28th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
-Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The 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 Crean, Dr Everingbam, Mr Drury, Mr Jarman, Mr Lamb, Mr Morris, Mr Scholes and Mr Street.
To the Honourable The Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble Petition of undersignedcitizens of Australia respectfully showeth -
That the propsed ‘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 willlead 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 scheme which functions efficiently and economically.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hayden.
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 widespread objection throughout Australia is manifestly evident against the proposal of the present Federal Government to provide aid and assistance to the government of North Vietnam.
That they are concerned that representatives of the military dictatorship of North Vietnam and the self styled Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam were recently invited to Australia as respected guests.
That the Federal Government should be censured for its silent acquiescence in permitting the Vietnamese Communists aforementioned to enter Australia, thereby affronting the government of a friendly country, namely the democratically elected government of South Vietnam.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the House of Representatives will urge the Government:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Street.
– I address a question without notice to the Treasurer. Last night I stated a specific proposal for inflation control in Australia which included a national incomes-prices policy. On 10 April1973 the Prime Minister said ‘there is good reason to believe ‘a prices and incomes policy can be effective’ in the short-term as one means of fighting inflation. On 5 May 1973 he further conceded that he considered restraints on prices and ‘the orderly determination of personal incomes’ as ingredients required to control inflation. Because of the failure of the Government’s ad hoc and ineffective price policies will the Minister now indicate what action is to be taken to implement a national policy to control inflation?
– .The right honourable gentleman might have thought that last night he delivered a counter to inflation. I believe it was no such thing. I have indicated on many occasions, both in this House and outside it, that I believe that ultimately all Western democracies will have to come down to the acceptance of something that is rather broadly described as an ‘incomes policy’. 1 have said further that in my view the minimum condition of getting such a policy in a workable form is that there should be trustful co-operation between employer and employee groups with the Government holding the ring, not taking one side or the other as did the previous Government, and that the minimum condition of being able to begin such talks between employer and employee groups is that the trade union movement should believe that something systematic is being done about prices just as it believes that there is systematic regulation of wages. It is for those reasons that we took the steps we did - and there was no great assistance from the other side of the House about it. We took steps to set up the Prices Justification Tribunal, we appointed a committee from both sides of the House, and we sought, at the Premiers Conference in May the co-operation of the States because there will be no grappling with inflation until first there is comprehension as to what the magnitudes and perspectives of the problem are.
– What about the Government as an employer appearing before arbitration tribunals?
– I am suggesting that at least employees have to go to arbitration but price makers do not, and what you want is reconciliation between price makers on the one hand and price takers on the other hand, and there are far more price takers than there are price makers. The Leader of the Opposition said last night that he called for a wages-prices freeze. Does he believe that it is constitu tionally possible to do it in the first instance? What would be the basis for deciding what the prices were on the day that he sought to get the freeze? I would submit, as was rightly said here last night, that it was a pale echo of phase 3 of the United States policy. The United States could not have done what it did, nor could the United Kingdom, unless more preliminary steps were taken. In the United States before phase 2 or phase 3 was introduced there was in existence the Economic Stabilisation Act. There is no such proviso here.
One of the difficulties in this country is that nothing was done about price justification or price regulating over the years, and to suggest that merely by saying you will create certain sorts of mechanisms they immediately become working mechanisms is, to my mind, economic nonsense. I thought last night that the approach of the right honourble gentleman, with all respect - and I said this this morning - was almost supreme blasphemy. He condemned the policy that his Government had lived on for the last 10 years. Half the increase necessary in Budget outgoing this year is simply to pay for the same sorts of services at today’s prices. You can haggle if you like as to how much of the inflation is yours and how much is mine. It is a collective inheritance. I simply point out, as my colleague the honourable member for Adelaide did last night, that the first 2 years after your Government came into office when the Labor Government went out in 1949 were the 2 years of highest price inflation on record.
I do not attempt in any way to underestimate the seriousness of this problem, but I think that we get nowhere by cheap arithmetical exercises, at one moment using percentages and at the next moment using the aggregate of millions. I was surprised last night by the attitude of the Country Party. After all, look at the document that you ought to begin with if you make any fundamental analysis of the economy of Australia - the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure 1972-73. Look at where the greatest increases in incomes were this year. They were at the country level. You got twice as much last year for selling slightly less wool than you got in the previous year.
I say this about the Country Party, as part of the Opposition: Last night there was a lot of theoretical argument - sneering if you like - about the principles of socialism. Country
Party members in particular squeal like stuck pigs when some of the socialist benefits they receive are taken away. Let .us be sensible about this. It is a problem which is not peculiar to Australia. Part of the reason for inflation in Australia, as has been pointed out in several speeches made by honourable members, is that it is imported. A large part however, as is reflected in the consumer price index, has nothing whatever to do with wages but a lot to do with higher food prices. I am not arguing that a wage earner is entitled to a fair return for his labour but a farmer is not entitled to a fair price for his product. Members of the Country Party should not be condemnatory of a higher level of inflation now because its section of the community, in its opinion justly, is getting higher incomes now than previously. What is wanted here is a collective approach, not a series of guerrilla sniping efforts. In May this year my Leader took the step of convening a meeting of the States about this matter. So far we have had plenty of words but very little action. I hope that at least we can accept what the Leader of the Opposition said last night, namely that we can expect the cooperation of Liberal State governments in future.
– Can the Minister for Defence explain his proposals with respect to the new disciplinary code for the armed services, so that those prepared to seek publicity but not knowledge may be reassured?
– I did indicate that there would be an amendment to the disciplinary code, which I hope to introduce in this Parliament towards the end of this session. Honourable members will recall, of course, that this was under consideration by the previous government for 11 or 12 years. I accepted in principle, as a result of a question which was directed to me by the honourable member for Prospect, Dr Klugman, that I should incorporate in the new disciplinary code a provision which had been accepted under the French statute. There has been some misrepresentation about this matter and therefore I think the House should clearly understand what is involved in relation to it. First, the new provision spells out that no soldier may disobey a lawful command. Secondly, it indicates that there ought to be an opportunity for a serviceman to disobey a law which quite clearly contravenes the laws of the country or the Geneva
Convention. This is the essence of the new statute which will be provided in the disciplinary code. It is a logical and sensible provision.
There has been some criticism of my decision by the State President of the Returned Services League in New South Wales, who said that an army without discipline would be rabble. He said, secondly, that it reflected on the integrity of the officers of the Australian Army. It is obvious from the statements made by the New South Wales President that he had not considered the new statute, he had not read it and he did not understand the provisions of this law. I think I should make the point that whilst he believes that this statute is a reflection upon the officers of the Australian Army, he had no hesitation in reflecting upon the rank and file of servicemen in this country. Does any honourable member suggest that Australian servicemen are not in a position to have, or indeed have not demonstrated in the past that they have, sufficient initiative, loyalty and understanding to carry out orders that may be given from time to time? I believe the attack made by the New South Wales State President on the rank and file of servicemen in this country was unwarranted.
I read the statement which was made, for example, by the honourable member for Moreton who said that this provision would require Australian servicemen to have some understanding of international law. Even though the honourable member for Moreton may disagree with this, I believe that if he is in a position to have some understanding of international law, some members of the Services in this country who are below the rank of commissioned officer also would be able to understand international law. Does the honourable member suggest that they would not be in a position to understand the laws of this country or that they should not have international law taught to them? Of course it is complete nonsense for the honourable member for Moreton to suggest that whilst he may have an understanding of international law, an ordinary serviceman in this country would not be in that position.
I conclude by saying that I believe that some alteration should be made in this area. Those who think properly and sensibly about this matter will recall that there have been 2 incidents in recent times involving the massacre of civilians by soldiers. The first incident occurred at Hue and the second at
My Lai. Both of these incidents will be recalled by honourable members. No selfrespecting soldier should be placed in a position where he is given an order to carry out which will involve an incident of this kind. If honourable members opposite believe that such conditions should apply they should stand up and say so, We do not believe that they should apply. We believe that soldiers and servicemen generally should have the right to disobey an order if they believe that it is contrary to the laws of this country and the Geneva Conventions.
– Does the Minister for Transport consider that he can take over the Victorian Railways for $9.6m and one man, or is the man concerned to be a dictator of transport in Victoria? Why does the Commonwealth need to supervise the letting of contracts, the signing of contracts, the supervision of work and approval of jobs in that State? Is this just further duplication and thus extra cost to the taxpayer in order to appease the socialist left?
– I have taken a lead from the fascist right in this particular case inasmuch as the conditions that have been laid down in relation to the supervision of work, the calling of tenders and the allocation of sites where new work shall be done are all completely in line with conditions which members of the fascist right who sit opposite me wrote into the rail standardisation agreements between the States and, in particular between the States of New South Wales and Victoria when the Commonwealth provided money for rail standardisation to be carried out on the Sydney-Melbourne run. So this move is not designed to appease the socialist left. Members of that group have not even spoken to me about this matter. I took my lead from the fascist right.
So far as Commonwealth representation on the Board of Commissioners is concerned, when I announced this proposal on 16 February to the meeting in Hobart of the Australian Transport Advisory Council not one Minister objected to the Commonwealth having representation on the Board of Commissioners and thus knowing what was going on in relation to urban transport systems which the Commonwealth proposed to finance to the tune of something like $500m over the next 5 years. None of them objected to it. None of the other 5
States have raised any objection to it whatsoever and in fact they have all indicated’ their desire to co-operate with the Commonwealth. So there is nothing dictatorial about it. The program which has been approved by the Government is completely in line with the programs which the various State governments submitted. We have not added anything to them. We deleted a number of works that had already been commenced by the States themselves, but we have added nothing to the programs. I repeat for the information of honourable members, as I said to one of the Melbourne newspapers yesterday morning, if Victoria does not want the $9. 66m it should say so and I will give it to the rest of the States.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Transport. Have contracts been called by the Commonwealth Railways for the supply of sleepers, both timber and concrete, for use on Commonwealth railways track maintenance and replacement between Port Augusta and Port Pirie and beyond? If so, has any finality been reached with these contracts, and, if so, what type of sleepers are to be used in this section of the transcontinental railway?
– Tenders were called in April and closed in June for 200,000 pre-stressed concrete sleepers and 220,000 timber sleepers of 9 x 6 and 10 x 5. They have been referred to the Bureau of Transport Economics for evaluation and report to me. Before the Bureau makes its decision it will be required to examine a submission by the timber industry and one by the concrete industry as to the relative merits of the 2 types of sleepers. This arrangement is the result of a discussion which I had with the Premier of Western Australia, his Minister for Forests and another one of his Ministers who was involved in transport. They felt that we did not have all the information that we should have in favour of timber sleepers. So I agreed that the timber industry could make a submission to me which I would examine and that I would ask the concrete sleeper industry to make a submission in favour of concrete sleepers. These submissions have been received. The interchange has taken place and a decision will be subject to a report by the Bureau of Transport Economics. As soon as I receive that report and study it a decision will he made.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry. Are we going to buy back Australia for logical and sensible reasons associated with the real interests of the Australian people or merely because it sounds like a good idea? Will the Minister assure the House that the Government’s admirable nationalistic zeal will not be allowed to run so wild that it will be counter productive in its impact on the development of the Australian economy and the welfare of the Australian people? Furthermore, will the Minister state how people or companies investing in the Australian Industry Development Corporation will be able to redeem their investment should they wish to do so? Will normal market value be applicable to those investments as it is with Government bonds?
– It is true that one of the main purposes of the Australian Industry Development Corporation is, to use a slogan, to ‘buy back Australia’. In fact, I think the slogan first came into existence when it was used by the right honourable gentleman’s predecessor, the Right Honourable Sir John McEwen, who was Leader of the Australian Country Party, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister. I think it was he who emphasised that his Liberal comrades in the Government for many years had been allowing- (Opposition members interjecting)
– I am not going into the degree of relationship that exists between the 2 Opposition parties; I am merely assuming appearances. But it was Sir John McEwen who correctly emphasised that under a succession of governments in which apparently the Liberals had the majority Australia had been sold; we had been selling a bit of the farm every year. Does the right honourable member remember that expression? So, derived from that background, the main purpose of the Australian Industry Development Corporation was established. I would expect that the Leader of the Country Party would be 100 per cent behind that purpose.
– Prior to that there was the Australian Resources Development Bank which was doing a pretty fair job.
– The amateur banker speaks again. It was he who resisted-
– He never said boo when Sir John McEwen was here.
– No, he never said boo when Sir John McEwen was here. He resisted what Sir John McEwen was trying to do. Sir John said boo and the right honourable member was not to be the leader. The right honourable member was not to be Prime Minister while Sir John was a member of this House. So it was Sir John McEwen who said boo, and that was the end of the right honourable member for Lowe.
However, I want to assure the Leader of the Country Party that the operation of the Australian Industry Development Corporation will be carried on with a full sense of national responsibility. The Corporation will not be misused for any purposes. As the right honourable member knows, its functions will be confined mainly to making judgments based on sound commercial principles. Where a judgment is not so based it will be separated completely in a division concerned with the national interest. In some cases we will be concerned to begin or to encourage operations or enterprises which may not pass the normal test of commercial validity. But in such cases the Government will be prepared to accept full responsibility for that. We will be establishing a national interest committee to be in control of this section.
– Will you keep them separate?
– Yes, quite separate. The committee’s purpose will be to advise the Government. I will ensure, while ever I am the responsible Minister, that full and adequate information is given about whatever is proposed. I will stand by the statement that those proposals will pass the test that we apply to them. I think they will have the support of the majority of members of both Houses of the Parliament.
– What about redeeming investment?
– Yes, the last question was about redeeming investment. The investment to which the right honourable member refers will be investment in the national investment fund. This is something new that is being brought into existence. It did not exist before. It will be under the control of a supervisory council, again separate from the AIDC, and will have a trust responsibility in relation to that fund. The fund will be divided into various sections. Those who will be invited to subscribe to the fund will have clear indications of exactly what they are subscribing to. In some cases such people will be subscribing to a superannuation type fund which will give them a regular income; but they will not have the benefits of quick disposal, nor will they have the benefits of directly accruing capital appreciation in equity. Other projects that will be put up by the national investment fund will be of a venture kind. In some cases the stock will be disposable at market values, as Commonwealth bonds are. In other cases, it may not be. But before a person subscribes he will know exactly what he is doing, exactly what he is buying, exactly what his rights are and exactly what he can do with the stock.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Housing, relates to the problem of providing emergency housing - a serious problem in my electorate and, I believe, in other pans of Australia. Has the Government any plans to assist people faced with emergency housing problems? To what extent is it possible to use vacant accommodation in migrant hostels, such as the Enterprise hostel in Springvale, for this purpose? Where the Australian Defence Services own or rent a number of housing units in State housing commission areas - again, as is the case in my electorate - would it be possible to use them for emergency ‘ housing purposes when they are vacant, as I have been advised is not uncommon?
– When this Government took office in December last, there was no emergency accommodation in any State, the facilities which had previously been available having been jettisoned in the lifetime of the previous Government. If my memory serves me correctly, the honourable member’s electorate contains the hostel known as Enterprise. The Enterprise hostel in Victoria is one of our modern and very successful establishments with accommodation for 1,000 people and is one in which the capacity is effectively utilised. It usually has in it about 900 persons, which is about the working rate of the hostel having regard to the . turnover of people. There needs to be a margin of vacant accommodation. In Australia there are about 2,800 hostel beds and in Melbourne there are 1,000 beds currently available which are surplus to immigra tion requirements. It is the declared intention of the Government to get maximum versatility in the utilisation of these facilities.
Of course, a problem does exist. People who are waiting for State housing authority assistance do not always have the financial resources to meet the cost involved in the provision of full board and accommodation. However, I have made it clear in correspondence to the Victorian Minister that the Australian Government has a preparedness to make that accommodation available. I understand there were emergency facilities available at Camp Pell, which is in the vicinity of Melbourne, but these were found to be quite unsuitable. During the course of the negotiations with the Housing Ministers in connection, with the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement I indicated to each Minister my interest in ensuring that adequate emergency accommodation was available and stated that the Commonwealth would stand ready to assist in the provision of such facilities. However, it was made clear to me by the Victorian Minister of Housing that this was not considered to be a desirable form of assistance. So, our offer has not been taken up. In regard to the last aspect of the honourable gentleman’s question, in the event of Service accommodation becoming available, it seems to me that it would be quite reasonable to utilise it. In fact, I would regard it as quite immoral not to utilise it for other purposes in the event of defence personnel not having a proper requirement for those facilities.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. Does the Commonwealth Government intend to repudiate completely the undertaking given by the previous Government to share with the Governments of Queensland and New South Wales the cost of construction of Pike Creek Dam? Will the people on the border of New South Wales and Queensland, as well as other areas of the Commonwealth, share the more and better water that the Prime Minister talked about yesterday? If this undertaking by the Commonwealth Government is not to proceed, will any assistance be given to the State governments if they decide to proceed with this important part of an overall national water conservation program? If not, what proposed development schemes in southern Queensland in any field are likely to be given Commonwealth Government assistance, or are all proposed development projects in that area to be scrapped or deferred as far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned?
– We do not intend to continue to support the construction of the Pike Creek Dam. The project was first discussed in 1969, and in 1970 the then Prime Minister indicated that the Government would be prepared to co-operate, pending appropriate arrangements being made. By the end of the last Parliament no prior arrangements had been made and no legislation had been introduced to establish the basis of cooperation. We have reviewed the project. In reviewing it, we found that it was economically dubious and that the main use of the irrigation water would be to increase the growing of tobacco. That would hardly appeal to a wowser such as I. In any case, the project, along with many other projects which were handed on to us when we came into office, was reviewed by the Coombs task force which also recommended that on economic grounds and because of growing environmental concern we should not continue to support the project. So we have notified the Premiers of both States accordingly. We have indicated, though, that we will share the cost of any work undertaken up to the time that we notified them of our decision, because of the understanding that the Australian Government would be sharing the cost. We will honour those promises. But we do not intend to continue with the rest of the project. I understand that the total expenditure to date has been approximately $lm.
The honourable member should have no fear that this move suggests that we will dump all other projects in Queensland. That is not true at all. We do not intend to pursue the ad hoc-ery of the past. We intend to try to assess the total water requirements for the whole continent. We intend to draw up some priorities on how we should approach these problems, bearing in mind not just the benefits that might accrue in rural areas alone, which seem to have been the main emphasis in the past, but also the benefits which may accrue to people, including those living in cities. I am not discounting the needs of the rural section, but I am insisting that it is time that we paid more attention to the needs of people in the cities as well. We have a proposal for a national water policy. It has been drafted and is about to be submitted to the Cabinet.
– It took a long time.
– It took a long time? The Opposition had 23 years in office to do something and had no policy on it.
– You have not done anything in the time that you have been in office.
– We have not done too badly in the 6 months or so that we have been in office in relation to the concept of .a national water policy. When I put the suggestion to officers of my Department they said that it had not been thought of previously. Many of them were interested in the idea. They had not been asked about it previously. So I asked them whether they could come up with a proposal. It will be considered by Cabinet shortly. Then honourable gentlemen opposite will be able to understand the approach, and in that context all these proposals will be considered.
– If honourable members opposite have finished their little argument I shall direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise who will recall that just after the 1971 Budget was presented I asked the then Minister for Customs and Excise a question about the practice of oil and cigarette companies of paying duty on excess goods prior to the Budget, which enabled them to make a profit of about $5m to which they were not entitled. Will the Minister inform the House whether the same practice was continued prior to the presentation of thu Budget and whether steps are being taken to end this obnoxious practice of profiteering?
– Yesterday the Minister for Customs and Excise, whom I represent in this matter, made a statement in the Senate. I tabled it in the House last night. It was a statement about the excess clearances on high duty goods that are made, as a rule, in the weeks before the ‘Budget is introduced. Senator Murphy pointed out that under existing legislation this practice cannot be prevented. He further pointed out that this year it appears that no excess clearances were made by oil companies of petrol and similar products in the pre-Budget period but, between the middle of July and the Budget, duty was paid on significantly greater quantities of both tobacco products and spirits than would have been normally required by consumers. During this period the volume of tobacco products in the hands of distributors and retailers had been increased by the equivalent of approximately 3 weeks normal requirements. The information available at present suggests that the 3 major cigarette companies have not attempted to make windfall profits as a consequence of the higher Budget duties. However, the distributors and retailers of Rothman products on the day before the Budget were holding, on the average, approximately 5 weeks’ excess stocks, and ‘ distributors and retailers of products manufactured by W. D. 6 H. O. Wills and Philip Morris were holding slightly under 2 weeks’ supply in excess of their normal stock holdings.
Excess clearances of spirits were greater than those of tobacco products. Spirit merchants, distributors and retailers are holding approximately 5 weeks’ supply in excess of their normal requirements although this figure varies sharply between products of different companies. Senator Murphy’s statement went on to relate that in the case of both tobacco products and spirits the overall pattern of excess clearances is similar in all States and similar to that which has occurred before every other Budget, whoever leaked the secret. These figures indicate that, on average, higher prices should not be charged for cigarettes and tobacco until early September, and for spirits until the end of September. I stress that. Given the quantities that the companies have withdrawn in the pre-Budget period, higher prices should not be charged for cigarettes and tobacco until early September and for spirits until the end of September. I have stressed the words ‘on average’. There will, of course, be retailers and distributors who run out of old stocks of some lines earlier than the dates I have suggested. There will also be many others who will have some stock paid at the lower rate of duty for several months from now. This will be particularly true of many brands of spirits.
– You are making a farce of question time.
– It is important, I think, that this should be known. I know that those interested in spirits, like the honourable member for Boothby, might not want this information to be known, but I suggest that the honourable member have the same kind of respect for me that I will give to him, and 1 promise to repay him in similar coin. Senator Murphy went on to point out that steps will be taken to change the legislation to endeavour to prevent this happening in subsequent years.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Was a firm of consultants with international experience in airport siting and design commissioned to make detailed investigations into all possible sites for Sydney’s second airport? Has the Minister received reports from those consultants and will their reports be made public? Is there in New South Wales a standing committee of Federal and State officials with the responsibility of making recommendations regarding the siting of airports and associated matters? Have the views of this committee been sought by the Minister? Will these views, when sought by the Minister, if they have not already been sought, be made public? Has a firm decision been taken by the Government concerning the site of Sydney’s second airport? If so, what are the bases upon which such a decision has been made? Is the decision taken by the Government in conflict with the views of the international consultants and the FederalState committee? If the Goverment has not made a firm decision, why is it that most of the Sydney newspapers carry firm stories that such a decision has been made, presumably on political grounds?
– It is perfectly true that there is a Commonwealth-State committee made up of representatives of various Commonwealth departments and New South Wales Government departments. The committee has been charged with the responsibility of investigating the site for a second airport for Sydney or to ensure that Sydney will have sufficient airport facilities to cater for civil aviation needs in the next 30 years or more. This committee has met. It submitted an interim report to me recently which I presented to Cabinet on Monday. Cabinet decided not to accept the report, as is its prerogative.
– Will the report be made public?
– Yes, the report will be tabled in this place and if the honourable member-
– Things have changed, have they not?
– Yes, that is right. This is a bit of a change compared with what the previous Government did. If honourable members want the details, I am prepared to have my Press release, together with that of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, incorporated in Hansard. I seek leave to have the documents incorporated so that I will not have to go over the whole matter again.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
Statement by the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation, The Hon C. K. Jones
Galston has been chosen by the Australian Government to meet Sydney’s airport needs from the 1980s.
The Australian Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Jones) announced this in Canberra today. Mr Jones said this decision followed the cost/benefit investigations of possible sites.
He said that Cabinet, after considering an interim report by the Commonwealth/State Committee on a second Sydney Airport, requested that it prepare a further report, based on siting a second airport for Sydney at Galston, that would formulate a strategic plan for the Galston sub-region which would:
Galston had been selected as a site which is sufficiently removed from existing urban areas to avoid problems such as those which affect areas around the present Sydney Airport.
On the other hand, the Galston location is accessible to the northern sector of Sydney, and with the present airport at Mascot the city would be effecively serviced by the two airports. In addition it would be accessible to residents in the Gosford/ Broken Bay area north of Sydney, where the population is expected to reach half a million in a short time.
Owing to the preliminary nature of the investigations so far carried out the Committee, and the consultants advising it, will be asked to continue with the further investigation of Galston so that the optimum form of the new airport can be determined. This work will embrace careful consideration of land use in the vicinity of the airport to ensure that compatible airport/urban plans are developed.
Transport requirements for the airport will also need to be planned in conjunction with the overall Sydney transport network so that adequate and speedy access will be provided for airline passengers and airport employees.
The effects of aircraft noise on areas adjacent to the airport will also be carefully taken into account so that people and noise-sensitive institutions, such as schools, and hospitals and churches will not be unduly disturbed.
The most favourable lay,-out for Galston seems, at this stage, to be a pair of close-spaced parrallel runways. However, other lay-outs, such as two runways in an open vee or a pair of widely spaced runways also appear feasible.
Studies will be made of all possible airspace effects to see whether air traffic using runways at Galston will in any way conflict with the flight paths of aircraft using other aerodromes.
The most suitable airport lay-out will be established as a result of these further investigations.
It is clear at this stage that runways up to 12,000 feet in length will be possible and these will accommodate the largest aircraft expected to be in service in the foreseeable future.
The environmental impact of each alternative layout will also be assessed, so that all significant environmental effects can be identified and measures developed for keeping such effects to the minimum.
Canberra. 28 August 1973
Statement by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, Mr Tom Uren, M.P., arising from the Cabinet decision on a second Sydney Airport.
A Joint Committee of officials from the New South Wales and Australian Governments have for some time been investigating the question of the provision of airports to meet Sydney’s growing air travel demands.
The Committee concluded that the best solution was to expand Kingsford Smith Airport in order to meet demand in the 1980s with a second airport to cope with any additional demand arising in the 1990s.
Whilst the proposal put forward by the Committee has certain economic advantages, it is the Australian Government’s view that these are outweighed by:
The continuing noise annoyance which would be inflicted on residents in the fully developed urban areas around Kingsford Smith Airport
The heavy traffic congestion costs and community disruption associated with road expansion projects necessary to accommodate an expanded Kingsford Smith Airport
The undesirable stimulus which airport expansion would give to expansion of industrial activities and to increases in residential densities in this already congested area.
From a long list of sites investigated by the Committee, the Government has chosen for an intensive study one in the Galston area some 35 kilometres north-west of Sydney.
This site was ranked third in overall economic performance, behind Towra Point and Bringelly, both of which would impose serious noise effects on existing and potential urban areas. At Galston these effects are much less significant. The area generally is comparatively sparsely developed, and is not designated for urban development in the Sydney Region Outline Plan. During the course of the study it is expected that the relevant State authorities will co-operate in preserving the rural character of the study area by appropriate use of their planning powers to enable acquisition of land at existing use values.
Galston and Kingsford Smith Airports could provide a balanced service to air travellers in the metropolitan area with each providing good access to major areas of air travel demand.
The Australian Government proposes to invite the Commonwealth/State Committee on a Second Sydney Airport to formulate a strategic plan for the Galston sub-region which:
Establishes a land use plan for the integration of airport development with existing and potential uses and presents a means of implementing this plan
Identifies transportation requirements generated by airport and other activities and presents a satisfactory means of accommodating these
Examines opportunities for reducing the extent and intensity of noise annoyance arising from the airport and of mitigating the effects of such noise.
An environmental impact statement will be prepared in conformity with announced Australian Government policy.
– I will take the matter a little further because other questions and other points have been raised on this subject. I draw attention to certain decisions which have been made. One was by a former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins who, without any technical advice whatsoever and without the advantage of any committee’s report, on the eve of his departure for overseas publicly announced that Towra Point would not be included in the sites to be considered for a second Sydney airport. The Premier of New South Wales, Sir Robert Askin, once again without any technical advice whatsoever, made 3 statements over a period. One was that Towra Point would not be accepted by the State Government as a site for a second Sydney airport. On the eve of the by-election for Hawkesbury, about the Thursday before the election, out came the headlines over reports that Sir Robert had said that Richmond would not be accepted by the State Government as a site for a second Sydney airport. Once again, just recently, without any technical advice, Sir Robert decided that Duffy’s Forest, which I believe is in his electorate or pretty close to it, was not acceptable to the State Government as a site for a second airport for Sydney.
At least we have the information contained in the report and we have made a judgment as to where the second Sydney airport should be located. As I have already indicated, the report will be tabled and will be available for the information of honourable members - which is more than can be said for the custom and practice of the former Government in which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was a Minister. The former Government was not prepared to table, and make available to the public, the reasons why it did things. We are prepared to do so.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry provide any details of the methods by which expenditure incurred by the Australian Government in the campaign to eradicate brucellosis and tuberculosis will be recouped as was announced by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech? From what period will this recoupment apply?
– Last week the Treasurer announced that there would be a recoupment of expenditure in connection with the meat inspection services for export meat. The amount involved was lc a lb on all meats. At the same time it was announced that there would be a recoupment of expenditure incurred in the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis. The time period for the recoupment of expenditure on meat marketing inspection services starts on 1 October this year. I would assume that the same date would apply in regard to the recoupment of expenditure incurred in the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis. The actual methods of recoupment are still under active consideration. If one had some imagination about this, as apparently the Opposition members have not, one would know that there are limited means by which recoupment can .take place. It could be by an export levy, by a slaughtering levy or by other methods incorporating those two. If there were an export levy, the incidence would of course fall principally on the export producing areas. If there were- (Opposition members interjecting) -
-Order! Anyone would think, from the way that members of the Country Party are going on, that they were calling the cows for milking.
– If there were a slaughtering levy, this would mean that the incidence would fall on those who produced beef and dairy cattle for slaughter, that is the beef producers throughout Australia. The incidence of brucellosis and tuberculosis does not fall evenly throughout Australia. Brucellosis is mainly concentrated in New South Wales,
Victoria and other mainland southern States, while there is a large incidence of tuberculosis in the north. It is essential, however, in the interests of the Australian economy that we eradicate brucellosis and tuberculosis. Firstly, from the national point of view, it is well known that we could be living on borrowed time in regard to the export of meat. If America or any other major importer of Australian meats wanted to ban exports of meat from a country infected with brucellosis or tuberculosis, this could apply. Just as important from the national point of view also - I think this may have escaped many honourable members-
– I rise on a point of order. I suggest, Mr Speaker, that the replies we have heard in this House today have been inordinately long. The number of questions which the Opposition might have asked has been cut down. We are sick and tired of lectures from Ministers who ought to be making statements which can be debated.
– No point of order- is involved.
– I also rise to order. I think the point of order taken by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has particular relevance because this Minister has been asked questions concerning a number of subjects including the impact of the Budget on primary producers and he does not know the answer to any one of the questions that he has been asked.
-Order! There is no point of order involved. The Speaker has no control over the length of an answer.
– I would say also that both brucellosis and tuberculosis are contagious to humans. These are diseases that must be eradicated in Australia. Of course, that would escape the attention- (Opposition members interjecting) -
-Order! If the Deputy Leader of the Country Party does not cease interjecting I will take appropriate action.
– I conclude by saying that this point would escape the member at the table.
– I rise on a point of order.
Mr Whitlam - I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper. (Opposition members interjecting) -
-Order! The right honourable member for Higgins has taken a point of order. That cannot be interrupted.
– Mr Speaker, the point of order I was about to take was, firstly, that I suggest it is within the competence of the Speaker to consider the length of a reply and to tell a Minister to stop speaking when he thinks he has spoken too long. The Speaker has complete control of the House. Secondly, although it is quite clear that no Minister can be required to answer a question or can he made to answer a question, I suggest it is within the Speaker’s competence to prevent a Minister from ignoring a question and making a speech on another subject.
– Order! I think I have been here long enough to realise that all of my predecessors have done exactly the same as I have done today. I have no control over the length of an answer or over the way in which any Minister answers a question. I think that all honourable members who have been here long enough will appreciate that even my predecessors ruled that way.
– Mr Speaker-
– I ask that further questions be placed on notice.
– Mr Speaker, there were many occasions on which your honourable predecessor chided Ministers over the length of their answers. I am aware of that because I was one of the Ministers he sometimes chided. The ruling that you have just given to the right honourable member for Higgins would seem therefore, with respect, to be at variance with the practice of your predecessor and I would suggest that it might be reconsidered.
– No point of order is involved.
– Mr Speaker, may I seek your guidance?
– I ask that further questions be placed on notice.
Mr Katter - Mr Speaker, may I seek your guidance? During the history - (Government supporters interjecting) -
- Mr Speaker, will you tell the Nazi jackboot mob over there to settle down and listen.
-Order! There will be no further business until the House comes to order. I call the honourable member for Kennedy.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. Could you or your officers in the House inform us whether a precedent was created today whereby the Prime Minister cut short one of his own Ministers and is it significant that that Minister is a Queenslander?
-Order! I would suggest that the Standing Orders could have been altered many, many years ago when the present Government was in Opposition. I call the Prime Minister.
– I ask that further questions be placed on notice.
– Pursuant to section 148 of the Social Services Act 1947-1973, I present the first annual report of the Director-General of Social Security for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– Pursuant to section 18 of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1966-1967, I present the 50th annual report on the operations of the National Debt Commission for the year ended 30 June 1973.
– Pursuant to section 33 of the Australian National University Act 1946-1971, I present the report of the Council of the Australian National University for the year ended 31 December 1972.
– For the information of honourable members I present the initial reports of the migrant task force committees of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. I present also a transcript of the conference held at Brisbane on 11 May 1973 between myself and State Ministers for Immigration. For the information of the House I would mention that the next conference of immigration Ministers will be held in Adelaide on 9 November 1973.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the report of the Committee on Banking in Papua New Guinea, dated November 1972. I present also a copy of the statement issued on 10 April this year entitled ‘Banking Arrangements in Papua New Guinea’.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Message received from the Senate acquainting the House of Representatives that the Senate has agreed to the amendment made by the House of Representatives to clause 2 of the Bill.
Bill received from the Senate and read a first time.
– I move:
Mr Speaker, this is the third Bill to abolish capital punishment which the House of Representatives has received from the Senate. The first such Bill was received on 5 June 1968 and the second on 21 March 1972. On each occasion a debate took place only because I, as Leader of the Opposition, took it upon myself to move that the Bill be given a second reading. The first Government speaker on each occasion moved that the debate be adjourned. The debate could then be revived only if the then Government revived it. It did not. The Bill which reached the House of Representatives on 5 June 1968 was still on the notice paper when the House of Representatives was dissolved for the 1969 elections. The Bill which was received by the House of Representatives on 21 March 1972 was still on the notice paper when the House of Representatives was dissolved for the 1972 elections.
On this occasion I have decided once again to move that the Bill from the Senate be read a second time. When I sit down a member of the Opposition will have the call. He can move that the debate be adjourned. On the other hand he can continue the debate. The Government will be happy to take a vote on this Bill today. If, however, the Opposition does not wish to have a vote taken on this Bill today, I can assure honourable members that the opportunity will be given them to vote on it in no more than a month’s time. There is some urgency about the matter. There are, I hear, 2 men under sentence of death in the Australian Capital Territory. Whatever happens to the Bill, they will not suffer the penalty of death. It is, however, not appropriate any longer in our country that the execution by this means of court sentences should depend upon the caprice or principle of a government. This law should be repealed. No further delay should be tolerated in repealing it.
I do not propose to give my reasons for supporting the Bill. Many honourable members will remember what I have said on previous occasions in favour of the abolition of the death penalty. The first occasion was during the debate in the Committee stage of the Crimes Bill in November 1960. It was a Government Bill. Accordingly anybody could move an amendment in the Committee stage of the debate. A vote had to be taken on the amendment before the then Government could secure its Bill. Accordingly there was on that occasion a vote on the question of the abolition of the death penalty. The amendment seeking the abolition of the death penalty was defeated in a vote on party lines. The same process occurred again in the debate on the Crimes (Aircraft) Bill in September 1963. A third occasion on which I gave reasons for seeking the abolition of the death penalty was in the debate on the Senate Bill in June 1968. A fourth occasion was in the debate on the Senate Bill in March 1972. I had in fact given notice on 20 March 1968 of my intention to introduce a Bill to abolish the death penalty. That notice by me was overtaken by the fact that the Senate dealt with a similar notice more promptly.
It will be seen that honourable members have had nearly 13 years in which to con sider this matter. I would think that it has been quite improper for our predecessors in the last 2 parliaments to avoid a vote on a Bill which the Senate has passed. There will not be such delays again. In the meantime, the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory on several occasions has passed an ordinance to abolish the death penalty in that Territory. Only this year under the new Government was that ordinance allowed to take effect. However, there are other areas such as the Australian Capital Territory and the armed forces, upon which the details can be read in my speech of 21 March last year, where the death penalty can still be imposed.
The matter has been in the minds of honourable members for many years and on several recent occasions. I believe that there is no reason why this House should not without any considerable delay now pass this Bill. The Bill which we are considering was the first Bill introduced by the Government in the Senate. It was introduced by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) on 1 March. The Senate at last passed the Bill yesterday. I commend the Bill to honourable members of this House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to: That Mr Hurford be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Public Accounts and that in his place Mr Morris be appointed as a member of the Committee.
Bill presented by Mr Hayden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill enables local governing bodies to use borrowed money to attract subsidy for sheltered workshops and hostels or other types of residential units for handicapped people. It also provides that, if a local governing body borrows money and donates that money to another eligible organisation to use for the purposes described, it will continue to attract subsidy. The House would be aware, of course, that the assistance for sheltered workshops was introduced about 6 years ago and since then there has been a significant development of sheltered workshops. There are now about 150,000 people between the ages of 16 and 65 years who have been granted invalid pensions on the grounds that they are permanently incapacitated for work. Mostly these are people who, were they not disabled, would be working in commerce, industry or the Public Service. This figure, in isolation, does not mean very much. But consider it in relation to the total number of employed wage and salary earners which, according to the latest information issued by the Bureau of Census and Statistics, is 4.7m. This means that, for every 30 wage and salary earners in Australia, one person has been declared an invalid. The figure would be even higher if repatriation pensioners were taken into account.
Last year the invalid pension bill was $ 184.7m. And, to relate this figure to wage and salary earners, it is the equivalent of each such person contributing $40 a year to maintain his fellow workers who have been deemed unfit for competitive employment. Clearly, then, any move that is going to enable the handicapped to achieve some measure of economic independence is going to be in the interests, not only of the handicapped people themselves, but of the whole community. The Department of Social Security has estimated that the costs to the Commonwealth of rehabilitating persons to be placed in employment are likely to be recovered, by way of reduced pensions and benefit liability and additional tax paid on earnings, in a minimum period of 4 years.
Quite clearly on economic grounds alone there are sound reasons why this Government intends to push on with a major program in rehabilitation. Its purpose will be to avoid the pitfalls of adhocery that epitomised the approach of previous governments to this important area. Rather, it will seek to plan the development of programs, to be sure that they are integrated and comprehensive, that they are balanced and relative to needs, and that they are constantly evaluated to ensure that they are maximising rehabilitation benefits for the community.
Sheltered workshops, of course, are an important ingredient in such a program, but they are not and never will be the whole answer to this problem. The Australian Government’s Rehabilitation Service must play a bigger role in helping people to get jobs for which they are suited; not only those who become disabled during their working life, but also the many school leavers who each year find it difficult, or often impossible, because of a physical or mental handicap, to find employment. Moves are now being made to expand the Service to do this. There are now some 160 sheltered workshops approved under the Act, employing more than 8,000 people, mostly invalid pensioners. A survey made earlier this year revealed that the annual level of production in the approved sheltered workshops exceeded Slim, compared with only $2.2m 7 years ago.
Sheltered workshops do more than provide handicapped people with the opportunity to augment their pension income. They provide a social environment, a place away from the home or hostel with which they can identify; where they can make friends and feel that they have a purpose. Sheltered workshops also serve an important function in preparing handicapped people for employment in outside industry. Last year, for example, it was claimed that more than 500 disabled workers left the sheltered workshops for jobs outside. While many of these people do not obtain permanent employment in outside industry, it means that they do not become wholly isolated from the industry.
The present program of assistance to sheltered workshops shares with most other subsidy assisted schemes the disadvantage that its effectiveness depends on the initiative to establish workshops being taken by voluntary bodies and other eligible organisations. It is also dependent on organisations that are interested in starting a sheltered workshop having sufficient funds to attract subsidy for the project. This factor, possibly coupled with a limited appreciation of what sheltered workshops can do for the handicapped, has resulted in a marked geographical imbalance in the establishment of workshops. Almost half of the existing sheltered workshops are in New South Wales. In Newcastle, for example, there are approved workshops, most of them multi-diagnostic, providing employment for more than 400 handicapped people. On the other hand, in the western suburbs of Melbourne, with a population of almost half a million people, there are only 2 approved sheltered workshops providing employment for 90 people; one of these workshops catering mainly for spastic and the other for mental retardates. In many overseas countries, where sheltered employment has long been accepted as’ a valuable form of self-help for the handicapped, local governing bodies have played a big part in sponsoring their development. They have also been able to ensure that they are established in areas of greatest need. This does not always occur when these decisions are left to voluntary organisations.
This Bill is not intended to bring about any of the major reforms that are required to meet the basic human needs and rights of the handicapped citizen. It would be premature to attempt to do so at this stage. Sheltered employment must be seen as one part, albeit an important part, of an overall plan to aid the handicapped. Any major changes must be related to other rehabilitation measures and accordingly must await the outcome of investigations that are now being undertaken by the National Rehabilitation and Compensation Scheme Committee of Inquiry under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Woodhouse. Honourable members would be aware, of course, that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has already given an undertaking that the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare on the mentally and physically handicapped relating to sheltered workshops and other matters, insofar as they are an Australian Government responsibility, will be implemented by this Government. We are not suggesting that all the recommendations will be introduced in one year or even in one Parliament, but we are currently working on a program which will allow us to move as quickly as possible on those recommendations which are properly the responsibility of the Australian Government.
In order to serve the continuing needs of the disabled the Government will establish a national council for the handicapped. The personnel appointed to this council will be among the most distinguished, able and experienced in the field of rehabilitation. The council will have a major responsibility for the general welfare of the handicapped and because of the importance with which this is regarded the council will be reporting direct to the Prime Minister. As I explained earlier, it is hoped that this Bill, by extending the subsidy provisions to money borrowed by local governing bodies, will encourage these bodies to take a greater interest in this practical form of assistance to the handicapped. Initially it is not expected that wide use will be made of the greater availability of subsidy, and the added expenditure for 1973-74 is not expected to exceed $200,000. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Hayden, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is the second of 2 Bills designed to open the way for local governing bodies to make a greater contribution to the welfare of handicapped people. The first of these Bills was to enable local governing bodies to use borrowed money, either directly or by donating borrowed funds to other eligible organisations, to attract subsidy towards the capital cost of sheltered workshops and residential accommodation units for handicapped people. This Bill is designed to serve the same purpose in relation to training centres, training equipment and residential units for handicapped children. It will provide the means whereby local governing bodies, by using borrowed money, will be able to help in meeting the need for these facilities.
This is not an area of social activity with which local governing bodies have concerned themselves greatly in the past. Representatives of these bodies have more often called public meetings where responsibility for planning a training centre or hostel, and raising the necessary finance, has been vested in a committee. Quite a few local governing bodies have made land available for projects, but usually without becoming directly involved, There has, however, been a strong demand from voluntary and religious organisations for assistance by way of subsidy since the program was introduced little more than 3 years ago, and to the end of the last financial year grants totalling more than $7m had been approved. Most of these grants have been for training centres but $l.«im has been used to provide residential accommodation. Grants for training equipment have totalled $900,000.
It is probable that with the introduction of the recommendations of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, relating to the education and training of handicapped children, there will be a reduction in the assistance sought by voluntary and religious organisations under the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Act. This development is, however, likely to affect only school buildings and training centres and probably some of the equipment needs. It will not affect the demand for subsidy assistance towards urgently needed hostels and other residential accommodation units. Indeed, some voluntary organisations have already announced that they plan to concentrate their future efforts on providing residential accommodation, especially for mentally retarded children. While local governing bodies in Australia have not concerned themselves greatly with the direct responsibility of meeting the needs of handicapped children, this Bill will open the way for them to do so by the use of borrowed money. It will also ensure that the respective provisions of the 2 pieces of related legislation are kept in line. The added expenditure resulting from this measure is not expected to exceed $100,000 for 1973-74. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Morrison, and read a first time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide, in accordance with the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr Crean), for an increase in the payment of fees in respect of licences for commercial broadcasting stations which have not been increased since 1964. It is not proposed to increase the fees in respect of licences for commercial television stations at this stage pending an examination of the effects on the financial position of stations of the costs involved in equipping them for colour transmissions and the increases in Australian content requirements. There are 118 commercial broadcasting stations presently operating in Australia and it is proposed that the fee payable in respect of the grant or renewal of a licence should be increased from $50 to$200 and that the following scale of rates on gross earnings from advertising receipts should be applied: 1 per cent of gross earnings up to $500,000;1½ per cent of gross earnings from $500,000 to $1m; 2 per cent of gross earnings from $lm to $1.5m; 2½ per cent of gross earnings from $1.5m to$2m; 3 per cent of gross earnings from $2m to $2. 5m; 3½ per cent of gross earnings from $2.5m to $3m; 4 per cent of gross earnings from $3m to $3.5m; and 4½ per cent of gross earnings exceeding $3. 5m.
These proposed rates were announced in a Ministerial statement by my colleague, the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), in the Senate on 21 August. It is estimated that, taking into account the natural past growth rate in the assessable revenue for licence fee purposes of broadcasting stations, the revised scale is expected to raise additional revenue of some $120,000 in 1973- 74. Revenue received from broadcasting stations’ licence fees for the year1 972-73 was $491,204. The new fees have been calculated so as to ensure that stations which are only marginally profitable will only need to pay the small increase of $150. The Bill proposes that the new scale of fees will operate from 22 August1973 and therefore the licence fees in respect of the renewal of licences falling due after that date will be assessed on the new scale of fees. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.55 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 28 August (vide page 487), on motion by Mr Crean:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Snedden had moved by way of amendment:
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 standards 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’.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) so ably last night. This Budget is seen as an instrument of social and political reform. It effects a substantial transfer of payments from the productive sector of the economy to welfare, social services, health and education. The House will generally welcome efforts to relieve real hardship, and the extent of the Government’s efforts in this area need to be measured by the fact that $ 1,396m of the total of $l,938m additional expenditure, or 72 per cent, is going into these areas. This is an enormous increase especially when measured against the increases in recent years. Up to 1965 the total expenditure in these areas was under $l,200m. By 1972 it had grown to just under $2,900m and this Budget will bring the total to $3,4 18m. This is the most substantial positive feature of the Budget. It has been achieved at the expense of many other factors and I intend to examine two of them. Firstly, I will examine the Budget’s impact on inflation, and secondly, its effect on continued growth, its prejudiced and sectional approach to rural communities.
I deal firstly with inflation. The Budget is based on a 13 per cent increase in average earnings, on a $ 1,938m or 18.9 per cent increase in government expenditure. By subterfuge the Budget is dragging nearly $600m from the private sector to the government sector of the economy. The Budget is based on an overall deficit not far short of $700m and a domestic deficit of over $160m. If honourable members want to compare those with the deficits of last year, the very different financial circumstances between the 2 years need to be noted. Based on these factors it is clear that the Government has renounced Budget policy as an instrument or a weapon to be used against inflation. On the contrary, the Budget will add markedly to inflation. Increased government revenue of $ 1,960m or over 20 per cent will not deter inflation because 17 per cent or $l,600m is financed through inflationary income expectations, through wage increases putting people into higher tax brackets. For example, personal tax receipts are up 27 per cent or nearly SI, 100m and this shows the Government’s vested interest in continuing inflation. This is the main reason the Government refuses to act responsibly over inflation. It is my firm view that inflation in the last quarter of this year will reach an annual rate of 20 per cent.
If anyone doubts this he needs to look at the indicators. June building approvals were 54 per cent above the equivalent level for 1971-72; average weekly earnings in the June quarter increased by over $10; job vacancies have been rising rapidly at a time when migration has been restricted in a way which is already jeopardising the progress, development and expansion of certain industries. In the last financial year the volume of money increased by $4,500m or 26 per cent while the volume of production increased by only 5 per cent. There can be only one result from that, a very significant increase in inflation. Some people try to measure the inflationary impact of the Budget by the ratio of the total deficit to receipts, and in this Budget that ratio is over 6 per cent. This is far too high. In 1969-70 it was .1 per cent and in 1970-71 it was .9 per cent. In 1971-72 it was 2.1 per cent. Last year in very different circumstances, again when the Government of the day was ‘being urged to stimulate the economy, it was a little over 8 per cent. This year it is 6 per cent in circumstances that are already highly inflationary. This is, however, an unfortunate standard to use - even though it has been used by a number of economists - because the higher the expectation of inflation the more respectable a highly inflationary deficit then appears to be. But even using that standard the measure shows the Budget to be highly inflationary.
There are still many social evils in inflation which we tend to forget. There is the arbitrary redistribution of wealth which penalises those who are weak and cannot defend themselves. It can spell death to many exporters and it leads under present circumstances to inflation psychology. People plan for it and by planning for it they make inflation inevitable. The Government is significantly to blame for this. It becomes a disaster when people lose confidence in money and when they refuse to hold it. It leads to speculation in land and housing, to spending on goods that otherwise would not occur. At 20 per cent inflation, that inflation psychology has certainly arrived. But lest the Government try to blame its predecessor it ought to be noted that in the 5 years to 1969-70 the consumer price index increased by a fraction over 3 per cent and in the 3 years to 1972-73 by under 6 per cent but it was easing at the end of last year before the general elections. In the March quarter this year it was going at an annual rate of 8.4 per cent; in the June quarter 13.2 per cent; and in the next quarter - the last quarter for this year - it will be 20 per cent. I make that prediction with the greatest degree of confidence. That has occurred within the life of this Government because of the policies of this Government.
The Government has said that prices cause inflation. They can be an element but from the December quarter 1970 to 1972 adult male wages rose by over 21 per cent, average weekly earnings rose by over 22 per cent, the consumer price index increased by under 12 per cent and gross operating profits of companies increased by a fraction over 12 per cent. So in those years at least it was not prices that were providing the main stimulus to inflation. The causes are many sided. They include wages moving ahead of productivity as they have and as they are likely to because as we get wage determinations in the more productive industries these tend to flow through to the industries that are less productive. So wages are likely to continue to move ahead of productivity until there is a greater growth of productivity. It is necessary at this point to show that those who work in an industry participate in and benefit from increases from productivity and to have them understand that the advantages do not just accrue to the employer.
The economic power of sectional interests can be a significant inflationary cause and here the changing relationships of the great and powerful amalgamating unions and employers can be a significant factor in causing inflation. The position of the service industries which have absolute protection from overseas competition and whose costs are often increased by direct government taxes, adds greatly to inflation. Most powerfully of all, the increase in Government spending in todays circumstance is the greatest inflationary factor of all.
I have already mentioned the attitude of people - the inflation psychology which is present in the Australian community’ at the moment and for which the present Government is responsible. There are of course external factors such as the balance of payments but these matters are not as significant as the domestic features which are within the hands of this Government to control if it has the will. But when we look to see what the Government has done we see that it has revalued the currency twice. It has established the Prices Justification Tribunal; it has increased the calls to statutory reserve deposits and it has lowered tariffs. These measures cannot and will not be successful while the underlying conditions for inflation remain. These measures are aimed primarily at prices and this sometimes is a cause and sometimes a symptom of inflation and as I have shown in the present circumstances certainly not the main cause of inflation. This Government will not act to relieve the pressure of inflation while people accept inflation or while it is more politically popular to ride with it than it is to defeat it. The question to be asked is whether or not 20 per cent inflation will be sufficient to cause a national cry of anger against the policies of the Government. We are now well in the realm of South American economics.
Short of a situation of extreme inflation psychology when people’s faith in currency is utterly destroyed, the underlying cause of inflation has been and is expectations outstripping national resources. Whether the pressure be demand pressure alone or whether it be pressure on wages, or a combination of the two as it now is, it is promoted by different groups seeking a greater share of national resources - often at the expense of others. The competition can be between government and private expenditure, between wages and profits, between welfare and productive resources or maybe between governments themselves. This Budget does nothing to reconcile that competition. It does nothing to allay the false view that unlimited expectations can be fulfilled; that restraint is an outmoded and old fashioned view.
If inflation is to be cured expectations of governments and of people must be brought back to reality. We cannot spend our own money and give it to the government to spend, too. While it is in power the Government must choose. It has abdicated. It is not prepared to show restraint in its own expenditure, nor is it prepared to require restraint of others. The Government is dedicated to increased welfare, but it does not realise that increased welfare and better provision for the disadvantaged can come only from increased productive resources. It is not possible merely to transfer resources from the productive sector to welfare without destroying our capacity to meet national aspirations for the disadvantaged in the areas where compassion must be shown. The Government’s policies are opposed to growth and thus in the longer term they will defeat their own objectives. We have only to look at the policies relating to the mining industry, the changes in tax, the no equity suggestions made by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) and the provisions for overseas investment, the 25 per cent rule. Investment has been hit by revaluation and by tariffs.
In the rural sector 2 disastrous and stupid decisions have been made, amongst others, which will make it much harder for farmers to meet the exigencies of drought, and the special provisions to encourage fodder conservation on the farms and water conservation in the driest continent in the world have been wiped out completely and utterly. That is a stupid and ridiculous position for the Government to take. The attitude that a high level of overseas reserves is a sin is also something which the Government has adopted. But here the Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) has adopted a somewhat different view and one with which I would largely agree. He has pointed out that the trading surplus could well be short lived, and high commodity prices have all peaked together and that this is highly unusual, and that the impact of currency and tariff decisions is uncertain and that these matters have not yet worked themselves out. He might have added the other factors that I have mentioned which are against growth in the economy.
The Minister for Secondary Industry mentioned the advantages of high reserves. He has pointed out that they free us from the constant pressure of balance of payments in our domestic policies, that they free us to expand our economy, that they free us to deal with overseas ownership and control, that they free us to pay off overseas debts if we want to do so and they free us to invest overseas. He has pointed out that we should not be negative, as the Government is, but that we should be constructive and positive in overcoming the problems concerning overseas investment and overseas reserves. He has pointed out that the loss of exports as a result of the Government’s decisions could well increase the costs to a number of industries by about 10 per cent. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has said that he wants a growth rate of 7 per cent. It has averaged about 5 per cent over the last 10 years and this has been the result, over 10 years, of policies that encouraged growth. In circumstances in which the Government will not encourage growth but will inhibit it, it is quite certain that the Prime Minister’s figure of 7 per cent cannot and will not be reached, particularly when there is an impetus from the Government itself for shorter working hours and for more leisure, coupled with the other matters concerning overseas capital, minerals and rural industries.
Some people are now saying that growth is opposed to quality; that if we have growth in the Australian economy we cannot have quality in the environment, in the cities and in the countryside. I firmly believe that growth is essential to quality of life in Australia, quality in the environment, quality in welfare services and quality in compassion for those who need assistance and those who need help. Growth in fact results from policies that improve welfare because if we want a better life we need greater resources in order to provide for that better life. Those who oppose growth point to the possible exhaustion of resources. I believe that those who use that argument are using an argument that is as old fashioned and outdated as it was when it was first used some centuries ago. Changing technology can often overcome shortages of a particular commodity in one area or another. Those who use this argument always point to known reserves. They do not realise or take any account of the fact that there are significant reserves not yet discovered. We have only to look at examples of what has occurred within Australia to realise the falsity of this argument. For a long while iron ore exports from Australia were prohibited because we thought our reserves were limited but now they are permitted. Our reserves are immense but, as immense as they are, they represent about 2 per cent of known world reserves. One could list other metals and minerals and point to equivalent circumstances in many instances. I do not believe the world will run out of resources.
I believe that those who suggest that Australia has reached a minimum population are utterly pessimistic about the future. Some honourable members in the ranks of the Government adopt that particular approach. Whether it is intended or not, the policies of the Government certainly move in that direction. Its policies will run down the dynamic of progress and will prevent the expansion of the Australian economy. We see it already in so many areas of activity. The Government’s policies will be self-defeating. Its policies will wind down the forces of progress. The Government promised many Australians a better life for less work. That promise is as shallow as the philosophy upon which it rests and as worthless as the gibber stones in the desert.
– I support the motion of the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and congratulate him on the Budget. I oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). For the first time in the past 2 decades a Budget has been introduced that is not designed to woo the voters of particular sections of the community or to provide unfair privileges to other sections of the community but to provide for broad overall national development.
– What about Parramatta?
– I will reply to the honourable member’s interjection in a moment. This Budget gives great emphasis to the areas of education, health, social security and welfare, housing and community amenities, culture and recreation, Aboriginal advancement, sport, tourism, aid for States, transport and communications. In fact, it can be said rightly that this Budget has had a less unfavourable reaction from all sections of the community, including the Press, than any Budget introduced by the Liberal-Country Party Government.
When one looks back 12 months to the time of the last Budget - to the tremendously depressed conditions and the lack of general confidence in the then Government by all sections of the community - one sees stark contrast indeed to the conditions of general prosperity that exist today. The remarks of one noted economist are relevant. He said: ‘Its philosophy is clear. The Government is intent on removing some of the gross injustices in the existing framework of taxes and concessions to industry’. This Budget breaks new ground in the areas of expenditure designed to overcome the tremendous pressures of life in our cities, after years of tedious repetition of Budgets that showed no imagination and no ability to meet the needs of this rapidly changing social environment. It is a matter of getting our priorities in order and I believe that this Budget does just that.
Insufficient publicity has been given to some of the Labor Government’s policies particularly in the area of education. The Government has endeavoured to give every Australian the right to a full education, irrespective of social position or family income. If we are to overcome poverty and grave social problems, these are some of the areas where significant impacts must be made. Education is one area which the former Government tried to use to great political advantage by giving particular advantage to some sections of the community. This Government has increased education expenditure in this its first year by $404m, which represents an increase of 92 per cent in expenditure on education. Some reference should be made to the frivolous amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition last evening. His amendment reads:
. ‘this House expresses disapproval of the Budget because it is economically irresponsible in that:
Inflation is a world wide problem. It is a problem that the Leader of the Opposition, having the wealth of knowledge that he claims to have on this subject, had ample opportunity to do something about when he held the position of Treasurer. In fact, he does make some claim that during the time he was Treasurer inflation was reduced over a period. As I indicated previously, one does not need a very long memory to recall the impoverished conditions of this country under his fiscal policies. The second point in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition reads:
The great bulk of this Government’s spending in this Budget in relation to the public sector is related to education, social security and housing. As I indicated previously, this Government intends to spend $404m more on education this year. Of course, the greater amount of expenditure in this area will add no burden to resources. I refer next to housing. Despite what the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) had to say, there is an acute shortage of housing available in Australia today. This Government intends to increase its spending on housing by $41 1m in this year, representing an increase of 324.3 per cent on the spending of the previous Government. Surely the honourable member will concede that these are absolutely priorities, as he has conceded already in relation to social security. The third point made by the Leader of the Opposition in his amendment reads:
Mr Speaker, you will remember that during the debate last night the Leader of the Opposition made a number of comparisons with the existing tax scales. I think really, this point needs little comment because tax scales were the invention of his Government. If they are unsatisfactory they reflect the general incompetence of the people who introduced them. They are the scales that were used over preceding years, and the comparisons used last night by the Leader of the Opposition were as valid last year as they are valid today. The Leader of the Opposition’s fourth point reads:
The Prime Minister has often been credited with being the greatest centralist in the Australian Parliament. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. He is one of the greatest advocates of regionalisation in Australia today. I do not think anybody could ‘argue with the proposition that there are some functions at present being carried out at State level which could better be carried out by a central government or a regional government. Possibly the greatest tragedy of Australian politics was the formation of the States with sovereign rights. What was the stand taken by members of the Opposition parties when the country electorates throughout Australia - those in the Riverina area, the New England area and the Townsville area - wanted new state regions? Where did honourable members opposite stand on that issue? In these areas did they back the people to the hilt and say that it was wrong that the States should have sovereign rights, that the people they represented should have the right to have in their own areas a government which would take some responsibility for the area and which would have some regional association with it? What did honourable members opposite do when the New South Wales Government put up that fictitious referendum on the New England area which involved the whole of Newcastle? What stand did they take in relation to the New South Wales Government’s proposal which everybody knew could not succeed because there was little common interest between Newcastle and the other areas?
I might remind honourable members that the very system of government on which this House is patterned provides for no State system of government. In England there is only the local or regional systems and the central government. Possibly it is time, after a century of Federal government in Australia, that we should look at the whole of the arrangements of the States system and see whether there are not better ways of arranging the community of interest between areas. Where was the present Opposition last year when local government throughout Australia asked the . various political parties to declare themselves on the Constitutional Convention? Where was the Liberal Party? Where was the Country Party? They were not supporting the local government bodies in their areas; there was not one statement from them of full support. Only the then Leader of the Opposition, now the Prime Minister, gave a direct undertaking that he would not participate in any constitutional convention unless local government were represented in its own right.
– What rot.
– Order! The previous speaker was heard in complete silence. The honourable member for Murray should extend the same courtesy to the honourable member for Cook.
– I repeat, only the present Prime Minister stood out and said that he would not participate in a constitutional convention unless local government were represented as a full partner in its own right. No other political leader in the Federal sphere would make that statement at the time. Of course local government will be represented next week at the Constitutional Convention as a full partner with proper representation.
– What have Opposition members got against local government anyhow?
– I do not know what they have against it. The fifth point in the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition states:
It jeopardises the future growth of living standards and economic development of the nation;
This needs little comment. In fact every thinking person would have a contrary view to that of the Leader of the Opposition. The sixth point of the Leader of the Opposition is: it unfairly discriminates against the rural community and discourages decentralisation;
Perhaps the supreme piece of hypocrisy in the speech by the Leader of the Opposition was the reference to discrimination against the rural community and his charge that this Government discourages decentralisation. The position revealed by the statistics gives the complete lie to this claim that is demonstrably false. In the 10 years between census takings the previous Government’s policies resulted in 100,000 people leaving the country areas and going to the cities. In the 5 years of rural recession the last Government drove 30,000 farmers from their farms. It reduced the countryside to the worst circumstances since the great depression of the 1930s. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) came into the chamber last night to listen to the tirade of the Leader of the Opposition, splendidly bedecked in a coat of cross-bred merino dorset horn, which every honourable member would remember. The Minister told me last night that the price of wool in his electorate when the last Government reigned went as low as 29c a lb. Today the price of wool is at its highest for a generation.
– Have you organised it?
– We have achieved it, and that is more than you did. The Country Party, with 8 or 9 per cent of the votes, controlled for 24 years a quarter of the front bench of the previous Government and nearly all the Cabinet and all the sensitive rural portfolios, to the great detriment of the country as a whole. It is hypocritical of the previous Government, now it has been defeated, to talk about decentralisation. When it left the treasury bench 98 per cent of all Australians lived in urban areas. This was the position when we came into government. The previous Government was a complete failure. It failed the farmers; it failed the country people and today it is simply lying about the policies that we have introduced That is a strong word to use, but when we have Country Party members telling their constituents that trunk calls-
– Might I respectfully suggest that perhaps it is too strong a word to use.’
-Order! I can cope with this situation. The honourable member for Cook did not refer to any member in particular. However, I would remind him that it was not a very nice parliamentary remark. 1 ask him not to use it again.
- Mr Speaker, I am well aware of that, but I think there is reason to use strong words. It has come back to me through a number of sources that members of the Country Party are telling their constituents that the cost of trunk calls has gone up 20c across the board. Of course, this is totally untrue. It is a fact that Country Party members, either through ignorance or by their own deliberate act, have been telling people this. Of course, the fact of the matter is that the cost of trunk calls has decreased. In areas where a service is provided by the Subscriber Trunk Dialling system at great cost to the Postmaster-General’s Department, the position is that the Post Office, in order to encourage people to use this expensive equipment that has been installed, has imposed a charge of 20c on trunk calls because it has to employ a lady telephonist to deal with trunk calls that are not directed through the STD channels that are provided. It is a complete untruth to tell people that the cost of trunk calls has increased by 20c.
The seventh point made by the Leader of the Opposition was that the Budget does not provide a framework of social equity. This remark needs little comment. Again, it seems that every thinking person would have a view contrary to that held by the Leader of the Opposition on this point. His eighth and closing point was that the Budget fails to honour election promises. The electors will be the judges of this. I notice that the gallup poll released this morning shows that the Prime Minister’s rating has gone up and that the rating of the Leader of the Opposition is going down further and further. As I say, the electors will be the final judge of whether the Labor Party has provided them with the sort of election policies for which they were looking.
There are 2 matters on which I wish to conclude my remarks. The first is the reference made by the Leader of the Opposition to the Public Service. Certainly, the Public Service had to be expanded in order to cope with the tremendous activity of this new Government. So far in many departments it has not yet been able, through the Public Service
Board, to fulfil its obligations. It is a basic principle of management that every person wants to perform well. It is this Government’s responsibility to restructure the Public Service to be an efficient tool of government in order to give every public servant the opportunity to perform to his utmost capability. This we will do. It may require revolution within the Service, but far better a revolution than to have the Service and its highly capable staff frustrated in their efforts to carry out their responsibilities in an efficient manner.
The second concluding point I want to make is that I endorse fully the actions of the Prime Minister in enlisting expert advice from the tremendous wealth of knowledge that is available in Australia today. However, there should be a word of warning. There can be a tendency for the advice of experts to supplant the wishes of members of the Government in the decision making processes. This is the worst kind of bureaucratic malignancy. Their advice is valuable and welcome. However, the ultimate decision making must rest with the whole of the Government.
This Budget is a great tribute to the Treasurer, a man who for 24 years with great dedication has devoted his talents to the fiscal policies of the Australian Government. The fruits of that knowledge are evidenced in the understanding, not always readily available with people who involve themselves in monetary matters, that he has shown in this Budget. I commend the Budget to the Parliament.
– I rise this afternoon to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) last night to the motion that the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-1974 be read a second time. The amendment reads as follows:
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.’
In terms of that amendment, with reference to some of the statements made by the honourable member for Cook (Mr Thorburn), who has just resumed his seat, it is clear that he and his colleagues in the Australian Labor Party support the general plan to centralise decisions in Canberra and to develop the new society which is fundamental in the context of the Labor Party’s policy speech before the 1972 federal elections.
While my colleagues have referred in particular to the economic problems that face the nation, I think it is wise at this stage to remind the House of the new society and the new structure of life in Australia that are beginning to emerge from any study of the plans of the Australian Labor Party. These are the plans for the new society: There will be established in this country a republic. There will be a movement away from the monarchical system and, in due course, if the Labor Party has its way, there will be a president of Australia. I have a feeling that that president will probably not come from the Senate. I think there is reason to anticipate at this stage that he will have been a member of the House of Representatives. Under the presidential system the Labor Party would hope to proceed with its plans for the establishment of the socialist state to which they are all so wedded. Time and time again over the years that I have been in this place I have heard these references to Australia as a land in which from the cradle to the grave all of its citizens will be well looked after, cared for by an omnipotent government that will always make correct decisions and that can always be relied upon to rob the rich to give to those who are its supporters, ostensibly to develop Australia.
One of the methods the Government quite obviously is following in this pursuit is to inflate the Australian economy quite deliberately. An educated man like the Federal Treasurer (Mr Crean) knows that as day follows night a situation will emerge in this country that will require strong fiscal action and strong economic policy to cope with the result of inflation and at that time the Government’s plan is to go to the Australian people and say: ‘We now seek overall control of the economy. Give us complete legal control over wages, prices, dividends and income of all description and we shall control the economy’. The Government will then have taken the major step towards the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange that is so vital to it. This is the picture that is emerging of the future of Australia.
As I said last year, there has been a genuflecting to oriental potentates around the world in the hope that they will emerge as the friends of the new social regime in the southern seas and that these people in Peking, Moscow and other places will not seek to pursue those plans that emerge from time to time in history and which gave us such fascinating vignettes of history like the genocide in Tibet, which called forth not one critical comment from the members of the Labor Party during that terrible period. It called for no comment because it was a manifestation of the type of decision that would be made in Peking, and therefore there was no likelihood of there being any criticism. The Australian Labor Party has taken this country from its previous foreign affairs stance and moved it so that in the last 6 months we have offered public insult to the United Kingdom, offered public insult to our regional friends in Malaysia, where so many Australians laid down their lives during the Second World War, and we have done it also in the United States of America to make it clear that we will not be subject to any criticism from other people around the world who are known commonly as those who threaten the peace and who have publicly announced that they will establish some great international socialist state if they possibly can.
These are the plans that emerge from a study of this Budget. It will have been noticed that our defence forces are being so reduced that there is no likelihood that any intelligent person will be able to look at our defence forces and regard our foreign policy as significant because it might be backed by some credible force to represent an Australian effort of support for some friend who was in need. Although this has been done deliberately, and at a time when defence expenditure has been reduced in order to provide vast social services that will further inflate the economy, it has managed to dovetail into the aims of the foreign policy change of posture. This is a very vital matter because, as I have said, the new society that the Australian Labor Party is seeking to establish in Australia will be without doubt a society entirely different from anything that we have known in the past or anything that we have regarded over the last 50 years as resembling the type of country in which we live and in which we believe. Having said that, I have no doubt that I will be challenged, but I am sure that the day will come when the clear result of Labor Party policy will be announced in this House and it will be expressed in the form of a changing of the flag, a changing of the national anthem, an alteration of the things we have stood for over such a long period of time and the presentation of a new socialist outlook to the world. Anything more ghastly I could hardly imagine.
The Treasurer, having made so many critical statements in the past about economic responsibility, began his speech with a number of interesting comparisons. He said this:
In Australia .today we are much better at selling cars than providing decent public transport services; much better at building houses than providing sewerage services for them.
I do not know whether this is meant to be a manifestation of an intelligent economic objective, but in reading those sentences I thought that I might ponder their meaning because surely if the Treasurer believes that we ought to be establishing public transport services at public expense he could differentiate between a policy designed to do this and the effect within the economy on thousands of Australians working in the automotive industry building motor cars which are being provided for the Australian people. To me it seems a complete non-sequitur, a complete absurdity, to suggest that we ought to cut down on the automotive industry, reduce the production of motor cars and presumably get on with the job of providing more public transport services. There is something slightly lunatic about that comparison. The Treasurer said that we are better at building houses than at providing sewerage services. I ponder the comparison and frankly find tha* many people looking at complaints about the houses that are needed for people to live in would be quite prepared to live in a house rather than in a tent and whether the public services provided by local authorities were available to them would be of less significance to them than having a roof over their heads.
I cannot help believing that, when the Treasurer says that plans for the development of society will be improved by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into an already inflated economy, he is deliberately ignoring what all of his professional training must tell him - that is, if the rate of inflation goes beyond the present figure of 13 per cent to an annual figure of 20 per cent to 25 pei cent he will finish up with an economic position which will demand a return to the type of Budget which we had to face up to in this House in 1951. There can be no doubt that although this would become a ghastly situation in the economy and although the dose of medicine would be very intense, it would be absolutely vital to the welfare of the economy that the medicine be taken. There is no way in which honest people can avoid these decisions and conclusions.
As I said earlier, one has to look beyond the deliberate inflation of the Australian economy and ask oneself: ‘What is it that these people are trying to achieve? What on earth can it be that motivates people to talk about changing the country’s flag and the national anthem?’ After all, we have known for many years that our national anthem is the same as the Swiss national anthem. If anyone had been to the Olympic Games or similar events and heard a Swiss athlete saluted by his national anthem one would have heard ‘God Save the Queen’ being played. One cannot tell the difference unless in one case one listens to the music with a Swiss ear and in the other case listens with an Australian ear. I believe that what is being said by the Government in this regard is unctuous humbug and utter nonsense. Just look at the posture, the impertinence, of these people who come along and talk about getting rid of the monarchy and of our becoming a republic. I have never heard anything like it in my life. I think it is outrageous.
As I have said, the picture for Australia is a rather gloomy one. I believe that when the Parramatta by-election is held in a few weeks time the Government will get a sensible reply to its policies, at least from the sophisticated section of the community who can add two and two and get four and know that you will never get fifteen. If the Government goes on with this absurd business of increasing taxation patterns so that it takes all the attraction out of the life effort of the man who works, produces and earns income and keeps pouring money into the pockets of those who it alleges need it without proving their need, it will take the incentive out of the Australian society and will eventually produce a nation of automatons. I suppose that if one were a socialist in the long run that is the sort of thing which one would really believe in.
The Government’s policies, which are emerging, confirm what I have said. I refer to this mania for the nationalisation of medicine. Many people are becoming aware of the fact that in spite of the predictions that the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) is making the ultimate plan will be for Australia to become a country in which only the Government will be permitted to run anything to do with industries associated with medicine and health and that all the medical practitioners will be part of a salaried scheme as though they were in the Navy, the Army or the Air Force. I have never heard anything more lunatic. However, I can tell honourable members that there will be a reaction in the Australian community because there is a great deal of warmth and feeling for medical practitioners. It is widely understood in Australia that the relationship between a doctor and his patient is vital. If the plans of the Government destroy that relationship, in due course the Australian public will put it out of office and back in Opposition where it ought to have been kept all the time.
In the period of over 20 years in which I have been a member of this Parliament some interesting changes have taken place in the Australian economy. Labor supporters can talk until they are black in the face about poverty, white Australia programs and so on, but I will let them in on a secret. In the period from 1946 to 1972 this country passed through an historical era which is without parallel for national development since Captain Cook arrived here in 1770. Furthermore, in that time a wise foreign policy brought us to the stage where we were standing against the threat that existed in the world. It was not an imaginary threat about which we got the idea in a penny dreadful book. It was something that Earl Attlee, the great Labor Prime Minister of Great Britain, said in 1950 was a conspiracy. Labor’s former leaders Chifley and Evatt put an advertisement in the newspapers stating that there was a conspiracy within this country aimed at the destruction of our society - the alteration of our society.
Labor stands condemned because as a government its policies are beginning to become clear. Labor wants to nationalise medicine and the mining and minerals industries in which people have been working for over 20 years, carefully building up an infrastructure of technical capacity. They now find that they can no longer continue their work. Labor is hoping to absorb these facets of our society into a monolithic socialist structure run by hordes of civil servants running around the place wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money. When this psychopathic plan comes to completion it will be well understood by those people who deal with the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor), that they are dealing with people who may well be seen trying to walk across Lake Burley Griffin.
– When I was listening to the earlier part of the speech of the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) I had the feeling that he was trying to paraphrase a story by ‘Hans Christian Andersen. However, as he proceeded a little more diligently I thought that he must have been quoting from the works of the Brothers Grimm. It was clear, at least, that his speech was of the same vintage as the works of those gentlemen. Last night we heard in this House a speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in which he put forward what he professed would be done by a Liberal-Country Party government. I am not sure that the Country Party accepts responsibility for what the honourable gentleman said, but he told us what a LiberalCountry Party government would do if it was preparing a Budget.
– It frightened hell out of you blokes.
– If we had been frightened by the honourable gentleman’s speech last night one wonders how we would ever get into this place; even the attendants outside would scare us off. The Leader of the Opposition for some time has been suggesting around the country that the 2 Liberal Premiers and one Country Party Premier - we do have a Country Party Premier thanks to very careful manipulation of electoral boundaries - would be prepared to co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in action against inflation. Last night the honourable gentleman suggested that we should have a 90-day freeze on incomes and prices. His speech also had some relationship to those fairy tales related by the previous speaker. Only a short time ago the Leader of the Opposition occupied the position of Treasurer of Australia. At an earlier time he was the Commonwealth Attorney-General. With the background of knowledge that I would expect anyone would gather from holding both those portfolios I would have thought that at least he would have known that no meeting of any description in Australia, no matter who was present at it, could pass legislation or enforce any agreement to freeze incomes or prices within Australia. No one, other than possibly the State governments, has power in the field of prices. The 3 conservative States have no price fixing or examining mechanisms at all. The Victorian Government has been asked repeatedly by members of the Victorian Parliament to set up some form of price examination mechanism similar to that which exists in South Australia. It has refused to do so.
– Is the honourable member asking us to “take the Victorian Labor Party seriously?
– The Leader of the Opposition purports to speak for the Premier of Victoria. The Premier of Victoria does not seem to me to be unable to speak for himself, but he has never publicly supported the statements of the Leader of the Opposition on this matter. The Leader of the Opposition suggests that the States are prepared to co-operate. One would have thought that in the first instance the States would at least have tried to do something themselves. The Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have both stated publicly that the Commonwealth should cut back on spending. That is a very nice sentiment indeed. It is one they do not believe for one minute, because neither is prepared to suggest what moneys should not be spent that will be spent in this Budget. In fact in Victoria every day some State Minister says: ‘We will not accept this money from the Commonwealth under these terms.’ They accept the money, but they accept it protesting. They seem to me to be like some other well known characters I have heard of. They did it when the previous Government was in power too, but not quite so vocally. Perhaps they were churched as well as married.
We also have the situation where State Ministers are saying daily ‘We want so much money from the Commonwealth to do this’ and they do not even tell the Treasurer of the State that they want the money. In fact they do not tell the Premier either. It is a sort of think of a number’ game. They think of a number. Then they say ‘We need this amount of money from the Commonwealth’ and demand that they get it immediately. About 3 months ago one particular Minister thought of $17m that he wanted for the education of the handicapped. He did not even take the trouble when writing to the Minister for Education - those honourable members opposite who have been in government know that that is not the way in which requests for funds from the Commonwealth are made - to indicate how he would spend the money. He just thought of a number. It was good publicity for the day. A lot of people’s hopes were raised. But in fact the State government had no plans to do anything if it received the money. It would have been embarrassed by it if it had actually been handed out.
We have the sort of situation where a demand for public moneys is being created by continual pressures and public statements by State Ministers and at the same time statements are made by members of the same Party demanding that Commonwealth Government expenditure be reduced. I suggest that they cannot have it both ways. If they suggest that Government spending should be reduced they should also suggest where Government spending should be reduced. Would the Opposition have denied those on social services the $1.50 increase it has criticised as being too small? I assume that we could have cut government expenditure by increasing that amount in the manner suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. It seems to me to be an Irish way of suggesting a cut but that is what he did last night. Most likely an even better way of reducing government expenditure would have been to restructure the tax schedules which the previous Government did not do after 1953 but which the Leader of the Opposition last night suggested should have been done. This would have increased rather than have reduced the deficit, yet he said that we should have reduced it. Again this was a little bit of double talk almost in the same sentence.
The honourable member for North Sydney who preceded me made a number of remarks, one of which I found quite fascinating. He said that one day somebody will come into this House and announce that Australia is a republic. One of the limitations which all governments have in this place is the Australian Constitution and I would have thought it would have taken a lot more than an announcement in this House to change the present constitutional position of Australia.
– The 2-man Government did not worry about that.
– At no stage did it change the Constitution of Australia. I suggest that honourable members who make statements like that are talking with the full knowledge that what they are saying has no weight. It is a lot of hot air designed to gain some sympathy from people who are gullible enough to believe that it could happen. One could ask what, other than the historic link, was the difference between having a ceremonial president and having a ceremonial GovernorGeneral. The last 2 Governors-General of Australia have been former members of this Parliament and former members of the Liberal Party. If the next Governor-General happened to be a former member of this Parliament and a member of the Australian Labor Party and of the Labor Government, the effect constitutionally and practically would be exactly the same as having a nominated president as is the case in a number of countries. I do not think that anybody in this House would suggest that we should copy the American presidential system or one of those presidential systems which is very close to a single man non-parliamentary government. People who make statements like that made by the honourable member for North Sydney should accept the criticism that they are making the statements to try to mislead a gullible public rather than to put concrete arguments on a matter of fact.
The honourable member mentioned that the Swiss national anthem has the same tune as the Australian national anthem. That may be so, but it seemed a bit silly to me when I was watching a rebroadcast - that seems to be all we get from the Australian Broadcasting Commission these days - of a recent boxing match that 2 national anthems were played. The fight was for a British Commonwealth title. One contestant came in under the Canadian national anthem while the other, an Australian, came in under the British national anthem. If the argument holds for ‘God Save the Queen’ being Australia’s national arnhem. there does not seem to be any reason why it should not hold for it being Canada’s national anthem as well.
– It is the Australian national anthem.
– That is correct and it. has been the Australian national anthem since the 1950s, not for many years as the honourable gentleman suggested. It was changed by none other than Sir Robert Gordon Menzies because he felt that Australia was not a sufficiently important nation to have its own national anthem, and we did not have the moral fibre to stand on our own feet and noi crawl to somebody.
– I do not think you should be talking about moral fibre.
– The honourable member for the Northern Territory would not understand. (Quorum formed)
The Budget which was presented by the Treasurer is designed to carry out the policy proposals which were put by the Opposition at the time of the last general election. Those policy proposals were accepted by the Australian people and we were in duty bound to bring them into operation. It is a responsibility of a government elected on certain policies to bring those policies into operation as soon as possible. At the time of the last elections the then Leader of the Opposition, now the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), indicated that the policies which were put by him on behalf of the Australian Labor Party would be introduced within the life of this Parliament. That undertaking still stands.
In any Budget there are those things which people will find unacceptable. When I was a member of the Opposition I never heard a budget in which I could not find areas which I felt I could exploit for political purposes. I have no doubt that Opposition members will find themselves in the same position in relation to this Budget. 1 am sure that as a memper of the Opposition I could do what honourable members opposite will do in that respect. The only difference is that the areas of the Budget which I most likely would have found to criticise would have been those areas which are harder on people on low incomes and harder on those people most in need if this Budget had been drawn up by a Liberal Party Treasurer.
The major increases in expenditure have been in the field of education and in the field of Aboriginal welfare. It is in those 2 areas that the Australian people have clearly indicated that they believe a greater amount of money should be spent. Unfortunately there is a minimum of co-operation in some States in respect of attempts to improve our educational facilities. Unfortunately a lot of grandstanding is going on in this area as there is, as 1 mentioned, in other areas. I instance one case of serious grandstanding by a Victorian Minister. Less than a fortnight ago the Victorian Minister for Education issued a public statement in which he said that he had at least been able to force the Commonwealth Government to examine the Victorian Government’s proposal for a multiple campus university. I emphasise the words that he had ‘at last been able’. That statement smacks of hypocrisy. In October last year the Minister concerned was told in discussions with the then Minister for Eduction and the Australian Universities Commission that when a submission on this question was ready to be submitted the Universities Commission would examine it. The Minister made a public statement in February this year on the site and to some degree on the courses for such a university.
The Universities Commission attempted repeatedly to obtain detailed information on which it could base a judgment but that information was not forthcoming. In May this year some information was provided but it did not give any detail in regard to student intake, proposed courses or anything of that nature. The Victorian Minister went politicking around Victoria claiming support from local government bodies - not educational bodies because he knew that they would see through the hollow facade he was putting up. He went to local government bodies endeavouring to drum up support for a proposal that he could not even present to the Universities Commission for examination. On 30 July this year the proposal was submitted. I repeat that it was submitted on 30 July this year. It was not considered before that date because there is no gentleman on the Universities Commission who is clairvoyant and who would therefore have been able to, anticipate what the Victorian Minister would submit. The Victorian Minister for Education is grandstanding and I suspect he is doing so for one good reason. He has been unable to prepare a case to support the proposals which he claimed he was going to put forward nearly 12 months ago and he is now trying to pass the buck for his own incompetence on to the
Commonwealth. I suggest that is the real reason why he is making public statements rather than submitting detailed and accurate submissions.
I have on the notice paper a question to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) asking him to table all the documents in regard to this matter. Before those documents can be tabled it will be necessary to have the agreement of the Victorian Minister. I wonder whether he has the courage to allow his documents to be tabled so that people who know something about education can examine them.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Practically every cut-back in expenditure under the Budget has been at the expense of country communities. The Budget has turned out to be sectional and it is loaded with inconsistencies. Worst of all, it confirms the Government’s acceptance of a high level of inflation. Primary industry in particular is to be hit by a tremendous drain financially to meet the whims of the Australian Labor Party. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that the majority of Government members, in both the Cabinet and the Caucus, are gloating over the provisions of- the Budget as they effect country people. Worse still, Labor Party members who represent country areas have proved to be ineffective and without influence in this Government. Country communities have been unfairly treated just at a time when some sections of rural industry are regaining their solvency after disastrous wool prices, low world market returns over a wide field, drought and flood and high costs.
On today’s figures the overall position of primary industry may seem reasonable but debts, costs and future uncertainty cannot be denied. Yet even today in this House the Treasurer (Mr Crean) said that farmers were better off according to statistics. He has no real appreciation of the problems, the requirements and the complexities of a viable, productive and efficient primary industry in this country. If he did, the actions that he has taken in this Budget would not be perpetrated on country people. Likewise the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) would not be so brazen as to say, as he did last week, that he was not interested in the producer. He, of course, was referring directly to the primary producer. What is it that makes senior members of the Government so irresponsible? Is it socialist policies? Is it Labor Party philosophy or is it just old-fashioned sectional thinking? Why do they hit hardest at the little man in the country - the small farmer, the small business man in the country town and the less affluent sections of the community? Big cuts are to be made in the support to small farmers. Increased costs are being foisted on all farmers. Food prices have increased in the past few months and the effect of this Budget will be to force those costs even higher.
The Government has failed to encourage rural production at a time when it is obviously necessary and that is now, at this present time. Productive industries have been singled out and have been viciously disadvantaged in the Budget. The Government has recklessly slashed rural reconstruction funds, the butter and cheese bounty, free school milk, and taxation incentives for primary industry, and has imposed an export tax on meat to pay for health measures in the form of livestock testing for brucellosis and tuberculosis. It has imposed an export tax on meat to pay for inspection services. Why should this tax be imposed on the meat industry and not on other industries and community services which involve inspections and like precautions for both exporting and importing? Fuel will be dearer and country prices will rise by up to 7c a gallon. Telephone installation costs will rise and rentals will increase except in the cities. Postage concessions are being abolished and the main brunt of the resultant increases will fall on country communities. Aviation charges will rise and will force up air fares.
A wide range of indirect charges will hit the community with severe effects. On the other hand, city transport is to be given a big Commonwealth subvention. Yet the cost of metropolitan transport continues to fall heavily upon all taxpayers. Sydney, for example, will have a public transport deficit of more than $lm this year. However, the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and particularly the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) have said, in all seriousness, that until now country people have been given concessions at the expense of the city people and that those concessions should be brought to an end. What hypocrisy! They fail to recognise where the big money goes in the form of subentions and financial assistance to the cities and, of course, that is just how they want it. The truth is that the Government on its own admission is making the country resident pay. He will receive no concessions to compensate for remoteness, distance, market disadvantage and so on. This section of the taxpaying community also is expected, in fact forced, through taxation to pay for huge city losses on such things as government transport. In other words, country people are paying twice. The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) unabashedly takes advantage of big subventions for transport services in Canberra. Certainly he has increased other charges in Canberra, but he wants to see the dairy industry put out of business by margarine manufacturers. He wants to follow one course and one course only.
Is this Government an open government? Is this an honest Government? Is it a new breed of socialism? I leave it to the electors to decide, particularly the electors in Parramatta and in the New South Wales State seat of Murray. They will give their verdict in a few weeks time. Decentralisation has been ignored in this Budget except for allocations to the chosen area of Albury-Wodonga, and then only for the costs associated with land development. Nothing else has really been done. Everyone, including the people in the proposed growth centres, now faces increased charges in every direction. The previous Liberal-Country Party Government maintained that country people were entitled to concessions to encourage decentralisation. However, this Government has stripped down all concessions and has abandoned decentralisation. Country industry has been particularly hard hit and more is yet to come when the full brunt of transport costs and other increases take effect.
I turn now to the telephone and postal charge changes that have been announced in this. House. The Postmaster-General and the Government are guilty of gross deception in this field of government administration. Earlier this year .the Prime Minister announced the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the Australian Post Office. It was known at that time that the commission could not complete its task before the Budget. In these circumstances policy changes were not anticipated. The royal commission was charged with a duty of making wide-ranging recommendations to the Government. However, the Government has proceeded with complete disregard for the royal commission. It is now fair to ask the following questions: Did the Government engage in this deception because of union pressure since it announced the royal commission? Was it a deliberate slight to the royal commission? Did the Government have confidence in the commissioners it appointed, or have they been by-passed as being of no consequence? This is a serious aspect of what is contained in the Budget. The royal commission, one of the first of this kind appointed for many years, has been virtually disregarded and major policy changes have been made. The Budget decisions should be withdrawn insofar as they involve drastic policy changes in telephone charging structures and postage rates.
It should be the task of the royal commission to make recommendations on these matters. I challenge the Postmaster-General with his own words in this House. What has been done by this Government to provide a Treasury subvention for the Australian Post Office to assist it to meet the needs of the community, to meet the higher charges that it is involved in, and the concessions on the industrial side of the operation since it came into office? This Government has done nothing at all. Yet the Postmaster-General in this place said that the previous Liberal-Country Party Government had 23 years in which to adopt an approach on the lines of some form of Treasury subvention and it did not do it. He has been loud in his criticism of the previous Government but he has now had his chance and what is he doing about it? When will we hear his decision in this matter?
The real nature of the policy changes initiated by the Postmaster-General is, indeed, disturbing. Rentals for those who live in country cities and towns have increased from S37 to $55 for a single telephone service. What changes was made to city subscribers’ rentals? Not the slightest change was made at all; city rentals remain the same. A very weak excuse was given by the Government. It said that the country subscriber now has almost the same access in the range of telephoning that he can undertake as has the city dweller. This is complete rubbish as we know full well. Anyone who picks up the Sydney telephone directory and looks at the range of calling available to a city subscriber can clearly see why there ought to be a higher charge for a city subscriber. I ask honourable members to consider telephone subscribers in Grafton, Orange, Wagga, Kempsey or any provincial centre which might have a continuous service and to compare their range of local calling with that of a city user. It is quite disproportionate and the rental alteration which this Budget will provide is nothing short of bush ranging so far as the country telephone user is concerned.
There are other propositions, all of which should have been matters for the royal commission to report upon to the Government and for the Government then to make its decisions. I instance the drastic change which is to occur in the provision of country telephone services. The previous Government introduced a system of providing 15 miles of telephone line free of charge to an applicant for a telephone service - not to be provided tomorrow or next week, but progressively over a period of years. Many services of this kind were established by the previous Government. Overnight, this Labor Government, not waiting for the royal commission to make its recommendation but, as an ad hoc decision, cuts back the 15 miles of free line to 5 miles. It has said to the prospective telephone user in the country: ‘Henceforth you can pay from the 5 mile point to wherever it is you need to have your telephone’. When we check on what it will cost the ordinary country user who wants a telephone connected, we find it is a figure in excess of $500 a mile. Of course, there will be some concessions according to a vague indication given in this House - that the country user will have two or three years to pay off the cost. But of course the construction has to be undertaken by the Australian Post Office. He cannot escape the work being undertaken by the Post Office. Therefore, there is a fixed charge even if he has the equipment to do the job himself. Obviously he will not be permitted to do so because that would not suit the new socialist approach to the administration of the Post Office.
Let us look at the wide range of other services that have been drastically altered ki this Budget. I heard the honourable member for Cook (Mr Thorburn) bitterly criticising Country Party members this afternoon for an alleged comment which he apparently has imagined has been made by Country Party members, namely, that the cost of trunk line calls has been increased across the board by 20c. He went on to explain that the real proposition is a 20c impost on those people who book a trunk call through a trunk exchange rather than use the subscriber trunk dialling system. Can honourable members think of anything more designed to moderate the use of the telephone and to chase away business than the imposition of this 20c per call on the making of a trunk line call booked through a telephone exchange which has STD access? I cannot. I think it is just another indication of a crazy approach. Of course it is aimed at one thing - forcing people to use STD at all times. We know very well that a lot of people do not use STD facilities because they want accountability of telephone calls. When they get their telephone account they want some record of the calls that have been made or the duration of the calls. This applies particularly in small business where the trusted people of the business are not always under some form of supervision and the management quite rightly says: ‘Book all calls through the trunk exchange and do not use STD.’ Then there is a record of the calls.
In earlier times there was a charge of something like 20c for a monthly statement of trunk line telephone calls. That was fair enough. I think the charge might have been increased to 50c. But now we shall have a charge of 20c per call and on top of that no doubt a very heavy charge for a telephone statement at the end of each month or whatever is required for accountability of trunk line calls. Yet the honourable member for Cook came into this House this afternoon and bitterly criticised the Country Party for what he said was an attempt to mislead the public. Those who are misleading the public *re the senior members of this Government - those who have designed the Budget - and their supporters on the back bench. I am sure that the Australian public is very quickly waking up to this and as the real content of this Budget is unfolded over the next few weeks and months they will see where the deception lies.
I now turn to the major issue of this Budget - the question of inflation. This Budget has done nothing at all to contribute towards the reduction of inflation. In fact, the very provisions of the Budget will accentuate inflation. We now face an inflation level of 13 per cent a year. The Coombs report did not give any effective proposals in relation to inflation. It was a fizzer in that direction. But the Government has had at its disposal he Reserve Bank report and many Treasury recommendations - some of which have been made public - and there is obvious advice that it is dangerous for the Government to proceed without heeding the need to take steps to moderate inflation. But of course honourable members on the other side of the chamber now want to criticise the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) for his proposals in relation to a prices and incomes freeze.
I say just this about the criticism of the Leader of the Opposition on the simple score that he had not taken this kind of action when he was Treasurer and when he was in Government: The first thing that has to be realised is that the circumstances of the economy today are very different indeed. The Leader of the Opposition had the intestinal fortitude to bring down a Budget in this House 2 years ago to do one thing - to deal with inflation. He did that and to his credit it was effective. Certainly there was some loss of employment, there were some disabilities, but the Australian nation benefited from what was done at that time. Now it is too late. We have a new Budget. It has done nothing in this direction. Is there any alternative other than that proposed by the Leader of the Opposition? What hypocrisy it is for honourable members on the Government side to criticise him for not having taken this kind of action at an earlier time.
Of course, if we look at informed advice from such people as Mr Donovan, the economic adviser to W. D. Scott and Company - a very eminent company in Australia in terms of the researching of the economy, the problems which the country .faces and so on - we see that he has just issued a very startling report which indicates that because of the existing shortages of materials in the building industry and in other fields well known to most Australians, to the average small income earner who wants to build a home and to the average Australian who in his every day life requires some material to do some job or other, there is looming up a very ugly black market situation. This will not be solved by this Budget. In fact what will happen is some form of rationing, and we know what that means. It means that the community has to suffer and suffer badly.
So if we look at the whole spectrum, we find that this Budget has failed miserably to deal with .the real problems of the economy and with the requirements of this nation as they exist today both in the commercial world and in every other direction. I have referred specifically to the problems of primary industry. I conclude by expressing my full support for the amendment moved in .this House by the Leader of the Opposition in which he states that this House should express its disapproval of the Budget because it is economically irresponsible. He enunciated under 7 headings the reasons why he believes it is economically irresponsible. I have tried to put to the House some of the issues in the little time at my disposal, which I believe accord with what has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. I hope that the Australian community will see by the very existence of this motion, regardless of its outcome, the real meaning of this Budget.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
; - It is a great honour and immense pleasure to speak on the first Labor Budget in 24 years. Honourable members and the general public have had a chance to digest, evaluate, praise or criticise the various Budget decisions according to their beliefs or their vested interests. The honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson), who has just sat down, gave a classic example of the sectional, narrow minded interests of the Australian Country Party. The bovine, bucolic members of the Country Party have really been shaken out of their lethargy by the decisions taken in this Budget. For 23 years they acted as barnacles on the ship of state. They blackmailed the Liberal vested city interests of the previous Government into granting concessions that should never have been granted and which we, in our first Budget, had to take away. This is one country. It is Australia. It does not exist only of the farmers and the farmers’ friends. There are people throughout the length and breadth of this land who deserve the same consideration as the people in the country have been receiving for a number of years. This is what is worrying the Country Party. For the first time in 24 years members of the Country Party have to stand and prove that the concessions that they want for country people are really deserved.
I am convinced that this is not only a good Budget but it is also a very Australian Budget, possibly the first in many a long year which unashamedly sets out to protect our national interests ahead of any others - the first which, so to say, is designed to allow Australians to interfere in their own domestic affairs. The central theme of the Budget is the Government’s very explicit concern with the quality of life. Whether one examines the fields of health, housing, education, social welfare, conservation, urban development or repatriation, one will have little trouble detecting evidence of our ambition and aim to improve the lot of our people not just in material terms but in every way.
This brings me to my own portfolio, the related wings of which are ideal to cater for the leisure and pleasure of man. I hope our society has come a long way since the midVictorian days when pleasure was automatically equated with sin - when the average working man’s only privilege was the generous allowance that he could work a 70-hour week. What is recreation? To me it covers an enormously wide field, embracing just about anything and everything that is not connected with one’s work. My responsibility, however, is largely limited to physical recreation, be it active or passive. Some of my colleagues in the Cabinet have the specific task of caring for the needs of literature, performing and fine arts, television, and so on. Between us, covering the entire spectrum, lies the elusive essence of man’s leisure time recreation.
My request for allocation in the Budget was a deliberately modest one. As a new department, with an extremely small staff, we have our plate full with schemes and projects. It is not an underestimation of the tremendous importance and scope of this subject that makes me feel content, for the time being anyway, with the $6.2m given for recreation. Some people may think that this sum is too generous, that recreation and sport should be left in their prehistoric form, that spending all this money on the recreational needs of Australians is reckless. The allocation amounts to about 50c for every man, woman and child in Australia, compared with $3.24 a head in Holland, $2.40 in France, and $2.3 1 in West Germany.
It never fails to amaze me how miserly we have been in the past towards recreation and sport. I find it almost miraculous that those at the receiving end of this treatment neve staged an open rebellion against this tightfistedness. I am not trying to find comparisons with other expenditures; I am not claiming that recreation or, for that matter, tourist promotion is more important or less
important than any other community outlet. But permit me to draw your attention to some visible proofs of this country’s wealth from which a small segment will now go to a silent majority - that is, the hundreds of thousands of people interested in physical recreation, sport and tourism. Compare our allocation with the $15m which our Government was asked to provide to help the estimated 25,000 vagrants and homeless in our midst. Better still, project our modest share against the backdrop of $70m which the State of New South Wales alone must spend annually on the treatment and punishment of alcoholics - about $800 a head. Some people begrudge a paltry 50c a head for recreation and sport. Surely it is time we got our bearings right and paid attention to the needs of a long-suffering and remarkably patient majority who in the past tolerated large scale neglect. lt is my intention to create, by co-opting the best brains available in this country, a comprehensive recreation system which will provide creative leisure opportunities for all Australians. Without going into technical details, let me say that this system will embrace, perhaps at the extreme ends, the Olympic champion as well as the elderly and the afflicted; it will take into account the needs of the super athlete as well as the housewife who may want to spend her few leisure hours trying her hand at pottery.
The $3,215,000 we have for the construction of recreation and sporting facilities will go towards projects in areas of the greatest need. The Sim allocated to aid amateur sport will meet the most urgent requirements of national sporting organisations. The multipurpose community recreation centres will enable tens of thousands to find a creative outlet for their leisure time. The grant to our sportsmen and women will enable them to compete with the rest of the world on more equal terms. Both fields have been neglected in the past; both deserve a better deal in the future. I make no apologies for either. We have all rejoiced many times in the past when an Australian sportsman or woman scored some brilliant win in top international company. How many of you ever stopped to wonder at what sacrifice that success was achieved? Until now we have only identified ourselves with our sporting heroes; from now we are going to help them as well.
With tight housekeeping management we will also find ways of helping others involved in the field of recreation. The allocation for national fitness goes up from $600,000 to $lm, with the bulk of the increase paying for the construction of sports training facilities at existing national fitness camps. And I challenge one father or mother to stand up anywhere and claim that this money will be wasted. Our Government’s concern for young Australians is shown in the approval of various new programs, including $250,000 to be made available to national organisations working with young people. On top of the annual grant of $50,000 to surf life saving associations and the Royal Life Saving Society, an additional $100,000 will be made available to surf life saving associations for the purchase of rescue equipment, on a $1 for $1 basis with the movement itself. Once again I challenge anybody who ever set foot on a beach to question the wisdom or the need for this long overdue grant,
I do not wish to go on too long about this vast subject. Our Government is the first to recognise the absolute right of Australian people to recreational and sporting means and facilities - and the first to do something about it. Our present program is a humble start, even if it represents an historical breakthrough. As the number of leisure hours increases in society, as it surely will, recreational needs for the community will also rise sharply. I can assure the House that I will be requesting far greater amounts in the 1974-75 Budget.
Now I want to switch to tourism which, under a broad interpretation could very well be part of recreation. For what is tourism if not a form of enjoyment - escape from the routine, and one type of recreation anyway? Tourism can make an important contribution to the solution of many problems facing our economy. It can create new job opportunities and it can help in the development of many regional areas. At present the Australian tourist industry’s income is estimated at $2,400m or 8 per cent of our gross national income. It is a growth industry, with a proven capacity to double in size every 7 or 8 years, with this growth directly related to the increased leisure and rising personal disposable income of Australians.
The ‘ Australian travel industry directly employs at least 10 per cent of the work force, mainly in transportation and accommodation. More importantly, as a service industry, it is labour-intensive; direct labour costs range from 26 per cent to 35 per cent of the total costs.. The industry is a major employer of female labour. In hotels and restaurants, women represent 60 per cent of total employees compared with the national average of 38 per cent. One must also stress the multiplier effect of tourism, especially on rural communities, compounding the travellers’ spending. While this multiplier process is still the subject of some debate and speculation, a recent Canadian survey estimated that each $1 of travel receipts contributed $2.43 to the gross national product.
The tourist industry is generally regarded as the pleasure industry, though not always by those engaged in it, for their return on invested capital, just over 2 per cent, is lower than in perhaps any other type of private enterprise. Many minds are obviously confused when we speak of help to the tourist industry. They visualise large handouts to multi-millionaire entrepreneurs. That is not what it is all about. Just as in the field of recreation and sport, in physical fitness and physical education, we want to help Australians to enrich their lives. We want to make it possible, indeed, highly desirable for them to travel all over Australia, to explore this great country, to learn about our history and, in the process, to enjoy a well earned holiday in decent resorts, motels, caravan parks or whatever takes their fancy. All our efforts to improve the status, capability and scope of the hotel industry are made with this genuine aim in mind. But it just does not happen on its own. Some steps have to be taken to shake up the industry, to encourage it, help it if you like, so that those millions of tourists can benefit.
The Government has announced a new assistance scheme to the tourist industry, in order to develop our natural and historical attractions and to promote a greater volume of travel within Australia. We believe these measures will be successful. We feel the industry will respond. The sum of $1,750,000 will be allocated in the form of grants to Australiana or pioneer settlements, the preservation of historic sites and buildings, fauna sanctuaries and other projects. And let me add proudly that this is $1,500,000 more than the previous Government, with its alleged sentimental attachment to our past, bothered to make available. We will not insist in future that these projects qualifying for grants have an international appeal - an elusive term in the first place - or that the States contribute on a dollar for dollar basis. To strengthen our campaign in the promotion of domestic tourism, we have decided to grant $320,000 to the Australian Tourist Commission, until now charged only with the task of our overseas tourist affairs, to complement and support the various promotional activities of the States. But that is not all. For a Party allegedly against private enterprise and initiative, we have decided to inject capital into the trade by offering Commonwealth Development Bank loans for projects in selected areas, and to guarantee tourist accommodation loans through the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. I realise that by some overseas standards these measures may again be modest. But I want to emphasise that these are the first incentives the Australian tourist industry has ever received.
Leaving the domestic scene for the moment, let me now turn to international tourism, a major factor in world trade and a vital part of national economies. Our share of the world total is not quite one percent, but this can and should be increased. At present our economy does not depend on this foreign revenue, but one day it may. Overseas tourist promotion is not something you can turn on and off. At present our tourist imbalance stands at $220m a year and is expected to climb to at least $350m in the next few years. This ever widening gap between income gained from overseas tourists and money spent by Australians on overseas holidays is big enough to cause concern to any economy. There are many measures which will be necessary to attract more overseas tourists to this country. Some, we believe, will result from our active help to the industry, in the establishment of new resorts, more international class accommodation and services. While Australia’s appeal as an international tourist destination rests largely on our remote area attractions, only a small percentage of overseas visitors travels extensively beyond Sydney and Melbourne. One reason for this is the high cost of air travel in Australia. To encourage greater volume of air travel, domestic carriers in recent years have introduced some incentive fares. The 15 per cent discount on economy return fares for off-peak travel which began last June is another important step in making air travel reasonably priced. The 30 per cent reduction on economy fares for North American tourists for travel in Australia over 1000 miles should encourage more extended tours to take in attractions such as the Great Barrier Reef, Central Australia, Tasmania and others. But there is still scope for new initiatives in domestic aviation to make air travel available to wider market sections and to carry out the Government’s election undertaking to provide holidays within Australia competitive with overseas travel.
All I have just said is the simple and logical extension of our Government’s policy to enrich the life of every Australian. We are in the enrichment business. Both recreation and tourism help you to regenerate your run down batteries, to improve your health and to enjoy your life more. Can there be loftier aims? I firmly believe that our Government has started the exciting task of redesigning life for our people in accordance with the rapidly changing world trends and demands. We are hopeful of producing a more humane society, restoring some of the almost forgotten values and virtues which make life worthwhile a renaissance of the human spirit in the last quarter of the 20th century. I would like to hope, that by ascertaining the recreational needs of our people and then catering for them, I will be able to play my part in this.
Suspension of Standing Orders
– The Government is always anxious to help the Opposition, and with the concurrence of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) I seek leave of the House to move a motion to enable the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) to speak for 30 minutes, not the usual 20 minutes.
– Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Mr Enderby) agreed to.
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition speaking for a period not exceeding 30 minutes.
– The distinguished American economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, in his book ‘The Affluent Society’ referred to the problem of inflation in these terms:
Social imbalance is the natural offspring of persistent inflation. Inflation, by its nature strikes different individuals and groups with highly discriminatory effect.
That statement has particular relevance in Australia’s present economic circumstances. Inflation is an insidious economic and social evil. It generates an utterly capricious and unjust distribution of the national product. It causes the unplanned and inefficient allocation of our resources. It is akin to a rapacious tax which, unlike normal forms of taxation, pays no regard to principles of equity or logic. Its most harmful effects are borne by people on fixed incomes, the pensioners, the superannuitants and the lower income groups in our society. It discriminates against those who are unable to invest in real assets to take as much capital gain and as little income gain as possible. A government which imposes this most regressive economic burden cannot lay a major claim to the principles of social justice and human dignity.
The Labor Government, in its first Budget, has failed to meet the test of economic responsibility. In the name of equity this Budget will create inequity. In the name of social reform, this Budget will discriminate against the most disadvantaged sections of the Australian community. In the name of human welfare this Budget contributes towards fundamental disequilibrium within the economy and not towards reformist or redistributive objectives. In the name of progress this Budget simply redresses the retrogression in the standard of living which has resulted from government-generated inflation. It is a matter of national concern that this Government, which inherited a sound economy in which inflation was tending to decline, is now presiding over a serious inflationary spiral with neither the wit nor the will to confront the basic components of this most serious problem. It is self evident that neither the Prices Justification Tribunal nor the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices has any means of curbing inflation. They are ineffectual by their very nature, design and application. The recent cut in tariffs, for which the Government sought to claim a direct impact on import prices equal to a revaluation of 6 per cent, will be no more effective. Indeed, the Budget Papers estimated rise of $390m in imports as a result of the tariff measures implies a rise of 17 per cent in these imports on which protective duty is levied in response to a fall in their prices of only 6 per cent. This in turn would imply a price-elasticity of demand of three - appreciably higher than elasticities of the order of one and one-half to two that have previously been found for manufactured imports.
Indeed, there is a real danger in an overexpectation of either increased imports or lower prices. The statements in both the Budget Papers and the recent Treasury White Paper relate merely to the effects on import prices. In its overall effect on the price level or an international reserves the cut in tariffs was equivalent to a revaluation of no more than 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent.
The absence of real policy initiatives designed to control inflation placed a special responsibility on the Government’s first Budget. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) himself stated in his Budget Speech:
In a buoyant and strongly growing economy, with inflationary pressures intense, we are limited by the over-riding need to bring down a Budget which does not add to those pressures.
It is an extraordinary exercise in dialectics to include a statement of that nature in a Budget which seeks approval for an 18.9 per cent increase in Government expenditure. That massive increase in Government spending must place intolerable and unreasonable strains on the economy by stimulating the already rapidly increasing level of demand.
The huge uplift in expenditure clearly contradicts the warnings contained in the recent Treasury White Paper which noted that:
Demand, already tending towards the uncomfortably high, is set to increase considerably in the period ahead.
It is absurd to maintain that there is little the Budget can do to restrain inflation. From the point of view of inflation, the only justification for not reducing individual income taxation is that money needs to be taken out of the hands of the private sector, and a Government surplus budgeted for. Instead, the remarkable increase in public revenues from this and new sources is to be more than spent. In doing so the Government is quite clearly contravening the responsible economic advice of the Treasury, as evidenced in the last Treasury White Paper.
Effective demand management is a basic and necessary condition for effective control over inflation. In most industrial economies, the most serious increases in inflation have tended to occur when periods of expansion have been allowed to proceed too far. In his report on inflation the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development noted that while the causes of inflation are many, the emergence of demand pressures on occasions during the 1960s has been a major contributing factor to the present inflation. The control of aggregate demand in major overseas countries has proved difficult for a number of reasons including political constraints on the implementation of fiscal and monetary policies, errors in forecasting, disruption to international trade and exchange conditions and also a hardening in the reactions of the private sector to government policies. This last factor has at times led to perverse reactions to fiscal policies such as additional wage and other income claims and downward movements in savings in response to increases in taxation. However, it is universally true that if effective measures are not taken until the pressures on capacity, costs and prices are clearly evident, stronger action than otherwise will be necessary to check the expansion of demand. This is the lesson of overseas experience.
In spite of the warnings from all sectors and sections of the community and at a time of near full employment, the Government has introduced a Budget which expands public spending by $’1,93 8m, yet imposes additional taxes designed to increase revenues by only $3 39m: An expansionary impact of $ 1,599m equal to 4.2 per cent of non-farm national product. .This is one of the most expansionary Budgets introduced in Australia over 20 yeaTS, and at a time when inflation is running at record levels, when resources are fully employed and real restraint is required.
The expansion of public sector spending must necessarily have a highly stimulatory effect on the private sector. An increase in the level of demand must accompany the new stimulus. In a situation where the available resources are fully employed there must inevitably be competition for scarce resources between both the private and the public sectors. I have already adverted to the highly exaggerated effects claimed for the recent tariff adjustments by the Government. This is a claim which has grown large on the fallacy of its assumptions. The .fact is that this measure cannot be relied upon as the necessary relieving factor in domestic resources.
The total addition to market supplies likely to become available in 1973-74 is put in the Budget documents at about 7 per cent. This implies a wholly over-optimistic assessment of me probable rise in participation rates. The additional demands to be placed on these supplies by the rise in Government spending on goods and services plus transfers to the States will be of the order of 2) per cent of the gross national product - a much greater proportion of the additional potential supplies than Government spending on goods and services at present bears to GNP. This must lead to excess demand.
The Budget, in fact, is a manifest failure. It totally ignores its primary role as a major economic instrument in controlling inflation in this country. It was introduced in an isolated manner and not presented in the context of an overall and coherent economic philosophy. It dishonours a number of significant pre-election and postelection promises. It will disadvantage lower income families by failing to lower income tax scales in the face of Government induced inflation and by failing to offer assistance by way of tax concessions or additional child endowment. It neglected to provide an adequate response to the major quality of life issues such as the environment, conservation and urban improvement. It is a significant blow to young married couples and other home seekers by not providing positive answers to the problems of rising land and housing costs, by deferring the promised tax deductions of mortgage interest and by abolishing without prior warning the home savings grants scheme.
The Budget forces lower income families, pensioners and superannuitants to bear the main burden of Labor’s spending spree by imposing a wide range of indirect taxes and charges. Its range and size of social welfare benefits fall far short of its election promises and the increased benefits do not keep pace with the erosion of real money values caused by inflation. Pensioners and superannuitants will, in fact, under this Budget, as a consequence of the lack of Government activity and the forces of inflation, be far worse off. Its provisions in respect of the rural community will be a major disincentive towards the principal aims and objectives of decentralisation schemes. It tightens the grip of centralised power by expanding the expenditure of the central Government by more than twice the rate of receipts payable to State governments.
The Budget is a clear anti-incentive for the future development of the manufacturing and mining sectors and creates new problems for small business and entrepreneurs. It seriously weakens Australia’s defence capabilities by reducing expenditure to 2.9 per cent of gross national product in contradiction to the promised level of 3.5 per cent. Its basic economic thrust is quite contrary to and inconsistent with the advice of the major economic policy branch of government - the Federal Treasury. It is a complete anti-climax and falls far short of the historic document of major economic and social reform which the Australian public was led to believe would be brought down.
The excessive nature of the Government’s expenditure has no better illustration than the fact that, in spite of a 25 per cent increase in personal taxation revenue, the Government has now seen fit to introduce a wide-ranging series of indirect taxation measures. It is pertinent to refer again to the election speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in which he said:
The huge and automatic increase in Commonwealth revenue ensures that rates of taxation need not be increased at any, level to implement a Labor Government’s program.
The Prime Minister then reassured the more affluent sections of the Australian community in these terms:
The rates for which the wealthier sections of the community including companies are liable are already high enough.
It is a sad commentary on the integrity of this Government that as soon after these pledges were made they were dishonoured. The imposition of increased indirect taxation, increased company tax and the removal of existing taxation concessions all represent a major denial of clear policy pledges. It would be quite misleading to assert that there has been no rise in personal income tax rates. Only when the ratio of income tax receipts to personal disposable income does not rise should one consider that income tax rates are unchanged. The use of indirect taxation on items of very general consumption which figure prominently in the cost of living, or on such an item as petrol representing an important input to most industries, is especially likely to add to wage induced inflation. The rise in indirect taxes in the Budget will increase the consumer price index by approximately 1 per cent. It is also increasingly true that people take account of personal income tax in bargaining for wage and salary increases and the substantial rise in effective income tax rates will have a significant upward effect on wage and salary bargains.
It is the average income earners who will be held to a position of neutrality by the taxation provisions of this Budget. Calculated on the basis of average weekly earnings and accepting the Budget forecasts of an increase in average earnings of 13 per cent, the rise in post tax earnings of the wage earner will be almost exactly 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. Thus, even the implicit assumptions of the Budget itself imply that the average wage earner in Australia will be no better off in June 1974 than he was in June 1973. A more realistic view would assume, in fact, that the average wage earner will regress during that same period.
That is the position of the average wage earner. But even pensioners throughout this country will fare no better. They have not been subject to generous treatment. The full year’s increase will certainly be less than the increase in average earnings during 1973-74 and they will have to bear the greater burden of increased tobacco duties, increased rents as the housing boom continues, and increased bus fares that will flow from increased petroleum duty. The decision to tax all pensions will mean that some full-rate pensioners will be liable for tax equal to two-thirds of the extra pension provided in the Budget. Complete with the means test for those not yet 75, the combined effect of tax and loss of pension can take over 70 per cent of the additional benefits. The avowed purpose of the Labor Administration is to raise the level of age pensions to 25 per cent of average earnings. They promise 2 increases during the year each of $1.50. 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 only 11.5 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 - age pensioners will fall further behind average earnings rather than beginning to catch up on them. As in most fields inflation favours the strong against the weak. The Australian Commonwealth Pensioners’ Federation referred to the Government’s pension provisions in these terms:
We are bitterly disappointed that the Government has not seen fit to make provision for greater pension increases for those whose only means of subsistence is the pension itself. It would appear that this section of the community, most defenceless, nothing to sell, unable to strike, are to bear the brunt of todays inflationary conditions. It is our view that inflation should be approached with a firm resolve to ensure that the poor do not become poorer and the rich richer. We view the future with no small degree of apprehension.
That is not a statement by a member of the Opposition speaking in this debate. It is a direct quotation from the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation which views the future with apprehension because of this Government’s manifest failure to take effective action to control inflationary forces. I make it quite clear that the Opposition welcomes the emphasis placed on education, social welfare and Aboriginal advancement but it is unfortunate that these concessions are acknowledged in the context of the erosion in the purchasing power of disadvantaged groups. It is a matter of regret that these concessions do not represent major benefits for those groups but are, in fact, demanded by the conditions created by this Government. The major requirement of welfare programs this time is to protect those who suffer most from high rates of inflation and it is always the recipients of social welfare who suffer the most. The impact of this Budget does nothing in reality to alleviate that suffering.
Just as welfare recipients have not been the major beneficiaries of the huge increases in expenditure, the major quality of life issues have been neglected. Urban improvement which was such a high priority in December has served its electoral purpose. The urgently required funds to overcome the backlog in sewerage services in major urban areas have just not been provided. An advance of $30m is a totally inadequate response to a problem which requires funds in excess of $ 1,000m. Inadequate sewerage facilities contribute more than any other factor to the incidence of water pollution in Australia. No real progress can be made towards the improvement in the quality of our water resources unless the Federal Government is prepared to provide the funds required. The Treasurer told the Parliament that the Government would support a wide range of activities in the fields of environmental protection and conservation. Yet the funds which this Government intends to spend cannot hope to make major strides in this area. Environmental protection is an endeavour which has been conspicuous for its neglect by the Government. Not only does the Budget make an inadequate allowance for environmental improvement but the Minister whose area of responsibility is directly involved has yet to make any statement to this House outlining his activities during the past 9 months. And in spite of the unprecedented number of Bills introduced we have yet to see a single environment impact statement tabled in this House.
The Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) has been an abject failure in his portfolio. No new initiatives have come from his Department. In fact, the major adjustment that the Minister sought in this Budget was the reduction from $150,000 to $50,000 in the grant to the Australian Conservation Foundation.
– He lost his submission to Cabinet.
– Yes. I am not surprised that his intention to reduce the grant to the Australian Conservation Foundation was overruled. It was overruled by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) on his return from Ottawa. Even the pre-election promises on Lake Pedder have been conveniently put aside. Australian environmentalists in all the groups in which they are active will be rightly disappointed with the meagre provisions this Budget makes for the vital concerns of environmental improvement and conservation and its promises and pledges in the area of the environment. As honourable gentlemen sitting opposite know full well, the promises and pledges have been dishonoured by lack of activity in the ministerial portfolio in which the environment has become the lost cause of the Labor Administration.
Lower and middle income earners, particularly young married couples in those categories, will now find themselves even more disadvantaged as a result of the massive increase in housing and land costs. The Budget arbitrarily and without warning removed the homes savings grants which have in the past substantially assisted people in purchasing and owning their own homes. Not only has the Government removed this provision, but it has clearly violated yet another clear promise by not introducing the scheme of deductibility of mortgage interest outlined by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). Little has been done to solve the problem of housing costs. The much vaunted claims of the Australian Labor Party are not in evidence in this Budget. A capital investment down-turn is likely to arise from the combined effects of the abolition of the 20 per cent investment allowance, increases in private company tax and the abolition of mining industry investment concessions. These can only be described as being major disincentives for considerable and important sections of the Australian business community. Estimated net investment in plant and equipment during 1972 was a little over $500m compared with amounts of over $900m in each of the preceding 3 years. The abolition of the investment allowance will prevent any significant recovery of net investment in equipment. Demand restraint is required, but it should be aimed at current expenditure and expenditure in the building industry, not at investment in equipment which, in the long run, will have a major influence on our capacity to meet demand. The irony is that the only really deflationary move in the Budget was aimed at the weakest sector of the economy - the one which must expand if the pressure on our resources is to be eased. The Crean Budget will go down in history as the Canberra Control Budget.
At the recent Premiers’ Conference all State Treasurers stressed the extreme financial difficulties their governments were experiencing during this period of strong inflation and the accompanying rapidly rising salary bills for government employees. The States were firmly told that it would be out of the question to consider giving the States an increase of more than 9 per cent in their tax reimbursements because of the difficulty the Commonwealth would have in finding the funds. The Treasurer announced that income tax revenue for the financial year would increase not by 9 per cent, but by an astonishing 25 per cent and that receipts from taxation of all types would increase by 22 per cent. A substantial proportion of this money is being used to dictate policy to the States in State areas of responsibility. In case of money to be made available for public transport, not only are projects mentioned in great detail but also the Commonwealth wants the right to approve contracts in addition to having a representative on the board spending the money in this area.
Local government grants have been made available for certain chosen municipalities in the western suburbs of Melbourne, for example. This may be good news for the west, but it represents bad news for the north, south and the east as well as for the entire country areas of Victoria. In other words this Government is endeavouring to tell the States in minute detail how money should be spent in State constitutional fields. During the past decade general purpose grants to the States have increased by $1,1 56m or 165 per cent while tied special purpose grants to the States under section 96 have grown by $1,4 10m or 600 per cent. The trend has been greatly accentuated this year, with general purpose grants increasing by 9 per cent and specific purpose grants increasing by 80 per cent.
This approach is also evident in the section of the Budget which claims an increase of 92 per cent in educational expenditure. The real figure is 60 per cent not 92 per cent. A &um of $145m equal to 32 per cent is to be expended on tertiary education which would have been provided by the States under the old scheme. The Commonwealth announced this year that it would take over financial responsibility for tertiary education. On the other hand it took away from the States the $145m that they would have allocated to tertiary education. Thus the increase for tertiary education directly resulting from this manoeuvre is nil. It is quite improper to take $145m of tertiary education money from the States and then claim this as a figure for Commonwealth expenditure, as if by some magical formula the expenditure by the Commonwealth has suddenly increased. To claim, as this Government has done, an increase of 92 per cent without developing the reasons why that increase has taken place is, I believe, a dishonest approach to the needs and responsibilities of education in this area.
– It is a phony estimate like other estimates.
– As my colleague the honourable member for Berowra has said, it is a phony suggestion. I turn now to those positive measures which the Leader of the Opposition so cogently and clearly put down. The Government must provide effective national leadership in seeking to reduce the level of inflation. It must put before this Parliament and the nation a comprehensive and cohesive anti-inflationary policy en compassing the major instruments of economic management available to the Government and specifically designed to dampen the aggregate level of demand and reduce the x pressures of costs. Our serious inflationary difficulties can find no solution in the existing fragmented, ad hoc and ineffectual policies adopted by the Labor administration.
No government can expect restraint and co-operation from the principal parties in the community unless it is first prepared to put its own house in order: That requires a rigorous examination of its existing and future commitments. It requires the reimposition of the former growth rate limit of 3 per cent in respect of the Commonwealth Public Service. It is clearly undesirable for employment levels in the public sector to increase at a rate of almost double that applying to the private sector. The economic circumstances require in the view of the Opposition parties an incomesprices policy seen not as a substitute for effective demand management policies but as a supplement to a comprehensive package of anti-inflationary measures. In addition, the Government must be prepared to play a responsible role in respect of conciliation and arbitration; to review and increase the migration program; to reject the concept of flat rate wage increases and of course to develop the concept of a temporary freeze on incomes and prices as outlined by the Leader of the Opposition followed by the implementation of guidelines for subsequent wage and price increases. No incomes-prices policy can be regarded as a panacea, but we believe such a policy will be necessary to achieve a break in both incomes and prices expectations at the present time. The Opposition parties reject the Budget which has been brought down by the Government.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Armitage)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The most interesting part of the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) was his professed support and sympathy for the weaker members of the community. He must think that honourable members on this side of the House have very short memories. We can remember that he was a member of a Government which 2 years ago was prepared to bring in a budget which directly affected the weaker members of the community. The effect of that budget brought in 2 years ago by the previous Government of which he was a member was to put out of work more than 100,000 Australians.
I support this Budget. I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr Crean) for an excellent document and an excellent program of social reform in a wide sphere of activity including health, education, urban transport, other urban problems, social welfare and many other fields. I reject the amendment moved by the Opposition. The Opposition is basing its case against the Government on a completely false premise. Paragraph 2 of the Opposition’s amendment reads as follows:
It seems to me that the Liberal Party is saying that it is only expenditure in the public sector that is inflationary and that private expenditure is not. Honourable members opposite are saying: ‘Let the private sector spending go on in its own way and let us control only the public sector spending.’
The fact is that private investment is no more or no less inflationary than public investment. Private expenditure means competition for resources in exactly the same way as public investment requires. I do not know why the Opposition wants to overlook this fact. An absurd example of this thinking came from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) last night when he referred in his speech to the need for cutting out of the Budget the $107m appropriation for the GidgealpaSydney gas pipeline. It would be just as inflationary whether that expenditure was incurred by a public authority or by private enterprise. How could it be any less inflationary if it were carried out by the Australian Gas Light Co. or by any other private enterprise body rather than by the Australian Government? This was a preposterous argument.
The fact is that the pipeline needs to be built and the Government made the decision, for very good social reasons, to establish an asset to be held in perpetuity by the people of Australia and for the benefit of the people of Australia. I do not see this as such a revolutionary decision. After all, a previous Liberal Government in South Australia, the Playford Government, took over the Electricity Trust of South Australia to make that an asset for the people of South Australia. That was done in 1946 which suggests that the Federal Liberal Party is 27 years behind the South Australian Liberal Party.
The Government believes that public investment is needed. If we are to avoid an inflationary situation, it is the private sector which will have to be dampened to some extent. It is irresponsible of the Opposition to oppose, as it has done, all the anti-inflationary measures that this Government has proposed. It is very interesting to look at some of these measures and consider what would have happened if there had not been a change of government last December. Criticisms have been made of this Government’s attitude to foreign investment. It is true that this Government has taken very decisive action to prevent the massive flood of foreign investment into Australia. On 23 December last we took action to freeze 25 per cent of foreign capital investment coming into Australia. At the same time the Australian currency was up-valued by some 7 per cent. The effect of this was very considerably to reduce the inflow of foreign capital into Australia. What would have happened if there had been no change of Government? Are we to presume that there would have been the same massive flood of foreign capital into Australia?
We can see evidence of what might have happened if we look at Statement No. 3 attached to the Budget Papers which shows that in the financial year just gone the money supply increased by 16.7 per cent in the first 6 months whereas in the second 6 months most of which was during the tenure of office of the Labor Government the increase was only 9 per cent. This suggests that if that action had not been taken there would have been an enormously greater volume of money floating around in the community than there is at the present time. What would the Liberals have done in office to overcome this? They have only suggested we should have done something in the Budget. They believe that the Budget should be used to dampen demand. What would they have done to help the economy? I suggest that if the Liberal Government were still in power it would not have revalued or taken any action to control the inflow of foreign investment. I believe that there is reason to suggest that right now there would have been about S750m extra floating around in the community. Would a Liberal Government have taken all that out of the community by budgetary means? How else would it have done it?
What we are asked to believe is that a government comprising honourable members opposite would have introduced a budget with a deficit of some $750m. Yet everything that the Government has done to try to restrain expenditure in the Budget has been criticised by the Opposition. The Opposition says that we should have increased defence spending. Almost every suggestion in the Coombs task force report for reducing government expen diture has been attacked by the Opposition, so presumably it would have done none of those things. In relation to the Karmel report, presumably the Opposition would like to keep funds up to category A schools. The Opposition is completely irresponsible in suggesting that all these expenditures should continue. Is it suggested that we should do nothing to dampen the private sector? How else are we expected to believe that the alternative government would have gone about restraining inflation? In other words, there is a complete credibility gap in the approach of the Opposition.
A most important method of countering inflation is to increase productivity. This was mentioned last night by the Leader of the Opposition and we would agree with him. We are all for increasing productivity but it seems that whenever the Government tries to do anything in particular about it the Leader of the Opposition wants to baulk at it. Recently the Federal Government announced a 25 per cent reduction in tariffs. This was surely a most important measure. If possible tariffs must be low rather than high for only if they are can we enable resources to flow into the most efficient industries. This measure will bring about an increase in productivity, and by this mechanism inflation can be restrained. Also - this looms very large with honourable members on this side of the House - if workers are employed in more productive industries they can be paid higher wages both in money terms and in real terms. Yet these very important anti-inflationary measures and measures designed to increase productivity were attacked and opposed by the LiberalCountry Party Opposition. The same can be said for the various subsidies. Surely if we are to get any rationalisation and efficiency in our industries, primary and secondary, we cannot go on interfering with market mechanisms. Yet it is the so-called party of free enterprise which has opposed the actions taken by the Government to allow the market mechanisms to operate and the most efficient industries to develop.
The main problems we have in Australia at the present time are poverty, inequality and the under-privileged members of our society, particularly the Aborigines. These are the problems of a modern industrialised society with the many social pressures of urban living. We know the great problems we have in our cities with rising drug consumption - I do not mean just illicit drug consumption but also the consumption of drugs such as tranquiliser and barbiturates - and the increa.se in violent crime. All these are tremendously important social problems and things which this Government is determined to do something about. What this requires is a transfer of resources to those areas and to those people where the need is greatest. In a context in which we need a transfer of resources, the sort of action advocated by the Opposition is completely irrelevant. The suggestion of a wage-price freeze is utterly irrelevant. It is like trying to fix somebody who has a fever by tampering with the thermometer. All one is doing is affecting the way in which one calibrates the severity of the problem without getting at the problem itself. What we have to do is tackle these social problems and this is what the Government has done.
In the field of urban public transport the Government has taken an important new initiative. For the first time money is being spent on suburban railways. I congratulate the Government, if I may be parochial, for the initiatives taken in South Australia, particularly in relation to extending the Christie Downs railway and the electrification of the line. This is a most important rapidly developing part of Adelaide, and this action will provide a much needed facility for the area. I hope that the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) will give very close consideration to enabling the rolling stock for this railway to be constructed at the Islington workshops of the South Australian railways. The workers there are amongst the finest in the Commonwealth, and history shows that they are capable of carrying out this work. I believe that favourable consideration should be given to that construction being carried out there. For the first time we have direct grants being made for sewerage works in the capital cities. In the past this has been covered by Loan Council allocations but now they are direct non-repayable grants to catch up with the backlog in the provision of sewerage facilities.
We have important initiatives in the field of community health. At last we are moving towards establishing community health services according to the priorities laid down by the Sax Committee. With those community health services, with heavy emphasis on preventive medicine and with rehabilitation we will make an important break with traditional medical practice in this country and I believe it will be a great breakthrough for the welfare and health of the people of Australia. There have been many problems in the past in the treatment of mental health. I believe that according to some census it is related to the rising consumption of tranquilisers and other sorts of drugs. I believe we must have some sort of break from this tradition.
The provision in the Budget for the establishment of community mental health centres is, I believe, a tremendously important initiative. In the past Commonwealth expenditure has been confined to providing capital grants towards the cost of mental institutions built by the States. From now on we will be providing incentives for health services to be provided in community mental health centres. If care is provided outside institutions the Commonwealth will provide the capital cost and a large share of the recurrent costs. This is a tremendously important incentive to give to State governments. Those who are enlightened in the management and treatment of mental illness will know and appreciate that this is a most important and enlightened step by the Government not only in the treatment of what is conventionally regarded as mental illness but also in the treatment of alcoholism and drug dependence.
The Budget also provides for an important outlay to be made for the promotion of dental health. We believe that the most important place to start is with our school children. We believe that by 1980 we will be providing a comprehensive school dental care treatment for every primary school child within Aus; tralia. A most important start has been made in this Budget with the allocation of $7. 6m. If the States that have not adopted fluoridation of water supplies - Victoria and Queensland - can be persuaded to introduce that most important public health measure, I think we can confidently expect that this plus the dental health scheme will mean that dental decay will become virtually a rarity. It will be a curiousity in 10 years’ time. Much credit is due to the Government for this important allocation.
An important field in which resources could compete would be the building industry. The Budget will create a greatly increased demand for buildings particularly welfare housing and school buildings. This means that there will be a heavy demand on resources. What are we going to do about this? We must ensure that resources are diverted from elsewhere because if we just put more money into housing and building without doing anything else or without doing something about the private sector all that will happen is that we will build the same number of dwellings at an increased unit cost. Quite clearly what we must do is to divert resources from elsewhere. I think that the place where we could start would be the excessive high rise redevelopment that is going on in the city areas. Ideally I would like to see this controlled by the Government. We should have a system of capital issues control. It will be very difficult to achieve it.
I hope that the Government can very soon bring about some control over these institutions so that we can ensure that expenditure is in the most pro-social areas. Until the Government has done this we cannot really rely on the developers themselves because they are not concerned with social priorities. Fortunately there is one group in the community that is concerned with social priorities and that is the employees in the building industry. We are fortunate that the Builders Labourers Federation has acted in Sydney with social responsibility in this area by putting an embargo on certain redevelopment projects within the city of Sydney. The Federation’s motive behind this action has been to conserve some of Sydney’s historic sites and to maintain the basic character of the Sydney area. I suggest that perhaps an equally worthy motive might be that priorities should go into providing schools and housing for low income people at least until such time as the Commonwealth has the legislative power to control capital issues.
Another step which we must take is to place fringe banking organisations under the control of the Reserve Bank of Australia. We have already taken action to call up the statutory reserve deposits of the conventional banking organisations but there is no doubt that this must also be carried out in other areas such as the hire purchase organisations otherwise the measure will be insufficiently effective. In this way I think we will have to dampen down demand in the private sector of the economy. What we will have to do, perhaps in the case of hire purchase companies, is to set up statutory reserve deposits which can be frozen. I do not believe that the interest rate is a good weapon to use to ration the inflow of money into the housing sector because this might mean that it will go to the highest bidder. If we just limit the amount of money available by calling up statutory reserve deposits as we do with the banking sector we could then just establish a waiting list in order of application the same as the public housing authorities do in the various States. It has been argued by some people that if we limit the number of loans available the money will just go to the wealthiest people because they are the most credit worthy. I do not think this is necessarily the case. We have the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation which should enable lenders to lend to borrowers according to the order in which they apply irrespective of what their income or their socalled credit worthiness is.
Another area - I am sure the Government has given some attention to this - where action must be taken relates to increasing the supply in certain sectors where there are bottlenecks in the building industry. The case of the bricklayers is well known. However, perhaps it is not so well known that there is no shortage of people who are trying to get into the trade. I think that one of the problems is that with the prevalence of sub-contracting there is a reluctance on the part of these operatives to take on apprentices. Perhaps what we could do is for the Government to give preference to people employing day labour and those people would have some incentive to take on apprentices. Another measure that wc could adopt is to give some sort of incentive to people who take on apprentices so that we can help overcome this bottleneck.
I think the most deafening silence of all from the Opposition has been the failure of its supporters to say anything about the great problem of food prices. Perhaps this is because they are so concerned about the rural rump which occupies a corner of the House on the other side. They are frightened to face up to the basic problem. If we are going to do anything, as I said when this question was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Prices, a decision has to be made about meat prices. We either have to restrain the export flow of meat or we are just going to cop it. I know there are problems both ways but there is absolutely no other measure which will effectively counter this problem. I have much pleasure in supporting the Budget. I congratulate the Treasurer. I urge the House to throw out the capricious amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– It gives me great pleasure to support the very necessary amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden). The Budget that we have seen is only the tip of the socialist iceberg. If anyone wants to know what is under the water look first at the rest of the Coombs report which is due, of course, for implementation as soon as the Government dares to do it. Look also at the nature of the controls - the socialist and indeed communist control - which are being exercised over this Government through the trade movement and the structure of the Government’s own party. But I would say that this is not so much a bad Budget as it is an evasive one. It dodges the problem and it misses the opportunity. It is an evasive Budget.
First let me say something about inflation, since it is obviously the topic which is in everybody’s mind and most people have referred to it. The previous Government was faced with inflationary pressures. It slowed inflation to a walk. It did so in the face of a great deal of criticism from what is now the Government and was previously the Opposition. The Australian Labor Party was against all the measures which enabled the past Government to bring inflation under control. Then this Government came into office. The walk changed to a trot, to a canter, and now perhaps even to a hand gallop, and unless something constructive is done the animal may bolt. In the interests of all Australians this must be avoided. I think it is in this context that the Leader of the Opposition last night made his constructive suggestions regarding a temporary prices and incomes freeze. This has to be all-embracing if it is to be successful but we think of this surely only as a temporary measure. A prices and incomes policy may be necessary now because of the mismanagement of the Government during the past 8 months. The Government has reactivated the forces of inflation and what was well under control when the present Government took over the treasury bench is now almost out of control. The price of that mismanagement may well be that temporarily we will have to accept something which is unpleasant and which is, I think, uneconomic in many ways - a prices and incomes policy of an arbitrary kind. I dislike this prospect. I know that it cannot be implemented effectively without some kind of co-operation from the States but I would not regard it as anything more than a temporary measure.
These kinds of unpleasant curbs may be necessary in the climate which the Government, through its mismanagement, has created; but we do not want to keep them on for longer than is necessary because they inhibit sound growth, they inhibit the progress of the economy and they represent an incursion into people’s freedom of action and the quality of life. The fact that we may have to accept these curbs as a temporary measure is an indication of the way in which this Government’s financial policy has failed and is bringing us to the point where unpleasant alternatives seem to be inevitable.
The Government has raised, through its policy speeches and in other ways, expectations which cannot be satisfied without further inflation. The Government has sponsored industrial disorder. I do not refer just to strikes. I am referring to the organised attempt to cut down productivity through strikes and their effects. Rolling strikes, so dear to the Government, would not occur, whether it be in the Post Office, the building industry, the power industry or anywhere else, if the people who, very often for the worst purposes, were organising them were not confident that they had a great friend in the Federal Government. The fact that the Federal Government is sponsoring industrial disorder is largely responsible for the reduction in productivity.
I referred earlier to missed opportunities. These come about as a result of the policy of the past Government and as a result of events external to Australia. I refer to Budget figures which relate to our balance of payments on current account. In 1970-71 we had a deficit of $601m; in 1971-72 that amount was reduced to $140m; and in 1972-73 the deficit was replaced by a surplus of $955m. This situation came about partly through bad seasons in the Northern hemisphere raising the prices of our exports, partly through the energy and materials crisis which is occurring in the United States and elsewhere - these are events external to Australia - and partly because of the sound policy of the Liberal-Country Party government in the past. These factors have reversed the deficit and turned it into a surplus.
The receipts for 1972-73 have nothing to do with the policy of the Labor administration because the receipts flow from contracts which were entered into before the Labor
Government came to office. Those receipts therefore stand to the credit not of the Labor Government but of the previous Government. This situation formed an opportunity for the Labor Government which this Budget has missed. Because of this change we should have had better living conditions for all Australian people. This Budget should have been one which gave advantage to people throughout Australia. I ask: Who is better off because of this Budget? Who can say that because of this Budget his living conditions have improved? Perhaps a few sections of the community and the odd person could say this but, in general, the impact of this Budget has been unfavourable. It is a Budget of missed opportunities. I repeat that the previous Government’s policy, together with chance events external to Australia, created conditions in which there was a tremendous opportunity which has not been taken by the present Gov-
I refer now to one specific item in the Budget which apparently has escaped attention. I refer to the amount of taxation revenue which has been put into capital works and capital advances. I take my figures from 2 sources - the national income and expenditure figures and the figures showing payments to the States, both of which were tabled when the Budget was presented. I think it would be fair to say that if one adds together the capital items as shown in these tables, grants to the States for specific capital purposes, advances to the States and the Post Office, and things of that character, one gets the amount of capital expenditure which in this Budget is charged against taxation. In this Budget the total of those amounts is $2,749m, which is $ 1,000m more than the expenditure contained in the last Budget. I think it is only fair to deduct from that figure the shown deficit. This results in a net figure of $2,062m of revenue taken from taxation and used for capital works. If the market had been handled properly - heaven knows there was enough inflow of capital to make proper handling possible - it would have been possible, for example, to have personal income tax or to remove entirely most the excise taxes. It would have been possible to do so without disturbing the major fabric of the Australian economy. The Treasurer has missed his opportunity and the people are paying too much in taxes because of that. He has mishandled the loan market. He could not raise money now if he wanted to because of his past policy, his past eminent. inefficiency and his own mishandling of the position. This is a’ direct accusation of inefficiency on the part of the Treasurer in this regard. The figures I have were taken from the papers that he presented to the Parliament with the Budget.
I come now to a matter which obviously concerns me as a past Minister for Social Services and one which I hope to speak on at greater length when the Social Services Bills are before the House. I say just in brief that the pensioners have been short changed in this Budget. The rate of pension has been raised, I think, by some 7 per cent with a possibility of a further similar or nearly similar rise in the latter part of the year. But this is only the same rate of rise as the Treasurer’s forecast of the increase in prices and it is probably a great deal less than the real increase in the prices that the pensioner will have to pay for his bread and butter. It is only just about the same as the rise in the average rate of male earnings. We were told at election time that the present Government was going to increase the pensions rapidly until they came to 25 per cent of average male weekly earnings. It does not look as though’ they will ever catch up at this rate. The pensioners have been short changed on their rate. What about the pensioners getting supplementary assistance, the most deserving or certainly the most in need of all the classes of pensioners? They will not receive anything extra at all from this Budget. Their standard will fall, and they have not yet had to meet the impact of the rising prices which will occur through the Government’s increases in indirect taxation in this Budget.
I come to the matter of the means test. Here I am afraid I have to make an accusation of bad faith against the Government. I read from the present Prime Minister’s policy speech. It states:
The means test will be abolished within the life of the next Parliament.
There are no qualifications, just the one sentence. I turn now to the Treasurer’s Budget Speech. He said this:
We have promised to abolish the means test on age pensions payable to residentially qualified persons 65 years of age and over within the life of the Parliament.
That is the small print which was not in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. I do not cavil at the statement of the Treasurer. His phrasing is exactly the same as the phrasing I used when I was the Minister for Social Services. I think that what the Treasurer said is probably fair enough. But it is not what the Prime Minister said. It is not the pledge the Government was elected on. It was elected on a lie, and here it is in black and white in the Prime Minister’s speech. The Prime Minister said nothing about the small print. The Prime Minister’s speech is a lie and the Treasurer-
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Those words of the honourable member for Mackellar are offensive to me as they relate to the Prime Minister and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– Let me withdraw them. Just let me put on record-
– I ask that they be withdrawn.
– I have withdrawn them and I put on record what the Prime Minister said, and it is in print in his policy speech, and what the Treasurer said and it is in print in his Budget Speech. The two cannot be reconciled. Either one of them is a lie. I do not know which one it is but the 2 statements simply cannot be reconciled one with the other and that stands as a fact. There is a socialist framework behind this Budget. It is a framework of bureaucracy. Again I remind the House of the words of the Treasurer, spoken in this House only last Thursday. When talking about the taxation program of the Government which is in the Budget he said this:
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 he said:
Some of the Government’s proposals will not begin to have impact until later this financial year. 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.
The quote is exact. He said, ‘. . . to the point where they are likely to be exterminated’. This is the kind of criterion which the Government uses. This is its standard of conduct. When the impact of these proposals starts to bite later in the year it will listen if someone is likely to be exterminated. One has to be battered down to the ground before one will be heard. This is bureaucracy in action. This is socialism in action. There are many other things that I should like to say, but I just summarise by saying that this is a counter productivity Budget. The Government proposes to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs but it does not propose to ask the pensioners to dinner.
– It does not seem to me to be useful at this stage of the debate either for me to restate in my own words and with additional illustrations, the speech that we heard from the Treasurer (Mr Crean) 8 days ago, or for that matter to reply to the rehashing to which we have just listened of the speech we heard from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) last night. One of the aspects of the Budget to which I had expected that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), who has just resumed his seat, would have referred in a positive spirit was the fact that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs has had its appropriation for this year lifted from $46m to $89m. This is a development I expected the former Minister to greet and set aside from the body of the Budget which he otherwise roundly condemns.
This Budget is being brought down at a time when the Woodward Committee which is looking into the subject of Aboriginal land rights has just presented its interim report. Land rights are a matter to which over the months ahead the Parliament will be paying some attention. In the circumstances, rather than retrace the ground which has been covered already so many times in this debate, I want to address myself to the question of Aboriginal land rights within the framework of the appropriation brought down in the Budget. I want to say something about the only project of this kind launched so far.
On 24 July 1971, the Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe, handed over to the Chairman of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust, Mr Charlie Carter, title deeds to 4,000 acres of land. The Governor said at the time that his action marked a turning point in aboriginal affairs. The Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Meagher, said: ‘We give you the land with the hope and expectation that you will hold and cherish it’ and Mr Carter said: This is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to anyone’. But the Country Party member for East Gippsland, Mr Bruce Evans - the man on the spot said:
The plan to allow the residents of Lake Tyers to
Tun the reserve as a trust and to stand on their own feet has failure built into it. One third of the adult trust members are pensioners. The remainder are those who have been unable to respond to Government encouragement in years gone by to move out into the community, so naturally have at the best extremely, limited experience in or knowledge of farming operations and probably a complete absence of knowledge of the much more vital problems of farm economics. Further, with at the most four exceptions, all the adults are heavily addicted to drink, and are in fact extremely sick people.
The Victorian Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs responded to Mr Evans’ remarks by initiating against him in the name of Trust members a writ for libel. It responded by appointing Europeans to 2 positions on the committee of management for Lake Tyers and to the position of farm manager. The writ was withdrawn when a number of the nominal plaintiffs declared publicly that they had neither anticipated nor desired the course of action taken in their names. The appointments have been a failure, despite the best efforts of the manager, whose undoubted professional competence, sincerity and good-will have not equipped him to help the people of Lake Tyers to overcome their formidable social problems, or rise to the challenge of community-building with which they find themselves faced. Today the man to whom the title deeds of the property were handed, Mr Carter, is a broken man, thinking about undergoing treatment for alcoholism at Larundel after serving 3 terms of imprisonment for offences associated with that sickness. The land which was handed over by Mr Meagher is being bought back by his successor Mr Dickie on behalf of the Victorian Government. The high hopes expressed by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe, have come to nothing.
Whereas shares in the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust were assigned 2 years ago to 33 adults and 58 children, the number of shareholders currently living at Lake Tyers is 19 adults and 15 children. The number of shareholders who are willing to occupy their property has fallen over a 2 year period by twothirds. Shareholders with scrip worth up to $250,000 have been driven by despair not only to give up the occupancy of their property but in some instances to sell up their equity in it. The Secretary of the Trust, Mrs Johnson, was advised in a letter from the Acting Director of Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Renkin, dated 22 May this year, that the Ministry had become ‘a registered holder of shares in the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust on behalf of the Crown’, and expected therefore to be represented at future Trust meetings. The people of Lake Tyers were visited only last week by an officer of the Ministry endea vouring to buy up still more shares. These facts illustrate clearly the Midas touch of failure which Victorian governments bring to all their dealings with the Aborigines of East Gippsland. They show why Lake Tyers has become a source of hope not for the Aboriginal people but for racists and critics of the land rights movement.
The Commonwealth Development Bank advised the Committee for the Commonwealth Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises on 29 December 1970 that even the most feasible development program for Lake Tyers would have marginal prospects and depend for its success upon management of a high order. In choosing to ignore this advice and instead to hand over Lake Tyers to a group of Aborigines described by their own representative in the Victorian Parliament as having ‘at best extremely limited experience in or knowledge of farming operations and probably a complete absence of knowledge of the more vital problems of farm economies’, the Victorian Government showed a cynical disregard for the cause of Aboriginal land rights to which its spokesmen at the same time were paying lip service. The Government raised expectations both among Aborigines and in other sections of the community which it knew could not be satisfied. The first Chairman of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust, Mr Charlie Carter, told reporters at the time of the handover:
I feel a tourist area at Lake Tyers would be a winner. But as we don’t have enough money for its development we will lease some of our land. This will bring in extra income and eventually the land that has been cleared and the buildings that have been erected will be ours. Then we will bring in more of our people and so on until all the land has been cleared and is productive. We need more people so we can develop both culturally and economically. And I’d like to see our own cricket and football teams giving the rest of the district a hiding.
Two years have gone by since Mr Carter articulated so clearly the aspirations of his people. In that period Mr Carter has served gaol sentences for drunken driving, larceny and destruction of railway property, and currently he is at Lake Tyers waiting on the result of his application for an invalid pension and, as I have mentioned already, considering entering Larundel for treatment as an alcoholic. Mr Carter is 41 years of age.
The second Chairman of the Trust, Mr Murray Bull, said shortly after assuming office in October 1971 - that is, within 5 months of the inception of the project - that the handover of Lake Tyers had been premature since ‘we haven’t got the knowledge yet’, but he affirmed quite bravely, ‘I think we can make a go of it.’ Mr Bull who even now is only 25 years old, resigned within a year both as Chairman and as a management committee member and has left Lake Tyers for a job at Longford. The current Chairman of the Trust, Mr Con Edwards, is a 71 -year-old invalid pensioner who does his best for the people of Lake Tyers in the circumstances as he finds them and within the limitations of a bad heart. Not one of these men is a ‘nohoper’ but each in turn has been landed with the responsibility for an undertaking which had failure built in at the outset, and each in his own way and in his own turn has broken under the burden of that responsibility.
The number of Aborigines on the 7-man Lake Tyers committee of management has fallen from 5 to 2, and great difficulty is being experienced in finding replacements for those who have resigned. The prevailing despair of the community was expressed earlier this year by one of the few remaining active shareholders, Mr Freddie Johnson, who said: ‘It’s going backwards. There’s not enough work around here and the pensioners aren’t interested in the farm. I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ More than half the 36 adult Aborigines resident at present on the Lake Tyers property are living on social security payments or waiting for approval as social security beneficiaries. There are jobs for only 4 adults on the farm itself and the 5 young people between 15 and 17 years of age neither work nor attend school. The aspirations, determination and self-respect of the Aborigines of Lake Tyers, no less than the health of Aboriginal children throughout East Gippsland-
– You are talking about the health of Aboriginal children and yet you are taking their free milk from them. What is wrong with you?
– If I can encourage the honourable member to pay a visit to East Gippsland some time in the near future, I think he will see that an improvement is under way. These things have been sacrificed to the doctrinaire determination on the part of the Victorian Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs to ‘make the Aborigine stand on his own two feet’. They have been sacrificed to the dogma that Aborigines must run before they have finished learning to walk.
Early this year men with a semi-trailer stole more than 100 new-born lambs from the Lake Tyers paddocks. Early this year Mr Carter’s mother told reporters:
Things are bad. This is private property and every day and night there are these white blokes coming in here, and, you know what I mean - taking the women out. Not the younger girls, but the teenagers - taking them out in cars.
Questioned last year in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, .Mr Hamer, now the Premier, told Mr Evans that police from Lakes Entrance were frequently called to deal with drunken brawling and damage to property at Lake Tyers and that the Chairman and other Trust members had complained to the police about Europeans taking alcohol into Lake Tyers for the purpose of procuring young women. A writer for ‘Nation Review’ was told by the railway porter at Nowa Nowa that the amount of wine consigned weekly to a local motel had risen from 5 to 25 cases. He was told by a local police superintendent that the incidence of crimes associated with alcohol had increased since the handover of the Lake Tyers property to the Trust. These are characteristics not, as has been suggested sometimes, of a community nearing the end of heartbreak, but of a community for which heartbreak has become a way of life. Having lost respect for themselves, the Lake Tyers people are denied respect and exploited by the wider community of which they are a part.
Last year Mr Carter was hit on the head and lay for 3 days in a coma because there was no car on the property at the time and therefore no way of getting him to hospital. When an ambulance called to take a child to hospital for regular treatment, the driver refused to take Mr Carter as well, and only grudgingly agreed to arrange for another ambulance to be sent out for him. When Mr Carter reached Bairnsdale Hospital he was given a week’s treatment for stomach ulcers before the authorities became concerned enough over his failure to recover consciousness to dispatch him to Melbourne, where a 2-week old brain haemorrhage was at last diagnosed. Even then treatment was held up because the Bairnsdale Hospital authorities had forgotten or not bothered to send on a case history or indeed any information other than the patient’s name. Whereas frequent false alarms have made the Bairnsdale ambulance service reluctant to visit Lake Tyers in response to calls from Aborigines, it is th, policy of the Victorian Ministry that such calls should not be made on behalf of Aborigines by other people. It is not from a book or a film but from grim experience that the Aborigines of Lake Tyers have learned the meaning of ‘Catch-22’.
Mr Carter’s wife is dead, and he went to prison leaving his 14-year old daughter in charge of 5 younger children. The family hunted possums, scrounged other food where they could and slept where they could find beds until the local policewoman became aware of their predicament and said they would have to be made wards of the State. Friends arranged instead for the younger children to be fostered away from Lake Tyers, despite the insistence of a high official of the Ministry that they should be returned to the care of a 70-year old grandmother who was not in a position either physically or financially to accept the responsibility. The eldest girl also accepted foster care for a time, but then hitch-hiked back to Lake Tyers so that she could be there when her father got out of prison. She lived by killing rabbits with sticks and stealing cabbages and potatoes until starvation and an infestation of scabies drove her back to the foster home. Nobody commented on her 8-month absence from school, because it is taken for granted by the Ministry that Aboriginal children will be kept home not only by their frequent illnesses but also bv jobs like bean-picking.
The predicament of Lake Tyers is symbolised by the 3 Chairmen who have held office within a 2-year period and had their spirits broken in doing so, by the management committee members who have resigned their positions and the shareholders who have gone away or who now rely on the Department of Social Security for their incomes and upon alcohol as a substitute for self-respect. It is symbolised by broken-down farm machinery and the bus upon which Trust members depend for their link with the world outside being garaged in Bairnsdale because there is nobody at Lake Tyers authorised to drive it. It is symbolised by the Ministry sending out its officials to buy back from Aborigines the shares with which they were issued only 2 short years ago. It is symbolised by houses deteriorating for lack of maintenance and the wrecked school building which 2 years ago was to have become a community centre. It is symbolised by Mr Carter waiting for an invalid pension and the chance to dry out in Larundel, at the settlement where 2 years ago he planned to create a new home and a new hope for his people.
Shares in the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust acquired in recent months by the Victorian Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs must now be reassigned to Aborigines who can make good those deficiencies in skills and expertise and leadership by which the Trust has so far found itself crippled. There is a need in particular for new Trust members trained in the techniques of community action and development and able to generate a new enthusiasm among the people of Lake Tyers and to crystallise the ideas for development of their property to which so far they have given only vague expression. The approach for a detailed feasibility study of the future development of Lake Tyers which has been made by the Trust to the Australian Government should be accepted immediately and backed up immediately with the resources of the Capital Fund. Arrangements should be made for the enrolment in Australian Government restraining programs of those residents of Lake Tyers - particularly women - who at present are unemployed dr under-employed, and for provision of the necessary training facilities either at Lake Tyers or in nearby centres. An Aboriginal motor mechanic should be recruited or trained to maintain the vehicles and machinery of the Trust and bring back the bus which is garaged at present in Bairnsdale. There must be better provision for the health care of the community and better incentives for its young people over the school leaving age to persist with their’ education. It is in this way alone that we can make up to some extent for the humiliations, frustrations and disappointments of which this small, unlucky settlement has been made a victim.
Not the least welcome of the provisions in the Budget to which this House is now giving consideration is the emphasis which is given to the Government’s sense of responsibility to the original inhabitants of this country. The honourable member for Mackellar, who preceded me in this debate, carved out for himself in the political history of this country a reputation for a sensitivity and a concern for the affairs of the Aboriginal people of Australia for which there was no precedent. I believe that in this Budget we are building on foundations which he laid. The only way open in this important matter for future governments is forward.
– This will not be the first time that the term ‘2 nations’ has been used in politics, but I believe that it aptly describes this Budget. This is a 2-nations Budget framed as though there are 2 standards of social justice and social equity in this country - one for those who live in the metropolitan cities and one for the one-third of all Australians who live outside the metropolitan cities. It is unjust for 3 main reasons. The first is that it adds to the cost burden of country people. By ‘country people’ I mean country people in general. Petrol forms an integral part of freight costs confronting them, and freight is added to the cost of most items that country people have to buy. Telephone and postal services are essential to them, but the charges for these services will be increased also. One should remember that in the country there is probably a higher percentage of low wage earners than in the capital cities. A great number of workers in country cities and towns are earning just the basic wage. Approximately one-third of the dairy farmers of Australia, as well as other farmers, are receiving less than the basic wage. Yet they are to be saddled with this added cost burden.
I shall mention some other interesting examples of added burdens. For example, pensioners in country towns will have their telephone rentals increased, in some cases by 100 per cent. The Budget gives notice of the establishment of community health centres which supposedly and hopefully will help people, but so many things that are supposedly for all of Australia never seem to get through to the country cities and towns. One adverse effect that the development of community health centres or medical centres could have is that even fewer general practitioners and medical services could be available in many country communities. Another aspect of the Budget is the increase in regional social service offices. I hope this is not just for the metropolitan areas, because one of the problems in the country areas is the distance of many people from the closest office. I live in a fairly intensely settled rural electorate, but there are people who live 50 and 60 miles from the nearest office, and the people who are the least able to travel and the least able to afford the trunk call that is required to make contact with the social service office are the people who need the advice and the assistance of that office - the widows, the elderly, the invalids and the unemployed.
The second area of injustice is that the much publicised assistance for decentralisation and for local government that would help country areas - the promises were made during the election campaign and since - is nonexistent in this Budget. The Government is to make a loan at 7 per cent for the AlburyWodonga growth complex. Apart from the contradiction of our Treasurer (Mr Crean) being a low interest man, of what use is a loan that has to be repaid? One can quote time after time from statements made by Government supporters when they were in Opposition about the incorrect financing of the Commonwealth in providing loan money rather than grant money to the State’s and local government. I agreed with them. But what is the Government doing now? It is providing loan money as its only contribution to decentralisation.
Many local government bodies have been led to believe that the Government will provide them with a new source of revenue through the Commonwealth Grants Commission. However, this money will not be available to local governments for general revenue purposes. It will be available only after all other avenues of revenue have been exhausted and an example of facilities less than the average can be shown. I ask whether any study was made by the Grants Commission of the western suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney which are to receive $8m in this Budget. I challenge the Government to prove that they are the most deprived regions of Australia and as such should receive or need assistance. Is this assistance to be in the form of grant money or loan money? If it is grant money, why does the Government have 2 standards of justice - one for the industrial suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney and another one for Albury-Wodonga and other complexes? If it is to be loan money the Government will not be helping these regions at all because the greatest burden that both State government and local government have is the repayment of debts and loans. All that this Government will do by providing more loans will be to increase this debt problem.
Transport, is a problem for country people. Where are the great promises of assistance for interstate highway and railway transport that one heard before the election? There is nothing. The Budget outlines assistance only for suburban transport. Many country people are becoming more and more concerned about what will happen to the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement when it is renegotiated next year. They are fearful that at the time this Government will reduce the amount of money available for country roads. The problems of transport represent a great cost to country people. Communication charges are another cost, particularly to business people in country cities. What has happened to the lavish promises of many Labor would-be politicians and politicians that trunk call charges would be reduced? What has happened to the election policy statement of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam)? He said:
Our first help for State programs will be to implement, for all States, the recommendation of the Victorian Decentralisation Committee that ‘centres nominated for accelerated development be recognised for telephone charging purposes as extensions of the metropolitan area whereby rentals would be equated and calls between these places and the capital charged as for local calls’.
If rentals for telephones in country cities and farms are to be increased, as they have been dramatically, surely justice requires that an extension of the local call charge area should be made because the people in the metropolitan areas can do all their business - I am referring here to the average businessman - at a local call rate. But this is never so in a country area, particularly if one is a businessman.
The third area of injustice in this ‘2 nations’ Budget concerns the primary producer, who has been singled out for special savage attention. If there is any moral in this Budget it is that the electors of Dawson, Riverina, Eden-Monaro, Hume and Wide Bay must realise now how ineffectual their representatives in this Parliament are and that all of their protestations and promises are absolutely useless. We have a very interesting example of this in the Dartmouth situation. I would like to quote an article which concerns the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of August 1971. The article stated:
An ‘anti-irrigation, anti-development’ lobby was campaigning for the abandonment of the Colleambally irrigation development in New South Wales, Mr Al Grassby has warned.
Mr Grassby, the Labor MP for Riverina, said the lobby wanted all the water from New South Wales’s Blowering Dam used in South Australia.
It also wanted the construction of the $60m Dartmouth Dam in Victoria abandoned, he said.
Well, at last we have the moment of truth. This ‘anti-irrigation, anti-development’ lobby is none other than the Prime Minister himself. Surprise, surprise! So despite all of this great screaming about people who are not sympathetic to rural needs, we need look no further - and the honourable member for Riverina need look no further - than the man who is right here and out in the centre, the Prime Minister of Australia.
The concessions to primary producers which have been largely wiped out in this Budget encouraged improved farming practices. They also provided some sustenance to farmers during poorer times and have resulted in the great achievement that even today food prices in Australia in terms of a percentage of average weekly income are cheaper than in any other country. It is all very well for someone to say: ‘What about the high food prices today?’ But what did we hear from these people when lamb and other food products were being given away? I believe that a person can justifiably stand up and say that high food prices should be pegged only if he stood up when prices were at give-away levels and said that these prices were too low and that we had to do something to increase them.
There are some curious situations in the Coombs report and in the Budget on sales tax anomalies. The removal of the exemption from sales tax of fruit juices which is used in soft drink is one. As a result children now have to pay more for soft drinks. People can argue that Coca-cola or some other soft drink might not be much good for children. But I would prefer to see children encouraged to drink soft drinks that some other liquids. The Coombs report and the Budget make no mention of some other curious anomalies. For example, all apple and grape wines are exempted from sale tax but other fruit wines are subject to a 15 per cent sales tax. Here is an area that should have been dealt with by Dr Coombs, if he was fair dinkum.
To put it in another way - and I hoped that the Government would have seen it in this light - if it is fair and just for there to be no sales tax on grape and apple wine, why should other fruit wines be taxed? The pear industry in its move towards diversification would have been considerably assisted in the development of perri, baby chams and pear alcohols generally by the removal of this sales tax. The industry has no hope of developing its market while it has to pay a sales tax of IS per cent when the other industries do not. It would not cost the Government anything because it does not collect money from this source anyway.
One other feature of the Government’s Budget is its phony accounting. Firstly I refer to the phoney accounting in assistance to rural industry. According to the Budget Papers assistance to rural industry is up $56m. But if we look a little closer we will see that the accounts for rural industry this year include for the first time transfer payments of $77m between the Australian Wheat Board, the Australian Wool Board and the Reserve Bank of Australia. These are transfer payments that are pay-outs on one occasion and pay-backs on another. They have nothing to do with assistance to rural industry in the sense of some grant or concession. So there is S77m less to start with.
Promotion levies are included for the first time in this Budget. Farmers themselves put up the money for these promotion levies, not the Government. The $20m for rural credit that was included in the Budget was put forward by the previous Government in its Budget of 12 months ago, not by this Government. An amount of $47m is to be provided this year for rural reconstruction. But $15m of that was put forward by the previous Government when it was in office. So instead of having an increase of $56m there is a considerable decrease. This ls apart from the fact that the loss of concessions, telephone charges and so on to farmers will amount to at least $150m this year. Apart from the loss of concessions and the phoney accounting rural people, who in the main are deriving higher incomes, will be paying at least 50 per cent more tax because of the double problem of ordinary tax and provisional tax. It is fair enough that country people should pay the same tax of anybody else. But country people will be in for a real shock when they start to fill in their next year’s income tax returns. I hope that that shock comes about at the same time as an election.
The phoney accounting continues, as other speakers have pointed out, in education because the true increase is not $404m but $260m. As the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) pointed out last week, this is still a welcome lift. I say also that it is a welcome lift. But apart from aspects contained in the Karmel report, basically all the other increased expenditure had also been promised by the previous Government in its policy speech following acceptance of certain reports. If the LiberalCountry Party Government had remained in office I believe that much the same lift in education would have taken place. Once again the problem arises of how much will get through to the country areas. This problem occurs also with special features of social security and health expenditure. It never seems to get through. I hope that in the case of education it will be different.
I deplore the breaking of a pre-election promise by the Prime Minister that existing aid to independent schools would not be’ reduced. This was referred to by the honourable member for Wannon last week. If aid is to be provided for non-government schools it can be justified only on a per capita basis. I believe that it can be justified in the sense that it is a per capita saving to the government system and is providing a democratic choice to parents. One of the greatest dangers facing democracy in this country is a centralised and monopolistic education system. The new arrangements following the Karmel report discriminate against parents because there is no correlation between the wealth of a parent and the school that his child attends. There has been no means test of the parents, only of schools. If a needs test is to be applied to grants for independent schools, I believe that it can be justified if it is applied to capital grants only. If there is any difference between a well endowed or so-called elite school and an ordinary non-government school it is in the provision of buildings and other capital facilities, not in the children who attend those schools.
I welcome the announcement by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) that the grant for tourist attractions of an Australian nature introduced by the previous Government will be extended this year. Again I congratulate the Government for this action as it is a most worthwhile venture. But when will some form of special benefit be provided for the parents of handicapped children who cannot send their children away to a special home? When will such a benefit be introduced? I believe that this group of people is now the most financially and socially disadvantaged in our society. I was hopeful that something would be included in the Budget for these people, but it is not. I hope that the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) will soon introduce a special benefit of that nature.
The Government has not mentioned in the Budget its intentions in respect of donations for voluntary foreign aid organisations. Many people believed, rightly or wrongly, that the Government would make donations to voluntary agencies tax deductible, or matching donations would be made by the Government, or that both would happen. So far the Government has been very quiet on this subject although Budget time is when this sort of change must be stated if anything is to happen. All the supporters of voluntary agencies in Australia giving foreign aid are questioning the bona fides of the Government in this matter.
Another feature of the Budget is the question that must arise regarding centralism and State socialism. After the Budget is there any area in which State governments have unfettered control, including those areas which the Constitution has stated or implied are within the administration of the State governments? Is there anything left in which the Federal Government does not have a finger and cannot tell the States what to do? Why should taxpayers’ money be used to build a pipeline? If one believes reports in today’s newspapers, the taxpayers’ money is to be used even for a car factory for the production of a people’s car when it can be built cheaper and the facility run more efficiently by private enterprise at no cost to the taxpayers. The Government could still control the price and the end use of the product by regulation.
I believe that there is a warning to the Government in the Budget. Many people voted for Labor for the first time last December. Many middle class people and pensioners have received a great shock from the Budget. Pensions are barely keeping up with inflation, let alone rising to 25 per cent of the average income. Many pensioners who receive part pensions will probably now be worse off because their pensions will be taxable. The Coombs document, which is very selective in what it singles out for criticism, should be studied particularly by middle class people. They should read what the future holds, what shocks are in store for them next year. For the same group of middle class people personal taxes this year will increase by more than the average increase of 27 per cent.
Good examples were given last night by the Leader of the Opposition. The increase in the price of petrol must also be met. These people turned last December to Labor. When the effect of the Budget is felt I am confident that they will turn again and replace the Government.
– I support the Budget. It has been described as a centralist and socialist Budget but I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr Crean) on bringing down such a fine Budget. It is the finest Budget we have had in 24 years, brought down by the finest Treasurer and supported by the finest Government that this country has had in 24 years. The conservative reactionaries opposite who were rejected by the people of this country on 2 December last have said that it is a socialist Budget as if that expression would arouse disgust in the community. I inform them that the people of Australia are very pleased to hear that expression. They are very pleased to have a socialist government and the next time we go to the polls they will prove it.
The honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), who preceded me in this debate, made a comment that epitomises the conservatism and rank reactionarism of hourable members who now sit in Opposition. With no justification or support for the statement the honourable member said baldly when talking about a government-built factory to produce motor cars that the facility could be built cheaper and could be run more efficiently by private enterprise. Private enterprise has proved around the world that it does not work. Inflation is rife not only in Australia but also in other capitalist countries around the world. The United States of America, a bastion of free enterprise, is also the home of the greatest and most rapidly growing inflation in the world.
Last evening we were treated to a dissertation by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), who was Treasurer in the previous Government. I listened very carefully to the words of wisdom he was addressing to the people of this country. After a while I started to realise that I did not really understand what he was saying. It worried me a little and I thought that my mental processes were perhaps deteriorating as I could not understand what this man was saying to the House of Representatives and through it to the nation. However, I was rejuvenated this morning when I read in today’s newspapers that some journalists had not understood him either. It was the type of diatribe- which we have always been fed by the people opposite who were in office for 23 years but did nothing except bring about a shambles and ruin. The right honourable gentleman’s speech shows clearly how speeches can deteriorate when they are no longer written by Treasury officials. When they have to be written by the right honourable member himself, they are not quite of the same quality.
We have always been consistent. Honourable members opposite stand up and say that nothing is being done about decentralisation. They did nothing about it in the 23 years that they were in government. We have been in government for about six or eight months. They say that nothing has been done in any area about decentralisation. They ask: ‘What is being done about the environment? What is being done about this and. that?’ If they believe that those are good things they could not have suddenly reached that conclusion on 2 December. They must have believed that for some time. Yet in all the time they occupied the treasury benches of this Parliament they did nothing about it. At least the Labor Party has been consistent. For 23 years it has been saying that there are areas of neglect and areas that need to be tidied up. Now that the Labor Party is on the treasury benches it will do something about these things.
– Reg Pollard would turn over in his grave.
– He is not dead, so how could he turn over in his grave? He is still alive, for the honourable member’s information. The honourable member for Murray seemed to indicate that areas outside the metropolitan areas are deprived. He said that no benefits filter through to the country. I see from those who represent the country that no intelligence filters out that corner of the House. His comments lead me to believe that what has happened-
– I rise to order. The remarks of the honourable member are personally distressing to me. He said that there is no intelligence coming from the country corner. I ask him to withdraw that.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Would the honourable member mind repeating the part which he considers to be offensive?
– He said that there is no intelligence coming from the country corner.
-I do not know whether that is a matter for debate. Does the honourable member claim that it is offensive?
– I ask him to withdraw it.
-The honourable member claims the remark is offensive. I ask the honourable member for Burke to withdraw it.
– That is quite right. I too think it is offensive. Probably some intelligence does flow out of that corner of the House.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, he has not withdrawn the remark.
– I withdraw the remark. I think that it should be withdrawn. I was led to believe by the previous speaker that country areas are somewhat deprived and that benefits do not seem to filter through into the country areas. He led me to believe that that had been happening for some time. Deprivation does not occur overnight, and it did not start on 2 December. He ought to have a look at who has been the major partner in the coalition Government of this country over the last 23 years. It has been the Australian Country Party. So if the country is in a pretty bad state, I cannot say that there is no intelligence flowing out of that corner because the honourable member finds that offensive but it is an axiomatic statement.
Apart from updating the usual contents of the sort of budget to which we have become used over the years, this document clearly shows an intention by the Government to advance into new areas. Previous speakers have said that the statement made by the Treasurer in the Budget to the effect that there has been a 92 per cent increase in the allowance for education is not true. If I have to choose between the words of our Treasurer and the words of those who sit in Opposition, there is little doubt about whom I will believe. I believe that the statement in the Budget is correct. Almost double the money made available previously is to be spent in very vital areas of education. The funds are to go to areas that have been distinctly and clearly neglected in the past. Any casual student of the 1969 and 1972 elections would know that the community is very disturbed about the way in which the education systems in this country have been allowed to run down.
Health is another very important aspect of our whole social life. It is as important as education. Certainly both of them bear heavily on the working man. The cost for the average working man to educate his family bears upon him far more heavily than it bears upon anyone else in the community. The same applies to health services. We all know about the patched up, crumbling health service that this country has at the moment which was a legacy from the previous Government. This Government is not prepared to put Bandaids on it any more. The Government intends to tear it down and restructure it in such a way that it will not discriminate against the low wage earner and the young family man as the present scheme does. The Government would be loath to continue with a scheme that leaves a very large section of the community unable to contribute to it and so having no health insurance for their families. As a direct result, those people do not seek medical advice when they need it. That is the situation that exists in our community at the moment. We as the only political party with a social conscience represented in this House will certainly do something about it.
There is a need for hospitals. A capital cities hospital commission has been set up to survey the need for more hospitals throughout the community. An amount of $4.5m has been set aside for that urgent matter. Many speakers from the Opposition side have said how urgent all these matters are. I repeat that they did not suddenly become urgent on 2 December 1972. They have been building up. We have told honourable members opposite about it for years, yet all of a sudden in a great fit of piety they say that these are urgent matters and greater attention ought to be given to them. For the information of honourable members opposite, no attention was given to them for 23 years and that is why they are urgent matters today. The aim of the Labor Government is to gear all the resources of the community to a contemporary community.
Another area of great interest to the Australian Government is public transport. Funds have been set aside in the Budget for public transport. Honourable members opposite used phrases like ‘socialist’ and ‘Canberra controlled’. The Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party said that this is a Canberra controlled Budget and that it is centralist. All those words intended to be derogatory have been used ad nauseam. We have a curious situation in the public transport system in Victoria. The urban rail system was laid late in the 19th century and has not been upgraded greatly since. The rolling stock that was built at the turn of the century is slowly falling to pieces. The State Government is in no position to improve that rail system. I live at Broadmeadows, 9 miles from the heart of the city of Melbourne. That is the extremity of the electrification of the main Melbourne to Sydney line. There is no suburban rail system any further out along the line. There are houses at least 2 miles further out along the line and houses are being constructed out there at a very steady rate. The State Government has intended for at least 15 years to build 2 railway stations north of Broadmeadows and to extend the electrification of the line. When queries are made the answer is always the same: ‘We do not have the funds to do it.’
Now for the first time an Australian Government is taking an interest in that problem. The Government, which has resources available to do this sort of work, is prepared to make those funds available to relieve the State of its burden. But what response does it receive from the other side of this House? The Government is told that this is a socialist attitude. If that is socialism, I am all for it. They say that it is a centralist attitude and that this is a Canberra controlled Budget. All they have ever done is to leave the State governments in a hopeless position - in the case of Victoria I suppose I could say that they have left a hopeless Government in a hopeless position - in which they cannot afford to improve their services. There is no way through their own financial resources that they can improve the services. When the funds are made available from the Commonwealth for them to improve the services the Commonwealth is criticised. I cannot understand that sort of logic. I am sure that the community in general cannot understand that sort of thinking either.
When this problem confronted the champions of the free enterprise society and when it was pointed out to them by the Premiers belonging to their own parties - I refer especially to Victoria - that these funds could not be found, I suppose they said to the Premier of Victoria: ‘We cannot do it. If we did that it might appear that we were socialists.’ So they ignored the problem, hoping that it would go away. They adopted the solution they adopt to all the problems that worry them - they just did not do anything about it. lt is true that two-thirds of the population of Australia lives in the 2 capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne. They are enormous, bloated metropolises. To change that situation is not as simple as just constructing new cities. It is not houses that make cities; it is people demanding houses and living in the houses that are there who make the cities. Houses form only a very small part of the problems of cities. Once again the problems are people, because people need the services. The house does not need a sewerage service; it is the people who live in the house who need it. So we have these crazy situations.
In my electorate is the - very progressive municipality of Buller. In the township of Sunbury it is endeavouring to install a sewerage system to sewer the town. It is 22 miles from the heart of the city of Melbourne, it has a population of the order of 20,000 people and it has no sewerage. The people in this area formed a sewerage trust to put in a sewerage system. They had all sorts of trouble raising the money to do it. They were prepared to borrow the money and to repay it. The people who lived in the town were prepared to pay the rates necessary to repay the funds that were made available. The project is a $2m project. The people went to the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in Victoria and received $400,000. They were promised another $400,000 in the next year. On that basis it will be a 5-year program to get the sewerage system installed. They could physically do the work much quicker than that. However, because of the niggardly attitude of the previous Government they cannot borrow more than S400.000 at a time. The result is that they must now put in temporary services and treatment plants, treatment plants which at a later stage must be torn down and reconstructed when the permanent scheme goes in.
How much easier it would have been if when planning their scheme they could ‘ have been advised that if they wanted $2m to put in their scheme, $2m would have been made available over the time it took to do the work. This Government recognises that sort of stupid attitude which was adopted by the previous Government and is doing something about it. It is making funds available to local authorities to ensure that these areas have adequate and proper sewerage and do not have the temporary measures that have been adopted in the past by the land developers to the east of Melbourne. These people who were hungry to develop land went ahead and developed it without providing any services. The people then put in septic systems to give themselves some comfort. However, the effluent ran into the Yarra River and then into Port Phillip Bay which has been called the largest septic tank in the world. That is the situation which exists because of the short-sightedness of the previous Government which, with its so-called free enterprise philosophy, left the development of land and all of these associated matters in the hands of individuals. It is not proper for individuals who own land to make decisions on the usage of that land when that usage will affect the community. Surely that is a community decision. It is not a decision for somebody who is motivated by profit and personal gain rather than by a desire to see the benefit that may flow to the community or to safeguard against the harm that could be done to it and the environment ‘by his actions. This is the reason we now have to police these matters. The situation has got out of hand but it can be retrieved. Had the previous Government been returned at the last Federal election the situation would have been completely out of hand and the whole environment could have been irreparably destroyed.
This Labor Government, the only government with a social conscience, is prepared to take action and, if need be, lean on people to make sure that they do things for the common good and not in their own personal interests. The attitude of the previous Government was always to lean on those who are on low incomes, those who are sick, those whose employment opportunities are slight, those who are aged and those who are young. In other words, those in the community who cannot fight back have always been the targets of the Liberal Party. The previous Government carried that a step further and had a go at the field of local government. It found that of all levels of government, local government was least able to hit back so it thrust upon local government all sorts of social and welfare services, things for which local government is geared neither to administer nor to provide in terms of finance. The previous Government thrust these responsibilities on this level of government because local government could not fight back. The Labor Party will change that too. It is now looking at the local government area to give it some muscle, to supply it with the funds necessary to provide the services that local government wants to continue providing. Local government has been ignored in the past. It will now receive fair consideration. In all of these matters local government will have its voice on the Grants Commission. As a pilot scheme the western suburbs of both Melbourne and Sydney are being investigated to find out the problems in the community.
Having spoken about most of the bread and butter issues - certainly I have not covered them in any depth - now let me say that it is clear that the document before us is one of the most profound documents ever to be presented to this House, certainly in the last 24 years. The Labor Government realises that the community does not live by bread alone and it has made a significant contribution in the areas of culture and recreation. These are very important if the young in our community are to live a fruitful life and have an understanding of how they can enjoy the way of life that this Government for the next 25 years, I would humbly suggest, will provide for them. The emphasis in this Budget lies where it should lie. There has been no dramatic increase in revenue raising; rather there has been a change in priorities, priorities which we have told previous governments over many years were wrong. We have corrected this in part. In the short time that we have been the Government we cannot be expected to undo the cobweb which developed over the previous 23 years under the Liberal-Country Party Government but we are certainly taking a step in the right direction.
Sitting suspended from 6.16 to 8 p.m.
– I would like initially to say that I was pleased to see my friend the Treasurer (Mr Crean) introduce his first Budget. I think it was quite a tragedy for those of us who know him to be a pleasant man to find that he found so narrow the path between responsibility on the one hand and, on the other hand, promises made by his leader the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in order to win the last general election.
– He was very limited.
– Yes, very limited. Those of us on this side of the chamber appreciate the difficulties that the Treasurer had and also the difficulties that the Treasury had but we feel that they have been defeated on this issue because undoubtedly the proper role of the Treasury is to safeguard the interests of the economy. I intend to elaborate on that matter later in my remarks. Although the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) is not present in the House I would like to refer briefly to the speech he made before the suspension of the sitting. Two of the comments he made were of an outstanding nature. The first was that private enterprise has been proved across the world not to work. I would like to ask the honourable member where the blazes he thinks the Australian Government is getting its revenue and also where the real wealth of the country is generated at present because it certainly does not come from the public sector of the economy. There is no wealth in terms of the development of taxable income in that sector. I remind him that no matter how far his Marxist ideas might take him it is still worth recognising the fact that private enterprise is working and it is creating a good deal of dynamic force in a modern society such as Australia. Woe betide those who forget or ignore that fact.
The other comment he made was even more extraordinary. He said that no increase in revenue raising was resorted to by this Government. There have been many fine speeches made during this debate. I refer him in particular to the one made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and also to comments made by the leader of the task force which has produced various suggestions to try to save the Government from introducing in this Budget a dose of rash irresponsible expenditure. I think that the comment by the honourable member for Burke that no increase in revenue raising has occurred is adequately covered by this statement:
This year the Labor 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 $1 billion.
I should like to refer the honourable member for Burke to that statement of the situation which as far as I am able to perceive is entirely accurate.
I rise tonight to support the amendment which has been moved by my leader. I will not read it because it has been read once or twice during the afternoon. But I do wish to talk tonight on the basic philosophy - where it is discernible - of the Government on the one hand and on the other hand to talk about that section of the Opposition’s amendment which refers to discrimination against the rural community. I shall also refer to the Government’s attempts to be divisive by producing such a document in the first place.
With due regard to the Treasurer, I say that the Budget is an irresponsible document which attempts to honour some of the statements made by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in order to win the general election. On the other hand, it does nothing to control the situation that I think is now fairly described as one of ‘raging inflation’. On an annual basis inflation of 13 per cent for the last quarter cannot be described as other than raging inflation. There is therefore built into this Budget a strong degree of risk of consequent damage to the future economy of this nation. I assure the Treasurer that I am enough of a nationalist to sit tight and hope that the risk does not harden into fact and that the strength of the Australian community in the position in which it was left to this Government after a long and illustrious spell in office by the Liberal-Country Party Government will be sufficient to cope with this degree of rash expenditure.
The previous speaker from the Country Party, the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), referred to the private sector of the economy and he said that it has been unduly hit by this Budget. I suppose we would be hopeful if we thought a socialist government would not hit at the initiative of the private sector. But the point that my colleague in the Country Party made was that there seems to be no logical need to bring about an increase in expenditure from the public sector just for the sake of doing so. I think it seems quite obvious to anybody that if taxation revenue produces so much of the national cake that amount of the cake can be used to increase the social benefits of the nation. It can be used for a wide variety of government initiatives to try to help the business life of this nation become even more productive. But it does not matter whether one looks at the position which exists in the United Kingdom or that which exists in Russia. The position is similar. All socialistic governments try to stamp on initiative and traditionally they try to wreck the small companies and businesses. I have not before me some facts which I recall having read in relation even to the position in the United Kingdom under the Attlee Government. But what I have said is a statistical fact.
– Ground nuts.
– In the full meaning of the words I agree completely. I do not think I need argue that case with facts and figures. Most honourable members will acknowledge that what I have said is precisely what happens. Socialistic governments tread on initiative. If anyone goes to Russia today as I did a few weeks ago with an Australian delegation they will see a classic example of that. If a visitor wants to go shopping the first problem is to find a shop. The second problem is to find a way in which the goods of that society are available for people to buy. The visitor’s problem is to know what is available for purchase because he cannot see it. I hope that this degree of socialistic thinking never destroys the possibility of competition or the possibility of retaining initiative in a country like Australia which has progressed extremely well under the national economy as it now stands. Why strain the public sector with expenditure that the private sector can undertake? Why reap greater taxes when there is no need to do so? Why over-govern unless there is a death wish of mediocrity? On those issues the future of this nation will depend. On those issues the future of the present Government of Australia will also depend.
Let us look at the factual sides of one or two of the Government’s policies which have been introduced in the very short period that it has been in office. Let us look at the national health scheme. By attempting the old tactic of divide and rule and trying to centralise the debate on doctors’ salaries - that of course is not the issue - this Government has brought about a demoralised spirit in the medical fraternity today. Many doctors in the community suddenly are asking: ‘Why should we work beyond 5.30 p.m.? What is the purpose of it?’ My comment is that this is the situation that this Government is trying to create. How can Australia continue to progress if people do not work? Alternatively, how can Australia continue to progress if those who work, no matter how poor or how rich they are, are forced to donate more than they should for the sake of those who do not work?
On the question of immigration, there were those of us who, as we saw a state of full employment developing within the community, hoped that there would be an increase in the immigration quota to keep cost increases reasonable. We have not had an increase in the immigration quota but we do have overfull employment. Therefore, very shortly, with no fruitful action being taken by this Government there will be a shortage of key personnel in certain jobs. One does not need to be an expert in economics to understand that firms will start to bid for key personnel. This is one of the first signs of a demand inflation that will, I fear, soon hit the economy.
There is a debacle in the mining industry. No search is being, carried out by the mineral industry in Australia. The search for petroleum has virtually ceased. The Strangler has just about strangled all initiative in this direction and I think that this is appreciated by all honourable members. During the last 6 months I have had many representations from people in the mining industry wondering where to go and what to do in order to improve not only the resource situation for our own domestic needs now and in the future but also our export potential. Other honourable members who have received similar representations will know that what I say is true. We now have a resources diplomacy. This is the old ‘banana republic’ bit - try to run the world market short of one mineral or another, much as the Arab nations are attempting to do with fuel at present. It is much the same situation as that which caused the Japanese to erupt because they were not allowed to buy resources prior to World War II. This is the antiquated situation which the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) attempted to advance in Mexico when he tried to get the mineral nations together to control the supply of minerals to the world market in order to get an increase in price. Within limits this sort of thing has happened traditionally for years, but one would hardly expect the leader of a nation to go against all the lessons in history, to resort to the tactics of 30 years ago, and adopt banana republic antics in relation to Australia’s trading policy. In the motor car industry we have seen the first step in the Government’s intention to force private motorists off the road. I do not know which cars should remain on the roads - the big black ministerial cars or semi-trailers.
– A white Mercedes Benz.
– That takes up even more of the road because of its length. I do not know where the Government expects this policy to lead. One can understand a socialist State government, such as the one in South Australia, saying: ‘Do not build many more freeways’. However, to resort to the tactics of muddling up the previous Government’s tariff’ policy on the construction of Australian built cars to make sure that no firm gets a proper share of the market and so that no economies of scale can apply at all seems to me the reverse of the proper way to produce cheap cars or good value cars for the Australian people. Let us examine the Government’s determination to frighten the public motorist into not using his car. The price of petrol has been increased by 5c a gallon. That is an exorbitant extra charge on the ordinary person in this country. One has always hoped that because Australia is such a big country and there are such huge distances between capital cities, air transport rates at least would be kept low in order to enable people to commute sensibly. I have always hoped, for the same reason, that people would be able to use Holden motor cars to visit their relatives once a year, even if they live in Perth and their relatives live in Brisbane. Evidently this is not to be the case. We are to be subject to this ethos of mediocrity designed to drag all people down and to apply to Big Brother before being allowed to do anything. One sees signs of this situation in the early days of this socialist Government.
I refer now to the environment. I wonder what environmentalists are saying today about the site chosen by the Government for the new Sydney international airport. The site chosen is in the middle of an area which is loved by the people of Sydney and is used as a source of recreation.. What has happened to Lake Pedder, in spite of the fine words of the Prime Minister that he would look into the matter and try to do something about it? The people have been let down. From the way this Government is behaving one does not see much hope for the environment.
Let us consider costs of production resulting from the increase of 5c a gallon in the cost of petrol. We have not yet seen the beginning of increases in costs right across the board from this irresponsible step which is aimed at driving motorists off the road. If children go to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney they will find great increases in the price of goods. The cost of production of almost all goods is affected by such increases in the inputs of those costs. The most important increase - whether one is a main street trader, is a salesman, is employed in primary industry, or lives at Bourke or back of Bourke or comes from Brisbane - is the cost of fuel. In due course this Government will regret the fact that as a deliberate policy it sought to do these things across the board. In generally adding to increased pressures on costs it helps not one bit in trying to keep price increases to a reasonable level. Many previous speakers have spelt these facts out clearly.
Another matter to which I refer concerns me personally because not long ago I engaged in a debate with the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) at the University of Adelaide. He left no doubt in the minds of those present that the Government would make tax deductible all donations to voluntary agencies concerned with overseas aid. In this Budget there is no mention of such a proposal. I have no intention of repeating many of the good points made by a colleague in the Country Party who spoke a short while ago but, because of my personal experience, I cannot help commenting on the voluntary aid organisations. Those organisations were assured that they would get help. Personally I make no bones about the fact that I do not think they should get help by means of having donations to them made tax deductible, but that is another matter.
One could comment at length on various matters, including regional development. How does an increase in telephone rentals from $27 to $55 in some instances help regional development? Monarto, in South Australia, is to receive $1.2m whereas the proposed AlburyWodonga complex will receive $33. 2m. Will such provision help decentralisation in South Australia? What about the Cities Commission, as it is now called, channelling moneys into urban areas and not into areas like Monarto? What about the petrol subsidy that was aimed at levelling the cost of petrol across the nation? The Government has discontinued that proposal. Do any of the Government’s proposals aid regional development? I doubt whether the Government has any sincere aim of trying to transfer population from city centres to regional areas. All I can say is that this Budget ensures that this will not happen.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in his Budget speech devoted 11 lines in Hansard to the immigration program and to all the problems which have been uncovered in recent times in connection with the settlement of people in this country in recent years. The Leader of the Opposition last night indicated that there was a high availability of high quality migrants to come to Australia to do the jobs which are presently available. He capped this 11-line reference to immigration with a sad attempt to create further divisions in our society by talking about people disliking migrants - surely a strange phrase in a nation of migrants. It was an unworthy end to a most inadequate reference to the migration program and the problems which exist at the end of the 25 years of population building which Australia has undertaken.
As a former Minister for Immigration I would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition would have attempted to give some attention to the very real inadequacies which exist in Australian society at the present time in relation to the people who have come here recently. I would have thought there would have been at least some token of sympathy for the people who have to come to feed the industrial machine with their labour, their hopes and their aspirations. I would have thought that he at least would have had a word of sympathy for the children who are crammed into cloakrooms, cellars and other makeshift meeting places to learn the language of their new country. I would have thought too that if he believed that there is at present a great international queue of people waiting to come to Australia to fill the vacancies to which he referred he would have done the House the honour of sharing his sources of information. To brush off the whole of the problems of settlement of citizenship in our country with 11 lines is hardly adequate.
Perhaps I should not have been surprised because he shrugged off the 5 years and more of rural recession with the shallow alibi that in 6 months or 7 months ‘his Government has neglected the rural sector when he knows that the overall allocations in the Budget are higher than they were last year under his Government’s administration. But more important he virtually forgot the betrayal of rural interests by his own Government which resulted in 30,000 farmers and their families being run off from the. land, including families from my own electorate. Today the Australian Wheat Board is touring the world to ration customers following the endeavours of the previous Administration to ration wheat growers. The concern about food shortages is a concern born of the fact that the neglected rural sector in the past was forced to kill breeding stock which raised not even enough to pay debts but simply to subsist. So the legacy of the last Administration is a huge debt structure, shortages of every grain, lost opportunities for new forms of production - I mention only one, soya bean, just as an example. Yet with it all there is not a moment’s regret, not an acknowledgement of shame or responsibility for the hardship of past years.
It was pointed out today eloquently by the honourable member for Cook (Mr Thorburn) that for the Leader of a party which ruled for a generation and which forced more people into the cities than we have ever had in our history to talk about decentralisation is a mere exercise in double talk. We have inherited the Augean stables and it will take a lot to clean them up. The countryside today, I am pleased to say, is on the high road to prosperity again. In my own area there are $30m worth of new projects dedicated to the production of food and fibre with every encouragement. There is no doubt in the minds of the investors about the future and the confidence which we have at present.
The pretence of helping the countryside in the past is gradually being stripped away. We have seen in the past millions of dollars made available ostensibly to help wool growers, but they never received it. We saw how $25m. was allocated in the past to fruit growers and they received less than $5m. We have seen dairy subsidies that failed to correct the poverty in the areas it was supposed to assist. We have seen indeed a huge outpouring of money which never reached the people that it was purported to be for. There must be a total examination of the position of. those who should have been getting amounts from the Australian taxpayer but which went to vested interests and did not reach the people that it was supposed to be destined to help.
Perhaps the greatest inadequacy of the speeches not only of the Leader of the Opposition but of nearly all the honourable members that I have heard on the other side of the House has been the lack of recognition of the divided nature of the country the Government of which they so reluctantly handed over on 2 December 1972; the divisions in the community, the divisions among citizens, the education gap which exists - not the generation gap but the education gap.
One of the tragedies of government in Australia and indeed one of the tragedies besetting the Australian people is that the high hopes of the founding fathers of Federation have not yet been realised. It is not a bad idea and it is not a bad exercise for us in Australia in the 1970s to go back to the rhetoric of the constitutional debates - the Federation debates. Should we become a nation? Should we become a united Australia? Should we become a country in the South Pacific with a high destiny or should we remain - I cite debates of 80 years ago - a collection of petty provinces. It is not a bad idea for honourable members who have not been interested to attend to their duties to try to understand to re-read the speeches made not even at the turn of the century but before then, to find out what the high hopes of the founding fathers of our Federation were. One of the. things they wanted to do was to end the position of Australia being a collection of petty colonies, of petty provinces. I cite speeches that are now 80 years old and which portray the high hopes that have not yet been realised. There is indeed less co-operation between the States of Australia in the 1970s than there is between the sovereign nations that comprise the European Economic Community in the 1970s. But of course some of us are content to wallow in colonialism and to wallow in the hangovers of the last century.
The absurdities of these colonial hangovers are still with us. Australia is the only country in the world where the wild duck changes its sex life when it crosses a river.
– How do you know?
– I do not know that at all. I am indebted to the honourable member for interjecting. As a matter of fact I doubt very much whether it is a fact. The laws of the sovereign States of New South Wales and Victoria solemnly say and set out that the duck is different on the 2 sides of the river. Australia is the only country in the world in which these petty provinces can solemnly rule that the fruit fly is viable only between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and on certain roads. These absurdities live with us after 70 years.
Just a few days ago a group of young Australian women at the Barham High School, which is right on the Murray River - there were about a dozen of them - wrote to me to protest against discrimination. The discrimination that they protested about was that a few yards away is an area which has tertiary institutions that they would like to attend. The area is within a stone’s throw of where they live, but because of the colonial boundaries drawn in the last century by clerks in another country who were not too well up on what they were doing, these girls are precluded from going to their natural centres for tertiary education. They said to me in 1973: ‘Why?’ I give the Opposition full credit - I mean this and I direct my remarks to the distinguished member of the Opposition who is at the table, the honourable member of Berowra (Mr Edwards) who is at the moment representing the Opposition in this debate - for saying: ‘We accept it’. 1 was glad. But let us see just what happened.
Members of the Opposition accepted the great principle of wiping discrimination but allowed the whole thing to be held up because of a gaggle of words involving a term which is hurtful and which has no legal significance, but which indeed would lend hurt to 1 million people in our country who have not yet applied for citizenship. These are the real things in relation to building national unity which I have been concerned enough to mention. (Quorum formed) The reason is that we have been ruled for too long by little men dedicated to yesterday. That was the reply I gave to the young women concerned.
I refer now to the Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications, which was established, incidentally, by my predecessors. I very much doubted whether the Committee was doing good work until I met its members and understood their problems. I discovered that the Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications had been labouring mightily and well to try to get some understanding of other people’s qualifications. Its members were trying to do this very sincerely and well but I discovered that their greatest single obstacle was not in trying to relate what was happening to migrants coming to Australia but in trying to work out what happened between so-called Australians - between the Victorians and the New South Welshmen, between the New South Welshmen and the Queenslanders and so on. In 1973 it is an indictment of the discussions of the last century on our national unity that we have not yet established in any shape or form national qualifications. They do not exist.
This Committee is trying very hard to develop what is called national accreditation, lt is trying to develop screening methods whereby it would be possible to say to people from the 60 countries that send us people at present: These are some national standards’. Actually, we do not have any at present but we are trying to develop them. Some professions, notably the physiotherapists are co-operating extraordinarily well and they have high hopes that the architects, the dentists and the medical profession will follow. But these are the first steps in the 1970s; 72 years after Federation we are trying to achieve some simple unity on professional qualifications. I commend the Committee warmly for its work because in the process of trying to give a new deal to migrants it has also set out of course to bring some unity in the professional sphere to Australians generally.
I notice that the Leader of the Opposition talked about strong national action on inflation. He said that decisions should be made in Canberra that were binding on all the people of our nation - all 13 million of us. He said that it should be done and proclaimed. Those were wonderfully strong words but there is only one trouble with that principle. We are not a nation. Constitutionally, the Leader of the Opposition knows as well as we on this side of the House know that it is not possible. There was one great almighty omission in his speech. He did not say: ‘I will support the granting of powers to enable you to do it and if you fail at the next election, I will have those powers and will do it’. I would have respected the Leader of the Opposition for that, because that is the truth of the situation. However, he did not say this. He knows that there is no such thing legislatively as the Australian nation. There is a gaggle of petty provinces which are happy in their colonial hangovers.
Wc cannot do even the simple things that the New Zealanders are able to do. I was a member of the mother Parliament of Australia, which happens to be the Parliament of New South Wales, which had the privilege of administering New Zealand for an entire generation. Yet, that offspring of the mother Parliament of the Australian Commonwealth can do things today nationally that we are unable to do after 72 years of so-called Federation. So, in fact, we are not in a position to undertake national planning and national policies. All we can do is to hope and pray. Every time this principle is put forward, there is some dear old man of yesterday who rises in his place - I do not say in this place, but in some other place - and says: ‘That is a terrible centralist speech’. As far as I am concerned, the prospect of centralised decision making in relation to administration is anathema to me. 1 do not want to see all decisions that touch on day to day administration made in Canberra any more than I want to see them made in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth or Brisbane.
As a matter of fact, one of the things that has happened in our country is that we have maintained the third tier of government as a
Cinderella. It has been neglected, deliberately starved of funds and deliberately denigrated. Wc arc trying to do something about it. Of course, there are those who want the present situation to continue. There are those who do not want a change. There are those who, spiritually, should not worry about what happens in Australia in 1973 because they are the spiritual sons of Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria and they should have gone to their illustrious rest with her.
I was greatly amused to hear reference to the fact that the Japanese are confused about our present policy because during my recent visit to Tokyo I met the executives of nearly every major corporation headquartered in Tokyo. I found no confusion at all. They recognised that at long last Australia has followed the example of Japan itself to ensure that there are national guidelines for the use of Australia’s resources. Japan has been doing this for generations. In fact, they wondered why we had not done it before. They were always so concerned and confused about us that on one famous occasion there was a gentleman, now retired, named Sir Henry Bolte who visited Tokyo. The Japanese were so confused as to who was the Prime Minister of Australia at that time that the emperor gave him an audience as the Premier of Australia. Well, perhaps he was. But the confusion was supreme. The Japanese at that time favoured dealing with either British or American corporations because at least they knew what they were about. They knew what they were talking about and what their interests were. But when the Japanese got a gaggle of petty provinces from Australia going up to talk to them they thought: ‘Who are these people?’ Obviously, they recognised the inadequacies of our situation when they gave Sir Henry Bolte the accolade of being the Prime Minister of Australia at the time. Perhaps he was; even I was confused at that stage.
What I wanted to point out is that in the barren rhetoric that we have heard from the Opposition in this debate - and I was disappointed in it - we have had no recognition that in 1973, whether we like it or not, Australia is a new nation. Shortly, half the population will be under 25 years of age. There are 3 million new people since World War II and their sons, daughters and grandchildren which means that those who were alive at the time of World War II are now in the minority in Australia. We have a job of building a new national unity based on citizenship and our heritage and on some pride in Australia as an independent nation. I am disappointed that there has been no reference in this debate to citizenship. We had a Bill in this House not so long ago, which went to the Senate, designed to wipe out discrimination in citizenship. Under the old system, people were granted citizenship on the basis of a residential period of 5 years, 3 years or 1 year, depending upon what colour they were or what was their race or religion. We decided to wipe that provision.
– It is a pity that attention had to be called to the state of the House so late in the speech of the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), as I am sure that members of his own Party who were not here could have benefited by listening to him. They could have seen how good his act was. He certainly acted very well. If his act had been on television it would have been a most enjoyable show, but unfortunately those who had to listen would not have been able to understand because there was very little that was intelligent in his remarks on the subject with which he was dealing.
The Minister for Immigration, who is so concerned about the future of this country, has made allowance for an intake of migrants this year on a similar basis to that of last year, but of course we have one extra allowance. This year possibly most of the migrants who come to Australia will be relatives and friends of those already here and there will be a very limited intake of tradesmen and professional people who are needed so badly at this time in this country. Perhaps if the Minister had devoted more time to that aspect and less to his television acting he would have done a better job.
The Minister for Immigration commented that the rural industry was experiencing a boom time, lt certainly is, but that is an act of God, not an act of Gough. The seasons are such that the rural industry is certainly enjoying fruitful crops and a fruitful time in spite of the Government that is in power. This cities Budget - that is all I can call it - is definitely against rural industry. It has hit hard in every possible way at the rural community. Firstly, not very long ago this Government increased the levy on wool from 1.4 per cent to 2.4 per cent. It was stated at the time that the reasons for the increase were that we were having such a wonderful time in the wool industry and that prices were so good that the industry could afford it. The Government forgot the very tight times the wool industry had endured not so very long before.
That was not all. That was not the only blow to let on that there were more blows coming in the Budget, but that was soon revealed by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) the other night. Firstly, he announced a meat export levy of lc per lb, and then the abolition of the investment allowance on manufacturing and primary industry plant. The abolition of the investment allowance affects manufacturing concerns as well as primary industry. The depreciation allowance on farm machinery was also abolished. As the House is aware, some capital expenditure in primary industry could be written off totally in the first year whereas other capital expenditure could be written off totally over 5 years.
All the allowances I have mentioned were to the benefit of the farmer. They gave him an opportunity to establish his farm and they encouraged him to put up buildings and to buy buildings and to buy new machinery. These measures worked to the advantage not only of the farmer but also’ of the industries which supplied materials for buildings, and also farm equipment. Many of these rural suppliers will notice an immediate and noticeable drop in their custom due to the body blow dealt by the Budget. Farmers, of course, will be reluctant now to rush in and buy new machinery or to put up new sheds. They will just make do for the time being knowing full well that this Government has not yet finished its purge against the country industries.
Withdrawal of the allowances I have mentioned will greatly affect the suppliers of products to the rural industry. This could well mean a further increase in unemployment in country areas, cities and towns. Will the Government provide pay packets for 6 months to those people who will be forced out of employment because of the Budget measures? I wonder. There will be a few alternative jobs available in the country areas. However, perhaps the Government assumes that those who are out of work because of the Budget or because of the lack of business between suppliers and rural industry will be able to go to the city areas. After all, it was only the other night that the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) said that there were plenty of jobs in the city areas.
Before proceeding any further I draw attention to what the Budget did not provide to alleviate a very grave problem facing many areas in Australia, that is, hospitals for the aged. In the hospitals for the aged, as honourable members probably are aware, there are 3 types of patients. They are classified as intensive care, infirmary and ambulant patients. The intensive care and infirmary patients attract from the Government a subsidy for the hospital, but unfortunately the so-called ambulant patients do not attach any subsidy. There is a desperate need for such a subsidy. Why is it that the Government cannot see its way clear to provide to hospitals in respect of these patients the $12 a week it is now providing to hostels for the aged under the Aged Person Homes Act for the care of si m i liar types of people? Many of those who arc called ambulant patients are unable to help themselves but because of the rules regarding the limiting of the number of people in the infirmaries and the intensive care wards in hospitals, the hospitals themselves cannot classify these patients as intensive care or infirmary patients. They have to be classed as ambulant patients even though they require almost full time nursing. Surely a number of these ambulant patients could easily be verified, to the satisfaction of the Government, by the simple expedient of having a doctor certify that they are definitely infirmary or intensive care patients. This would overcome a great need of the hospitals. The hospitals need more assistance than they are receiving.
With costs having risen over the last few months, even the subsidies provided for the intensive care and the infirmary patients are nowhere near sufficient to cover the cost per bed for these patients. Equal pay for the large number of women who work in hospitals has added thousands of dollars to the wages bills of the hospitals, and unfortunately the S22.40 per week, which is the new benefit awarded as from last January, is nowhere near sufficient to match the amount required to cover the cost of beds. I think it is a disgraceful situation that after many months of talk no positive action has been taken to provide the extra amount of money which would overcome the great problem facing hospitals. They are being crippled by the lack of assistance. The Budget should have provided additional funds. The extra benefit is $22.40 a week. It should be at least $30 per week per bed to cover added costs. An increase of this order would have been a positive step by the Government towards doing something for the aged infirm in this country.
Other speakers have criticised the increase in the tax on petrol. The increase of 5c per gallon hits hard at every person, but it hurts the pocket of the battler, the working man, more than anyone else, and honourable members on the Government side know this. They must be very frightened to go back to their electorates. In today’s affluent society many average families possess 2 cars, many have one car and perhaps a boat, and many have only one car. Nevertheless they will not be very happy with this Government at having to pay an increased price for petrol. The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) may well laugh, but he will wish he was at the back of Bourke when his electors get to him. The increase in petrol prices will eventually be passed on to the cost of every conceivable item because freight charges and bus fares will rise. Workers will pay more to get to their jobs by either their own vehicles or by the public transport system. Goods will cost more to make and to deliver. Who said that this Budget would not increase inflation? It will hurt the family man. The man on a low income, even in his moments of relaxation, will be hit by this Budget. It will cost him more to go to his favourite sport or to take his family out. If he has no car, the added cost of public transport will, in many cases, probably force him to stay at home.
All the rises that will occur in the prices of cigarettes, beer and spirits, will hit the family man more than anyone else. I am sure he will remember these rises in prices; I know he will remember them long after he has forgotten what minor benefits the Budget has produced.
I now turn to company tax and decentralisation. The State Government of Victoria reduced payroll tax to encourage industries to decentralise. The reaction of companies to this Budget will soon nullify that plan. The increased company tax added to the extra cost of petrol for country industries in particular will wipe out any possible savings that might be gained by the State’s move. If this Government was determined and honest in its attitude to regional development it would have left country firms free of this insidious increase in company tax and city firms would have had an incentive to leave metropolitan areas and go to country areas to establish their businesses. Certainly the Government would not have imposed an extra 5c tax on petrol supplied to country industries.
The Government suggested in its election campaign that it would provide for uniform telephone charges as an encouragement for industry to decentralise. Not only did the Government fail to make good that suggestion but it worsened the situation greatly by raising rental charges for telephones in country areas. This Government has proved beyond all doubt that in presenting this Budget, this cities Budget, it was carrying out the commands of its city-based trade union bosses and that it has no intention at all of assisting the development of the rural section of the community.
The Budget also dealt with pensions. The price of all goods will rise because of the increased cost of petrol and other pressures. Pensioners will receive the promised $1.50 which, as was stated last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), is an increase of 1 1 .4 per cent as against a rise in average earnings of 13 per cent. At this rate, pensioners will never see the day when their pensions will reach the level of 25 per cent of the average working wage. In fact, they will see the value of the pension lose ground.
The home savings grant is to be deleted by 31 December 1976. The Minister for Housing (Mr Les Johnson) believes that this grant was designed to assist only the wealthy. That is a ridiculous assessment. If he talked to the man in the street or got down to the shop level he would know what goes on. The Minister would know that there are many, many young people who have saved earnestly over a period of 3 years specified in the scheme to qualify for this grant.
– Because of it.
– Certainnly they have worked hard for it. They deserve to receive this grant. This grant has given them the incentive to save for their own home. The honourable member was right when he said: Because of it’. These people have worked to save for their home. They did not have anybody to put money into the bank for them. However, the Government is now taking the grant away from them. The Government is trying to reduce home ownership to a minimum, if not wipe it out altogether, so that it can adhere to the absolute, pure socialist attitude of the Government owning all.
The Treasurer proudly claimed in his Budget speech the; other night that no alteration would be made to the pay-as-you-earn system of taxation. However, the print was hardly dry and the air lines had hardly cooled before the Treasurer announced, through the Press of course, that it would not be long before the Government would be considering possible amendments to taxation allowances and that education and insurance claims could be deleted. I wonder when this will happen? Will it be this side of Christmas or before next June? I do not think it will be too long. What about the election promise of this Government to allow a tax deduction for child car centres? That has been conveniently forgotten. Many working mothers are finding it very difficult to understand why on the one hand they have to pay expenses to send their children to child care centres but are not allowed to claim them as a taxation deduction and on the other hand when their children get a little older and go to a state school these expenses can be claimed. This Budget will be known as the cities Budget. But I think when one considers all the factors, it could well be known as the blunderers’ Budget.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (8.55)- I rise to support the Budget. I am proud of the opportunity to speak during the debate on the first Budget brought down by a Labor Government in 24 years. As the Budget represents the planned business activity of the nation for the next 12 months it is only natural that there will be some areas that will need adjustment and other areas that will need1 compensating assistance However, in my opinion the strategy of the Budget is far superior to any propositions put forward by the prophets of doom from the other side of the House who have spoken in this debate. The honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Bourchier) said that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) had been acting and that he should be on television. It was noticeable that he never tried to put up any case against the facts that were put forward by the Minister. On the other hand, I think it can be said that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) was acting when he moved’ his amendment to the Budget. However, I think it very unlikely that any member of the Opposition would advise him to go on television, particularly at a time when the Minister for Immigration or the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) was on television, because I think that this would show us the weakness of the Leader of the Opposition.
The Leader of the Opposition attacked the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard). He said that the honourable member had abandoned his electorate because the Government had removed the tax exemption in respect of gold mine profits. I believe that everyone in this House knows what a sincere and capable member is the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. The Leader of the Opposition also made a lot of noise about the discontinuance of other tax exemptions for mining industries including the 20 per cent exemption in respect of the profits of copper, nickel, tin, bauxite, beach sand and manganese miners. He said that these measures would have adverse economic effects and cause real social dislocation and hardship. I ask the House how sincere the Leader of the Opposition was when he made these statements and how sincere front bench Opposition members were when they supported him.
– They were fair dinkum.
– Well, I will just say that they were not fair dinkum. The lead and zinc mines have never had these tax exemptions. Last year when the South Mine at Broken Hill was closing down I led cap in hand a delegation of unionists representing the miners at Broken Hill to each appropriate Department of the then Government. We asked on that occasion whether the Government would give us some of these concessions so that the South Mine could be kept in operation. But what happened? All the Ministers hung their heads in mock sorrow and when we went outside they had a couple more whiskies and forgot all about the mine. The Broken Hill mine was allowed to close down. The mine remained closed down for 6 months and it was only due to the efforts of the miners and workers at Broken Hill that the mineral, mining and metallurgy company was convinced that the mine was still a paying proposition. The workers there were so sincere that they offered to work for 6 weeks and to have their pay deferred. Many of them even put money into the mine to get it going. I will mention the success of that arrangement later.
I do not want to spend all the time allotted to me in replying to the arguments put forward by honourable members opposite because I want to put forward some suggestions as to how the Government can really assist the mining industries. In doing so I am conscious of the fact that many of the lead and zinc mining companies are big operators which have prospered, developed and diversified their interests to such an extent that they no longer depend for their profits on the original mine. They no longer depend on the employees who were needed to win the wealth from the hard rock. Broken Hill South Ltd could be classified as one such company. I do not say that to be critical but simply to illustrate the way that the big mining companies operate. After they build up large organisations of highly paid directors, technical and managerial staff it may be necessary for them to act as was done at the Broken Hill South mine.
Because of the large overhead expenses that big mining companies must carry, perhaps to work effectively our mining resources large and small companies should work together. When the ore is starting to peter out and becomes diversified and scattered the big mining companies cannot operate in their normal way. I am told that often a lot of natural wealth is left behind in the ground. This became very obvious when Mr Howell, a director of Broken Hill South Ltd, announced on 6 April 1972 that the mine would close on 7 July 1972, giving notice of 3 months. Many reputable mining authorities claimed that the mine was finished for all time and, as I stated previously, it was closed for 6 months. It was only through the continuous efforts of the mining unions and ex-employees, who were able to convince another company that the South mine would be a paying proposition, that it was opened again.
The suggestion was knocked from all directions, even on a governmental level. However, the answer to all the knockers can be found in the ‘Barrier Daily Truth’ of 3 August 1973 under the heading ‘MM and M Boost’. The article goes on to say that Minerals Mining and Metallurgy Ltd reaped a $500,000 increase on its operations at the South Mine for the June quarter compared with the previous 3 months. The company earned almost $1.5m for the latest period. The directors’ report showed the approximate value of production at $1,448,000 as against $910,000 in the March quarter. Honourable members will appreciate the great performance of the previous Government in giving assistance to mining companies and working our mining resources when it was prepared to pass over that sort of production! That mine is still in full production. The directors said that the approximate value of production of $1,448,000 was calculated after smelting charges and subject to price adjustment, yet to be notified by the smelters.
Activities and production at the South mine increased in the 3 months period. During that time the volume of ore treated jumped from 50,370 long dry tons to 85,287 tons. Surely this is a good example of what can happen when employers are prepared to listen to and act on the advice of employees. Big companies as well as smaller companies must be made to realise that in the management of our mineral resources the mining industry and the national Government have a common responsibility as custodians of much of our natural wealth to ensure that the resources are managed in the interests of the whole nation, not only for the present but also for future generations.
The mining industry and the national Government have a more direct responsibility to the miners and other people who work in and around mines and build homes in remote areas to win production that has transformed the nation’s balance of payments. It has brought immense wealth and immense technological and industrial progress to our nation. Ten years ago minerals accounted for only 7 per cent of our exports. The Bureau of Mineral Resources has estimated that in another 10 years mineral exports could reach , a value of as much as $3,700m, more than 2i times their present value. It is not unreasonable to forecast that by 1980 minerals could account for one-half of Australia’s export earnings.
The Department of Trade and Industry estimated that expenditure by all Australian industries on research and development represented 1 per cent of turnover whereas the mining companies spent close to 10 per cent of their turnover on exploration in 1971. After considering these facts no one would want to say that mining companies, big or small, had not played their part in the economic development of Australia.
However, there are wider considerations that must compel the involvement of modern government in the mining industry. Despite the size of our mineral resources it would be fallacious and dangerous to regard them as inexhaustible. For this reason we cannot allow any big mining company to walk off a mining field and leave millions of tons of payable ore in the ground. I believe that the Government has some responsibility in this area. We must take into account the effects of mining on the rights of Aborigines, on the environment and pollution and the rights of those people who work in and around the mines. In the case of Broken Hill it must be remembered that even though the South mine has reopened it was possible to re-engage only half of the workers who were employed in the original mine. A great number of unemployed have been left in the area and unless the Western Mineralisation is developed the older mine cannot last a great many more years.
It must be remembered that the Western Mineralisation is a large body of lower grade ore and it will need extensive developmental work to exploit the lode of minerals there. I believe that the Government has a responsibility to attack unemployment. Positive action by the Treasury is necessary to provide finance in order to extend the existing avenues of employment. The best way to do that would be to assist in the development of the Western Mineralisation. It would not only help to solve the unemployment problem at Broken Hill but would also return a rich long term harvest in taxes to the Treasury. I believe that the present example set by the workers of Broken Hill and the viability of the South mine justify some very sound assistance from the Federal Government.
– I do not propose to comment on the remarks made by the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) because I think he is a dam good fellow. I just sympathise with him for having to mix in the company in which he mixes. It is difficult to know where to begin when surveying the devastation the Government has inflicted on our country, its institutions and its people. Shall I speak of defence and refer to the sickening humiliation suffered by each of our armed Services all because a group of fanatics compelled by a dedication to foreign ideologies wants to throw into jeopardy the safety and security of our people? Shall I examine the foreign policy of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) which has aroused the gravest suspicions in most of the reputable countries throughout the world? Shall I refer to the disgusting raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation which struck a fatal blow at our status and our integrity - an integrity built on an impeccable system of intelligence and security? Shall I probe the financial policies of this new dictatorship and expose a Budget which has stimulated a searing heat in our economy which, as the Treasurer (Mr Crean) himself has admitted, will result in an inflation pressure which the Government cannot control?
Perhaps the most vicious, vindictive and savage attack ever made on any section of the Australian people has been made by this Budget and those people living in nonmetropolitan areas and particularly those in country areas. Yet . I wonder whether that statement is entirely correct, because the little people in the cities have been hit where it hurts most. They will have to pay more for their transport and their smokes. The decline in value of their dollar will make everything more expensive. They are aware of this. People in city areas are not fools. They are not being duped. Their votes are not being bought. The Australian National Opinion Poll - I would not say that it is oriented to give a false impression, particularly where the Opposition is concerned - revealed last weekend that 48 per cent of people in Sydney and Melbourne would prefer the people on this side of the House to govern them, whereas 46 per cent supported the PLF - the ,pseudo Labor Party.
Let me refer to the policies of the Government revealed by this destructive and irresponsible Budget which attempts to reduce country people to third class citizens. It is destructive to rural industries, four of which produce about $3 billion worth of overseas credits for this nation. I refer to the beef cattle, sheep and sugar industries. The Budget is irresponsible because one great economic truth has been ignored by the Prime Minister and his henchmen - that is the economy in total, the prosperity of all Australians, and the interdependability of rural and urban Australians. The country men produce and support the major earning power of this country and millions of city dwellers provide the domestic consumption. Here is what the Government has done to destroy the quality of life of country people, and this is anything but a complete list: It has abolished support for petroleum product costs in country areas; it has increased postal rates on newspapers and periodicals; it has increased telephone rentals in country areas and telecommunication charges to the media. One would almost suspect that the Government was trying to stifle the voice of our mini-media in country areas, but that would be unjust.
The Government has imposed charges on meat exports and seeks to recover the full cost of eradicating bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. It has abolished the accelerated depreciation allowance on plant used in primary production. It has phased out the butter, cheese and processed milk products bounties. It has abolished the distribution of free milk to all schools and has phased out all support for rural air services. One of the Budget provisions which will most certainly hit all wage earners - it, will hit country toilers most viciously - is the rise in fuel costs. The increased duty on motor spirit together with the widening of the petrol price equalisation margin will increase rural transport costs by up to 25 per cent. Some people say that they will be increased by 27 per cent. Is it not obvious that this increase will flow over to just about every commodity and service in country areas, and provincial cities too? The wealthy will not be greatly worried. They will not be concerned about an extra 6c for a gallon of petrol or the inevitable rise in food, clothing and most other day by day expenses. These honey mouthed deceivers opposite have hit the workers, the pensioners, the small contractors and business men, the small farmers and graziers.
I join the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) in accusing members of the Australian Labor Party who represent rural areas of abandoning their electors. They have exposed themselves as utter hypocrites. Their election promises were monumental deceits. The jeers and cat calls hurled at the
Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) at the weekend were only a beginning. The country people are poised for vengeance against their betrayers.
The abolition of free milk to all schools is another example of the sickening hypocrisy of these people. In country areas a great percentage of children most needing this milk are Aboriginal children - honourable members opposite do not want to hear this - and yet the Treasurer told this House last Tuesday week that there was now no need for this nutritional addition to the diet. At the same time honourable members opposite are going around the country screaming that Aboriginal children are suffering from malnutrition. I suppose milk does not have anything to do with this. The Goverment has taken the milk from the kids. There is a paranoia gripping the people in the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. They have a psychotic hatred of people who live in country areas. This venom is hurting the people they pretend, with supreme hypocrisy, to represent and care for.
Out of their frenzied calculations to strike blow after blow at country people came another body punch - the phasing out of air service support. People in isolated areas depend greatly on air services provided by small companies which have pioneered this now indispensible transport link and who have very little to show for it, as my friend the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) well knows. It will be the station hands, the Aboriginals-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! I suggest that the gentleman in the gallery who is clapping desist, otherwise I will have to have him removed.
– The Government is striking at the station hands, the Aboriginals and the sick pensioners. These are the people who will suffer because they will not be able to afford to travel on aeroplanes any more. Maybe these services will not exist any more. It is the Government’s objective, of course, to drive them out of business. If ever there has been a section of the Australian community that has endured discouragement after discouragement it has been the dairy farmers. No one works longer hours and .receives less remuneration than the dairy farmers. Let me tell those draculas, those blood suckers, that when we were in power there was no unusual generosity towards the dairy farmers. There were fewer subsidies paid to support primary industries in Australia than are paid in any other similar country in the Western world. What I say about the dairy industry could apply to other primary industries now. One can bet any odds that the high tone of prosperity in the major rural industries will not persist indefinitely. The inevitability of market pressures and drought will ensure that. What a disaster - what an indeterminable tragedy - will hit those industries if this Government remans in power. More than half the export income of this nation is derived from these very same industries. Let us consider for a moment the proposed recovery of full costs involved in the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis. The eradication program is important in the light of the tightening of overseas inspection requirements. That is obvious even to the Government. The task force created by the Government said that it was questionable whether the cost of the program should be met by the taxpayer rather than by the industry. It said that there were 3 possibilities: To maintain payments at the present level; to restore matching dollar for dollar basis financing; to impose a levy on beef exports to meet the financial requirements of the program. The Government has decided on the latter course and legislation will be required. The cost to the industry will be about $6m a year, but do not forget that this comes on top of the estimated $13m a year to be recouped from the industry for export inspection services.
I return now to a subject I referred to when I opened my address, namely, the critical defence of this nation. I have spoken about our economy and our quality of life, but all of this is of little consequence if we do not have the capacity at least to provide a realistic base on which our defence can be quickly mobilised and the security and protection of our people assured. I accuse and indict the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) who, with almost a drooling satisfaction, has emasculated our defence capacity. He has ripped out the heart of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Soon there will not be a career serviceman left in any of these defence forces. This weak and inconspicuous Minister in a pathetic attempt to boost recruiting has tried to convert army camps into holiday camps. He has shown disdain and contempt for the status and effectiveness of the Army. He has aborted the divisional concept by reducing our Army to 6 battalions.
There would not be a banana republic which would not regard this as a boy scout movement.
Let me list briefly some of the money saving cuts for they are pretty good cuts. One Mirage squadron will be disbanded. Troop transport, supply and training ship ‘Anzac’ is to be scrapped. Plans for fast combat support ships to cost $69m are to be cancelled. The civilian defence staff is to be cut by 4,600. The forces personnel is to be cut by 2,300. What is left? The Mirage replacement is to be deferred indefinitely. We all know what sign the Mirage squadron at Amberley put up outside their base - ‘We have closed business because of Labor pains’. Stores, spare parts and ammunition are to be reduced, and there is to be a scaling down in local ammunition factories. The decision on the new light destroyer is to be deferred until next year or the following year or forever - who knows. The number of new CT4 trainer aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force is to be cut. Some 37 were ordered originally and that was little enough. Now here is a beauty: The completion of the Cockburn Sound naval base is to be deferred from 1975 to 1978. Whom does the Government think it is kidding? Let the Western Australians wake up to something else. They will not get the battalion they were screaming for last year and which in my opinion they should have got. Not only will they not get that battalion, there are now only 6 battalions left. I do not know what the number will be next year.
Now I come to one of the most worrying aspects of recent legislation, namely, the moves made by this Government to throw into a state of uncertainty the great mining industry. I do not propose to go into that in detail tonight but I do promise the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) that he will be hearing from me in great detail. I have lived in a mining environment all my life.
– That is obvious.
– I draw the attention of the House to the comment made by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly). He said: ‘That is obvious’. That is a distasteful remark and a reflection on people who live in mining centres. He obviously treats them with the same contempt with which he treats most people in the country. I have seen the city of Mount Isa, for instance, grow from a town of galvanised iron houses to a proud modern city. I know of ethnic groups which have left their overseas homes, travelled direct to Mount Isa and contributed to a wonderful, almost unbelievable fusion of our rugged frontier type Australian character and the rich cultures of Europe and elsewhere. I have seen a transient population not only in Mount Isa but also in other mining communities throughout Australia, places like Blackwater and Moura, become permanent residents. In all these mining towns we have a wonderful spirit of teamwork and pride. Now a shadow of uncertainty has been cast and a gloom has come over this industry.
I challenge the Minister for Minerals and Energy to declare a firm policy in regard to the mining industry. Let him come clean and say whether the desires of his colleague, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), which were expressed in this House when he made an attempt to have Mount Isa Mines Ltd nationalised as a beginning, no doubt, to nationalising the entire industry, are to be realised. I challenge him to come clean and state his intentions. Does he intend to fully nationalise this industry? ls it his intention to reduce the mining industry which is so critical to the economy of this nation to the same shambles to which a very similar government in Chile reduced its mining industry. This so-called Labor Government is hell bent on reducing us to a regimented banana republic. It is intent on centralising power in Canberra. The Prime Minister, with an unbelievable egoism, makes Hitler appear like a benevolent aunt. Every man on this side of the House is dedicated to 2 things - to the preservation of the great Australian freedoms and the high quality of life which was the envy of the world, and to the breaking of the grip which this arrogant, irresponsible unAustralian group of jackboot tyrants have on this magnificent country. God give us strength to restore to the people the way of life they deserve, and to bring back decency and respect to this nation,
– Are there any adjectives left in the dictionary? We have heard them all. But where was the argument? Where was the logic? We have heard the adjectives but what was the argument? The historic Budget which was brought down by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) represents the foundations for a transformed Australian society in which the person matters, and reflects the mandate given to the Government at the last election. Expenditure on housing and community amenities, so long neglected by the previous Government, has been increased in this Budget by $41 lm over the provision for 1972-73, a massive rise of 324 per’ cent. Education follows with an increased expenditure of $404m, nearly double the amount’ spent on it in the previous year. Expenditure on social security and welfare is next, and then there is health with an increase of $196m or 25 per cent more than was provided in 1972-73, followed by transport and communications. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) condemns these expenditures. The clear priorities established in his speech last night were for expenditure to protect industry, mining, manufacturing and investors in that order. No wonder the Liberals cringe when they are asked to specify their preferences and priorities in simple uncomplicated language. The stark materialism of their philosophy emerges in such language. Factories before education; commercial profits before housing, investors before pensioners. This is what their philosophy sounds like when it comes down to simple uncomplicated words.
There is much criticism of the support given to the public sector of the economy by the present Budget at the expense of the private sector. Wc arc told by the Opposition that the public sector is unproductive and that the private sector is the source of all wealth. The shortterm materialism of this approach is brought home to every parent when they realise that the Liberals are prepared to brand schools as unproductive while the mindless production of consumer goods is a virtue to be worshipped by the Opposition Parties. Docs the Liberal Party brand as unproductive the research that is carried out with public funds? Do supporters of that party say that the efforts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other research bodies, paid for by the money in this Budget, is unproductive? They said this last night. I believe they would be taking good advice if they were to cease to listen to the traditionalists in the industry which supports them in every way and whose position is threatened by technological developments. They should take note of the rational allocation of resources as they are set out in this Budget. The Country Party reacts in blind rage, in a kindergarten style, to changes in support for primary industry.
Let us make a close examination of the support changes in this Budget so far as primary industry is concerned. One of these is assistance to industry to compensate for low prices. These include payments to the Australian Wheat Board and payments under the wool deficiency payments scheme. There may be one rational Country Party member who can appreciate the fact that a government docs not have to make these sorts of payments to offset low prices when prices are at their present record high. There may be one rational Country Party member who realises that the Government of which he was a supporter was phasing this out last year in response to increasing prices. The current Budget increases the grants paid for rural research by SI 1 .4m. The Budget also increases grants paid for rural credit facilities by $2 1.8m. Those increases are a prelude to an increasing emphasis on encouraging technical change to improve productivity and also to provide a long needed rural credit facility to specialise in handling the unique problems of credit in the agricultural sector.
Another type of payment which we have seen in the traditional budgets is that which is designed to support the narrow sectional interests such as the wool marketing assistance which has been dropped in this Budget. That payment was made for no other reason than to protect wool selling brokers against the competition of private buyers. These grants have gone and with them a memorial to Country Party wool policy - the one memorial left, the price averaging plan. Payments such as these made to preserve the vested interest groups in the market have a fundamental significance in the present economy. It is payments such as these that distort the flow of resources and result in shortages of commodities in the market. Mr Deputy Speaker, you can understand why education never rated high whilst the Country Party was able to mould the allocation of resources. Just listen to those members of the Country Party who are seeking to interject. The level may be likened to grade 4 at a primary school. (Quorum formed.)
– (Before I call the honourable member for Eden-Monaro I warn the members of the Country Party who have been interjecting that if they do not quieten down they may be out of the House. I call the honourable member for Eden-Monaro.
– With the strong growth and the high level of employment in the current Australian economy the last thing we can afford is a rigid unchanging industrial structure held fossilised by subsidies and tariffs. Contrast the present economy with that of the previous Government. Under that Government not only inflation but also unemployment were its tools of economic management. Again, profits before people. In strong growth conditions bottle necks develop in supplies and prices rise to adjust to demand.
One danger in this situation is that resources will be attracted into luxury areas. It is clear that some shortages will develop in the building sector, for example in the coming year and as the honourable member for Melbourne maintained last night the construction of office blocks may be a luxury we cannot afford this year. It is interesting to speculate on the effects that a shortage of building resources could have on the Budget deficit. Clearly it is essential to supplement domestic supplies with imports and the special report on this subject which is incorporated in the Budget is of obvious importance. Where pricing rigidities exist in the market much thought must be given to increasing imports and perhaps even to subsidising imports in order to provide competition. One area in which such a tactic could perhaps prove profitable is in the area of importing petrol in order to bring the price down. This principle of substituting the commodity on the market is in general what the land commission will do in regard to land sales.
It is ironic that the Leader of the Opposition calls this a ‘socialist budget’. Let us take him at his word and consider the 2 elements that are clearly displayed in the Budget. The first is a major and genuine response to social need. The low income, under-privileged, defenceless sections of the community are provided for in this Budget. It is the response of a government with a social conscience. This is indeed socialism in this sense of the word and may the country at large hear the Opposition condemn the motives behind this Budget.
The second aspect of this Budget is that it assumes that a productive economy is one that is free of restraints, that misallocates resources and enables a country to forgo a well educated mobile labour force which removes competitive pressures in the pricing mechanism and which provides a supply of materials to meet the legitimate demands of the community at large. The Leader of the Opposition questioned these assumptions in his speech last night. He condemned the Government for acting on these assumptions. He wants his supporters in industry to be protected from the cold hard reality of business life. For what other purpose are these assistances given to industry if not to protect it from the cold hard reality of a competitive business life? What other purpose do they serve?
A major factor influencing price rises since December has been a rapid rise in food prices, in particular meat. The meat index has risen from 119.4 in December to 144.0 in the June quarter. Industry leaders have not served the Australian meat producers well by responding to this situation with banal slogans. We have been told that the Australian consumer has eaten cheap meat and now must pay. How absurd! How can the housewife pay more for meat when she does not have any more money to go around? Any clear thinking industrial leader should realise that as the price of red meat rises the demand for red meat will fall. People will find alternatives - pork, poultry, and fish. Once the market is established for alternative meats it will be hard to win back the market for red meat. The real question industry leaders should be asking in the interests of the meat producer is just how important is the domestic market to the industry.
Will industry leaders jeopardise the future market share of a short term pricing situation or will they take a longer term view of the market in order to preserve a large component of it for the meat producers? This short term view of price rises is the very basis of inflation. Without co-operation between all sections of the community and without people involved in production and in the market place taking a long term view, no government would ever have the power to control inflation. To talk about an income-prices policy is to deny the fact that in order to control inflation and to run an income-prices policy the Government needs this essential cooperation. An income-prices policy without such co-operation simply bottles up demand and pressures as did controls during the last War - which are released as soon as the controls are lifted. There is no long term solution in an income-prices policy for its own sake without the co-operation and without getting to the core of the matter, namely, increased supplies where supplies are short. In any growth situation, of course, this will happen. Without these increased supplies the inflation ary pressures will continue. It is up to industry and producers in Australia, whose long term interests are at stake, to realise that if they are to keep a share of the domestic market they need to increase supplies on that market through their own voluntary industry effort. I commend this, a far sighted Budget, to the House. It is a Budget which lays the foundations for social reform which will bring to Australia for the first time a proper civilised response to the needs of our people.
– It is a pity that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) is not at the table for this debate for having a debate on the economy without the Treasurer being present is like putting on a production of ‘Hamlet’ without the first grave digger. I must say that the Treasurer sounded, as well he might, rather lugubrious when he delivered his Budget Speech. No one could describe him, as another Treasurer was once described, as the merriest tax collector since Robin Hood. For 8 months the Treasurer has laboured and he has now brought forth a number of little mice. The honourable member for Eden Monaro (Mr Whan) mentioned the people who would benefit from this Budget. To benefit fully from this Budget one would have to be a 75-year-old Boer War veteran, still paying off his home mortgage, riding a bicycle, and preferring beer to orange juice.
The Treasurer has been at pains to play down the importance of the Budget in controlling the economy. It is true that there is no single panacea for inflation. Inflation is roaring away now. The Treasury is assuming a growth rate of 13 per cent in average earnings this year. The consequent cost-push inflation, coupled with booming demand, sets the scene for the worst inflation in our history. The Prices Justification Tribunal will be totally ineffective to stem this flood. The Tariff cuts will have no more than a slight effect. It looks as though the Treasurer is forlornly relying on monetary measures, for the best he could find to say about his Budget was that it would not add to inflation. What a confession! We should be using every available weapon to reduce inflation which is already far beyond tolerable limits.
The truth is that this Labor Government rather likes inflation. We are rapidly approaching the inflationary paradise of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who said: Happy is the country where $30,000 is a middle income’. We will soon be there with this Government. The reason why this Government likes inflation is that, as Keynes pointed out, inflation is a mighty tax gatherer. Keynes viewed inflation as a weapon available to governments for extracting resources from the community that they would not otherwise willingly surrender. But Keynes, unlike the present Government, recognised the great dangers of inflation, the way it quite arbitrarily and unfairly redistributes income and wealth, and its bad and distorting effects on the psychology and activities of the business community.
One can see how mighty a tax gatherer inflation is in the 27 per cent estimated rise in income tax receipts this year. This whole House - both sides of it - should condemn this Budget for its failure to contribute to combating the urgent and insidious danger of inflation. We have now got the answer to the question asked repeatedly during the election campaign; ‘Where is the money coming from?’ The answer clearly is: ‘From inflation.’
But if the Budget is an economic disaster area, other aspects are interesting. The Coombs Committee highlighted some wellknown and some not so wellknown anomalies in the tax structure. The previous LiberalCountry Party Government was aware of the anomalies that had accumulated, and this was one of the terms of reference of the Asprey Committee which was set up by the previous Government. This Committee has not yet reported, and it would have been better to await its report so that a comprehensive and equitable restructuring of both tax deductions and the progressive rates of taxation could be done at one stroke. But of course the Government could not wait for a just, equitable and efficient reform of the tax system, lt needs money urgently so it can at least make a pretence of meeting its election promises. Some of its increased expenditure I heartily applaud, in particular that on pensions, on education, on the cities, and on Aborigines. But it is one thing for this House to vote the money; it is quite another whether this Government has the administrative control to spend this money wisely.
Two features have been most marked in this new Government. The first is the setting up of a myriad of committees of inquiry into every aspect of our affairs. I am not opposed to expert committees. Our Public Service has great qualities which are not always given their due. It has integrity, expertise and administrative skill. But fertility of new ideas and approaches is perhaps not its strongest point, and outside expert committees can have a vital role to perform. There are now more than 46 committees and inquiries advising 27 Ministers. If we are to have such a plethora of committees, their activities are not to overlap, their findings are to be considered and where appropriate, converted into policy - if all these objectives are to be achieved, it will need a far higher level of administrative control than this Government and in particular the Prime Minister have yet shown. I shall return to this subject in a moment.
The second and far more sinister development has been the vast increase in the personal staffs and advisers of Ministers. These individuals, unlike the public servants whom they supersede, owe their allegiance solely to their Minister. It was this trend which in America Jed directly to Watergate. It is an indication of the trend of thought in the present Government - perhaps delusions of adequacy would be the kindest description - which led the Prime Minister to describe publicly one of his staff as his Kissinger. It was one of these advisers - being paid, I am told, $1,000 a day- who led the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) into his bundering raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. But here too it is difficult to establish the facts. There is some incomplete information on ministerial personal staffs in the Budget but nothing about the number of paid advisers. The trend is dangerous and quite foreign to the Australian system of government.
This brings me to the question of the administrative competence of the present Government. Administratively it is a shambles. We have 27 Press secretaries daily promising instant Utopia. We have Ministers publicly stating that they will go to Caucus to get Cabinet decisions reversed. So much for Cabinet solidarity. We have at least 4 ministerial spokesmen on foreign affairs. Worst of all, we have Cabinet announcing policies, some of which are desirable, which some Ministers then take action to frustrate, perhaps inadvertently, but nevertheless effectively.
The responsibility for this administrative shambles clearly rests with the Prime Minister. We all knew that the Prime Minister had no administrative experience and that he was taking on the biggest administrative job in the country, but I think we all thought he would be able to do better than he has done. He seems to think that words - floods of words - are a substitute for constructive thought and sustained constructive administration. He tries to cover his tracks with words as a squid does with ink. He sometimes speaks brilliantly but almost always superficially. As someone said of a British Prime Minister: ‘His chaff is quite good, all right, but his wheat is poor stuff’.
Let us look at some the contradictions - to use the word of its favourite philosopher - in the administration of the present Government. The Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) have sweeping visions of desirable changes in our society. Some of their objectives are desirable, although the methods by which they are to achieve them are often very suspect. But what can scarcely be disputed is that these social objectives will be possible only if there is a sharp rise in national productivity. Yet the Minister for Labor (Mr Clyde Cameron) is doing all he can to prevent such a rise in production. The 35-hour week, increased annual leave, furlough, maternity and paternity leave have all been encouraged, with a consequent drop in future production. Of course a rise in productivity depends mainly on investment in plant and equipment and on technical innovation. What has the Government done here? It has cancelled the tax incentive to instal new equipment, crippled the grants for research and development, and the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) between them have scared off new overseas investment. . The Australian community will pay a harsh penalty in the not-so-distant future. And faced with this contradiction, what does the Prime Minister do? Well, he doesn’t actually do anything, but he talks a lot.
– And he goes overseas.
– Yes. And then there is the distribution of wealth. The Labor Party claims to believe, as I do, in equality of opportunity, but it also seeks to deprive anyone who takes advantage of his equal opportunity of the fruits of his efforts, and this is bound to be counter-productive. And let us look too at the activities of the Minister for Labor. He has campaigned for a 35 hour week, with attack on firms which, as he describes them, can afford it. His first target is the oil industry. The irony is that the oil industry has been under price control for its principal products for many years. If its profits are excessive, surely the best answer is to reduce the price of the products so that the whole community can share, rather than all the benefits going to a small group of trade unionists. The Government’s policy seems to be that all Australians are equal, but militant trade unionists are more equal than others. What does the Prime Minister, the leader of the Government, do while his Minister for Labor behaves in this asinine way? Nothing.
One could go on endlessly with these contradictions. Another is found in education. Here the Government claims to intend to raise the quality of sub-standard independent schools, and then adopts a recurrent grant system that is a positive disincentive to the improvements of standards. What school is going to improve its pupil-teacher ratio if the effect is that it will be put in a higher category and lose part of its grant. And so it goes on.
Conservation is a joke under this Government. Do honourable members remember how enthusiastic the Labor Party was to save Lake Pedder before the election? I refer also to industrial relations. The man hours lost through industrial action in the first 5 months this year as compared with the first 5 months of last year have gone up by 54 per cent. So much for the special ability of a Labor Government to reduce industrial disturbance. The basic contradiction between our new defence policy and our new foreign policy - and the broken promises involved - will be dealt with on the debate on the defence statement.
The muddle of this Administration - its habits of talking first and thinking afterwards - can be seen most clearly in foreign affairs, where the Prime Minister is himself the part-time Minister. Of course the Prime Minister has the unwanted assistance of several of his colleagues, who apparently felt that if the Prime Minister could make himself a part-time Foreign Minister, they could do the same. We had the situation of 3 Ministers publicly insulting the United States. We have the scene of the Minister for Overseas Trade presiding over a meeting with a North Vietnamese delegation, above an enormous North Vietnam flag, with a tiny Australian flag in the corner. So much for the new nationalism. We had the situation of the Minister for Overseas Trade feting a Chinese communist delegation and refusing to receive a trade delegation from Portugal, a country with which we have friendly relations.
But I do not say that all the things that the Prime Minister has done in foreign affairs are wrong. He has been an impressive and articulate figure overseas. I approve of his firm restatements of Australia’s independence. I approve of his opposition to the French nuclear tests, although I would have greater respect for his integrity if he displayed equal vehemence in condemning the Chinese nuclear tests. I agree with his recognition of China, though not of the typically clumsy way in which it was done. But the Prime Minister has a deplorable record of blurting out half thought out ideas. In the words of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), the Prime Minister is the only man whose Achilles heel is in his mouth. Or in the reported words of the Labor Prime Minister of New Zealand: ‘In New Zealand the Labor Party acts. In Australia it just talks.’ President Theodore Roosevelt had, I think, a good maxim: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ The Prime Minister’s performance is exactly the opposite.
In his 9 months in office the Prime Minister has floated 2 new foreign policy ideas. The first is a vague proposal for a neutral zone in South-East Asia to include not only the countries in the Association of South-East Asian Nations but also Japan and China. It is not surprising that the proposal was received in South-East Asia with polite - and sometimes not so polite - derision, for it ignored the 2 fundamentals of a successful neutral zone. There was no community of interest among the members: Japan’s and China’s interests are quite different from those of the ASEAN countries.
Secondly, the proposal appeared to rest on the assumption that neutral countries need no defences. This is obvious nonsense. As Cambodia and Laos know only too well, an expressed desire for neutrality is no defence. The price of neutrality, as Sweden and Switzerland know, is sufficient defence to deter aggression It is dishonourable for Australia, in order to withdraw its own commitment, to try to foist on the area a concept of neutrality which is unworkable and probably dangerous. The second idea - resources diplomacy - was equally ill-thought through. Of course, control of resources has always been an element of diplomacy. But the emphasis the Prime Minister now gives it seems based on a false appreciation of the scarcity of minerals and the possibility of substitution. He has been vague and contradictory in his public statements and leaks. But what he seems to have in mind is an oldfashioned producers’ cartel. It would be fascinating to see him try to set it up, for two of his partners would have to be South Africa and the military dictatorship in Brazil.
So what has this Government achieved in foreign affairs? Indonesia clearly thinks that the Prime Minister has no sense of reality or understanding of the region. On relations with Singapore too much has already been said, most of it by the Prime Minister. In Thailand the attitude was well summed up by a newspaper which said that Mr Whitlam should mind his own bloody business. Japan’s confidence in our economic stability and common sense has been severely shaken by the capers and economic primitivism of the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). The Prime Minister has claimed that his recent visit to the United States restored relations with that country. Well, who damaged the relations? The Prime Minister and his colleagues. And even if relations were temporarily restored, they were immediately damaged again by the Prime Minister when he publicly gave a gratuitious insult to two recent American Presidents. And in Papua New Guinea a blundering and abrasive Minister has done great harm to the prospects of that country’s peaceful progress to independence.
It is a sorry record for only 9 months. The trouble is that this Government is still carrying on as it did in opposition, talking expansively and irresponsibly, making promises on which it cannot deliver. It got off to a superficially impressive start when the 2-man Government implemented a number of election promises by executive decision. That was the easy part. Since, then its administrative performance has been woeful, but it will take some time for this to be apparent to the general public. But this Government is so incompetent that the process cannot be long delayed. In the next election this whole ramshackle regime will surely be swept aside and this country set back on a straight course for its great destiny.
– I do not wish to detain the House for long.
– Well, sit down.
– Well, I would but if that happened the debate might go over and I would hate to deprive my friends opposite of the opportunity to speak in this debate. So, do not tempt me too much. It was interesting to hear members opposite, criticise the greatest Budget in 24 years. Nobody is crying more than members of the Australian Country Party. They have bled the nation with bounties and subsidies and uneconomic proposals for a generation or more because, when in government, they dictated what the Treasurer of the day should do. But today, they do not matter a damn to members of the Liberal Party or to the nation. They cannot propound their policies and hold the Government to ransom. A government which really believes in the welfare of Australia is distributing the income of the nation in the places where it should be distributed. It is going to the poor and the needy and the people who want it.
Honourable members opposite know that pensioners and people who depend upon social welfare schemes in the country and the city and everywhere else today are receiving the benefits they were denied for so long by those who sit opposite. I heard the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) say one day in this House that a telephone was connected to a man’s farm in the country and it would have been cheaper to buy the farm than to connect the phone to the farm. This is the kind of incompetence with which the previous Government put up in these areas. Never have I seen a more angry collection of people than members of the Country Party debating this Budget. They have attacked the PostmasterGeneral, they have attacked the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and they have attacked everybody else because all the Country Party has ever stood for was handouts. Members of the Liberal Party opposite who kowtowed to the Country Party, who were bludgeoned into submission and who bowed and scraped every time the Country Party demanded something today do not matter in the big scheme of things; they are getting the rewards which they deserve.
The Country Party is so desperate for political power that it is trying to marry that dear old girl, the Democratic Labor Party. I will tell honourable member something: It will find that ‘the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be many long years ago’. Members of the Country Party are really desperate when they look for support from that area. To think that the Country Party has shunned the lady that it knew so well - the dear old Liberal Party. To think that it has turned its back on the Liberal Party. The Country Party is walking away from the Liberal Party and yet the Liberal Party is vying for the favours of the Country Party because even today in another place the Liberal Party was bludgeoned into supporting the Country Party’s policy on redistribution of electoral boundaries. I take this opportunity to tell honourable members opposite that this Party believes in one vote one value. In another place today members of the Opposition defeated legislation passed by this Parliament. But let me state for the nation to hear: Ere this Parliament is out there will be a redistribution of electoral boundaries throughout the length and breadth of Australia and it will be a case of one vote one value. That legislation will be introduced in order to give effect to equality of voting because, this Government stands against the loading of electorates which allows people like those in possum paddock, if I might use the expression with 50 per cent fewer electors that I have in my electorate, to receive the same vote as people who represent a majority of the votes in Australia.
Is it not shocking to think that a person in the country, no matter what his position might be, has twice the voting capacity of, say, a brain surgeon in Macquarie Street, Sydney, or a professor simply because the latter group of people happen to live in a Sydney or Melbourne metropolitan electorate. In other words, members of the Country Party want loaded votes and, to tell you the truth, having a good look at the Country Party, how could they win except under an undemocratic political system? Notwithstanding the Democratic Labor Party, the Country Party and the toadies who sit opposite and call themselves Liberals, we will introduce legislation that will produce equality of voting. In the United States of America the courts have the right to intervene in electoral matters where injustice has been created. It is only because the Liberal Party is afraid of the Country Party that the people of this country have foisted upon them a system that must be the worst in the world in regard to inequality of voting.
Does anybody believe that someone who lives in, say, Canowindra should have twice the voting capacity as a person who lives in
Sydney or Melbourne? Do honourable members opposite really believe in that policy? Members of the Liberal Party say they believe in one vote one value, but those who sit beside them say they do not believe in it. This is the unity of the Opposition. Just where does the Opposition stand on this great fundamental issue? Do not think that a temporary reverse from the backwoodsmen who sit in another place has put us off. Ere another year is out you will face a redistribution of Federal electoral boundaries. I ask honourable members opposite whether they will reject a redistribution in Western Australia where 10 seats must be created before the next election is held, knowing full well that if a Federal election is held only 9 seats are contested in that State, it can be challenged constitutionally. Will these weak kneed Liberals who sit opposite give effect to a policy that will deny Western Australia the extra seat? They will get the chance to do that ere very long. They believe in electoral justice. The electorate of the Australian Capital Territory is to be divided into 2 electorates.
That great small ‘1’ liberal, the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock), believes in some electorates having 50 per cent fewer voters than have other electorates. This is the small T liberal who is the chosen man of the Liberal Party to lead it into the sublime in the future. Does he really believe that at the next election Diamond Valley should have 95,000 voters while Mallee, which sent to this Parliament the man who sits among the incompetent members of the Country Party should have 45,000 or 50,000 electors. Of course he believes in that for the simple reason that he does not believe in electoral justice.
I see the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) slumbering quietly on the front bench. If I might say so, he is unmoved by my eloquence. He is on record in this Parliament as voting for a 10 per cent variation from the quota in electorates. Even in his slumbers I think he is dreaming about the tomorrow and thinking how things would be under a fair redistribution in this country. As honourable members opposite know, the Country Party for some reason or other has the Liberals scared. Does anyone believe that the Country Party could scare anybody? The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson) is a real democrat. He was elected on 17 per cent of the primary vote. I repeat what I said the other night: He was very lucky to get it. He believes in the present system of voting. This is the pattern of thinking of those who sit opposite.
My time is limited. I do not wish to detain the House, but, instead of issuing a statement to the Press, tonight I make this official announcement: Ere this Parliament is ended there will be a redistribution of electoral boundaries throughout the length and breadth of Australia. It will be done because we do not believe in one electorate having 100,000 electors and another having 60,000 or 50,000. We believe in the principle of one vote one value. We believe in equality of voting. We believe that a man’s vote in this country should be equal no matter where he lives. The geographical selection of candidates and members is something which the Labor Party opposes. Whilst honourable members opposite might temporarily frustrate us, history shows that ultimately that kind of expediency brings the reward that it deserves. People will ultimately awaken to the fact that we must have equality of yoting in any country if we are to have a democratic system. Why would not the Country Party want some loaded system of voting when under such a system it gets only 9 per cent of the vote of the Australian people but exercises 20 per cent of the control of the Parliament when in government? That is the kind of system under which the Country Party exists. From memory, not one member of the Country Party has ever won more than 50 per cent of the primary votes before being elected to this Parliament. Of course they get more than 50 per cent after the distribution of preferences, but not one Country Party member has ever gained a majority on the first count. The honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) is a good friend of mine. A couple of years ago he was elected on 27 per cent of the primary vote. I could mention all the members of the Country Party. I wish I had the figures; I would make them blush, if that was possible. The Country Party is the minority Party. It is living on rigged electoral boundaries, on undemocratic proposals. To his eternal discredit the small T liberal, the honourable member for Kooyong, supports this situation because the Liberal Party is frightened of the Country Party, and that is like running away from a mouse. I do not want to continue my remarks at this stage. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later hour and suggest that the debate be now adjourned.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Electoral - Brandy - North-South Highway - Australian Life Style - The Budget - Fourth University in Victoria
Mr DALY (Grayndler- Leader of the
House) (10.15) - Mr Speaker, in order to put the fears of the honourable members opposite at rest, and as I see that the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) is now awake, I move:
– The Leader of House (Mr Daly) who, by self-confession, has said that his time is limited, has once again tried to suggest to honourable members that their seats can be held on 17 per cent or 21 per cent of the vote. If I might instruct the Leader of the House, who is meant to be in charge of these matters, the whole idea is that under the preferential voting system nobody is elected until he has gained 50 per cent of the vote. If the Leader of the House had his way, he would have the first past the post system of voting. Under that system people would be elected left, right and centre without receiving 50 per cent of the vote, so let us not be carried away with this nonsense that he goes on with every time there is a crowd in the gallery during school holidays. At least they get some fun, even if we are getting a bit bored by it all. We on this side of the House do not worry about a redistribution. We are anxious to see the colour of the Government’s money. Is it or is it not game to go to the people? A good many people on this side of the House itch for that to occur. It is of no earthly use the Leader of the House shouting to bolster his own confidence. That seems to be the only way in which he can generate force. We are ready when he is, and we are not necessarily waiting for any redistribution to occur.
I rose tonight to discuss a very important matter affecting my electorate, that is, the increase in excise duty on brandy. This increase constitutes a most sectional, vicious attack on the grape growing industry. In order to convince, if I can, those on the Government side who are prepared to listen, might I point out that the amount of money the Government now intends to take from the growers of grapes going into the production of brandy under new legislation that is yet to come down, is$794 a ton. The only person who wins under these circumstances is the Treasurer (Mr
Crean). At the same time, if I might strike a comparison, if those grapes went for wine making purposes they would not attract any duty. I think I can be forgiven in those circumstances for pointing out to the House that a sectional, vicious attack has been made on that one section of the grape growing industry. It will hit, in particular, South Australia where 91 per cent of the brandy of the nation is produced. From that State it will hit primarily the Riverland area of my electorate and the cooperatives, not the big internationally owned distilleries, which the farmers themselves operate there. It will hit Renmark, Loxton, Berri, Waikerie, the proprietaries of Mildara in the electorate of one of my Country Party colleagues close to Mildura, and Angove’s Pty Ltd at Renmark. It will affect one winery in the electorate of my colleague the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) and it will affect 2 more co-operatives and several proprietaries in the electorate of my colleague the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes).
The industry has been disadvantaged in four major ways. First of all, with other Australian produced spirits, it has suffered an increase in sales tax; secondly, it has suffered the big increase in excise duty to which I have referred tonight; thirdly, it has had the traditional method of valuation which copes with the peculiarities of the brandy industry altered to its disadvantage, and fourthly, the proprietary firms, contrary to the co-operatives, have suffered a reasonably steep increase in private company tax. I intend in a minute or two to quote some figures from a typical private firm to show the House how it has been disadvantaged. I am not at this stage quoting industry figures. It has not yet been able to compile the degree of hardship. But I think it is fair that, in case the Treasurer or the Government has not seen the degree of hardship this has caused, I should take advantage of putting one or two of these facts before them.
Firstly I wish to deal with the duty increase. The pre-rise rate of duty per litre of alcohol was$3 08. The post-rise rate is $6, which gives a percentage rise of 94.8 per cent. The pre-rise sales tax was $1.15. The post-rise level of sales tax is $1.65, which represents a percentage increase of 43.5 per cent. This gives a total increase of both sales tax and duty of 80.9 per cent. If we take this as a typical firm, the liability would go up from $3.4m to $6.4m - approximately an increase of $3,209,831.
This calculation is based on the average stock of spirit held to make brandy. This stock is held in a good average proprietary where 3 star brandy is stored for a period of between 3 and 4 years. Therefore there is $3.2m increase for one private company to find. The amount of duty to be paid each year will increase from S750.00O in round terms to 31,471,000, an increase of $750,000 in round terms.
– They are devastating.
– Indeed they are. The cost of financing this, based on a 6-week-out period, is $13,500 for interest alone. The capital sum must be raised- The biggest producer of brandy in Australia today tells me that he needs S5.5m in the next 3 years in order to remain in a liquid state.
– I will write you a cheque.
– He will want something a bit better than a bounce from the honourable member’s area. The smallest firm, whose figures I am quoting tonight, needs $1.5m in the next 2 years to remain solvent. The percentage of the price that the Government now takes from brandy is 62.4 per cent.
– They are socking the sick.
– I suppose that there is an element of truth in that too. They are socking more than the sick, more than just the users of medicinal brandy. This firm feels that within a period of years it will have 2 alternatives. I remind the House that I am talking about a major producer of brandy in this nation. This firm can either go broke or it can sell. If the firm is sold it will almost certainly have to sell to an overseas firm. What would the Government do next? I suppose that it would try to stop a foreign investor taking over the company. Then where would be the equity of the person who has struggled all his life to set up a first class firm of this nature?
I believe that there are areas in which the Treasury has not yet made up its mind firmly about some of the problems concerning the collection of this tax which will be phased in. I am on my feet tonight to put to the Treasurer - and I believe that someone on my behalf let him know that I was going to speak on this subject tonight - as forcibly as I can an argument to stop this legislation coming before the House until such time as the full implications are apparent to everybody. I believe that the advice which perhaps the Treasurer has had has not sensed the enormity of the problem that is now foisted on the shoulders of the brandy industry. I will have another occasion on which I can be more factual and more statistical about this matter. But I thank the House for allowing me to put this sad tale of woe on behalf of the brandy industry tonight.
– Tomorrow I will be distributing to all honourable members of this Parliament an article reprinted from the ‘Sunraysia Daily’ and written by its editor, Mr George Tilley. The brochure puts forward a proposal for a north-south highway linking Darwin and Mildura. A small but enthusiastic group of men is now working to promote this proposal which could be Australia’s highway to the future. The idea is one that could open up an enormous area for development, tourism, transport and defence, but it has to have the backing of governments if it is to succeed. Australia at the present time does not have a north-south road. Despite the lessons learned when Australia was threatened with invasion from Japan and Australia’s north had no road links with the south, nothing has since been done. Since then Australia has developed rapidly along its coastal strip and in the west. Darwin has blossomed into a rich tropical city and Mount Isa has become one of the three fastest growing cities in Australia. Today Mount Isa has a population of 29,000, which by 1975 could easily grow to 35,000. It has the largest lead mine in the world and is the major world source of copper, silver and zinc.
By contrast Broken Hill, once Australia’s top mining city, is slowly dying. The northsouth highway would link Mildura with Broken Hill, Mount Isa and Darwin. By tourism alone it would help to rejuvenate Broken Hill. In June a committee consisting of representatives from the district’s 3 municipalities and a number of interested businessmen met, and it is attempting to set up committees at Boulia and Mount Isa to form a central region with a northern region committee to be established at Tennant Creek-Darwin. The north-south highway would be of direct benefit to all States except Tasmania and Western Australia but as a tourist route would benefit Tasmanians wanting to cross Australia’s centre. The highway would connect by the shortest distance the most highly developed southern parts of Australia with the most highly developed northern areas. For Victoria, it would make Mildura the gateway to the north.
The suggested route of the highway by the North-South Highway Committee is Mildura, Broken Hill, Boulia, Mount Isa, Tennant Creek and Darwin. The connecting of Broken Hill and Mount Isa, via Boulia, would couple a network of highways by the shortest possible route. North from Broken Hill, the Silver City Highway to the Queensland border would need upgrading, with new highway construction being required northwards to connect with the sealed northern Australian highway network at Boulia. From Brisbane connection to the suggested highway could be made by upgrading of the Charleville-Quilpie-Windora road. As the gateway to the north, Mildura is already linked by the Sturt Highway from the east and west, the Calder-Sunraysia Highway, the Henty and Western Highways group in tha south, and the Northern, Loddon Valley and Murray Valley Highways group in the south cast. Broken Hill is linked to the south by the Silver City Highway and to the east and west by the Barrier Highway.
For the inland and the developing north, the highway would provide the shortest route to Australia’s major production and consumer areas which would result in lower costs and a stimulation of commerce. Road trains can be operated in the western division of New South Wales, which includes Wentworth. As part of the hub of the 3 States, road transport north out of Wentworth could cut transport costs dramatically to match sea freight to Darwin and other northern points. Freight costs would also be lower than any existing or proposed land connections whether road or rail. Road transport associations are showing a keen interest in this economic possibility, particularly as it would tie in with the beef roads of the north and the movement of beef to the south - especially in drought circumstances. The highway, of course, would increase the development of Darwin as an international point because distribution and receival of goods by land would be easier for a greater part of Australia. The highway naturally could make the Sunraysia district, Broken Hill and Mount Isa major inland transport and population centres. Rail and air services already serving these centres will assist with the decentralisation and development that could result.
Further, development would eventuate as service centres sprang up along the route. The population could fan out along the highway.
From the point of view of tourism the highway would open up enormous parts of the interior with greater ease and comfort for overseas and Australian tourists. With longer holidays and more reliable vehicles the average Australian is now looking for more distant holiday places. Tourist interests along the highway would include Australia’s newest and largest national park through which the route proposed by the Committee passes in the south-west corner of New South Wales.
As a defence road the highway would be invaluable. The only inland north-south road is from Alice Springs to Darwin. The coastal highways are vulnerable. There is not even a good all-weather road connecting Queensland and the Northern Territory. The suggested highway could be defended probably even better than the part way highway-railway system which now exists. Another advantage would be the connection that the highway would have with the proposed natural gas pipeline. A pipeline runs at present from Gidgealpa to Adelaide. The proposed pipeline is to run from Gidgealpa to Sydney. The suggested highway would cut right across that pipeline and would be of value during construction of the pipeline. The pipeline is to be extended not only east to Sydney but also west to link up with Palm Valley. The Federal Inland Development Organisation, which has been submitting a similar proposal but for a highway further to the east of the nation has accepted the Sunrasia concept. The northsouth highway is a workable and highly necessary project. It should have the backing of all States and the Commonwealth and should be built even if it has to be a toll road for the early years of its existence.
– The capacity to enjoy life and to achieve human happiness must be the only legitimate test of any social order. When I listen to some of the speeches made by honourable members opposite I wonder whether that is even a cursory concern or a mild passing consideration of some of them. All too frequently they appear to be concerned and believe that we should be overly concerned only with the figures on a balance sheet, with the amounts of money shown on both sides of the ledger. Do they really look intelligently at what life is all about? On this side of the House we are more concerned with the rights of human beings, their capacity to enjoy life and their ability to take their place in society.
In the time of the last generation medical costs have zoomed. They have become far too high in the community with every prospect that they will go higher. There is a direct relationship between the life style that has been developed over the last 20 years or so and increases in medical costs. Sometimes these expenses are referred to as health costs or the cost of health in our community. In fact they are the costs of poor health, the costs of trying to correct illnesses rather than the cost of achieving good health. A study undertaken recently by a task force in the United States of America for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare has found that coronary disease is directly attributable to the work style and mode of living. Yet we did not hear a word in 23 years of LiberalCountry Party rule about that link. We have not seen a single scrap of evidence of any attempt made to attack the problem.
There is a direct relationship between work dissatisfaction and heart disease. We have heard nothing of employee frustration and the frustration of citizens, together with the almost frightening increase in the incidence of heart disease in the community. Leisure time is becoming more important and will become even more important. We have achieved increased leisure time and will achieve even more, therefore putting more pressure on the productive capacity of employees and on the community to produce more goods and services. I believe that in this setting the work done by the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart) so far and the outline of the program that he has put before this House have not received due recognition.
Holidays and travel are very commendable if the population can afford to enjoy them. It is not of much use saying to a worker who works at pressure all the year: ‘You may have three or four weeks annual vacation but you cannot enjoy it. You must continue in your second job. You cannot (take your family away to a new environment during that period because your wife cannot get her holidays at the same time’. That is the type of society which was developed by honourable members opposite who have attacked the Budget that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) brought into this House a week ago. They brought about an economic system which demands that a family unit have at least 2 incomes. If there are not 2 incomes, the choice is between the principal bread winner having a second job or subjecting his children to privation.
Those are the plain facts. This new progressive and far-sighted government is being attacked after about 8 months in office for not having cured all the ills created during 23 years of Liberal-Country Party laissez faire government. I wonder whether the term ‘government’ is deserved by those people who occupied the majority seats in this House for so long. It was misgovernment. lt was leadership by the leaderless. The present Government is concerned about recreation at all levels and about satisfying all needs. Its concern, as has been illustrated in the Budget, is to provide the means to organise methods of recreation for our much maligned youth who will serve this country well in the years to come. We are concerned to provide for them sporting facilities and the means by which their art and craft may be developed.
This Government is also concerned to provide recreation for the adult population which is presently working to produce the goods and services required by the whole community. I remind honourable members opposite that but for the people who work by the sweat of their brow, who use their hands and brains in production, there would be no goods and services the distribution of which is argued about. The problem must be looked at in its totality, at the partnership in enterprise of employee, professional management and investor. It must be recognised that each section needs rest and recreation from the particular labour that it undertakes. This Government will attempt to provide the necessary facilities. It has already shown how it will set about that task.
What of the aged in our community who have built this society, who have provided the goods and services in the past? In the past 20 years they have been told: ‘We will pay you a pittance which we call a pension. That is all we will do for you. Our concern for you is to give you enough to keep you in a state of existence and then we will forget about you.’ The Labor Government is determined to make life livable for the people who have built this nation. It will provide the means for them to have recreation and to perform selfsatisfying tasks in the community. It is not simply a question of finding grounds and buildings in which to house the facilities. It is a matter of providing the organisation and the management to allow these things to be developed.
Much has to be done in the work place. For far too long it has been regarded as the preserve of management, trade unions and investors to slug it out on the floor of the work place and to find a solution the best way they can. Concepts of job enrichment, employee participation, sharing of responsibility and profitability in industry have merely been words to the government of the last generation. That has come to an abrupt end. Australia now has a Government that cares - a government that is concerned about people. I was interested to hear the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) state earlier tonight that electoral reform will be introduced into this Parliament and that there will be concern to ensure that there is one vote one value. When this is achieved, during the life of this Parliament, perhaps we will see a bi-partisan approach to the concept that the majority should elect the Government and that the Government should govern in the interests of the total population and not just minority sectional interests. The one thing that highlights and distinguishes the Whitlam Government from its predecessor is that it is a Government that is concerned with all of the people whether they be one-year old babies or 98-year old pensioners.
– In recent times I have been very troubled by the large number of people who are showing concern over inflation- in other words, ever increasing costs. On the latest figures, it is running at something like 13 per cent. The complaints I have received cover a wide range of areas and come from all sorts of people. Farmers are complaining about the cost of machinery, spare parts, freight and fuel as well as the costs to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Housewives are complaining about the cost of the goods they purchase for the home and also about costs to the Postmaster-General’s Department The businessman is complaining likewise and he also complains about the cost to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Now country newspaper proprietors have raised the question of postal charges on the distribution of their newspapers. Of course this is completely understandable.
The Government has frequently referred to inflation and to how it should he curbed. In the last few days we have heard nothing but what the Government is trying to do, without any real success. I want to know how fair dinkum the Government really is. It appears to me, to my Party, to my colleagues on this side of the House and to a large number of people outside this chamber that it is perhaps not quite so fair dinkum. Tonight I want to raise a few issues which I believe will prove my point. I give as an illustration the case of a wage earner. If he earns extra money he loses it in the long term because of inflation. If his income is $100 a week at the present time he pays something like $17.60 a week in income tax. If his salary is increased by 10 per cent due to inflation he will then pay $21 a week tax. In the theory if his costs go up by 1 per cent as a result of inflation he will not receive his .entitlement to an increase of $10 but $6.60. In other words, if one analyses this one will see that for every 10 per cent increase in inflation the Commonwealth Treasury receives an increase of about 4 per cent in both direct and indirect taxes. I submit that every time there is an increase in costs of one per cent it is only fair and proper that the Treasury should consider reducing some form of taxation by at least an equivalent amount. It would still be way out in front. That is one illustration.
I now want to deal with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department because, according to the Postmaster-General (Mr Lionel Bowen), these costs will rise tremendously in the not too distant future. I take as an illustration an average newspaper. We know that at the present time the cost of it for postage purposes is lie, rising next year to 3c. The following year it will rise to 7c and in 1976 to 11c. I want to know on what grounds can the Government of the day commit future governments as to the fees they will charge? Irrespective of what the Minister for Services and Property has said this evening, somewhere along the line between now and 1976, irrespective of the causes, there will be a general election. I want to know how the present Government can lay down a charge for an incoming government.
I want to refer briefly to a few quotations that I have noted from some of the newpapers circulating within my electorate. They give me a pretty clear indication of where they stand on this issue. I have not the time to quote many but I want to quote two that quickly come to mind. The first appears in the ‘Donald Times’ of 24 August 1973. It is headed ‘A Blast on the Budget’. It says:
On the effect on country newspapers, in particular, of the postage rise on newspapers, -Mr Anthony and others have correctly assessed it as disastrous in many cases. It will indeed mean extinction for some, and hard times for others with the means and determination to hold on.
I will not quote all of the article, but it goes on:
The blow of increased prices will fall on country people particularly, rather than on their city colleagues, who can pick up an unposted newspaper at almost any corner. This postal impost makes another mockery of decentralisation, for it will lead to loss of employment in the country, and removal of many to the cities, to battle with the relevant competition. That the Press Associations will lodge strong protests is predictable, but it may be interesting to discover the reaction of the printing industry unions.
It may also be appropriate to ask whether the Government should take the projected rises to its own Prices Justification Board for examination, not only from the viewpoint of revenue for the Government but also from all aspects of staff performance as already suggested.
I now turn to another article which is taken from the ‘Wimmera Mail-Times’ editorial of Monday, 27 August. It is headed ‘Planned Elimination’. The leading article reads:
We are in the hands of a calamitous government.
What other conclusion can be reached after analysing the latest Budget raid on country people’s pockets? . . . Our concern is 3-fold -
The callous discrimination shown against country people who, if they wish to retain their district newspaper, will be forced to pay exorbitant rates.
I might add that over the 3 years these rates will increase by more than 700 per cent. The Government talks about curbing inflation and setting examples. The second concern mentioned in the article is as follows:
The blow against a traditional freedom, expressed through country newspapers which have such a close link with the people they serve.
The third concern is:
The future of small country newspapers.
The article continues:
The proprietor of the ‘Donald Times’ . . . made it quite clear on Friday that the new rates would force small papers to close.
This tragedy will be repeated in hundreds of Australian country centres.
Country newspapers have been an integral part of communities since the earliest days of settlement. They have reflected the people’s hopes and anxieties; they have given readers a medium of expression and exchange which otherwise would be impossible.
In one blow, the cruelty of remote government which obviously cares nothing for those outside city perimeters, has threatened the very existence of a time-honoured institution.
This same government, hell-bent on socialism, is determined to eliminate all small businessmen so that the final bout will be a slugging match between monopoly capital and organised labour.
To clear the way for this encounter, the small man must go. This is obviously the planners’ policy. The small businesses will be sacrificed on the altar of socialistic power by men displaying Stalinist ruthlessness. Independence, the livelihood of thousands of families, and quite a bit of old fashioned rugged freedom will be burnt in the process.
The article concludes by saying: ‘Democracy died last week. R.I.P.’
– I want to raise a matter on which I have spoken in the House before and of which I think this Parliament should take note. In Victoria over the past 6 to 8 months considerable publicity has been given to proposals to establish a fourth university. Prior to the 1970 State election both major political parties promised to establish a fourth university in a country area. Subsequently a committee was established in Victoria and it reported in 1972. However, no action arose out of that report and in fact the report of that committee was discarded. In October last year the Australian Universities Commission asked the Victorian Government to provide it with details of courses, student numbers and other information relevant to what was proposed for the country university, as it was then mooted. In February this year in a short Press statement the Victorian Government indicated that it would establish a university based on Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo which would be located on grounds jointly occupied by a section of the university in each town, by the already existing teachers college in each town, which would be shifted to those grounds, and the college of advanced education existing in each of those towns. It was said that commerce, arts and science would be the courses, and that external studies would be the major aspect of the universities.
The Australian Universities Commission continued to ask for detailed information so that this matter could be examined. The Commission, as we all know, was engaged in an examination with the Australian Commission on Advanced Education of proposals relating to the future needs for a university in or near Melbourne and in the Albury-Wodonga area. Obviously it would have been of benefit to the Commission had it had before it proposals which would have enabled it to consider the Victorian Government’s projected multicampus university at the same time as it made recommendations on other aspects. The report which was finally brought down indicated that on the information available about student numbers and other factors, an area to the east of Melbourne should be considered for the university in or near Melbourne. The report also indicated that it could be that by about 1990 there would be a requirement for a university in the Geelong area. More significantly, the report said that the Commission had been unable to consider the Victorian Government’s proposals because it was unable to obtain any information relating to those proposals. On the morning on which the report was tabled in this House the Premier of Victoria indicated by telegram to the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) that he was forwarding additional information relating to the Victorian Government’s proposals.
At this time the Victorian Minister for Education, Mr Thompson, was demanding that the Commonwealth indicate that it was prepared to support the Victorian Government’s proposals. He was asking that the Universities Commission, a body set up to evaluate proposals requiring the expenditure of money in the university field, should support a blank cheque approach without the provision of any details, indications of the number of students involved, the likely cost structure, the courses, staffing or anything else. He was demanding that a decision be made without any information. This is akin to a person going into a local council office and saying: ‘I own a block of land and intend to build a motel on it. Would you please give me a permit?’ I imagine in those circumstances the local government body would request further information. However, in what I would say was a fairly shrewd political move, by announcing the sites and thereby lifting the expectations of the areas concerned, the Victorian Minister for Education was able to cloud the fact that no submissions or preparatory work had been done by the Victorian Government. A smokescreen has been placed over the whole project with expectations in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo being increased among people not fully aware of the facts that there would be a university in those areas.
Recently the Minister has been patting himself on the back because at last he has been able to get the Commonwealth Government to consider his proposals. It would have been very surprising if the Government had considered them any earlier because he did not put them in until 30 July. Irrespective of what government was in Canberra, it would not have been able to consider the proposals before they were submitted. From 1970 until August this year; - that is a minimum period - the Victorian Government has been engaged in drawing up specific proposals for a fourth university. What worries me most is that the people who know most about the educational needs of the 3 cities are not fully involved, and have not been fully involved, in the planning for this fourth university. There is a means by which an adequate tertiary institution or university, if one likes to call it that, can be provided in each of the 3 cities but it cannot be provided on the basis of 3 campuses and 9 separate entities with three of them operating in each city under different controls. There would be different State bodies controlling each. There would be a teachers college, there is what I think is called the Victorian council of teachers colleges, there would be the Victorian Institute of Colleges and the Victorian University Council which would control the 3 university colleges. Each of these bodies would have to make decisions, for instance, on the location of buildings. If the university wanted to build a new toilet it would have to get the agreement of the Victorian Institute of Colleges, the council of teachers colleges and the council of the Victorian university because it would be sharing the grounds. I am told that a minor proposal would require 16 separate decisions to be made. That is how complicated and how impractical the suggestion is. What should be done - even at this late stage it may be possible - is that the teachers colleges, the colleges of advanced education and the additional area which was proposed for a university-
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mouse adjourned at 11 p.m.
asked the Minister for Education, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Services and Property, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Mineral Sands (Question No. 553)
Mr Snedden Asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
How many sand mining companies are operating in Australia.
What is the (a) nature and (b) location of each of these ventures.
What was the (a) quantity of sand and (b) acreage of land mined by each venture during each of the last 5 years.
What area of land in each mining venture has been reclaimed following mining, and what were the methods by which this was achieved.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Associated Minerals Consolidated Ltd, Qld N.S.W.
Dillingham Mining Co. of Australia Ltd, Qld N.S.W.
Rutile and Zircon Mines (Newcastle) Ltd, N.S.W.
Minerals Deposits Ltd, Qld N.S.W.
Consolidated Rutile Ltd, Qld.
Cudgen R. Z. Ltd, N.S.W.
Western Titanium N.L., W.A.
Cable (1956) Ltd, W.A.
Westralian Sands Ltd, W.A.
Western Mineral Sands Pty Ltd, W.A.
Queensland Titanium Mines Pty Ltd, Qld.
Kibuka Mines Pty Ltd, Tas.
Currumbin Minerals Pty Ltd, Qld.
Mineral Concentrates Pty Ltd, S.A. (2), (3) and (4) The supervision and control over mining operations are matters for the Mines Departments in each State. The detailed information sought in respect of each mining venture would be available in the individual State Mines Departments.
asked the Minister for Minerals and Energy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The supervision and control over mining operations is a matter for the Mines Department in each State. The detailed information sought in respect of each mining venture would be available in the individual State Mines Departments.
asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Department and the authorities under my control have exclusive occupancy of only some of the above buildings.
By way of clarification of this answer, 3 buildings occupied in Queensland and Tasmania are in University grounds and are occupied on a no-rental basis; 1 occupancy in Victoria is in premises rented by the Department of Education for which no rental charge is made to my Department; another in Victoria is rented on the basis of a $10 nominal lease for 50 years. In order to provide a meaningful reply to the question, these particular occupancies have not been included in the figures shown for the range of rentals above or for the average rentals which follow.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
AUSTRALIA. National Capital Development Commission
Survey of flat dwellers. Canberra, 1959.
asked the Minister for Social
Security, upon notice:
Will tenders be called for the supply of computer equipment required for the Government’s proposed National Health Insurance Scheme; if so, will details of tenders received be made public.
Flats: a study of occupants and locations. Sydney, University of Sydney, 1970. (Ian Buchan Pell Research Project on Housing, Research Paper, 4).
Hobart, 197.2 Higher density housing: papers. March 1-3 1972. Hobart 1972.
Life and metropolitan location: a comparative study by social survey of three public authority walk up flat developments in Sydney . . . Sydney, University of Sydney, 1970. (Ian Buchan Fell Research Project on Housing, Research Paper, 5).
Environmental aspects of the design of tall buildings. Part 2, 6. Human and psychological reactions. Architectural Science Review 14, December 1971: 95-97.
High living: a study of family life in flats, by Anne Stevenson, Elaine Martin and Judith O’Neill. Melbourne University Press, 1967.
No high living in high-rise. Bulletin 93, 11 September 1971: 27-29.
High rise building and urban design by Hans Aregger and Otto Glaus. London, Thomas & Hudson, 1967.
Mental health in the hi-rise. Ekistics 196, March 1972: 192-195.
CHRISTIAN, Dr John J.
Physiological and pathological correlates of population density. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, March 1964: 169-174.
Health and environment: high flats by J. & R. Darke. London, Centre for Environmental Studies, 1970. (CES Working Paper, 10).
So human an animal. New York, Charles Scribners’ Sons, 1968.
DUHL, Leonard ed.
The urban condition. New York, Basic Books Incorporated, 1963.
ETTINGER, J. van
Multistorey blocks versus single - family dwellings for housing- a keynote paper by J. van Ettinger and others. Rotterdam, Stichting Bouwcentrum, 1968.
The relation of housing to behavior disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry 119, November 1962: 469-472.
GREAT BRITAIN. Environment Dept. of
The estate outside the dwelling. Reactions of residents to aspects of housing layout. London, HMSO, 1972.
GREAT BRITAIN, Environment Dept. of Housing single people: how they live at present. London, HMSO, 1971 (Design Bulletin, 23).
GREAT BRITAIN. Housing and Local Government. Min. of
Families living at high density: a study of estates in Leeds, Liverpool and London. London, HMSO, 1970. (Great Britain Housing and Local Government Min. of. Design Bulletin, 21.)
The child in the high rise. Ekistics 31, May 1971: 331-333.
GRUENBERG, Ernest M.
Community conditions and psychosis of the elderly. American Journal of Psychiatry, 110, June 1954: 888-896.
GUNN, Alexander D. G.
High life in the sky. the medical-social problems of multistorey living. Nursing Times 64, April 1968: 468-469.
High density living. London, Leonard Hill, 1966.
High density living. Housing Review 21, SeptemberOctober 1972: 167-170.
Homes in high flats: some of the human problems involved in multistorey housing. Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd, 1971. (Univ. of Glasgow. Social and Economic Studies Occasional Paper, 13.)
KATZ, Robert D.
Relationship of density to livability. Building Research 1, January-February 1964: 15-18.
KHAN, Fazlor R.
The future of highrise structures, Progressive Architecture, 53, October 1972: 78-85.
Man and his urban environment: a sociological approach. Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley, 1970.
NETHERLANDS. Housing and Building, Ministry of
Should we build and live in houses or flats The Hague, Min. of Housing and Building, 1965.
ROTHBLATT, Donald N.
Housing and human needs. Town Planning Review 42, April 1971: 130-144.
Beyond habitat, edited by John Kettle. Cambridge Mass., MIT, 1970.
SCHMITT, Robert C.
Implications of density in Hong Kong. Journal of the American Institute of Planners, August 1963: 210-217.
SILLITOE, Helen Ruth
Living in flats: a study of some aspects of living conditions in flats in West Germany. Housing 51, September 1969: 7-12.
SPACE, scale and sickness: the effects of human crowding. Progressive Architecture, December 1966: 47-50.
High rise apartments and urban forms. Athens, Athens Technological Organisation, 1968. (ACE Publications Series Research Report No. 5.)
WALLACE, Anthony F.
Housing and social structure: a preliminary survey with particular reference to multi-storey lowrent, public housing projects. Philadelphia, Philadelphia Housing Authority, 1952.
High rise living: can the same design serve young and old? By Gerda Wekerle and Edward Hall. Ekistics 196, March 1972: 186-191. WINSBOROUGH, Halliman
The social consequences of high population density. Law and Contemporary Problems, Winter 1965: 120-126.
Further references may be obtained from the following:
Higher density environments: some cultural physiological and psychological considerations - an annotated bibliography by A. P. Hollander. Monticello Illinois, Council of Planning Librarians, 1971. (Council of Planning Librarians, Exchange Bibliography, 221.)
Housing - health relationships: an annotated bibliography by Charles W. Barr. Monticello, Illinois, Council of Planning Librarians, 1969. (Council of Planning Librarians, Exchange Bibliography, 82.)
Proposed National Health
Insurance Scheme: Computer Equipment (Question No. 696)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The computing equipment to be procured is made up of three major items:
A large data processing system for installation in January 1974 at a cost of approximately $5.5m.
A second large data processing system for installation later in 1974 at a cost of approximately $4.3m.
An extension to the Department’s proposed data acquisition network at a cost of approximately $3. 2m.
In so far as Item 1 is concerned, the Department intends to request the Commonwealth Stores, Supply and Tender Board to certify that it is inexpedient to call open tenders and that an order be placed for the supply of all the equipment under this heading from IBM. The Department’s proposal has received the support of the Inter-departmental Committee on ADP on the basis of an assurance that the target date of January 1974 must be maintained.
I mention that this computer needs to be fully compatible with the Department’s existing IBM equipment to facilitate the development of common computer programs. Any other course would involve totally unacceptable delays in the implementation timetable for the Australian Health Insurance Plan.
The central processing unit of the second computer, Item 2, must be identical to the first as the two machines must work In such a way as to back each other up utilising common programs and software systems and the Department does not propose to invite open tenders for this unit. However, certain peripheral items for the second machine, which is not needed till nine months after delivery of the first machine, may be available under open tender and this course will be considered. The Department has received support from the Inter-departmental Committee on ADP on these issues.
In regard to the data acquisition equipment, Item 3, open tenders were called on 14 June 1973.
Publication of Tenders
Treasury Directions require the notification in the Gazette of contracts arranged. The information published is the name of the Contractor, a description of the supplies, and the total value of the contract.
Treasury Direction Section 31, paragraph 34, states:
Regulation 53 (3) enables information relating to contracts, additional to that published in the Gazette, to be disclosed at the discretion of the Chief Officer or the Chairman of a Tender Board to such persons as unsuccessful tenderers, potential tenderers and other genuinely interested parties. Such information may include unit prices. Information to an unsuccessful tenderer about the reasons for non-acceptance of his tender should be in terms of his tender’s insufficiency rather than in terms of the merits of the successful tender’.
The details of, the unsuccessful bids, containing information of a commercially confidential nature, are retained in the Departmental and Tender Board records.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Media, upon notice:
How much Australian Government advertising in (a) column inches and (b) value was placed in each foreign language newspaper during (i) 1971 and (H) 1972.
– The Minister for the Media has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1973/19730829_reps_28_hor85/>.