18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the repeated attacks that are made in certain sections of the press upon organizations, . institutions and political parties, can the Acting Attorney-General advise me whether a member of a body that has been libelled has the right to take action for slander, or libel, against an offending newspaper? If an individual does not now possess that right, will the Government consider passing legislation to confer that right?
-Speaking without prior consideration of the matter, I have no knowledge of any head of power in the Constitution which would enable the Government to take action along the lines the honorable senator has indicated. The law of libel and slander is administered primarily by the States. I think I should ask for notice of the more detailed question, which invites me to embark upon an opinion as to the rights of individual members of an organization when the organization is defamed. Normally, if the party could be identified he would have a right of action, and, in certain instances, could launch a prosecution for criminal libel, but the rights of an individual in an organization who takes umbrage at a libel, or at a dander, are not simple to define. I should not care at this stage to express a detailed opinion.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping andFuel whether it is correct, as reported in the Melbourne Herald yesterday, that “wharf labourers at Lucinda Point, a sugar port, have defied the Stevedoring Industry Commission by refusing to form a third gang, the effect of which would be to bring the number of waterside workers from 42 to 57”? It is reported in that newspaper that a spokesman for the shipping companies has saidthat, should the wharf labourers persist in their refusal, more than 25 per cent. of this season’s sugar-cane would go unharvested. Can the Minister give any indication of the gain that would be made in ship-loading time by the formation of a third gang ?
– This matter has been raised in the House of Representatives by the honorable member for Herbert, in whose electorate Lucinda Point is situated. At that port the normal practice is to work two gangs of nineteen men each. Therefore, the figures stated in the report to which the honorable senator has referred are incorrect. The wharf at that port is only130feet long, with the result that it is possible to load only two hatches at the one time. It is doubtful whether it would be wise, or economical, to work a third gang, because this would entail the local mill working at night time, were a night shift introduced, and would also involve transport difficulties at night. However, the Stevedoring Industry Commission has approved the formation of a third gang and this has been agreed to by the local branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. It was estimated that three gangs of nineteen men each would load 750tons of sugar a day, but, as sufficient labour is not available in. the district to permit of the formation of a third gang each of the two existing gangs has been augmented by the addition of three men. As the result of this improvement the two gangs last Monday loaded 690 tons of sugar. That result raises a doubt as to whether it would be economical, or justifiable, to form a third gang. The Stevedoring Industry Commission is still considering the matter.
– Last Sunday I attended a meeting of homeless exservicemen in Melbourne, at which many allegations were made that certain firms were hoarding materials, particularly building materials. I ask the Acting Attorney-General whether the Government has power to prevent hoarding of materials which are inshort supply?
– What power the Commonwealth has enjoyed in the field of control of materials in short supply is an extraordinary power derived from the expansion of its defence power in war-time and in the post-war period. That power is not expected to last for long. In determining its scope the High Court invariably applies the test of whether or not the matter under consideration has a direct relation to defence, and difficulty often arises in seeing a direct relation, as opposed to an indirect relation. Matters affecting the welfare of ex-servicemen positively come within the ambit of the defence power, and in that respect the power will endure for a considerable period. The continuation of repatriation benefits to members of the forces during World War I. is a good example of this. However, generally speaking, the extraordinary defence powers invested in the Commonwealth are rapidly running out, and there can be no certainty that they would survive a challenge in the High Court. As the honorable senator is aware the Commonwealth is gradually vacating the field of post-war controls. Many controls have already been relinquished, and shortly a measure will be brought before this chamber providing for a further abdication in that field.
SenatorNASH. - I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether the Australian Government has any control over the movement of interstate shipping and cargoes ?
– If the honorable senator were more specific in his question, I should be able to give him a more satisfactory answer, but I take it that he wants to know just what control the Commonwealth retains over interstate shipping. The only control now exercised by the Commonwealth is in respect of its own vessels or ships under charter to the Commonwealth. The loading and interstate shipping of cargoes is administered by a committee comprising representatives of ship-owners, including the Commonwealth. That committee meets regularly in Melbourne and applications for cargo space are made to it weekly.
– I ask the Minister ‘ representing the Attorney-General whether any action may be taken under the National SecurityRegulations to prevent the Melbourne gas monopoly from further increasing the price of gas to consumers. If not, could legislation be introduced to protect the people of Melbourne against further exploitation by the Metropolitan Gas Company?
– I am not familiar with what has transpired in relation to gas supplies in Melbourne. I point out, however, that the Commonwealth vacated the prices control field on the twentieth of this month following a referendum of the people of Australia. The matter referred to by the honorable senator therefore, now comes within the province of the Victorian Government.
-I draw the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to an article published in the Sydney Sun on the 12th September commenting on a prediction by the Minister for Labour and National Service of a continued shortage of labour and attributing responsibility for this to the Australian Government’s action in reducing the working week from 44 hours to 40 hours: Has the Minister read that report? If so, does he agree that the Australian Government reduced the working week to 40 hours? If the Minister has read the report, has he made any reply to it?
– I have no recollection of the article referred to by the honorable senator, but I think that even Opposition members in this chamber will admit that the working week was reduced not by the Australian Government, but by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court following an application by certain unions.
– Is the
Minister for Supply and Development aware that certain manufacturers in South Australia are experiencing considerable difficulty, because of the acute shortage of stainless steel tubing, which is preventing them from completing their contracts? Can the Minister give any indication as to when manufacturers may expect relief?
-Stainless steel tubing is not manufactured in Australia and we are completely dependent on overseas supplies. At present there is a considerable lag in deliveries from the United Kingdom. However,’ if the Department of Supply and Development can do anything to assist localmanufacturers who are experiencing difficulty it will certainly do so.
-Because of the shortage of tinplate or because of the large quantity of canned fruit that is exported the people of “Western Australia are experiencing a scarcity of canned fruit. Can the Minister for Supply and Development do anything to remedy that state of affairs ?
Senator ARMSTRONG.Unfortunately there is an acute shortage of tinplate in Australia, but whether or. not that has effected the supply of fruit to Western Australia I am unable to say. Since the Avar Australian fruit-growers have made every effort to increase production in order to provide more food for shipment overseas and to fulfil the local demand. The honorable senator will be pleased to know that as the result of my recent visit to the United Kingdom I believe that the quantity of tinplate shipped to Australia by the United Kingdom will be considerably increased. In order to conserve the tinplate imported to this country rationing is rigidly enforced. One hundred and seven thousand tons of tinplate are imported annually, but, of this quantity, 94,000 tons are used to can food for export, leaving only 13,000 tons for use in canning food for local consumption. The Government holds about 7,000 tons of tinplate, and about 25,000 tons is distributed throughout industry in this country, but there is no regular stockpile. Honorable senators will realize, therefore, that unless the supply of tinplate is considerably increased our manufacturing difficulties will multiply, and that consideration is agitating the minds of members of the Government. How ever, as I have said, I hope that as the result of my recent visit to the United Kingdom more tinplate will be made available for use by Australian canneries
Motion (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill foras act to provide for medical services in respect of tuberculosis, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time
Motion (by Senator Ashley) put -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent thebill being passed through its remaining stage without delay.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
One of the greatest tasks confronting the nation at this time is the maintenance of the national health. One of the most serious diseases, and yet one of the most readily curable when found in its early stages, is tuberculosis. Contrary to accepted belief, tuberculosis is not hereditary. It is, however, infectious and can strike any one at any age. The stamping out of tuberculosis should concern every Australian citizen. The disease is difficult to control because in its early stages it gives little or no warning of its presence. It has been said very truly, in another place, and by a greater voice than mine, that “ peace hath her victories, no less renowned than war and one of the greatest victories that we could achieve in this country would be to destroy or reduce, by combined action, the scourge of tuberculosis. The disease is an enemy of our people, and is just as formidable as any force met by the men of this nation in physical combat. However, it is an enemy that can be destroyed, or at least reduced to impotence, by means within the knowledge of the medical profession and at hand.
The measure now before this chamber ia designed to enable battle to be joined with this enemy, to co-ordinate the forces available to the attack, and to bring all the efforts of governments and the medical profession to a close focus on the disease in order, at least, to reduce it to minor proportions within our time. The bill seeks to initiate a campaign which will call for a great degree of co-operation by the people, their governments, 6tate Mid national, organs of publicity, and he members of the medical profession. V high degree of co-operation and assisranee has been forthcoming from exservicemen’s organizations and other voluntary associations in conducting sanatoriums and in directing public attention ,to the need for a campaign against the disease. Their efforts have been a most valuable contribution to the education of the public, and it is hoped that this co-operation and support will continue and integrate with the wider cam4paign. I think, and I am sure honorable senators will agree, that the cause is a worthy one, and that the victory to be von will confer great and lasting benefit »n this and succeeding generations of our people.
Tuberculosis strikes at men and women in their most vigorous years, which is their most productive and reproductive period. It causes far more deaths among women >f child-bearing age than all the risks of pregnancy combined. The incidence of the disease is greatest amongst the young and active who have their most useful years in front of them. Its attack is insidious, and frequently its presence remains unsuspected until its ravages are <o advanced that the sufferer is doomed either to long years of incapacity or to *Arl V death. I am sure that there are many honorable senators who can remember among their acquaintances young and brilliant men and women who were first crippled, and then killed, by this disease, which is, in Australia, by far the greatest individual cause of death among men and women in the prime years of adult life, chat is between the ages of 20 and 40 years. In 1946, the latest year for which details are available, tuberculosis was responsible for 27.6 per cent, of deaths from all major individual onuses among people from 20 to 39 years of age. It caused more than twice as many deaths in this age group as did cancer and tumors, and exceeded by more than 50 per cent, thetotal of deaths from diseases of the heart and circulatory system among people of these ages. Since tuberculosis takes ite large toll of adults in the prime of life, the total mortality, measured in years of expected life lost, reaches very large proportions and even excluding all other aspects, this is a very serious economic loss to this country.
Though the incidence of tuberculosis in Australia has shown a decline in recent years, and is in fact much less than in older settled countries, the disease remains one thai takes a grievous toll in human suffering and distress, and in loss to the nation. The fall in the morbidity and mortality rates of tuberculosis may be related to the general rise in the standard of living, of nutrition and housing. In fact, an eminent doctor has suggested that when every one has enough room in which to live and work, enough to eat, and proper working conditions, the incidence of tuberculosis will diminish to vanishing point.
All governments in Australia are interesting themselves increasingly in the matter of housing. The Commonwealth is concerned, also, in the raising of nutrition standards, and there is increasing recognition of the need for improvement of factory and workshop conditions. The Commonwealth has recently approved the establishment of a Unit of Industrial Hygiene at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at the University of Sydney. I do suggest, however, and the Government recognizes, that we cannot afford to wait on a fall in mortality and morbidity rates brought about by improvements of living, housing and working conditions. There are still between 30,000 and 40,000 sufferers from tuberculosis in Australia. There may be many thousands more unsuspected cases. The disease in some forms is highly infectious.
Administration cannot, of itself, add one iota to medical knowledge, or suggest new solutions of medical problems, but it can make . known solutions effective. Known solutions exist for the problems of tuberculosis infection. This Government, and the several State governments, recognize a duty to safeguard and protect the people from the dangers of tuberculous infection. Medical science needs the assistance of governments to apply the measures of knowledge which can overcome tuberculosis in this country.
Commonwealth entry into this field of health legislation is made possible by the amendment of section 51 of the Constitution at the referendum in September, 1946, which confers power on the Commonwealth to legislate for the provision of medical services. The bill before the Senate gives authority to the Commonwealth to take measures for the prevention, treatment and control of tuberculosis. It gives legislative effect to a campaign for a bold, imaginative attack on the scourge of tuberculosis, aimed at reducing the disease to negligible proportions in the shortest possible time. The campaign against tuberculosis is planned largely along lines recommended by the Commonwealth Director of the Division of Tuberculosis, after a survey in all States. The plan has been drawn in consultation with all State Ministers of Health, and was approved by the Premiers in conference in Canberra. The Commonwealth is rightly giving a lead in what is a national problem, to supplement and extend the efforts of the States.
I repeat that the means of dealing with tuberculosis are already known. These require, in the first instance, the location of the infectious case, isolation and medical treatment, after-care, and rehabilitation. There are, in addition, social implications. Too often patients restored to health by good treatment have been forced, perhaps by lack of opportunity or because of financial difficulties, to return to the same conditions of living and of working as led to their breakdown in health in the first instance. The plan to be implemented under this measure ensures that after-care and rehabilitation shall he given the fullest consideration. Further, the measure provides for adequate financial assistance to sufferers and their dependants, to remove the worry factor which, in prolonged illness, so often militates against recovery. The campaign against tuberculosis authorized by this measure is an example of CommonwealthState co-operation and collaboration al its best, working on a uniform plan for the positive health of all the people. The States will continue to administer, control and utilize their existing organizations and facilities, expanding them to provide adequately for growing needs. The Commonwealth will bear the cost, by reimbursement to the .States, of all new approved capital expenditure of the States from the 1st July. 1948, for. land and buildings, furnishings, equipment and plant for use in the diagnosis, treatment and control of tuberculosis. Estimates of expenditure in this field alone approach £500,000 for the current year. The Commonwealth will bear also the whole cost of the maintenance expenditure of the States approved by the Commonwealth in excess of the net maintenance expenditure incurred by the States in the diagnosis, treatment and control of tuberculosis in the financial year 1947-48.
The Commonwealth has established a. Division of Tuberculosis in the Department of Health and will assist the States with medical and technical, advice on the highest level, to co-ordinate their activities and to shape the policy to be followed in all aspects of the campaign.
It is recognized that there is need to encourage more people in the medical and nursing professions to undertake training in the treatment and care of patients suffering from tuberculosis. It is necessary, also, to overcome the fear of the disease, which is ai present a very real factor in reluctance by some to undertake this work. The Commonwealth will encourage the establishment of thoracic wings, attached to teaching hospitals, for the -investigation and treatment of diseases of the chest, including tuberculosis. Medical students and trainee nurses will thus secure training in the early diagnosis of the disease, familiarity with its treatment, and experience in the care of tuberculous patients. In addition the bill provide.* that the Commonwealth may pay subsidies to universities or other institutions to promote and assist investigation and research, and to develop courses of training in branches of medical science relating to tuberculosis problems. The Director-General of Health is empowered by the bill, subject to the direction of the Minister, to conduct, assist, and provide for research, investigations, experiments, studies and training, in relation to the detection and diagnosis of tuberculosis, and the treatment and after-care of sufferers from the disease. He may also arrange for the provision of scholarships for the post-graduate study of tuberculosis.
I have mentioned the social implications of the disease. There is a very real need for .measures to educate the public about the means to combat the spread of tuberculosis, and the value of early diagnosis and treatment. There is need also to destroy the fear of the disease, and to overcome the reluctance of some people to undergo radiological examination. A big step towards achievement of these aims can be. taken if the sufferer, or the suspected sufferer, can be assured that he and his family or dependants will be relieved of financial worry during the period of his treatment and rehabilitation.
The Commonwealth has for some years jet aside for the States a sum of £250,000 annually for this purpose. It is proposed to continue this assistance and extend it to whatever degree is found to be necessary. Payments will be made to sufferers and their dependants to encourage sufferers to refrain from working and to undergo treatment, to minimize the spread of the disease, and to promote the treatment, after-care and rehabilitation of sufferers. It is essential that people who suspect that they have tuberculosis should be encouraged by positive measures to overcome their fear of the disease and to seek examination and early treatment, secure in the knowledge that those who are their care and responsibility will be looked after and provided for. The bill empowers the DirectorGeneral, subject to the direction of the Minister, to provide facilities for .the examination of sufferers or suspected sufferers, for the medical care of sufferers, and for their after-care and rehabilitanon. The Director-General is also empowered to take steps for the establishment of hospitals, sanatoriums, labora tories, diagnostic centres, after-care, radiological and other units and clinics for the diagnosis, treatment and control of tuberculosis.
The bill makes provision for the setting up of an advisory council. This body, representative of both State and Commonwealth interests, will include in its membership experts in the field of tuberculosis throughout the Commonwealth. The functions of this council are set out in the bill. Primarily, the council will advise the Minister on measures to be adopted to prevent and control tuberculosis, and on standards of equipment and apparatus, standards of training or personnel, and standards of hospitals and sanatoriums. It will be noted that the bill, by reason of doubt as to Commonwealth power, makes no provision to require the compulsory radiological or other examination of the public, nor does it attempt to make provision for the restraint of recalcitrant infectious patients, or for the compulsory treatment of persons suffering from tuberculosis. These aspects, however, have not been overlooked and the States have asked the Commonwealth to prepare model legislation dealing with these matters for consideration by State Governments where provision does not already exist in State law. The attack on tuberculosis envisaged by the Commonwealth and the States together, and authorized by this bill and by complementary measures in the State legislatures, is a full and complete assault on the incidence and spread of a dread disease. The campaign is planned to cover every aspect. It provides for radiological and bacteriological examination to locate infected and infectious cases, for increased accommodation and staff to house and care for sufferers, for financial assistance to sufferers and their dependants, for after-care and rehabilitation of sufferers, and for research and development in methods of diagnosis, treatment and control of tuberculosis.
As in the military field, so here attack is the best means of defence. The measures planned in this campaign arn designed not merely to find and treat the tuberculosis case. They are designed also to safeguard and protect the healthy people of the community from infection, incapacity and death. With full implementation of the techniques of case-finding through radiological and other surveys this protection will extend throughout the community, safeguarding Australians as yet unborn. Expenditure under the bill now before the Senate will be borne by the National Welfare Fund established under the National Welfare Fund Act 1943-1945, with the exception that expenditure of a capital nature on buildings, plant, equipment and furnishings, together with administrative costs, will be met as fl direct charge from moneys appropriated from time to time by the Parliament. The mere passing of legislation in this, or any other, Parliament, will not achieve any miraculous lessening of the incidence of tuberculosis in this country. However, the passage of legislation here, with complementary action by State parliaments, will enable the Commonwealth to establish the machinery by which, with the full cooperation of the people with the governments and the medical profession, we may, within our time, reduce tuberculosis to the position of a disease of minor proportions in Australia. The bill represents a combined contribution by the governments pf Australia to positive health in the community.
I am sure that honorable senators will fully endorse the Government’s action in initiating these proposals, and I commend the bill to them with confidence.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’sullivan) adjourned.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Hire of Mechanical Plant
asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
-The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works and Housing has supplied the following information: -
The answers to these questions, as furnished by the Agricultural Bank of Tasmania, the authority administering the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement in that State, are as under: -
During the past two years 413 homes have been built and allocated in Tasmania under the Commonwealth and State housing scheme, of which 170 have been allotted to civilians.
The criteria of need as agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the States in accordance with the Common wealth and State Housing Agreement.
Debate resumed from the 16th September (vide page 506), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the following papers be printed : -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure,forthe year ending the 30th June, 1949.
The Budget 1948-49 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley. M.P., on the occasion of the Budget of 1948-49.
– -When the debate was adjourned last Thursday and I obtained leave to continue my remarks, I had pointed out that the Piddington inquiry resulted in a recommendation that the basic wage should be increased to £5 17s. a week, and [ said that at that time the wage was equivalent in purchasing power to a wage of £10 a week to-day. I also added that I believed that within six months such a wage would be insufficient to enable the worker to subsist at a reasonable standard of living. Reports published in the press yesterday confirm my views in that respect. We read that at the first uncontrolled sale of motor cars in South Australia, prices had risen by as much as £200 a vehicle. At the same time, applications are being made for increases of the prices of bread, meat, bacon, fish and many other commodities. In view of this trend, I again urge the authorities concerned to move as quickly as possible for an increase of the basic wage. The present wage must be increased if we wish to maintain peace in industry, because the basic wage is the working man’s bread and butter. During the referendum on prices control, I and my colleagues pointed out that if the Government’s proposals were not agreed to the National Parliament would have to withdraw price subsidies. As the result of the rejection of those proposals, some of those subsidies have been withdrawn, and the effect of that action is already becoming apparent. I am informed on good authority that the price of suitings will rise by 10s. a yard and that of knitting wool by 6s. per lb. The price of clothing generally will increase considerably, and that will mean hardship for the wage-earners. That is another reason why the basic wage should be increased as soon as possible. During the prices referendum campaign I dealt with the effect which the withdrawal of subsidies would have on the potato industry, particularly in Tasmania. Probably, prices for this season and next season will be fairly high, but, subsequently, owing to the failure of the States to agree to the limitation of acreage, there will be a glut of potatoes and the farmers will be adversely affected in consequence, Unfortunately. the people disregarded our advice, and they must now face the facts.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan), when dealing with the production of coal, said that the Government should ensure that justice if done between employer and employee. I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. But there is only one way by which we can increase the production of coal. As I explained in my earlier remarks, coal production is now from 700,000 to 800,000 tons greater than in 1926 when there were 7,000 more miners employed on the coal-fields. The most effective way to increase coal production is to do justice to the miners by granting them an allround/ increase of wages. In addition, the coal mine owners should provide decent amenities for the miners. The men are entitled to lunch rooms both underground and on the surface, and decent bathing facilities. It is still more important that greater safety measure? should be taken in order to reduce accidents in the mines. In addition, as many coal mines as possible should be mechanized. At the same time, the miners should be enabled to live in decent homes with up-to-date domestic amenities. An increase of the basic wage and wage? generally would immediately give an impetus to business throughout the’ community. The circulation of more money in the form of wages would increase the purchasing power of the community, and that would be to the advantage of small business people and our primary producers. Our prosperity generally would increase, and, at the same time, the standard of living of the people would be raised. In view of the fact that our national wealth has increased by approximately 100 per cent, in the last four years, an effort should be made to improve the standard of living of the workers to a corresponding degree.
The Deputy-Leader of the Opposition also urged the Government to grant assistance to the tobacco-growing industry in North Queensland. The Government is assisting that industry through the State Government, but I believe that it. can do more in that direction.. We are informed in the press that Great Britain is purchasing £127,000,000 worth of tobacco annually from the United States >f America. I can see no reason why our tobacco-growing industry should not be expanded to a sufficient degree to enable Australia to supply some of Britain’s requirements of tobacco leaf. The quality >f tobacco leaf grown at Mareeba and Dimboola is equal to that grown in any other country. I know those districts very well. Unfortunately, growers of tobacco leaf there are obliged to live under very adverse conditions. Indeed, they are forced to live to some degree ,inon game, such as kangaroos and birds.
Many people urge the Government to nationalize the coal mines, the steel industry and other heavy industries. I agree with that policy in principle, but, unfortunately, the Commonwealth has not the power under the Constitution to implement it. The Constitution lists 39 heads in respect of which power is vested n. the Commonwealth. These heads include banking and insurance. However, we are still waiting to learn the fate if the Government’s legislation to nationalize banking. Generally speaking, the Constitution empowers the Commonwealth to deal only with effects not causes It is doubtful whether the national Parliament has power to nationalize the steel industry. In these circumstances, we should be wise to educate the people to the limitations of the Constitution from the point of view of the Commonwealth. We boast of being constitutionalists and democrats, and we are prepared to abide by the decision of the majority. That being so, we must educate the people to the limitations imposed by the Constitution. Until we do that, it will be useless to talk about the Government nationalizing the coal-mining and steel industries. [ go further and say that those industries should be socialized, because I see a great difference between socialization and nationalization. I urge that the study of the Constitution should be included in the curriculum of our schools. In that way we should enlighten our people with respect to the real powers of the National Parliament. The measures that I have advocated are only palliatives. While the system under which we are living continues, the conditions of the workers will become worse. The system is so archaic that it fosters war. We have successive booms, slumps, and wars. We must do everything possible to avoid another war. I do not believe that war is as close as many people seem to believe, although in the international field to-day there is much sabre rattling with the object of building up a war psychology. While the means of production are owned by a few people, wealth will be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The system forces centralization, which is to be deplored, and the only way to resist ix is to hand over to the people of this country the means of production, distribution and exchange, to be administered by the people in the interests of the people. But first it is necessary that the people should study political science. If they did that they would not allow the present system to continue for another 24 hours. To-day, the same individuals, who, in the past, have made huge profits out of the sale of armaments, are once again endeavouring to create an atmosphere conducive to war. If they are successful, war will follow inevitably and millions of working people will lose their lives. Again I say that the only remedy is public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. That of course is socialism and one is often condemned for advocating it; nevertheless, what I have said is the truth and facts cannot be denied.
– I listened with great pleasure to the Speech of the Governor-General. It was a striking testimony to the splendid work of the Labour Government. I am sure that His Excellency gave his personal approval to every word of it. I only wish that a copy of the Speech could be given . to every elector in the Commonwealth as I am sure it would be a means of changing many Libera] party or Australian Country party supporters into Labour party supporters. Unfortunately many thousands of votes are cast against Labour as the’ result of the evil influence of the press. I am very glad that we have an Australianborn Governor-General, and I hope that all future occupants of that office will be Australian-born, because the citizens of this country understand its problems and the spirit of its people very much better than these things can he understood by any person coming from abroad. In Sir Isaac Isaacs and Mr. McKell we have two splendid examples of Australian-born Governors-General.
The budget is a most satisfactory document. It shows that much thought has been given by the Cabinet to the needs of the country. The budget proposals are in the best interests of the nation. The Treasurer is doing his best with the money that is available. If more had been available, I am sure that even greater assistance, particularly in respect of pensions for ex-servicemen, by way of social services, would have been given to the needy people of the country. However, the Government has already a proud record in this sphere, and will, I am sure, do more to improve conditions when that is possible. Certainly it has already done much more than any government formed by the present Opposition parties has done in the past or is likely to do in the future.
At the beginning of World War II., wealthy business interests promised that when the war was over they would improve the conditions of the workers. Those promises were made not only in this country, but also in Great Britain; but as soon as victory appeared in sight, they were repudiated and the men who had made them claimed that conditions were quite satisfactory. We knew very well that they were not satisfactory, and fortunately, with a continuance of Labour rule in this country, we have been able to improve them. In Great Britain, too, a Labour Government assumed office, and has been able to do a great deal for the benefit of the people of the United Kingdom. Australia has had some very able Prime Ministers, but none has been held in greater esteem than our present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). He is an able man of sound political opinions and complete integrity. He is also most popular with the people of this country, and is fully trusted by them. I am confident that he will hold his present office for many years to come. Recognizing the Prime Minister’s popularity and the faith that the Australian people have in him, members of the Liberal party have tried unscrupulously to bring him into disrepute, but they have not a chance of suc- cess. The faith of the people is too firmly grounded. When World War II. brokeOUt the Menzies Government proved incapable of meeting the many problem* that beset this country. It was followed by the Fadden administration which held office for a very short period. If I remember correctly, like the flood which destroyed the world, it lasted for 40 day* and 40 nights, and that was quite long enough. The defence plan of the Menzies Government was to withdraw south of s line running across the continent jus north of Brisbane, leaving our vasi northern areas unprotected. Had that plan been put into operation, the Japanese would very soon have landed on OU northern coast-line and moved south When Mr. Curtin became Prime Minister, his Government dealt most effectively with the war situation. He appealed t( the United States of America for help and got it. I have heard that this appeal displeased the then British Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, but we have ever) reason to be very grateful that it wa* made. I am confident that this country will be governed by Labour in perpetuity I see no hope of the Opposition partie ever again securing a majority which would enable them to occupy the treasury bench and once again damage thu country.
We read frequently in the newspaper* the allegation by business men and Liberal party supporters that the Labour Government’s taxation policy has destroyed the incentive to produce. I believe thai the opposite is true. Before the wai many business men were resting on their oars. They were making good profits and there was no incentive for them to work harder; but, with the introduction of heavier taxes and the consequent diminution of profits, they have been spurred oil to greater efforts. Every day we read in the newspapers of the highly satis factory balance-sheets of various commercial organizations. In almost every instance dividends and profits have increased. Last week, Senator Morrow cited a list of companies whose profit and dividends had increased considerably. Many insecure businesses wert saved by the war and were well able topay high taxes. I believe that every business man is entitled to a fair rate of interest on the money that he has invested, and to a reasonable wage if he manages the concern himself; but after these charges have been met, the profits of industry should be shared by the workers. Christ said, “ It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God “. He was speaking of the misuse of money by those who acquired it to the exclusion of others. Christ also said, “ Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not unto me “. Those fortunate individuals in the community who have money should help others who need it.
Recently there has been agitation in Western Australia for the creation of another State. This follows similar moves in New SouthWales and Queensland. The proposed new State inWestern Australia would have an area as large as Victoria. Recently, I read a book by the late Hon. D. L. McNamara, M.L.C., of Victoria, in which he suggests that Australia be divided into 32 States. I thoroughly approve of the proposal. In South Africa there is only one Parliament, which delegates some of its powers to the provincial administrations. I favour a similar system for this country because I believe that it would give an impetus to development. There would be considerable rivalry for membership of the provincial bodies, because most people would be greatly interested in the matters with which they would deal. In South Australia, what we call the west coast area, vest of ‘Spencer’s Gulf, was practically undeveloped until comparatively recently. A farmer from the Yorke Peninsula was elected to the South Australian Parliament and induced the Government to investigate the potentialities of that area. Now it has been developed considerably, andis a great asset to this State. I am sure that if a referendum were submitted to the people on thequestion of unification, that is, one central parliament with full powers and the division of the Test of the Commonwealth into 32 provinces, exercising delegated authority, it would have a strong appeal to the people. This system would involve, of course, the abolition of the State legislativecouncils. That would be a wise move. because the councils have been an: obstacle to development and a bar to democracy. The Senate, too, would cease to exist, and, whilst some people might not relish that thought, if I had a vote I should certainly support the new system. As Mr. McNamara points out, even with 32 provinces there would be fewer members of Parliament and administrative costs would be less than they are to-day.
In view of the dollar shortage, we should do our utmost to produce more gold in this country. Prospectors should be induced to look for new fields. They should be paid fares, travelling expenses and even wages.
– That is done in Western Australia.
– They should be given even more encouragement. An increase of the price of gold would add incentive. A friend of mine employed by a prospecting company discovered a new field from which a considerable amount of gold has since been taken. He received a good bonus for being the fortunate one who made the discovery.
– I suppose he is a capitalist now?
– No, unfortunately. Hecontinued prospecting, but was badly injured by an explosion and is not in good health to-day.
I am sorry that the validity of the Banking Act 1947 was challenged because I certainly consider that that measure would have operated to the advantage of the people of Australia. The only people who would have been adversely affected by that measure are the directors of the trading banks, who are all men of substance, and are not dependent on the directors’ fees whichthey receive from the banks. The staffs of the trading banks would certainly have been better off as employees of the Commonwealth Bank. Their general conditions would have improved, and they would have enjoyed much greater freedom. Tinder the present system they are virtually slaves of the trading banks. During the campaign which preceded the recent referendum on control of rents and prices many of them were compelled to do things which violated their consciences. They had to obtain the signatures of customers to protests against the Government’s proposals. Although the High Court declared certain sections of the Banking Act to be invalid, its members were not unanimous in their judgments. Furthermore, although two of the judges admitted that they had relatives who held shares in the trading banks, they did not withdraw from the case. The AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt), who was formerly a member of the High Court, would undoubtedly have taken a different view of the legality of the legislation if he had been a member of the court. Similarly the King’s Counsel who assisted in drafting the measure, and who must have been convinced of its legal validity, would undoubtedly have pronounced in favour of its validity had they been members of the High Court. Early in its history the High Court declared that the Arbitration Court had no power to make awards for employees of State instrumentalities, but later, when the personnel of the High Court was changed, the court’s point of view also changed. Had some of the eminent legal persons who possessed strong claims for appointment to the High ‘Court when vacancies occurred some years ago been appointed to that bench instead of the present appointees, the judgment of the High Court in the banking case might have been quite different.
It is also a matter for regret that the referendum to continue control of rents and prices by the National Government was not carried. The system under which prices control operated was functioning very smoothly, although every one realized that becuase the National Security Act, under which those regulations were made, could operate only during the war and its aftermath, the system might have been challenged in the High Court and declared invalid. However that. may be, I am certain that many people now regret the discontinuance of national control of rents and prices because they find that already they have to pay more for bread, meat, milk, and other items of food, . and even for hairdressing. I am convinced that many of the people who voted “ No “ at the recent referendum have changed their views since then and that if another referendum were taken, the result would be different. Prices control by the State* cannot operate successfully because of the opposition to it manifested, by th* legislative second chambers in the States. Those chambers are the friends of big business and the landlords. Only a year ago the Legislative Council of South Australia sought to have house rents increased by 15 per cent. The campaign waged by the Liberal party and their friends must have cost a tremendous amount.
– And it must have cost the banks a tremendous amount.
– Yes. The director* of trading banks and big business men are represented in the States’ upper houses, and the main concern of those conservative institutions is to protect vested interests. The campaign waged by the opponents of Labour during the referendum on control of rents and price* was characterized by an utter disregard for the truth. In South Australia a consumers’ protection society has been formed of representatives of the trade union> and other organizations in order to protect the interest of consumers. However. I am afraid that, that body will be called upon to do a tremendous amount of work if it is to protect properly the interests of the ordinary people.
I propose to say something about the working alliance between the Liberal party and the Australian Country party.
– They have agreed to exterminate each other.
– That would be a very good thing, indeed. The interests of primary producers and those of members of the Liberal party are diametrically opposed. The big business men’ who belong to the Liberal party are well organized. I told the Senate on a previous occasion of one big business man who handled primary produce in South Australia. That man was a member of the Legislative Council, and I believe that he had also been knighted. One of the unscrupulous methods to which he resorted in his business’ was to inform persons who consigned primary produce to him for sale that it could not he sold. By that “means he pocketed the proceeds of the produce consigned to him.
On one occasion he informed the con- signors of a large quantity of eggs that the eggs were broken in transit, so that he did Dot have to pay anything to them. The real fact was that he shipped the eggs to Western Australia, where, fortunately, they were seen by representatives of the consignors. He adopted a similar course with a consignment of turkeys . which was sent to him for sale, and informed the consignors that nearly all the turkeys were dead when they reached him, whereas they were alive and were sold by him. In both cases I understand that the consignors were able to recover the money of which he had robbed them. That is typical of the attitude of many big business men, and I mention that in order to demonstrate that members of the Liberal party have no interest in the welfare of primary producers, and that primary producers are foolish to have anything to do with them. Wholesale and retail merchants have their trade associations, and they hold regular meetings, at which they fix the selling price of the goods which they handle so as to eliminate any real competition between them. I was connected with the timber industry in South Australia for many years and I know what occurred there. One timber merchant decided to leave the association and enter into real competition with the other timber merchants of Adelaide. Before long he was forced out of business. The other timber merchants, who had an arrangement with an importer whereby all the merchants obtained their requirements of timber in one shipment every three months, simply prevailed upon the importer to withhold supplies from their competitor, and, as I have said, it was not very long before he had to retire from business. More recently an old-established timber firm in Adelaide, which was at one time the largest firm of that kind in the city, was forced out of business. However, I am pleased that one member of that firm is now importing Oregon direct from the United States of America, and is thereby saving home-builders as much as 20s. per 100 super feet of timber used in the construction of their homes. I also know of another instance of a timber merchant, who was not a member of the association, being forced out of business.
I think that the label under which the main political party opposite functions, namely, the Liberal party, is a misnomer. In England, where the three main political parties are the Labour, Conservative and Liberal parties; the counterpart of the people who support the Liberal party in Australia have more sense of honesty. They do not hesitate to call themselves “ Conservatives “. Our conservatives have not the same regard for truth. Their political party has been known variously as the National Defence League, the . Australian Nationalist Association and later as the United Australia party. It is now called the Liberal party. One would have thought that Winston Churchill, who proved himself such a great leader inthe recent war, would have obtained a resounding electoral victory for the Conservative party,which he led, at the general elections held in the United Kingdom after the war. However that certainly did not happen, and Labour had an overwhelming victory. That victory indicated clearly that, whilst the people of Great Britain held Mr. Churchill in high regard as a war-time leader, they would not have him as a national leader in peace-time. The reason for their attitude towards him is obvious ; they know that he is a thoroughgoing conservative. It is common knowledge that in this country big business is behind the Liberal party, and provides the finance for that organization. A plentiful supply of money certainly makes a big difference to the prospects of a political party. It enables a party to indulge in a great deal of press propaganda, wireless broadcasting, printing and distribution of publicity and to employ a small army of canvassers. Furthermore, the anti-Labour parties in this country are assured of the constant support of the press, and the reason why the press continually supports them is not hard to discover. The directors of the newspapers are all big business men-
– Did the Prime Minister tell the honorable senator that?
– No; I think that almost any one could have told me that.
– The Prime Minister is a newspaper director.
– At all events, he is not a director of a large daily newspaper
As a matter of fact, I do not know of my own knowledge that he is a director of any newspaper. However, I do know that the directors of the large metropolitan newspapers are all big business men. They have no regard for the ordinary working people, and they are only too willing at all times to support the antiLabour parties. They certainly give the fullest space in their newspapers to utterances of the leaders of the anti-Labour parties in the Parliament, and they’ give only the minimum publicity to statements by leaders of the Australian Labour party. I think there should be a law compelling the newspaper proprietors to provide equal space for all political parties.
– That is their conception of ethics.
– The people who support the Liberal party are against all reform and progress, and the chief thing that concerns them is the amassing of money. I read recently where Mr. Vanderbilt, a multi-millionnaire in America, encountered some trouble in the railway corporation of which he was the head. A reporter who. interviewed him when seeking news in the interests of the public, claims that he said, “ The public be damned “. I think that is the general attitude-
– That is the attitude of the Australian Labour party.
– I do not agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan). The Australian Labour party represents the primary producers and others who do honest work Whilst there are some good decent people in the Liberal ranks, the Liberal party is run chiefly by big business men who are intent only on making riches for themselves. The Liberals have nothing to learn from Ananias, Baron Munchausen, or de Rougement, in mishandling the truth. They quite ignore the injunction of the Ninth Commandment, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour “. Whilst members of that partyhave a good deal to say about the Communist party - in fact it is the chief thing that they talk about - they should not link the Communist party with the Australian Labour party, becauseour rules debar Communists from member ship.
– That is why they joined the Liberal party.
– I do not know which is the worse of the two - the Com munist party or the Liberal party, but as the Labour party works in the interest of everybody who does honest work, there is certainly no need for the Communist party, which professes to work for the same cause. As 1 interjected during a debate in this chamber recently, it is the members of the Liberal party who make the Communist party possible. There would not be a Communist party if the Liberal party were working for the good of the people. The Liberals have not suggested any particular way in which to deal with Communists. Apparentlythey want them hung and quartered, but they refrain from suggesting any means by which communistic actions can be countered. The Australian Labour party will have none of them, and the trade unions, also, have taken action to get rid of Communists amongst their members. In my opinion the Liberal party is much more dangerous to the interests of the people than is the Communist party.
– I thought that that was the honorable senator’s attitude.
– They are a more subversive type of people. I read abook some time ago about the supply of armaments by the big firms of England to potential enemies of England before World War I. It was suggested that in some instances that was done during the war. There was an instance of that in Adelaide. Honorable senators may remember that during World War I.. Francis H. Snow was interned.I have to some degree expressed my opinion of the leading members of the Liberal party and I have said that there are some fair men amongst them. I should like to hear some of the waterside workers I knowin Port Adelaide express their opinions in this chamber, as they possess rich expressive language; they would probably be called to order, but I would thoroughly agree with their remarks.
The Australian Labour party subscribes to the famous declaration by
Abraham Lincoln that there should he Government of the people, by the people, for the people “. Apparently the Liberals support the first provision, “ government of the people “, but that it should be by the capitalist section.
– I have gone through the budget very carefully, and my view is that never before has there been presented to the Parliament and the people of Australia a ‘budget indicative of such grim determination by a government to maintain taxation at an unnecessarily high level. Pervading the whole statement is an Atmosphere of determination to extract the last penny from the people of this country. Despite that, however, the Government obviously experienced difficulty in presenting even moderately colourable plans for expending the large sums of money which it expects to collect from this source. This budget is insincere. It is more notable for the things that it does not say, than for what it does say. It fails to convince the taxpayers that the Government is endeavouring to relieve them from overpowering taxation or has any intention to release from its grasp the smallest proportion of the money derived from taxes levied for the purpose of war. One thing which impressed me as I analysed and studied the figures, was the pattern which seemed Jowly to emerge. It is a gravely disturbing pattern which provokes anxious analysis of this document.. Why is it necessary for the Government to extract from the people of Australia this huge amount of money? Why tax them so heavily ?
– Have not taxes been reduced considerably?
– Taxation is lower than in pre-war years.
– First there is the ages-old expedient of underestimating revenue. We all know that it is very comfortable for a treasurer to have money in reserve, to use in time of emergency, but this continued practice of underestimating is so obvious as to make us distrustful of the figures shown in the budget.
In 1944-45 taxation was estimated to produce £327,000,000. Actually it pro duced £346,000,000 so that there wat an error of £19,000,000. In 1945-46 th* Treasurer estimated revenue from taxation would amount to £341,000,000, but he collected £358,000,000. The error on that occasion was £17,000,000. In 1946-47 he estimated that taxation would produce £355,000,000, but collections amounted to £3S1,000,000 ; the Treasurer had underestimated by £26,000,000. In 1947-48 the Treasurer estimated that taxation would produce £364,000,000, but actually £424,000,000 was collected. On tha’i occasion he was no less than £60,000,000 out in his calculations. In the light of those instances what reliance can we place on his figures ? Perhaps this year he will be wrong by another £60,000,000. At honorable senators know the estimated revenue from taxation this financial yea? is £458,000,000.
By some feat of legerdemain the Treasurer includes £17,000,000, which he ha* transferred from trust funds. Just how this £17,000,000 can be included in the total raised by taxation is not clear, but he proposes to raise no less than £441,000,000 from this source, after allowing for the proposed reductions. The Treasurer collected £424,000,000 last year, after underestimating by £60,000,000. This year he admits to proposed collections of £441,000,000, but how much is he actually going to take from us? It may be £500,000,000. How much more of this can our long-suffering Australian people bear? Taxation revision, even if only in relation to bad estimating, is long overdue. We do not find the Treasurer voluntarily relinquishing anything. To levy on our people the highest taxes ever imposed, to take more from them in this year of peace than during any year of war, to set new records of exaction, and to bolster them up by bad estimating, is to burden the Australian community almost to faltering point. The Government is not even up to date in its collections or assessments. There are reserves in tax arrears and in assessments which have not been issued, but I shall not comment further on this aspect of the matter, which has been fully ventilated in another place. 1 point out, however, that some people have not yet received their assessments for the year ended the 30th June, 1947, and some companies have had to press the Taxation Branch for- their assessments under Division 7 before the 30th June. Probably there are millions of pounds of arrears yet to be collected on delayed assessments, but the Treasurer demands not less than £458,000,000 this year. Why is it necessary this financial year to extract such a huge sum from our 7,800,000 people? That figure includes every living soul in Australia - men, women, children, and even babies. When compared with the number of incomes, the average amount of taxes levied is staggering. I refer now to the figures shown in page 19 of the budget. The proposed levy on the nation this year by-way of direct and indirect taxation is expected to yield no less than 431,000,000. According to the table on page 17, the average payable per head will be more than £55; that probably means more than £200 per family, which is too much to take from our people. If our aggregate incomes total £1,650,000,000- and I say that they do, because the Treasurer said so in his budget papers - then more than one-fourth of our total income is being contributed to this Government. On this scale, a man or a woman working a 40-hour week contributes more than ten hours of work weekly to the Government. I know that taxation is graduated 30 that this figure is wrong in respect of individuals, but according to the Treasurer the average contribution of an Australian is ten hours of labour for the Government and 30 hours for the family every week. This seems to be taxation on such a harsh’ scale as to be grinding people down to a level where nothing is worth while. It is not as though such high taxation is really necessary. If the budget contained provisions for stabilizing the cost of living; if taxation which approaches the level of confiscation were for the purpose of subsidizing the necessaries of life or for the purpose of making a contribution towards increased production, one could understand it. But it does none of those things. It simply levies as much tribute as the community can stand for purposes which are not plainly expressed in the budget.
Under this Labour Government th* Australian standard of living is declining. Housing is on a lower scale than it hat been for generations. Do not tell me how many houses are being built. The plainly discernible truth is that numbers of people who have even gone so far a? to have their plans for home building approved are abandoning the idea because of high costs. Apart from this, so many people are sharing homes that, in some parts of our capital cities, most houses accommodate two or more families. The shared house and the “ half-house “ are becoming normal in this country and housing is on a lower scale than in prewar years. Our clothing is worse than before the war. Ask the average housewife about the quality of the clothing and the linen available to-day and she will support my statement. Our foodstuffs may be plentiful, but their quality u> lower than it need be. I suggest to honorable senators that they ask Queensland housewives about potatoes and the quality and cost of this humble, but necessary staple food under present conditions. 1 say also that transport is failing throughout Australia. We now pay more for the privilege of standing in a tram than we once paid to ride in comfort. Even the cinema, the average man’s theatre, is subject to an entertainments tax. Although we have a budget involving the collection of £510,000,000, one can search that document from beginning to end without finding the slightest indication of a plan to combat the downward trend in the standard of living of which we, in this country, were once so proud.
Pity the poor homemaker ! On the receipt side of her household budget she has an income reduced by taxes of an unnecessary high level and, on the expenditure side, she has to face an increased cost of living. She has to cope with rising prices which she cannot meet without reducing the quality of her household purchases. At the same time, the Government, remote from the troubles of the average home, levies taxation on a high level but does nothing to stabilize the cost of living. Truly this Government is determined to keep the people poor! And what is the Government really doing with all this money? Even the most casual glance at its estimates of expenditure will show how much difficulty it has in spending the huge amount which it raises. In order to illustrate what is happening I refer to the details of expenditure shown on pages 59 and 64 of the budget. On these pages are shown, rather modestly, items totalling no less than £2S,000,000 for expenditure on capital works and services for various departments. Nearly £11,000,000 is provided for the Postmaster-General’s Department, and over £3,000,000 for the territories. The total for all capital works and services is no less than £42,000,000, all of which will come from revenue. Truly, my good friend, the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron), has a really benevolent Treasurer to help him. He is to receive a gift of £11,000,000 to help Wis hard-pressed department. We all know how hard-pressed that department is! The amount of about £1,000,000 that the department has made available .for civil aviation from airmail charges has had a magnificent result, but should our people be taxed in order to provide another £11,000,000 to purchase capital equipment for the Postmaster-General? Why not use loan money? That would be more in keeping with orthodox government finance. The total of capital expenditure that could and should be charged to loan account aggregates £42,000,000. Then there is that marvellous store-house - the National Welfare Fund. This fund has been a wonderful stand-by for a Treasurer . who has too much money. It began the year 1947-48 with £50,000,000 in hand and ended with a balance of £70,000,000. Another £20,000,000 in the old store chest! It is estimated that the fund will increase by yet another £4,000,000 during the current year. However, one learns to take all the Treasurer’s estimates with more than the proverbial “grain of salt. The revenue is probably understated and the expenditure overstated. Therefore, the taxpayer once again will provide at least £4,000,000 - and probably a larger sum in reality - for this fund. An amount of £70,000,000 in a national welfare fund just prior to an election really is something to make a few election promises possible, but we must not forget that all of that money has been wrung from the Australian taxpayer.
We should give some thought to the subject of loan money, and I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) to supply some information about loan money to me and, through me, to the people of Australia. I have examined with care the figures shown on pages US to 120 of the budget. From them I deduce that all the cost of government activities last year, including all the cost of war, was met from revenue and that the only expenditure from loan account was about £13,000,000 advanced to the States for housing. But the Treasurer raised some large sums during the past year and is reported to be seeking further loans now! Of course, the explanation of this is hidden in the voluminous budget, if one can find it. 1 think that I have found this explanation on page 123, but I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to clarify it. Under the heading “ Public Debt “ is an item dealing with short-term bank bills - in other words, treasurybills amounting to £208,000,000. Last financial year this item amounted to £27S,000,000, which shows that there has been a reduction since then of £70,000,000. On the next line is an item of £130,000,000 for internal treasurybills. Last year, this item amounted to £110,000,000, showing that there has been an increase of £20,000,000. What has happened seems to be reasonably clear. The Treasurer raised by loan £50,000,000 more than he needed. His National Welfare Fund Trust Account balances also increased by £20,000,000. Therefore, he put the £20,000,000 into Treasury entries, combined it with the £50,000,000 of loan money, and used the total to redeem £70,000,000 of bank bills. The operation is interesting because it shows that all expenditure could be charged to revenue. The abundant, ever-expanding flow of money needlessly exacted from the taxpayer was so adequate that the Treasurer was able to pay off no less than £70,000,000 of treasury-bills! Now we are to have another loan - from habit, I suppose, because the Treasurer has already provided £41,000,000 for capital works to be paid for from taxes.
I ask honorable senators to note some further items of expenditure. I quote onlylarge bulk amounts, and I am sure that a close examination of the budget could disclose many more similar in stances. The administrative vote for the Department of Civil Aviation, on page 35 of the budget, provides for the expen- diture of£4,500,000. How much of this will be truly charged against this year’s revenue? This question has particular significance because the estimates for the Department of Air include an item of £1,400,000 for civilian services. Instance after instance could be mentioned to show that the Government’s expenditure accounts are being kept at an unnecessarily high level just to” window-dress “ for high taxation. There is another item on page 120 of the budget, tucked away at the bottom in smalltype which reads, Amount provided to fund accumulated deficit, £15,658,588”. So, what was shown in last year’s statement as a temporary advance has been “ funded “ ! Another £15,000,000 from loan account that the Treasurer decided he could part with! In the glitter of all these millions -of£431,000,000 from taxation, £17,000,000 from trust funds, £10,000,000 for the International Monetary Fund, astronomical figures that are so large is to defy comparison, £1,000,000 here and £1,000,000 there -what of the worker and what of the cost of living? Surely the welfare of the people demands that taxation be reduced to the minimum consistent with good government and that every effort be made to increase the supply of goods and services so that prices can be brought down. Does this Government reallybelieve that the paltry remissions of taxes indicated in the budget are the maximum that it can achieve.?
I have perused the budget papers in vain in an effort to find any indication of coherent plans for the prime needs of the present. I want to see some plans for control of the high cost of living, the development of our country’s resources and the development of Australians. The petulant withdrawal of subsidies from certain items of home necessities must inevitably result in future increases of the cost of living. A Treasurer who can increase the National Welfare Fund by £20,000,000 surely cannot claim that he is concerned about national welfare when he cuts off thesesubsidies. The trouble seems to be that subsidies were not advertised enough. The housewife purchasing potatoes may not have been aware of the government subsidy. Figures wen not presented to her as they were presented to dairy-farmers, who were notified by butter factories of the amount of government subsidy payable on their cream. The housewife knows the increased costs that she has to pay for everyday commodities, but, because she was not made aware of her dependence upon the Government in these matters the subsidies have been withdrawn and the cost of living will rise still further The Government knows that subsidies are not the only method of controlling this upward tendency, but it has given no indication of its intentionto take advantage of the alternatives. This means that the working family is to be abandoned to a world-parity price based upon an exchange rate which has been repudiated by New Zealand. In addition to that, there is the question of the development of our resources. Isay that the open disclosure of the Government’s intention to expend £42,000,000 of capital from revenue is the clearest possible indication of its determination to keep taxation at the highest possible level, irrespective of the weight of the burden carried by the taxpayer. This budget stands condemned because of its failure to recognize the imperative need for reduced taxation and a new and common-sense approach to government spending. As a Liberal senator, I appeal to the Governmentto have greater regard for the needs of the working man and the working womanof Australia.
– The budget papers now before the Senate are a practical expression of the effort being made by the Government to prevent an economic depression from occurring in the future and its determination to maintain full employment. During the last four years the Australian people have enjoyed unprecedented prosperity. That has been due to the very sound administration of the Government during the war years. Expenditure during the last financial year totalled £455,600,000, resulting in a surplus of £1,400,000, the first since 1939-40. That is a magnificent achievement for any government in the post-war period. [ should like to say to honorable senators opposite that the people of this country have had enough of their talk about high taxes. Senator Rankin told a heartrending story about the people’s burdens. She probably reduced to tears any women who listened to her speech. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) painted a picture of the terrible conditions which existed in Queensland during the recent war. He said that the northern part of that State had practically borne the brunt of the war when Australia was in danger of invasion by the Japanese. He spoke at length about the hardships which the people of that State, particularly those resident in the western portions, had suffered. Surely, he must realize that those hardships were borne by the people of Australia as a whole. People in all of the States were “ pushed around “ under war-time regulations. The experience of the people in Queensland in that respect was not singular. During the war, the Government directed all its energies towards the prosecution of the war and it exercised control over man-power to the greatest possible degree. No worker, regardless of the State in which he resided, was exempt from direction. However, if we are to make comparisons in this matter, I have yet to learn that the people of north Queensland were at any time in more imminent danger than were residents in the north-western portion of Western Australia and in the Northern Territory. Those areas were actually raided, Broome and Wyndham being “strafed “ by Japanese bombers at a time when Australia had no air force capable of repelling the raiders. Japanese bombs sank shipping at Darwin, Wyndham and other ports along the north-western coast. In comparison with those experiences the people of Queensland can hardly be said to have endured anything more than serious inconveniences. The people of Western Australia had a very rough passage during the war. Apparently, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not have an opportunity to see for himself what occurred in those days beyond the borders >f Queensland.
The .honorable senator dealt with thiposition of the sugar industry and alleged that it was having a bad time. H» deplored the imposition of increased shipping freights, but he did not mention the fact that last year the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited made * profit of over £1,300,000. He “ moaned ‘’ that as the result of the withdrawal of the subsidy previously made avail able by the Australian Government, shipping freights for sugar had been increased by 10s. a ton. That statement will not win any sympathy from tin people when it comes from an honorable senator who, with his colleagues, opposed the Government’s proposal at the recent referendum that the National Parliamen should be empowered to continue prices control. Unfortunately, the people rejected .that proposal despite the warning given by the Prime Minister that unless the National Parliament were given such power price stabilization subsidies totalling £60,000,000 would have to be with drawn. He gave that warning repeatedly to the anti-Labour State governments The people rejected the Government’s proposal. But with what result? The State governments would readily hand back to the Australian Government power to control prices. Already, those governments have had many headaches trying to “ nut out “ how they can control prices as efficiently as the Australian Government did up to the 20th of this month. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, when dealing with the sugar industry, quoted with grave concern a statement by Mr. Rothe, the genera) manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, that possibly th* industry’s requirements for interstate and overseas shipping would not be fulfilled, this season. Mr. Rothe should not be so concerned about that state of affairs, because shipping is nov controlled not by the Australian Government but by private enterprise. He should direct his complaint, therefore, to the ship-owners. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also implied that owing to the slow rate of loading it would not be possible to shift sugar from northern ports; and he was in some doubt as to whether the position would not be aggravated by strikes. The wharf-labourers nave never refused to load sugar at north Queensland ports. They have never had a strike. Indeed, there has not been a strike in the sugar industry itself for many years. However, should the honorable senator persist with such propaganda he may provoke unrest in the industry, [n that event, the growers and the millowners will not be found in his “ corner “. Mr. Rothe, according to his statement, wanted to know what could be done if the sugar were not loaded ; and the honorable senator asked what the Government proposed to do in the matter. Incidentally, he did not suggest what the Government could do, whilst, so far as [ could judge, Mr. Rothe simply wanted the Government to crack the whip over the wharf-labourers. Those wharflabourers will carry on as they have done in previous years. We can rely upon them to do their job, provided they are not “ pin-pricked “ by the employers. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition had much to say about strikes in general. He told us that hundreds have occurred during the last few years, pointing out that the number was greatly in excess of that for pre-war years. Strikes do occur, but the point the honorable senator ignores is that men do not strike for nothing. Direct action is the only weapon the worker possesses in order to obtain his rights. Many strikes are caused by “ pin-pricking “ on the part of the employers. That has been the case particularly in the coal-mining industry. Of course, honorable senators opposite blame the Communists for strikes. But what causes Communists? What is the cause of the present unrest in Malaya and other countries? One evening last week honorable senators viewed a motion picture depicting conditions of peoples of .other countries. Whilst the great majority were seen to be living under starvation conditions, small bloated minorities were taking their fill in gay restaurants, hungry crowds waiting at the back door for the scraps. Those are the conditions which breed Communists. In Western Australia the production of coal was considerably increased during the war because responsibility for production was placed in the hands of a man who put the “ screws “ on the colliery proprietors and forced them to provide essential amenities for the miners. In that State, production of coal increased from 537,535 tons in 1938-39 to .730,406 tons in 1946-47, an increase of 192,S7l tons. That result was achieved because the miners in Western Australia were given justice. We shall not hear any talk of communism, or hold-ups, in coal-mines, or in any other industries, if the workers are given a reasonable measure of justice. However, honorable senators opposite can only talk a lot of “ tripe “ about high taxes. Senator Rankin merely repeats what her party colleagues say in the House of Representatives. They tell the same old story. They have it off “pat”. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that high taxes were acting as a brake on production, and that primary producers were complaining about high taxes and, consequently, were refusing to increase the production of eggs, beef, cheese, butter, meat and other commodities. Because of high taxes they refused “ to work for Chifley If the honorable senator’s observation can really be applied to any primary producers, I can only say that those producers are traitors to this country and to their fellow human beings in other countries. Senator Rankin told us about the huge sums which the Government if extracting in taxes from the people. Certainly, revenue from taxes is substantial ; but the workers of this country are perfectly satisfied with the treatment being meted out to them by the present Government. The Opposition speakers did not mention what end of the taxation scale they were squealing about. In the newspapers every day one reads reports of higher company profits and dividends in spite of taxes. For instance, last year, Australian Knitting Mills Limited made a profit of £37,142, an increase of £4,295 after £29,000 had been deducted in taxes. The Ballarat Gas Company made a profit of £6,777, the Colonial Gas Association Limited made £90,360, an increase of £7,011. Evans, Deakin and Company Limited, engineers, made £79,618, Harris Scarfe Limited of Adelaide £78,000. Henry Berry and Company (Australia) Limited £71,613, and Menzies Hotel Limited £18,728. The Opposition is not concerned about reducing the taxes paid by the workers. They are concerned with taxpayers at the other end of the scale. En some instances the taxes paid hy low income earners are less than they were in pre-war years, and less than the taxes paid to-day in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. For instance, in Australia, a person earning £150 a year pays £3 15s. in tax, whereas in New Zealand he would pay £11 os. and in the United Kingdom £14 ls. The corresponding figures for an income of £300 are £18 15s. in Australia, £26 17s. in New Zealand, and £44 ls. in the United Kingdom. The workers are quite satisfied with the Government’s taxation policy. The Government has started at the right end of the scale, and that, of course, is the Opposition’s complaint. Opposition members are annoyed because the high income earners are not receiving the same percentage tax reductions as those in the lower income groups. At the peak of war-time taxation, a taxpayer with one dependant earning £150 a year paid £3 9s. in tax; to-day, he does not pay any tax at all. Similarly, a person on £400 a year, who paid £71 lis. during the war, and £30 7s. last year, now pays only £21 9s. This represents a reduction of 70 per cent, on the war-time figure. The Government makes no secret of the fact that it believes in first lightening the burden of taxpayers in the lower income groups. The more fortunate members of the community who draw large dividends or interest payments from their investments are well able to pay high taxes, because what they have left is more than adequate for their needs. When it was announced earlier this year that the Government proposed to make further taxation remissions, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), according to a report printed in the Melbourne Herald, said that the promised reductions were election “ bait “. I remind the Senate that, during the 1943 election campaign, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, made no promises of reduced taxes. In fact, he admitted that taxes would be high because it was necessary to pay for the war; yet his Government was returned to office with a big majority. The present Prime Minister adopted a similar attitude prior to the 1.946 election. In his policy speech he did not make any specific promises about reductions of taxation. All he said was that taxes would be reviewed periodically and that reductions would be effected when the country’s finances permitted them. He has carried out that undertaking. Since the beginning of 1946 there have been several tax adjustments. On the 1st January of that year, there was a reduction of 12£ per cent, which cost the revenue of the country £20,000,000. On the 1st July, 1946, a further reduction of 11 per cent, became operative, the sum involved on that occasion being £17,500,000. On the 1st July, 1947, a 26 per cent, reduction came into operation, reducing revenue by £33,000,000, and the proposed reduction of 17 per cent, this year will involve £26,000,000. This disproves the allegation that current remissions are election “ bait “. The Government is confident that its record will carry it to victory next year. I believe that even with a redistribution of electoral boundaries. Labour will be returned to office with an overwhelming majority. The Australian people have not been weakened by the barrage of propaganda that has been printed in the press and broadcast over the air. The Tasmanian elections proved that, and I have no doubt that the federal elections next year will have a similar result.
Senator Rankin has referred to the high cost of living and the effect of the withdrawal of Commonwealth subsidies. I remind her that the Prime Minister and others warned the people of this country that a negative vote at the referendum would mean the withdrawal of subsidies and said that that would have a drastic effect on the cost of living. The results of the people’3 decision at the referendum are now being felt. In to-day’s newspapers we read that blocks of land which previously were sold at £100 brought £125 at auction and that similar increases have taken place in the price of secondhand motor cars. Prices are still rising, and I am afraid that the workers of this country will suffer most. Now, Opposition members in this Parliament want to know what the Government is doing about the. high cost of living. Before the referendum they stumped the country advocating a “ No “ vote ; now they ask the Government why subsidies have been removed. Unfortunately, those member.. of the community who supported the retention of prices control by the National Parliament have to suffer just as much as their less-informed fellow citizens who voted against the referendum proposals. Opposition members in this chamber and in the House of Representatives are only “ stooges “ for the big business man. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber cited figures relating to the production of -steel which, as he rightly claimed, is a basic Material required by many other industries. He said that in 1941-42 the monthly production of pig iron was 129,803 tons whereas in June of this year it was only 89,000 tons. I have before me the latest figures issued by the Acting Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. S. R. Carver. They were published in a Western Australian newspaper on the 21st July. They show that the production of pig iron in May of this year was 2,500 tons greater than the April figure of 102,900 tons. In March, production was 105,700 tons compared with an average monthly production in 1938-39 of 92,100 tons. If these are the official figures, issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, where did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition get the figures that he cited? Production of blooms and billets increased from 96,000 in April of this year to 105,500 tons in May compared with a monthly average of 93,300 tons in the last pre-war year. Ingot steel production m May of this year increased to 113,900 tons, compared with 105,500 tons in the previous month and a pre-war monthly average of 97,500 tons. A few weeks ago Senator Nash gave figures of iron and steel production by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited at Newcastle. He said that when he visited the plant he was informed by the manager that an additional 500 or 600 men could be employed immediately and that because of the man-power shortage a part of the works had been closed down and blast furnaces and rolling mills were not working to full capacity; yet, the figures that I have cited show that production a few months ago was greater, than that in pre-war years! It is true that the production of bricks has not reached the pre-war level but we all know the reason for that. Possibly, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition being a solicitor does not mix with common workers, and therefore does not know anything about production. The fact is that during the war many brick kilns were closed. When they re-opened it was found that labour was not available. Men were not inclined to return to brick-making which is an arduous and unpleasant job, with few amenities. The result is that most brick kilns have been working only to half capacity and it will be some time before pre-war production figures are reached. Before the war there were always twenty or thirty men waiting at the- gates of the brick kilns, th tile and pottery and cement works hoping to obtain employment. To-day the men who were formerly engaged in those industries have obtained employment in other industries which provide reasonable conditions. During the war men were withdrawn from the building industry and placed in factories to manufacture munitions, and works which supplied building materials were closed. That is the chief reason why there has been such a scarcity of building materials since the war. However, production of bricks and tiles has increased considerably latterly, and in some States it has even exceeded the estimated increase. In Western Australia production has increased to such a degree that control of building materials will be removed it a few weeks. Similar observations might also be made of the timber industry in that State, but the relative position of that industry to Western. Australia’s economy is different from that of the timber industry in other States, because Western Australia is dependent on its export of timber to the eastern States for supplies of galvanized iron and other housing materials. Does any honorable senator imagine that men who have wives and families to maintain are prepared to leave jobs in which they enjoy reasonable conditions in order tr seek employment timber getting? Timber getters and mill employees are obliged to take their families into the bush and live in two-roomed huts, which, in many instances, are infested with bugs, and they are deprived of electric light and all the other amenities, including educational facilities for their children, which they enjoy in their present jobs. We cannot expect people to return to industries in which such conditions obtain. The mill owners and other employers, who made huge profits during the war, must be forced to provide reasonable living conditions for their employees. In order to overcome the shortage of workers in the timber and building industries, Baits and other migrants are being diverted to them. Those migrants who have so far been absorbed in that way are doing a good job, and when 4,000 or 5,000 migrants are engaged in those industries production should increase to the pre-war level. In conclusion, I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) on the budget, which is the third one he has presented in the post-war’ period, and despite the criticism uttered by members of the Opposition, I consider that the Government may be justly proud of it.
– I commend the budget to the Senate, and I congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and his colleagues in the Ministry on their splendid administration, which has enabled the right honorable gentleman to present one of the finest budgets ever introduced into the National Parliament. I have listened attentively to the criticism voiced by members of the Opposition both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, but I am confident that the merits of the. budget are so plain to the people that they do not need to be reminded of the benefits which it will confer upon them. In regard to the criticism made by Senator Rankin, that the Treasurer has wrongly appropriated a substantial sum for payment of war gratuities to ex-servicemen of the recent war, I point out to the honorable senator that those gratuities have to be paid in 1951. The Treasurer does not make a promise which he cannot fulfil, and in order to fulfil his promise to our exservicemen to pay their war gratuities in 1951, substantial sums must be placed in reserve. Mention was made in this debate of statistics which show the comparative incidence of taxation in Australia, New Zealand and the
United Kingdom. During the last two days I have endeavoured to obtain statistics to furnish a comparison of taxes paid by the people during the regime of the present Government with those paid while previous governments were in office, but unfortunately I have been unable to obtain those statistics. In any event, 1 have learned this afternoon that they would not assist the Senate greatly. The official from whom I sought the information told me that it was not practicable to make a comparison because during the regime of the anti-Labour governments a great many people who were shown in th statistics as being .in employment were actually unemployed or were receiving only part-time employment, and I think that his statement is very significant. In any event, the quantity of foodstuffs, clothing and necessaries that is now available to the people more than serves t( refute the criticism of those who have attacked the budget.
I take particular exception to the allegations of disloyalty made against members and supporters of the Government by honorable senators opposite from time to time. I did not intend to comment on the matter, but in view of the complaints which I have received from a large number of people in Victoria, I believe it tc> be my duty to give expression to them. On my return to that State after the recent opening of the sessional period I was almost overwhelmed with complaints and expressions of disgust from people at the comments which appeared in the Melbourne Herald concerning the official opening of the Parliament. The statement to which they took strongest exception was : “ McKell has no surprises for the new session “. As one who is absolutely loyal to our King and Queen, and does not content himself with mew lip service to the Throne, I join with those who complained to me in expressing disgust at the slighting references by some newspapers to the announcement of the forthcoming Royal visit, made by the Governor-General in the course of his Speech. I can tell honorable senators opposite that the electors of Victoria are disgusted with them because they did nol register their disapproval of the attitude adopted by the capitalist press in a matter which concerns the Royal family.
Those of us who have to struggle along in industry must perforce compare the conditions which prevail to-day with those of 1931, and in expressing our appreciation of our present prosperity we should not overlook the fact that Australia has only just emerged from the greatest and most expensive war in history. I have a vivid recollection of the conditions which prevailed during and- after World War I. Only approximately 360,000 Australian. soldiers were involved in that conflict, as against the many hundreds of thousands who were engaged in World War II., and, in any event, most of the expenditure incurred by Australia in the first world war was borne by the dinted Kingdom. When men were enlisted in World War I. they were told by “ Billy “ Hughes, who vas then Prime Minister, that on their return they would be amply compensated tor fighting for the cause of freedom. A similar assurance was given to those who enlisted in the early years of World War II. by Mr. Menzies, who was then Prime Minister. Contrast the treatment extended to those who fought in World War I. with that given to the exservicemen of World War II. ! Because of a combination of circumstances, including the occurrence of a great drought in 1914, the curtailment of credit by the banks,
And the attitude of the anti-workers’ government of that time, no preparation whatever was made for the rehabilitation of our men. The result was that of those who returned to Australia after World War I. only those who were able to ‘ fluke “ re-employment in their old jobs were able to obtain employment, and many of the others finished up drawing government sustenance. The position was entirely different after World War II. A Labour government was in office after the first two years of that war, and it made every provision for the rehabilitation of our servicemen. Some months before the war ended we were asked to increase our war effort and were told that the British Fleet would be transferred to Australian waters in order to assist in the overthrow of the Japanese. The Labour Government was only too anxious to do anything at all to hasten the release of our troops from the Japanese prison amps. We prepared to make a final supreme effort, but the war was suddenly ended by the dropping of an atomic bombon Japanese soil. I recall those facts in. order to emphasize that the Government had prepared for all emergencies, and itsgreatest anxiety was to bring our troops back to Australia as soon as possible. When the war ended it carried out the difficult task of demobilizing our servicemen in a most orderly and harmoniousmanner, and not even 1 per cent, found themselves unemployed after discharge. The Prime Minister and his colleagues plan for the majority of the people and not for a selfish minority, and because of their solicitude for the welfare of the people the conditions enjoyed by workersin Australia to-day are better than those* of any other country in the world.
Recently a statement was made by theVictorian Minister for Housing, .Mr.. Warner, M.L.C., that the Victorian Government had completed the greatest heme construction programme ever undertaken in the history of that State. He said that 12,000 homes had been completed up to June last, but he omitted to mention that the preceding Labour administration, the Cain Government, had initiated, with the assistance of the National Labour Government, that housing programme. Let us compare thai with what it is proposed to make available to the various States, in the interests of the people who count, the workers. During the years when there was ample labour and material available, many deputations representative of the great trade union and labour movements waited on various anti-Labour Ministers and pleaded with them to take the advice of the men in industry and put in train a. building programme. By that means they would at least have reduced the numbers of unemployed in this country. Had they done so there could not now be any complaint from Senator Rankin or any other honorable senator, becauseample homes would have been built ir. Australia. I never heard of the proprietors of the Herald, or any members of the United Australia party Government under Mr. Menzies, shedding other than crocodile tears for the workers. I should like to remind Senator Rankin that I saw many unemployed person? living at Dudley flats, near Melbourne.. and also hundreds of them living in rat and flea infested humpies. 1 have seen 250 men living in an old brick kiln at Bendigo.
– Is the honorable senator blaming Senator Rankin for chat?
– I am blaming the honorable senator for saying that the conditions of people in Australia are deteriorating. J *aw unemployed men’ living in the brick kiln, where they should have been making bricks. I stress that this Government is prepared at all times to make money available for home building or any other social service which will be of assistance to the workers of Australia. I have heard complaints of high taxation. The only privilege I would give to the moneyed classes who have made huge profits over the years is the privilege of paying high taxes. The workers are now permitted to earn a reasonable amount before becoming liable to pay any income cax at all. Therefore, the people to-day are enjoying a better standard of living than ever before in the history of this country. If we did not have capable men it the head of the great Labour “ ship “ to-day, we could easily go on to the rocks. Money was not available in this country between 1931 and 1939 to build homes, or to give better conditions to the workers, but as soon as the war. started the people who controlled big business realized that their assets and securities were at stake, and immediately made large amounts of money available. A big percentage of the people who enlisted in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in 1939 did not know what it was to have a job in the country for which they were going to fight, yet, during the war, ample money was available, and loans were readily filled. The bosses said, “ Take what you like, but keep the Japanese hordes out of this country and away from our womenfolk. Keep them away from our assets and our families “. Now that the war is over it is a different <tory. They worked a trick after the first world war when they brought about a period of inflation. Instead of property being sold to the returned soldiers, or made available to them at a fair price, returned soldiers in Victoria - I can quote authentic cases because I lived amongst them - were allotted blocks and charged £10 an acre for land worth only £2 an acre. In one instance a farmer was paid £0,400 for a 640-acre block on which the Government paid him 6 per cent. He lived in the lap of luxury in the city, doing nothing. At the most he could have earned only £4 or £5 a week from the block. The soldier was left to “ carry the baby “ ; he was expected to make a living after paying £9 or £10 a week as interest. The banks advanced the money to the workers to purchase homes and properties at inflated prices, and when the depression came big business interests bought the places back at deflated prices. That would be the state of affairs to-day under any other than f Labour government. I warn honorable senators and the electors of Australis that they must be very careful, because the people who are giving lip service to democracy are merely waiting for an opportunity to get back to power. In that event, we would revert to the old exploitation days and be plunged into another depression. I implore them not to be stampeded as in the past by insidious propaganda in the daily press published by the people who can afford to pay for it. The electors in Tasmania showed good judgment in the recent election. Should this Government not be reelected we shall soon again suffer depression conditions of starvation, misery, and degradation. We must be very careful to see that this Government is allowed to continue to occupy the treasury bench, so that we shall not be faced with another depression. The people who made the money available want it back again. We must keep Ben Chifley on the treasury bench if at all possible. I well remember that in 1940, Mr. Menzies, who wa..then Prime Minister, went to the coalfields, but it was like the story of Old Mother Hubbard : “ when she got there the cupboard was bare “. He intended to play all sorts of tricks, but when higot to the coal-fields they were bare. He did not see the inside of a coal mine, but a? the result of his interference, there liasbeen a shortage of coal ever since. Prior to then the miners were producing 1,161,000 tons of coal a year.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m..
– I have nothing but the highest praise for the efforts of the Prime Minister, (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) to increase coal production. They have frequently visited the coal-fields not only during the last few months but also for years past. They have done everything possible to have the output increased sufficiently to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth. Honorable senators will recall chat 1940, when the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) was Prime Minister, was one of the worst coal production years in our history. The right honorable gentleman told the people of Australia then that he would fix the coal miners, that he would go to the coal-fields, and that afterwards all would be well. I remind the Senate that there were no miners to receive him when he visited the coal-fields. They disregarded him. That was just after the government of the day had banned the Communist party. The officials who then held positions in the miners’ federation still hold them. Although the Communist party was banned by the Menzies Government, they were allowed to remain in their executive positions in the unions. Yet the supporters of that former government to-day tell this Government that it should imprison anybody who holds political views contrary to their own! Had they been sincere, they would have done what they now ask this Government to do. When they Were in power, Tim Healy was secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation just as he is to-day. I also recall that, when I contested the Senate election in Victoria in 1940, the old gentleman in Melbourne who leads the Communist party, Dr O’Dea, was another candidate. The anti-Labour government of the day did nothing about his activities. That reveals the insincerity of members of the Opposition who now declare, through the press, that the Government should either deport or gaol Communists. They realize that, if the Communist party were suppressed in Australia, the great axe which they wield against the workers would be taken away from them. Every newspaper builds its propaganda around the Com munist party in an attempt to splitthe workers and destroy the united front’ of the Australian Labour party. Everybody who has been a member of the Labour party for any length of time knows that the party in Victoria banned the Communists in 1924. It has fought the Communists ever since then butI wholeheartedly support the policy of the Prime Minister in relation to the Com munist party.
In 1939, before the Menzies Government interfered, the coal miners produced 1,161,371 tons of coal. In 1940. production decreased by more than 200,000 tons. That was the result of interference by a government which had no idea of what wasnecessary to maintain harmony on the coal-fields of New South Wales. Since that year, with the rapid development of industry, we have had no chance to overtake the lag of coal production. Nobody in Australia could have improved upon the able efforts of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to increase production in order to meet the rapidly increasing demands of our industries. The insincerity of members of the Opposition and their colleagues and supporters is exposed in a letter which I have received from the managing director of Wensley Bray Coal Mine Proprietary Limited, which operates a mine in the Otway Range in Victoria. When Mr. Cain became leader of a Labour government in Victoria,, he took steps, in conjunction with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, to ensure adequate supplies of coal not only for industry but also for the domestic needs of the people during the winter months. He submitted a plan tithe Prime Minister, who made dollars available for the purchase of mining machinery. However, when an antiLabour government gained office in Vic toria, the whole plan was frustrated. The electors of Victoria should be made acquainted with the muddling that took place, which is indicative of the insincerity of the present Minister in charge of electricity undertakings in Victoria. Therefore, I quote from the letter written by the managing director of Wensley Bray Coal Mine Proprietary Limited -
Fourteen months ago I was approached by the former Government of this State in the matter of coal supplies from our open-cut at
Winchelsea. The Premier, Mr. John Cain, asked me for co-operation in his plans, which, vere designed to overcome the long-lasting fuel crisis in Victoria. It was found that quick relief could be expected from large-scale exploitation of our coal-field, which contains the highest quality hard, brown coal which can be mined in open-cut operations. Experts advised that approximately £200,000 would have to be spent for plant and machinery. The Cain Government accepted this advice and made the following proposition to our company: That the Government would buy the necessary excavation equipment overseas, that S.E.C. experts, would design the necesary coal-handling plant, and that the mine would be enlarged under expert guidance and supervision, provided our company was willing
Co allow short-term exploitation of its valuable coal deposit and provided our company Se willing to repay the moneys invested at the rate of say 2s. Od. per ton of coal produced and sold. The company agreed–
Naturally, it did so because the company is composed mostly of workers -
*nd it was decided to leave the drawing up of an agreement to a later date. Meanwhile, the Cain Government proceeded with its plans’. A dollar grant was obtained from the Federal Government to buy the necessary machinery in the Philippines, and two officers of the S.E.C. were sent up there, who bought the machines. In the meantime, the Cain Government went out and a Liberal-Country party coalition came into power. And here * well-nigh unbelievable story begins:
For weeks and months I tried to contact the Minister for Mines, without result. Letters remained unanswered; telephone calls resulted in evasive replies by civil servants.
These are the people who say that the’ bureaucrats ran this Government during the war ! The letter continues -
However, I was always given to understand that the matter was in bund and would bc attended to as soon as the Minister had time to study all the facts.
That followed upon the efforts of Mr. Cain to prevent a recurrence of the coal shortages in Victoria, which had resulted from the maladministration of antiLabour governments led by Mr. - now Sir -Albert Dunstan. The letter continues -
Finally, the Minister sent for me and for my co-directors, in February, 1048. We were asked to write him a report and to make »s many alternative propositions as we could think of as a basis for a workable co-operation, and also to include an offer for a straight-out sale. He mentioned that he would like to move quickly and it would help him if we could let him have these propositions within seven days. I stressed that we were very anxious to know where we stood, because our smaller expansion plans had been shelved after we had agreed in principle to the former Government’s proposals. We complied with the Minister’s wishes and made him the follow ing offers : ( 1 ) Straight-out sale of the mine as a going concern, including all freehold property machinery, plant, installation, &c.. foi £120,000. (2) A joint undertaking on a fifty fifty basis. (3) The Government to form ai. operating body and we to become a selling organization only. (4) A proposition to wort the mine aa envisaged in our negotiations with the Cain Government. (5) The Government to acquire the mine under a royalty agreement with a cash-down payment. In other words, we indicated by writing that we were prepared to come to terms in any way it was desired provided it be reasonable and fair.
We waited for weeks and months, but u reply came. We wrote letters and phoned, but we did not receive any satisfaction. In March the excavation plant arrived in Melbourne, bn - still no reply came.
That was when Mr. Kent Hughes, who is now in London negotiating for houses and coal, was telling the people, through the capitalist press of Victoria, that he was most anxious to secure sufficient coa1 to meet their needs. The story continues -
Though I was always given to understand’ that the equipment was earmarked for th« mine, and that the Government would bool decide which proposition was acceptable t« them, winter was drawing near, the very winter for which Mr. Cain wanted to prepare by means of this machinery, there was still no reply. We asked the Minister to release th» machines at least for cash, so that we could make provision for the winter. The letter was unanswered. Meanwhile the machine* stood idle in the yards. And again we were given to understand that something would V done shortly. What happened was that ii the midst of the wet season we had to Ait continue coal production and throw all om available equipment on overburden removal because the promised machines did not arrive We had to make arrangements with other coa”, mines and with the State Electricity Com mission to look temporarily after om customers, whilst we were removing din After ten days we were in production again At the same time the Minister for Mines Mr. Lienhop sent for us. We attended in his office. Present were: - Mr. Lienhop, Mr. P. Moon and Dr. G. F. Meister, directors of Wensley Bray, and myself, managing director Mr. Lienhop told us that he was disappointed with our production. I replied that he wa> to blame for this, and that to blame us to like adding insult to injury, that by hi» very action regarding machinery we had been forced to strip overburden in the wet month* and that he had been warned well in advance what would, happen. I mentioned that w* would be producing at the rate of 1,000 ton* a day if the machinery would have been released in time. To this the Minister answered that we would not get the machinery in question, nor any other kind of assistance from his Government. I answered that w» had never asked for any kind of assistance, though we had been prepared to co-operate in what we thought was a matter of national importance- And I told him further that we are certainly not going to ask for any assistance now. However, we felt that the (east he could do would be to sell us the equipment which had been earmarked for our mine and for which the Federal Government issued a special dollar permit. The Minister answered he would not sell the equipment to vis because our company was not big enough to handle it properly. I told him that a leading firm of city brokers were prepared to float a big company for us with £100,000 or more cash, and asked him if he would sell the equipment to SUCh a reconstructed company. He said “No.”
The rest of the letter is in the same strain. It proves the insincerity of the statements made by members of the Opposition and their supporters in various States in an effort to deflate the prestige of this Government. So much for their complaints about the coal shortage! The insincerity of their attack upon the Communist party is also proved by the fact that “Jacky” Brown, “ Teddy “ Rowe, and other communist union leaders are still in office, although the Communist party was supposedly banned by the Menzies Government in 1940.
Take the Communist bogy away, and what could the Opposition use as a weapon against this Government ? What criticism could it direct against the budget? It would be disarmed, because the fact is that Australia has never been more prosperous than it is to-day. That gives the lie to the people who oppose the progressive policy of this Government. The Opposition also criticizes the Government’s social services measures. It is forever crying out that referendums should be conducted on contentious questions. The Government held a referendum in 1946, and on that occasion the people of Australia endorsed its proposal to give this Parliament power in relation to medical and social services. To-day, the British Medical Association is defying the law of the land but we never read anything about that in the capitalist press. Our newspapers do not cry out to the Government to intern, deport or gaol the members of the British Medical Association. However, their defiance of the law of the land is subversive; they are endangering the health of tho community.
So much for referendums. Regardless of what proposal this Government might submit to the people at a referendum the press and the Opposition parties would always fight it. Fortunately, the Australian people are now waking up to the bogies which are raised against Labour. That is evidenced in the result of the recent State election in Tasmania, and I have no doubt that the result of the federal general elections next year will provide similar evidence.
Quite a lot of agitation has been raised about the defence policy of the Government. The people of this country can rest assured that under a Labour government Australia will not be caught in a position similar to that in which it was caught under an anti-Labour government when the recent war broke out in 1939. This Government is at all times in close communication with the British Government, and its defence policy is in line with that which the Mother Country has evolved to safeguard democracy in Australia, and in other parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Opposition parties are now asking the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) to declare the Government’s defence policy to the world and their fascist friends. The people who raise that cry are the same people who were prepared - and 1 say this without making any apologiesto sabotage this country in the interests of fascism and nazi-ism in 1939. Whatever explanation, or excuse they might offer, their Government sent our boys to the Middle East and failed to supply them with modern defensive weapons. Later, the same Government sent our boys to fight in the islands without properly equipping them.
– government was in office when Australian forces were sent to the islands.
– Yet, we hear all this humbug from the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), who is constantly asking what we are doing to strengthen our air defences. The honorable member was a Minister in the Government that sent Australian air personnel to Darwin to defend themselves in Sunday afternoon pleasure “ kites “ against the Japanese. Yet, members of the Parliament who were members of that Government now tell us that we are neglecting our air defences. At that time, they sent air service personnel in old machines against one of the most highly mechanized air forces in the world. Can we wonder that those boys were shot down like birds? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan) says that a Labour government was in power when Australian forces were sent to the islands. I shall remind him of the circumstances in which that Government assumed office. lt did so as the result of the maladministration, insincerity and fascist tactics of governments which preceded it after 1939. It was not the people of Australia who voted the Curtin Labour Governnent into office. That Government Assumed office because of the backstabbing of “Artie” Fadden, “Bob” Menzies, Sir Earle Page and the other * bloke “ who went as a colonel to the Middle East. They were all going to he Prime Ministers; and it was because if the intrigue then rampant in the Opposition parties that Labour was forced, to take the reins of government in order to set up an adequate defence to ensure that our boys would be properly -quipped to fight the battle on behalf of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Any Australian who can lift his head to-day and say that he supports a Liberal-Country party Government has no idea of the state of affairs which existed in this country when the Curtin Labour Government took office in 1941. Mr. Curtin did not want to take the reins >f government, but the two independent members in the House of Representatives at that time prevailed upon him to do so. Labour was then in a minority in both his chamber and the House of Representatives, but despite insincere motions »f no confidence it remained in office until 1943 when John Curtin went to the country. In that year the people said to him, in effect, “ Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You have carried is through the brunt of the war “. At those elections the Curtin Administration was returned with a majority unprecedented in. the history of the Parliament; and at the last federal elections, the people repeated that decision despite the insidious propaganda of the press and the radio. The result is that to-day the Opposition party in the Senate consists of only three members. I believe that but for the action of the Government in devising a more democratic system of elections, we would have no Opposition at all in this chamber after the next elections. I repeat that the defence of this country can safely be left in the hands of the present Government which will always ensure that its defence policy shall be in line with that of the Mother Country. At the general elections in 1937, John Curtin, who was then Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, told the people of Australia that our one hope of effective defence lay in the establishment of a modern al: force. The propaganda of the Opposition parties disseminated through the press and over the air defeated Labour on that occasion. However, later events proved that had Australia adopted John Curtin’s policy in 1937 it would not have found itself in the sorry position which existed in 194)1 when the Labour party was obliged to assume office in the circumstances I have indicated.
Much has been said in this debate with respect to the present prosperity of Australia. I have taken cuttings from various Melbourne newspapers all of which show that every company and combine in Australia is making huge profits, after providing for the payment of tax, the profits in some instances being double those made in the preceding year. This is the best budget that has ever been presented to the Parliament. If there is anything wrong with Australia to-day it is not due to any fault of the present Government. Our main problem arises from a shortage of labour, but that shortage is an inescapable .aftermath of five years of war. During the depression which occurred between the two world wars, thousands of our people were in need of homes but they did not have the wherewithal to purchase them, whereas to-day, thanks to the progressive legislation enacted by this Government, they have more than sufficient money to purchase homes. T believe that the housing shortage will he overcome within the very near future.
I wish now to deal with certain matters concerning the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department. During the depression years, I was an employee of that department. I recall that at that time senior officers who were paid high salaries to advise the Government with respect to the development of departments, suggested that a time might come when this country would find itself in such circumstsances that uptodate telephonic communication would be essential to the preservation of Australia. But their advice fell on deaf ears. Not sufficient officers were trained to cope with future developmental work. Consequently, when the recent war broke out the Postmaster-General’s Department was practically denuded of trained personnel. We have abundant evidence of the excellent work that has been done by that department under the administration of, first, the present Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) and, later the present Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron). Due to the careful administration of those two Ministers, telephonic Communication between the States is now up to date. There is a lag in the provision of subscribers’ connexions, but such installations have been trebled within the last year, and the Department will soon be able to meet all demands. I wholeheartedly support the budget. I realize that at the next general elections the people of Australia will pass judgment on not only this budget but also the next one to be introduced by the present Treasurer. I shall be happy to abide by that judgment.
.- I congratulate Senator Hendrickson upon the manner in which he has answered the arguments of members of the Opposition. He has shown the blatancy of their hypocrisy when they challenge the defence policy of the Government, whose present programme envisages an expenditure of £250,000,000 on defence during the next five years. That record is unprecedented in the history of this country in time of peace. As I have said on previous occasions, the Government is undertaking that programme, not in pre paration for war but solely in order ti’ protect Australia by ensuring that in any emergency that may arise ever, physical and financial sinew of the nation will be strained in the defence of out democratic way of life.
However, the budget makes provision in respect of many matters in addition to defence. It is one of the most comprehensive budgets that have ever been submitted to the Parliament. lj provides for further improvements of our standards of social security as well as additional concessions and reductions of the rates of income tax and social services contribution. Company tax is also to be reduced. Indeed, like all previous budgets submitted by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), this budge gives generous and balanced consideration to the welfare of all sections of the community. It has been compiled with commendable care in order to maintain as far as possible the balanced economy which has been one of the great achievements of the Government. In order fully to appreciate the budget and the merit of the Treasurer’s administration, foresight and achievements, it is useful to review as a whole the “budgets which have been brought down by successive Labour governments since 1942. Since that year relief from taxes in reductions and in other forms totals £110,850,000. Under the present budge a further reduction of £27,225,000 is to be made, making a total relief of £138,075,000. That is a commendable achievement when we bear in mind the nation’s additional commitments occasioned by the recent war. Honorable senators opposite tell us that the war is over. I remind them that although the shooting has ceased, we must still mee tremendous liabilities arising from the war, such as, expenditure for repatriation, the caring of soldiers who were maimed, and expenditure which we cannot escape if we are to fulfil the promises which we made to our soldiers when they were asked to shed their blood in defence of our right to live in freedom and to be free from want and fear. That can be done only by the provision of social services commensurate with the position in which our people now find themselves. The Opposition parties say that .the workers of Australia refuse to pull their weight in production. Australians workmen and soldiers are the finest in the world. Reductions of tax on incomes from personal exertion since 1942 total £8i;500,000. That relief has been given ‘in four instalments. In January, 1946, income tax was reduced by 12% per cent, involving a loss of revenue to the Government amounting to 620,000,000. The second instalment was given following the general elections in July, 1946, although the Government made no promise during that election campaign that it would reduce taxes. At that time income tax was reduced by 11 per cent, involving an aggregate remission of £17,500,000. In July, 1947, income tax was still further reduced by 26 per cent. That represented an aggregate remission of £33,000,000, and included a .sum of £11,500,000 in respect of concessional allowances for dependants. These tax remissions will assist to strengthen the family life to which communism is so opposed. They will do justice to the Australian working man about whom members of the Opposition talk so much, but for whom they did so little while they were in occupation of the treasury bench. In the present budget, the total remissions of tax represent a reduction of 17 per cent., or . £26,000,000. But that is :only one phase of this excellent budget. The reductions will operate from the 1st October - the earliest possible date. The instalments may not be deducted from wages and salaries on that date, but as soon as the schedules are prepared, the new rates will be reflected in pay envelopes, and a final adjustment will be made at the end of the financial year. I emphasize, therefore that the Government has not only .granted remissions of tax but also that it has provided for the operation of the lower rates from the earliest possible date. Both in this Parliament, and during election campaigns, members of the Opposition parties have advocated ‘flat rate tax reductions. This would mean that a taxpayer earning say 65,000 a year would -receive the benefit of remissions amounting to hundreds of pounds whereas the concessions applying to a man on £500 or £600 a year could be -reckoned in units of £1, and the -relief to ‘the man on the: basic wage, for whom Opposition members shed crocodile -tears, would be negligible. That is what the Opposition would like, but -we do not propose -to listen -to their arguments. The reductions provided for in the budget are on a graduated scale ranging from 33$ per cent, on the lower incomes - the lowest incomes have already been given complete exemption - to 3 per cent on high incomes. That 3 -per cent., of course, represents a lot of real money. Taxpayers in the high income groups may not be satisfied with the concessions but they .are in accordance with the Government’s policy, and we have no intention to depart from that policy. I am sure that the people of .Australia as a whole appreciate it. In addition, the budget provides some relief from indirect taxes. The sales tax has now been removed from nearly all essential goods, including household commodities, and has been reduced on certain luxury items to which the Government believes the people of this country are entitled.
We are proud of the Government’s record and programme in regard to social services. Opposition senators are sceptical. They talk about the need of pensioners; but :to get the matter in proper perspective ‘we must cast our minda back to the ‘time when the invalid -and oldage pension was only 17s. 6d. a week. That was not the lowest figure, but it was the rate operating when governments formed by the parties now in Opposition took a lien over the properties of pensioners, if they had any, and any advances made to them had ‘to be repaid. That was a condition of payment of the -pension. At that time there -was no widows’ pension, and no hospital benefit or unemployment and sickness benefit; yet honorable senators opposite tell us that they are in sympathy with pensioners. They may have been sympathetic all the time, but it must have been a cold barren sympathy because it did not produce anything. Under this budget, all pensions increased substantially. The increases may not be as great as the Government would like them -to be, but in view of the need to maintain .a “balanced economy T consider that what is proposed is most satisfactory. Age and invalid pensions, widows’ pensions, and sickness and unemployed benefits are to be increased by 5s. a week. War pensions will be increased by an even greater amount, namely, 7s. a week, made up of 5s. a week for a totally disabled ex-servicemen, plus another 2s. for his wife. That will bring his income to 5 4s. a week. In addition, he receives an attendant’s allowance of £1 4s. a week, and an allowance of £1 4s. a week for his wife, while in respect of each child he receives 9s. a week plus child endowment and educational allowance. Exservicemen suffering partial disablement will receive corresponding increases. I.n that field, too, therefore, I believe that the Government has done very well. In this chamber and in the House of Representatives, it has been alleged that taxation in Australia is higher than in any other democratic! country. Last night, the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) in a rumbling and mumbling address which lacked cohesion and thought, said that taxes in this country were higher than in any other land apart from the totalitarian countries. But what are the facts? The right honorable gentleman did not give them. In Australia a single man without dependants earning £150 a year pays £3 15s. in tax. In New Zealand he would pay £11 5s., and in Great Britain £1.4 ls. A single man on £350 a year pays £2C 5s. in tax in this country, but in New Zealand he would pay £38 Ils. and in Great Britain £56 ls. In the first instance, a single man in Australia pays £10 less than he would pay in the United Kingdom, and in the second instance he pays approximately £20 less. Why then do we hear these lies from Opposition speakers who seek to belittle the splendid effort that has been made by the Government? If they had any sense they would admit that the budget is excellent. The arguments that they advance are sheer hypocrisy. Whilst no one will deny their education, one can only doubt their intelligence. They know that they are telling lies. Although Senator Rankin did not cry while she was speaking to-day, I thought that some other people might do so when they heard her. She professed great sympathy with the basic wage-earner. I remind her that at one time, when taxes were levied at a flat rate, every £1 that a basic wageearner received was taxed; but what is the position now? A man on £150 a year with a dependent wife and two children does not pay any tax in this country, although in New Zealand he would pay £11 5s. and in Great Britain £12 11s. Even on £250 a year, an Australian worker with a dependent wife and two children does not pay any tax although in New Zealand he would pay £18 15s. and in Great Britain £12 lis. The United Kingdom is making splendid progress towards recovery and Australia i> determined to do everything possible te assist the Mother Country to regain economic stability while, at the same time, giving reasonable social services to the people. A person with a dependent wife and two children in this country itexempt from tax if his income does noi exceed £300, which is approximately thi basic wage ; yet in New Zealand he would have to pay £22 10s. and in Great Britain £12 lis. Clearly then, the statement that Australia is the highest taxed democratic country in the world is just another one of the fallacies with which the Opposition, with the support of the press, seeks to mislead the people of thi* country. But the Australian people, regardless of their education, are as intelligent as are the citizens of any other country. As I have said, they are fine people.
– The people are all right; it is the Government that irotten.
– The honorable senator may well seek to be an authority on things that are rotten, because he himself is putrid.
– Mr. President, the nature of the interjection called for the reply given. Under this budget, a man earning £300 a year with a dependent wife and two children if exempt from the social services contribution so that in effect his tax reduction is 100 per cent. The man on £400 a yea i -the average income - is receiving a tax reduction of 18.7 per cent.; yet the Opposition claims that the reductions are not liberal. Even on the income earned ‘ by members of this Parliament, although the percentage of tax reduction is not high, the actual “ poundage “ gained is substantial. I am proud indeed to be associated with a government which, throughout the war, guided this country through many difficulties and dangers, and raised the standards of the Australian people to a level comparable with, if not higher, than that of any other country. The crux of the criticism by the Opposition of Labour’s budget and taxation policy is that the persons who are privileged to draw big incomes should enjoy greater tax remissions at the expense of the low income earners. Obviously, if the tax reduction applicable to the man earning £5,000 a year is to be increased, the concessions to people in the low income groups must be decreased, lt would be like Patrick’s attempt to lengthen his short sheets. He out off the top and put it on the bottom; but the Opposition parties do not advance their arguments as plainly as that. They claim that high taxes have destroyed the incentive to produce because they have reduced profits, but let me cite a few figures that have been provided by the Commonwealth Statistical!. Company profits in Australia last year exceeded the 1939 level. Aggregate figures of 572 companies contained in the latest statistical bulletin of the Commonwealth Bank show that profits last year reached 7.3 per cent, as against 6.1 per cent, in 1946. The yield was -J per cent, better than in 1939. Higher wool and metal prices were reflected in the earnings of the 25 companies engaged in mining or primary production. The profit for this section was nearly double that of last year - 13.5 per cent, compared with 7.1 per cent, in 1946 and 6 per cent, in 1939. And this has happened despite alleged crippling taxes! These are big industries with great production potential. Last year, profits of 120 manufacturing companies averaged 7.9 per cent, of shareholders’ funds, an improvement of 1^ per cent, on 1946. but still below the pre war return of 8.5 per cent. 1 remind the Senate that these are undertakings to which prices control has applied. Unfortunately, the Opposition secured the defeat of Commonwealth prices control at the referendum, and 1 have no doubt the profits will be even greater next year. The referendum “ No “ campaign was well subsidized by those organizations which averaged 7.9 per cent, profit on shareholders’ funds - very nearly the pre-war level. The retail group represented by 70 firms, improved its return by 0.7 per cent, to 9.2 per cent, last year. Earnings in 1939 were 7.8 per cent. Once again I point out that prices control operated in 1946- 47. What will happen in 1948 ? I hope sincerely that the States will be able to maintain adequate control of prices, but already we find household budgets rising. I know from, my own family budget that prices are rising. The Opposition did great damage to the Australian community by recommending the abandonment by the Commonwealth of prices control. This has robbed, not only the worker, but also the fanner who during the war placed funds in reserve to buy essential materials for the maintenance of his property when the war ended. Now he finds that the prices of these materials have risen beyond all reason. He has been thrown to the wolves. If he wants to buy a motor vehicle or farm equipment he has to pay dearly for it. If a man wants to purchase wire or galvanized iron, which comes from Sydney, how is a man in Western Australia to manage? The Government has done its utmost to keep the prices of those goods down, but the people, acting on the recommendation of the Opposition parties, took away the only effective power that it had to regulate prices.
I propose to say something now with regard to another matter about which the Opposition parties have made a great deal of fuss in the States. They scream that the National Government has not been generous in the allocation of the funds it receives under uniform taxation. They have jettisoned their former contention that taxes would be lighter under the dual system of Commonwealth and State taxation because that argument has been disproved so often. In any event. they can no longer- contend that it- ia more efficient to collect taxes through, two governmental agencies. The contention that the States are not. receiving reasons’ able compensation from the National Government* is the most* ridiculous conten-tion of which I have ever heard.. I obtained from the Deputy Commissioner; of Taxation in Western. Australia particulars of State income tax: collected during’ the -financial year ended the 30th June, 1942, which includes the arrears of taxes which had to be collected when the National Government’ assumed responsibility for the ‘collection of all income tax. During that year State income tax yielded £2,14)1,467, and gold mining profits taxbrought in £149,064: The National Government has since removed the gold mining profits tax. The proceeds of the financial emergency tax amounted to £40,756, and hospital fund contributions totalled £291,941. Those four taxes produced a total of £2,623,228. The reimbursement paid to the State of Western Australia by the National Government from income tax alone amounted to £3,S00,000, which is approximately £1,200,000 more than the State obtained when it collected its own revenues. In addition, the National Government has paid to the State various other substantial amounts, including one of £2,500,000 for the great southern water scheme: That is an excellent scheme and will open up the southern district of Western Australia, but it could not have been implemented but for the generosity of the National Government. The State was experiencing financial difficulty in connexion with the scheme, prepared by the preceding State government and was prepared to jettison it. Engineers employed’ by the Commonwealth investigated the scheme and examined the country, and’ as the result of their recommendation the National Government contributed £2,500,000 to Western Australia, which, is more than the total amount, that the State, received in taxes in 1939. In addition, the National Government insisted that an lS-inch pipe be laid down so that tho scheme could become part, of a. larger, water reticulation scheme..
I intend to say something’ now with regard- to the maintenance of roads in Western Australia.. My colleagues and I are, continually, receiving complaints from all parts of the State that the.- roads are not. being maintained and that they, are in .a shocking condition. On. inquiry-, we ascertained, that th* National Government made- a. very sub,stantial grant to- the Western Australian Government for1 the- maintenance and construction of. roads,, but. because of. the fumbling and procrastination- of the Government of .Western Australia not one penny of that grant was spent on road; making, equipment for- nine, month, after the grant was- made. Thai certainly does not reflect’ any credit on the. State Government.. Not only were the people deprived of the i benefit’ of improvements to their roads’ for nine months, but during that period road construction plant, which could ‘have been purchased cheaply from the Disposals Commission and other sources, appreciated considerably in price. The result is that, when local authorities do finally get the money and are able to purchase the plant they will have to pay a great deal more for it. A system which prevent us from tracing the disposal of moneys granted to the States by the National Government for specific purposes is bad and I suggest that the Government and. the press should examine- the circumstances surrounding the dispersal of som». of the grants made to the States:
As an instance of what I am saying I mention the grant made to the States trcombat tuberculosis: Generally speakina1, Western Australia has received its full’ quota of financial assistance Recently, I asked’ the Western Australian health authorities what had been done with the money provided by the National Government for the relief of sufferers from tuberculosis* I was told that the- State did not have the proper facilities to permit them to’ expend the money fully. It is evident that whilst’ the National Government did’ an excellent job in providing- money for the treatment, care and relief of sufferers from tuberculosis, the State Government failed miserably because it had neither the capacity nor the desire to help the people: Yet” in. the face? of that1 the Government of Western Australia repeatedly criticizes the National Government. Th support of ; what T am saying
I quote; f tom. as report made:by the- Commissioner of: Health, in. Western. Australia) which., was. tabled; in the: Parliament. o£ that” State. The, report states; -
Little progress has been made towards providing the- basic local organization necessary (or effective health control and. for education, for the public in hygiene . . . This trivial advance was in striking disproportion to the time, labour, energy and expense devoted toattaining it. Dr. Cooke said. that, apathy,, parsimony, unenlightened obduracy and illadvised resistance had continued to characterize the attitude- of many local healthauthorities, but no action towards compulsion, had, yet been, taken in most cases.,
It may be that’ the British Medical Association, which has proved the stumbling block- to providing pharmaceutical bentits for the people, is responsible in some degree for- the failure of” the anti-tuberculosis campaign. Incidently, the Government’s- pharmaceutical benefits scheme, which is being obstructed’ by the British Medical Association, is nothing- more than a social advance; it is certainly not socialism. I consider that the British Medical Association should reconsider its attitude. The example of doctors such as the Western Australian Commissioner of Health and others; who have the welfare of the people at heart and are . genuinely anxious to serve them, should’ have some influence in persuading members of’ the British Medical Association o do the right thing.
In, the House of. Representatives, the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) painted a gloomy picture of people being unable, to purchase boots and. having, to go short of butter, and Senator. Rankin in the course of the impassioned, address which, she delivered in- the- Senate spoke of the poverty of the people of Australia who, she- alleged, were wrung hy- by taxes. In. order to refute that, assertion. I shall cite, some statistics of., the deposits made by the people of Australia: in their S’avings Bank accounts. The: balance-sheet of. the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia, for- the year ended. 30th June,. 1948, shows that, depositors’ balances and accrued interest, amounted to- £431;832,715; which, is an. all-time record. The magnitude of those savings speaks volumes, for the prosperous. condition! of: thoi people;. Our people are living’ now as< they should, and’ they are enjoying’ the- conditions which. Labourpromised’ them.. lft I have any regret’ at’ all it is that those who are’ entirelydependent on pensions have been exposed’ to hardship -by; the removal ofl rent controls. In. Western. Australia rents, have already increased by 15 per cent., and’ itis a pity that a bigger increase of their pensions cannot be granted. If we could’ reduce prices we could reduce rents, and* pensioners could- live reasonably well and, in some instances, they might, be better off than those in receipt of the basic wage. The Government intends to increase pensions as soon at possible, and it. has relaxed the means test in order to embrace many persons who would, not otherwise be eligible. Those who will benefit by that relaxation include persons -who have contributed for the four concessional units of the superannuation funds for which most family men. contribute. That is the number of units for which I contributed when I was engaged in industry. Labour has given effect to the promises which it made to the people to provide proper social security and a reasonable standard of living in. health and in sickness, and I comend the budget. 1 consider that the Treasurer and’ the members of the Government who have cooperated’ 30 ably with him have done » great job.
In conclusion, I want to pay a. tribute to the honorable, member, for. Parkes (Mr. Haylen) who led the recent parliamentary delegation, to Japan. Although he has. received- a great deal of criticism, in. the press since: he returned, to Australia, Mr. Haylen, undoubtedly did. a good job. in. Japan, and on his return he criticized certain people quite, openly. He was not. afraid, to. expose, those, who tried to hold over the. members of: the legislature, of. this, country, the powerof the - press, whose general attitude is “If. you do this we will destroy you.” He was sent to Japan, to do a job, and in.i fairness to him I. must- say that, he never; wavered in doing, that. job. He did’. excellent” work both. in. Japan and inChina, where- he- conducted certain, investigations of migration, matters, and on. his return- to Australia he- told the’ people a story about the British Commonwealth Occupation Force which was thoroughly justified. I trust that his efforts have re-established the reputation of the members of that force to which they are entitled, a reputation which the press of this country tried to destroy.
– I am proud to support the Government which has introduced the budget. That budget seeks to restore the living standards of the people, which decreased considerably during the war, and, at the same time, it proposes to reduce the heavy burden of taxes which had to be imposed on the people because of the expenditure on the war. I am even more proud to know that the Government which our opponents have accused of close association with the Communist party, has stood loyally behind the British people in their hour of need. I am proud to think that the present Government has made two substantial contributions - one of £25,000,000 and one of £10,000,000- to the British Government. Does that not supply an adequate answer to those who attempt to associate the activities and ideals of members of the Australian Labour party with those of the Communist party? If the Government were in any way sympathetic towards the Communist party, it would certainly not be attempting to assist an imperial government to survive; but we realize that we are part of the British Empire and that it is necessary for us to do all in our power to help Great Britain to recover the position which it occupied prior to the war. Only because of the sacrifices which that country made on behalf of democracy is it in its present straits. I am glad to think that I am a supporter of a government which is doing everything possible to foster British sentiment and to assist Great Britain to recover the pre-eminent position which it formerly occupied. If the Government’s efforts to assist Great Britain are not sufficient proof of its loyalty, then I think that the invitation which it has extended to Their Majesties the King and Queen and the Princess Margret to visit Australia next year should dispose of any remaining doubts. It is because of our desire to associate ourselves with the British Government and the Royal Family that we have invited Their Majesties to visit us. I think that that should be sufficient answer to those who accuse Labour of sympathizing with political bodies whose aims are alien to our ideals.
I was pleased to hear the very able address made to the Senate by the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna). when he presented statistics which must have been most illuminating to those who had the good fortune to hear bini speak. For the benefit of those who were not fortunate enough to be listening on that occasion, I consider that some of the figures should be repeated to show what » colossal task is confronting this Government in the post-war reconstruction period. There is no doubt that this country, with a population of under 8,000,000 people, was already carrying a very heavy liability as a result of our heritage from World War I., and many millions of pounds have still to be provided by this Government to meet accumulated interest charges on the money that it was found necessary to borrow during that war Unfortunately, the greatest proportion of that money was borrowed overseas. 1 was astonished to learn from the figurequoted by the Minister that during World War II. the Government borrowed from the people of Australia no less m sum than £1,300,000,000. One wondershow S,000,000 people could provide that amount for purposes of war. The money was provided, but at what a price!’ In addition to the liability from World War I., we are now carrying a further liability of £50,000,000 interest on the capital borrowed within Austral during World War II. As the Minister said, that debt will remain during the life-time of most honorable senators in this chamber. Where is thimoney to come from? It must come from the people of this nation. On the one hand we find that there is a large section of the community clamouring for still further reductions of taxation, and on the other hand the same people are asking this Government to provide increased benefits. The burden that the people of Australia are carrying to-day is colossal. There seems to be little hope of any great relief from taxation until such time as we have met our commitments to the ex-service personnel and others to whom we became committed during the war. When honorable senators opposite imply that any taxation relief conceded to the people in this budget is no concession at all, I do not know what trend their minds take, because material concessions are being made to those who can least afford to pay taxes. When the Minister was speaking, Senator O’sullivan interjected that the Government would receive more in taxes this year than before. He asked about indirect taxation ? It is true that this country has to raise about £550,000,000 to meet its commitments. What is not provided by direct taxation has to be made up by indirect taxation. Although an indirect tax is paid by every person who buys consumer goods, a big proportion of it is a class tax, placed upon the people who are best able to pay. [ refer particularly to the taxes on motor cars, petrol, and other luxury lines which are not within the financial resources of the rank and file of the people of this country. Because of the imposition of customs and excise duties, indirect taxes are paid by everybody in connexion with quite a number of goods which we consume. While some of these things are spoken of as the necessaries of life, they are nevertheless luxuries. Some of them are things which, if we so desired, we could do without. I have yet to learn that cigarettes and tobacco are necessary to sustain body and soul, or that alcohol is something that could not be done without. If we expect to be able to afford such luxuries as cigarettes, wines, and ales, then we should be prepared to meet the indirect taxation which the Government proposes to levy upon those goods for the purpose of meeting Australia’s commitments in respect of the war and the rehabilitation of its ex-service personnel.
This Government has, wherever possible, reduced sales tax and other taxes on the necessities of life, which would tend to cause inflation of prices.
– There is no sales tax “n foodstuffs.
– I do not know what will happen in the future, but in the past every time that the people of this country have received an increase of their weekly remuneration there has been an immediate increase of the price of consumer goods. Such increases have not always been equitable. If only the actual increases in prices were added to the costs of production, prices would not be so high, but in many instances although a farthing increase would have been sufficent to cover additional costs, because our smallest coin is a halfpenny, that was invariably the amount of the increase. Therefore those who manufactured and sold such goods received increased profits. I do not know how we are going to avoid the “ dog chasing his tail “ in respect of prices, but some means will have to be devised if we are to attain stability. Whether that could be done by a reduction of sales tax on certain goods, or by additional social service benefits, I am not prepared to say, but we must devise means to prevent a repetition of the conditions which arose after World War I., when, because no provision had been made to meet such a situation, there was an inflation of prices so serious that a “ boom-burst “ period followed. I am proud that this Government has profited by the lessons of the past, and is endeavouring to make provision for the day when we may be called upon to face a similar situation. That can best be done by continuing to enlarge our National Welfare Fund, which would enable this Government to proceed with numerous public works, and thus provide employment for our people. The cost of the provision of social services benefits to the people of this country has increased from £16,000,000 in 1939 to £78,000,000 to-day, with a possible increase in the next twelve months to £88,000,000 per annum. We are faced with liabilities of £50,000,000 for repatriation, and about £50,000,000 for interest payments as a result of war-time borrowing. When it is borne in mind that other commitments, also, must be provided for, honorable senators will realize that further serious reductions in taxation are improbable. I am proud of the fact that this Government has seen fit to levy taxation upon’ those best able to afford it. We have started at the bottom of the ladder. A working man with four children under the -age of sixteen, although earning ‘over £600 a year, will not ‘-be ^obliged to pay one penny income »tax. If ‘his ‘earnings ‘were less :than £410 per -annum he would not be obliged, either, to pay -social service contributions, but would receive ‘from this Government child endowment at the rate of .’10s. a week each for three of his children, in addition “to ‘the benefits that he received at the time of the birth of those children. Honorable senators will therefore see that we have eased the burden on those on the lowest rung of the “ladder, by taxing those best able to pay. There are only two ways in which to meet the costs of the benefits that we :have _ attempted to -provide. The first is the system ‘in operation to-day, and the .other would be by imposing a levy on the earning of the people. All honorable senators will remember that this issue was placed before “the people at a recent -election. ‘It was suggested that for ‘the purpose of raising the ‘money ‘necessary -to meet this ..Government’s commitments, at least for social services, the contribution of the people should he one shilling in the pound >on earnings. The people should realize .exactly -.what that would mean. A man with four children who is in receipt of £500 a year and pays no tax now, would be obliged to pay about *£25 a year .-under ‘that -scheme. Fortunately we have seen fit to adopt other means of getting the necessary finance to enable us ‘to meet these commitments. We ;give the least relief to those who ‘are best able to meet the requirements of -Lh18 nation in respect ;of its social .service .benefits.
I shall now deal with ‘the matter df benefits for ex-service -personnel. It has been said that this Government is unsympathetic to that subject. I have received a letter from the federal president of the ‘Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia advising me that he and his federal executive were not at all satisfied with the way that this Government is treating ex-service personnel, and that it “is grossly indifferent to their requirements. I know of -no government in any country that has tried -to do more for its ex-service men and women than has the
Australian ‘‘Government. It has endeavoured by all possible means to make provision “for their requirements in both health and sickness. The amount of money that is expended each year by thi* Government in its attempt to rehabilitate ex-servicemen into -the occupations bes’ suited to them is colossal. Our pensionsscheme -for ex-servicemen is not yet all that could be desired, but it goes a long way -towards meeting their needs. The people should realize that, under the newrates, “the 100 per cent, incapacity pension, -which amounts to £2 i’5s. -a week for a single ex-serviceman, is paid to men who are not totally -incapacitated. 1 understand on excellent authority that at least ‘90 per cent, of -men receiving ibis pension also earn full -wages. Should anything happen to -prevent such a man from following his occupation, he would immediately be granted the higher pension of £5 6s. a week. That, of course, is only ‘the rate for a single man without dependants. A blind ex-serviceman receives that rate plus an allowance df £1 4s. a week for an attendant. If he is married, his wife can be the attendant and, if lie has children, he receives a further allowance ‘for his wife and 9s. a week for each child in addition to child endowment. ‘Furthermore, money is provided for the training and education df hi.* children. Whilst I cannot be greatly enthusiastic about the .rate of £2 15s. j> week for a single man, the .fact is that, as he ‘is allowed this pension in addition to whatever “wages he may earn, ‘he is not left in need. This’ budget makes adequate provision ‘for ex-servicemen. We .must also remember that, a year or two hence, we shall also -have to provide a huge sum of money to pay the war gratuity that this Government has seen fit to provide in recognition of the great services rendered to the nation by our fighting men. I am firmly convinced that the provision made “for ex-servicemen in this budget will be appreciated by every fair-minded citizen I have yet to learn of any returned soldier -who ;is in want or considers that -the ‘payments which’ ‘he receives for his former services to ‘the country are insufficient to meet his needs.
The housing scheme that has been inaugurated by this Government is rapidly taking shape and helping’ to meet the needs of the people.I emphasize that not sufficient attentionisyet being given tothe terms of the Commonwealth-State housing scheme which has beenformulated by agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. When I hear about the fantastic prices that people are expected to pay for houses to-day, I wonder whether ex-servicemen will ever be able to make their homes their own property. However, the CommonwealthState housing scheme provides a means whereby they can have security of tenure and, at the same time, pay rentals commensurate with their earnings. Should a workman who occupies a house erected under the scheme fall upon evil times and thus be unable to pay the normal rent, his rate of payment can be reduced to about8s. a week. Even an unemployed man will be able to avoid running into debt in respect of his home. This- would not be possible if he were trying to buy it under an ordinary hirepurchase agreement. If we could secure wider publicity for this scheme and greater enthusiasm from the States, we should go a long way towards solving our housing problems. I commend the budget.
. -One must admit to a feeling of sympathy for members of the Opposition, who have had to go in to bat after the Government has placed such a record score on the board..
– A sticky wicket !
– It will be sticky by the time I have finished bowling. I can probably take the “ hat trick “. It seems to me that the Opposition, having no case, finds itself in an impossible position. A member ofthe House of Representatives who certainly knows a lot more about finance than do members of the Opposition in the Senate who continually interrupt, has said that there is inflation in this country. Certainly there is inflation in Australia. However, this gentleman lias jumped forward a pace and suggested that the Government is responsible for this inflation. Without any logical method of reasoning he has jumped forward even further and said that this budget will increase inflation. No attempt has been made toshowhow the taking of heavy tax burdens from those who can. well afford to bearthem will stop inflation. In fact, if I were to discuss theeconomic aspect of this problem to-night,I could prove conclusively that everything this Governmenthas done has been to stop inflation.
– But there is inflation..
– There is less inflation in Australia than in any other country. Of course there is inflation to a degree, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) urged the people to vote “ No “ at the referendum on rents and prices and did his bit towards making the situation worse. I shall show that, had other countries acted as Australia acted,the world would not be in the terrible situation that itisin to-day. In spite of all that figures may show, it is a fact that 30 per cent. more consumer goods are being bought to-day than at any other time in our history. However, I propose to discuss other matters which have not been dealt with either in this Chamber or in the House of Representatives.
We are all proud of Australia’s wonderful scheme of social services, which is beyond any doubt, the best” in the world. Nevertheless, if the world goes on as it has been going, we shall lose those social services because we are dependent upon international trade and international co-operation; I shall try to analyse the world situation and show that the Australian Government has not only done its bit for its people but also has given a lead to the rest of the world. I am sorry that this Parliament does not have a committee on foreign affairs. I have advocated the establishment of such a committee for many years, and nobody has given me any reason why we should not have such a body. The world is in a desperate state. The United Nations organization is meeting in Paris. Personally, I do not think that it will or can do anything worth while. It lacks the power to do so. The Security Council has certain powers but the veto takes them away from it. Therefore,I shall not. discuss that organization. I shall” deal with some things which, in my opinion, vitally concern Australia. There is one subject in particular about which we should have a great deal more information than we have been given. I refer to what is known as the Western Union. This is a most extraordinary proposition. Lt has been sponsored by Winston Churchill and by an Australian named McKay, who, when he was in this country, was well known as a nationalist, a conservative, or a liberal, according to the political period. The proposition is that Western Europe and Great Britain should have one parliament to pass laws that would supersede the laws of Great Britain, Holland or any other member nation. It is suggested that the members should have an economic union, a financial union, and even a military union. I do not think that the plan can operate effectively because of the inherent internal contradictions in Western Europe and in the colonial aspirations of the various imperial powers in that area. However, should it be successful, I want to know what will happen to Australia and Empire preference. Newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald have declared that Australia can come within the union. I do not know how that car be achieved, and I want to find out what effect the consummation of the union would have upon Australia and our social services. It seems to me that the world situation is becoming progressively worse.
Two ideologies dominate the world. One emanates from the United States of America and the other from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I can see no reason why that should be so, and I believe that we can develop a third force which could draw from both of them. However, in the present situation, the Russians say that all American propaganda is untrue and the Americans say the same thing about Russian propaganda. The Communist party has issued a pamphlet entitled The Falsifiers of History. I do not know anybody who has falsified history more than the Stalinists have done. Anybody who reads Russian history to-day will find that it differs entirely from the real history of 1917. He will read, for instance, that a man known as Leon Trotsky, who played second part only to the great Lenin himself, has been passed into oblivion. According to Soviet history he did not exist. One finds instead that the great international revolution which took place in 1917 has assumed a nationalist aspect, and that the Internationale has been displaced by patriotic songs. One also learns that “ red “ leaders revere the Russian army which fought against Napoleon at the Battle of Borodino. When the Russians occupied Germany recently they erected a great monument to the Red Army and now they wish to inflict an indemnity of £2,000,000,000 upon the Germans. If that is socialism or the action of socialists, I am sorry that my 30 years of study of socialism have been in vain. The Communists should be the last to talk about the falsification of history! It has been said again and again that Germany is the key to the world, and that is true. My point to-night is that, if we are to combat what is known as communism, although it is not communism or socialism, and should be known only as Stalinism, we can combat it successfully only with truth. America may build up all the power in the world, hut if it does so on lies, itf power will be all dross and tinkling cymbals. Certain members of the House of Representatives have said that nine out of every ten Germans are against the Russians. That is true; but it is also true that nine out of every ten German.* are against the Russians, the Americans, the British and the French. Stalin can be combated only by real democracy. America is not setting up a real democracy in Germany. The Social Democrats, who are prepared to accept America, must be not only social democrats but anti-Russians as well. Leading fascists occupy key positions in Western Germany to-day. For instance, the man appointed by the British and Americans as head of the Food Commissariat is a fascist. Americans are occupying the best villas in the suburbs of Berlin. The figures in respect of the prevalence of venereal disease in Berlin and other cities in Germany are a disgrace. It is impossible to build up democracy under conditions of that kind. But America does not desire to build up a democracy either in Germany or elsewhere. What is happening to-day is the struggle for power that has been going on for the last 200 years. If America would say to the Germans.
We appeal to all who are anti-fascists and all who are opposed to Stalin and fascism to rally around us and, at the same time, attempt to do justice to the bottom dog under a democracy, Germany would not long remain in the position it is in to-day. But the mass of the German people have no confidence whatever in the Americans when they see fascist after fascist being promoted to key positions under a regime which is really disguised as a democracy. When we study these two ideologies in operation throughout the world, we see that American propaganda is just as false as Russian propaganda. The Americans claim that they are building up Greece. Can any democratic country be proud of what is happening in Greece? That country, which was devastated in the war, is now in the control of a handful of parasites who are living in luxury in Athens. Can any one who loves liberty condone what is happening there to-day? We can follow this trend right throughout the world. The same can be said about the activities of the Dutch in Indonesia. If the Dutch, in 1927, had not deported 1,000 Indonesians, but had seen the writing on the wall before it was too late, before the Stalinites got into Indonesia, and were prepared to tell the Indonesians that they would be given a democratic system of government, they would not be in the position in which they find themselves in that country to-day. The Dutch could have recovered much loss of ground if they had been prepared, even during the last few years, to co-operate with the Indonesians. But, instead, the Dutch wanted the lot, with the result that they now find that the Stalinites, or Communists, are coming in. The same observation applies to Palestine. Can any one say that the fighting in Palestine to-day is for democracy?
– Could not Dr. Evatt settle that problem?
– I am speaking for myself. If either of the Opposition parties is run by one man, the Labour party is not. I am just as capable as any one else of pointing out the facts; and I simply ask the honorable senator whether what I say is correct or not. At first, the Americans said that they were backing the Arabs in Palestine. Overnight, they twisted and backed the Jews, but, later, after, considering how best their oil interests could be safeguarded, they twisted again. They twisted three times within a few weeks. British policy in Palestine is not based upon democracy. Otherwise, the world in general would find itself in a different position from that which exists to-day. The great capitalist newspapers tell us that all of the present trouble in Malaya is due to a few terrorists. The press would have us believe that the Malays were not touched by the recent war at all. They would lead us to imagine that we are still living in an age when one could give a “ nigger “ a few beans and satisfy him. Does any honorable senator deny that most of the planters in Malaya ran away from that country? To-day, when the price of tin is nearly £600 a ton, the poor unfortunate natives in that part of Asia can obtain on the average only 5 ounces of rice a day on which to live. The press tells us that the unrest in Malaya is not traceable to a nationalist movement. We are told that a few Chinese are kicking up the row. The forefathers of those Chinese have been in Malaya for generations, and if they were interested in China they would be interested in the Stalinites and not in the Kuomintang. Who fought the Japanese in Malaya? A few nights ago, I listened to a radio broadcast by a visiting Englishman, who described how he parachuted into Malaya during the war. He said that when he landed he was surrounded by Chinese guerillas, and he had to admit that he never wanted to be with better men. The fact is that following the war the white man has lost face in Malaya. The Japanese overran twice as much territory in that country as the Germans overran in Europe. In view of those experiences, does any one believe that the Malays will be content to resume their former position in their own country? For more than two years, I have been saying in this chamber that the white man’s domination in Asia is finished and that the sooner we realize it the better. The white man can reestablish himself in Asia only on a 50-50 co-operative basis with the natives, and by saying to them that he is prepared to make available to them modern machinery, scientistsandexpertsto help them to develop their resources,andatthesame time, undertaking nottotakealltheir wealthfor the benefit of afewshareholderswhodonotliveinthosecountries.
I am endeavouring to show that Australiahas done a better job than any other country in the world, not only nationally, but also internationally. I believe that I can prove that assertion. I have visited Korea. Recently,there has been some talk of the Russians getting out of northern Korea. Thedistance from Thiminosiki toFusanis only 100 miles. The Koreans suffered terribly at the hands of the Japanese. I could speak for an hour about the atrocities that the - Japanese committed upon the Koreans. The newspapers tell us that the Americans are establishing democracyinKorea.Twoorthreeweeksago, Life,oneofthemost important of the world’s periodicals, published half page photograph ofastackofeasternslippers. Honorable senators are familiar with that kind of slipper.Itisturned up at the toes. The captionto the photograph said that Koreanchildren, likeall children, likeslippers ; but those slippers were beingpresented, not to Korean children but totheir fathers,provided theypledgedtheir goats in advance. That iswhat is calleddemocracy. A wonderful changehastaken place in Japan. Indeed,thatcountry has witnessedthe greatestmetamorphosis ‘the worldhas known. The Japanese werearaceof barbarianswhich had been treated to a lot of “dope” aboutthe Goddess of Heaven sincethe Emperor Jimmu reigned in the year 660 b.c. He wassupposed to : havecomedownfrom Heaven, and Japan was supposed to have comeup from the sea. Before the recent war the Japanese hada very fine Liberal movement. It was not likewhat is known as the Liberal movement in Australia, which,of course, is reallyconservative. The Liberal movement in Japanwasreally good.After the recent war, it was suggested that the Liberals might do something to buildup Japan andget thepeople to understand something about democracy. However,at that time the four-power alliedcommittee, on which Australia was represented, was set up,alongwiththeeleven- power Ear. EasternCommission.Neither of thosebodies amounts toanythingatall. Thecommission meets once a fortnight forabout 30 seconds.To-day, General MacArthur,that : marvellouswizard,is turningall these barbarians intogood democrats, and, soI amtold,into Christians. I think that it was General BrianRobertson, one of the British Generals in Germany, who saidthat the Germans aregoodChristians Perhaps, therefore,there is no reason why the Japanese should not make Christians,too. In fact, the terms ‘“Christians” and “democrats arebeing given verywidemeanings.We are all supposedto be Christians. But what is happening? The Americans launchedthe occupationof Japan with good intentions; but, to-day, Japanis the 49th Stateof the United States of America. We have often heard aboutthe great job that was accomplishedbythe signing of theTreatyOfVersailles.Our friend, the right honorable memberfor NorthSydney (Mr. Hughes),whomI have heardspokenof as a manofwonderful intellect, butwho,in my opinion,is entirely over-rated, was one ofthe men whosigned that treaty.The Americans reallyhaveno trained diplomats, but are merelythrustingsoldiers andarms into other countries,particularly European countries. ‘They havenorealhistorical.. or cultural,understanding ofEurope That being so, onewould imaginethat whenthey occupiedJapan they wouldat leasthaveexamined howtheTreaty of Versailleshad worked out. Underthat treaty theWeimar Republic was established; butitwasjustaveneerwiththe socialdemocratsmost inprominence. Underneath werethe junkers. All the same people Who were most prominent under Kaiser Wilhelm II. retained the key positions. Theresult was ‘that as scon as the pressure was put on, over went the Weimar Republic.AtVersailles,the representatives of the alliednations shouldhave taken the land from the junkersandgiven it to the German peasantry.Had that been donethe courseof subsequent historywould have been changed,becausebysuch actionthe ground wouldhave been swept (from under the feet of theGerman ‘warmongers, thegoose-steppingjunkers.
However, the nations didnot do that. Nor is General MacArthur doing anything like that in Japan to-day. The same gang is still in power in Japan. The Zaibatsu, who controlled the banks before the war, still control the banks in Japan, and the Mitsui and Mitsubishi, who still control the Specie Bank of Yokohama, met round the conference table with the representatives of westernvested interests and determined, among other things, that strikes should be made illegal. Before the war, the Japanese had a very fine form of industrial unionism. In fact it was one of the most scientific forms of industrial unionism. However, in Japan, strikes are now outlawed. The same crowd is still in control as were in control in that country before the war. Speaking in this chamber about six months ago, I said thatI was prepared so lay odds of six to ‘four that Tojo would not be hanged.
SenatorO’ Sullivan. -Gambling is i llegal.
-I am astounded that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan) can laugh when I am dealing with a gentleman who said to the allies. “Don’t blame the Emperor, blame me. I was the supreme lord of the sea, the air and the land, and I take fullresponsibility for all the atrocities the Japanese committed “. I am endeavouring to take the minds of honorable senators back to those days, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition vincesamusement. I now say that Iam prepared to “ lay the odds “ that “Tojo will not be hanged because he is necessary ifJapan is to be built up as a bulwark against Russia.Any honorable senator who believes that agood job isbeing done in Japan should ask the Chinese. Ifanybody thinksthat that is the way totreat our enemies after what they did to us, I donot agree.”We have the Chinese to thank forkeeping 1,000,000 Japanese soldiers in China during the war. Does any one really believe that the Americans are instilling democracy into the Japanese people? They are not interested in democracy.
Senator O’Sullivan interjecting,
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has had hissay, and he delivereda most stupid speech. Now he wants tomake another speech over the air. He has no chance of learning anything while he is speaking, but he will learn something, if he listens. I only wish I could give him the brains to understand. Chiang-Kai-shek, the nepotist, who, with his family,rules China, is being backed by the United States of America ; -but the Americans have no chance of “ selling “ him to the Chinese people, and the sooner they realize that the better it will be for China and for the democratic cause.How do the Communists keep going in China when millions of pounds worth of war materials are being poured into that country to assist the government forces? The Communists are now outside Peking and Shanghai. How have they managed to get there? The reason is that the so-called Communists are joining Chiang-Kai-shek’s army, getting possession of American arms and munitions, and then deserting to the Communist forces. We cannot combat Stalinism by getting behind the King of Greece, Chiang-Kai-shek or the Emperor of Japan. We must get behind the people and have Teal democracy installed. In this -country we are more fortunate than arethe people of any other country. The best propagandist that the Communists have had in Australia is not Mr. Sharkey hut Sir .Frank Clarke. For the sake of a pyrrhic victory, the Liberalswere prepared to back him.The Communistsnow say, “ Where is your democracy ? Here is a banker, representing bankers,whodetermines when there is goingto be an election and whattheelection issues are to be”. IfAustralia is the bestcountry, let us have a look at the rest of the world. Asiais chaotic.Nobody knows what will happen inEurope. Isthere true democracy in the United States of America ? At the lastpresidential elections only 19 per cent. of the adult population of eight southern states voted. There is such a lack of democracy in the United States of America that many scientistsare resigning because of the activities of the Congressional committeewhich is investigating alleged “un-American activities “. It is reported that 1,000,000 dossiers have beenbuilt up on various individuals. University Presidents all over America areresigning. BecausePresident
Truman said he was against lynching, they claim that he is a Communist. When Henry Wallace contests the presidential election, in some of the southern states his name will not even appear on the ballot-paper. And that is the country, too, in which citizens of world repute such as Paul Robeson and Marianne Anderson can associate with white people only under certain conditions. Let the Americans put their own house in order. Let them base their democracy on the Australian pattern and the Communists will have no chance. I am prepared to wager that at the next federal elections in Australia every Communist candidate will lose his deposit. Canada is ‘a fine country with enormous potentialities but in the province of Quebec, for instance, the standard of education is not nearly up to ours. Canadian social services fall far short of what is available in this country. The Canadian Senate is not even elected. Its members are nominated by the Prime Minister, and appointed for life. What is the position in South Africa? There are 7,750,000 natives of whom only 40 pay income tax. The average wage of the South African native, is £15 a year. In that country there is a bilingual problem confronting the Dutch* and the British, a native problem, and a mixed race problem because there are 900,000 people of various shades of colour including 500,000 Indians. After Australia, New Zealand is the best country in the world. The New Zealanders are somewhat backward culturally, but so are we. I have been most impressed by attendances in this country at instrumental concerts such as those of the Boyd Neel orchestra, and at the Shakespearian and other plays performed by the “ Old Vic “ company. As one who has played a small part in the effort to develop cultural life in this country, I say without egotism that it was I who, when an alderman of the Sydney City Council, moved that £10,000 a year for three years should be made available to start a Sydney symphony orchestra. The Town Hall in Sydney having been made available free, that meant another £1,500 a year, making a total of £11,500. I am convinced as a lover of music that all this talk about the widespread appreciation of music amongst Europeans is piffle. No doubt many of them do understand and appreciate good music, but when I wasin Paris I went to the Quai d’Orsay, and. in the music room, heard a chamber music concert by a very fine orchestra. Unfortunately, the audience talked all night. The lady who was with me said, “ If thi? is Paris, Australia will do me “. Complaints have been made by some visiting musicians, including Sir Thomas Beecham, about the behaviour of Australian audiences, but from what I have seen, the love of music in this country is very great. All that the people want is an opportunity to hear more of it. Aftei all, Australia did produce the greatest woman singer of all time, Dame Nellie Melba. I remind the Senate of these things to show that the Labour movement is concerned not only with food, clothing, and shelter, but also with the things of the spirit, if they may bc described in that way.
And now, having got round the world, I invite Opposition senators to attempt to disprove anything that. T have said. We in Australia must noi lo-c what we have achieved, but there is a danger that we shall lose it because the world is divided into opposing groups, one saying, “ We are pro-Russian “ and the other ” We are anti-Russian “. Labour has done a good job for the Australian people, and under Labour rule Australia has done a good job in the councils of the world. By word and by deed we have contributed to everything that has been worth-while to help humanity. We have shown that we want a better world. Labour has done more than any other party to translate into reality the means of meeting the needs of the Australian people. We have done our job and this budget only exemplifies what we have done. I hope that the serious position in which the world finds itself to-day will not result in the loss by this country of the many wonderful things that have been given to the Australian people.
– After listening to the very eloquent speech made by Senator Grant, I feel that the debate on this budget is worth-while. In the House of Representatives, criticism of the budget by the Opposition has not been constructive. In fact, the obvious aim of Opposition speakers has been destruction, and the belittlement of this great Commonwealth. Like Senator Grant, I have seen something of conditions that exist in other parts of the world, and after the excellent review of the world situation that he has given, t feel we should all say, “ Thank God we are in Australia “. If members of the Opposition and their supporters who control the press and radio of this country were to make a sincere effort to encourage its development instead of levelling criticism as they are doing at present, Australia could face the future with every confidence. We can see by the reading of our daily newspapers that the efforts of those who are charged with the task of bringing peace to the world are being frustrated in every direction. The world is on the brink of disintegration. The greatest fear amongst the peoples of the world is that another war will occur. Yet, while world problems are being tackled at international conferences, we in Australia are quarrelling over small things. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator 0’.Sullivan) said that the tax remissions provided for in the budget were unworthy of the Government. A similar criticism has been made in the House of Representatives. Apparently, the Opposition believes that Australia could accomplish the transition from a war-time economy to a peace-time economy much faster than it is being done. However, every thoughtful person in the community who has examined the budget will appreciate that the Government is doing a magnificent job in an island continent which, although peaceful, is surrounded by a sea of trouble. It has been claimed by some individuals that the Government should have slashed taxes much more heavily; but on the other hand the same people are clamouring for faster re-armament. They cannot have it both ways. If Australia is to play its part with the other democracies, and if this land is to be held for- Australians, certain expenditure is necessary. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition drew attention to one particular action of the Government, and I interjected to the effect that his criticism was merely a trained lawyer’s ingenious argument. Far too much ingenious legal argument is used in the propaganda directed against the Government and against the interest? of the people of Australia. Night after night we hear radio broadcasts, the purpose of which is to ridicule our parliamentary institutions. A few nights ago I heard the broadcast of a speaker who is not connected in any way with the Parliament, and, to my surprise, he deplored the use of the radio to undermine our parliamentary institutions. Possibly he had in mind the propaganda disseminated by the Opposition parties during the recent campaign prior to the referendum for the control of rents and prices. That propaganda was directed by interests which realized that the present prosperity of the country was due to the policy of the Government of stimulating full employment. The people who sponsored that campaign were clamouring for the removal of price controls so that they could get their hands on the savings of the people. In public discussions which have been broadcast men who aspire to lead the nation - some of them have in the past led the nation - suggested to their listeners that those who assemble in Canberra are nothing more than a. gang of thieves. In order to gain a temporary political victory, they sought to break the faith of the people in their parliamentary institutions. When individuals whom people should respect belittle the institutions of parliament and of democracy, is it any wonder that there is springing up in this and other countries the idea that democracy and all other forms of government should be abandoned in favour of mob rule? That is the sort of propaganda which is being disseminated in Australia, which is an island of peace in a sea of turmoil. One expects something better from enlightened people.
During the course of his remarks Senator Cooke suggested to members of the Opposition that when they quarrel with the Government they should base their criticism on something substantial, and he said that in honesty they should accept the budget as being in the interest of the country. A budget, with its long columns of statistics of revenue and expenditure totalling many millions of pounds, is a difficult document to analyse, and I do not intend to delve into the vast mass of statistics contained in the present budget.
However,. I. propose to reply to some of the criticisms.- made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who suggested that taxes should, be reduced. For months past the people have been, told over the radio and. in the press that heavy taxes are ruining, the country, that the incidence of taxation is bearing unfairly on the workers, and that taxes are retarding production and producing inflation. Other critics of the Government illogically contend that heavy taxes are causing deflation. Because of this constant stream of propaganda many people are beginning to believe that it is founded, on fact. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is gifted with a legal mind, which means that he has been trained, when appearing before a judge or jury, to construe the spoken word and written or visual evidence placed before a court in such a1 way as to defeat the1 contention of an equally well schooled advocate who appears for the other side. That is the nature Of the forensic skill possessed by members of the bar, whose mission is to distort facts and to place on circumstances a construction different from that which they should bear. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition exercised bis forensic skill in suggesting that the Government had- done very little to reduce the- hurden of taxes. The obvious reply to that contention, as was pointed out by other honorable senators, is that there has been, a gradual and continuous- reduction of taxes since the war, and that during the post-war- period Australia has been able to balance its budget for the first time in many years. Critics of the Government make a special appeal to unmarried individuals^ on whom they suggest the burden of taxes is bearing too heavily. I. do not propose to refer to the people in the low income group, that is,, those who earn only £150 a year, because most nf them are juveniles,, but to deal with the tax levied, on the average man. During the war- a single person whose income amounted to £350’ a> year paid £75 2s. in taxes. The present budget proposes that he shall pay only £26i 5s. a year, so that the tax pay-able by him has been reduced by 65- per. cent!. If his income amounted to £400 during the nar he paid £95 Sr- in taxes. Under the present proposals he will pay 0nl, £34 1.4s. a. year, which, is a reduction of £64 Ms. An income of.’ £500 a year meant that he had. to pay £136 13s. in taxes during the war, but under the budget proposals he will be required to pay only £53 9s., which is a reduction of £83 4s. A single man. who is in receipt of an income of £600 a year paid £178 15s. in taxes during the war. Now he will be called upon to pay only £74 14s., which represents a reduction of £104 ls. Those are facts, and they should form the bashof. any effective comparison, which is t< be made.
In the course of the excellent- speech which the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) delivered last week he drew the- attention of the Senate to the fact that the budget is primarily a family budget, and. that it is designed to render the greatest assistance to those- who an in most need of assistance. By the exercise of his forensic ability, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition sought to suggest that the concessions proposed to be made to married men with dependants are merely incidental to a trivial reduc-tion. of taxes generally. Of course,, thai is not true. Consider the- position of a taxpayer who receives- an annual income of £300 from which he has to support a wife and. two .children. During, the war. he had to pay £17 8s. in taxes, but under the tax proposals of the Government he will not be called upon to pay either income tax or social service contributions; in other words, he will be completely exempt from direct taxes. During the war a married man who had a wife and two children to support, and who received £350 a year, had to pay taxes amounting to £31 2s-. a year. Under the Government’s present proposals, he will be required, to pay only £3 15s. a year, which includes his social service contributions. During the war a taxpayer in similar circumstances who earned £400 s year paid £46- 10s. a year in. taxes, but will now be required to pay only £8 lis. a year. A taxpayer with similar family obligations- who earned £500 a year paid £S0 16s.. in taxes during the war, but will now be required to pay only £21 9s.. which represents a. saving to him of £59 7s-.. That is a very different concession. from, the miserable ls: a day which the:Deputy Leader-of the Opposition mentioned. A taxpayer who receives £600 a year, and has a dependent wife and two children, paid £118 12s; in taxes during the war, but he will now pay only £-38 1ls. which is a reduction of £80 ls. I. mention those facts in-order to demonstrate the misleading, nature of the- criticism uttered by opponents of the Government.
The budget does not stop at reducing taxes; it provides for much more generous social services. Honorable senators who heard Senator Grant speak- of the conditions which obtain in other parts of the world, or have read the reports which appear in the press from time to time of conditions overseas, will, appreciate that the social services provided by the Go.vernment are unequalled by those of any other country. Senator Cooke compared the incidence of taxes in this country with that in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand, and. the comparison in each instance favours Australia. Honorable senators who witnessed the screening of a certain, documentary film this evening, which portrayed the scope of social services in the United Kingdom; must have been impressed with the more favorable position enjoyed by Australian workers: Every comparison that’ can be made of social services in Australia with those of other countries favours this country. When members of the Opposition in this chamber and in the House of Representatives put forward futile arguments in the hope of destroying the confidence of the people in. the present Government, they certainly do not give the people credit foi” being able to discern the difference between their statements and the facts. When Ave examine the budget we should look beyond the columns of statistics it contains in order to realize the implications of the Government’s policy contained in those statistics, because, after all, a budget is really a national balancesheet. It shows the people of this country what has been accomplished in the past and lays down a programme for the future. If we look into the future as envisaged in the speech of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) we can with confidence believe that we in Australia are assured of very prosperous times. It was shown that,, notwithstanding assertions to the contrary, taxa tion is not retarding production in this country. The profits- still .retained by companies after taxes have been paid are far: greater than previously and the spending capacity of the great bulk.. of the people of this country is being increased. Indications are that that prosperity will be of a permanent character. Our opinions in that connexion are fortified not only by those statements, but also by the numerous applications that arebeing made for permission to extend factory buildings. Almost every day factor) owners indicate their desire to extend their buildings, and there is a continual clamour for more labour. Does that noi show that, the arguments advanced by our opponents are false ? If taxation were of such a crushing, nature as to retard production, manufacturers would not desire to obtain more bricks to extend their factories and more employees to earn more profits. Would we have so many applications from people overseas to come to this country and .establish businesses here Certainly not. Such, applications continue to be received despite the fact thai the Government introduced legislation to nationalize banking. Those captains of industry were not afraid of nationalization and they are not: afraid of the policy of this Government. They know- thai Australia is prosperous under the control of- this Government. Without an* further ado, I commend, the budget te honorable senators.
– It- is with a great deal of satisfaction that I make my contribution to thicommendation of the most comprehensive and realistic budget that has ever been presented to this Parliament. I congratulate the Treasurer on what I understand is a record in that he has introduced eight consecutive budgets. I have sufficient faith in the political sagacity of the people of Australia to believe that Mr. Chifley will be Prime Minister and Treasurer of this country for many years to come.
If we are going to be-honest about this budget we must agree that it is most beneficial to every, section of the people. Since 1941 Labour’s- record has been remarkable, considering the very trying conditions that have been- encountered.
Although this Government has done a remarkably good job the Opposition here and in another place has done nothing but offer destructive criticism. Nothing concrete has been offered at all, although Opposition members in another place had a good deal to say about concrete. Let us consider some of the arguments advanced by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan) in this chamber. The honorable senator dived into the “ red sea of communism “, and Opposition senators in this chamber, as well as Opposition members in another place, have since meandered in the misty mists of political mesmerism. With the aid of” a favorable press they have endeavoured to mesmerize the people of this country, and to make them believe, that the budget is not what it should be. Referring again to the communistic bogy, E state definitely that the Australian Labour party has no connexion whatever with the Communist party, I go further and say that the Australian Labour party is doing more than any other party to make communism a thing of the past- in Australia. We are building up conditions in this country which will make communism or any other “ ism “ not wanted by the people. I reiterate that the Opposition, both in this chamber and in another place, is doing more to breed communism in Australia than is any other section of the community. There was one notable remark by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in connexion with income tax reductions. He said that, under this budget, a person earning £500 a year will receive a reduction of only £S 5s. a year. The honorable senator was running true to form; that is only a half truth. He does not state what taxes the person earning £500 a year was paying before this reduction. However, I shall combat what he said. A man with a wife and two children, and earning £500 a year, will pay tax and social services contributions of £21 9s. a year. It must be remembered, however, that he will receive in child endowment alone approximately £26 a year. The people of this country are sufficiently wise to remember what happened under antiLabour governments in the past. If we were unfortunate enough again to have such a government in the future, I am quite sure that big reductions of receipt? from taxation would result, because the people would not be earning the income on which to pay taxes. We should have a repetition of the conditions which obtained in the ‘thirties, when tens of thousands of people did not pay any tax because they did not earn any money at all.
The honorable senator also claimed, when referring to the extension of social services, that we were flying in the face of Providence. In his discourse the honorable senator was not flying in the face of anything. He made such “ heavy weather” that he appeared to be endeavouring to “ swim in a sea of Queensland molasses “ ; he contributed nothing of a concrete nature to the debate, but merely made sweeping statements, as have other members of the Opposition, that there should be a further reduction of taxation. He gave no indication of how or where those reductions could be made and contradicted himself by advocating in one breath a huge reduction of taxation beyond that provided in the budget, whilst in the next breath he castigated the Government for not making more money available to industry in Queensland. One argument is a direct negation of the other, and that was evident throughout the criticism of this budget by members of the Opposition. Almost every day numerous figures are published in the press, mainly at the instigation of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. Fadden). He thereby obtains favorable and prominent publicity, although the figures are meaningless. Apparently the honorable member is one of those persons who believes that figures cannot lie, but he forgets that the people of Australia now realize that liars can figure. It is very annoying to hear Opposition members offering such criticism of the budget. If they are honest they would agree that it affords great benefits to every section of the community. That is something of which the Government should be proud, when the extent of the social services made available to the people of this country is taken into account.
When making her contribution to the budget debate Senator Rankin made a very dramatic plea, possibly with the idea of causing people to shed tears, because of her professed desire to raise the Australian standard of living. The honorable senator had the colossal effrontery to say that the standard of living in Australia is actually declining. That was a deliberate misstatement because everybody knows that all sections of the people of Australia are in a much better position now than ever before. There is practically no unemployment in Australia. This Government has instituted a policy of full employment, and conditions obtaining in this country today were never dreamed possible under anti-Labour governments in the past. The honorable senator spoke of patterns, but [ did not see her display any of them. Of course she also quoted figures to show that the taxation receipts are greatly in excess of the estimated receipts. The honorable senator manipulated figures in order to distort the truth and conceal the real benefits for which the budget provides and thus create a psychology of doubt in the minds of the people. It is amazing that all of the advocates of tax reductions ignore the greatest factor influencing taxation rates. They never mention the interest bill on our national debt. The fact is that, expressed in Australian currency, our national debt in 1939 was £1,400,000,000. It has since mounted to about £3,000,000,000. We must pay interest on all of that debt. Yet those who cry out for a substantial tax reduction never refer to that most important factor.
– They believe that we should borrow to pay the bill.
– That reminds me of another amazing statement made by Senator Rankin. The honorable senator declared that, instead of financing national projects and social services by means of taxes, the Government should use loan money for the purpose. What a ridiculous assertion! If we used more loan money to meet those costs, obviously we should increase the interest charge on our national debt. It is a question of whether we should take it off the merrygoround or off the swings. In the final analysis, the people have to pay just the same. If the choice lies between lower taxes and the social security of the people, let us retain taxation of those people who can afford to pay. Senator Rankin aim criticized the administration of the Postal Department and referred to its huge profits. I remind honorable senators of the statement recently issued by the PostmasterGeneral dealing with the numerous activities of that great institution. There is no need for me to refer in detail to this subject because everybody should realize that the department has done, if doing, and will continue to do a remarkably good job for the people of Australia.
Let us examine a few facts in relation to the budget. I do not want to deal at length with figures, but we should be realistic and endeavour to analyse what this Government has done for the people. Tax reductions provided for in the budget represent approximately £29,000,000. Social services are to be greatly improved. For example, the rate of age and invalid pensions is to be increased from £1 17s. 6d. a week to £2 2s. 6d. a week and, at the same time, the income allowed without reduction of pension will rise from £1 to £1 10s. a week. The property limit is also to be increased from £650 to £750. That will involve an additional expenditure of approximately £760,000 a year. The concessions mean that a man and wife eligible for pension and earning the permissible income will be able to have a combined income of £7 5s. a week. Nothing comparable with that was ever attempted by anti-Labour governments during the many years in which they were in power. Should we ever be unfortunate enough to witness a return to power of the Opposition parties, all of their advocacy of further substantial tax reductions will be aimed at either a diminution or the elimination in some respects of social services which are now provided by this Government. There will also be a move to re-impose income tax on the lowest incomes, because we know that the policy of the anti-Labour parties is to impose what they describe as “equality of sacrifice “. Such so-called equality would mean that every income, no matter how small, would be taxed. This budget also provides for an increase of widows’ pensions. A widow with one dependent child will now receive £2 7s. 6d. a week in pension and her permissible income will rise from £1 to £1 10s. a week.
The propertylimitation willalso be iberalized. The rate of child endowment isto be increased from7s. 6d. to 10s. a week,making atotal increase of 100per cent.since the Labour party came into office. This will involve an expenditure of an additional £670,000 a year. Hospital benefits will be increased from 6s. a day to 8s. a day, which will require in additional expenditure of £140,000 a year. The Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) recently announced the Government’s plans to combat the scourge oftuberculosis, and a bill to giveeffect to those plans was introduced in this chamber to-day. The Government will make available a sum of about £500,000 to carry out in conjunction with the States ascheme for theeradication of the disease. It has also madeprovision in the budget for the expenditureof £500,000 to improve conditions in mental institutions with the co-operation of State governments.War pensions will be in- creased by 10 per cent. and the means test will berelaxed. A man and wife in receipt of pension will be permitted to own property worth £l,500andtoreceive a joint income of £7 5s. aweek.
The Government’srecord inthefield of re-establishment of ex-service men and women is outstanding. Everybody who recalls ‘the events of the period following World War I.must agree that what has Seen done bythis Government forthe rehabilitationofthe members ofour r ighting services is incomparablybetter than anything ever attemptedbyantiLabour governments.I have a vivid recollection ofbeing told during World WarIthat “ nothing would be too good’” for the soldiers whentheyreturnedto Australia. I do not knowwhether it was too good, but “nothing”‘was what we received from anti-Labour governments. ThisGovernment’s effortsto rehabilitate ex-service personnelunder the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme has been remarkablysuccessful. It has placed men on the land, in business and in technical andprofessional training courses.The cost of war gratuity alone, which will fall dueabout 1951, will be approximately£80,000,000. The budget provides for increasedpayments to the Statesthisyear amountingto about £10,500,000.An additional amount of £1,000,000 willbeprovided for theStates under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. There is practically nounemployment in Australia to-day, because theGovernment has encouraged the development of secondaryindustries and has given effect to its policy of full employment. The latest figures available, which were issued onthe 14th August, 1948. show that only 997 unemployed persons were -registered. Among them were persons temporarily out of work in the period between leaving one job and taking another. Only 28 persons were in receipt of the re-employment allowance paidto ex-servicemen pending their re-absorption in pre-war trades or callings. Thus,the total number of Linen andwomen not employed atthat datewasonly 1,025. Disengaged workersregistered numbered 12,924. Having had some experience in theCommonwealth Employment Service. Iknow that most of those people would still be atwork. Afterthey have registered they usually retain their positions until they obtainemployment in other trades or callings.
– There are more job thanmen now.
– Thatis so.At the 14th August, 19.48, there were 10.0,090 unfilled vacancies throughout Australia Whenone considers that there were approximately 1,000,000 men and women in theservices during the war and that Australia’s entire industrial economy was geared to the prosecution of total war. one appreciates the prodigious efforts thathave been made bytheGovernment to demobilizethe fighting forces and adjustour economy to the requirementsof peace withthe least disruptionof industry. Anyright-thinking person will agree that it hasdone a wonderfuljob. The fightingforces weredissolved andtheir memberswere absorbed into industry or intothe reconstruction training scheme withthe least possible confusion.University and technical training courses have been made availableto 220,000 persons. That is a staggering achievement in the light of the difficulties which had to be overcome in ordertoprovide adequate training centres,equipment and tutorial staffs. According tothe latest figures, thenumber of men and women undergoingreconstructiontraining isnow 170,000. Courses have been completed by 34,000 trainees. The scheme provides for all recognized professions and trades. Thereare 400 full-time courses of instruction. There are 2,000 trainees studying medicine, 2,000 trainee nurses, 1,100 dentistry students, 2,500traineeteachers and 3,400 pupils studying engineering and architecture. Reconstructioncourses in clude science, law, theology, economics, arts, veterinary science, and professional agricultural sciences.
We allknow to oursorrow that the
Housing situation isveryacute and that it is largely a legacy ofthe inactionof anti-labour governments “which, ‘for manyyears,neglected opportunities to rectifythe shortage. Anti-Labour governments had complete control of this country when there were no shortages of men or materials. Tor a period of five or six years duringthe last war, construction ofhouses had practically ceased altogether.It stands to reason thatthe acute positionexistingin this country prior to the war was aggravated during the war years by the cessation ofbuilding and the existing shortage in Australia and right throughout the world. It is quite obvious that itwill take a longtime for the housing position toreturn to normal. There are 18,000 buildingtradesmen either trainedor training under the Common wealthReconstruction TrainingScheme. These trainees will ‘be of great assistance whenthey are fully trained andwill givea greatimpetus to theGovernment’s endeavourto overcome thehousing shortage.Up to thepresent an amountof£23,00,000 has been expended in the training scheme and it:is estimated that the ultimateexpenditure will be about£80,000,000. The average cost of training anindividual for one of the professions is£l,200 and for technical training£540.Would any honorable memberof theOpposition suggest that the Government should curtail the training ofex-service personnel and make a furtherreduction of expenditure attheir expenseby reducing expenditure on these training courses? We should do everything possible to rehabilitate those men and women uponwhom we depended for our safety during the war. When the people consider the colossal figures involvedin thesuccessfulrehabilitation and repatriation of those personnel I believe they will realize that in effecting the reduction in taxation which it has made this Government has done a jobno otherparty couldhave hoped to do.
Turning to the criticism levelled against the Government because of shortages, we must realize that a great proportion of Australia’s imports has necessarily had to be restricted, particularly when they derive from dollar areas. The Government has no control over the dollar scarcity, and obviously until the dollar position improves imports from dollar countries must be restricted. In this budget the Australian Government is making available the sum of £10,500,000for price stabilization subsidies. Statementshave been madeby members of the Opposition that because the Australian Government “has withdrawn certain subsidies the effect will be that prices of the commodities concerned will rise. I repeat what has been said before, that the members of the Opposition spared no effort, and their supporters spared no funds, to ensure that the recent referendum on prices control wouldbedefeated. They misled and confused the people with a tirade of misrepresentations, untruths and half-truths to defeat the Governments referendum proposals. The Government stated definitely thatit did not withdrawthose subsidies out ofspite or pique, but purely and simply because it could not be expected to paysubidies ongoods whenit had no control over the prices ofthose goods. “Such a course would beneither logical nor sound, nor is it reasonable for honorablemembers of the Opposition to say that the withdrawal of those subsidies is any thing but their own fault.
Withregard to thesettlement of soldiers on the land the Governmenthas learned the lessontaught to it by antiLabour governments which were inpower afterWorldWarI. Honorablemembers will recall howex-servicemen were settled on the land in those days. ‘They were properly “ settled “, in thetrue meaningof theword.It is the aimofthisGovernment to ensure that the samemistakesand errorsas occurred after World War I.shall not occur again. The Government’s achievements inthe settlement of soldiers on the land since the cessation of hostilities in 1945 are notable. The latest figures available are tor the period ended the 30th June, 1948. Chey show that proposals made by the States for settlement of soldiers numbered 1,045, covering an area of 7,500,000 acres. At the same date the Common.wealth had approved of 827 properties with an area of nearly 6,000,000 acres for soldier settlement and of 814 properties with an area of nearly 6,000,000 acres for acquisition. The Commonwealth had also approved the acquisition of 286 single holding farms covering and area of over 2,500,000 acres. Up to date 1,427 holdings have been allotted to exservicemen. In the light of those figures the criticism heard in this chamber and in another place, lacks any real substance and is purely destructive. The critics have suggested no alternative ; they have debated these questions from a negative angle ignoring the obligation to suggest an alternative. It is very easy at any time merely to offer destructive criticism; but when one advocates that some things should be demolished one should propose a substitute. Honorable senators opposite have merely endeavoured to mislead the people. The Opposition parties succeeded in misleading the people of Victoria at the recent elections in that State, and, they are prepared to adopt the same tactics in respect of any subject that is discussed in the Parliament.
The Government’s proposal to establish a new shipping line has been criticized in the press. All of us realize this country’s dependence upon shipping services. The Melbourne Herald in its editorial of the 1st September last, attacked the Government’s proposal. However, as I have stated on previous occasions, the Opposition parties, when in power, seized the first opportunity presented to them to dispose of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers after World War I. In fact, they gave away that line to private enterprise.
The Opposition parties, in their criticism of the proposed reduction of taxes are merely endeavouring to hoodwink the people. Those parties have a favorable press. Aided by the newspapers and the banks, they are prepared to resort to any tactics that will help to defeat thisGovernment. They are due for a rude awakening. I have sufficient faith in the Australian people to feel confident that they will return this Government at the general elections next year. They will do that if only for the reason that every section of the community to-day is enjoying unprecedented prosperity. In order to give some indication of the tactics to which the Opposition parties are prepared to resort in order to defeat Labour at the next general elections, I shall read a circular letter which has been distributed among bank employees. This letter bears a very familiar address - 271 Collinsstreet, Melbourne. Honorable senators will recall that most of the telegrams and letters of protest received by Victorian members of the Government against its banking legislation emanated from that address. This letter, which was issued on the 9th of this month, in the name of the Bank Employees’ Protest Committee, reads -
Analysis of the High Court judgment as out lined in the accompanying booklet shows quite clearly .that in the struggle for our existence we are by no means out of the wood.
Irrespective of the decision of the Privy Council, the ultimate result rests, more firmly now than ever, upon public opinion and event? in the political sphere. The plain fact is that our independence cannot be assured while there remains in power a Federal Government whose avowed intention is to destroy the trading bunks. The only way in which the people - and ourselves - can have a decisive victory in this campaign is to remove from office the Government which instituted the attack upon us. While that Government is determined to use all the means at its command to prosecute its dictatorial policy against the banks, we must do all in our power to build up and maintain opposition to its policy. Every opportunity - particularly such as may .occur with the bringing down of amending legislation - must be exploited to the full.
Wo must not be deceived and allow ourselves to be lulled into a false sense of security, even if we win the Privy Council case.- The present Government knows there is more than one way of achieving its purpose. Our ultimate salvation lies in doing our utmost, individually and collectively,’ to organize public opinion against the disastrous consequence? of returning to power a government which has shown itself determined to destroy the banks in a major stride towards the socialistic control of industry and the individual.
We are assured on good authority that everything points to our ability to preserve between now and the next federal election the trading bank system more or less as it stands to-day. But its final fate hangs on the election result. During the next few months mem- bers of the committee will endeavour to visit as many centres as possible to discuss with officers proposals for stimulating and extending our organization.
Honorable senators will note a similarity between that letter and the arguments which are advanced by the Opposition parties. All we hear from the latter to-day is their talk about the “ red stream of communism “. Previously, they applied such catch cries as “ bolsheviks “ and “ I.W.W.’s “ to Labour representatives. As I have said, honorable senators opposite have not offered any constructive criticism of the budget. Indeed, if they were honest they would commend it. Because they are devoid of argument they resort to abuse; and the use of abuse in debate is a clear indication of the lack of argument on thepart of those who indulge in it. The Opposition parties, with the aid of the banks and the press - I should say the “ sup-press “, because our newspapers suppress everything which’ opponents of Labour do not want the people to know - are out to destroy the Government. I warn the people that if they are hoodwinked by the propaganda of a party which is obliged frequently to change its name because it realizes its political impotence - a fact to which the people are at last awakening - this country will be put back a generation economically and socially. I commend the budget which I regard as the best that has been brought down in the history of the Parliament. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act -
Repatriation Commission - Report for year 1945-46.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Labour and National Service - K. J. Bilsborrow,H. E. Heitsch.
Repatriation - F. Rewell.
Supply and Development - H. S. Edgell,
H. Johnstone,P. M. McGregor, I. A. Mumme, J. J. Veevers, D. A. Woodman.
Works and Housing - J. W. Rees.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for
Defence purposes - South Plympton, South Australia.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 September 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1948/19480922_senate_18_198/>.