immeasurably the standards of writing, camera work and direction in the television and film industries, will make a very great contribution to the level of teaching in this new area in our schools. Its importance in that respect should not be underestimated.
All Australians concerned with the arts, with the quality of the media of information in this country and with the relevance of education in this country will salute the step which has been taken by the Government in bringing forward this Bill and establishing this school. Their appreciation will be enhanced if the Government, in addition to the proposal that is already expressed in this Bill, will go further and take up the suggestions put by the right honourable member for Higgins in associating with this school other preparatory institutions for the performing arts. All Australians concerned with the relevance of the media of information and with the relevance of education in this country will salute what has been done. They will deplore the fact that so much might so readily have been done 2 years ago. They will remember the name of the member of this Parliament to whose initiative and determination it should properly be attributed.
– Those honourable members in the House who wanted to have a little morning doze would have been indebted to the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) for his monotonous, archaic monologue which seemed to be devoted more primarily to taking apart the former honourable member for Casey who was Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. This seems to be a compulsion on the part of honourable members on the other side of the House. It is a compulsion not so much to attack the previous Government but to be archaic. I suggest to the honourable member for Casey that he would do well to do one of 2 things: Either he should enrol in the film and television school himself to bring more fire into his addresses to the House or, better still, perhaps spend an hour or 2 with the Leader of the House, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). I am sure that either course would help him to keep the House awake during his addresses.
I point out that I have had something to do with this industry. I have been a theatre proprietor for many years. In this capacity., as well as being a member of the House, I commend the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in introducing this Bill. In contrast to the destructive address that we have just head, let us look at the opening address of the Prime Minister when he introduced the Bill. He said that it marks the culmination of 3 years of extensive planning. This would hardly do discredit-
– The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) tries to interject. I have told him before that he is a didgeridoo. He makes a lot of noise but he is full of emptiness.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member for Bowman will be quiet. I suggest to the honourable member for Kennedy that if he wishes to continue his remarks he address himself to the Chair and not provoke interjections.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, because of my respect for you, I address the Chair with great pleasure. All who are interested in the film industry and in television are delighted that this step has been taken by the Prime Minister. Of course, I join with the honourable member for Casey in commending one of our outstanding members on this side of the House, namely, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). For the benefit of listeners who are not members of the House, I mention that he is John Gorton. They might not remember that he is the right honourable member for Higgins, but certainly they will remember John Gorton. It was his foresight and concern for the industry and the standard of production that caused him to battle this Bill through. Now we see it taking shape. Let us look at the industry.
– Where was the honourable member?
– The honourable member is becoming very vociferous now. He was as dull as a bandicoot - perhaps I could say - this morning. I do not know how dull bandicoots are but he was very dull this morning. Admittedly, we have come a long way with Australian film production over the last 5 to 10 years. I well remember and pay credit to the wife of one of our most distinguished members, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). We knew her before as Daphne Campbell. If the sort of skill which has been referred to and which will now come into use under the provisions of this Bill had been available when the film production ‘The Overlanders’ was made, Daphne Campbell would have become a great star. But there was no opportunity for the development of our own artists at that time.
I would like to deal briefly with 2 aspects of the involvement of this Bill. The first is the absolute necessity for the Australian film industry to become recognised internationally. With all due respect to the Foundation Director who has been appointed - I have no doubt that Professor Jerzy Toeplitz is a man of outstanding ability and probably of international reputation - I would ask this: Would anyone interested in seeing a good film attend its showing if he was told that it was a production under the organisation of Professor Toeplitz?
People would say: ‘Who is Professor Toeplitz?’ Maybe he will be known in future years. The comment has been made by Dr Coombs that we should contemplate buying theatres so that we can show Australian productions. With all due respect to Dr Coombs I say that, in my opinion, that is a great admission of defeat. I do not care how many theatres are bought or how much coercion is brought to bear on the Australian people to look at an Australian film, if that film is not produced with a quality that the people demand these days, they will probably look at television or at something else, go swimming or engage in some of the other activities which are so well known in this country.
So, in my humble opinion, we have to aim at producing an initial film of great quality. A large proportion of the moneys that have been made available should be directed to this project. I suggest respectfully that we consider employing a producer such as David Lean, a man who is internationally known for such recent productions as ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ and earlier productions such as ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Doctor Zhivago’. The double advantage of having a man of that prestige and of that tremendous talent would be that he would work with those people who are involved in the operations of the School, and they would be off to a tremendous start. The industry would be off to a tremendous start. Internationally, it has not done well. Let us face facts. Let us not be over-patriotic and say ‘We produced a great Australian film- “Ned Kelly”.’ Would not this film be the most classical piece of misdirection and miscasting that was ever perpetrated in the whole of the film industry of this or any other country? It ran for one week in New York. If Lionel Long or Ron Randell had been the star, it would have been a different story. But Dean Jagger, the pop singer, was the star.
– It was Mick Jagger.
– I cannot even remember his name. What a great Ned Kelly. This piece of casting was utterly hopeless. Everyone in the film industry said that. I have been perhaps a little destructive to date. We have seen what we could call the age of Hector Crawford. He is a man of great talent and a man who can orientate productions to what the people want. I pause to say that this Government has one peculiarity. It reminds me of a story which 1 heard about an agitator in
Townsville who said: ‘When we take over, my friends, you will have the lovely homes at Surfers Paradise. The workers will have the lovely homes at Surfers Paradise, not all these wealthy people’. One old fellow said: ‘I suffer from asthma. I do not want to live by the sea. I do not like the sea.’ The agitator said: My friend, when we take over, you will like what you are told to like’. This is the sort of government that we are moving into - briefly, I expect. I rather think that the honourable member for Casey, who has left the chamber and who was disturbed today, was doubly disturbed by the poll result at the weekend. I am sure that it brought him no comfort to know that we now have 48 per cent of the vote in Sydney and Melbourne, not out in the country. I would like to know the result of a poll out there at the moment. But in Sydney and Melbourne 48 per cent are for us and 46 per cent are for the Australian Labor Party. It is little wonder that the honourable member is unnerved.
It is utterly essential that we set a very high standard of production. Last Sunday night we saw the first release of this new series ‘Seven Little Australians’. I thought that the casting, the direction and the production were quite superb. As a matter of fact, I wired the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I did not get a reply, and this rather disturbs me. I particularly wanted to know who the producer and director were so that I could pay tribute to them and to all who were involved in this new series. It was quite superb. The young artist who played the part of Judy is a very delightful person and obviously is a young star with great talent. I thought that she was quite outstanding, as was Leonard Teale. I think this will be a great series. So, we have the talent. I appeal to the Prime Minister to ensure that the initial production which will launch this school is a great Australian production. What tremendous scope we have for producing great films in this nation. But I think it is time we realised that we are not much good at these indoor, yackety-yack, stagy kind of films. I think it is time we gave up the double bed for the double barrel. We are not good at that sort of thing. I mean that we are not good at it in movies; I am not suggesting that we lack prowess in any other direction. I suppose ill-informed people will now regard me as anti-permissive. That is not a bad reputation to have you know; you can hide all sorts of indiscretions.
However, I feel that we can make great outdoor movies. We would have no trouble in casting such films because the average Australian is rugged, he is humorous, he has initiative and he has appearance. Do not look at me; I am talking about the average Australian. So we have this great line-up of attributes that will produce really great stars for outdoor movies. And what themes we could develop - exploration, the early mining days and many wonderful stories revolving around our Aboriginal people. I shall not repeat what one of my colleagues has just said by way of interjection about one of our Ministers except to say that it is said that the mining industry is ailing because it is suffering from .rhoea’. However that does not relate to this Bill. We will deal with that later on.
I reiterate 2 points: Firstly, we should launch this School in a most dramatic way by bringing a man such as David Lean to Australia to work with our people and to show them the type of producer who earned an international reputation and won so many academy awards that I have lost count of them. Again I mention a couple of his productions, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Ryan’s Daughter’. Secondly, even though we have a man of the obvious great capabilities of Professor Jerzy Toeplitz, I feel that we have to involve all sections. When we are talking of Professor Toeplitz, it is quite obvious to everyone, of course, particularly to me, a man who comes from a cosmopolitan city such as Mt Isa, that we have such a tremendous reservoir of talent from which to draw among people who have come to Australia from Europe and other parts of the world. We have a great new reservoir open to us now from which we can draw to produce film and television series such as ‘Seven Little Australians’.
Finally, I pay tribute to the Prime Minister for continuing a theme that was set by the former Prime Minister, John Gorton, and for the fact that the film and television school is now to be established. But I ask that we do not do the sort of thing that was done with the film, ‘Ned Kelly’, that is bring someone from overseas, a pop singer with an English accent, to take the part of a fellow such as Ned Kelly. What happened with the film ‘Ned Kelly’ was pathetic; it was deplorable. Let us hope it will be avoided in the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith
Bill (on motion by Mr Whitlam) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 4 April (vide page 1072), on motion by Mr Connor:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the House is a very minor one. It seeks to abolish the full time position of executive member of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and substitute for it a position of part time member. Honourable members will recall that the original reason for setting up the position of executive member was that Sir Philip Baxter, when he first became Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, had other duties to perform notably as Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales. Sir Philip was then the outstanding expert in Australia on atomic energy and he made a great contribution to our Australian Atomic Energy Commission, while the day to day administration was carried out by Mr Maurice Timbs who was then the executive member. On his retirement from the University of New South Wales Sir Philip became full time chairman of the Commission and later showed the prestige with which he is regarded throughout the world by being appointed chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors for 1969- 70. Now Sir Philip has retired from the position of Chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and I wish to place on record my appreciation of the services of a man who devoted a great deal of time to the service of the community and the British Empire in war arid in peace and who was not only a highly competent technical officer but also an extremely able administrator. He has built up a body of experts in the Commission whose research work is highly regarded throughout the world. Sir Philip has been replaced by Mr R. W. Boswell, O.B.E., M.Sc, a previous member of the Commission and a previous secretary of the Department of National Development, while Mr Maurice Timbs has become Secretary of the Department of Services and Property.
The Commission now consists of 4 extremely able men. I can claim some credit for this as I appointed 3 of the 4 members to the Commission. Although I did not appoint Mr Boswell as chairman, I appointed him at an earlier stage when he was Secretary of the Department of National Development. Al) these members have made a considerable contribution to atomic energy research and application in Australia. I want to thank in particular Dr R. Ward, M.A., Ph.D. (Cantab.), a senior research officer of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, who has done much to keep the Commission informed of industry’s needs and problems and to inform industry what areas there are in which atomic energy and particularly radio isotopes can be useful to them. Now there will be one vacancy on the Commission which the Minister will shortly fill. In doing so I hope that he will bear in mind primarily the greatest good of our country, as I believe I did, and not seek just to give a suitable and well paid job to some Party supporter.
There are 2 areas in which I feel the Commission can be and needs to be further strengthened. This is certainly not in the technical field as it is undoubtedly the acknowledged technical expert in atomic energy in Australia. It amazes me that people are sometimes prepared to take the word of university professors, or so-called experts with little or no knowledge, especially in the field of radiation, instead of taking -advice from the specially constituted and independent body set up to advise the Government in nuclear fields. For example, we all know that a major report by the Commission on atmospheric nuclear testing was not made available to the public because it did not support the line that was being taken at the time against nuclear fallout. This report was available to the Government in February and was longer and much more detailed than a similar report drawn up by a committee of the Australian Academy of Science and released late in April.
I said that there are 2 areas in which the Commission could be further strengthened. One of these is in bringing it still closer to industry. The other is in getting nuclear power accepted by the public. After all, as the Commission points out, uranium is expected to become the basic fuel for man’s energy needs in the latter part of this century, both for power and for nuclear powered ships. There is a need to convince the public of the inherent safety of nuclear energy, the safe disposal of its wastes and the fact that strict measures are taken to ensure this continued safety at all times. Public relations must rank high in the future tasks of the Commission and I hope that the new Commissioner and the Commission generally will be able to make a noteworthy contribution in this area.
Finally, whilst the Commission is primarily aimed at research and advice to the Government on atomic energy, I believe that insufficient research is being undertaken in Australia in another field of energy which shows great future promise, namely, solar energy. I hope that the Government will consider broadening the scope of the Commission to enable it to carry out this work which obviously it is eminently suited to do. The Opposition supports this Bill.
– I concur, of course, in the support of the Atomic Energy Bill but I think the House should realise the importance of the potential work being done by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. It relates not only to the peaceful use of atomic energy; it also must have some implications in the defence field. I would like to say something briefly about the implications in the defence field. I agree with what my friend the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) said about the rather discreditable way in which the Government has switched around its technical advice on some of these matters. I refer, of course, to the abandonment of the National Radiation Advisory Committee which was dissolved because its members refused to be associated with a campaign of deception which the Government was undertaking in this field. I want to make it quite clear that I regard the question of nuclear disarmament as one of the most important questions facing not only this country but also the world. It is a question intimately bound up with the survival of mankind. I do not want anything I say to derogate from the importance of this situation. I do not think that our standing in this area or the overall success of the world campaign for nuclear disarmament has been furthered by a campaign of lies about the effects of nuclear radiation. I speak particularly of the French tests. I am one who hopes for world disarmament and I believe we should be doing everything to get it. However I do not believe that that campaign is helped by lying, and that is what has happened.
There has been an absolutely ridiculous exaggeration of the radiation effects of the French tests. What has happened is monstrous. It is monstrous that when the Government found that its advisers on the National Radiation Advisory Committee-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Mackellar that the purpose of the Bill is to appoint a person as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. The honourable member has been speaking for about 4 minutes. This is not a debate on the use or application of nuclear energy. I suggest that he apply himself to the Bill, which has a very limited ambit.
– I realise that and I want to talk about the importance of the functions which will reside in the Commission which is the subject of this Bill. As such I think that my remarks, with all due respect, would be in order. I am speaking of the functions that this Commission now has to carry out as a result of what has happened in regard to the National Radiation Advisory Committee.
-Order! I point out to the honourable member that this Bill does not alter in any way the functions of the Commission. The only purpose of this Bill is to appoint a Chairman.
– Quite so, but the Chairman is the Chairman of the Commission
-The functions of the Chairman to be appointed are the same as those of the previous Chairman.
– Of course, but I am saying that the Chairman now will have additional responsibility because of what the Government has done in another and parallel field. I am trying to say how important this position is because of the functions which the chairman must carry out. It is a great pity that the Government’s advisers in another field-
– Order! The honourable member will be out of order if he debates subject matter which is not the subject matter of this Bill.
– I can understand the Government’s sensitivity on this matter.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable gentleman withdraw that. The Standing Orders of this House are well known to him. The Chair does not rule on the basis of what the Government wants or does not want. This Bill is a short measure. If the honourable gentleman is allowed to expand the debate into a general debate on nuclear disarmament it becomes an entirely different debate from the subject matter before the House. I am pointing out to him that he is entitled to debate only the’ subject matter of the Bill. I have given him a fair degree of lenience in this matter.
– I understand entirely-
-Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to withdraw the reflection he made on the Chair.
– I mean no reflection on the Chair.
– Order! I ask him to withdraw it.
– I have some intention of reflecting on the Government; that is not the Chair’s business. I make no reflection whatsoever on the Chair, but I repeat that I can understand the Government’s - not the Chair’s - sensitivity on this matter. Of course, Sir, as an impartial occupant of the Chair, you are not there to defend the Government or do anything of that character. I make it quite clear that my reflection is not on the Chair; my reflection is on the Government. We are talking about the appointment of a chairman to this Commission. I think that, when we are talking about the change which this Bill makes, it is germane to the debate to point out the importance of the function which the Commission discharges. The Commission is the Government’s main adviser on these matters. Therefore, I think it is entirely in order to talk about the responsibilities which lie with the Commission for which we are now appointing a full time chairman. I suggest, Sir, that when you think about this you will realise that what I am saying is entirely in conformity with the normal practices of this House in a debate on the second reading of a Bill.
The Commission will be the Government’s adviser on what I think is the most important of all our international affairs. Something very regrettable, something which I think could have been foreseen, is happening in the international field. The power to make nuclear weapons - the Commission must be the Government’s adviser in this matter - is now proliferating among other nations. We know that already nuclear weapons are in the hands of the United States of America, the Soviet Union, Communist China, Great Brittain and France. I think that the Commission would be in a position to advise the Government that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, because of new techniques-
– I suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the honourable member is persistently and wilfully defying the ruling of the Chair. I have been more than tolerant in respect of the last 2 speakers. If the honourable member persists in this course of action I will certainly move that the question be put.
– I think that the Chair is able to control the debate. I have pointed out to the honourable gentlemen that I will not allow him to stray too far from the Bill. I suggest to the honourable gentleman that he is now moving back to the situation he had arrived at when I interrupted him initially.
– Thank you, Sir, for your ruling and for your protection. I can well understand the sensitivity of the Government in this matter. I take very hardly the bombastic, overbearing threat of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) that he would move that the question be put in order to gag me. That is an appalling thing. The overbearing nature of the Minister, unfortunately, is typical of the way in which the Government is approaching debates in this House. I want to return to the point I was making. We are deciding whether the Commission is to have this full time executive and we are talking about the composition of the Commission and the way it will advise the Government. As the technical adviser to the Government the Commission will have most important functions. It will have to advise the Government which nations, if any, are likely to possess nuclear armaments in the near future and what are the technical parameters that govern this technical capability on their part. This is a technical matter and the Government will have to make the policy decisions following technical advice. But the technical advice which will or, at any rate, should control the Government’s action, even if it does not accept it, must emanate from this Commission. Therefore it is quite in order for me to talk about these technical matters because the Commission whose composition is now before the House in this Bill is the ad viser to the Government on these technical matters. When the Commission considers what is known in the rest of the world it will probably have the duty to advise the Government that nuclear armaments are now within the capacity of a number of other countries such as Japan, South Africa, India, Israel and perhaps a number of South American States, because these countries-
-Order! I think the honourable gentleman is again getting a bit wide of the mark.
– With all respect, I want to make it quite clear that the Commission is the only body capable of giving technical advice to the Government on ‘this matter.
-I acknowledge that the Commission is the only body. However, I have pointed out to the honourable member that all that this Bill does is appoint a chairman. It does not alter in any way the guidelines set down for the Commission’s operation. It is a very narrow measure which the honourable member is attempting to turn into a general debate on nuclear armaments. I suggest to the honourable gentleman that if he cannot confine his remarks to the Bill he ought to wind up his speech.
– Of course, I will confine my remarks to the Bill. This Bill either does something or it does nothing. If it does nothing, what are we talking about? If it does something - and one would hope that it does - it refers to the composition of the Commission and it therefore refers to the competence and to the facilities which the Commission will have. After all, if it does not matter whether we have a full time chairman or not, why do we have a Bill? If it does matter - and I think it does - then we have to look at the responsibilities of the Commission I do not want to stretch this too far. But I say that the whole of the Australian defence and security position, like that of other countries, will depend upon technical advice given by the Commission as to the possible proliferation of nuclear armaments in the hands of other countries. This I believe to be one of the most important questions, if not the most important question, which this House will have to debate. I regret that the Government has not yet seen fit to give the House an opportunity to debate this important issue. Since you have ruled, Mr Deputy
Speaker, that I may not debate now the question I have very little more to say. I support this Bill and I express the hope that in the near future the Government will allow this whole vital nuclear question to be debated in this House. I hope that the Government also will give to this House an opportunity of debating the Government’s own discreditable actions in sacking the National Radiation Advisory Committee in order to cover up a lie which it has been propagating throughout the electorate.
– in reply - I do not propose to trespass further on the time of the House. I merely say that the last 2 speakers are as far back in their thinking as the present Act is. I do not reflect on the capacity or services of the individual members of the National Radiation Advisory Committee. But around this measure there is - and I am speaking of the parent measure; the Atomic Energy Act 1953 - a strong flavour of the Oak Ridge mentality when it was presumed by one world power that it had a complete monopoly and would be able to retain a complete monopoly of atomic energy and its application to explosives. Accordingly we will be having a very good look at the whole measure not just merely the trifling matter of an extra appointment as suggested by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr Connor) proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– 1 just take this opportunity of thanking the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) for the remarks that he made in closing the second reading debate. They were, I think, remarks which underline the point I was trying to make. As I have said, I take this opportunity of thanking him for those remarks and I hope they will be translated into action and that an opportunity will be given for this House to debate further the very important and the overriding questions which he mentioned in his closing remarks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 12 April (vide page 1440), on motion by Mr Morrison:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill amends the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act by seeking to extend the jurisdiction of section 15. That section provides that no action or proceedings, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for broadcasting or rebroadcasting any portion of the proceedings of either House of Parliament. The effect of this Bill is to extend the protection of section 15 to the territories not forming part of Australia. The extension of this protection meets a situation which is not at this time covered by Australian legislation. The Bill also incorporates some minor amendments which relate to various dates and titles which the Government indicated would have been included in a proposed statute law revision Bill but which have been included in this BDI for reasons of expediency. The Opposition supports the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Morrison) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 23 May (vide page 2502), on motion by Dr Patterson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering both measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The wine industry is one of the shining stars of the rural industries. Through a period of expansion over the last decade it rode comparatively unassailed during the rural slump and has gone from a small to a large industry now using over 350,000 tonnes of grapes a year and selling annually about 30 million gallons of wine. It is an industry that has been characterised by close interdependence between individual grape growers, the wineries and the distilleries. It has been traditionally a South Australian industry although significant wineries have been established in the Rutherglen area of Victoria and in the irrigated area of the Riverina electorate of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby). In the Paterson electorate wineries are being constructed at present by many of the major companies and smaller operators.
Although the individual grape growers are still vital to the industry the wineries in South Australia now own about one-quarter of the vineyard acreage in that State. The industry has spread to the Hunter Valley where thousands of acres of vineyards are established or are being established by wineries. At present it is estimated that the capital investment in the Hunter Valley is of the order of $60m. Marketing is becoming more sophisticated and fiercely competitive. The radical changes in the wine industry that I have mentioned have not been painless and are not complete. Nevertheless, they have transformed the essential character of the industry and have posed some very pertinent questions relating to its general nature and to the specific provisions of this legislation. Is the industry destined to resolve its ultimate structure into a limited number of large wineries, each part of a business empire? What is the future for the growers and co-operatives in South Australia who have traditionally been suppliers of bulk wine to other wineries? What is the future of the small scale grape grower who supplies grapes to the co-operatives and to other wineries? The complete answers to these questions are shrouded by the uncertainties of the future.
It should be clearly understood that the wine and brandy industry has been hit to leg by legislation. Consequently for thousands of grape growers the industry has been hit to the extent of about $20m a year. How ironic it is when reflecting on the Budget figures that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) had previously given an assurance that the wine excise would not be reintroduced. We have heard the honourable member for Riverina castigating the previous Government for introducing a wine excise duty which returned about $10m. We find that legislation which will hit this industry to the extent of $20m a year is going to be enacted. The Labor Party has made much play of its intention to eliminate the wine excise. This legislation will cost the industry many millions of dollars more than the wine excise would have cost it. There is a continual requirement for Government policy to be responsive to the changing nature of the rural economy and one of the most rapidly and fundamentally changing areas is in the wine and grape growing industries.
The Australian Wine Board has a legal responsibility for regulating the export trade of the industry in promoting the sale of Australian wine and brandy in Australia and overseas. It is an old institution dating back to 1929. It is legitimate to ask whether its structure, functions and activities relate meaningfully to the industry as it exists in 1973. Such a question can also be asked about a number of other commodity boards which service industries, in new circumstances and having new problems, with old structures and old legislation. ,1 support the intention of the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) to review the operation of these marketing boards. In this review the nature of the statutory marketing authorities must be assessed in relation to the circumstances of the industry. The leadership must have a dynamic influence on the industry it leads. There is no room for outdated attitudes and sterile thinking. However, amid the fervour of reformist zeal there should be a clear understanding of basic principles. The grower is the owner of the commodity he produces and he should be responsible for the terms of its disposal.
Traditionally statutory marketing boards have embodied a strong degree of grower representation. The concept of grower control on marketing boards may offend the economic purist. There may be more qualified people in a particular ‘area of agriculture to deliberate on marketing policy than are available among growers. That, however, is not the point. The point is that the same democratic principles that govern the administration of this nation should govern the administration of these boards and in particular, of course, the Wine Board. Members of Parliament may not be the most efficient, knowledgeable or expert people to deal with the complexities of national legislation or administration. Neither may State politicians or shire councillors or city aldermen. A Minister holding a portfolio may in academic terms be less proficient than his Public Service subordinates. The point is that such people represent those whom they administer. They are responsible to them and responsive to their problems. If they make mistakes they answer to those who elect them. They represent, however inadequately or abstractly, the wishes and aspirations of others. If the Minister for Primary Industry changes grower control or marketing boards he will change more than legislation. He will change a principle that is broadly significant. The objective is efficiency. The overriding concern is democracy. I believe that there should be a reappraisal of marketing boards and they should be upgraded as much as possible but if the price is the ending of grower influence then that price is unacceptably high.
I make these comments because the Australian Wine Board, along with other boards, is being examined by this Government and I wish to state my attitude clearly on this industry and on the structure of this board. I do not oppose this legislation. It is of a machinery nature. But it is important to draw attention to the wider issues involved in consideration of the future role of rural marketing organisations in this country. The wine makers fear the heavy blows which legislation will impose on their industry. Although, apart from the brandy imbibers, the wine drinkers got off scot free in last week’s Budget some severe blows are being dealt to the industry. For instance, the method of valuing wine stocks has been interfered with. Brandy wine and wine are commodities which mature over a number of years. The old method of valuing wine stocks was 15c a bottle. This new method will certainly impose very heavy penalties on vineyards, wineries and all those associated with the wine business. It will place enormous financial strains on all established wine making businesses. Wine making and grape growing are not nearly as efficient as seems to be popularly believed. Probably no other business gives such a small return on the funds invested as does the wine making industry. In my own area - I know this goes for most vineyard areas throughout Australia - a lot of small people in the industry will find it extremely difficult to meet this impost. Another slug has been placed on brandy wine, which is a stimulant and is given to invalids. Under this new method there is no doubt whatever that the price of brandy could double. This could place a severe strain on invalids and other people who consume brandy for medicinal purposes.
– I do this myself.
– That is right. The honourable member and I know of people who have to use brandy in this way. They are not inebriates but they use brandy for medicinal purposes. If they have to pay twice the price for a bottle of brandy this will be a very severe additional cost to them. There is great disquiet in the industry despite the Government’s insistence that wine stocks are no different from any other product. Few products take as long to make as wine. Wine, through a long period of maturation, could be considered as work in progress. This would be a much fairer method of valuing wine stocks. Work in progress is an accepted method in industry such as the engineering and building industries. Why could not the Government give consideration to the valuation of wine stocks on this basis? This would give the wine growers an opportunity to spread the impost over a period instead of being faced with a sudden method of valuing which will affect them considerably financially.
Over many years brandy has proved to be the only outlet for surplus grapes. However the process makes it a more expensive spirit than that produced from grain or vinegar products. Besides the fact that all spirits will be more expensive and therefore less attractive to the consumer than they have been in the past, the loss of the duty advantage for brandy will make it more expensive again and this will have a disastrous effect on sales. This is particularly so when local brandy is suffering some market disfavour because of cheaper brandies coming in, particularly from France. This will mean an intensity of the problems faced by those engaged in this industry. This could really push the small family winery into severe difficulties. In addition to all the factors I have mentioned the family wineries will have to meet a far higher taxation bill in the future, following the increase in private company tax. We all know that family companies in this industry have received the benefit of the private rate of income tax which is applicable to private companies. Now they will have to pay the same tax as public companies. This is another imposition which will severely affect the small private companies operating in the wine business.
As I mentioned earlier, when we were in government and imposed an excise on wine which brought the Federal authorities something like $10m we were howled down by honourable members like the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and by others for this iniquitous tax. We find, when we investigate the efforts of the present Government in the wine and vineyard area, that it has not imposed a charge of $10m but something of the order of $20m. As mentioned earlier, this will severely affect vineyards throughout Australia, it will severely affect our opportunities for exporting wines and of competing with overseas countries in export markets and in Australia it will have an upward effect on the price of wine and brandy products. I bring these facts forward for the consideration of the Government. The Opposition feels that these taxes are excessive and are not in the interests of the wine growing industry which has stood on its feet for many years and has never asked any government for assistance. Any development or any progress that it has made has been entirely by its own initiative and by its own efforts. I deplore the fact that the Government has hit the industry so severely in this way. I commend my remarks to the attention of members of the Government and those who could possibly lessen the burden which has been placed on the vineyards and wineries.
– It was my intention to concentrate my remarks on the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill and the Wine Grapes Charges Bill which are before the House but, in light of some of the statements made by the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe) and having regard to what has been happening to our rural industries during the last 23 years under LiberalCountry Party governments, I feel that I should at least refer to some of the statements which have been made. It must be remembered that effective planning by any sincere government may make adjustments necessary for the benefit of the national econ omy. Decisions that have been made by this Government have long term benefits but in the short term, in some areas, could be unpopular. Some decisions made by this Government have been unpopular in my electorate but I think that the average Australian realises that a national government has a responsibility to assist expanding industries and this often requires a reallocation of resources. In discussing these Bills I shall endeavour to point out areas where assistance to the wine industry and the dried vine fruit industry, which of course is closely allied, will have a far greater long term benefit both to these industries and to the nation as a whole.
The Wine Grapes Charges Bill has as its purpose the conversion to metric measure of the definitions of a ‘winery’ and a ‘distillery’ and, in particular, for conversion into metric measure of the maximum rates of charges applicable to the grape intakes of these places under the Wine Grapes Charges Act 1929- 1969. The Bill proposes changing the imperial system of quantity of 10 tons to the nearest rational metric quantity of 10 tonnes. It provides also for an increase of about l.Sc in the maximum rate of charges. As the funds raised under the Wine Grapes Charges Act account for the whole of the income of the Australian Wine Board no one should object to this small increase, providing that other sections of the industry are viable and are run economically. To ascertain this I believe k is necessary for us to examine what has been happening in the wine industry over the last few years.
Since 1965 there has been a boom in the wine industry. As has been stated in this House, wine consumption has been increasing at the rate of from 10 to 11 per cent per annum. Of course, this has resulted in large scale investment by large companies in wineries. It has also resulted in increases in the plantings of dual purpose grapes as well as the wine varieties. However, a complicating factor was the introduction of the 50c excise duty. Consumption fell as a result of its introduction from 24 million gallons in 1969-70 to 22 million gallons in 1970-71 - a drop of almost 9 per cent. Following the reduction of the excise duty last year we heard reports of improved sales figures. However, the sections handling bulk wines and fortified wines did not improve. As a matter of fact, the consumption of fortified wines declined. Those responsible for growing wine grapes had problems marketing them.
The dried fruits industry would have felt the effects had good seasons prevailed because the dual purpose grapes would have reverted to the dried fruits industry. It should be also kept in mind that the stabilisation scheme introduced in 1971 would have been of little assistance to these people because of the limit of $23 a ton on the bounty to be paid. That bounty had a limit of 75,000 tons. The Australian Dried Fruits Association estimated that the production of dried sultanas would be in the vicinity of 90,000 tons. In 1967 fresh weight diversion of dual purpose sultanas to wineries amounted to 17,134 tons. By 1969 the fresh weight diversion had risen to 56,087 tons. The dried fruit industry would have been in great danger if all of those dual purpose sultanas had been diverted to the dried fruit industry.
It must be remembered that markets are not the only thing that affect the wine and dried fruit growers. The flow and the quality of the water in their streams affects production. I have already mentioned in this House the Victorian Government’s action in pumping saline water from Barr Creek and Lake Hawthorn into evaporation pans. The Federal Government made provision for finance for this purpose. Some of this finance was used to cut a channel back from these storage points into the Murray River. During high rivers this high content saline water was allowed to run back into the Murray River. I believe that this practice is still being carried on. It was very heartening to hear the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) state here today that a report on this matter will be brought down shortly. When it is examining this problem I ask the Government to consider also making provision for long term low interest loans to the older established blocks for the provision of overhead sprinkling systems. I believe that a new committee has just been set up in the area to examine this problem. It revealed the startling figures that in the irrigation watering system the standard runoff amounts to between 8 gallons and 10 gallons a minute whereas under the sprinkler system it amounts to only 1 gallon to 2 gallons a minute.
Another problem facing the growers is the size of their fruit blocks. After the First World War soldier settlement blocks were from 14 acres to 17 acres. However, it had been found that with modern methods of irrigation this acreage is not large enough. It is hoped that the Government will divert to this area some of the finance that has been allocated for rural reconstruction. One of the greatest problems facing the wine- and. the dried fruit industry at present is the marketing system. I refer to the report of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board for the year 1971-1972 which states:
Under Section 13 of the Act, the following number of licences by States, to export Dried Fruits, have been issued under the authority of the Minister for Primary Industry on the recommendation of the Board for the year ending 28 February 1973; Victoria 21; New South Wales- 15; South Australia - 11; Western Australia - 10; and Queensland - 3.
A total of 60 export licences have been issued.
Wherever one goes in dried fruit areas one hears charges and counter-charges of what occurs in the export marketing of dried fruits. I believe that the Government has a responsibility to establish the facts concerning the present marketing system. I am not saying that the present marketing system should be changed, but certainly we should have the facts. It is impossible to obtain the facts at present. We should set up a commission to investigate the marketing of dried fruits. Such a body could not only inquire into the present marketing structure but also study proposals for improvement. One such is the single statutory marketing concept. This concept is widely discussed in dried fruit areas. The Government should give some consideration to it. I believe that such a commission should hand down a recommendation showing the most effective system of marketing these products.
I wish also to support the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill which provides for the conversion to metric measure of the definition of what constitutes a winery and a distillery for the purposes of the requisition of a poll and voting under the Wine Overseas Marketing Act 1929-1966. The Australian dietary pattern is ensuring a greater domestic consumption of wine. Australia grows some of the best wines. Providing that the consumer recognises the high quality of our wines and are able to establish a sound marketing system, I believe that the wine industry will continue to prosper in spite of some of the new prophets of doom whom we now have in our midst.
At the same time I wish to point out that the welfare of the nation cannot be maintained or extended without decentralisation. The Government should be conscious that the growth of population and employment must not all be created in city areas. More agencies of the Government must be enlisted to ensure that greater growth occurs in country areas. I believe that, if the Government adopts some of the recommendations which I have been requested to put forward by the growers in my electorate, we will move in this direction.
– While these Bills are mainly machinery measures, I rise to support the remarks of my colleague, the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O’Keefe). The reference by the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) to the necessity for the reallocation of resources seems to me to have very little relevance. The fact is that the provisions of the recent Budget provide the wine growers, especially the small ones, and the Australian Wine Board with some problems. Those provisions were the increase in spirit excise applied to brandy - the loss of the duty differential which has long been accorded to brandy - as well as the changes proposed for the valuation of wine stocks.
Beyond supporting the earlier remarks of my colleague, it is true that the principal content of these Bills is the conversion to metric measure of the definitions of ‘winery’ and distillery’ for the purpose of the several Acts specified in the Bill. In the case of the Wine Grapes Charges Bill, where the minimum annual grape intake to determine whether an establishment is liable for the charge is at present 10 tons, this is to be changed to the nearest metric equivalent, namely 10 tonnes. The maximum charges provided for per ton in the Act I understand will remain unchanged per tonne. As a tonne is some 2,204 lb as compared with the 2,240 lb of the ton, the maximum levy per lb will thereby be increased by about li per cent. The levy is not a price, but this is perhaps illustrative of how, if vigilance is not applied, metric conversion can lead to upward creep.
In the case of the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill, as the honourable member for Darling said, for the purpose of a poll and voting the definition is changed from the present relevant annual grape intake of 25 tons to 25 tonnes. As the wine industry and for that matter its products are not subjects with which I am overly familiar, I am curious about the differential in magnitude in the qualifications provided for in the 2 Bills. I gather that the lesser quantity specified in the Wine Grapes Charges Bill - the charge finances the administrative and marketing activities of the Australian Wine Board - is designed to spread as widely as possible the burden of financing the Board. It seems curious to me that where an establishment is liable to a financial obligation it is not thereby qualified to participate in a poll, the apparent purpose of which is to determine the issue of whether the Wine Board - the very reason for the charge - should continue in operation. Perhaps the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) might make reference to this point in his reply. I conclude by saying that as these are broadly machinery Bills to effect metric conversion, the Opposition supports them.
– As the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) said a moment ago, these are technical measures in regard to metrification and as such they should of course be supported. I am glad that the Government has not seen fit to use the legislation as some kind of sleight of hand and that although there will be an increase in charges of H per cent by reason of the conversion from the standard weights and measures to the metric measures, the Government has openly acknowledged this. 1 am glad that the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) has seen fit to say what is the real effect. This is perhaps in contrast to what is proposed in the postal measures where the metrification, I understand, is to be associated with some sleight of hand by the Government so that there will be a hidden increase in postal charges on the introduction of the metric system. I make only passing reference to that matter because I have no doubt that it will be debated more fully when the Government’s proposal for increasing postal charges as a result of the introduction of metric measures comes before the House.
The honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) made some remarks which I think were to the point when he spoke about the future of the wine industry. I believe that, in spite of temporary difficulties which may lie ahead for a year or two, the wine industry in Australia has a great future. One technical matter is of some consequence, and that is the introduction of what is called trickle irrigation or the controlled application of water. I believe that the method was developed first in Israel. It makes it possible to grow vines and other fruits with a much smaller total application of water because water is applied by what is known as the trickle method directly where it is wanted and is not spread over a large area.
This has 2 important consequences. Firstly it extends quite considerably the areas in which horticulture, such as the growing of fruit trees or vines, is possible because the amount of water required per unit of production is very much less. It opens up - this may, I suppose, be of special consequence to the honourable member for Darling - the possibility of irrigation on the loose red sands, particularly those lying in the lower part of the Darling River in his electorate, which have not been considered irrigation sites because they do not have level topography but which, by reason of this new technique of trickle irrigation, might be considered potential irrigation sites.
The second point which may be of even greater importance is the fact that because less water per acre is used, the dangers of salting and the rising of the water table are very much reduced. These things suggest that the Australian capacity for producing wines may be very much greater than has hitherto been supposed to be the case. But it is no use producing wines unless there is a market for them. Here again I think that we may be passing through a period of temporary difficulty, but the long term future probably is pretty bright because not only in Australia but in other countries, particularly Japan, the tendency to drink wine is increasing, and this is desirable.
Wine is a civilised drink. There is a future Australian export market for it on a fairly big scale. There is good and bad wine. To some extent it is a matter of established tastes. In new markets, such as those in Japan about which I have spoken, there are no established tastes, and if Australian wines, which are a little bit different from French wines but which in their own way are as good, can form the norm of established tastes, there may be a permanent market opening for us. One of the things that is happening at the present time in small vineyards, to a great extent, is that there is a movement to produce quality wines. Of course, this type of production from small vineyards has been the basis of the immense French wine industry, with the quality wines later expanding into the mass market. One would hope that a similar process would take place in Australia.
Having said that, let me say that some of the measures now being introduced concurrently by the Government - here again, I pick up what was said by previous speakers, including my friend the honourable member for Berowra - which are contained in this Budget will, unhappily, over the short term at any rate bear very heavily on this industry, especially since so much of its future has been closed off because of the reduction of our dried fruit market which, to some extent, overlaps the wine grape market. One very much regrets that the Government has seen fit to introduce these measures at this time. I feel I cannot let this opportunity pass without making reference to what the Treasurer (Mr Crean) said in the House last Thursday on this matter when he was speaking of the particular impact of these measures on brandy producers. I quote directly from page 376 of Hansard, where the Treasurer said: if the brandy industry at some later point of time can show me that it has been battered to the ground as a result of this action, which would greatly surprise me, I will be prepared to hear representations.
Later - I am quoting exactly from page 376 of Hansard, and I think the House and the country should take note of what the Treasurer said - he said:
If people find that they have suffered detriment to the point where they are likely to be exterminated, I will be willing to listen to them . . .
That is what the Treasurer said, and I think he said it in relation to-
– Order! I am not too sure of the difference in taste between wine and brandy, because I do not drink either, but I think that the honourable gentleman should return to the Wine Bills.
– Very well, Sir. I am sure that the House and the country will take note of the Treasurer’s attitude to the wine industry. Apparently the wine producers have to be ground down to the point of extermination before he will listen to their pleas. This is an appalling instance of what socialism in action really means. I have no doubt that we will hear more of this matter later. I believe that the Treasurer’s statement will stand on the record and will be taken as an example of what the Government means when it applies to an industry measures such as it is applying in the Budget. If the producers are ground down to the point of extermination, then the Government will listen; but not otherwise.
-Order! I have asked the honourable gentleman to return to the Bills.
– I will leave the Treasurer at that point; no doubt we will hear more of this matter later. Let me just come to the point and speak of the humiliation which the Minister for Immigration, the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), has suffered with the introduction of these Government measures. I do not want to labour the point too much, but honourable members will remember that when such measures were suggested earlier the honourable member for Riverina went to the barricades over them. His statements in this House at that time no doubt will be quoted in his electorate.
– They are being quoted now.
– I did not know that, but I have no doubt that they will be quoted in his electorate. I do not suggest for one moment that the honourable member for Riverina should resign because the Government has made mock of his previous statements. He has been humiliated. I do not think he should resign as a member of Parliament, because the electors will deal with him in due course; but if he is a man of honour I feel that he should resign from the Cabinet. As a Minister who has previously made this a main point and given to his electors absolute pledges in regard to it, he cannot with honour, when this type of legislation is brought into the House, remain as a Minister. I think there should be a call from his electorate for him to resign as Minister for Immigration because what is being put forward in the Government’s policy is so diametrically opposed to what he made an issue of and stood on as a point of principle in this House and during his election campaign. He has double-crossed his electors.
– The same applies in relation to Dartmouth.
– I do not want to take it too far. I want to keep my remarks as moderate as I can. Therefore I conclude on that point.
– in reply - The honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards) asked why in the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill the definition of *winery’ and ‘distillery’ has a qualification of 25 tonnes when in the
Wine Grape Charges Bill the qualification is 10 tonnes. This has been an established practice over the years. The reason for the lower qualification in the Wine Grape Charges Bill is obviously to spread more widely the burden of financing the Australian Wine Board. There is no other reason. This is not a matter that has been raised with the Government by the industry.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have been seriously misrepresented by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). The honourable member for Mackellar in this House a few moments ago stated that I had double-crossed my electors in relation to some matter, and I think he was referring to the former wine tax. I point out that such a claim, an intemperate and a somewhat dishonourable claim, is completely without foundation. I did campaign for the removal of the wine tax, and within a matter of weeks of the present Government coming to power that tax was removed as promised. It was very dishonourable for the honourable member to make the comments he made in this context. If it was any other honourable member involved I would ask him to withdraw and apologise.
Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) a moment ago said it was dishonourable for me to have made the remarks I made. What is dishonourable is something quite different. The Government did withdraw a tax, but it did so for the purpose of imposing something a great deal more onerous. That is what the doublecrossing is really about.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Patterson) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 23 May (vide page 2503), on motion by Dr Patterson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Patterson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23 May (vide page 2504), on motion by Mr Beazley:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Australian National University Bill 1973 seeks to bring about a situation in which, when the Bill becomes an Act, the Australian National University will have the authority to regulate traffic, to erect parking notices and to enforce parking and traffic controls anywhere on the University site. Of course, any controls adopted by the university must not be inconsistent with the Motor Traffic Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory, although this Bill allows them to be different. Parking and traffic controls can then be implemented under the authority of a university statute made by the Council of the Australian National University and approved by the Governor- General in Council. The University will have under this Bill and a statutes made by the University Council power to control moving traffic on university roads.
A special committee, with which I shall deal later and which was set up to review this problem of traffic control on the University campus, believes that the control over moving traffic should not in the immediate future in any case be removed from the Australian Capital Territory Police Force. The police, of course, have the right to act when public roads and public places are concerned and no University statute can take away any powers conferred on the police under the Motor Traffic Ordinance. However, the University through its own traffic officers will control parking and may control the movement of vehicles, speed limits and access to the site. Under the amended Act and by virtue of the statute the university will have power also to erect signs and notices relating to parking and traffic, particularly in those areas to which the public has access. These are, of course, public places from a legal point of view. As the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) said in his second reading speech, the genesis of this Bill was a Bill introduced in 1970 by the then Minister for Education and Science, the Hon. Nigel Bowen. I will have to correct the present Minister who said that it was introduced on 27 October 1970. For the information of anybody looking it up, it was introduced on 28 October 1970.
The Council of the Australian National University has been concerned for a great period of time about this problem of parking and traffic movement throughout the university campus and, following the speech in 1970 of the then Minister for Education and Science, in 1972 at the meeting of the Council of the Australian National University it was resolved on the recommendation of the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the University to authorise the Vice Chancellor of the University to establish a continuing committee on parking problems. This committee has been working since that date and has now brought down a report and recommendations which still have to be considered by the Australian National University Council. I believe that the committee has done an extremely good job in its consideration of the problems of traffic movement and control within the university campus. I would like just to mention some of the restraints which the committee placed upon itself because they could serve as an example to other authorities acting in this field of traffic control. The report of the committee states:
The Committee has had in mind the convenience of the motorist, the need to damp down irritations, natural resentments against fees and controls, the practical aspects of situations, the necessity for adequate communication of policies, and the need at all times for good public relations and public image. A continuing aim should be to seek co-operation and not to arouse resentment in the minds of persons who consider they have a need to drive a car and park on the University site.
I think that the aims of the Committee and the way in which it dealt with a somewhat sensitive subject - a subject which can lead to a degree of resentment from those using the site - are truly excellent.
The Committee also recommended that the free internal bus service which circles the University site and which has commenced should be continued and should be given a long term trial. This is another enterprise which is taking place within the University grounds and which I think has a wider application than merely a test run at the Australian National University. Another aspect of the report which I found particularly praiseworthy was the suggestion that the University itself should meet from its own funds the cost of administering parking controls. It seems to me that this is a ready acceptance of responsibility. The Committee has done a good job not only in assessing its responsibilities but also in taking a positive outlook towards the problem of meeting the cost of any of its recommendations which are implemented.
There is no doubt about the need for parking space and for these other aspects of traffic control within the University. It may be of interest to honourable members to know that the demand for parking space within the University was estimated in the traffic survey conducted by the Committee - the working party on car parking accepted the figures given - to move from a total of 3,750 places in 1974 to 4,819 places in 1980. These figures exclude the requirements of residents of University House, halls of residence, affiliated colleges and Graduate House. The Committee found no reason to question the estimate of demand, and accepted it. It also has been suggested that the Committee’s report and recommendations, if accepted, should be implemented in January 1974. This will give the ANU Council time to consider the various recommendations of the Committee. I hope and confidently expect that at its next meeting the ANU Council, which certainly will have the report before it, will make a decision on the report, particularly on the suggestion that the recommendations be implemented from 1 January 1974.
Perhaps the recommendations of this special committee could be detailed with some greater emphasis because the report has a degree of applicability not only to the Australian National University but also to other universities, and perhaps it has a wider application as well. The committee recommended:
Subject to a Statute being in force, controls should be introduced from 1 January 1974.
That the University internal free bus service be maintained and augmented, particularly to provide transport from Graduate House, City and to and from parking areas on the site.
I will be very interested to see what utilisation there is of this free bus service and whether it is worth while to continue it in the future. The Committee recommended that the penalty payable for a breach of the provisions of the statute should be the fairly low figure of $4. When we take into account the pecuniary circumstances of many students, I guess this is a reasonable figure. The Committee recommended:
That residents and staff of University House, halls of residence, affiliated colleges and Graduate House should not have authority to park or be permitted to park anywhere on the site, between 9.30 a.m. and 5 p.m., excepting the areas specially set aside for parking by residents having the appropriate authority, and that the University should issue those authorities to park, on the recommendations of the Master Warden or an authorised officer approved to act on their behalf.
One of the special recommendations which I find most worthy and commendable and which I support is that of special parking spaces for disabled and medically handicapped persons. I think this is something which certainly should have a wider application outside of the Australian National University. The Committee recommended that apart from reserved spaces for mail vans and official University service vehicles spaces should be provided for other special people such as the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy ViceChancellor, the Secretary, the Deputy Chairman of the Board of the School and Directors and Deans. The Committee has suggested that a permit system be instituted and that these parking controls should operate between the hours of 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays inclusive but not at all on public holidays. In addition to special spaces the Committee has recommended that a limited number of parking meters should be available for those without permits and others who care to use them on payment of a fee in all cases.
There is one rather interesting and perhaps controversial recommendation. It is that permits to park vehicles- may be cancelled by the Registrar without giving reasons, but I am sure that the Committee has in mind the controversy this may stir up as it suggests there should be a right of appeal to the Parking and Traffic Committee. The annual fees suggested for a permit to park a motor car are again not excessive in my view. The Committee suggests $10 for a car and $5 for a motor cycle. But it suggests there should be no free parking anywhere on the site except for official service vehicles in 5 minute areas and for holders of day permits. There is one other aspect of the control and regulation of traffic on the campus of the Australian National University and this concerns the control of entrances to the campus. The Committee has considered this aspect but recommends that no immediate provision be made for control at entrances. The Committee recommends that controls should be considered after the permits have been in operation for a trial period. The final recommendation by the Committee is that the cost of operating parking controls should be met from university funds and that fees and fines should be accumulated and used to improve parking facilities, particularly capital works.
The Committee suggests that the costs of operating the controls would be $27,500 in 1974. It also suggests that the fee income based on the recommendations that it has made would be $41,000 in 1974. This figure, of course, would be added to by the collection of fines which I have already mentioned. I have detailed the recommendations of the Committee in some sequence because I believe that the report presented by the Committee shows the degree of detail, application and interest that has been taken by it and the Council of the University as a whole. What has occurred has been as a direct result of recommendations made by the Council to the previous Government. These recommendations were recognised by the previous Government. Now the present Government intends to pass the Australian National University Bill which will give the University the opportunity to carry out the recommendations. The Opposition supports the Bill.
– As has been outlined by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar), the purpose of this Bill is to control access, parking and other matters concerned with the campus of the Australian National University. It gives the Council of the ANU power to make statutes to control traffic and parking. One of the most important factors in maintaining the campus as it is, free from too much motor vehicle traffic, is to make sure that access to the campus is properly controlled. Honourable members may be aware that recently University Avenue was blocked off near the Copland Building. Although this has meant that some vehicles have to go further around, anybody who has been to the site would agree that the University has benefited. This measure will give the ANU power to control parking. I am indebted to the honourable member for Warringah for citing the relevant figures. He mentioned a figure of 4,819 places. When the other categories of parking are added the total by 1980 would be well in excess of 5,000. The figure usually regarded as proper for a parking place is about $600. On that figure we arrive at a total cost of $3m which indicates how much money, apart from the cost of the land, is taken up in the provision of space for parking motor cars.
The Bill gives the University Council power to have vehicles towed away and discretionary powers in respect of fines. Anybody who has walked through the campus of the Australian National University has been impressed by the layout, by the large area provided for the needs of the University. I think we would all be concerned if the volume of traffic grew to such an extent that the beauty of the buildings and grounds was detracted from by too many motor cars occupying the open spaces. The idea of blocking off roads to deny access to vehicles is not new. It is rapidly gaining support in areas where municipal councils need to control the volume and access of traffic in the same way as the University Council needs to control its traffic.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes) would be aware of the action taking place in part of his electorate. Side streets have been blocked off and traffic has to go around rather than through the area. In my electorate of Diamond Valley action has been taken by the Eltham Council and is proposed to be taken by the Diamond Valley Shire Council. We need to adapt our cities and living areas to the motor car. We will have motor cars in the immediate foreseeable future and we need to do something about controlling them. We cannot allow the motor car to take over. I have mentioned the town planning aspects of control of parking. This is particularly applicable in the Australian National University. As with Canberra, it could be a model for the rest of Australia.
Doubtless, if traffic is allowed to speed unimpeded through the campus injury and perhaps death well be caused to pedestrians. We ought to assist in keeping the campus a safe place. Honourable members will be aware of the tremendous cost of road accidents in Australia and of the pollution caused by motor cars. They will be aware of the tremendous cost of maintaining individual transport in the way in which we have it now. From figures made available to me I have estimated that the cost of road accidents is in the vicinity of $ 1,000m a year and the cost of maintaining motor vehicles is annually about $4,000m. I believe that we can use our money much better. What better place is there to emphasise these aspects than in the Australian National University?
There are alternatives. The honourable member for Warringah mentioned a free bus service within the campus. This sort of move is very important. Dial-a-bus services have been instituted in some cities. People ring up in sufficient time before they wish to travel and request transport. The route of the bus is programmed by a computer and the use of private motor cars is reduced. In San Francisco the Bay rapid transit system or Bart, has been developed. We could well use a similar system in Australian cities but I do not suggest that it should be developed in the grounds of the ANU. While I am mentioning matters associated with transport and the control of traffic I would like honourable members to give some thought to a final development in transport. I believe that individual transport is here to stay and it is not good enough for us simply to talk about public transport. The ANU has provided an alternative to students so that they do not need to bring their motor cars on to the campus. We as a community must act in the same way.
While public transport can be very much improved it is not a final answer to the problem. I look forward to the time when we will have a system of fully automated individual transport which will cost no more than the tremendous sums being poured annually into individual motor vehicle transport. 1 see no barrier from the point of view of technology or cost. One great advantage would be in the saving of lives and another would be in the preservation of our environment by use of a system to dial a vehicle and then to dial the destination.
Universities are places where ideas can grow. I hope that the powers provided in this measure when enacted will enable the University to be a laboratory for some of the town planning ideas associated with traffic. It is only a small contribution to what we need to do but I believe that it will be supported hi this House and at the University by the lecturers and other staff and the students. These people have shown a great interest in town planning matters and I am sure that this measure will have their support. I support the Bill.
– I support the Bill. As the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) has said, when Mr Nigel Bowen was Minister for Education and Science in October 1970, while speaking on a “Bill to amend the Australian National University Act he forecast that he would subsequently introduce an amendment to the Act to enable the control of traffic within the Australian National University. It is to the credit of the present Minister that he has brought this Bill forward so early in the session to provide the necessary powers to the Council of the Australian National University. The Bill gives powers to the University to makes statutes for the regulation of traffic and parking on the University site. More significantly it gives the University specific powers to appoint its own traffic officers to regulate access to the University roads. As the honourable member for Diamond Valley has so rightly said, it is essential to try to preserve the orderly environment of the ANU and to protect it from undue encroachment of traffic on the campus itself. This Bill empowers the University to set up parking meters, to make charges for parking, to tow away vehicles, to prescribe fines for traffic offences that are proved in a court. In cases of parking or stopping offences the Bill also empowers the University to fix a small penalty which offenders may choose to accept rather than undergo prosecution. I think this is a most desirable feature of the legislation. The provisions of a University statute will also apply to members of the public who are not connected with the ANU unless the statute provides otherwise.
There is a restriction on the statute-making power proposed for the University and that is that its statutes will not be inconsistent with the provisions of the Australian Capital Motor Traffic Ordinance. This, of course, is consistent with the provisions which are already in force under the Canberra College of Advanced Education Act. Another important feature of the Bill is that it will, as I said earlier, secure the campus from overencroachment by traffic and thereby ensure reasonable traffic behaviour within the University grounds. As the Minister has rightly pointed out, he has responded to the wishes of the University Council to have power to control traffic adequately, to help with the orderly development of the campus and also to have day-to-day control of activities on the campus. The Bill ensures that traffic control statutes will be drafted in consultation with the Department of the Capital Territory. That is a most essential provision because it would be quite an intolerable situation to have the ANU Council prescribing laws that were not consistent with the traffic code and traffic laws that operate within the city of Canberra itself. So naturally there has to be that degree of consistency even if it is only to avoid confusion that could occur if there were 2 different sets of authorities making laws at their own whim or will.
The ANU Council will carry out its functions under this legislation from time to time. The actual drafting of the traffic laws will be undertaken by administrative arrangements and therefore no further legislative provision will be required. This is my understanding of the Minister’s second reading speech. I suppose that the provisions that are made from time to time will be made in a similar fashion to the way in which the present Australian Capital Territory Motor Traffic Ordinance is handled. I conclude by saying that I commend the Minister for having brought this Bill into the House so quickly. I am sure that it will be very welcome by those connected with the ANU itself. I am sure that the University Council will be pleased that the Minister has introduced this measure to relieve the Council of some of the difficulties which it is experiencing at the present time.
– Briefly I would like to thank the House for its support of this Bill. 1 think the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) may have spoken on the Bill which established the Australian National University. If he did not then I am the only survivor in the Parliament who did speak on that Bill many years ago. When we set up the Australian National University we believed that we were establishing a university with a very generous campus because in those days the students came on bicycles or mostly in public vehicles and if there were cars they were the cars of the staff. Those days have been quickly lost to active consciousness. Today we have within university campuses major parking problems. There are some students who expect to have a parking space outside the college and a parking space outside the library 200 yards away and to drive their cars on the campus from one parking space to another.
Universities have reacted to this situation in different ways. I understand that the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa has given up in despair and has banned all motor vehicles from the university. It has converted all parking spaces back into gardens and decreed that the students come to the university by public transport or by walking. They do not bring their cars into the university campus. I understand that this has greatly beautified the campus and although most of the students are enthusiastic supporters of the improvement of the environment they have some reservations about these happenings. That is one solution to the problem. The other, in the some hundreds of acres of campus of the ANU, is the power to regulate traffic quite stringently. That step has been taken in this Bill. It has been, I think, solely motivated by one idea, and that idea is that of the comfort and convenience of everybody and the retention of the University as a beautiful site. I thank the House for supporting this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Bill (on motion by Mr Beazley) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 10 May (vide page 2005), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill 1973 as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a debate covering both Bills? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– The Export Incentive Grants Bill 1973 seeks to continue the existing export incentive program until June 1974 and amends the existing Act in respect of statutory marketing authorities and gold producers. The provisions in the principal Act enable marketing authorities that would not otherwise be producers for export of the goods they export to elect to be treated as producers for the export of these goods. However, as the Treasurer (Mr Crean) pointed out in his second reading speech, such an election can now only be made in the first 60 days of existence of an authority. In addition, an effective election cannot be made by an authority in relation to a class of goods which it does not own at the time of export or sale for export. The amendments contained in the Bill seek to remove the time limit within which an authority may make an election to be treated as a producer for export of the goods it exports or sells for export and will also permit an authority to be so treated even though it does not acquire ownership of those goods. Furthermore, the amendments will enable a marketing authority to issue export certificates to a person licensed by it for purposes connected with the marketing of goods.
The Opposition supports these provisions which give greater flexibility to statutory marketing authorities and we agree that the application of these provisions should be made retrospective to 1971-72 as is intended by the Bill before the House. Similarly, we support the amendments in respect of producers and users of gold sold for industrial use in Australia which remove the existing barriers to the passing of export grant entitlements from exporters of gold in fabricated form to the actual producers of that gold. The Bill proposes provisions to enable a prescribed company, when as a supplier of gold it receives an export certificate from an exporter, to pass the value of that certificate on to the actual producers even though the company has acquired the gold from the Reserve Bank and not the actual producer. Yet this concession pales in significance against the context of this Government’s recent decisions to remove the gold subsidy and apply standard taxation rates to the profits of gold mining companies. This will, of course, be a serious setback to the Australian gold mining industry. This is clear from a thorough review of Budget decisions affecting the mining industry generally and Western Australian gold mining companies in particular. The drying up of private sector funds for the operations of high risk com panies has already severely curtailed gold mining activity. It is, in fact, a great blow at a time when increased gold prices have given promise of allowing some companies to operate on a profitable basis for the first time in many years through the development of new gold deposits and the re-opening or expansion of mines around Kalgoorlie. If gold mining companies are to be taxed by this Government gold will need to reach a price of approximately $100 an ounce to provide sufficient incentive to encourage those companies to continue in operation. This Government is giving no thought to companies that have committed themselves financially to developmental projects. Some of these companies already have arranged the necessary loan funds but their orders for capital equipment will now have to be aborted. Mining industry leaders have informed me and other members of the Opposition that some operations will have to shut down with disastrous results to the Kalgoorlie area and to the Western Australian economy.
On top of the removal of the subsidy and the application of standard taxation rates, the imposition of higher fuel, aviation and telephone charges are the straw designed to break the camel’s back. In this case the camel is not only the gold mining industry but also the thousands of workers who will suffer, directly or indirectly, through increased prices in isolated areas or through loss of jobs in reduced or cancelled mining operations. This, I believe, is a useful debate in which to take these points as the general context on which one can observe the marginal concession which the Government has been prepared to bring down in these Bills.
The Opposition supports the amendments to the Pay-Roll Tax Assessment Act contained in the other Bill before the House as those amendments are consequential to the Export Incentives Grants Bill. As I mentioned at the outset, the basic intention of the Bill is to extend the export incentives grants program until June 1974. This is a scheme which, since 1961, has played a valuable and integral role in encouraging the growth and diversification of Australia’s export trade. It is not my intention in this debate to deal with the operation of the program in detail. The program is not above the criticism that its application discriminates against companies whose wages bill forms only a small proportion of total assets. I emphasise that the Opposition believes in the continuing importance of the principle of incentive for Australia’s export program. We do not argue. that there should be no change to the existing scheme. We believe the Government has a major responsibility to bring before this Parliament a clear statement as to its intentions, short and long term, in respect of export incentives. There is, at present, notwithstanding the provisions of these Bills, considerable uncertainty, apprehension and concern among exporters who are involved with the long term planning of their operations, particularly with regard to investment in capital equipment. Of course, companies will necessarily hesitate to invest in new equipment and develop firm export plans while uncertainty and apprehension about future government policies are allowed to continue. The Government’s failure to outline a clear and detailed policy does not reflect a proper and responsible understanding of the manner in which industry must pursue forward planning objectives or the problems involved in establishing and maintaining export markets.
In the absence of policy initiatives or clear guidelines, the Australian business community has been forced to witness yet a further public battle between the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns). The Prime Minister’s view is well known. He is on public record as having stated that the scheme is ‘atrociously expensive’ and ‘no longer relevant’. The Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry has strongly supported the retention of the program and there, of course, lies the real kernel, which is of tremendous concern to companies involved in Australia’s great export program. That concern arises out of the public debate, the unseemly dialogue, which this country has been witnessing over the export incentives program issue. In a speech to the Australian Manufacturers’ Export Council, the Minister for Overseas Trade emphasised the value of manufactured exports in these terms:
Australia must adapt more to an international approach to the manufacturing sector. The benefits to the economy and to the community from export of manufactures go well beyond those of the immediate gains in export revenue. The benefits which flow from a high level of export activity in the manufacturing sector include a larger market with improved economies and reduced unit costs of scale. They also include the safeguarding of local employment, the development of few skills and technologies, and the development of a more competitive and innovative approach. I am firmly of the belief that Australia can only benefit from the increasing competitive experience of export industries.
On the other hand, the Treasury would put the view, as in fact it has done to this Government in private, that the trends in trade balance, the balance on current account or the overall balance of payments means that a continuation of the export incentives scheme merely contributes to the addition of reserves. The Treasury view is that the only way we can convert those reserves, or part thereof, to real reserves for use in assisting the growth of the Australian economy is by running a current account deficit.
– Let us hear your view.
– Clearly the Government must take a balanced judgment. The honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) has a great passion for interjecting and it would be interesting to hear what is his own personal view because one thing that one notices about honourable members opposite is that they do not have any personal views on matters of importance to this country. The honourable gent, in particular, is forced to sit behind Ministers whose controversial approach to this question calls for comment. I should have hoped that the honourable member might have participated in this debate. Clearly, the Government must make a balanced judgment. This judgment must take into account the effects of the recent revaluation of the Australian dollar and the subsequent revaluation of the United States dollar. It must also take into account the problems associated with regaining export markets if they are lost. The immense resources of labour, finance and time which have built up markets for Australian producers over the past 10 years cannot be instantly re-applied to regain markets. It must be remembered also that major manufacturing nations such as Japan and the United States of America provied positive encouragement to exporters. Australia’s favourable overseas balances do not exist by some form of prior right but because of positive action and because of the incentives which have been provided. The Associated Chamber of Manufacturers of Australia expressed its view to the present Government in the following terms:
The fact is that exports of manufactured goods cannot be turned on or off like a tap. It took 20 years hard effort, and a big input of capital to gain an entry onto foreign markets for Australian manufactured goods.
If these markets are neglected, they will soon be lost. It will be difficult, probably impossible, to recover them.
It seems to be fundamentally wrong to attempt to control essentially short term situations through basic changes in established longer-term economic policies that have been vindicated over the years. Abolishing all export incentives fits squarely into this category.
Business confidence is a matter of paramount importance for the economy. If the Federal Government’s ambitious program is to be achieved, there must be a sustained period of economic growth which in turn requires major investment decisions by manufacturing companies. A climate of uncertainty, punctuated by frequent statements from Government sources that often create genuine (if, hopefully, unfounded) alarm in industrial and commercial circles, is not conducive to making major investment decisions, especially when risk capital i< involved.
The Chamber went on to comment:
The removal of the export incentives scheme, combined with the recent currency realignments, could cause a major re-examination of expansionary plans by Australian companies. This would affect the level of employment in those industries, as well as pricing policies for locally produced goods. For instance, it has been suggested that the removal of export incentives in the vehicle industry could cause a drop in motor production of 20 per cent, which would have a significant impact on the employment levels within the industry, and on the pricing policy of domestic vehicles.
But in taking the balanced judgment of which I have spoken the Government must not, as outlined in the view I have just given, succumb to the proposition that an incentive scheme can be used as a form of economic regulator. There are other economic policy instruments which are more appropriately applied to the problems of a build-up of overseas reserves.
Australia requires a sound manufacturing base, and this cannot be achieved with the uncertainties which have been created ‘by this Government. If hopefully, the manufacturing sector looks forward to the continuation of this program until 1974 what it really needs is an indication of the present Government’s long term economic philosophy and policy. We on this side of the House believe it is imperative that the principle of incentives be maintained, and we would urge the Government to reach finality in its long term programming. Of course that statement is made in response to the interjection of the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun). As I said before, we do not necessarily support the scheme in all of its detailed objectives, but we believe that a rejection of the principle of export incentives will do serious harm to Australian indus try. The Opposition is prepared to guarantee Australian exporters that under a Liberal Party-Country Party administration export incentives will remain as an integral part of our policy towards Australian industry.
The issue of export initiatives and incentives highlights the division of opinion within the present Cabinet on matters of great economic substance. It is a further illustration of this Government’s entirely irresponsible stop-go approach to Australia’s economic management. That comment is made against the background of the Budget, which fails to solve or seek to solve or to bring any redress whatsoever to Australia’s major economic and fundamental problem - inflation. It is a denial of the concept of responsibility that a Federal Treasurer should bring down in this House a Budget which so ignores the fundamental problem facing not just the business sector but all sectors and sections of the Australian community.
We recognise that this is a government bringing down a Budget which provides antiincentives for the business sector. I do not think here of overseas companies or of the large Australian corporations, but of the small entrepreneurs and small private companies. It is in this area that we have seen a sense of discrimination. We have seen a concept which penalises small private companies and small entrepreneurs, which is the antithesis of and totally inconsistent with the needs of this country in the short and long term. I regret to say that that philosophy is embodied in all the Bills before the House. It is stop-go. lt ignores the real problems. The Government brings down Bills which do not foreshadow any long term philosophy or policy and it ignores the problems which realistically ought to be brought to this House, which is anxious to know what is the economic philosophy and planning of the present administration.
The Australian business community, against the context of these Bills, is being penalised whilst the Prime Minister and his Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr Cairns) continue to argue their ideological and economic differences. 1 can see the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) sitting at the table smiling because he knows what bitter debates take place in the Australian Cabinet. I wish he would tell the House perhaps in a later speech the side that he might have taken so that the House may judge what is the position. No business community can be expected efficiently to plan its forward commitments in these regrettable and regressive circumstances.
What Australia requires and what it has not received from the present administration is firm and responsible economic leadership - something that the present Government is either unprepared or unable to bring forward. I call on the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in the course of this debate to outline the nature of the current examinations of the export incentives scheme which one would hope this Government has under active consideration, the extent of the consultation taking place between the major departments involved and the extent to which the Government proposes to consult and to involve itself in a meaningful dialogue with the principal parties concerned in the Bills before the House.
As I mentioned, the Opposition supports the Bills so far as they go, but that is not good enough. It is not good enough for Australia. It is but a further reflection of a government which is barren of economic policy and philosophy, which is incapable of long-term planning. I confess the wry thought that this is a government which came to power on so many delusions. The Australian public will recall one major delusion. The concept that it was a government which would effectively plan for Australia’s future economic prospects. This it has failed to do.
While the Opposition supports the Bills to tha extent to which they program the continuation of the export incentives scheme until 1974, we say to the Government, and I say in particular to the Leader of the House who has sat opposite during the course of this debate: ‘Can the Government let us into the secret of what apprehensions the business community may have beyond the period of 1974?’
– We have just listened to a very lucid speech by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) particularly in regard to the matter of export incomes and the continuance of the export incentive scheme. The Export Incentives Grants Bill as it is presented to us in a machinery measure. The first 2 items relate to amendments to marketing boards and gold pro’ducers. We consider that the second portion is the most important section; that is the one which continues the present export incentive scheme for another year. Of course what will happen after 30 June 1974 is anybody’s guess. This is the section of the legislation with which we are vitally concerned. Export incentives are essential to our manufacturers to maintain their overseas trade, and Australia lives by exporting goods. The economy of our nation is very seriously involved with our export trade and it would be most detrimental indeed to interfere with that trade by adopting a suggestion that export incentives should be abolished.
Over the years we have built up a great export trade in primary products. However, this Bill deals with our manufactured goods. If we examine our manufacturing industries we find that over the years they have developed considerably. One of the reasons for this is that they have been assisted by export incentives. Many industries producing manufactured goods depend upon overseas earnings. I refer to our motor car industry, our heavy earth moving and agricultural machinery industry, our electrical goods industries and many others which have been helped by this export incentive. It is in the national interest that export incentives be maintained and applied to all manufacturing export companies based in Australia. The national interest will be best served only if the existing scheme is reviewed and upgraded in the light of such factors as revaluation and increased shipping freight costs.
The jobs of many thousands of Australians who are employed directly or indirectly in producing and marketing export products will be in danger unless the present scheme is at least maintained. We say that an extension of only 1 year is not sufficient to give the manufacturing concerns in this country time to p’an their capital investment and their staffing to take care of their whole industry. I urge the Government to reject any recommendations which suggest that the incentive scheme should be applied selectively, such as by excluding companies with any degree of overseas ownership. Companies established in Australia, even those with significant overseas ownership, should not be unduly penalised as they provide employment, government revenue and products for the Australian market. It must be remembered that the manufacturing workforce is distributed among both Australian owned manufacturing companies and locally based foreign owned companies, which are in exactly the same position as are our Australian companies as, in many cases, exports have become a vital element in the economics of their total operation. If those companies lose markets, production and employment in this country must be affected, and not only in the individual companies themselves; the effect would extend also to their suppliers.
It has been due largely to the export incentive scheme that Australian based companies with overseas affiliations have been able to break franchise restrictions imposed by their principals. There have been many instances where this has been of great benefit to Australia. If these companies lose their incentives, they will to some extent vacate markets which again will be served by overseas principals. I have looked at what the incentive scheme is costing the revenue of this country in budgetary terms. In 1971-72, the loss of revenue to the Federal Treasury from this export incentive scheme was of the order of $58.7m; in 1972-73, it was of the order of $58m; and, it is estimated that in the current fiscal year of
J 973-74 it will be of the order of $74m. Of course, this takes account also of a rebate of payroll tax and special grants made under this legislation. So I think honourable members will agree that the benefits that are derived from the increased export income produced by our manufactured goods, together with the great employment that the increased production provides in this country and the economic benefits which accrue to us, far outweigh what I have quoted as being the cost to the Australian Treasury. Those figures are rather illuminating when one considers that there are many thousands of millions of dollars coming into Australia from the export of our manufactured goods. Our export income has increased year by year and, if we retain our export incentives, this will be the story in the years ahead. However, if we damage the manufacturing companies which produce goods for export, this expansion could be severely curtailed.
It has been interesting to look at the present Government’s thinking on export incentives and to note the varying opinions of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns). The Minister for Overseas Trade said recently that the decision to extend the export incentive schemes until 30 June 1974 would stimulate increased business confidence with beneficial effects on investment decisions and employ- ment prospects in Australia. He said that the Government’s decision to extend the incentives, therefore, should be welcomed by both employers and employees alike. He said also that the export incentives were designed particularly to encourage the export of manufactured goods. The manufacturing sector is a significant employer of labour - almost 30 per cent of the work force is engaged directly in the manufacturing sector. The Minister for Overseas Trade went on to say that the benefits which flow to the economy and to the country from a high level of export activity in a manufacturing sector include improved economies of scale and reduced unit costs, the safeguarding of local employment, the development of new skills and technologies and the development of a more competitive and innovative approach. The Minister concluded these few words by saying:
The nation can only benefit from the increasing competitive experience of exporting industries.
The same gentleman was interviewed on the television program ‘Federal File’ on 17 June this year. I arn quoting statements made by Dr J. F. Cairns because there is a difference of opinion in the Cabinet of the Australian Government as to whether this scheme should be continued or abolished and I believe that it is important that these things should be brought to light. During the interview the Minister was asked the following question:
Take motor cars as an example; this would possibly mean that our motor car industry would be cut by about 20 per cent.
In reply to this question, the Minister for Overseas Trade said:
It could mean that. About 20 per cent of the motor car industry is exported and if they in fact depend upon the export incentives - and I’m not sure they do that level of exports - now if we remove completely the export incentive provisions, then it might mean that the production of motor cars in Australia would fall 20 per cent. And if they did a lot of people who work in the motor car industry would be out of work.
That is the opinion of the Minister for Overseas Trade and Secondary Industry of this country. He has made several other similar statements. On 22 June he reaffirmed that he wanted export incentives to continue.
There is no doubt that this issue has caused friction between the Minister, the Treasurer and the Prime Minister. What has the Prime Minister to say? In Canberra on 19 June he made a stinging criticism of the incentive scheme under which the Federal Government this year will pay to Australian industries more than $90m to encourage exports. The latest figure that I quoted here a few moments ago was of the order of $74m, so the Prime Minister has apparently extended that figure to suit his own purpose. He disclosed for the first time that in Cabinet discussions last March he had supported the Federal Treasurer in attempting to end the export incentive scheme.
These are the things with which we are concerned. These are the things with which the Country Party is vitally concerned because they indicate to us an extension of only 12 months in the export incentive scheme, which could at the end of that time be cut out altogether, with very drastic economic results to Australia and to our manufacturing industries. We have for years in this country been endeavouring to assist and promote our manufacturing industries to create employment for a growing population, and we certainly do not support anything that adversely affects that objective, lt is good to know that Australian manufacturers are planning to submit proposals to the Government for a new highly selective system of export incentives. I am not saying that the old scheme was perfect, so it is good to see that the manufacturers organisations themselves are coming forward to the Government with some suggestions about a replacement for the existing scheme, which has come under heavy criticism from the Prime Minister.
A spokesman for the Associated Chambers of Manufactures very recently said that manufactures recognised that it was up to them to come up with some alternative suggestion. The various State chambers of manufactures are working on new proposals. These manufacturers’ organisations hope to have their proposals ready to hand to the Government by September or October. I hope there will be some meat in these proposals that will persuade the present Government to continue the export incentive scheme far beyond 30 June 1974. With the Government committed to including the existing scheme in the next Budget manufacturers have until 30 June next year to press their case for the need for incentives. I have already stated that.
Under the current system payments can be made to selling organisations which are not manufacturers. This is one of the weaknesses of the present scheme. Under the present scheme payment is calculated on the value of an exporter’s overseas sales over a 2-year period. The exporter receives a grant worth 10i per cent of the difference between his first year’s sales and his second year’s sales. Manufacturers would argue that the payment was in no way a reward for exporting, that instead it was an important incentive to develop new export markets even if it meant losing money on the first year of operation. As an initial move to back their case a combined manufacturers export council is having a booklet published and circulated to members of the Governnent - ‘and I have no doubt it will be circulated to members of the Opposition - which should give further valuable information as to why export incentives should be continued.
Exports are running at $5,000m annually and export earnings represent about 14 per cent of Australia’s gross national product. When the 1972-73 figures are known the figure as a percentage of gross national product is likely to reach 17 per cent. But for this vital sector of the economy there are as yet no clear cut government policies. The manufacturers have warned against relying on primary products and minerals for export earnings. World demand and prices for primary products and minerals are notoriously unstable and subject to wide fluctuations, but of course as a member of the Country Party I support an extension of the export of our primary products. They are now our most important export earners, but they have to be supplemented by the exports of our manufacturing industries. Commodity prices are much more severely influenced by international currency fluctuation than are the prices of manufactured goods. In 1971-72 Australian exports totalled $4,727m and imports were of the order of $3,790m, leaving a credit balance of $937m on our trading account. But after the net cost of invisibles was deducted the balance of payments on current account was in the red to the tune of $434m.
This fact leaves very little room for complacency. As I said earlier in this speech, we are very concerned that the present export incentive scheme has been extended only to 30 June 1974. This gives our manufacturing industries no opportunity to plan for staffing and for provision of capital expenditure on new machinery to improve their product. It gives them no incentive to develop the industry with resultant profit to Australia by increased exports. Let the Federal Cabinet get down to some good sane thinking. In this instance we are on the side of the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry against the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. It is quite evident from the facts that I have given this afternoon that there is a wide difference of opinion between these 3 top men in the Cabinet, but there should be no difference in opinion as to the benefit to Australia by continuing the export incentive scheme. We support the legislation as it is brought down and we urge that this matter be looked at very carefully indeed.
– The Bill before the House has 3 purposes. The main purpose is to continue the export incentives grants scheme for a further 12 months, as my colleague the honourable member for Paterson (Mr 0’Keefe) has just been stressing, but not necessarily beyond that. It has 2 other subsidary purposes - to remove certain disabilities affecting marketing authorities under the present legislation and to permit wider participation by gold producers in the export incentive scheme. This grudging extension of the export incentive grants scheme should be a cause of considerable concern to all. I am not saying, however, that we would necessarily agree with every feature of the scheme, but its elimination would be a most unwise course. It is true that during the past 12 months we have had a record surplus on Australian trade and indeed even a surplus on current account. This outcome owes much to high world prices for foodstuffs and other commodities. There is evidence that at least some of the latter, if not the former, have peaked and already begun to decline. That, at all events, is the hope of many governments throughout the world.
In the long run, taking a long perspective - beyond the present situation - the important potential growth area for our exports is in manufactures. In the realm of world trade over the long period it is the area of manufactures which is the growth area, much of it, surprisingly to some observers, between the developed countries which are themselves highly industrialised economies. Nevertheless this is, and historically has been, apart from the recent upsurge in commodity prices, the growth area of world trade. Therefore from the point of view of the long term external viability of this country in relation to paying for necessary imports and services, it is of the utmost importance that we continue to foster the growth of manufactured exports. Of course, that is what this scheme is intended to do.
In that area the development of export markets has to be carefully cultivated. It is something which requires concerted effort over time in order to develop the connection between the Australian exporter and his market overseas. The problem in respect of commodities is of a lesser order and in many cases markets can more readily be found. However, in the case of manufactured goods it is much more difficult to develop a design, to set up agents and cultivate markets. So what is important in this area is a reasonable certainty that the conditions under which one seeks to cultivate and maintain these markets will prevail. One of the main elements in this context is the export incentives scheme envisaged in this Bill. The total amount involved is relatively minute, particularly if we view it in relation to the assistance which is provided via- tariffs to the import-competing manufacturing industries. In that area I am not saying that assistance should not be provided. I may have some further remarks to make on that subject in the debate on a subsequent Bill. This result could be compared with what might be termed the macro-economic alternative to the tariff.
– That sounds sexy.
– It is not really, Mr Leader of the House, but it has possibilities. What we have to look at in this context is the relationship between the opportunity provided for import-competing manufacturing industries, and manufacturing industries which are potential exporters. As I was saying, the overall effect of the tariff has been to enable this country to maintain an exchange rate at a level higher than otherwise it would have been. In recent months we have seen a revaluation which raised the exchange rate even higher. The effect of that revaluation is to make more difficult the task of Australian manufacturers in making export sales abroad. I am suggesting that if overall the tariff was not there, rather than a revaluation of 0U currency to give it a higher value, it would be necessary to have a substantial devaluation, a substantially lower value to our currency. In a sense that devaluation would substitute for the tariff and, because the value was lower, it would provide a considerable stimulus to the export of our manufactures. There are good reasons why we do not contemplate the substitution of a devalued currency for the existing situation in which we have a tariff plus the present value of the currency.
However, since we do not contemplate this, it is all the more important to recognise that within our manufacturing industries we are, in effect, favouring those industries which compete with imports as against those which potentially would be very competitive in export markets overseas. This export incentive grants scheme is, in effect, a means of redressing this balance to some extent and fostering the development of exports of manufactures.
All that I have said could be summed up in a nutshell by saying that if we want to turn Australia into just the world’s quarry - my impression is that the Government does not want to do this but rather the opposite - we could hardly do better than eliminate these export incentives and add to that situation further significant revaluations of our currency plus other measures, such as shorter working hours, the effect of which would be to price the export of services and manufactured goods out of world markets. It is sometimes said that the effect of these export incentives is to provide a benefit for foreign purchasers. That is not a valid argument. Broadly speaking, in these areas there is world competition and a meeting of a world price. By and large, our manufacturers have to meet it. If they do not, the foreigners to whom they might sell buy elsewhere. So, in point of fact, it is a question not of permitting foreigners to buy our goods overseas more cheaply but of enabling Australian manufacturers, in the whole context in which they find themselves, including the level of the exchange rate, to make sales overseas at some profit very often not at a very high profit.
The remarks of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) in introducing this Bill must represent a high point of waffle and a high point of providing one more element in what I have come to call the ‘chaos theory’ of managing the economy. In his second reading speech he said:
What will happen after 30 June 1974 - as far as these export incentives are concerned - has yet to be decided, so it cannot yet be said whether the present scheme or some other scheme will operate or even no scheme. That will be decided later, in the light of a number of relevant factors. In the event that there were no schemes, consideration might be given to the need for hardship relief, but if that proved to be the situation such relief would not, of course, provide under a different name concessions as generous as the present incentives.
What I have referred to as the chaos theory of managing the economy is an approach in which the Government combines unpredictable and arbitrary measures with as many ambiguous, qualified and non-committal statements as possible, with a view to creating the maximum of uncertainty - indeed, alarm - amongst the business community, thereby inhibiting investment and other spending plans, restraining total expenditure and the total demand for resources and combating inflation. I should say perhaps ‘combating inflation in the short run’ because the Government is holding back the very development of that productive base - the source of additional supplies - which is the prime requirement of the medium and long term fight against inflation.
Thus, in accordance with this theory - at least until the Budget last Tuesday night - the Government created uncertainty about the continuance of the investment allowance. Uncertainty was implicit in this waffle of the Treasurer in introducing the Export Incentive Grants Bill. He said that the grants were to continue until June next year. After that they may or may not continue. They may be smaller, they may be larger; they may be this, they may be that. Also as I said, the Government has taken arbitrary and unpredictable actions. For instance, last July it slashed tariffs across the board, contrary to the law of the land and to established practice in this area. Only a day or so previously - I propose to make some remarks about this on a subsequent Bill - the Treasurer had piously and unequivocally supported the established practice in tariff changes, of open public inquiry and then action in the light of that inquiry. In addition to the things that I have mentioned, the Government withdrew incentives for oil and mineral search and made all sorts of noises about using public money to chase oil. Again, inflation is rampant. The Government set up the Prices Justification Tribunal, which half the Government takes seriously and the other half does not. Meanwhile other industries are harassed by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices. On the costs side, the Government sets the pace with the 35-hour week and extra leave for Commonwealth public servants which will add upwards of 20 per cent to costs if emulated in the private sector.
The Government promotes an open season on collective bargaining. And it brings in a Budget which clearly is designed not to fight inflation but to play its role in sustaining the upward gallop.
To characterise this as a theory is, I think, going a little too far. It would be altogether too novel and imaginative - I will not say sophisticated’ - for the Treasurer. I suspect that the Treasury, which despite the attitude of this Government has the best and most experienced economic policy group in the Government machine, would regard such an approach as untidy and rather unprofessional. Nevertheless, this is the way that the Government is proceeding. In this most important area where the external viability of this country in the long run is at stake - that can rest only on the continued expansion of manufactured exports as a key component of our exports - it is to be hoped that the Government will continue to maintain these export incentives that have been so important for the development of this facet of our economy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Cass) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 10 May (vide page 2005), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Cass) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 254), on motion by Mr Daly;
– The Opposition supports the motion for the appointment of a joint committee on the parliamentary committee system as moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly). We give our support in the expectation that the Senate will also support the motion. If the Senate does not support the proposal then we would, of course, want to have a fresh look at it in the light of the Senate’s reaction. Like the Government, we recognise that there are a number of matters which need to be appraised in the interests of the Parliament and of the nation. The new sitting hours have seriously affected the committee system that exists at the present time and a fresh approach is clearly needed.
The Leader of the House in his speech on this motion referred to the committee systems which now operate in the United States of America, Great Britain and Canada. We in the Opposition, are of course, aware of the differing roles of these committee systems, especially with respect to the process of legislative review. But both in Australia and elsewhere parliamentary committees are an integral part of the machinery of Parliament. In moving this motion the Leader of the House said:
An extension of the committee system might well provide longer hours for debate, better presentation of debates in this Parliament and more information and in many ways might not only speed up processes of Parliament but make it possible for us to make better informed decisions.
What this means, of course, is that the Leader of the House envisages the prior scrutiny of legislative proposals by committees so that debate might be expedited when Bills come before the House. The Opposition has no objection in principle to giving this matter consideration and it would agree with the
Government that this is perhaps ideally undertaken by the proposed joint committee on the parliamentary committee system.
However, I want to make it clear on behalf of the Opposition that the efficient operation of the Parliament is largely dependent on a degree of legislative planning and organisation which, of course, is primarily a Government responsibility. The present Government proposes to bring forward a record number of Bills in this session and to this we have no inherent objection. But the Government cannot expect the processes of the Parliament to accommodate the program it has in mind unless it undertakes adequate planning practices itself. It would be reasonable in these new circumstances for the Government to make available to the Opposition parties a draft legislative program detailing the business of the House and the nature of the proposed legislation for a period of, say, 6 weeks ahead. We believe this suggestion is practicable and would enable the Opposition parties and individual members of the House to be adequately prepared for debates and so mak. for a more efficient and more effective working of the House and of the Parliament. No one can deny that there is room for improvement in this direction.
At the present time the Government either is not prepared or is not able to indicate to the Opposition parties the nature of any legislation or in fact even an outline of the parliamentary program more than a few days in advance. This is not very satisfactory. If the proposed joint committee is able to come up with satisfactory recommendations for a balanced system of committees, the better integration of the committee system into the procedures of the Parliament and suitable arrangements for committee meetings then it will have achieved something very worth while.
– I rise to support the motion of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) that a joint committee on the parliamentary committee system be established. As the Leader of the House has said, this is an unusual motion. We are setting up a committee to inquire into committees. But it is a worthy move for its objectives rather than being delaying tactics for reform are indeed to initiate reform. There are several realities the conjunction of which have precipitated this motion. Firstly, in this Parliament we have 14 committees in the House of Representatives and 24 committees in the Senate. Committees are an essential part of our parliamentary system as they are in other Parliaments around the world.
I think it is right at this time to draw the attention of the House to one problem that will arise, that is in the area of matters relating to parliamentary privilege enjoyed by this House and the committees. The Bar Council warns us that a parliamentary committee in the present state of the law may decide to investigate any particular event, person, transaction or organisation in as much detail and with as much publicity as the committee thinks fit, and that in such a case witnesses are placed entirely at the mercy of the committees without redress of any kind should a committee exceed its powers either constitutionally or under the reference from the particular House and without any of the elementary protection granted to the citizen in court proceedings. There is, in the Council’s view, a serious question of whether parliamentary committees should be concerned to inquire into matters which raise issues of civil or criminal liability of citizens. The United States Senate committees under Senator McCarthy remain fresh in everybody’s minds. There is no place, the Council warns, for such excesses in Australian public life.
So this is an area which I think should bc considered particularly by the proposed committee. It is imperative that the Parliament enact legislation under section 49 of the Constitution following the inquiry to determine precisely what are the powers, privileges and immunities of the House and of its members and committees. One might question the purpose of one of the committees in the other House from a political point of view. 1 am referring, of course, to the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians where the excesses of some members of that Committee have been used for political gain so that the purpose of the inquiry and of the establishment of the committee was reversed and, due to disclosures at any time, the fortunes of particular participants varied. But secondly, at the same time, the Senate has given us a model to follow. The revitalisation that has taken place in the Senate, which has turned from being a rubber stamp to a House of review and now to one of examination, is perhaps a mood that this House could follow. In fact, the metamorphosis of the work of that House moved one political writer in the ‘Australian’ of 23
March 1970 to say ‘that all’ - and I assume that he was referring to senators - ‘would subscribe to the theory that the Senate has already surpassed the House of Representatives as the most important functional part of the legislature*. One could make out a very respectable argument along those lines. That argument is one that will have to be examined by this joint committee.
Thirdly, one can imagine the interest that can arise when issues perhaps cut across party lines or at least, because of the committee system, lower the defences of party lines. Also, we need to consider the information and advice that can be given by outsiders who are involved in an advisory capacity. One only has to think back to the debate in this House on the Medical Practices Clarification Bill to realise the amount of interest that could be engendered in the House and the debates if more latitude and freedom were given during the discussion period.
The scene is one of many committees in this House vieing with each other for time and members and vieing with the Parliament itself for time and members. The fault could lie in their numbers, their organisation or their function. It is time for review so that we can determine if the committee system can be enlarged and used to advantage in this Parliament. The likelihood and desirability has been presupposed, as is evident in the wording of the first paragraph of this motion. But we must through the committee of inquiry determine how a balanced system can be brought about and how the committee system can be incorporated into the procedures of Parliament.
Reform of Parliament has two aspects - reform for the advantage of the government and reform for the improvement of the parliamentary system as a whole. Studies overseas through the establishment of committees such as the one we are discussing have led to improvements in committee systems. The report of an all-party Special Committee on Procedure in the Canadian House of Commons in 1968 recommended major reforms to the timetabling of Parliament’s business, lt was observed that this would lead to a reduction in the time spent on certain debates, lt was also found that the major disagreement in the Special Committee on Procedure came on how Parliament’s time should be controlled, especially when parties cannot agree amongst themselves on the time to be allotted to the different stages of various Bills. It is obvious that this is another area that will have to be examined to see whether the committee system will work in this Parliament. The basis for the opposition found by the Canadian Committee was that the rules adopted would have given the Government not only the power to push its legislative program through the House, but also the power to establish the time spent on each item of business coming before the House. This was unacceptable to the Opposition because one of the most important powers of the Opposition is to choose what resources of time and manpower it wants to devote to each parliamentary battle. This particular area of disagreement must be resolved if the committee system is to be successful
The second type of reform to which I referred - improvement of the parliamentary system as a whole - requires some major changes. The Canadian Committee reported that the standing committees of Parliament have been given much greater responsibilities under the proposed new rules. They have been made smaller and have been established to cover the activities of government on a functional basis. They will examine virtually all Bills and estimates in detail but they remain understaffed, often highly partisan, indifferently chaired and uncertain of their powers or functions. Each backbencher belongs to two or three committees whose meetings often conflict. The role of committees is still not clear - whether they are to be miniature chambers like the British standing committees, impartial critics like the British select committees or powerful influences on the legislative process like American congressional committees. The publication to which I am referring concludes by saying that perhaps only practice and many false starts will establish the role of the committees.
We hope that we can avoid those false starts. We can improve on the practices by comparing what has taken place in the development of the committee system in overseas parliaments. Many backbenchers have come into this House disillusioned as they see that they are not incorporated in the power centres and the decision making to a great degree. We might ask: What part do backbenchers play in determining the details of Bills once they have been introduced into the House? The short answer is that the committee stage has become a solemn farce. The debate in the Committee of the Whole tends to become a repetition of the debate at the second reading stage, selected clauses simply being used as pegs on which to hang political arguments already canvassed, and directed in any event to the electorate rather than to improvement of the Bill. That is another area for examination by the Committee.
One might consider during debate whether it is fantasy, farce or fact. Even an Edmund Burke would find it difficult to sway the Mouse on 99 per cent of the Bills introduced into this Parliament, but honourable members should remember that Edmund Burke was in Parliament long before the party system matured in the United Kingdom and, of course, in Australia. The comments I have just made should be considered in the context of the party system and the desirable role of the parties in concentrating policy to a point where it can be understood, voted upon at elections and presented under the constitutional understanding of responsible and executive government. Initiatives are generally in the form of private members’ Bills. Members can also speak during the adjournment and grievance debates.
We need to see greater involvement of the backbencher but opportunities under the Standing Orders open to backbenchers are usually times for individual speechmaking - no replies, no motion and no vote. Thus in 1971 a backbencher was able to claim that during his 2 years in Parliament there had been no full scale debate on urban development, pollution, conservation, education, road safety, transport, social services, the rural crisis, tariffs or immigration. All those subjects had been mentioned in speeches and at question time but had not been truly debated. I personally believe that because of the democratic nature of my Party that objection could be well and truly met on this side of the House. I also think it is a comment that is truly applicable to the previous Government. However, an examination can be made, given the opportunity of the inquiry into the committee system, to involve backbenchers even further. There are dangers, as the Canadian system has demonstrated. I wish to quote a comment made on 4 July 1969, an important date for Canada’s neighbours, in the Canadian ‘Financial Post’. It stated:
As Parliament ground towards its summer recess the grunts and groans of backbench MPs from all parties overloaded with work under the new committee system echoed to high heaven. Gone forever are the days when government backbenchers had little to do. As one Government member, Marcel Lambert, Vice President of the powerful Procedures Committee, and former Speaker of the House said: ‘The system is overworked and we are overworked. It is government by exhaustion.’
That is something which the new committee of inquiry will have to avoid by drawing up guidelines. One possible method is to alter the timetable of Parliament. Perhaps we could meet for 2 weeks and adjourn for one week, the second week to be devoted to committee work only so that members of Parliament could catch up. Another comment made by the Canadian committee of inquiry was that with so many committees operating - 24 at that stage - there was difficulty in getting a quorum in the House, creating a bad situation. The committee said that one answer was to devote two or three days a week to committee work only. In this Parliament we could make it one or two days a week for committee work only while the House was adjourned, or a reduction could be made in quorum requirements.
There are several questions still to be answered. One problem is that there will not be enough members to man the committees. I have mentioned the problems caused by an overloaded committee system in Canada. We must also examine the role of pairs in this House, quorums, Standing Orders, and the printing of procedures of committees, if necessary with a new printing press of a more advanced offset type. We must examine how the committees are to be functional and of value to the ‘House. We would not like them to be interrupted by quorum bells, division bells and so on; yet this House must remain the supreme body. This is an area which will have to be examined. Its procedures will have to be rationalised and a conclusion reached.
A committee has often been described as the body that set out to design a horse and ended up with a camel. The late Ben Chifley when Prime Minister once said that the ideal size of a committee is three with two away sick. I am not too concerned about the formation of the committee of inquiry. That has been gone into in detail. I have concentrated on the work to be performed by the committee. I recommend the motion to the House.
– This debate on the parliamentary committee system probably represents the only time that the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) is sorry that he is not a member of the Opposition because 1 believe that he would dearly love to send up the proposition we are debating. He even had to reassure himself that he was serious. He had to say: ‘lt is in all good faith that I submit the motion to the House.’ if W. S. Gilbert was alive today ‘Iolanthe’ would be vastly improved by the example of the present Labor Government. One of the sub-titles to ‘Iolanthe’ is ‘The Peer and the Peri’. I think that today W. S. Gilbert would substitute for that sub-title The Commissar and the Committees’. In speaking to his motion the Leader of the House stated:
Sittings of the House interfere with committee meetings.
That is something the same as saying that work interferes with leisure. One should consider what has the most important function - the House or all the appendages of the House. The Minister also talked about the possibility of altering procedure for calls for quorums, calls for divisions, etc., so that committees may meet while Parliament is in session. In Act II of ‘Iolanthe’, when Private Willis was on sentry duty outside Parliament House at Westminster, W. S. Gilbert had him sing:
When in that House M.P.’s divide,
If they’ve a brain and cerebellum, too,
They/ve got to leave that brain outside,
And vote just as their leaders tell ‘em to.
Perhaps if W. S. Gilbert were alive today he would write:
When in that House M.P.’s divide,
If there are any not on a committee,
There will be insufficient to decide
What they debate. Ah, what a pity.
According to the estimate of the Leader of the House there are 14 House of Representatives committees and 24 Senate committees at the present time. It is agreed by all that these committees have insufficient time to do their committee work properly. There is no need for a special committee to be set up to find that out. There is also no need for a committee to establish what we all know, that is that as a result of the extended times introduced by the Leader of the House the effective time for committees has been substantially reduced. I think it is rather naive to say that perhaps some of the present sitting time of the Parliament could be used for committees because if that were the case why would the Leader of the House be so eager to have extended sitting times and also be eager to move the gag as we proceed with debates?
If the extended sitting times have been introduced to allow adequate time for debate - and I would question this in view of the way the House is operating - then this surely :s contradictory to the proposal to set up this committee. Now more than ever if committees are going to be allowed to meet while the House is in session - and it has been suggested that this is possibly one of the recommendations this committee will make - then members of committees will be more ignorant than ever of what is actually going on in the House and of the way to vote when they return to the House, if they do return.
I think W. S. Gilbert would also delight in the actions of the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) in the present Government who when in Opposition was a most vociferous supporter of the worth of the committee system but who when he became AttorneyGeneral did not bother to wait for reports from the committee on wildlife and the committee on divorce regulations before introducing alterations in these fields. He was the one who was saying that we should always have these reports before us. I think also that Northcote Parkinson would be smiling at what is happening. He would be smiling at the proliferation of committees, of which this proposal obviously would be a suitable crowning achievement in that this proposed committee will even be able to set up subcommittees. He would also smile at the compound growth rate of the personal staff attached to various Ministers, of all the task forces being created and of the growth of the Public Service generally.
I believe it is time to say to this Government: Stop hiding behind the reports of task forces and special committees that have been set up with the one aim or one role of recommending Labor policy, and stop using these committees and task forces to create the fictions that the Government is only implementing the neutral, disinterested and expert views or recommendations of these groups. The Country Party does not oppose this proposal but it believes that the Leader of the House and the Government generally can do far more for the committee system and for Parliament by allowing adequate time for those committees which are at present constituted.
– I think it is unfortunate that the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) has chosen to speak in the manner in which he has spoken. One of the reasons why this proposal is before the House is the very reason which he advanced why it should not be before the House, and that is that there is a proliferation of committees. There are serious duplications of committees and there are not adequate opportunities for committees to meet and to discuss properly the business for which they were set up. The reason for the proposal to set up a parliamentary committee to look into and make recommendations on a committee system for the House is to enable us to endeavour to devise a system which will give adequate committee coverage and which will give back-bench members adequate opportunities to investigate and express themselves on matters in which they are interested.
One of the problems which arose with the Senate committee system was that there was not always adequate manpower available. Because of the political complexion of the Senate and the competitiveness with which the setting up of committees was pursued an ad hoc system arose in which senators found themselves on 2, 3, 4 and 5, and in at least one case that I know of involving one senator, 7 committees of the Senate at the same time. These sorts of circumstances make a farce of a committee system. The committees then operate only because of the weight carried by a few members.
There is a contradiction in the statement that we should not examine the committee system because the present system does not work and cannot be made to work because of the lack of time available, when this is accompanied by a request for the House to meet longer so that committees can devote more time to the consideration of legislation. In the time that I have been a member of this House there has never been adequate time to debate legislation in the manner in which some members of the House would wish and there are always some members of the House who would consider any legislation to be important to them. But because of the pressures of time and the pressures which are placed upon the House to pass legislation it is rare for all members to get the opportunities which they would seek to consider legislation. This applies as much to Government supporters as it does to members of the Opposition. I remember prior to the last election supporters of the then Government - and this happens now - being pulled out of debates in order that members of the Opposition could get some chance to debate the legislation - although quite often not the chance that they really wanted.
There are many areas which a committee such as this proposed committee could investigate. There are many areas into which an investigation could prove profitable. One matter which could be examined is a proposal whereby the House would examine all legislation in a committee situation - committees of the House - during the stage of consideration of the Bill which is now conducted by the Committee of the whole House. It may well be that if that method were adopted we could extend the time available for consideration of legislation without in any way restricting the rights of members. It may be that we could devise a set of standing committees whereby the responsibilities would be divided in some way between the Senate and the House of Representatives so that adequate coverage of the various subject matters which may be referred to committees can be given without developing a situation similar to, for instance, the present one where we have a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and a Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. Those 2 committees are operating in exactly the same fields but they have been set up and are conducted as parliamentary committees with the Senate, quite properly, claiming that it has the right to set up its own committees.
I feel that any examination undertaken seriously by the Parliament in order to resolve the problems which confront a parliament that is pressed for time and pressed for legislative output can only do good. To suggest that for the Parliament to set up a committee to look at itself is a waste of time or would put too much pressure on members serving on that committee is to adopt a defeatist attitude. I believe that a committee such as is proposed could rationalise or recommend means by which parliamentary legislation could be dealt with in a manner more acceptable to honourable members without detracting in any way from the operations of the House. I think everyone acknowledges that it is difficult for committees to work adequately when the Parliament is sitting. For this reason the system of committees and the operations of the House should be examined by a joint committee such as is proposed. The proposed committee will conduct an examination not only of the committees of the House of Representatives but also of the total com mittee system which operates or could operate in the Parliament.
– I wish to speak to this motion for about 3 minutes only, mostly to reiterate what has been said on behalf of the Opposition. It should be clear to the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) that the Opposition does not oppose the motion. Indeed, my colleague, the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), made it quite clear that he did not oppose the motion. In making his remarks he was pefectly entitled to point to a few oddities in the present situation, even if he did use Gilbert and Sullivan words in doing so. He could have gone further in referring to this proliferation of committees and quoted the well known quatrain:
Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite ‘em,
And little fleas have littler fleas,
And so on, ad infinitum.
That seems to be the way parliamentary committees tend to be proliferating. However it is necessary to examine the working of committees particularly, as has been pointed out very cogently, as one of the major reasons that the present committees are unable to do their work acceptably results from what the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) has done in greatly extending the sitting times of the House thereby infringing on the capacity and possibility of committees performing their work profitably. The Opposition therefore is happy to try to help overcome the results of the mistake the Leader of the House made in this direction. We must, however, make the further point that this is a proposal for a joint committee. Members of the Opposition in this House are happy to support the proposal but it must be made clear that there are 2 Houses in this Parliament and each House must decide separately whether its members will serve on such a joint committee.
– You should try to remedy that situation, too.
– One member of the Labor Party sought the abolition of the Senate, which I understand is in the Labor Party’s platform. However, the Labor Party has gone a little slowly on that proposal lately, but if the honourable member for Robertson, who just interjected, wants to do that I suggest that he consults with the Leader of the House and has a committee set up to investigate that proposal. It must be made clear that both Houses have to agree before there can be any joint Committee, that the Senate has a right to make a separate decision and that Opposition members in this House would not question that right should the Senate make a decision different from the decision of this House. However, the Opposition in this House supports the motion.
– in reply - A few matters have been raised during the course of this debate to which I should reply briefly. I agree with those honourable members who have said that there are numerous parliamentary committees. It is true that whilst there are numerous committees in this Parliament none of them has functioned as effectively in our parliamentary system as do such committees in many other countries. With the growth of work, forgetting all about sitting hours, and the numerous problems that must be discussed in the national Parliament, some system must be devised whereby some issues can be deliberated in committees and more specialised and knowledgeable debate take place in the Parliament. I do not think we can keep abreast of developments in parliamentary systems if we continue our debates under a system devised many years ago and which lays down provisions for so many hours for a second reading debate.
Having listened to a number of honourable members opposite, particularly those I look at now, I believe that service on a committee would improve their knowledge tremendously. A proper investigation may result in ways of shortening effective debate whilst not curtailing the right of expression in the Parliament of those who have an intimate knowledge of a subject under discussion. Undoubtedly they would be able to give the benefit of their knowledge more informatively and in a shorter period to those honourable members who do not possess such knowledge.
Much is to be said for committees meeting when the Parliament is not sitting. Quite frankly it is impossible to have intelligent committee meetings when, in accordance with the proceedings of the Parliament, such meetings can be interrupted when quorums of the House are called and divisions taken. One matter into which the proposed committee might inquire is how to avoid such occurrences when committees are deliberating on important matters. Much has been said about the changed sitting hours of the Parliament. I understood that the Opposition did not oppose the extended sitting hours although it moved some minor amendment. Whilst clamouring for extra time in the Parliament the Opposition moved an amendment to reduce the sitting hours. Of course that kind of reasoning is worthy of investigation by a committee. Long before hours were extended in this Parliament there was trouble with committee sittings. This occurred during the last Parliament. There will always be such trouble unless some method is adopted whereby time is put aside for committee meetings. Honourable members have suggested that because of the extended sitting hours committee meetings cannot be held. I point out that there are many Fridays in a year when honourable members could linger in Canberra to serve on a committee. There are many Monday mornings when honourable members could be present for committee meetings. Of course Country Party members would have to leave their cows, trees and horses. Someone else would have to milk the cows on Sunday evenings.
– A member must spend some time in his electorate.
– I do not blame the honourable member for spending a lot of time in his electorate. However I give him the good oil that if he stayed away longer his electorate would appreciate him more. The situation is that we are not now determining the committee system. I hope that from this motion a joint committee will meet and make recommendations whereby parliamentary committees can function more effectively. It has been said that a joint committee is proposed. It is proposed that a joint committee investigate the committee system to see whether it can be made to function more effectively. The joint committee will have an investigatory role. It must be a joint committee. If the Parliament wants to continue as it is operating, Opposition members will not participate in the joint committee, but if they want the sensible functioning of the Parliament they will agree that something must be done.
It is idle to think that every honourable member in the Parliament can debate every Bill. It would not matter how knowledgeable an honourable member was, the House would have to sit 24 hours every day of the year to enable all members to speak to all matters. This would not work. If as a result of the operations of the proposed joint committee the procedures of the Parliament can be streamlined without interfering with the Parliament’s deliberations a big forward step will have been taken. I am pleased that honourable members opposite are not opposing the motion although they have, in a strange way, damned it with faint praise. As I look about me I can see many honourable members who would benefit from serving long terms on committees. They could learn much. If, in future, committees function as the Government believes they might, honourable members may have the opportunity to serve on such committees. In the investigation that takes place every aspect of committee work can be examined including whether committee meetings should be interrupted, when they should be held, should the Parliament not meet until a certain hour, say 12 noon, in order to allow committees to function and whether committee meetings should continue during meal hours. These matters can all be considered by the joint committee to determine how committee meetings can be dovetailed into the parliamentary system and parliamentary machine.
I am pleased that the Opposition is not opposing the motion. I would, however, ask honourable members opposite to speak with the recalcitrant backwoodsman in the other place to see whether, for once, they might recognise the enlightenment that is flowing from this chamber and support this proposal. The knowledge they gain from mingling with members from this side of the House in a joint committee would be an inspiration to them in their efforts to get back into government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 215), on motion by Dr Cairns:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to extend the operation of the cellulose acetate flake bounty until 30 June 1976. As the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Second Industry (Dr Cairns) stated in his second reading speech, this is in conformity with the Tariff Board’s suggestion that the bounty be continued until the Board has examined this and other acetyl products in its 1975 general review of the chemical industry. I would agree that it is appropriate that this examination of the wisdom or otherwise of this bounty be conducted as part of the general review of the tariff intended by the preceding Government.
This might be an appropriate opportunity to recall to honourable members’ minds the actions and the approach of the former Government in this respect. It starts from the proposition that the tariff is important for the balanced and efficient growth of Australian secondary industry. The former Liberal-Country Party Government was committed to the continuing and systematic review of levels of protection, and to the setting of protective tariffs at levels appropriate to enable economic and efficient industry, viewed within the overall framework of a balanced and viableindustrial structure, to compete effectively with imports. It recognised that the procedure nf examing industries in isolation could over the long term lead to inconsistencies in tariff making and inevitably to a sort of creeping increase in the overall level of protection.
Recognising this and in pursuit of the objective of protecting economic and efficient industries to which I have just referred, the former Government in 1971 instituted the progressive’ or ‘systematic’ review of the tariff, as it came to be known, commencing with those areas where protection was the highest and had not been reviewed for many years. There are current review references before the Board at this moment pursuant to that program, on electronic and electrical equipment and on domestic appliances.
T also note in passing that in April 1972 the so-called ‘1000 items excess margins’ references was sent to the Board. The primary purpose of that was to provide information for trade negotiations but also to serve as a major indicator of areas of excess protection. I think there is agreement on all sides by all commentators as to the importance of moving to eliminate excess - that is to say unnecessary - protection from the tariff schedules. The membership of the Board was enlarged by the former Government to expedite these inquiries. There can be no doubt that the end point would have been recommendations for reduced tariff rates in many cases on a properly selective basis and after open public inquiry.
That was the direction and the manner of the policies of the preceding Government. I am led to ask: Do I conclude from the second reading speech of the Minister in relation to this Bill that the present Government embraces this approach to the tariff? It certainly appears to be so from the statement of the Minister, that he has accepted advice that the cellulose acetate flake bountry be extended to 1976 so that the scheduled 1975 general review of the chemical industry can take place. Of course, ‘scheduled’ is used within the context of the progressive review of the tariff to which I have referred.
– Your mind is on aeroplanes.
– This is backed up by the statement of the Treasurer in a speech given to the Australian Electrical Manufacturers Association on 5 July last. I draw the attention of the House to that date because it is very significant in relation to events of 18 July which, for the information of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) had nothing to do with airports at all.
– What about the 12th?
– What happened on 12 July?
– The Battle of the Boyne.
– Oh yes. I have not got mixed up in those affairs.
– We know what happened to the Irish there.
– Let us not open up old wounds. We are talking in an area where I had hoped there was some consistency of view as between the previous Government - the Liberal and Country Parties now in Opposition - and this present Government. I am saying that there is some indication of this in the second reading speech by the Minister, and I am also supported in that view by the Treasurer speaking as recently - as we have raised the whole question of dates - as 5 July last. He said:
Let me begin by saying something on the machinery for formulating government policy decisions regarding the tariff. The Government firmly supports the system of open inquiry by the Tariff Board. This is consistent with our general approach of favouring open government.
I shall make a reference in a moment to the 25 per cent cut in tariff so honourable members may be permitted some sort of horse laugh at that point. The Treasurer continued:
The Government has confirmed its support for the progressive review of the tariff which is now in progress. We will see that the further references required to enable the review to be completed will go forward. This procedure ensures that the issues involved are examined independently of the pressures of day to day politics and that the examination will be open to public scrutiny.
I can only express the hope that this procedure will be adopted and in future will be adhered to by the Government, for where is the consistency in the intention evidently expressed by the Minister for Overseas Trade, who is now in the chamber, of referring this matter in the course of the systematic review for further consideration in 1975, and the statements by the Treasurer, with the recent move by the Government to cut tariffs - including I can only presume, certain tariffs in the chemical industry - across the board by 25 per cent? I am not sure what other parts of the chemical industry may have felt the effects of that move, while at this time we proceed to continue unchanged the cellulose acetate flake bounty until 1976. The fact is that the recent action of the Government in relation to tariffs - in particular, its 25 per cent cut - on the face of it, seems to have been adopted as some form of alternative to the speeding up of the tariff review, which would have been a very proper procedure. As against that, the Government has favoured an across the board cut with subsequent attention to those who squeal the loudest.
I submit that the Government, in doing that, was acting clearly counter to the law of Australia, as in fact was pointed out at the time by my colleague the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock). Section 15 (1) of the Tariff Board Act states:
The Minister shall -
It states ‘shall’ - refer to the Board for inquiry and report the following matters -
Section 16 of the Act refers to the report forthcoming under that mandatory requirement. How then can it be argued that a 25 per cent cut across the board without report from the Board, albeit on the basis of a hastily prepared report by a committee under the Chairman of the Board, was in accordance with that requirement?
Also, in this respect the Government was acting against the views expressed by its own distinguished consultant in the person of Sir John Crawford who, in June, reported on a Commission to Advise on Assistance to Industries. In paragraph 58, Sir John refers to the mandatory requirement in the Tariff Board Act for the Minister, before taking action, to refer to the Board for inquiry and report the necessity for reduced duties, as refered to in the section of the Act 1 have just quoted, and he goes on after some discussion to state in paragraph 62: .
Although there have been occasions when the mandatory requirement has been ignored… . . it does appear that these are strictly in conflict with the law.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berinson) Order! I have to put it to the honourable member for Berowra that he is getting very wide of the mark. If I understand him correctly, there is no suggestion that the Bill at present before the House involves any conflict with any requirement in respect of Tariff Board procedures, and I would ask him to come back to the subject matter of the Bill itself.
– That isso, Mr Deputy Speaker; but I am trying to elucidate the intentions of this Government which often are not very clearly expressed.. As I said-
-Order! I am sure the opportunity will arise to have that matter clarified. What I am putting to the honourable member for Berowra is that this is not the occasion to do so.
– That perhaps, is true; but what is important from the point of view of people in the business community is that in so many of the dimensions of the environment in which they operate they are proceeding today with a degree of uncertainty - indeed, alarm - that is quite unprecedented. I referred earlier to the fact that in the Budget at least the question of the investment allowance was cleared up, but we have the uncertainty to which I referred earlier this afternoon in regard to the export incentives and now we have a further element of uncertainty in the critical area of protection, whether afforded as in the case of cellulose acetate flake by a bounty or as in other cases by a tariff.
In his second reading speech, the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) states:
This is in conformity with the TariffBoard suggestion that the bounty be continued until the Board has examined this and other acetyl products in its 1975 general review of the chemical Industry.
What I am trying to press on the Minister is that he should make clear whether that statement and the statement of the” Treasurer to which I referred earlier imply of represent a clear acceptance of the policy initiated by the previous Government to undertake a progressive review of the tariff.
– Order! What I now would like to press upon the honourable member for Berowra is that that is as far as he will be able to pursue this topic.
– Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I think that if that purpose is achieved - if, in fact, we can clear up that uncertainty - then my efforts will not have been in vain.
– Have you referred to my statement on the illegality of the tariff cut?
– My colleague the honourable member for Kooyong reminds me of his statement earlier on the illegality of the tariff cut. I did in fact refer to that.
– Order! I have to accept the point made by the honourable member for Hotham that we cannot allow this to proceed further. I ask the honourable member for Berowra to restrict his further comments to the Bill before the House.
– I observe from the second reading speech that the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry proposes to take the opportunity to express the bounty in metric terms. I was commenting earlier on a metric conversion which illustrated a way in which charges or even prices in this context can be subject to a creeping increase. I am not sure - I am sure my colleague the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) would be very keen to know the answer to this - whether in fact this metric conversion involves an increase in the level of protection.
– That is right.
– The honourable member for Wakefield is very interested in this question. The conversion is from a rate of 4c per lb to a rate of 8.8c per kilogram. Will the Minister, in his comments on this Bill, say whether this is an exact conversion? Perhaps 1 should mention that, in the change from tons to tonnes in relation to the intake of grapes which was dealt with by an earlier Bill, there was an increase of the order of 1.5 per cent. Although I have not a close acquaintance with this industry. I suspect that the degree of protection afforded by this bounty, in today’s circumstances of burgeoning international prices for synthetic fibres, would not in ad valorem terms represent an excessive amount. In making these remarks and expressing the hope that in this context the Government is firmly wedded to the progressive review of the tariff, I can say that the Opposition supports this Bill.
– in reply - I would like to mention one or two points raised by the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Edwards). I am sorry I was not in the chamber to hear all that he had to say, but I got some indication of what he said about the remarks of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) about the relationship between the comprehensive review of the tariff and this proposal. I can assure him that there is nothing inconsistent in what the Treasurer has said and the Government’s intention, which was derived from that of its predecessor, to continue the comprehensive review of the tariff that the Tariff Board has set out to make. Similarly there is nothing inconsistent in the proposal now before the House, nor, if I might depart from strict order for a second or two, is there anything inconsistent between this Bill and the Government’s recent 25 per cent reduction of tariffs.
– How do you sustain that?
– Quite easily. This bounty has been paid on cellulose acetate produced in Australia since 1956. It was a continuing policy under the previous Government and is continuing under this one. The Tariff Board report of 1971 recommended extension of the bounty period until the results of the 1975 review of the chemicals industry were known. So first of all the Government, in the Bill before the House, gives effect to a decision which is consistent with the policy for this industry since 1956 and which is consistent with the report of the Tariff Board of 1971 about continuing this bounty until 30 June 1976. It is in no way inconsistent with the decision to reduce tariffs. I suppose it would have been out of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the honourable member for Berowra to express his attitude to that matter and to say whether he favoured it or did not favour it. I was waiting for him to do that.
– I was going to do that but I was cut off by the Deputy Speaker.
– I am sure you were. If I may depart from order, this action taken by the Government about the tariff cut was one that was taken on the recommendation of a committee, the chairman of which was the Chairman of the Tariff Board.
– But not acting in accordance with the section of the Act to which 1 referred nor section 16aa.
– I am not talking about that point. I am talking about its consistency with the present decision. The committee, of which the chairman was the Chairman of the Tariff Board, and the Government have taken into account the relationship of the underlying tariff rate and the other additional provisions such as this bounty; and we are satisfied that a cut can be made without in any way diminishing the economic prospects of those who are producing cellulose acetate and are protected by this bounty. We are in very close touch with the statistics of both production and employment. The results so far have completely confirmed the Government’s belief in respect of this matter. I do not intend to go any further on that point, nor to enter into any kind of debate with the honourable member about the legality of this measure.
– Will you ever enter into a debate on the legality question?
– I was rather expecting that the honourable member for Kooyong would have taken the opportunity to ask a question on this matter in the last 4 or 5 days, and I was rather surprised that he did not. Frankly, I thought he had lost interest in it. As he now raises it, at a time that is out of order, I say to the honourable member that on my strict reading of section 15 ‘shall’ means ‘shall’. I also know that since 1931, over the last 40 years or so of the history of this Parliament, on occasions when a government has considered a great national economic question, as it did in the case of the Scullin tariff of 1931, as it has done on at least a dozen occasions since then, as it has done on at least half a dozen occasions since I came into this House-
– They were in relation to trade agreements.
– They were not in relation to trade agreements. I do not want to debate with the honourable member, by way of interjection or in any other way on a Bill like this one, this question but there have been many occasions, other than in relation to trade agreements, when this has occurred. The Government in making its decision this time did so on the basis of those longstanding precedents in the history of this Parliament.
– You were not prepared to amend the law to make it legal in the first place.
DrJ. F. CAIRNS - I will give the honourable member an assurance that I will do my best to keep out of the Australian law in the future any mandatory reference to the Tariff Board. If I were a betting man I would give him even money that it does not appear henceforth.
– That is a rather powerful statement.
– And knowing your pursuasive powers in Cabinet, you will win that argument.
DrJ. F. CAIRNS - It is a statement that is backed not by my ability to win an argument but by the overwhelming logic of the case. The Tariff Board is an advisory body whose advice should be sought by the Government. There should be no mandatory requirement to refer every matter to the Tariff Board, and I think that 9 out of 10 members of this House over the years and now would agree with that.
– Then let us amend the Tariff Board Act.
– There is no need to amend the Tariff Board Act. The honourable member for Kooyong would be sufficiently in touch with proceedings to know that before very long we will have before this House a Bill to establish an industries assistance commission. The question will come up then and I am sure we can debate the matter to the honourable member’s satisfaction. One other point I want to mention is the point raised by the honourable member for Berowra when he wanted to know if the Bill we are now discussing made any difference to the actual amount of the bounty and the significance of the bounty as a protection item. The conversion from imperial to metric measure reduces the effective rate by about 0.02 per kilogram. My own impression was that it made no difference, but that is the exact figure. It reduces the effective rate by 0.02c per kilogram.
– In the right direction.
– In the right direction, according to the honourable member for Wakefield.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) read a third time.
– For the information of honourable members I present the text of the statement made today by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy) regarding pre-Budget excise clearances of goods on which duties were increased in the Budget.
Debate resumed from 23 August (vide page 317), on the following paper presented by Mr Uren:
New Cities Program - Ministerial Statement, 23 August. and on motion by Mr Daly:
That the House take note of the paper.
– I support the statement made by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), a statement which can be described as historic. It is a statement with which I, as a member of the Government Party, am proud to be associated. This is the first time that an Australian government has stepped into the area of city development by direct budgetary allocation. By this act a significant thrust has been made into the area of city development. This thrust will reflect greatly on the quality of the lives of people now living in the cities and those who will live in the cities in time to come.
As one who represents an outer suburban area which is possibly the most rapidly developing area in Melbourne - I refer to the electorate of Holt - the statement has great significance not only to me but also to all people who live in that electorate. It is not a case of encouraging people to live in this south-eastern corridor. Rather the exercise should be seen as a constraining one of ordered development. To illustrate this, the figures for estimated future growth show that Melbourne could have a population of something like 4.5 million by the year 2000. Of that number, and taking into account present proposals for development, it is estimated that the south-east sector of Melbourne will need to accommodate close to one million people. If this is the case there will be greatly increased pressure on the Dandenong Ranges, the Mornington Peninsula, Westernport Bay and other areas of environmental, recreational or ecological interest. These already are matters of considerable concern to Victorians.
So it is very important that a government should look critically at this situation and be prepared to back what it says with money to ensure that the sort of development which follows takes place in some planned manner. As I see it there are 3 ways in which development or urban planning can take place. Zon.ning is one method that has been used on many occasions. We are all familiar with this. In this method areas are set aside as residential, commercial, industrial and rural areas. The lessons of history teach us that in time these zones are changed because of inevitable pressures which are applied, whether the zoning was for residential or industrial purposes. For one reason or another what was a rural area or a recreational area is rezoned and the result is the great urban sprawl which we have in Melbourne and Sydney at present.
The second method that can be used is for a government or government authority to acquire large tracts of land and then for planned development to take place so that land for open space as well as for residential, commercial and industrial uses can be set aside. This is planned development from the beginning. Of course, the prime example of what can be done using this method is the national capital, Canberra. Much of the new cities program that was outlined by the Minister utilises this method. The third method is for the Government to acquire land for open space, even if some of this continues to be used for farming, and in conjunction with the development of residential, industrial and commercial areas, acquire land, sustain a balance in the development and still be able to stop the city sprawl. It is in this way that I interpret the Minister’s remarks in his statement regarding the south-east corridor.
I should bring before the House the actions of the Berwick Shire Council which has shown great foresight in planning. Acutely aware of the problem of very rapid development in this south-east corridor and determined to stop a city sprawl, the Council employed its own planning consultants. This enabled it to carry out extensive feasibility studies. One could well question why a shire council should be prepared to spend the amount of money which this Council has spent. Of course, the answer is that what it which is in the area at the moment is not wants to ensure is that the beautiful land ruined and that there is constrained and planned development in this corridor which extends for some 37 or 40 miles from Melbourne. There could be some buffers of green space covering a mile or so in addition to the green wedges provided for in the overall planning of the Board of Works. This proposal more closely approximates the second method which I mentioned earlier and I would personally agree with the use of this sort of method in this area, if it could be done. However, it must be stated that the State governments inactivity in stabilising land prices in the area has not allowed the possibilities of the proposal to be fully explored at this stage. It is my hope that the State government will take some action in this regard so that a good look can be taken at this proposal. I was delighted to hear the Minister say in his ministerial statement:
The Cities Commission has found that the acquisition of critical lands to the south east of Melbourne, either for recreation or for conservation and. scenic reasons, would offer the strongest available guarantee of the continued protection of the Dandenong Ranges, Westernport Bay and the Mornington Peninsula. The need for recreation land near Melbourne is particularly important, and the preservation of the Mornington Peninsula and the Dandenongs is a matter of some urgency.
I endorse entirely that statement by the Minister. It is of tremendous significance, not only to the people living in my electorate of Holt but also to those who in the future will live in the corridor and to those at present living in the city of Melbourne. It is essential that we preserve a playground for the people of this ever-growing city.
Honourable members will recall that in his statement the Minister pointed to the great shortage of national parks near Melbourne. On the eastern side of Melbourne the nearest one is at Wilson’s Promontory, some distance from Melbourne. The moves that are being made by the Government in this regard are significant. For that reason I believe that this is an historic statement. We have moved into a new field and a new area. It can only reflect greatly on the quality of life of the people who live in our cities and, as we know, they represent the vast majority of the people in our country. I commend the statement to the House.
– I am in favour of the principle of the statement on the new cities program presented by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). Any move in the field of regional development must be applauded. Before going any further I would like to comment on the remarks made by the honourable member for Holt (Mr Oldmeadow). He referred to increased pressure on the area of the Dandenong Ranges over the next few years. I have an undertaking from the Minister - it was reported in the Press - that he will buy back all the developed area in the Dandenong Ranges and return it to its natural state. So I can assure the honourable member for Holt that there will not be any such problem. I believe that the Minister was at a party when he made that statement; so we probably will not see very much action flowing from it.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I .ask the honourable member to withdraw that accusation. It is a reflection on me and I ask him to withdraw it.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, if you consider that the statement should be withdrawn, I withdraw it, because I have no proof that the Minister was at the party.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, it was a snide accusation - and by a new member, too.
– I withdrew the statement, Mr Deputy Speaker. Do I have to say it again? Whilst I am in favour of the principle of the regional development scheme and of the Albury-Wodonga complex, I am not really in favour of development of this area to .a city with a population of 300,000. I believe that the Albury-Wodonga complex is estimated to cost something in excess of $500m over about 25 years. This is an admirable plan, but in that time very little money will be spent anywhere else under the socalled decentralisation plan to which the Minister referred in his statement.
Through the Budget a further $5m has been allocated for cities development. It is interesting to know that that $5m has in fact been allocated to Melbourne and Geelong. One could hardly call that decentralised regional development. There are other areas in Victoria that were selected a number of years ago for accelerated development. These cities have been geared by the State Government. The machinery has been provided. The planning has been done. They need the assist ance of the Australian Government in providing the funds. I ask the Minister whether he would not consider it better to have a target of perhaps 100,000 for Albury-Wodonga and to plan his spending so that there could be a better spread of the population away from the city areas in the various States.
Dr John Paterson, an expert in urban and regional development, is quoted in the Sydney edition of the ‘Australian’ of 5 February 1973 as saying that Albury will be too big as a 300,000 people complex. He said that he thought 100,000 people would be an adequate size. His reasons were that he was concerned that the Murray River water system might become over-committed. Adelaide, which has no other source of water, is increasing its demands from the system. He said that there were many virtues in having small inland towns which could serve as ‘decent’ centres and improve the quality of rural life.
The Minister answered that by saying that the critics of the plans for supplying the Albury-Wodonga complex forget that the Dartmouth Dam now being built would supplement the water supply. We now have news for the Minister. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has stated that that will be stopped. It is supposed to be only a temporary stoppage, but like most things that are stopped it will take an awful lot of getting started again. It appears to me to be somewhat of a puzzle, if the Minister admits that the additional water from the Dartmouth Dam will be relied on to provide an adequate water supply not only for the Albury-Wodonga complex but right through to Adelaide, why the Government does not proceed with the Dartmouth Dam - provide the water first and then build the complex around it.
There will be many problems associated with the building of a large area with a population of 300,000. Not the least of these problems will be the requirements of people. It is an established fact that there are problems when industry is enticed away from the metropolitan areas. We had an instance of this in Bendigo. An industry proposed to set up shop in Bendigo. It negotiated with the State Government. A factory site was provided. The Housing Commission was prepared to erect the necessary buildings. Everything that could be done to encourage that industry to go to Bendigo was done. The industry was very keen because it would have housing and everything else it needed. There was one thing that stopped the whole operation, which eventually fell through. That was that the people who worked in that industry in Melbourne did not want to leave the major city. I think the Minister will find that, despite all the planning that is done, there will be many people who will be reluctant to leave their homes and to be shifted out to another area. It will take a long time to build by natural growth a complex with a population of 300,000. The same will apply to the proposed plan to move some of the government departments to Albury-Wodonga. How often have we heard grizzles and complaints, when a government department has been shifted to centralised Canberra, to the effect that the employees do not want to leave Sydney or Melbourne? What will they say when they are asked to leave Canberra to go to a place such as Albury-Wodonga which will be in its infancy in relation to size? I think the Minister will find that that is one of the many difficulties that will not be lightly overcome.
The ‘Canberra Times’ reported that a survey was taken which suggested that the residents of Albury-Wodonga are against growth and that 60 per cent of the people of Wodonga are against the Federal Government’s proposal to turn the Albury-Wodonga complex into a city of 300,000. I realise that that would not worry the Government one iota. It does not matter 2 hoots what anybody says. What the Government wants to do, it will do. It will not consider the rights of the people who live in that area one bit. The Government plans to spend a lot of money buying land for leasing so that it can control the price of land. The Minister wants all the land to be owned by the Government to be leased out so that, as he fondly believes, prices will be controlled.
Let us look at the Canberra prices and hold them up as an example of what can be done in this regard. I was talking to a person who was seeking to buy a home in Canberra, having moved here from Sydney. He checked up on the plan of a house through a company which builds in both Sydney and Canberra. In Canberra it would1 cost $3,000 more for an exact replica of the house he could have bought in Sydney. With building costs higher in places away from the major cities, how will the Government provide lower costs of housing? Many of the major products will have to be carted to those areas and therefore costs will be greatly inflated.
I ask the Minister whether he is aware that the Chamber of Manufactures was very interested in assisting in the planning of the Albury-Wodonga complex. It offered its expertise. Such people obviously would be experienced and would have a great wealth of expertise to offer in the planning for industries in the proposed city. What happened? The Government was not interested in the request. It did not offer to take up the request from the Chamber to be in on the discussions. Of course the trade unions were there. Why not, Mr Minister, develop other areas to limits of 100,000 as has already been planned by the State governments so that we get a better spread and better development? The Minister has made a statement that a feasibility study will be made of the city of Bendigo and other cities in Victoria. No doubt feasibility studies will be carried out in other States as well. This is all very well, but the Prime Minister has warned us that we should not take any notice - or perhaps we should not take too much notice - of such feasibility studies because they may not come to fruition. Does this mean that we would be wasting time and money if we undertook the feasibility studies? I think so, and I do not think that this Government, as the Budget confirmed last week, has any intention of giving any real help in the regional development of our cities. The Government is interested only in the development of major cities. It is planning the Albury-Wodonga complex to form a major city between Sydney and Melbourne and has ignored again the development of the present major rural cities in New South Wales and Victoria.
Whilst I said at the beginning of my speech that I was in favour of the principle of regional development, I am definitely not in favour of the total development of the Albury-Wodonga complex at the cost of other areas. I would like to see the Government rethink this program and plan thoroughly over the coming years and ensure that there is an equitable distribution of money. The Government has started the Albury-Wodonga complex. I believe that this is a very good move provided that the Government keeps it within range, as advised by the expert on the water problem. The Government should also provide money to the States so that they can proceed with their planned development which will help and benefit the spread of population throughout the States in general.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kerin) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.12 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 21 August (vide page 165), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House expresses disapproval of the Budget because it is economically irresponsible in that:
with inflationary pressures intense it fails to adopt any policy to bring inflation under control;
with resources already under strain it applies wrong economic principles by overloading resources further by expansionary public sector spending;
it permits the tax burden to accelerate to an unprecedented level;
it is a further step in the attack on the federal system of government by Labor which aims to centralise all decisions in Canberra;
it jeopardises the future growth of living standard and economic development of the nation;
it unfairly discriminates against the rural community and discourages decentralisation;
it does not provide a framework of social equity; and
it fails to honour election promises.’
This Budget is devoid of any policy to deal with the fundamental problem we face today - runaway prices and crippling inflation. I intend to expose the faulty and misleading economic analysis of the Budget which is expansionary and inflationary even though the Government thinks it is neutral. Also I will outline our approach to the problem of inflation. This will be the only public policy because the Treasurer (Mr Crean) has admitted the Budget does not have a policy against inflation. It is an expansionary Budget at a time when we are in boom conditions. Expansion is not the right treatment for an economy which is under resource pressure. The Treasurer admits on page 3 of his distributed Budget Speech:
With resources under strain, however,we would be foolish to overload them further.
He will overload them. On his own admission he is being foolish. The Treasury admits in Statement No. 2, page 7: . . the overriding consideration in framing the Budget was that the economy at the outset of 1973- 74 was already under stress, with inflation the dominant worry. The major problem, therefore, was one of ensuring that the diversion of resources to the public sector needed to get major programs under way did not add to total demand pressures.
It will add to total demand pressures. Inflation is harmful socially and economically while it runs. It capriciously redistributes incomes and savings. It forces the poor to enrich the strong. It breeds conditions which make counter action inevitable. The longer inflation runs the more drastic must be the cure. History shows this. Inflation poisons the growth of an economy and robs people of the advances in social welfare and standards of living that would otherwise be achievable. After the economic surgery to stop inflation we can resume growth - but that which is lost during the cure remains lost forever. The Budget emphasises public sector growth and makes threatening references to a need to clamp down on the private sector. The quote from the Treasury I have just used forecasts constraints on the private sector.
The truth is that we cannot have real advances in the public sector - education, cities, pensions or health - without real advances in the private sector where the wealth is built. It is possible to get an appearance of growth by spending more money but when adjustments are made to allow for the price increases of inflation, it is not an improved real performance. Paying for public services means building resources, not just putting an inflated price tag on the service. The control of inflation starts with good economic management. This involves striking a proper balance between the demands of the public sector, which distributes social welfare, against the health of the private sector, which creates the means of financing public spending. Good economic management requires the right assessment of the level of total demand so that the economy can satisfy both the public and the private sector without overstraining resources. If total demand breaks through the resource barrier there will be competition for scarce resources. A government can outbid the private sector by inflationary pressure which is clearly intended by this Budget. The alternative is to squeeze the private sector by financial or fiscal measures, of which there are plenty of threats and hints in this Budget and in speeches by Ministers. Either is most harmful to the economic health of the nation.
The inflationary impact of the Budget can be gauged by two points made by the Treasury in Statement No. 2 appended to the Treasurer’s speech, namely: Firstly, The percentage increase in government spending on domestic outlays - that is $ 1,938m; and secondly any offsetting rise in government revenue collections due to changes in tax rates - that is $339m. It is accepted by the Treasury that the major influence on the economy is the changes made in the Budget expenditures and receipts. I refer to Treasury Statement No. 2, page 7. The crucial point made by the Treasury - unknown to the Treasurer - is that the impact of the Budget on the revenue side cannot be assessed by looking only at the growth of tax receipts when that growth is due to the effects of inflation and a progressive tax scale. This is made clear in Statement No. 2, page 10, which reads:
However, only changes in revenue arising from changes in rates and charges can be considered as capable of varying or offsetting economic trends which, prior to the Budget, are foreseen.
In contrast, the existing tax structure is part of the complex of factors producing presently foreseen trends and therefore cannot be seen as capable of offsetting them - the effect of the existing tax structure is already ‘built in’, as it were, to those foreseen trends.
This analysis has been presented in each of the recent Budget statements. It rips away the Treasurer’s pretence that by accumulating extra taxes through inflation and thus reducing the size of his deficit he is in some *ay presenting a neutral Budget. The absurdity of his proposition is easily demonstrated. If the inflation rate of 1973-74 reaches 13 per cent instead of the 10 per cent or 10± per cent on which his estimates have been drawn up, he will accumulate a Budget surplus because of the progressive tax scale. To be consistent he will point to the surplus and say that he is winning the fight against inflation, having led it from 10 per cent to 13 per cent. This is simply Alice in Wonderland economics. On the Treasury’s own approach the Budget is therefore inflationary and expansionary - not neutral. It is necessary to decide how expansionary.
We should look at the impact of the present Budget in perspective. On the expenditure side the increase in domestic outlay has gone up by Sl,938m - a rise of 20 per cent against 16 per cent last year. On the revenue side there is an increase of revenue of only $339m as a result of new tax proposals. That can be seen in Statement No. 5, page 85. The net stimulation - that is the Budget impact - offered to the economy in the present Budget is therefore SI, 599m. In his book ‘Fiscal Policy In Australia’ Professor J. Nevile measures the net stimulation of Budgets by calculating Budget impact in this way and relating the result in percentage terms to the gross nonfarm product. He states:; ‘we can define any increase greater than 2.9 per cent as unusually expansionary . . .’. On this measure the present Budget represents an increase of 4.2 per cent, one of the largest stimulants ever. It is certainly the greatest expansion ever to an overheated economy. It can be compared with 1961-62 when the figure was 4.5 per cent while unemployment was at 3.2 per cent, or the 4.2 per cent can be compared with 4.6 per cent in 1972-73 when unemployment was at 2.2 per cent. I seek the leave of the House to incorporate in Hansard documents which set this out.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
– It should be noted that the calculations presented by the Treasurer seem to err on the side of optimism. This especially applies to the calculation of an increase in employment of 31 per cent to 4 per cent at a time when the economy is close to capacity. Treasury doubts about the validity of this optimism are seen in statement No. 2, page 6, which reads:
The high employment growth implies a marked increase in labour force participation rates and this will be achieved only by greater female participation.
This clarion call to women in the community hardly fits the absence of any tax deduction for child care centres in this Budget - a preelection promise which has been broken.
The inflationary impact is a Treasury admission. The Treasurer did not mouth the key words himself. They were too bitter for him to say. They hinge on the expected average wage increases of 13 per cent for the year, and on this figure the revenue calculations are based. Those figures are to be found in Statement No. 5, page 87. It may be argued that all free enterprise Treasurers have relied on inflation to balance their budgets - why should not socialist Treasurers? To a certain extent this is valid. There is no way - without a cut in tax rates - by which rising money incomes will not boost Government revenue when there is a progressive rate tax structure. But this Treasurer has budgeted for an increase in revenues geared to a 13 per cent increase in average earnings. Putting this figure alongside his estimate of productivity of 2i per cent to 3 per cent implies a rate of inflation of over 10 per cent this year. Even that rate assumes that other domestic incomes, for example, profits, -will not be greatly squeezed and add to inflation. This is a reasonable assumption during a time of high activity unless the ‘ Treasurer is contemplating specific action against profits. An action against profits now would have a serious impact when private investment is just beginning to lift.
Even this does not fully disclose the extraordinarily inflationary impact of the Budget on - to quote Statement No. 1, page 2 - an economy operating close to full capacity. There are at least 2 additional reasons why we can expect the Budget to have an extra inflationary twist. Firstly, part of the increase in revenue is due to taxes on smokes and petrol which will mean a 1 per cent increase in the consumer price index. They will feed cost inflation by encouraging extra wage demands. Secondly, much of the increase in Government spending is on construction in the cities. Because this has a low import content the impact on the domestic economy will be greater.
The fiscal irresponsibility of the Budget puts an unreasonable pressure on monetary policy. It is unreal to depend on monetary policy alone to maintain proper overall economic conditions. This is especially true now when fiscal policy is moving against, rather than complementing, the objectives of monetary policy. The Reserve Bank in its recent annual report supports this. It says on page 9:
There is scope for further tightening in financial conditions but the gathering strength of private demand suggests it would not be prudent and probably not sufficient to rely only on monetary policy to achieve the desired restraint.
The point is now all the more pertinent when the large budgetary stimulation of public sector demand of this Budget is seen.
This Government is irresponsible because it has made no attempt in this Budget to reduce inflation. I will now speak of the approach we would adopt if we were in government and faced with this serious problem. Amongst honourable members opposite who are trying to interject is the Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices. He said that he is going to take every item and follow it through from start to finish.
– We can expect a report from him in the year 2000. Demand management is an essential feature of overall economic management. The Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development reports expert opinion that correct demand management represents 60 per cent or more of a proper approach for dealing with the problem of inflation. This is a conclusion reached notwithstanding the more recent phenomenon of cost-push inflation. The OECD emphasises, however, the importance of an incomes-prices policy as a necessary addition in circumstances such as we now face in Australia.
The first step in the achievement of an incomes-prices approach is an understanding by the public of the immense social and economic harm which excessive inflation produces. It goes beyond prices - staggering though they are - to the basic health of the economy. The magnitude of the inflationary problem present and projected has dramatically increased. From a long run average rate of price increase below 3 per cent to 6 per cent last year, it is now projected to be more that 10 per cent this year. Naturally we criticise the present Government for its part in bringing this about. But we wish to go beyond recrimination. This is a national problem and we wish to offer an initiative towards a national solution. We will play our part in achieving this solution.
There should be a national conference of Federal and State governments, the unions and employer organisations. The purpose would be, firstly, to identify the harms and evils of inflation, and secondly, to set an agreed program for restraint of incomes and prices. Incomes would need to include wages, profits, dividends and interest. Prices would need to include commodities and services across the full spectrum of commercial and private purchases. The impact which cost increases have upon price rises should be charted to achieve a clear understanding that any attempt to harness- prices alone while ignoring incomes would be futile. Out of the national conference should come a commitment by the whole of the community to restrain the rapid growth of incomes and prices. With the consumer price index at an annual rate of price increase of about 13 per cent and with the prospect of an increasing rate of underlying inflation involved in an expected average wage increase of 13 per cent, I believe a temporary total freeze on all incomes and prices will be necessary. This freeze should not exceed 90 days. Circumstances of the time could require an extension for a further short period. This action would break the circuit of inflation expectation which forces prices and wage settlements to be higher than they need be.
It is sometimes objected that a freeze would only suppress inflation, only postpone its occurrence. This objection confuses demand-pull inflation and cost inflation. Under conditions of excess demand prices and incomes are pulled up. Freezing them still leaves the excess demand and this excess demand tends merely to build up. However, under conditions of cost inflation, prices are rising not ; because of excess demand but because they’ are being pushed up by rising costs generated, for example, by excessive wage settlements. Accordingly, if wages and prices are frozen, and if the Government has done its job in removing excess demand, the cause of the inflation and not simply its symptoms ought to be removed.
During this first phase the national conference would consider the adoption of guidelines for moderated price and wage advance in the future. The guidelines adopted towage increases could be at about 6 per cent year. This is about the level when we had long period of price increase averaging 2i pei cent to 3 per cent per year. I suggest 6 per cent as being made up of about 3 per cent productivity increase and about 2i per cent to i per cent inflation tolerance. This is only a guideline which needs to be explored further to take account of other varying pressures which have an effect on cost increases, for instance, the cost of imported goods or higher export prices forcing up domestic prices.
Throughout’ the period of the guidelines application it would be desirable to have a prices notification system in operation. Companies with a turnover in excess of a determined figure would be required to notify price increases, lt would then stand on the public record and would be taken into account in determining future guidelines for wages and prices. The sanction would not be for increasing prices but for the failure to notify the price increase. In this way positive attention would be directed to the cause of price increases. It would build public involvement in a national problem to which we must all contribute on an informed basis. As a necessary corollary it would be a requirement to notify wage settlements.
I do not believe that an incomes-prices policy should be a permanent feature of economic management in Australia. Also I emphasise that : I do not believe price control alone can control inflation - indeed price control as such can only be used in extreme and special circumstances. To complement these restraining measures it is necessary to take other positive measures, for example to achieve greater productivity. Productivity is a force against inflation. A fundamental contribution is a balanced work force. There should be no greater percentage addition to public workforce numbers than the expected addition to the workforce overall. For present purposes this could be regarded as 3 per cent per annum. This figure should be adopted in the Australian Public Service, as it was in 1972, forthwith, not the 5 per cent forecast by the Prime Minister. I refer honourable members to page 53 of the Coombs report. Wage rates within the public sector as a whole and in the pace-setting Commonwealth Public Service would need to be held at the same guidelines level as for the workforce as a whole.
All this could be achieved by the voluntary commitment arising out of the national conference being translated by executive action of the governments and by appropriate Commonwealth and State legislation. If it cannot be achieved by this means then the States should be called upon for the temporary reference of such power as would be needed to apply the freeze on prices and incomes. During this short period a meeting of Commonwealth and States would be necessary to evolve appropriate co-operative legislation for the guideline period. All Liberal parliamentary leaders in the States will co-operate in fighting inflation through the type of action I am proposing. But they will not cede powers to the Commonwealth merely in order to satisfy socialist centralism. Throughout this process there should be proper demand management so that the total demand does not exceed the capacity of current resources, including imports, to supply.
The Treasurer in his first television program after the Budget, and about 4 days later, asked which area of proposed public sector increased expenditure should be cut back. It is not for me to allocate priorities for the Government between one social welfare expenditure against another. In general terms 1 welcome all of them and it is not reasonable for me to make distinctions at the end of the process when I had no part in the vital beginning - that is, of determining the shape of the Budget and other commitments made before it. Clearly much of the administrative expenditures can be cut. Already the boosting of ministerial and departmental empires is drawing public resentment. 1 repeat that the right course in the present circumstances is to limit the total of public sector expenditures to a level which can be satisfied by the available resources in the economy. This level can be judged by the amount of expected revenue receipts which are real and not blown up by an increased tax take from inflationary pressures operating on a progressive tax scale, lt is not possible to state the percentage reduction which would be necessary in public expenditure because that will be changing as inflation swings the balance of the economy.
This is a Budget which paid no attention at any time to this fundamental concept of supply and demand matching. To attempt to prune a Budget which is wrong in concept would only heap error upon error. The Budget should have been the instrument for the achievement of economic and social policies which are real instead of recklessly ambitious. An opposition cannot try to make bricks out of the Government’s straw. The Budget is the Government’s major economic instrument. It is absurd for the Treasurer to say:
I think the public wants to do something about inflation but there is not a lot we can do about it in the Budget.
That statement is sheer arrant nonsense. 1 prefer the following statement in that bright little publication published last year - ‘Prices. It’s Time’.
The Australian Labor Party sees inflation control as the Government’s responsibility. Not yours.
In the pamphlet I have in my hand - this is what the Labor Party sought to get into government on and what it deceived the people with - appears a lovely little statement related to a price rise of steel as follows:
All this would be bad enough, except the Government compounds the problem by increasing postal charges, telephone rates, and television licences and by increasing indirect taxes . . . petrol and cigarettes, for example.
The Labor Party’s policy is to raise the level of old age pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly male earnings to improve the position of pensioners. They promise two increases, each of SI. 50, during the year. The first of these was given in the Budget. These increases, totalling $3, will raise pensions from $21.50 to $24.50 by the end of the financial year. This is an increase of 11.4 per cent. Yet the Budget estimates that during the year average earnings will rise by 13 per cent. In other words as a result of the present Budget - and its inflationary consequences - the aged pensioners, the widows, the invalid on social security will fall farther behind average earnings rather than beginning to catch up on them. Underlying inflation is expected to be at least 10 per cent but prices as measured by the consumer price index are now at an annual rate of 13 per cent. Where does that leave the pensioner with his 1 1.4 per cent increase?
The majority of the people who voted Labor into power are those who lack economic power. Yet it is just that fact which makes them more severe victims of inflation than any other sector of the community. They are being badly let down by their political favourites who must know that inflation favours the strong against the weak.
The average weekly male earnings for the June quarter currently stand at $106.10. This implies a yearly rate of $5,278. If average earnings rise by 13 per cent during the year, as the Budget forecasts, this implies they will reach $119.89 by the end of the year. This implies a yearly rate of $5,964. It is instructive to examine what is likely to happen to the real standard of living of a wage earner with a wife and two children, whose yearly income will rise from $5,278 this year to $5,964 next year. Making deductions only for dependents - that is, not including medical school, etc. deductions which are in doubt anyway - the arithmetic runs as follows:
The percentage gain therefor-: in take home pay after allowing for a 13 per cent increase in wages is 10.2 per cent after tax. This is more than swallowed up by the 10.5 per cent increase in prices which is likely to occur if average earnings rise by 13 per cent and productivity by 2.5 per cent. If the consumer price index maintains its 13 per cent rate they will be further behind. This family has made no advance in real terms despite a $686 a year wage increase.
The current yearly income for a man who earns $150 a week is $7,800 If average weekly earnings rise by 13 per cent during the year, as the Budget forecasts, his annual salary will rise to $8,814 It is equally instructive to examine what is likely to happen to the real standard of living of this wage earner with a wife and 2 children in receipt of this income. Again, making deductions only for dependants the arithmetic runs as follows: If his income in 1972-73 was $7,800 his income in 1973-74 would be $8,814 His tax in 1972- 73 would have been $1,617.97 and his tax in 1973-74 would be $2,019.92. The post-tax income of the man in 1972-73 would be $6,182.03 and for 1973-74 would be $6,794.08. The percentage gain in take home pay after allowing for a 13 per cent increase in wages is 9.9 per cent. This is more than swallowed up by the 10.5 per cent increase in prices which is likely to occur if average earnings rise by 13 per cent and productivity by 2.5 per cent. He is even worse off if the consumer price index maintains its 13 per cent annual rate. This family will make no advance . in real terms - indeed it will go backwards despite a $1,014 a year wage increase.
In his 1969 election speech as Leader of the Opposition Mr Whitlam said:
Don’t be fooled by the Liberal boast that tax rates have not been increased. . . . The taxes have been raised by the simple, silent, expedient of leaving the tax schedules unchanged and letting inflation and wage increases do the rest.
His final sentence was:
It is the typical Liberal way
This year the Labour Government will take more from the taxpayers than has ever been taken before; this year Labor will increase the income tax it derives from wage and salary earners by almost 27 per cent - the largest increase in tax collections by any government in Australia ever; this year the increase - not the total take - will be over one billion dollars, l quote from Mr Whitlam as Leader of the Opposition on 18 September 1972 in the television program ‘A Current Affair’:
Mr Willesee What about other indirect taxes: Sales Tax and so on?
In 1973-74 - that is this financial year under this Budget - indirect taxes, like excise, customs and sales tax, etc will increase by over $250m, directly as a result of measures in this Budget I shall quote further from the television program ‘A Current Affair’. The whole transcript is here if anybody would like to look at it. It states:
Mr Willesee ; Company tax?
In 1973-74 company tax collections from private companies will increase by $53m directly as a result of new measures in this Budget. The Labor Party appears to believe that it has a monopoly on policies which redistribute wealth to achieve social welfare. In fact under successive Liberal-Country Party Governments Australia has become one of the most egalitarian countries in the world. A survey undertaken at the University of New South Wales and reported in the ‘Australian’ newspaper of 16 June this year - I have it here if people wish to look at it - showed that wealth is more evenly distributed in Australian than in any other Western country - after 23 years of Liberal Government. That is why it was more equally distributed.
It has always been Liberal Party policy to reduce the tax burden on those members of the community who are bearing special loads or who are undertaking expenditures which are socially desirable. We do not believe that only governments undertake socially desirable expenditures. We believe every person in the community does. Accordingly, the Australian tax structure incorporates a number of tax exemptions. Familiar examples of these are tax rebates for educational expenditure and against the provision of life assurance cover. The Labor Party has sought to stand the effect of these exemptions on their head. They argue that because the rebates are largest for the taxpayers on the highest marginal rates the system is unjust. This is an extraordinary distortion. The rebates are larger only because the tax scale is progressive. The reason that a taxpayer gets a larger rebate is because he is paying higher taxes. Of course this means that wealthier people get larger rebates but not because they are wealthier but because being wealthier they pay higher taxes.
The Labor Party appears to argue that there is something concealed, secret, or underhand about tax exemptions. This is hardly the case since the details of the exemptions are public knowledge and indeed are contained on every tax form. The abolition of exemptions would of course increase the progressiveness of the tax scale and we know that this is what the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are itching to do. Two days ago the Treasurer confirmed his wish to abolish them. However, the abolition goes deeper than that. It deprives the middle income earner who is educating his children and providing assurance for himself and family from relief from a tax burden which is rapidly becoming about the highest in the world. The key to rising family standards of living is not money wages but the purchasing power of wages; that is real wages. This depends on productivity growth. The Government is missing the point by its policy of flat wage increases.
If flat wage increases become the dominant means of movement in wages, there are serious effects on productivity. There must be differentials to encourage and reward the pursuit of skills, responsibilities and personal efficiencies. There are many other factors which build personal efficiencies, but economic incentive is central and must be maintained. The Government should be encouraging, not working against, productivity advance. The Government’s encouragement of flat wage increases also has an inflationary effect. We all know there is in our system an inherent tendency to restore margins and maintain relativities based on such factors as skill, responsibility and efficiency. Giving large flat increases constantly at the bottom only encourages industrial action - strikes - further up the range, towards previous relativities and there is a spiralling effect. There are times when flat rate increases may be appropriate, but to attempt to require them at all times and in all circumstances is a regressive and repressive concept which should be dismissed. It is a policy which operates to the very great disadvantage of the middle income worker.
The growth of the Commonwealth Public Service follows Labor’s socialist and bureaucratic attitudes. It is worthy of close analysis. The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures show that in the 6 months from January to June this year the Australian Public Service increased as a proportion of the work force from 4 per cent to 4.2 per cent. Its share of the work force has grown by one-twentieth in 6 months - an annual rate of 10 per cent. In Government it was our objective to limit the growth of the Public Service to a level equal to the growth of the work force overall. We imposed constraints on ourselves within which we had to reconcile competing priorities. Of course it is easy just to employ more people to do a job but it is not responsible in relation to the taxpayer, nor is it good economic management.
Budget estimates, leaving aside the Post Office and Defence Services, show an increase in Public Service staff of 4.7 per cent through the next 12 months. The consequential increase in salaries and allowances is estimated at 24.2 per cent. This does not include wage and salary movements which have yet to occur through the year. Already many large claims have been lodged with the Board. Nor does it include the creation of new jobs through the year. It is based on positions already created. There are already many ministerial claims for bigger departmental staffs. These have not yet hit the light. Estimates of the growth of the Public Service now being made, both inside and outside the Government, vary from 7 per cent to 10 per cent. This compares with a growth in the workforce of 3 per cent to 31 per cent. A 4.7 per cent growth of Commonwealth public servants costs an extra $ 137.6m a year.
Taking the conservative 7 per cent growth, the additional cost can be calculated. If there are no wage and salary movements beyond those already offered, the taxpayer will have to pay an extra $204.9m for salaries and wages alone. This money would provide the 1.3 million age pensioners, invalid pensioners, widows and supporting mothers with an extra $3 a week. The additional cost of moving from 4.7 per cent to 7 per cent growth would give one extra dollar a week to all those pensioners. What new wage increases will accumulate’ to add even more to these costs is beyond prediction.
With a 10 per cent growth, the wages and salaries bill would increase by $292. 8m, again without considering future wage rises. This is much more than will be collected from the taxpayer with the new taxes on petrol, tobacco and spirits. But all these calculations leave aside the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Defence Services. The increase in cost of the Public Service is staggering, especially if we include the inevitable wage and salary hikes that the Government is encouraging - as the Prime Minister says - as the ‘pace setter’. This growth in the Public Service will not be controlled without a rational approach to administrative arrangements and the machinery of government.
As Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam said last November, the creation of new departments would depend on who the Caucus election threw up for the Ministry. That is just what happened. The whole machinery of government has been upturned at great loss in resources and efficiency to provide Public Service support for a personally and politically based allocation of portfolios. Even the Coombs Committee offered a mild criticism which would have persuaded any normal person that the roof was about to fall in. To find a job for the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), for example, meant creating a new department - the Department of Northern Development, with responsibility shorn of all but sugar, lt would have been much cheaper to give him a mammoth sugary farewell handshake. There are 37 departments today - 10 more than we as a government had prior to 2 December last year - and more than 46 commissions, committees, and inquiries for 27 Ministers. Given the present political leadership, we cannot expect the rationality and efficiency with which the Public Service is capable of providing us.
The failure to deal with inflation in the Budget suggests that the main thrust of Labor’s anti-inflation policy may come through draconian monetary measures. In other words we may see the rate of interest climb sharply. It would not be surprising if first mortgage loans rose 2 per cent and second mortgage or bridging finance climbed to 12 per cent or 14 per cent levels. The chief sufferers in such a policy would be the young home buyers. This interest rate would be a major obstacle and a disincentive to their purchase of a home. It would also remain a continuing millstone around their, necks. This group is among the chief sufferers from Labor’s policy. They have land price problems, difficulties in saving for a deposit, growing building costs and now higher interest rates. This is hardly the mild restraint in the industry the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) has spoken of. Inflation has increased land prices as ever widening groups have sought to acquire land as a hedge.
One of the provisions of the Coombs task force which has been accepted and yet could not have been gauged by anything the Labor Party stated in its policy speech was abolition of home savings grants. Since the scheme began in 1964, up to 30 June 1973 approximately 290,000 grants had been made totalling $130m. In other words, 580,000 adults have benefited. It has certainly been successful. The limitation on the cost of the house to $22,500 emphasises that the original purpose of the scheme, encouraging young people to accumulate savings for their first family home, is in fact being fulfilled. To abolish this scheme without warning fits in with socialist policies of tolerating home ownership but preferring rented homes and leased land.
A fundamental rethinking of housing policy is needed. We cannot allow inflation to continue to beat up land and housing prices. We must get a better result from land usage. We should give greater opportunity to the reputable builders and developers to use their skills and imagination to provide both wider choice for home buyers and more economic development. The density of high rise apartments is not a desirable social objective, yet planned higher density levels in new developments could make a social and economic contribution to home owners. The Budget makes no contribution at all to policy development in housing.
In this Budget Labor has continued its assault on the country-man that has built up since the election. The Budget will confirm the view of the country-man that Labor docs not understand his special problems and does not care. It continues to illustrate the anticountry prejudice of a trade union based party which cannot understand the interaction between rural and metropolitan economic activity. They must be seen as a whole and not as two competing interests. The Government sees its socialist concepts triumphant over the wickedly rich farming lands. The rural members of the Cabinet and rural Labor members of Parliament have abandoned their electors. What has the Minister for Northern Development done? (Honourable members interjecting)
-Order! The House will come to order.
– He is telling lies, you know.
-Order! The House will come to order.
– The wool in this coat was 29c a pound last year; how much would it be this year?
-Order! I warn the Minister for Immigration and some honourable members on my left will be going out too, if they do not keep a bit of order.
– The members of the Cabinet and rural Labor members of Parliament have abandoned their electors. The Minister for Northern Development, the honourable member for Dawson, has abandoned his responsibility to his electorate and the Minister for Immigration, the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), has abandoned his responsibility to his electorate. (Government supporters interjecting)
-Order! I remind the honourable gentlemen that this debate will enable many honourable members to express their own ideas and opinions on speeches which have been made by any member, including the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, the Leader of the Opposition or anybody else.
– Please do not try to’ reason with .the Minister for Immigration, Mr Speaker; he is immune to it. Another honourable member who has abandoned his responsibilities is the honourable member for Eden Monaro (Mr Whan). Where is the honourable member for Hume (Mr Olley)? He has abandoned his responsibilities with a shy, self effacing grin.
– I rise on a point of order. Must the Leader of the Opposition, a former Treasurer, debase this debate to such an extent by the content of his remarks?
-Order! There is no point of order involved.
– The Minister for External Territories can only see an airfield. He cannot see his responsibilities in the Territory of Papua New Guinea. He goes against the wishes of the people up there. He should not speak. Listing the measures that have adversely affected the rural industry draws a clear picture: The phasing out of the butter and cheese bounty, the phasing out of the processed milk products bounty, the abolition of free milk to all schools, the imposition of meat export charges, the recovery of full costs in eradicating bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis, the abolition of the accelerated depreciation of plant used in primary production, the phasing out of the tax provisions for wine makers trading stock, the phasing out of air service support, the increase of postal rates on newspapers and periodicals, the increasing telecommunications charges to the media, and telephone rentals in country areas, and the abolition of support for petroleum product costs in country areas. lt has been estimated that the increased duty on motor spirits coupled with the widening of the petrol price equalisation margin will increase rural transport costs for farm produce by up to 27 per cent. The consequential increase of food prices is inevitable to all purchasers whether city or rural dwellers. A number of eliminated provisions were designed to reduce costs and prices in rural towns to city levels. They were based on equity and regional development. Labor has reneged on the principle stated by the Prime Minister in January of this year. He said:
It is not fair that people should have to spend so much more for the particular commodity you mention or for other basic commodities outside the State capitals.
Whether fair or not they will now pay more.
The Labor Government’s neglect of the rural industries is demonstrated by the fact that while public sector spending is growing overall by more than 20 per cent, the estimated expenditure in special appropriations for the Department of Primary Industry has been cut almost 40 per cent. The Opposition primary industry spokesman, the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), has already described Budget day as a black Tuesday for the country man.
The mining industry could be excused for thinking that the Government, and particularly the Treasurer and the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), are vindictive towards them. The industry must make its business decisions but the Government will not write down the rules and stick to them. What is the role and purpose of the national minerals and petroleum authority? What is happening about the re-issue of exploration licences?
An Australian company borrowing development money from overseas just like a foreign-owned mining company must place 25 per cent of the money with the Reserve Bank. This increases the interest rates by one-third. Suppose the interest is 7i per cent. It will cost the user 10 per cent. It is not surprising that new investment in mining has slowed down and risk exploration investment has virtually ceased. The whole industry is virtually marking time.
While the Government calls for greater processing of minerals in Australia it makes the task more difficult by eliminating the 20 per cent initial investment allowance.
The industry has been singled out for bad treatment. Mining tax concessions which compensated for the high risks of minerals exploration and encouraged investment in national development are being abolished or phased out. The elimination of other tax provisions will do nothing to restore confidence to a very important but depressed and uncertain industry. The tax action on profits from gold mining will have adverse economic effects and will cause very real social dislocation and hardship, especially in the Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia. This heavy-handed measure takes no account of particular circumstances of that industry or its people and of the service industries that support it. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie has abandoned his duty to his electors. Mineral development has become a significant determinant of our national growth. Australian companies have spent large sums of money on mining. The lag time on investment is long. It is an industry which needs co-operation with, and not takeover by, the Government. It needs to know the rules so as to avoid its present uncertainty. It needs encouragement, not this sort of heavy disincentive.
There will be a continuing adverse effect on manufacturing industry as a result of the Budget’s re-allocation of resources to the pub’ lie sector. This will increase cost pressures on manufacturers. It is part of the socialist concept of expanding the Government’s role and restricting private initiative. Sharp increases in private company tax rates and the substantial additional costs required for quarterly taxation collections will strengthen cost pressures on companies in the manufacturing sector and restrict forward planning and expenditure by manufacturers. This will dampen economic activity. A further disincentive directly affecting the manufacturing industry is the discontinuation of the investment allowance on the installed cost of new manufacturing plant and equipment in the first year after installation. The effect of this will be to deter investment in new plant. Manufacturing capacity, implementation of new technology and productivity improvement will be badly affected.
The Budget provides that once plans are established, firms will be required to finance research and development programs totally. A limit is to be set on the amount of grant payable to any one company or its wholly owned subsidiaries in any one grant year. These measures will increase the cost of research and development projects and discourage firms from undertaking them unless profitability is certain. The Government has ignored the need for adventurous research into areas of uncertainty which might contribute to our industrial growth and improve our national efficiency. This is happening at a time when the present Government’s attitudes to foreign investment will diminish the flow of ideas and research from other advanced countries. Business is confused and hesitant about Government intentions. It is feeling the effects of other anti-business developments in a Government by an avowed anti-business party.
From 1949 to 1972 ordinary share prices rose on the stock exchange at an average rate of 7 per cent per year. There were of course fluctuations around this trend, including the market decline of 1970 and 1971 which followed the collapse of the mining boom and coincided with a world-wide slowdown in economic growth. Sensing the economic recovery ahead the share market rose rapidly throughout 1972. From its trough in 1971 the Melbourne all ordinary index rose from 141 to 201, an increase of 42 per cent. In a brief moment of misplaced hope share prices strengthened a little after Labor’s election to government. It did not take the market long, however, to realise the adverse impact that the new Government would have on business. By mid-January the market was in decline. It has been declining ever since. Hit by the antibusiness, anti-free enterprise, anti-foreign investment, anti-multinational pronouncements and policies of the Minister for Minerals and Energy and the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), hit by currency realignments, the removal of tax incentives, rising interest rates and, above all, hit by total uncertainty about what the Government will do next, the market continues to fall.
Hundreds of thousands of small investors have been very badly hit by this drop in their assets. Yet the Budget has given nothing on which a recovery might be based. Despite booming world metal prices the Melbourne index of metals and minerals share prices has declined by 33 per cent since January 1973. All ordinary share prices are down by 15 per cent and all ordinaries, excluding metal and minerals, by 1 1 per cent.
The Budget fails in its duty to control inflation. The Treasurer says it is neutral in its effect. He had a clear duty to tackle inflation, not to leave a vacuum. He said he was humble, and he was humble enough to be nervous. He has plenty to be humble about and there is a lot to be nervous about. The Budget breaks a number of significant preelection and post-election promises and reveals Labor as a Government of pretence and false promises.
It forces lower income families, already crippled by galloping inflation, to bear the main burden of Labor’s new spending spree by imposing a wide range of indirect taxes and charges. -It hits the already limited pleasures of the little man - his smokes, his drinks, his family car - to the tune of at least S2 a week, equal to a tax increase of $100 a year. His wage has been squeezed 2 ways, by price rises and by extra hidden taxes. There is more squeeze to come too as the extra costs from increased taxes on private companies, the reduced industrial concession and the squeeze on rural products are all passed on as higher prices.
Pensioners in fact will be worse off than they were promised and the community expected. The Budget is a severe blow to young home seekers, foreshadowing a clampdown on home building, deferring the promised tax deduction of mortgage interest and abolishing without prior warning the home savings grant. It attacks lower income families by failing to lower the income tax scales in the face of inflation.
The Budget was foreshadowed as an historic document of unique social and economic reform. It is in fact a whimper, an incredible anti-climax, totally pedestrian, and devoid of coherent theme and purpose. Throughout last year as Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam said that the whole Labor program of promises could be implemented promptly within existing financial resources without the imposition of any additional taxes. The Prime Minister said he would ‘as a matter of pressing necessity’ lower the income tax rates on married and lower income earners, reduce sales tax on a number of items, and maintain existing rates of company tax. The Budget has done none of these things. It has imposed many indirect taxes and charges and increased private company tax. The Treasurer has said:
To raise taxes and remove concessions is not a course on which we eagerly embark; there can have been few Treasurers who have enjoyed that course, and 1 am not among them.
This is a confession of the falsity of the whole pre-election economic thesis of his leader, the Prime Minister. Perhaps that is the real reason he is humble and nervous.
Where now are the undertakings to increase child endowment, the latest given by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) to double child endowment on 1 1 July this year? Where now are the undertakings to alter family concessions in favour of the lower income earners? Where now is the election undertaking to maintain the existing level of grants to independent schools, the undertaking, in the words of the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), that ‘all children whether at state or private schools would be equally the concern of the Labor Government’. Where is that promise? Where now is that period of industrial peace foreshadowed by the Prime Minister, a firm promise that a Labor Government and the trade unions would work together in unique harmony? Yes, at 13 per cent average wage increase and an inflation of 10i per cent. If there is not sufficient money, according to the Treasurer, to fulfil all its promises, why has this Budget allocated the staggering amount of $107m to build the Gidgealpa-Sydney gas pipeline, when a public company, the Australian Gas Light Company, had undertaken to build it without cost to the taxpayers and according to Government specifications and controls.
The Australian people are paying a high price indeed for doctrinaire socialism. If the pipeline had been built by the gas company there would have been no need to impose the extra taxes on petrol, diesel and aviation fuel - estimated to raise $130m - or alternatively to increase taxes on cigarettes and liquor - $102m - or better still the Government could instead have been able to give one million families a tax cut of $100 a year. And where has public integrity gone when a government announces without pre-election warning that it will now abolish the home savings grant for which the proposed tax deductions on interest was to be a supplement and not a replacement? How can the much embattled Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) justify taking a VIP aircraft around the world searching for a tactical fighter when it must have been known before he left that the Budget would cut defence spending savagely - yet another admitted broken promise - and thai no replacement of the Mirage would be contemplated for the immediate years ahead.
The immigration program is a botch, despite its technicolour projection. It is not a program geared to the available high quality migrants and Australian job opportunities. It is a mere expedient emerging from the conflicts of Labor’s Federal Conference and an inherent dislike for migrants whom they want to blame for every social or economic problem that exists, instead of praising their incalculable contribution to the growth of Australia. This Budget was conceived partly by innocents who do not know or understand the damage they have done, and partly by socialist ideologues who do know and are determined to make Australia a socialist country. The choice the Australian people have to make is between the economic irresponsibility of the Government or the sound economic management we would offer.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
-The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has made a farce of this debate tonight. He has resorted to witless attacks on personalities rather than relying on arguments. The effect was such that he had to send the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) to the Country Party benches to keep the Country Party members quiet. I am afraid to say too much more in case that situation changes. J reject the Opposition amendment as a shallow and cynical exercise in political juggling. I support the Budget, albeit with some reservations - we are not sheep on this side of the House - and I am proud to be the first to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr Crean) on a difficult job well done. Over 100 years ago a great English public figure Walter Bagehot, an economist and journalist, quoted a financier of those days as saying: ‘If you want to raise a certain cheer in the House of Commons make a general panegyric on the economy. If you want to invite a sure defeat propose a particular saving’. How, oh how, the Leader of the Opposition attempted to follow the shallow thoughts of that financier tonight. For economies’ substitute ‘cut Government expenditure’. That is one of the few messages we have received in this laborious evening so far. Credibility is the key word. The speech lacked credibility. There was plenty of talk about economies but not much - in fact none - about where the savings were to come. Certainly it might raise a certain cheer among the unthinking - the sheep- on his own side of the House; but, just as Walter Bagehot would not go along with the financier, so the vast majority of the Australian people today who generally think about these things too deeply will not go along with the Leader of the Opposition.
They throw at members of the Liberal and Country Party Opposition in this Parliament the questions which I direct to them now. Where do honourable members opposite want government expenditure cut? In their amendment they call it expansionary public sector spending’. Do they want the pensioners to receive less? Heaven knows, the Labor Party Government, although it has improved their lot a little by increasing the pension by $3 a week each in 10 months, would have loved to have done more. Would the Liberal and Country Party members have liked to practise their economy by cutting government expenditure on the pensioners? What about education? To use a favourite word of the Leader of the Opposition, is that not where the main thrust’ - that is the in word at the moment - of this Budget has come? Perhaps honourable members opposite would like the government schools and the more deprived private schools to continue to be starved of funds. Has the report of the Karmel Committee - an independent committee with representation from all sides of education - no merit? Is that where the Liberals’ savings would be? We were not told in the speech from the Leader of the Opposition tonight. They just talk about economy.
In fact, I seem to remember their being a little inconsistent over the last few weeks on the subject of education. Of course this inconsistency is not unusual, Mr Speaker. You and I know that. But let me mention it in further detail. There has been a lot of Liberal and Country Party talk about spending another $5m or $6m a year on category A schools which already have an index of up to 270 as opposed to an average of 100 for government schools and as little as 40 for some poorer private schools. I might mention that the Government Party has not yet made a final decision on this matter. It is still collecting more facts. I do not mind admitting at this point of time that 1 would like to see the Karmel Committee report accepted in total. In other words, I would like to see a phasing out period for per capita grants given to category A schools, time for adjustments to be made by schools to their financial arrangements so that they do not have to increase fees and thus penalise the less wealthy parents of children going to those schools, time for adjustments by some parents and children where fees may have to be increased, and time for adjustments by the Karmel Committee where it may have made understandable mistakes in making its assessments because it had to do such a mammoth task in such a short space of time. I am able to advocate this because I am not a proponent of cutting government expenditure. Not so my Liberal and Country Party opponents; they believe in economy, in cutting government expenditure. In these circumstances how could they advocate spending more money on category A schools?
Do they want to delete expenditure on the cities? Is that one of the areas where the cuts should be made? Is there nothing that should be done for the- quality of life in some of those overcrowded and cultureless suburbs of, say, Sydney and Melbourne? Should we not take notice of the cries of outrage, for instance, by the Ford Motor Company workers at Broadmeadows at the quality of their lives? Of course we should. Not only do 1 welcome the Australian Government’s appropriation for the new South Australian city of Monarto and for public transport in all cities - of course, I ,am interested mainly in my own city of Adelaide - to take some of the pressures off the cities; I also welcome the initiatives in the western sectors of Sydney and Melbourne, the sewerage proposals and the plans for Albury-Wodonga and the systems cities on the outskirts of the big metropolitan cities of Sydney and Melbourne to ease the even greater pressures on those great cities, to say nothing of what is planned to be done for Perth, Brisbane and other places in our country. These expenditures are long overdue. There are far too many Australians not leading lives of sufficiently high standard because of the oversight, the lack of imagination and the laziness of the previous Liberal and Country Party Government that previously we had to withstand.
Attention to cities reminds me of the great problems of housing and the price of land. With such a wide canvas as this one in a Budget debate I am forced to be brief and somewhat cryptic on specific measures. What a tragedy it is for our nation that we have such a negative approach from the Liberal and Country Party State governments of New South Wales, Victoria and, of course, Queensland. In the vicinity of 93,000 Australians are on the waiting list for housing commission or housing trust homes throughout this nation. The new Australian Labor Government has moved with great speed and energy to draw up a new housing agreement. Increased funds have been made available in this Budget for this splendid purpose. But all of this has been done in spite of Liberal and Country Party State governments and in the face of hostility from them. We learn from the media today that we are to be forced to overcome similar difficulties in relation to our plans for limiting the spiralling cost of land which causes such hardship in so many quarters. The Australian Labor Government, as announced in the Budget Speech, will provide $60m assistance to the States by way of repayable loans, and $30m is promised by way of grants for the establishment of land commissions designed to provide Australian families with land at fair prices. Yet the first sign from States with Liberal and Country Party governments is that this assistance is being spurned, and a reactionary non-Labor Legislative Council majority in at least one other State - Western Australia - is threatening to block the necessary State legislation to set up the commission there. We must defeat these troglodytes in the interests of more reasonable land prices for average Australians.
Here I must sound a warning note: Our government must put tremendous effort into making more building resources available. If we make more money available than there are building materials and building workers available, there will be only one result - higher prices for buildings and higher building costs. Today’s news of the disturbingly high increase in June in the wholesale price index for materials used in building other than house building is exercising the efforts of our energetic Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson). The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Prices, of which I am Chairman, has given itself the job, amongst many others, of looking into the prices of building materials. We shall proceed with that task just as quickly as we can.
This brings me to the subject of inflation - another of the main thrusts, to use again that in word of the Leader of the Opposition in his effort tonight. The Budget is not only a social document - so far I have dwelt on social issues - but also an economic document. I concede that. I am sure that no one in this House disagrees with the proposition that inflation is a problem; in fact, our main problem. The Treasurer himself said so in his Budget Speech. What deserves such cynicism is the attitude of honourable members opposite to this subject. They do not know the answers. Twenty-three years of their administration proved this. Yet they want the Australian Labor Government to revert to their own outworn, unsuccessful measures creating unemployment - we had this only 2 years ago - which led to a shocking waste of resources at that time. Now they talk about a prices and incomes policy, which previously they roundly condemned in this chamber. They are doing their best to sabotage the new initiatives and polices being undertaken by this new Government.
Let me be more specific about inflation. Firstly, let me point out that Sir Robert Menzies - Mr Menzies as he then was - won government in 1949 when inflation was running at 8.4 per cent. He promised to put value back’ into the pound. We all remember that. Following the first budget of his Treasurer, Arthur Fadden, the annual rate of inflation rose to 13.6 per cent. After the next Budget the rate of inflation rose to 22.5 per cent a year. Ups and downs of this sort were the pattern of 23 years of Liberal and Country Party government. Secondly, let me say something about the present rate of inflation or, rather, let me quote from the leading article in the Australian Financial Review’ last Thursday on the subject of the Leader of the Opposition and inflation. The article anticipated the sort of nonsense that we heard from him on this subject tonight. The article stated:
With political dexterity but questionable economics Mr Snedden has been saying that he left the country with an inflation rate of only 4.8 per cent whereas now it is running at 13.2 per cent.
Mr Snedden’s figures are obtained by multiplying the December quarter increase in the consumer price index by four and presenting it as an annual figure.
For a number of reasons, not the least of which was the conscious budget policy in August of not touching items in the CPI, the December quarter figure was artifically, low.
While the CPI was not cooked it was certainly given a cosmetic touch-up.
Anybody with a knowledge of economics could see this.
By the same token the 13.2 per cent increase now being quoted by Mr Snedden (obtained by multiplying the June quarter by four and presenting the result as an annual figure) was inflated by factors which were certainly well beyond the immediate control of the Labor Government.
Meat prices rose during the June quarter by 11 per cent.
The Leader of the Opposition would multiply that by four and say that meat prices rose by 44 per cent.
– Did he say he wanted to bring meat prices down?
– He did not say it in his speech on the Budget tonight because he does not know how to do it. The article continued:
Winter clothing rose by 11.1 per cent during the June quarter. Home ownership costs rose by 3.3 per cent.
These were the big ticket items of the CPI increase.
The article went on to state:
Just as the inflationary situation confronted by the Menzies-Fadden Government in 1950-51-52 had its roots in events beyond the control of the Government, so too the present situation is one that is a little more complex than Mr Snedden would have us believe. 1 need do no more than’ present the point of view of that newspaper. I will leave Sneddenomics - I think that is what they called it - to their deserved fate.
Thirdly, on the subject of inflation, I want to talk about the fact that a vast proportion of our inflation is imported from abroad. Anybody reading the daily Hansard reports of the evidence being collected by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Prices cannot fail to be struck by this. High beef prices are almost entirely due to the demand for that product abroad, particularly in the United States of America and Japan. High lamb prices are due to shortages of stock in this country at a time when world wool prices have recovered. Winter clothing prices reflect the surge in wool prices. The price of cotton and cotton fabric have escalated, not due to anything that has happened in this country but due to the serious world shortage of cotton. Even with salmon we have a world shortage until, it is estimated, 1975. It is the world shortage of salmon which has been to such a large extent responsible for the increased price that Australian housewives have to pay for this product in our supermarkets. I could go on and give one example after another of where prices within our country are affected by prices on the world market and have nothing to do with what ls going on in this country whatsoever. Yet, in spite of this incontravertible fact we have the Opposition members so often putting all the blame on wages and salaries, putting their faith on an incomes policy - a new faith since they became comfortable in Opposition. We heard it again tonight. They called it a wages freeze. Where has such a policy succeeded? lt has certainly not succeeded in the United States. It merely builds up pressures. The lid of the pressure cooker gets blown off eventually in industrial upset. The rate of inflation over a reasonable period is as great in those countries attempting to impose prices and incomes policies as in those such as ours which have not done so. I could quote from the Reserve Bank’s 1972-73 report to justify everything that I have said about these external prices and how a prices and incomes policy - a wage freeze as we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition tonight - would be futile.
Next, let me make it quite clear that the Australian Labor Government realises that there is not one cure for inflation - it must be attacked on many fronts, and that is what the Government has been doing. Of course, revaluation of our currency has helped greatly and has caused very little dislocation in spite of the howls from the Opposition when it was brought in. It should have been undertaken a year earlier. We would not be suffering the inflation troubles today to the same extent if the McMahon Government, put in a straitjacket by the Australian Country Party, had not muffed the chance and badly let down this country. Of course, the direct controls on capital inflow have helped. Our financial institutions had funds flowing out of their ears. Of course the Government’s monetary policy has been in the right direction. I am referring to the calling up of the statutory reserve deposits. I would like to see more of this. In addition we have had the courageous decision relating to the 25 per cent across the board cut in tariffs. At least we have some public structures acting as watchdogs in the private sector, seeking to ensure that important decisions being made in the private sector are being made in the community interest. I am, of course, referring to the Prices Justification Tribunal and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Prices. Let us ensure that we have got competition and efficiency and reasonable rates of return on invested funds in the private sector, not exorbitant rates. All of these are new initiatives. All represent a multipronged attack on inflation.
Lastly I refer to the so called inflationary effect of this Budget made so much of by the Leader of the Opposition. Dr Peter Sheehan of the University of Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research is one of the few economists in recent times specifically to analyse the impact of budgets on the overall level of economic activity in Australia. Few others have done it. Despite the obviously complex nature of the Budget influence on the economy, Sheehan has argued that the ratio of the Budget deficit to total Budget receipts is a satisfactory indicator of the Budget impact. The average ratio of the Budget deficit to receipts during the period 1959-60 to 1971-72 was 6.5 per cent. Dr Sheehan suggests that in order to maintain the economy on a full employment growth path without excessive inflation a satisfactory Budget would incur a deficit of about 5 per cent to 7 per cent 6f receipts. What do we find in our Budget? The estimated deficit to receipts ratio for the 1973-74 Budget is 6 per cent. On the basis of Sheehan’s criteria the impact of the 1973-74 Budget on the level of economic activity is likely to be neutral, that is, neither expansionary nor contractionary. In an address to the Canberra Branch of the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand only last week which I heard myself, concerning this Budget, Dr Sheehan suggested that rather than being neutral the overall impact may even be contractionary. I would rather accept Dr Sheehan’s analysis than that of the Leader of the Opposition.
Let me say that I do regret the indirect taxes, particularly the increase in petrol prices, because of their effect on the Consumer Price Index and inflation. I wish some alternative could have been found for them. I wish perhaps that this had been the year of some capital gains tax or wealth tax. But I know what sort of pressures the Treasurer has been under and I accept that he chose the best of all the alternatives available to him at that time. This, for me, is but one blemish, and I refer here to the effect of indirect taxes on the Consumer Price Index. I reject the Opposition’s amendment. In the interests of the vast majority of Australians I have pleasure in once again congratulating the Treasurer on a difficult job well done. I support the Budget wholeheartedly.
– I reject the Budget and support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). On 2 December last year many thousands of Australians were persuaded by the Australian Labor Party and by some sections of the news media that it was time for a change of government. It is now history that the Liberal-Country Party Coalition Government was voted out of office. I firmly believe that thousands of voters who supported the Australian Labor Party voted Labor for the first and last time in that election. Surely those who had not previously become disillusioned by the present Government’s policies and performance were disillusioned last Tuesday evening when the Treasurer (Mr Crean) presented his Budget. So many of them have been horribly let down. They voted for the ALP full of hope that a new era had dawned and that the rate of inflation which the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) described as the worst in 20 years would be attacked and reduced. But the opposite has been the result. The Treasurer has said on a number of occasions that inflation did not begin on 2 December. This is true but it is also a fact that it had been falling steadily over the previous year. The Consumer Price Index moved from 135.8 for the 1971 December quarter, to 141.9 for the 1972 December quarter and this represents an increase of just under 4.5 per cent for the whole year.
Between December 1972 and June of this year,, a period of 6 months, the index has moved from 141.9 to 149.7, a percentage increase of 5.5 per cent for the first half of this year. These are not my figures; they are Business Statistics’ issued by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. I have not based these not the figures of the Liberal Party. I have quoted them from the ‘Monthly Review of figures only on the December quarter which the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) and the ‘Australian Financial Review’ from which he quoted have said to be unfairly favourable to the previous Government. I have taken out figures for the entire years. Furthermore, the figures for each of the 4 quarters of 1972 were better than those for 1971. The figures for the first 2 quarters of this year - the only 2 completed quarters - are substantially worse than for the first 2 quarters of last year. Should those figures be related to food prices which affect all families alike but particularly pensioners, basic wage earners and the battlers, the people whom the ALP claims to represent, the picture is far worse.
When they are related to food prices the picture is far worse. I again wish to refer to a publication of the Bureau of Census and Statistics - the Bulletin of 17 August last. It indicates that food prices increased between July and December last year by 3.1 per cent at a time when the Liberal-Country Party Government was in office. For the first 6 months of this year food prices have increased by 11.1 per cent. In the period to the end of July food prices increased by 12.8 per cent and it is not very hard to find reasons for the increase. The Labor Government has given its blessing to the 35-hour week, 4 weeks’ annual leave, equal pay and a substantial increase in the minimum wage with the flow-on which is consequential to that increase.
Let me make it clear right at the beginning that I am not against any of those benefits. I believe that the Australian worker is entitled to the highest wages and the best working conditions possible but one does not have to be a Rhodes scholar or even the holder of a degree in economics to know that unless industry is able to produce much more in the shorter working week as well as pay higher wages and grant longer holidays, prices must rise. There is no alternative but apparently the Australian Labor Party does not recognise that fact.
All people suffer from inflation, but particularly people on fixed incomes. I am not referring to pensioners in this instance but to the people who have provided for their retirement by way of superannuation or other savings and who at present are ineligible to receive pensions. Surely their interests should be protected. I have referred to pensioners and I thoroughly agree with the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) who said last week after the Budget speech that pensioners have been short-changed. The Prime Minister said in his policy speech:
All pensions will be immediately raised by $1.50 and thereafter every spring and every autumn the basic pension rate will be raised by $1.50 until it reaches 25 per cent of average weekly male earnings. That is the promise. What is the record? An increase of $1.50 a week backdated to 14 December 1972 was made in the autumn session and an increase of $1.50 a week has been provided for in this Budget. As the Treasurer said last Tuesday night that a fur ther increase of $1.50 a week will be made in the autumn, my arithmetic indicates that the pensioners have been diddled out of $1.50 a week because the increase announced in the Budget should have been the third increase and not the second. I am sure the pensioners will not forget that because one of the last things that the Treasurer said in his Budget speech was: ‘We will do what we said we will do’. Perhaps he can explain what happened to the promised autumn increase which has not been paid. The pensioners have surely been short-changed. Furthermore, the increases already paid and announced barely cover the increased food prices to which I have already referred and which to the end of July represent an increase of 12.8 per cent as compared with December prices. So I do not believe that pensioners have achieved very much towards gaining their promised rate of 25 per cent of average weekly male earnings because the March increase in the minimum wage has not yet been fully felt in increased costs.
I mentioned earlier some of the causes of current inflation as the 35-hour week, 4 weeks’ annual leave, equal pay and increased wages. To those I would like to add the production time lost by industrial stoppages. The Parliamentary Library Research Unit has provided figures on industrial stoppages for the first 5 months of this year, the latest period for which such figures are available. In that time industrial stoppages were 53 per cent greater than for the first 5 months of last year. This must certainly add to the cost of production and therefore to the present rate of inflation. Yet the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) said before the election: “There will be less industrial trouble under Labor because there will be no need for it.’ There is no doubt that he should tell that to his boss - Mr Hawke.
It is my personal opinion that the reduction in our immigration intake must be a factor in the increased rate of inflation. It is common knowledge that Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and other companies, including many in the building trade, are short of skilled tradesmen. If it is true that the supply and demand for goods influences costs and prices it is equally true that the supply and demand for skilled labour also influences costs and prices. The skilled worker is entitled to make the most of the opportunities available to him. If there is a shortage of workers in his trade and he can ask for higher wages, I say good luck to him.
I do not criticise him, but it is a fact of life which cannot be ignored that higher wages mean increased costs.
I have never believed immigration to be inflationary, but on the other hand I believe that the numbers of immigrants who have come to Australia together with their dependants have provided a steadily increasing local market for our primary and secondary industries. So much for the Prime Minister’s promise in his policy speech that Labor would protect the consumers. What a lot of rubbish. The Treasurer said that the Budget will not add to inflation. Does he really believe that an increase of Se a gallon in the price of petrol will not add to transport costs? Does he believe that the elimination of the investment allowance and increased postal charges will not add to increased costs? If he says so he must be kidding because I do not believe that he is as naive as all that.
I wonder whether the Treasurer can per.suade the residents of Canberra that the increases in the Australian Capital Territory in payroll tax and motor registration fees and an extra $10 a week rent for government houses will not add to inflation in this city. 1 believe that the young people of Australia as well as the pensioners have been shortchanged. The Treasurer said on Tuesday night:
The Government proposes to introduce during tho coming autumn parliamentary session legislation to provide for a scheme of deductibility of mortgage interest -
I think most young people expected it in this Budget but it has now been promised for next year. The Treasurer went on: as promised in the policy speech -
I want honourable senators to mark those words - to have effect from 1 July 1974. In the light ot that we have decided to end the home savings grant scheme.
To protests by members of the Opposition the Treasurer replied:
If honourable members opposite will listen they will sec that we do not do things suddenly and that what we put back is better than what we take away.
What did the Prime Minister say in his policy speech? He said:
Labor will deliberately plan to reduce interest rates wherever practicable. Meantime, we propose that a limited tax deductibility be available for interest payments. This tax concession will be concentrated amongst the groups which bear the greatest burden. All taxpayers whose actual income is $4,000 or below will be entitled to deduct 100 per cent of their interest rate payments. The percentage of total interest payments which is deductible will be reduced by 1 per cent for every $100 of income in excess of $4,000.
He said not one word in his policy speech about ending the home savings grant scheme. I wonder how many young people voted for this Government because of that promise. How many of them were disillusioned and felt that they also had been short-changed last Tuesday night? The Treasurer and Prime Minister have both expressed themselves very strongly and frequently about the inequity of the income tax scale. I completely agree with them and I have said so here. To me it is completely wrong that because the minimum wage is increased and all people on higher wages or salaries likewise receive an increase and they are all doubly taxed. And they are doubly taxed. Firstly, they pay more tax because they receive more money. This is reasonable, but in my opinion it is not reasonable that they should pay tax at a higher rate than previously. Relatively they are in the same position. It is past time that the tax scale was restructured. I regret that the Liberal-Country Party Government did not do it but I would have thought that this would have been one of the first things done by a Labor government. There is no doubt that this Government is pleased to take advantage of the extra money provided by this unfair scale to finance its very extravagant Administration. It represents an inbuilt jackpot for this Government. Last year, in spite of an increase in average unemployment of 2.5 per cent and the fact that average earnings increased by only about 9 per cent the Treasurer has budgeted this year for an increase in payasyouearn collections of 24.7 per cent. For income earners other than those on the payasyouearn system the tax collected is expected to rise by 33 1/3 per cent. Inflation suits this Government and it is apparently resigned to further substantial inflation because the Treasury expects average earnings to jump by 13 per cent in the current financial year whilst productivity is expected to increase by only about 3 per cent. Under the present tax scale taxes will be increased by an average of 27 per cent. This surely emphasises the injustice of the present system.
Another hidden cost in consumer prices must surely be the requirement for companies to pay their taxation quarterly. This is fair enough in principle but in terms of money it means that companies will no longer be able to. earn interest on money which but for this change in legislation would have been in the bank or otherwise invested. This must reduce a company’s earnings and to this extent increase its costs. I think it is fair comment to say that the Labor Party hates profits. It criticises companies for the amounts of profits they make. It considers, for example, $50m profit excessive, irrespective of what this amount represents as a return on shareholders’ funds. This could be as low as 3 per cent to 4 per cent but this matters nothing to the ALP. The amount of itself is too much in the opinion of the ALP. The ALP is not even concerned with relating the amount of profit to the number of times capital has been turned over and obviously the question whether a profit is excessive or not is related to this matter. But Labor would not even think of this. Labor cannot even distinguish between interest on invested capital and profits. As I have said, Labor hates successful companies.
The present Treasurer called the 1971 Budget a ‘cynical collection of items’. I am quoting from an article that appeared in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ on 18 August 1971 following an interview with the Treasurer after the Budget Speech. The Treasurer is reported as having said:
It lets the beer drinker off but it hits the petrol user. The brewery lobby was shrewd enough to organise. The petrol increase will make transport costs rise.
It is strange, is it not, because what this Treasurer criticised in 1971 he has done in 1973. The beer drinker has been let off but the petrol user has been hit. Is it fair to ask the Treasurer whether the brewery lobby has been shrewd enough to organise? Is it also fair to ask him whether he agrees that if an increase in petrol tax in 1971 was inflationary it is equally inflationary on this occasion? Where is the increase in child endowment that the ALP has demanded with regularity each Budget time from the previous Government? If it believed that child endowment should have been increased in the past couple of years what has happened since 2 December last year to make this no longer urgent?
The Government has made much of its intention to abolish university fees as from 1 January next year. I believe it was the presentMinister for Education (Mr Beazley) who expressed an opinion that the parents of many university students are well able to pay for their education. I believe this to be true and I would have thought that the money spent in this direction could have been used to greater advantage by giving greater assistance by way of living allowances, for example, to those students whose needs are greatest.
I believe that the people of Australia made a mistake last December when they elected an ALP government. Some of them will have an opportunity in the by-election for Parramatta to demonstrate clearly that they are disenchanted with the ALP by voting very solidly for Mr Phillip Ruddock, the Liberal Party candidate. I ask the electors of Parramatta to remember that the rate of inflation which the Prime Minister described last year as the worst inflation in 20 years is today even higher under a Labor government. I ask the workers of Parramatta to remember that the average wage earner with a wife and 2 children, who, according to the Prime Minister, paid a higher proportion of his income in tax under the McMahon Government than under any government in Australian history, is paying an even higher tax under this Labor Government because it has not seen fit to alter the inequitable tax scale. I ask the pensioners of Parramatta to remember that an increase of $1.50 per week which was promised has not been paid. I ask the ratepayers of Parramatta to remember that in future if they are unfortunate enough to pay more than $300 a year in rates they will be allowed to claim no more than $300 as an income tax deduction. I ask the young people of Parramatta to remember that unless they contract to buy or build a home before 31 December 1976 they will not receive the home savings grant benefit which was granted by a Liberal-Country Party government. I ask the electors of Parramatta to remember that it was the present Prime Minister of Australia who said during last year’s Budget debate, as recorded at page 515 of Hansard:
The Australian citizen is not merely a wage-earner who pays income tax to the Federal Government. He is not just a taxpayer. He is a citizen who must buy land, build a house or rent one, raise a family, keep them and himself in health, travel to work, pay State charges, pay municipal charges, pay insurance charges. If the community, if governments by doing nothing or by deliberate action raise the cost of the other charges he must bear, then he is being taxed as surely and deliberately as he would be if the income tax were increased.
– Who said that?
– That was said by the present Prime Minister. Has not that been done in this Budget? This Government has increased petrol tax and postal charges; it has reduced the permissible deductible amount for rates; it has increased indirect taxes which Labor professes to dislike, and it has done this in its own Territories. In its own Territories it has increased payroll tax, motor registration fees and rents. Last year it criticised the previous Government for increasing tax collections by 13.5 per cent when earnings increased by only 11 per cent. This year the Treasurer has blandly announced in one of the statements attached to the Budget Speech that ‘in contrast to 1972-73, personal income tax liabilities will rise considerably faster than incomes’. In actual figures I believe he has stated that an increase in personal income of 13 per cent will result in an increase in tax collection of 27 per cent. This is a bad Budget for the little people and I am sure that the electors of Parramatta will show clearly that they endorse this view on 22 September next.
– (Quorum formed) - I rise to oppose the amendment put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). I have not known the Leader for the Opposition for very long. 1 met him only after I came to this place. I have no doubt that he has certain qualities, but I must confess that until this evening I did not realise that he was such a comedian. He even succeeded in making members of his own Party laugh and that is the first time some of them have laughed since 2 December last year. The Leader of the Opposition would have to be joking, of course, with some of the statements he made here this evening. As I have some knowledge of what is occuring in Queensland it is easy for me to understand the attitude of the Leader of the Liberal Party. I feel that he has a definite fear of the Country Party’s activities in Queensland and perhaps he has good reason to feel this way. The Democratic Labor Party in Queensland - in Brisbane anyway - is distributing a paper called “The Democrat’. In an edition that was made available to me is reference to the size of the new party - this will be the party when the Country Party and the DLP amalgamate - and it appears that if the percentage of votes is considered in Queensland it will have 30.4 per cent of the vote against the Liberal Party’s 25.4 per cent of the vote. No doubt the Leader of the Opposition has read this paper. A passage from this document put out by the DLP, the party that will amalgamate with the Country Party in Queensland, states:
Doug Anthony as leader of the new Party would have increased influence over the Liberals because the new Party vote (i.e. the Democratic Labor Party in 1972) had decided 23 of the 38 Liberal seats in the House of Representatives including half of the ‘Shadow Cabinet’ (Snedden, Lynch, Fraser, Chipp, Bowen and Killen).
The party is, in effect, nominating the people which it believes Mr Anthony, as Leader of the Country Party, will be able to influence in the Liberal Party.
– What has this to do with the Budget?
– It has a lot to do with it. The Leader of the Opposition this evening made remarks which seemed to be levelled at pandering to the Country Party and to the country voter. I mentioned earlier that the Leader of the Opposition made some rather comical statements. But this is the man - the Leader of the Opposition here this evening - who, as Treasurer in the last Liberal-Country Party Government, foisted upon the people of Australia the highest level of unemployment since the Depression days. He is the same gentleman who told this House and the people of Australia, through the medium of this House, just how bad is the Labor Budget. His cure for inflation appears to be to refuse wage increases for workers but to allow the profiteers and plunderers in the community to press on touching the pockets of the people of Australia.
This evening, in many respects, the Leader of the Opposition made the same kind of speech as he made in August 1972. At that time he blamed wage increases for inflation. His Government - of which he was Treasurer, let, us not forget - had the opportunity to halt inflation but his cure was to take jobs from Australian workers and to deprive their families of a decent living standard. Because of engineered unemployment during the term of the last Liberal-Country Party Government, and the Leader of the Opposition’s efforts as Treasurer, misery was brought to about half a million Australian workers and the families which they had to keep. The rate of unemployment benefit was below the payment rate made to pensioners. I am certain that the rate of payment to widows, who were put into categories and discriminated against, was far too low. This Labor Government has corrected this situation.
It was the Leader of the Opposition, this financial wizard, who was responsible for a deficit of $709m and a domestic deficit of $215m in the last Budget which, of course, was $22m and $53m respectively more than the estimate of the Labor Government for 1973-74. I hope I have not upset the Leader of the Opposition by reminding the people of Australia of his performance as Treasurer. 1 now pay the Leader of the Opposition a compliment. Some people may have thought of him as a dead loss as a Treasurer but he was, in fact, a prophet. In the last paragraph of his 1972 Budget speech as Treasurer he said:
This Budget serves the nation’s larger purposes. There are, of course, challenges ahead as well as rewards. This is always so. But anyone who looks around this country - especially if he recalls it 20 years ago - will see why we have cause to read the future with confidence.
That was a wonderful prophecy. The honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) reiterated almost word for word the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. The honourable member for Henty referred to a shortage of tradesmen at the Broken Hill Company Pty Ltd. Of course, what he forgot to mention was that under the policies of the previous Government, of which he was a member, that company did not employ trade apprentices. This is one of the reasons for the shortage of tradesmen today.
The Budget speech delivered by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) last week, contains an abundance of sound ingredients which are necessary if we are to build a better Australia for this and future generations. For the first time in almost a quarter of a century a determined effort has been made by the Federal Government to properly plan the economy and to set guidelines for a master plan which will achieve improvement in living standards, remove fear of the future for those in needy circumstances and provide the assurance that equality will become a reality. I congratulate the Treasurer on the sterling job he has done as the architect of this plan. There is no doubt that he has won the admiration and gratitude of those who have an interest in education and those in receipt of pensions. (Quorum formed) The Treasurer has won the admiration of the majority of Australians. The 1973 Budget has brought an abrupt end to the stop-go, boom-bust policies of successive Liberal-Country Party governments which have plagued Australia for the past 24 years.
The usual anti-Labor propaganda has been evident in some quarters and the Premier of
Queensland is following his usual practice of attacking Labor Party endeavours made on behalf of the nation and its people. But the people of Queensland should realise that payments to be made to that State by the Federal Government - I hope the Country Party is listening because it is very vocal in its attitudes to the actions of this Government - will represent a record allocation of funds and should bring great benefits to that State despite the fact that it has a backward State government currently in office. Undoubtedly the conservatives in Queensland will be able to introduce some change through the efforts of the Federal Labor Government, and will want to take all the credit for the benefit that can be brought to Queensland. I point out also, after listening to Opposition members attack the Budget this evening, that the McMahon Government in 1972 made provision for an estimated amount of $436,440,000 to be allocated to Queensland as compared to the estimate of $591,445,000 by this Government. This represents an increase of $145m to Queensland or over 30 per cent more. Labor’s generosity to the State will mean that Queensland will benefit. It is interesting to note that Queensland will receive more than twice the amount granted by the Gorton Government for the year 1969-70. So if the Labor Government today has not brought down a good Budget in 1973 there must be much criticism levelled at the endeavours of the previous Liberal Party-Country Party Government in Australia.
The 1973 Budget makes provision for the greatest financial assistance in the history of this nation in the extremely important field of education. The 2 Liberal Party speakers who preceded the Labor speakers in this debate did not say a word about education. The Leader of the Opposition, in attacking Labor’s Budget, indicated opposition to the provision of additional finance for education. Education has been given top priority by the Government and $843m is to be provided in 1973-74, representing an increase of $404m or 92 per cent on last year. There was not one word said by the Opposition Parties about this important reform. This allocation of funds to education makes me particularly happy because it kills the claim made by Labor’s opponents prior to the 1972 Federal election that Labor Government would eliminate aid to private schools and that our education promises prior to the election would be broken.
Just before the 1972 election, in my electorate of Lilley a vicious campaign was waged by the National Civic Council, the Democratic Labor Party, the Liberals and pseudoLiberals - cum-DLP-supporters who stooped to every undesirable tactic to instil fear into the minds of people about the future education of their children. This misleading campaign of hate carried out by individuals who spread fear and distrust was waged in vain and this Budget throws back to them the attempts they made to besmirch the character of Labor men and the good intentions of a Labor Government.
Let me indicate to the people of Lilley what has occurred in the electorate where a great deal of this pre-election false propaganda had its infamous beginning. State schools will receive a share of the massive amount of funds the Federal Government is making available in the greatest injection of Federal finance in the history of the nation. In addition, every private school in Lilley - this will occur almost throughout Australia - with one exception will receive substantial increases in grants from the Federal Government. This must be of great benefit to students, to parents, to the schools and to the whole education structure. It must hurt the fearmongers who, with an attitude of ill will, spread their gospel of fear prior to the 1972 Federal elections.
I am very pleased to be a member of a government that will enable boys and girls not only in my electorate but also throughout the length and breadth of this land attending universities, colleges of advanced education, State teachers colleges and other approved teachers colleges and technical colleges, to benefit because of the Federal Government’s action in assuming financial responsibility for education and also in the abolition of fees.
The increase in pensions of $1.50 a week is another important step taken by the Government to assist pensioners and to raise the standard of living. If it were not so sad it would be rather amusing to hear members of the Opposition talk about the treatment of pensioners because for too many years under successive Liberal Party-Country Party governments the plight of pensioners was made a political football. On the eve of each election we found that the government could find finance to make available to pensioners 50c or $1 or whatever it might have been, and after the election of course the then govern ment forgot all about its responsibility to these people. While a greater increase would have been welcomed, there is a firm undertaking by the Government to further improve pension payments in accordance with Labor’s plans to relate the pension to the average wage. Through Labor’s plan an end has been brought to the disgusting and degrading action of previous governments whereby pension handouts were used as bait for an election and pensioners and their plight were made political footballs.
I was pleased to hear the Treasurer refer to the setting up of land commissions designed to provide Australian families with land; at fair prices. I have no doubt that statements by the Treasurer relating to housing are welcomed by low income families, young couples and other persons purchasing a home. The previous Government’s poor performance in the housing field had resulted in a national crisis developing in that area. There will be overwhelming support for the introduction of the scheme of tax deductibility of mortgage interest as promised in Labor’s policy speech. This scheme will assist persons purchasing a home. I certainly welcome this announcement together with the moves to ensure that land is provided at a fair price.
I am particularly concerned about the rise in the price of land and I had hoped this evening to be able to report to this Parliament on investigations that I have made in my State concerning the spiralling land costs but I notice by the clock that I will not have time to deal with this. But as a future date I shall reveal to the Parliament particulars of an investigation I made of a land redeveloper’s activities in Brisbane. I will show that much of the increase in the cost of housing can be attributed to the cost of land. If we analyse this as I hope I will be able to do on a future occasion, we will find that the claims being made by our opponents concerning the increase in wages or wage increase pressures, have very little at all to do with the increase in land prices.
I shall conclude on that note, again congratulating the Treasurer for leading Australia on a path to true progress and prosperity. I know that it is very difficult for our opponents, after 23 years in office when they did very little to lift the standards of the people generally, to realise that a Labor government is bringing true reform which will benefit this nation and its people. If honourable members opposite are patient, because I sincerely believe they will have plenty of time to see future Labor budgets introduced, they will see reforms introduced in Australia which they might not like but which will assist the ordinary people. If we have to choose whether we pay a few cents extra on a pack of cigarettes or a gallon of petrol, against an improvement in the education of the children of this country, the lifting of the standard of living of our pensioners and making a better country for everybody, I will choose the course that has been taken by this Government.
– I too reject the Budget and support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) which states:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House expresses disapproval of the Budget because it is economically irresponsible . . .
On 28 March 1973 the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) wrote a letter to Dr Coombs and out of this letter the Coombs task force was born. It- reported on 24 June 1973 and the report was officially made public on Budget night. Unofficially its contents were known earlier due to the deplorable practice of leakages which appear to persist irrespective of who happens to be in power. What this task force did in detail I hope to return to on some future occasion. For the time being 1 shall confine myself to just one point. The point is how this body viewed the state of the economy at the time of writing its report, that is, some time prior to 24 June, and what assessment it conveyed to the Prime Minister. I quote from the report:
There are limits to the possible supply of goods and services and we are close to them. Indeed, awareness of these limits led to the Cabinet establishing this task force. It would seem therefore that a prime objective of economic management in coming months should be to prevent the demand for goods and services rising to levels which will intensify the growing shortages of labour and bring about inflationary rises in costs and prices. In these circumstances, the scope for a Budget which would stimulate total spending is severely limited.
Note Mr Deputy Speaker, if you will, that even prior to 24 June 1973 - even before the calamitous 13.2 per cent inflation rate of the June quarter was known - a body of some standing was advising the Prime Minister that the control of excess demand for goods and services was ‘a prime objective of economic management in coming months’. It appeared that the Prime Minister took some heed of this advice, as within 3 days of receiving the Coombs task force report he took action.
I move now from 24 June to 27 June. On 27 June 1973 the Prime Minister appointed a secret committee to report on possible ways of increasing imports. His letter of that date - marked ‘Personal and Secret’ - to Mr Rattigan, the Chairman of the Tariff Board, said, in part:
Dr Cairns and I have been discussing the possibility of stimulating an increase in the flow of imports as a means of expanding the resources available in the Australian economy and of providing some restraint on the upward movement of prices. We feel that, at a time when our domestic resources are coming under increasing pressure, it is only through imports that a substantial addition to the flow of goods available can be achieved.
I should like you to note 2 matters, Mr Deputy Speaker. One matter is the date of the letter. The other matter is that even then the Prime Minister accepted as a fact the existence of inflation and that this inflation was due at least in part to an excessive demand for goods and services in Australia.
Now I move from 27 June to 15 July. The secret committee reported to the Prime Minister. It agreed with .the Prime Minister’s assessment and in fact filled the picture in a little. The report stated:
The pressures on labour and industrial capacity are part of the explanation for the increase in prices at both wholesale and consumer levels. But in addition to inflationary price increases, there are also reports, from retailers, of increasing delivery delays for new cars, refrigerators and similar appliances, oil heaters, plastic household goods, home and office furniture, carpets, sheets, furnishing fabrics, nightwear, underwear and the more expensive types of knitwear.
Now I move a further 3 weeks, from 15 July 1973 to the first week in August. On or about 3 August the Commonwealth Treasury released its White Paper entitled The Australian Economy 1973’. The paper said the following about prices:
At the present time, prices and costs generally are rising faster than at any. time since the Korean War boom.
The paper did not mince words about the state of demand. It stated:
Increasing demand pressures have been showing up in the labour market statistics for some months past, both of the numbers unemployed and the number of unfilled vacancies, but particularly the latter. In the skilled and semi-skilled categories and in the metropolitan areas as a whole there are now overall more jobs available than people seeking work.
In sum, major sectors of the economy are well on the way to buoyant and, in some important cases, over-stretched conditions.
I now move another 17 days, from about 3 August to 20 August - the Monday preceding Black Tuesday. On that day Sir John Phillips signed the annual report of the Reserve Bank Board of which he is Chairman. This report focused the spotlight on the forthcoming Budget. There was no ambiguity in the words used. The report stated:
Looking forward, some large increases in prices are in the pipeline. In the slightly longer run, the measures taken over the last seven months or so and the functioning - shortly to begin - of the Prices Justification Tribunal will exert restraint but it is far from certain that there will be a quick return to acceptable growth rates for prices. The Budget will, of course, be an important influence on the extent to which aggregate demand adds to pressures on prices in the period ahead.
This Labor Government, within a short space of 24 hours, demonstrated just how important an influence on aggregate demand the Budget was to be. I move now to Black Tuesday, 21 August 1973 - the day which will long be remembered as marking Australia’s entry into the international big league of inflation; the day we joined Chile,- Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala, to mention a few other distinguished members of this league. The Prime Minister’s visit to Mexico earlier this year had proved strangely and unforeseeably prophetic.
Well, what did this Budget do to the total demand for goods and services in Australia? The effect of the Budget on demand is primarily through the domestic balance of the Budget. In pretty general terms, if the Budget is a rough matching of domestic revenue and expenditure, then its net effect on domestic demand is more or less neutral. If the Budget results in a domestic surplus, then in broad terms the Budget is deflationary. But, on the other hand, if the Budget results in a net domestic deficit, it is a stimulatory or inflationary Budget. This Budget resulted in an estimated domestic deficit of $162m. In comparison, the deficit in the 1972 Budget was $21 5m. So, one would conclude that this Budget is only three-quarters as inflationary as the Budget of 1972. This is a remarkable conclusion. Of course, the Treasurer (Mr Crean) is quite right when he says that the Budget is ‘designed to be much less stimulatory than its predecessor.’
What is totally incredible is that this Budget should be an inflationary Budget at all. Give a starving sheep 5 lb of wheat a day and it will survive. But, give a sheep which already is eating 20 lb of wheat a day another 5 lb and you will surely kill it. Last year we had unemployment of 2 per cent, quite a bit more than full employment would warrant. This year we have full employment. Last year in the June quarter the inflation rate was only 3.6 per cent in terms of its annual equivalent. This year in the June quarter the inflation rate was 13.2 per cent. A stimulatory Budget last year was perhaps appropriate. A stimulatory Budget this year is the height of irresponsibility.
The Treasurer says about this Budget that it:
In terms of plain everyday English this means: ‘To he’l with inflation - we will honour our election promises whatever the cost to the nation’. I represent a State to which exports matter more than tq any other State in the Commonwealth. The exports per head of population from Western Australia are the highest in the Commonwealth. I represent an electorate and a party whose very lifeblood is exporting. Australia is justly proud that it has the world’s most efficient wool industry, the world’s most efficient wheat industry and the world’s most efficient meat industry. For how much longer, Sir I ask you? For how much longer can we afford a government which upvalues the Australian dollar twice within 12 months? For how much longer can we afford a government which deliberately fosters inflation, if this is the price it has to pay for a set of election promises, some of which at least are a little dubious?
The primary producer does not expert sympathy from this Government. He is realist enough to know that he will not get it. ‘The Economist’ of London in its issue of 25 August 1972 put it quite succinctly with its headline stating ‘Gough saves his help for his friends’. The article says that even blind Freddie would readily see that ‘this Budget will shift resources from the farms to the cities, and hence to Mr Whitlam’s supporters’.
There is nothing more devastating, there is nothing more dangerous to exporting industries than a high rate of inflation. Exporting industries cannot pass inflation on; they must absorb it in their incomes. The easiest thing in these circumstances, the easiest tactic, however dastardly, is to reallocate income from country areas to city areas, that is to allow a high rate of inflation to go on unchecked. And the reason is really very simple. It lies in the fact that trade unions ensure that wages and salaries keep pace with inflation. Their recipients, be they members of communistdominated unions or be they the fat cats of the Public Service are sheltered from the vagaries of inflation; their real incomes are likely to rise, and will rise, at the expense of that part of the economy whose members are exposed to the cold winds of international competition.
The Prime Minister has helped his friends well, indeed even too well for his own liking. The problem with resorting to devious tactics is that if you carry them to extremes you may risk being regarded by even your friends as irresponsible. Australias are fair-minded people, and if the inflation rate rises too high the skulduggery of this Government will be visible and will offend even some of its own supporters.
With this stimulatory Budget heaped on top of an incredibly high inflation rate of 13.2 per cent, there is no doubt that inflation will rise to heights not considered possible in this country before December 1972. The prospects are such that this Government will have to do something in order to put a brake on that engine which it has itself put into top gear. Unfortunately, the Government with its still unfulfilled backlog of electoral promises has set itself parameters which are fast merging into a lamina. Like the laminated windscreen, there is precious little room to manoeuvre between the 2 panes of glass. No doubt the Government will try monetary policy. It will have a bash at the good old credit squeeze and it may discourage specific forms of lending by a whole variety of devices, some very crude in concept. No doubt, too, the Government will try to encourage imports. But to quote the secret committee on tariffs which, it will be recalled, recommended the 25 per cent tariff cut, ‘there are limits to the extent to which imports can be substituted for domestic supply’. Finally, the Government will try to make the Prices Justification Tribunal perform miracles. This Tribunal, with a total lack of powers of compulsion, can at best retard inflation and only in some highly specific areas of the economy - at a cost I might add, of a grave potential misallocation of resources.
Two weapons would work. One is a tight fiscal policy, that is a tight budgetary policy which the Government, burdened with its promises, is incapable of implementing and unwilling to implement. The second weapon, which should be implemented in conjunction with the first, is a stringent wages policy following a referendum in which the Commonwealth would obtain the necessary powers. Given the make-up of this Government, I despair at the very limited prospects of either policy being instituted until well after hyperinflation has been firmly established in Australia. This is basically a government of adventurers, and it is for this reason, I repeat, that I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in these terms:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House expresses disapproval of this Budget because it is economically irresponsible. . . .
– At the outset I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr Crean) for the way he presented the Budget. It was a very fine Budget and it was in sharp contrast to the irresponsible reply we heard from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Sneddon) this evening. Much has been said by the calamity howlers on the other side of the House about inflation being primarily due to excessive wage increases. This is simply not an established economic fact. One of the foremost economists of the Western World, Professor Harry Johnson, a professor of economics at both the London School of Economics and the University of Chicago, has strongly challenged the concept of wage-push inflation. In a paper published in the ‘International Currency Review’ of August 1971 he makes the point that inflation is a world problem, that the increase in the rate of world inflation in the second half of the 1960s is primarily the responsibility of the United States, which financed the Vietnam war by inflation rather than taxation, and that due to the United States’ predominant position in the world economy its inflation was transported to the rest of the world. His thesis is summed up in the following quotation from page 7 of his paper:
The world inflation then can be attributed largely to a change towards inflationary behaviour on the part of the United States. The details of events in other countries can be used to tell a tale of domestic causation of inflation and in particular to blame inflation on the irresponsibility of the trade unions -
I have heard that before - but I would instead regard them merely as details in the process of transmission of world inflation, sparked by the United Stales, to the individual countries concerned.
Thus it can be seen that the wage-push notion of inflation is not an unchallengeable economic verity. The Johnson theory of inflation can be shown to” apply directly to Australia and was so shown in the union’s submission during the national wage case of 1972. (Quorum formed). Any responsible government concerned to prevent inflation must make a real and genuine attempt to limit the freedom of entrepreneurs to fix prices as they please, to prevent land prices being forced up by land speculators and to take positive steps to stop the spiralling cost of housing - and that is exactly what this Government intends to do. Once again these aims are in sharp contrast to the appalling record of the previous Government. The following examination of inflation of property prices in the central business districts of Melbourne will illustrate clearly what some of the real causes of inflation are and who has been responsible, and the grave imbalance in the use of resources which have been produced as a byproduct. In 1971 it was announced that the land values in the central business district had increased by 800 per cent in 3 years. Blocks were selling at $100 a square foot. In the previous. 12 months 26 permits had been issued for multi-storey office and shop complexes. In June 1973 the Melbourne City Council released a report which revealed that land prices throughout the city had doubled since 1968. The report said:
The great economic expansion in the city has forced out activities that are not capable of meeting rising land values and rents.
Earlier in the year Melbourne’s strategy plan consultants, the American firm of Interplan, had issued a draft report which included figures forecasting a $33m over-supply of office space by 1975. In other words, what is happening in Melbourne at the present time is not a straightforward question of supply and demand. Instead we are dealing with a complex series of speculative investments between large corporations. These activities have been encouraged by the Melbourne City Council - the friends of honourable members opposite - because the result of each new building is more revenue for the Council which charges rates of between $2 and $7 a square foot for each new building. So a building such as the 26 storey Australian Mutual Provident Society block pays rates to the Council of approximately 3165,000 a year, whereas the old buildings formerly on this site returned only one-ninth of this amount. Who can afford these soaring prices?
An acre of land abutting the city square was up for sale in December 1972 and was expected to fetch between S8m and $12m, that is, between $175 and $250 a square foot. Among the companies which were expected to bid were a big British development company, the Lend Lease Corporation Ltd, Mainline Construction (Vic.) Pty Ltd, the Australian Mutual Provident Society, T & G Mutual Life Society and the Oominion Insurance Co. Pty Ltd. Even if the Melbourne City Council wanted to buy the land and convert it to open space or to some other use of a more human scale which would benefit the majority of city users, it could not afford to do so. As one journalist observed: ‘To walk along Collins Street today is to say goodbye to an old friend’. Estate agents proudly relate the average 40 per cent increase in Collins Street land values over the past two or three years. A real estate report of June 1972 said that the underground loop has lifted city values, including Collins Street, by about 300 per cent.
The major property holders in Collins Street are the life insurance companies. They have been involved in many of the recent transactions, together with the banks. The Melbourne City Council’s building surveyors department reports that there are 6 projects currently under construction. Of these the smallest building will be 17 floors while the tallest will be two 55 storey towers. The council department reports also that it has been informed verbally of another dozen proposed buildings for the street. To get some perspective of what is happening I shall give a brief run down of the bigger projects so that honourable members will have some idea of what is shaping the new city.
Between Spring Street and Exhibition Street on the southern side of Collins Street most of the block is being taken up by the $87m Collins Place project which is based around two 600 feet towers for the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and the AMP Society. Almost all the rest of the block, with the exception of a 22 floor building for professional suites and residential accommodation, is understood to have been bought by another life company which plans eventually to redevelop the whole area. Between Exhibition and Russell Streets on the southern side of Collins Street, Conzinc Riotinto of Australia is expected to erect a 650 feet office complex in 1975. A second stage of the complex would include four 10 and 12 storey buildings. Sixty per cent of the rest of the block is being purchased by an English company and major redevelopment is expected there also. I could go on all the way up and down the streets but shall refer only to a couple more such projects.
Between Queen and William Streets on the southern side of Collins Street, half the block to Market Street is expected to be gone by 1975. The rest of the block is taken up by National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd. Between Queen and William Streets on the northern side of Collins Street there has already been much major redevelopment, mostly by insurance companies. Between King and Spencer Streets on the southern side a 23-storey office building is replacing the old Federal Hotel. There is regrettably little discussion in the community about this coming land of giants, but there have been some appropriate references to this fearful development that are worth noting. John Larkin in the ‘Age’ of 3 January remarked:
How much pollution, how much down-draught, how much over-crowding, how much noise, how much waste of resources, how many shadows, how much anonymity, how much confrontation for citizens caught between walls and traffic, how much subjection of the office workers themselves?
A previous warning came in 1972 from the architect John Andrews, a former professor of architecture at the Toronto University, who said that Melbourne’s centre was becoming a city of buildings and not of people. Victoria’s architect of the year, Kevin Borland, described it as an incredible indictment of our society that these buildings are costing $3,000 a square and are used only from 9 o’clock to 5 o’clock. Collins Street could become the city’s space age dead heart. If it does it would be a fitting tribute to those who let it happen, a group of traders otherwise known as the city council. Because of its interest in the ratable values of these new buildings, the Melbourne City Council is a most unlikely opponent of the direction the city skyscape is taking. The Melbourne City Council, like honourable members opposite, operates in the interests of a small but wealthy section of the community in the inner business district centre of Melbourne, those profiteering from the large scale property ownership and speculation on land values. It is the members of the Civic Group in the Melbourne City Council, the counterpart of the Opposition in this Parliament, who are among the chief contributors to and beneficiaries of inflation in the central business district. The Melbourne City Council has done little to ensure that the city is developed in an egalitarian manner. The reason can be found partly in the fact - (Quorum formed). The Melbourne City Council, in following the policies that I have outlined, has had the same sort of gerrymandered situation that we have in the Victorian State Parliament. There are 6 wards in the central business district which elect 18 of the 33 councillors. So, it is impossible for Labor to gain a majority while 29 per cent of the voters elect half the councillors. Labor is further disadvantaged because the Council and its committees sit during the day and most prospective Labor candidates cannot get time off to attend. In the 3 months ended 31 March 1973 over $34m worth of office space was approved for construction in the inner suburban areas of Melbourne and most of this was in the central business district. I seek leave to incorporate a table in Hansard.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– That table discloses that in building construction there is a significant imbalance between the public sector and the private sector. During the March quarter in Melbourne $34,567,000 worth of office space was approved for construction and only S597.000 worth of construction for the public sector was approved. Building approvals are a useful measure and can be used as a barometer of social change and as a means of determining possible sources of inflationary pressure. There is no doubt that there is excessive office block construction, excessive speculation in the central business district and far too little expenditure in the public sector and in the country. In the ‘Australian Economic Review’ the following views were expressed in an article on the Australian economy:
The acceleration in the rate of growth in land prices in the past 2 years has undoubtedly been related to the build-up in capital inflow and the extremely easy monetary conditions, as well as increasing awareness in the community of the gains to be made from property in an inflationary situation. It has resulted in very substantial income shifts from the poorer to the richer sections of the community and placed many of the poor and lower income earners in an impossible situation in regard to housing .. . Even if land prices were stabilised immediately there would still be a major social problem left to resolve.
Over the last 2 years there has been a remarkable escalation in housing prices within the Federal electorate of Melbourne, particularly in the suburbs of North Carlton, North Melbourne, East Melbourne and North Fitzroy. There are many examples which could be cited. A single frontage, single storey, 2-bedroom ‘ house on the corner of Church Street and Flemington Road, West Parkville, which sold for $11,000 in January 1972 was resold recently for $19,000. No renovations had been made. In North Carlton 2-storey terrace houses which were selling for less than $20,000 2 years ago now bring in excess of $35,000 unrenovated. The escalation in housing costs is having immense sociological ramifications for the community in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. It has produced a significant change in the nature of the population. Working class residents no longer can afford to remain in the area. The rapidly spiralling prices have meant that migrants and other low income groups no longer can afford to buy in these over-priced residential areas. They have been forced into the outer fringes of the western suburbs where they have to undertake the costly pioneering work associated with the establishment of new suburbs.
It is these settlers on low incomes who have to pay for the provision of roads, sewerage, lighting and other basic essential services such as libraries and public health facilities, and who have to subsidise the new educational complexes. These services already have been provided to a degree in my electorate, and this is part of the reason why the area has become so attractive to the middle class in recent years.
The Housing Commission regrettably has accentuated this trend. To some extent it has been fulfilling the positive role of supplying housing for those on low incomes, but it has been doing this in the inner areas in an especially rigid and unacceptable form. Mr Speaker, as the tactics of the Opposition have precluded me from finishing what I would have liked to say, I ask that the rest of my speech be incorporated in Hansard.
-If the honourable member keeps going he may finish it. He still has another minute.
– The Housing Commission has erected concrete monstrosities that are most unsuitable for families and with an unacceptably heartless technique it has deprived low income families - in many cases migrants - of houses they do not want to part with. To some extent it has helped relatively affluent salaried workers to buy own-your-own flats in the inner areas and in the process it has given the appearance of favouring one particular master builder This firm has developed twothirds of the land which has been reclaimed with public money. M. A. Jones, in his book Housing and Poverty’, maintains that there is at least a 3-fold subsidy involved.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
-Order! It being 15 minutes to 1 1 o’clock p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 1 March, I propose the question:
That the House now adjourn.
– I am g!ad to have the opportunity tonight to speak about a matter which is of great public concern in the south-eastern States of Australia. I refer to the recent letter by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to the Premiers concerned suggesting that no further contracts be let until certain aspects of the building of the Dartmouth Dam have been investigated, lt appears that the Prime Minister in his letter suggested 3 things. The first was that the building of the dam be undertaken more slowly and, therefore, that costs be spread over a longer period. The second was to see whether the salinity in the River Murray could be reduced by some other method which was either cheaper or quicker. The third was to see whether water from the Blowering Dam could be released so that it would not be necessary to build the Dartmouth Dam or so that it could be built more slowly while using the Blowering water.
The more one looks at this whole matter the more extraordinary the proposition becomes. 1 can well understand the Coombs task force bringing up this matter. It was given the job of telling the Government any ways in which it could reduce expenditure. It put forward a great many propositions, some of which were accepted and many of which were not. 1 can understand the task force bringing up the proposal, but how the Government ever came to endorse it is quite beyond me. Was any assessment made? Were any experts asked for their opinions on this? How did it get through when two of the people who will be vitally affected if what is suggested comes about are the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) and the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick), who are Labor members and whose electorates are further down the Murray and Mumimbidgee Rivers.
Let us look at the Prime Minister’s proposals. The first is that the dam should be built more slowly. We know that the water is needed urgently. The dam should be filling now, not just being built. It would have been, but for the antics of the Dunstan Opposition in the South Australian Parliament which prevented the dam from being commenced until fairly recently. It would give South Australia the first additional water it has had since 1915. It would make available 250,000 additional acre feet to South Australia and it would make available urgently required additional water to New South Wales and Victoria. We know, particularly in the case of New South Wales, that there is a shortage of water in the Murray and that some water is being diverted from the Murrumbidgee for use in the Murray, to make sufficient water available there. If the dam is built more slowly the urgently needed water will not be provided.
We know that the longer a dam takes to build the more costly it is. There is a provision in the River Murray Commission legislation which says that if the price of a dam or a particular structure is more than 10 per cent more than the price agreed to by the States the matter has to be renegotiated. The Dartmouth Dam is due to go to tender on 15 October this year. That means that before that time there must be a clear understanding by all the tenderers that this work will proceed. One cannot possibly call tenders and then say that it is doubtful whether the project will proceed. We know that by 1 May 1974 the decision is due to be made by the River Murray Commission and by the 4 governments concerned to proceed with this work and to select the successful tenderer. I do not know what is meant by building this dam more slowly. I can recall extremely well that in my early days in politics a Labor government was in power in New South Wales and that government took an incredible time to build dams. In fact it was an extraordinary thing that during the time that the New South Wales Labor Government was in power for 20 years it never commenced a dam which was completed, lt is true that it completed dams that had been commenced before it came into office. It also commenced other dams which were not completed. Here was a record of a Government which had dams lying around the country. When the Government had a bit of money it used day labour to work on the construction of dams, lt would build them for a little while and then leave them rotting with the rabbits getting into them. It would come back two or three years later and spend a little bit more. So we found that dams which started off at a cost of £500,000, as was then the case, finished up costing £20m and taking 20 years to build. Is that the sort of thing we want?
Of course, dams cost money to build and we get nothing back from them until they are completed. Therefore the faster they are built the better it is for everyone concerned. The Dartmouth dam will be storing water, if there is no impediment by the present Government, by July of 1976 - that is, in less than 3 years time. Surely the best thing to do is to go ahead with the construction of this dam at the greatest possible speed. There is another reason why the dam should be completed and that is, of course, that the speed of building these dams is determined by other factors. For example, the coffer dam, which is a major part of the dam, has to be built at considerable speed in the early stages so that it will not be topped by a flash flood. We know that if the construction of this dam does not proceed fast enough and a flood gets over the top it will carry it away and there will be enormous damage in the Mitta River. So much for the question of whether we should build the dam more slowly.
The next question is whether salinity can be reduced and therefore avoid the need to build a dam at Dartmouth or the need to build it so quickly. Here we know that the experts have told us that in this time scale no major reduction in salinity can be achieved. Perhaps some minor reductions can be achieved in the Mildura area. But of course we have already undertaken 2 major works, one at Lake Hawthorn and the other at Barr Creek to prevent salinity flowing back into the Murray, and that has improved the water enormously. Can the Blowering Dam water be released? The answer to that, of course, is that the Blowering water is owned by New South Wales. All the waters in any of the tributaries of the Murray are owned by the State concerned irrespective &i whether the Commonwealth builds a dam. But in this case the States have used partly their own money and partly loan moneys which they have to refund and there is no doubt whatsoever that they own all the water in the Blowering Dam. Whilst at the moment there is a little uncommitted water there the States will in the very near future be needing this water because they are undertaking a reappraisal of the Colleambally irrigation area. I am sure that the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) would protest very strongly if water in his electorate was taken away and sent down to Adelaide. Of course, one wonders what the national water resource development program is going to get.
What really concerns me are the snide remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), who struts around with all the panache of a pouter pigeon, saying in effect: ‘I am the only Prime Minister who has met on this topic with the Premiers in the last 60 years’. All I can say is that what a tragedy it is that he did meet them, because he obviously did not understand the problem at all. Previously Ministers have met and Minis ters knew much more. If it had only been left to Ministers this whole sorry state of affairs would never have happened. The Prime Minister names the water requirements of Albury-Wodonga as a reason for reappraisal. Well, that is just ludicrous, because within this time scale - and we are talking about 3 years to finish the dam - there would be at the most an increase in population of 10,000 people and that would not effect the use at all. He talks about another survey. We have already had an extremely good survey of salinity in the Murray conducted by the outstanding firms of Gutteridge, Haskins & Davey and the Hunting Technical Services. As a result of that we have taken considerable action and we will in time take more.
The Prime Minister talks about the use of the Blowering water to flush the Murray. Of course, he apparently does not realise at all that you cannot flush water upstream. I would have thought that anyone would realise this. But the worst part of the Murray from the point of view of salinity is the Barr Creek-Kerang-Wakool-Swan Hill area. How do you put water in from the Mumimbidgee and flush it up there, it is just so ludicrous.
I conclude my remarks by asking why on earth did the Prime Minister not get some technical information from the experts before he rushed into this like a bull into a china shop?
– I think it is appropriate that I should congratulate at this time the Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) on the great job he is doing in the housing area. He has laid the basis, at least, of a challenge to the State of Victoria to do something about the position of housing in Melbourne. Also I would like to congratulate the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) who has thrown down the challenge to the Opposition, which supports the fixing and freezing of prices. The builders in New South Wales have supported the proposition of the Minister and he is to be congratulated on his initiatives.
The housing position in Victoria, in particular in the Melbourne area is acute. It has been pointed out that one firm has developed two-thirds of the land in the metropolitan area of Melbourne which has been reclaimed with public money. M. A. Jones in his book Housing and Poverty’ maintains that there is at least a threefold subsidy involved. Firstly there is the subsidy caused by the use of compulsory acquisition powers and the dubious methods the Victorian Housing Commission uses for paying the ‘market’ price for compensation purposes. Secondly there is the subsidy that is the difference between the price private developers are prepared to pay for the land and the cost of acquisition. Thirdly, the finance for the units, built on cleared sites by private developers is supplied’ by the Home Finance Trust, a Government organisation, at low rates of interest. Obviously there is an urgent need for the Prices Justification Tribunal to concern itself not solely with operators in large industrial companies with an annual turnover of $20m or more but also with large companies in the housing - industry such as A. V. Jennings industries (Aust) Ltd. One of the major com ponents in the Consumer Price Index which has been increasing rapidly in the past 12 months is housing costs. To reduce speculation * and profiteering by land developers and construction companies the Prices Justification Tribunal should inquire into existing retail prices, profit margins and actual development costs. It is possible that if this exercise had been carried out in the mid-1960s the retail prices set by the Prices Justification Tribunal for own-your-own flats in the inner suburban area would have been within the price range of lower income earners. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing subsidies to private developers.
-Is leave granted? being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows):
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
HMS Bristol (Question No. 251)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the . honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows: ‘
asked the. Minister representing the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Media has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Secondary Industry, upon notice:
In respect of the Australian Industry Development Corporation, will he indicate (a) the number and value of shares it holds in publicly listed companies, (b) the number and value of shares it holds in liOnlisted companies, (c) the number and value of loans outstanding and the record of repayment in each case, (d) the rate of interest charged on each loan, (e) the total amount of overseas borrowings and the interest paid to overseas lenders, (f) the salaries of employees including its executive director and (g) details of the contracts with all staff.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:
What was the (a) value and (b) quantity of (i) raw oats, (ii) hulled oats and (iii) rolled oats exported from Australia during each calendar year from 1965 and what are the estimated equivalent statistics for the first 6 months of 1973.
– The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the information in the table below in answer to the honourable member’s question. fourth schedule of the Remuneration and Allowances Act 1973; i.e. his salary is $29,250 per annum and his expense allowance is $1,750 per annum (g) See answer to questions (a) to (e).
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
Is the Minister able to say how many companies engaged in the production of films or television programs in Australia are more than 50 per cent (a) foreign-owned and (b) Australian-owned.
– The Minister for the Media has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
To the best of my knowledge, there are 168 companies engaged in the production of films or television programs in Australia and, of these:
5 are more than 50 per cent foreign-owned;
163 are more than 50 per cent Australianowned.
asked the Minister for Overseas Trade, upon notice:
What was the (a) value and (b) quantity of malt exported from Australia during the first half of each financial year from 1964-1965?
– The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in answer to the honourable member’s question:
Separate statistics for exports of hulled oats are not available. However, details in the table show statistics for rolled oats and oatmeal as well as for oats.
Statistics are compiled on a financial year (not calendar year) basis, and have been supplied accordingly.
Forward estimates of exports for these commodities are not made by the Commonwealth Statistician. For this reason, figures in the table have been given only to 31 March 1973.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730828_reps_28_hor85/>.