18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Senate, on the 17th March, 1949, adjourned to a date and hour to he fixed by the President and to be notified to each honorable senator.
The Senate met pursuant to such notification.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Shipping Bill 1949.
Seamen’s Compensation Bill 1949.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Bill 1949..
Papua and New Guinea Bill 1949.
Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1949.
Northern Territory Representation Bill 1949.
Australian Captital Territory Representation Bill 1949.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction in a position to advise the Senate with respect to the reparations that have been received by Australia from Germany ?
– As the honorable senator had the courtesy to inform me of his intention to ask a question on the matter to which he has referred, I am in a position to supply the information. Regular shipments of reparations previously allocated are still being received in Australia, and at the present time there is a shipment of more than 1,000 tons of machinery on the water. As things stand at present, further shipments can be expected during the next twelve months. I point out that it usually takes about four months after allocation before the goods are’ shipped. During that four months the Australian reparations team in Germany has to have the equipment dismantled, greased, packed and railed to port. Australia, together with other allies, is entitled to share in reparations from Germany. The Australian quota is approximately 1 per cent, of the total value of plant, machinery or ships to be removed from Germany.
For the preparation and submission of bids for reparations items, the staff of the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission in London has been utilized. Since July, 1946, an Australian Stores team of approximately six members has been located in Germany to supervise the dismantling, packing and shipping of reparations items to Australia. During this period Australia has been awarded plant and equipment to the value of approximately £750,000 in Australian money. The total number of items awarded is 2,750. These range from small electric motors to 5,000-ton presses. We . have also obtained one modern diesel engine coastal vessel. The equipment awarded to Australia is against claims made on the basis of our known requirements. Therefore, on arrival in Australia the equipment is eagerly sought by government factories and private industry. Although entitled to only approxi- mately 1 per cent., Australia has been awarded 1.4 per cent, of the total allocation.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction indicate whether the
– Proposals by the State Government for the acquisition of the property mentioned by the honorable senator have been approved for the purpose he has indicated. It comprises’ approximately 2,300 acres, and will be suitable for both sheep raising and wheat farming. In Western Australia 370’ properties, of a total area of more than
I, 000,000 acres, have been approved for acquisition for the settlement of ex- servicemen on the land.
– On the 16th March, I addressed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction concerning the acquisition of properties in New South Wales for the settlement of ex-servicemen. Can the Minister now supply me with an answer ?
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has- supplied me with the text of a personal explanation on the subject which he made in the House of Representatives on the 16th March. It is as follows: -
It is reported in at least two of this mornings’ newspapers that Mr. W. P. Sheehan, theNew South Wales Minister for Lands, stated yesterday in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales that I had issued an inaccurate and misleading statement. I quote from this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald as follows : -
He was referring to a report that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, Mr. Dedman, had announced that the Government had acquired six properties in New South Wales for soldier settlement.
Mr. Sheahan said the statement was “ inaccurate and misleading “, but as no denial had been- made he assumed it wau official. “ I do not know the reason for Mr. Dedman’s statement “, he said.
I have before me a copy of the actual statement that I issued to the press regarding those six properties.The statement reads as follows : -
The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction announced to-day that, during this week, he had approved of the acquisition of six properties in New South Wales - Plain View (Gunnedah District), Mirriam (Dubbo), Lucern (Canowindra), Lantrys (West Maitland), Glenconnor (Parkes), and Benditti (Walcha), aggregating 17,731 acres, to provide fourteen holdings under the war service land settlement scheme. . .
Honorable members will recall that, under the terms of the agreement that was entered into by the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales regarding the acquisition of properties for soldier settlement, the Commonwealth’s approval of such acquisition is necessary. That is all that I said in the statement that I have quoted. That is a perfectly accurate and true account of the position. On behalf of the Commonwealth Government I did approve of the acquisition of those six properties on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. . . the Commonwealth hears a considerable portion of the cost of any lands acquired for the settlement of ex-servicemen that come under this particular agreement. The statement that I made to the press was accurate and was not misleading in any way. I did not make any statement that the Commonwealth had acquired any property whatsoever in New South Wales.
– On behalf of Senator Critchley, who is at present abroad, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether he has yet obtained an answer to a question concerning land settlement of ex-servicemen which the honorable senator asked him during the last sitting period of the Senate?
– On the 16th March last, Senator Critchley asked me a question concerning the provision of funds for the acquisition of properties for purposes of the war service land settlement scheme. As promised, I have made inquiries of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction concerning this matter, and now inform him that the position is as follows : -
In accordance with the agreements between the Commonwealth and the various States, the States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are regarded as principal States, whilst South Australia. Western Australia and Tasmania are agent States. Dealing first with the principal States, I would point out that the agreements require the States to providethe whole of the capital for investment in the acquisition, development and improvement of land for settlement and for advances to settlers. This capital is actually found from the proceeds of public loans raised by the Commonwealth on behalf of the States. The funds are made available to the States on terms requiring them to recoup the Commonwealth interest paid to bond-holders and to pay for 53 years a sinking fund contribution at the rate of as. per cent, per annum on the amount of the loan funds. The Commonwealth also makes a contribution to the sinking fund at the rate of 5s. per cent, per annum on the loan funds for a similar period. Thesinking fund contributions are not accumulated but are used to purchase outstanding loans which are then cancelled. On cancellation of a debt, the States arc relieved of payment of interest on that debt hut must pay to the sinking fund an additional contribution at the rate of 4½ per cent, per annum on the debt cancelled. The Commonwealth contribution to the sinking fund is a subsidy to the States which is given without regard to the use to which the States put the funds.
In return Cor money expended by the States on the purchase of land for the settlement of ex-servicemen, the States acquire a tangible asset which, if they buy at the right price, is worth the money spent. If, for example, the arrangements under which land is made available to ex-servicemen provide for the return by the settlers to the State of the whole of the capital invested, then the State is in a position to make a capital profit on its investment in land settlement equal to the Commonwealth subsidy to the State sinking fund. The same applies to funds made availableto settlers by way of advances for working capital, paying for and effecting improvements, and the acquisition of stock, plant and equipment. Thus, there is no foundation for the claim that the provision by the State of capital funds for soldier settlement necessarily involves the State in any cost whatever. The sinking fund subsidy paid by the Commonwealth is. however, a real cost to the Commonwealth which cannot be recovered.
The New South Wales Government makes its lands available to soldier settlers on perpetual lease carrying an annual rental of 2½ per cent, of the cost of theland and ground improvements. If it is assumed that the State pays interest at the rate of 31/3 per cent, per annum on the loan funds employed in soldier settlement, then it is clear that, until the loans are paid off. the rental rate fixed by the State is concessional and results in cost to the State. This is purely a State decision, as the Commonwealth has no power to dictate the terms andconditions of tenure, but it is probable that the State took into account the fact that the State would receive the Com- monwealth’s subsidy to the State Debts Sinking Fund and the fact that, after the loans are paid off, it will receive, in perpetuity, rentals inrespect of theland which is then free of any liability to the State.
The real costs of soldier settlement are. however, firstly, any sums by which the costs of acquisition, development and improvement if holdings may be written down. These ousts are shared equally by the Commonwealth and these States. Secondly, any loss incurred by tho.se Stales in makin, advances to sett.ers is a cost nf settlement which also is shared equally between the State and Commonwealth Governments. Costs of administration of the State and the Commonwealth authorities an’ borne by the respective governments, with the exception that certain costs of administration incurred by the States are capitalized with the total costs of settlement and, if written off are shared equally by the Commonwealth and the State. The Commonwealth and the State also share equally the costs of remissions of rent and interest on advances granted to thu settler during the first year of occupation of his holding. Excluding the subsidy paid by the Commonwealth by way of sinking fund contributions on the State loan funds employed in soldier settlement, it is evident that, up to this point, after taking into account the fact that the State hits acquired a valuable and permanent asset in the land, the costs of war service land settlement are shared by the Commonwealth and the State on a fifty-fifty basis. However, there are other costs, such as the cost, of rural training provided to applicants for soldier settlement anl living allowances granted to settlers during the first year of settlement, which are met entirely bv the Commonwealth the State making no contribution at all.
With regard to the agent States, the Commonwealth provides the whole of the capital for investment in thu acquisition, development and improvement of land for settlement, and for advances to settlers but any sums by which the cost of acquisition, development and improvement of holdings may be written down, arc shared by the Commonwealth and the States on the basis of three-fifths and twofifths respectively. The rentals of the holdings, fi ,ed in accordance with the agreements, are paid to the Commonwealth when received by the. State. Costs of administration of these States and the Commonwealth arc also borne by the respective governments with the exception that certain costs of administration incurred by the Slates are capitalized with the total costs of settlement and, if written off. are borne by the Commonwealth and the State on the basis of three-fifth’s and two-fifths respectively. The cost of remissions of rent and interest on advances granted to the settler during the first year of occupation of his holding is borne entirely by the Commonwealth as are also any losses incurred in making advances to the settlers. The cost of rural training and living allowances ‘* also a Commonwealth responsibility.
– Her Majesty Queen Victoria, on the 17th September, 1900, signed the proclamation establishing the Commonwealth of Australia. As next year will mark the 50th anniver sary of Australia’s existence as a nation, will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel make representations to the Government to celebrate fittingly that important occasion in our country’s history?
– 1 shall bring the honorable senator’s request to the notice of the Prime Minister.
– In view of the confusion which if, likely to arise as the result of the High Court’s judgment declaring petrol rationing to be invalid, is the Minister for Shipping and Fuel in a position to make a statement on the matter to the Senate?
– As the Leader of the Opposition has suggested the position in respect of petrol rationing is somewhat confused. Yesterday afternoon a meeting of representatives of the major oil companies was held in Melbourne, and to-morrow afternoon those representatives will hold a meeting at Canberra which the Prime Minister and I will attend. I do not think that I could give a better explanation of the position as it exists at present than to read a statement that was made on the subject by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives. With the consent of honorable senators, I shall read that statement. It is as follows: -
A unanimous decision of the High Court delivered yesterday has ruled the National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations to be invalid. The High Court was not, of course, called upon to express any view on the relationship of petrol rationing to the sterling area dollar problem or on the necessity for limiting consumption of petrol in order to save dollars. The issue before the court was to determine whether control of internal distribution of liquid fuel under the National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations represented a Imitimate exercise of the Commonwealth’s defence power. In setting out the reasons for t’-e indiment invalidating the National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations, the High Court made the following comment: -
The invalidation of these regulations will not reduce the power of the Commonwealth Government to co-operate with the Government of the United Kingdom in relation to problems arising from the dollar shortage. The Commonwealth Parliament bv suitable legislation and the Commonwealth by administrative action can completely control imports into Australia. The power of the Commonwealth enables it to determine bow many dollars can bespent from Australia in buying either liquid fuel or other imported commodities. Federal control of dollar expenditure is not in question. . . . The distribution and use and price of petrol within Australia can be controlled under State legislation.
The High Court judgment does not affect in any way the general financial situation which has made it necessary to limit the consumption of petrol and other petroleum products in Australia. 1 dealt with this situation in considerable detail in the statementthatI made in the House on the 25th May and do not propose to repeat these details now.
In the course of his personal message to which I referred in the House on the 25th May, the United Kingdom Chancellor ofthe Exchequer said quite categorically - and I quote his own words -
Immediate increases in the consumption of oil generally in thesterling area are bound to lead to an increased dollar drain on the sterling area reserves. . . . While a large expansion programme for sterling oil is proceeding, this will not bear fruit for a considerable time. In the meantime, I should be grateful -for your cooperation in ensuring that petrol is not increasingly used for less essential purposes.
I am eatisfied that at the present, and for some considerable time to come, it will continue to be necessary to exercise economy in the con- sumption of petrol and other petroleum products in order to avoid a further drain on the central gold and dollar reserves of the sterling area. It is the firm policy of the Government to co-operate to the fullest possible extent with the United Kingdom Government in the measures which are necessary to meet the sterling area dollar shortage.
There is no question of any challenge to the Commonwealth’s power to control imports of petrol and other petroleum products. It is clear, however, that chaotic conditions could develop rapidly if no effective system of rationing is provided by the State Governments to take the place of the ‘Commonwealth rationing scheme, which has now been declared invalid by the court.
Accordingly, I sent a telegram last night to each of the six State Premiers in the following terms: -
As a result of High Court decision announced to-day petrol rationing by the Commonwealth Government is no longer effective. To meet the extra demand for oil products generally, which is likely to result from this decision, would undoubtedly require a considerable increase in imports. However, despite recent reports to the contrary, any additional oil consumption by Australia would add to the net dollar cost of oil supplied to countries of the sterling area. The present acute dollar shortage, and our obligation to the United Kingdom to play our part, as a member of the sterling area, in keeping dollar expenditure to a minimum, necessitates the continued limitation of oil imports to about thepresent level.
In my view, therefore, it is most important that the States should immediately consider instituting an effective system of petrol rationing as soon as possible, otherwise chaotic conditions could develop rapidly. The constitutional position is such that this matter can now be dealt with only by the States. I should be glad if you would give this question immediate consideration and advise me of your views.
A meeting of representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the oil companies . has been called in Melbourne for to-morrow afternoon to consider the situation.
In addition to that, the Government has intimated to the Premiers “that it is prepared to bear the cost of any rationing scheme that they may implement. I hope that that statement will satisfy the Leader of the Opposition. I issue a warning to people who are clamouring for petrol and stampeding to obtain supplies. I think that they are ill-advised to hoard stocks. Hoarding may be detrimental to persons who are not in a favorable position to procure extra supplies and therefore would suffer as the result of inequitable distribution. There is no need for any rush to secure petrol at present. Stocks in the country are ample to satisfy the needs of the people. Up to date, no essential users have had to go short of petrol.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether the Government would consider providing money for the water brigades at Lismore and Grafton. As a result, the Government was good enought to refer the matter to the Premier of New South Wales and I understand that the State Government has announced that it is prepared to provide money for the brigades on a fifty-fifty basis with the municipal councils at Lismore and Grafton. As these water brigades are not associated with the activities of local government authorities, as they are generally understood, I now ask the Minister whether the Government will give consideration to providing 50 per cent, of the money required by the brigades, because their workis of a national character.
– I recall that the honorable senator raised this matter some time ago, after which I took it up with the Premier of New South Wales as I promised to do. I have not had any official intimation along the lines mentioned by the honorable senator, but I shall have inquiries made. It is some.what pleasing for the Australian Government to know that it is asked to provide only half of the money that is needed. In most cases of this kind, it has to provide more than that.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral what improvements are contemplated to the telephone services between Hobart and Launceston and between Launceston and Melbourne.
– The PostmasterGeneral’s Department has a big programme of works to be completed in Tasmania, and I cannot say off-hand exactly what is to be done in connexion with the telephone services between Hobart, Launceston and Melbourne. I shall obtain the information and supply it to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
Standardization of Gauges
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Transport inform the Senate whether any agreement has been reached between the Commonwealth and the Government of Western Australia with relation to the standardization of railway gauges in that State? If not, can he indicate whether there is any likelihood of agreement being reached in the near future?
– The Minister for Transport was in communication with the Western Australian Government when the honorable senator directed a similar question to me some time ago. I shall ascertain what stage has been reached in consultations and inform the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture inform the Senate (a) what tonnage of rice was produced in Australia during 1948; (&) what tonnage was exported during 1948, the countries to which it was exported, and the quantities sent to the respective countries; and (c) what quantity was released in Australia for consumption by people, other than Australians, whose natural food is rice. As rice is one of the commodities included in the basic wage regimen, can the Minister say when restrictions on the purchase of this commodity by the Australian people will be lifted ?
– The control of rice is administered by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and I understand that consideration has been given to this matter recently. Although I am unable to answer the honorable senator’s question fully off-hand, I shall obtain the information sought and supply it to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
– Since the Commonwealth relinquished control of the distribution of tobacco and cigarettes, control has been vested in the trade. In Victoria I understand that it is administered by the Victorian Tobacco Trade Distribution Committee. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate whether the Government has any say in the activities of that committee? I point out that the committee’s official letter-paper does not bear any address but only a post office box number, and nobody appears to know who are the persons that comprise the committee. My question has been prompted by the fact that no matter how strong a case is made out for an increased quota, or a new quota, the answer is invariably “ No “.
– It is true that the ‘ Commonwealth does not now control the distribution of tobacco. As honorable senators axe aware, the Commonwealth did exercise control of that commodity during wartime, but the people in their wisdom decided at -a referendum that the Commonwealth should relinquish that control. As the responsibility in that connexion now rests with the tobacco trade, I am afraid that anything that the Commonwealth may do would not be of great assistance in the matter mentioned by the honorable senator. Although I have personally endeavoured to assist exservicemen and others who considered that they had been unfairly treated in the matter of the distribution of tobacco, I have not been able to accomplish anything tangible because the control of tobacco is entirely outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth.
– Some time ago figures relating to the Australian manufacturing economy and new capital investment up to June, 1948, were published. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction inform the Senate whether any additional figures have been compiled, and whether any later information is available?
– I am in possession of figures relative to both the periods mentioned by the honorable senator. A review covering the period September 1945, to June, 1948, shows that new capital investment totalled £144,000,000, covering 2,404 new and expanding manufacturing businesses. Figures now available show that in the following six months, up to December, 1948, 685 projects were announced. These consisted of 556 entirely new ventures, and 129 expansions of operations by existing companies. These projects make provisions for an ultimate investment of nearly £30,000,000.
Treatment of Inmates and Relatives
– Will the Minister for Health inform the Senate what stage negotiations with the Health Departments of the States have reached with relation to the payment of hospital benefits in respect of patients in mental hospitals? Is there any prospect of the early relief of the financial burden at . present borne by the relatives of such patients?
– I looked into this matter some days ago and found that in only two States, South Australia and Tasmania, had relevant legislation been passed and the necessary agreements signed. Mental patients’ benefits have been in operation in both of those States since the 1st April. I understand, however, that all States have approved of the principle of mental hospital benefits, although they have not yet enacted legislation or completed the agreements. I assure the Senate that the Government desires that these agreements should be concluded so that the relatives of mental patients can be relieved of charges for their accommodation in mental homes. I hope that the remaining States will speedily complete their legislation and sign the agreements that have been presented to them.
– Since the control of the distribution of imported motor cars has been relinquished by the Commonwealth, considerable discontent has been evident in the community because of the alleged unfair methods of distribution. As this is apparently in the nature of a disaster for the average iverson will the Minister for Trade and Customs examine the matter to see whether an improvement can be effected?
– There was considerable discontent when the Commonwealth controlled the distribution of motor vehicles.
– Everybody thought that it would be possible to obtain new motor cars easily when the Commonwealth relinquished control.
– That is so. It was thought that if the responsibility was placed in the hands of the motor trade itself, distribution would bc carried out in a fair and reasonable manner. I am not making any accusation against the companies in that connexion. I do not know whether distribution is being carried out on a reasonably fair basis or not. In Queensland, the trade is in close association with the State authori ses in connexion with the distribution of motor vehicles, and I understand that priority has been given to people in country areas. The National Government has no control over the distribution of new motor vehicles, and I do not think that any good purpose would be served by the Government making a review of the present system of distribution, which is controlled by the trade. We can only hope for the best.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether a shipment of butter that was intended for Great Britain was diverted to Canada? If so, can he advise what quantity of butter was so diverted during 1948? Will he also indicate what quantity was diverted from the United Kingdom to other countries during last year?
– I shall bring the question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture for reply. However, I assure the honorable senator that any butter that was intended to be shipped to Great Britain was diverted to some other country only after consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Development aware that there is a serious shortage of carpenters’ rules throughout Australia thus causing inconvenience to tradesmen and to exservicemen who are receiving training under the reconstruction training scheme? Will the Minister inquire whether it is possible to augment the supply of those articles?
– I am aware that carpenters’ rules, like many other articles, are still in short supply. The supply of such articles is a matter for arrangement with local manufacturers and between Australian importers and overseas manufacturers, and is beyond the control of the Government. However, I shall approach representatives of the trade to ascertain whether anything oan be done to improve the supply.
Emergency Wireless Equipment
– Some time ago representations were made to the Post master-General by a flood prevention and relief committee from the Northern Rivers of New South Wales to obtain “ walkie-talkie or two-way wireless sets to be used to warn people in flood emergencies. The Minister stated that those facilities were being provided at certain points and that sets would also be installed at other points. Can he now indicate at what places those facilities have been provided?
– At the moment I cannot supply the information sought by the honorable senator, but I shall make inquiries and obtain that information for him.
Postal and Telegraphic Communications
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following is the reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
The matter is one which has been the subject of review by the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department of External Territories, and discussions are still proceeding between both departments with a view to determining the most satisfactory arrangements for the control and operation of posta.1 and telegraphic communications in Papua and New Guinea. It is not possible at this stage to indicate the actual nature of the organization which will finally be set up in the territories. The honorable senator may rest assured that the interests of residents in Papua and New Guinea will be kept in mind in developing the organization.
Transport of Migrants - “ Reynella
asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice : -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Station 4KQ Queensland.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will the Postmaster-General ascertain if it ls true, as reported in the Brisbane Sunday Hail of the 13th March, 1949, that the Labour party’s broadcasting station in Queensland, 4KQ, has announced it will not accept advertising or . propaganda material from other political bodies, and that it has made this announcement since the passing of the new Australian Broadcasting Act, which was to provide for equality in broadcasting opportunity ?
– The following is the reply to the honorable senator’s question :-
Licensees of commercial broadcasting stations may broadcast political matter subject to the provisions of section 89 of the Australian Broadcasting Act. Under the act, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is required to “ ensure that facilities are provided on an equitable basis for the broadcasting of political or controversial matter “ and no doubt the board, which commenced operations only on the loth March, will give due consideration to all aspects, of the. matter.
Accident’ at Bilinga AerodromeESSENDON Aerodbome - Aircraft “ MacMillan “.
asked, the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
In view of the tragic accident that occurred on the 10th March, 1949, at Bilinga aerodrome,, near Coolangatta, Queensland, involving the loss of 21 lives in a Lockheed Lodestar aircraft, will the Minister consider incorporating in the terms of the inquiry that will be set up, the question as to whether, in view of the increased running costs and .the subsequent reduction in profit margin, there is any lessening in efficiency in the servicing and maintenance of aircraft, and whether, as a result, a sufficient margin of safety is being maintained by the operating companies concerned ?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer: -
In addition to general supervision by aircraft surveyors of the activities of licensed ground engineers employed by the operating companies, the department receives reports of mechanical defects for the purpose of endeavouring to observe any trend towards lowering of standards or the desirability of incorporating modifications in particular types of equipment. The mechanical defects figure for 1947 per 1,000 hours flown was 8.73 and that for 1948, 8.66. These figures do not support a suggestion that the standard of maintenance may be falling, nor does any other information reaching the department, lead, it to believe this to be the case.
asked .the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable senator’s questions, the following information has been received from the Australian Broadcasting Commission : -
In connexion with item 5 of the question, there is no evidence to indicate that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is being used as apolitical propaganda organization.
– I lay onthe table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Felt for use in the manufacture of tennis balls.
Ordered to be printed.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I take this opportunity to bring to the notice of the Senate the urgent need to increase the rates of pensions payable in respect of war disabilities. During the recent parliamentary recess I attended meetings of sub-branches of service organizations in various parts of Queensland, and this subject was fully discussed at many of those meetings. The time has arrived when the Government should give serious consideration to increasing the present rates of pensions of this kind. It is difficult to ascertain the Teal basis on which the rates of these pensions were originally fixed prior to 1920. It would appear that regard was paid to the relationship of the rates to the basic wage at that time ; but the real basis on which the rates were fixed has always remained obscure. No enlightenment on that point was furnished when the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act was consolidated in 1920. In 1942, the Government appointed an all-party committee of exservice members of the Parliament for the following purpose : -
To inquire into and report upon the general question of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act and the amendments, if any, which the committee recommends as desirable in the light of the conditions caused by the present war.
That had reference to World War II. The committee consisted of two senators and four members of the
House of Representatives representing equally the ministerial party and the Opposition. The committee presented its report to the Parliament on the 2Sth January, 1943, and it is pleasing to note that its recommendations were embodied almost in their entirety in the amending bill which was passed later that year. That measure was the outcome of the first complete overhaul of our repatriation legislation since the original act was passed 33 years ago. The committee in paragraph 24 of its report stated -
The Committee found that there waa reasonable ground for a general increase of the rates of war pensions. An outstanding feature in this regard waa the comparison of rates of pay to members of the forces and allowances to their dependants with the same items in respect of the 1914 war.
It would appear that the committee definitely related the basic rate of the disability pension to the rates of pay and allowances which a member of the forces would have received had he retained perfect health and been able to carry on his job. The committee in paragraph 28 of its report stated -
The Committee considers that it would be reasonable to approve of a general increase of 20 per cent.
That increase of the rates was given effect in the amending bill which was passed in 1943. I hardly need to say that this matter is above party politics. I am confident that every member of the Parliament and the people of Australia as a whole are anxious to ensure that those who suffered injury while serving in the defence of this country should be adequately compensated for such disabilities. The provision of war pensions is a national responsibility, and must be made entirely independently of budgetary considerations. We remember that no shortage of funds prevented acceptance of the services of these men in the defence forces. In addition, a war pension is payable to a disabled ex-serviceman regardless of his financial position. For instance, a man, with an income of £1,000 a year, who lost an arm on active service receives the same amount of compensation as does another whose income is £350 a year or less. All governments have observed that principle. Regardless of a pensioner’s calling or financial circumstances it is recognized that a war-caused disability involves hardship and loss of earning capacity. One might describe these pensioners as brothers in adversity. There are still anomalies in the repatriation law. and no doubt there always will be. It may be argued, for instance, that a lawyer who has lost an arm and a leg is still able to maintain a lucrative practice whereas a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner, unable to earn more than a negligible percentage of a living wage, is expected to exist on hie war pension, which is limited to £5 6a. per week. I recently received a letter from the Limbless Soldiers Association in Queensland pointing out that the Government appears to overlook the fact that, whereas an age pensioner has enjoyed a full life with the use of all his limbs and faculties, a disabled ex-serviceman is a person who was permanently injured while still in the prime of life and has been at a disadvantage ever since
I do not belittle in any way the Government’s efforts to provide a better deal for civilian pensioners, but I point out that, in pursuing that objective, it seems to have lost sight of the needs of war pensioners, without whose sacrifices and sufferings this nation could not have continued in existence. It has increased its payments to civilian pensioners from time to time so as to enable those very deserving members of the community to combat the rising cost of living. In 1941, the rate of the age and invalid pension was 22s. 6d. a week. To-day it is 42s. 6d. a week, an increase of 89 per cent. I shall not discuss the adequacy or otherwise of that increase. I merely state the fact in support of my appeal for a better deal for disabled ex-servicemen. “We know that the cost of food and groceries has increased by over 50 per cent, and that the cost of clothing and footwear has increased by over 110 per cent, since 1939. The age and invalid pension is related to the cost of living, and therefore the pension rate has been increased just as the basic wage and other wages and salaries paid throughout the community have been increased.
– War pensions are not dependent upon the Statistician’s figures.
-That is true, and I do not dispute the fact. War pensions have never been related to the cost of living or anything of that sort. Disabled exse:vicemen have had to rely upon the liberality of the people for fair and equitable treatment. I believe that members of this Parliament and the people generally wish to provide disabled exservicemen with the best treatment that they can possibly have. In citing the 89 per cent, increase of the age and invalid pension rate since 1939, I am seeking to make a comparison in the interests of war pensioners. In 1941, an ex-serviceman suffering 100 per cent, incapacity received a pension of 42s. a week. To-day he receives 5os. per week, ail increase of only 31 per cent. Admittedly, he is permitted to supplement his pension with any other income that he may be able to earn, but we must remember that he has suffered a severe handicap over the years in competing for jobs with other citizens. Many disabled ex-servicemen have not been able to obtain work on that account. That fact should be taken into consideration in calculating war pension rates. The situation of a totally and permanently incapacitated or blinded ex-member of the forces provides a striking example in support of my argument. In 1941, such a man received £4 a week. To-day he receives £5 6s. a week. His pension has been increased by 32.5 per cent, instead of by 89 per cent., the proportion of increase of the age pension over the same period. I do not wish to reduce the rate of the age and invalid pension. I merely refer to it for the purpose of comparison. The majority of age pensioners enjoyed full possession of health and faculties before they qualified for the pension.
– That is not necessarily so.
– I am not referring to invalid pensioners.
– Would not the invalid pensioner provide a fair comparison ?
– Why not make a fair comparison?
-I am doing so. The war pensioner has sustained a certain degree of disability in fighting for his. country. His situation is entirely different from that of an invalid who has unfortunately become ill in the ordinary course of his peace-time avocation. The needs of war widows were investigated by an all-party committee of this Parliament and at present the War Widows Guild, under the capable leadership of Mrs. Vasey, is pressing for payment of higher rates of compensation to them. As I said earlier, it appears that there never has been a definite formula for the calculation of war pensions. That is one of the ma jo* causes of the present anomalous situation.
The Government should give immediate consideration to a method of determining a fair basis for the calculation of war pension rates in the interests of tha hundreds of thousands of Australians who are affected. In establishing a formula, it is essential that pensioners should be adequately compensated for their injuries. The nature and severity of a man’s disability should be the guiding factor. The mere potential earning capacity of a pensioner, if he were in full possession of health and strength, should not be taken into consideration in any way. Hi* degree of disability should be the basis of calculation of his entitlement to compensation. The question as to whether war pension rates should fluctuate in accordance with the cost of living should also bo resolved without delay. The proposal to relate war pensions to living costs has been resisted for many years by exservicemen’s organizations. Nevertheless, I consider that it should be examined carefully, especially in the light of the considerable and consistent increases of living costs since 1939. It would be an exceedingly difficult task to convince an incapacitated soldier that the rate of compensation for the loss of, say, an arm, assessed when wages were 12s. a day, should not be doubled if wages have since increased to 24s. a day. The argument in favour of such an increase is sound. The best means of dealing with the problems of war pensions would be to reconstitute the joint parliamentary committee of ex-servicemen. We have exservicemen of World War I. and World War II. in both Houses of this Parliament. 1 believe that the reappointment of such a committee would enable pension difficulties to be ironed out to the satisfaction of the Parliament, the public, and individual pensioners. The main function of such a committee would be to relate pension rates to some definite basis with a view to the proper evaluation of compensation for war-caused incapacity. The recommendations of the committee that sat in 1942 were adopted practically in their entirety. I have no doubt that if the Government would constitute a committee such as I suggest with power to inquire fully into this matter, a fair and equitable report would be presented to the Government. By this means the various ex-servicemen’s organizations would be given an opportunity to air their grievances and make suggestions. Legislation to the mutual satisfaction of the- Parliament and the ex-servicemen’s organizations could then be introduced. I hope that the Government will appoint a committee forthwith to commence this important work as soon as possible.
An examination of the financial position of the country shows that for the first ten months of the present financial year there has been a very substantial surplus over the budget estimate. Although the estimated revenue for the year 1948-49 was £492,000,000 it is now expected that the figure will be about £527,000,000, which is more than £35,000,000 over the estimate. The Government will doubtless contend that it is more satisfactory to have a surplus than a deficit. I point out, however, that such a large surplus proves conclusively that the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) was a long way out when he estimated the year’s revenue Prior to World War II. that amount would have equalled about a third of the annual governmental expenditure.
– But social services were not provided then.
– Expenditure has increased considerably. The anticipated expenditure for the current financial year will be about £524,000,000, which is £14,000,000 more than was estimated. The Treasurer is taking from the taxpayers of this country £35,000,000 more than is- warranted. Such discrepancies have occurred consistently over the last three years. During that period no less than £125,000,0.00 in excess, of the- amount that the Government estimated would be required has been collected from the people of Australia. In view of the government squandering that has taken place I contend that that amount would have served a more useful purpose had it been left in the pockets of the people of this country.
– The honorable senator would find it difficult to justify that assertion.
– Reference has been made by interjection to the fact that social services are now provided. I point out that social services are budgeted for separately each year. Apart from the money in the National Welfare Fund, during the last three years £125,000,000 has been taken from the public beyond what was needed to meet tie normal purposes of government, despite the fact that the huge amount of £524,000,000 will be expended during the current financial year. At present revenue is higher than in the peak war-time year 1942-43.
– That is because of the Government’s policy of full employment.
– At, that, time revenue averaged approximately £40 a head, of the population, and the- revised estimates show that the amount, lias risen to about £70 a head of population in the financial year 1948-49. I cannot agree that this is the result of full employment. I contend that it is the result of the high prices that have been received for. our produce in the world’s markets.
– To a degree that is so.
– I contend that it is entirely so. Furthermore, the Treasurer has been enabled to collect such huge sums of money from the taxpayers only as a result of the taxes levied on the high incomes of primary producers because of the high prices obtained on the world’s markets. Already there has been a fall in prices obtained for our primary products abroad. Should a substantial decrease of prices occur, the Treasurer would experience difficulty in balancing the budget, because he. has failed in the years of plenty to put something aside against- periods of lower incomes. Smaller incomes will result in less revenue by taxation. Although the Treasurer has claimed that taxation has been reduced considerably, I point out that the impost of indirect taxation is still unduly heavy it is one of the causes of the big increase in the cost of living. Senator Nash. - Indirect taxation has been reduced considerably.
– On the contrary, revenue figures prove that larger amounts are now collected as indirect taxes than previously.
– That is because of the larger purchasing power that has been made possible.
– Although indirect taxation has been removed altogether from some items, the bulk of indirect taxation, as shown in the budget figures, is greater than previously. We are living in a state of false prosperity, because we are looking at the production of this country, not in terms of the volume of production, but in terms of money values only. Looked at in terms of value of production, we are not prosperous in any way. Incomes are high because prices are high for all goods produced: To say that we are prosperous from the point of view of money value only is a wrong approach to this matter. What really counts is the value of production1.
– That is world application.
– -Yes. There are 180,000,000 ‘people in the United States of America-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Sena, tor. Nicholls.).: - The honorable- senator should discontinue replying to interjections.
– -There, is a large amount of seasonal, labour in the United States of America. Where that type of labour is employed: a certain, amount of unemployment between, seasons is inevitable. There is a certain amount. of unemployment in. Australia. With seasonal occupations it is inescapable that. men will be out of employment for certain periods. Tie real income per capita, of population to-day is £128 a year, compared with £117 in 1938-39. In other word3, on a per capita basis we are £11 a year better off in purchasing power than in 1938-39. Although in that year we could purchase all of the goods that we wanted to purchase, because they were available, now it is impossible for the people to purchase all of the goods that they should like to buy. Goods are not available, nor are they likely to become available.
– Mention some tha.t are not available.
– Can the honorable senator obtain for me a single ton of fencing wire, a few hundred feet of steel piping, a little bore casing, a couple of tractors, or any of the other essential goods that are in such short supply ?
I turn now to a consideration of the Government’s financial policy. The Government is extracting from the taxpayers approximately £500,000,000 annually, which is more than .five times the total annual revenue before the war. I admit that a substantial portion of its present inflated expenditure is incurred in pro. viding defence, improving social services and increasing pensions, and no one will quarrel with that. However, the increased expenditure on those services does not explain the extent of the increase of taxation that has taken place or justify the excessive amount that is withdrawn from the community in taxes. Government revenue has increased by approximately £400,000,000 annually, aud is now more than five times the annual revenue raised by governments- before the war:
– -That indicates that the Government is doing something.
– It indicates that the Government is frittering the money away. Instead of reducing, the Government is increasing, expenditure. Under the socialistic policy of the present Government the- number of persons employed by the Commonwealth Government has increased from approximately 47,000 in June, 1939, to almost four times that number. I admit that the establishment, of a number of new departments, such as Civil Aviation, requires some increase of the numerical strength of the Public Service, but large numbers of persons are still engaged in unnecessary undertakings, and the Government has made no effort whatever to reduce the number of its employees. The number of government employees has continued to increase, although private enterprise generally, and primary and secondary industry in particular, are desperately short of man-power. If sufficient employment were not available in private enterprise the Government might be justified in making employment available within its departments and undertakings. However, that is not the situation, and our industries, both primary and secondary, are crying out for labour.
– Does the Leader of the Opposition want the public servants to be placed on the land?
– I ignore that remark because interjections are disorderly. During the war our secondary industries were expanded considerably and many new types of goods were manufactured. That came about because of the vulnerability of our sea communications and because it was necessary for us to manufacture the maximum amount of war material. When the war ended our manufacturing industries were converted to the manufacture of goods required in peace-time. Apart from the local demand for our manufactured goods, large markets were available to us overseas. Because of the destruction of plant in many countries during the war, we had a unique opportunity to acquire a share of the world’s markets. Unfortunately we have not taken advantage of the opportunities that offered. We could not do so because our manufacturers were not permitted to produce to the maximum. Production was seriously retarded by strikes and other factors. One of the principal factors in restricting production has been the low output of our basic industries, coal and steel. The production of coal during the past four years has been most disappointing. Notwithstanding that the Government has done everything possible to improve miners’ conditions and to accede to their requests, production has not increased. The minimum requirement of coal for industry last year was estimated at 13,300,000 tons, but only 11,720,000 tons was mined, which was approximately 1,500,000 tons less than we required. The Government could have imported coal from overseas. The requirements of our secondary industries certainly warranted the importation of coal, which could have been obtained from India, South Africa or the United Kingdom. Indeed, I understand that some States have negotiated for the supply of coal from overseas, and that some has already been delivered. The production of steel, which has been seriously retarded by the lack of coal, has also been most disappointing, and steel has had to be imported from overseas. Inadequate supplies of steel have, in turn, adversely affected many secondary industries that are dependent on steel. The shortage of coal has resulted in electrical power having to be rationed, and rail transport of goods and passengers has been seriously disrupted.
– What would the honorable senator do to solve the problem ?
– Coal could have been imported from abroad.
– Is there anything to prevent people from importing coal?
– The Government should have imported it.
– Why should it do so? State governments have imported it, as we are all aware. The supply of coal is not the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, but of the State governments and individuals.
– That is not so; the National Government is responsible for the supply of coal.
– It is not responsible. If it were, we should have entered on a state of socialism, about which we hear so many warnings from honorable senators opposite.
– The first step towards reviving the production of coal would be to change the government at the next general election. The scarcity of coal has retarded all our secondary industries and has also had a serious effect on our primary industries and the disappointingly small output of steel. Last year it was estimated that 1,750,000 tons of steel would be produced, but the actual production was only 1,278,000, or nearly 500,000 tons less than was possible. At the present time, every ton of steel is imported to this country. The Government of New South Wales has had to import steel from Japan at a cost of £42 a ton, compared with £15 a ton for Australian steel. I do not need to remind honorable senators that our steel is the cheapest in the world. lt is evident that something is seriously amiss when we have to import steel at such high prices. The Government of New South Wales has also had to import steel to enable its railways to continue to function. Steel has also been imported from England and Belgium, for water supply undertakings, at a cost of £26 a ton. Our primary industries have also suffered considerably during the last four years and production has been seriously affected because sufficient steel and steel products were not available to them. Instead of improving, the supply position appears to be deteriorating. Fencing wire, steel posts, wire netting, steel piping, bar casing and steel bars for repair work are scarcely procurable, and those who require them have to wait for very considerable periods. Our housing construction programme has also been seriously handicapped by the shortage of steel.
– Thanks to the full employment policy of the Government, every one wants a house now.
– The honorable senator knows quite well in his heart that there is no such thing as full production at present, and. that output could be increased considerably.
– The first essential, of course, is a change of government. Although Labour has held office for many years, it does not seem to have mastered the problem of increasing production. It is prepared to let things drift but, if it is not careful, it will wake-up one day to find that many of our difficulties have become insurmountable. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and his Ministers are continually advocating increased production, although apparently some of their supporters believe that the present output of Australian industries is adequate. I agree whole-heartedly that increased production is one of the first essentials if this country is to be brought out of the mess into which the Labour Government has allowed it to drift. The other essential, as I have said, is a change of government. Calls for increased production are useless unless they are accompanied by Government action to ensure that such an increase shall be possible. So far, the Government has not taken any action to make increased production possible. It has allowed things to drift in n desultory, go as you please fashion.
An agreement with Great Britain under which Australian beef exports to the United Kingdom are to be increased substantially has been foreshadowed by the Prime Minister. So far, no details of the proposal have been announced, but it is reported that the initial target will be to increase our beef exports to the United Kingdom to approximately 400,000 tons a year in ten years. We all agree that we should do everything possible to provide more food, particularly meat, for the people of Great Britain, and it is all very w.ell to talk abstractly about increasing beef exports to 400,000 tons in ten years; but to achieve that target is an entirely different matter. It will involve for instance, increased production of other goods, particularly materials rea aired by primary producers. In 1947-48 we exported 112,500 tons of beef to the United Kingdom. To step up that figure to 400,000 tons will mean an increase of approximately 300 per cent., and a vast improvement of our cattle raising country will be required. For instance thousands of miles of fencing, and huge quantities of piping and casing, troughing and windmills will be required. The enormously increased herds visualized under the proposed agreement cannot be allowed to run wild on unfenced tracts of country, depending entirely upon natural water supplies. Substantial developmental work will be needed to make our cattle-raising country capable of carrying a much larger cattle population than we have at present. This, as I have said, will involve heavy supplies of rural commodities and equipment. We must bear in mind, also, that the home market for beef will increase substantially because of the increased population that this country will have within the next ten years as the result of immigration. Consideration will have to be given to cattle losses front droughts, natural causes, and the depredation of dingoes. Nobody knows .the practical side .of .the industry better than do the graziers themselves, and I suggest that not only in the interests of those engaged in industry, but also to ensure the success of the .entire scheme, the graziers be given adequate representation at any discussions that may take place prior to the signing -of the agreement. I ain confident that the graziers will give the scheme their fullest co-operation, but I do urge that they be given adequate representation when details of it are being discussed.
– Has it ‘been suggested that the graziers will not be consulted ?
– I do not know. The proposal is still in its early .stages, and I ain merely making a request that full consideration be given to the views of the graziers. I am sure that their practical knowledge would be of considerable assistance to the negotiators. It has been reported that a delegation may visit Great Britain to finalize the agreement. I hope that representatives of the graziers will accompany that delegation.
Developmental work in connexion with this project will have to be carried out largely in the northern portions of Western Australia and Queensland and in the Northern Territory because from those three areas the bulk of our export beef is drawn to-day. In the whole of Australia there are about 13,750,000 cattle, of which only approximately 6,250,000 are beef cattle, the remainder being in the dairy herds. Of that 6,250,000, perhaps 50 per cent, or 75 per cent, are breeders. It will be from three and a half to four years before this year’s male calves are ready for export. To reach the export target of 400,000 tons of beef a year, herds in the huge cattle areas in the north of this continent will have to be trebled. That is a tremendous task. It is unlikely that there will be any large scale importation of cattle. I understand that the proposal is that we should increase our herds as quickly as possible, relying mainly on our own stock. As I said before, improvements to our cattle grazing lands will have to be made on a large scale. ‘To provide permanent water supplies, bores will have to be sunk and tanks and dams built. There will also have to be ‘some means of transporting the cattle when they are ready for killing. New railway lines will have to be built into areas from which, at present, cattle have to be brought overland on the hoof. Long overland treks cause a serious deterioration of the condition of the cattle, and sometimes they have -to be grazed for eight or nine months on coastal pastures, or in areas adjacent to rail heads, before they are restored to a marketable condition. Clearly, much has to be done before the objective of the proposed agreement can be reached. However, I have no doubt that all the problems can be overcome, provided that adequate supplies of necessary materials are available.
– What will be the attitude of the graziers to the killing of young cattle for the beef market? Do they favour legislation to prevent that practice? I understand that many hundreds of poddy calves are sent to the abattoirs each year.
– They are mostly dairy cattle, none of which would be exported. The 3,000,000 dairy cattle throughout the Commonwealth can be excluded when we are considering beef production.
– But we must also consider maintaining our exports of butter and other dairy products to’ Great Britain. Those exports are affected by the destruction of heifers.
– That depends on the conditions under which the calves are sent to the market. In time of drought, when the carrying capacity of grazing lands is reduced, many dairy-farmers send their surplus stock to the markets. However, generally speaking, dairymen keep good heifer calves because they are potential income earners. The scheme to which I refer would not concern the small dairy-farmer or the farmer engaged in fattening stock. If it is to succeed it will involve an immense increase of stock. Approximately, 18,000,000 cattle will be necessary to supply the quantity of beef required, and that objective can be achieved only by the development of- the -industry in the Northern Territory and in the northern parts of Western Australia and Queensland.
The shortage of labour is another problem in this matter. Many of the younger generation have drifted to the cities, and they are not enthusiastic about returning to country districts in spite of the fact that wages and conditions of employment offering in the country compare more than favorably with those in the towns and cities. For instance, in northern Queensland the wage of a station hand is £6 5s. a week with everything found. The working week consists of five days and any work performed on the other two days must be paid for at special award rates. The wage for station hands in those areas would average £7 a week, and an employee could save at least £6 a week. Much the same rates of pay and conditions of employment are offering in all of the areas in which the cattle industry could be developed to achieve the target necessary under the scheme to which I have referred. Unfortunately, drovers have practically become extinct. Consequently, graziers are experimenting with road trains consisting of semi-trailers for the shifting of cattle. However, it will not be possible to shift cattle by that means at the rate that would be required under this scheme. Railway transport seems to be the only means of effectively meeting that problem.
I now wish to refer to the taxation of capital assets of the man on the land especially in areas which are periodically affected by drought. Such imposts will hinder the increased production of beef cattle. When good prices have been offering for both cattle and sheep many graziers faced with drought conditions have sold their stock. That stock, although transferred elsewhere, has remained part of the assets of the community. Under such conditions a grazier may sell for £2 a head sheep which are valued on his books at £1 a head, and tax is levied on the basis that the difference between the two amounts is revenue. That method should not be applied when a grazier is forced to sell his stock owing to drought conditions. When the drought breaks he is left with very little stock.’
– He gets the benefit in the following year.
– The primary producer’s income is averaged over a period of seven years, but that concession reduces only the rate of taxation. I strongly urge the Government to treat forced sales because of drought in the same way as it treated the incomes of graziers who suffered loss as the result of the serious fires which occurred in Victoria some years ago. With ex-Senator Gibson I made representations to the present Prim© Minister, who was Treasurer at that time, and he agreed that the difference between the insurance payment and the amount at which the sheep were valued on the owners’ books should not be treated as profit for taxation purposes provided that that money was used for the purpose of restocking within a reasonable period. I can see no reason why the same method should not be applied in respect of forced sales of stock owing to drought conditions. In Queensland over 1,500,000 sheep were sold to southern buyers because of drought conditions and the owners were taxed on the difference between the sale price and the amount at which the stock was valued on their books, that amount being treated as profit. To-day, with better seasonal conditions they have not sufficient capital to buy on a higher market, and cannot adequately restock their properties. The method I advocate would not only benefit the producer; at the same time, the Government would gain more in tax on increased profits after properties had been restocked.
I take this opportunity to refer again to the disastrous losses of sheep and calves caused by the depredations of dingoes. I have spoken on this subject on many occasions, but some honorable senators appear to treat it rather lightly. However, during the last twelve months graziers’ organizations in conjunction with the press have launched campaigns in every State to draw attention to the national loss which is being caused by the dingo.
– What is . the remedy ?
– I shall make some suggestions. The best long-range method of protecting sheep is the provision nf dog-net check fences. At present surveys for the construction of such fences aro being carried out in Queensland. Those fences will have to be patrolled in the same way as rabbit-proof fences used to be patrolled in that State. The method then employed was to provide one man to patrol every 25 miles of fencing. The fences must be effectively patrolled in order to ensure the repair of holes caused by floods or, possibly, by kangaroos. Once dingoes get through holes in the fences they are unable to get out again. The pro vision of such fences must be a longrange objective because supplies of netting and posts are not available, and I doubt whether adequate labour could be obtained at present. Immediate relief can be afforded by other methods. For the last two years the Queensland Government has sponsored a scheme for the dropping of baits from aeroplanes flying at low altitudes. A certain area is pin-pointed and an aeroplane is chartered to scatter baits in it. That method has produced fairly good results. It is useless to drop baits in areas which the dingo does not frequent. Like any other dog, the dingo travels on the softest pad he can find, such as cattle or sheep tracks or the sand bed3 of creeks that have dried up. He avoids rocky ground and country which is heavily grassed or has a lot of burr. The correct method is to drop the baits close to some pad along which dingoes ara likely to pass. That method has proved successful in cattle country which is of the type in which the dingo has his habitat and breeds, but trapping is the mo3t effective means of combating the dingo in sheep country. The bonus for scalps must be sufficiently remunerative to induce trappers to get to work. In Queensland, the method generally followed is to break up trappers into different groups and to pay wages and bonuses for scalps equivalent to the wages paid to station hands plus keep and plant. However, bonuses range from £2 to £4, having regard to the prevalence of the dingo in different areas. Difficulty arises from the fact that no uniformity has been established in the fixation of bonuses. “Whilst governmental authorities in Queensland pay a bonus of 5s. some shire councils in that State pay bonuses up to 10s. for scalps. Obviously, that rate will not induce drivers of lorries and mail contractors to pull up and shoot dingoes when they happen to see them. The provision of a reasonable bonus would remedy that position. Drivers of wool and stores lorries would be prepared to trap, or bait, dingoes along their routes if sufficient inducement were offered to them to do so. I believe that a uniform bonus of £2 a head would induce many people living in country areas to hunt for dingoes. I do not urge that the £2 bonus should be deducted from the other payments that are now made. It should be added to the reward. Thus, if a group of graziers now pays £4 for each dingo, the bonus would increase the amount paid to the trapper to £6. Payment of such a bonus would soon induce men to undertake dingo extermination as a profitable occupation. That is my proposal for the immediate solution of the dingo problem. It is the only way in which the numbers can be reduced quickly. The graziers were unable to hire labour during the war years, and dingoes bred rapidly then and are still doing so. A federal bonus of £2 for each dog would not impose a heavy drain upon the Government’s resources, and I firmly believe that it would quickly reduce the serious peril to our pastoral industries. As the numbers of dingoes decrease, the bonus could be increased, possibly to £4 a head. Only by making the job worth while can we persuade men to undertake the destruction of wild dogs.
– Did the squatters ever try to get rid of the dingoes?
– I have told the honorable senator how they have formed groups and pay men up to £8 a week, all found, plus £3 or £4 for each dog killed.
– They can afford to do that at the present price of wool.
– That is beside the point altogether. Senator Harris asked whether the graziers were doing anything to destroy dingoes. They are doing everything within their power. They cannot get labour and they are doing all of the work themselves. They would willingly hire men if men were available. The average grazier works about twenty hours a day trying to preserve his stock, and members “of his family help him because labour is not available.
– Then where can they hire men to kill dingoes?
– If the job were made sufficiently profitable, young men keen to have a little adventure would soon undertake the work.
– What are those men doing now?
– Some are “picking up “ in the wool sheds, some are woolrolling, some are driving lorries. They are all doing something. But I maintain that the extermination of dingoes should have No. 1 priority. Wild dogs are destroying the very basis of prosperity in country areas. If we allow sheep and calves to be killed, there will be less work in the country for the men who are now employed there. The first essential is to preserve our assets. By destroying the dingo menace we should preserve Australia’s greatest asset, its. sheep. My suggestion for the payment of a federal bonus would be effective, and the amount involved would be small. In fact, the Government would get the money back in the form of taxes, because flocks would increase. At present, they cannot increase because lambs are killed as soon as they are dropped. After all, the Government has been the chief beneficiary from the increased price of wool.
– The honorable senator said that taxation was ruining the graziers. Now he wants to increase their taxes.
– I say that this Government has benefited most from the increased price of wool, through the extra tax return from the industry. I merely ask it to keep that asset alive. If the Government sincerely desires to increase Australia’s production of beef and mutton, it will explore every method of preventing unnecessary losses, such as the wholesale destruction of young stock by dingoes. Thousands of sheep and cattle are killed by dogs each year. I hope that the Government will give earnest consideration to the proposal that I have made.
– I listened very intently to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper). At the outset, when ho referred to the problems of ex-servicemen,
I believe that he tried to make some worthwhile suggestions for the development of this nation. Also, at the end of his speech, I believe that he spoke with sincerity on a subject with which he was completely conversant. But the middle part of his speech consisted mainly of a lecture to the Government on how to do what the governments that he supported failed to do over a period of twenty years. There was nothing constructive about that part of the speech. The honorable gentleman criticized the shortages in various essential industries, but he is one of those who support the pro-Russian and antiBritish propaganda that has been spread throughout Australia by the Opposition, the daily press, and the commercial radio stations in an effort to impede the nation’s progress. Had the honorable gentleman been sincere, he would have offered some constructive suggestions for the development of essential industries and services, as he tried to do on the subject of dingoes. I do not know much about dingoes. 1 know some with two legs, but I know nothing about the four-legged variety. One of the former that I would like to get rid of is Mr. Sharkey. The Government is sincerely endeavouring to build Australia into the nation that we want it to be, a strong component of the great British Empire.
Yesterday morning we heard the tragic news that the High Court of Australia had decided that the Commonwealth’s petrol rationing regulations were invalid. I have no quarrel with the High Court judges. I believe that they are very sincere men, and that no political bias or opinion affects the decisions that they make as judges of the court. If the Opposition parties were, sincere, they would help the Government to impress upon the electors the necessity for alterations of the Commonwealth Constitution. Honorable senators realize that the Constitution was framed 50 years ago. It was drafted by men who were sincerely trying to lay the foundation for a great nation. However, it was framed when nobody dreamed of aeroplanes or of the many other means that we have to-day of making war. Those were the days of the horse and dray. That is made evident every day in Sydney, where the streets are inadequate for the needs of modern commerce. If honorable senators opposite were sincere, they would help the Government to persuade the people to give to the Commonwealth Parliament the power that it needs to develop Australia. I have said in this chamber previously, and I repeat, that the people who own the greatest assets in Australia realized during the war that unity was strength. If unity gave us the strength to produce our maximum war effort, then unity can also give us strength in the transitory period from war to normal peace-time conditions. We are in such a ‘period now. We know that our efforts on the coalfields and in the heavy industries have failed. But those failures have not been due to lack of effort by the Government. We are constantly urged to increase production. I agree with the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Leader of the Opposition in that respect, but I say that the Leader of the Opposition should not insinuate that the workers of Australia are loafers who are not doing, their jobs. I visit many industries, and. I know that the efforts of the workers in those industries to-day are greater- than they were before the war. As the result of the- Government’s far-sighted industrial policy such development has taken place that there is ^ a shortage of man-power in Australia. Anti-Labour governments never knew what it was to experience a shortage of man-power. We had starvation and misery under their rule, and’ when World War II. broke out, there were as we know about 600,000- unemployed’ in Australia. Yet members of the Opposition to-d’ay declare the Government can-not rightfully claim credit for- the state’ of full employment that exists in the country, and that the United Kingdom Government is not responsible for the high level of employment- in that country! They say that this state of affairs is an aftermath of war. But what has happened in the United. States of America under an anti-Labour Government? There are 4,500’,000 unemployed in that country, which has a population of 180;000,000. The United States of America is experiencing the aftermath of war- just as are Australia and the United Kingdom.
Anti-Labour governments in Australia never had faith in our secondary industries. Therefore,, when they were in office, very little steel was needed and abundant coal was always at grass at the pit tops. We had no use for coal in those days. To-day, the Government is pursuing a policy of full employment and the expansion of secondary industries, which offers the only way of developing the nation. When the Treasurer presented his budget in September last year it was estimated that Commonwealth revenue for 194S-49 would be £492,800,000 and that expenditure would be £510,500,000. The Estimates have now been revised in the light of figures for the first ten months of the financial year, and the conclusion drawn from them is that revenue will exceed the budget estimate by £35,000,000, and that expenditure will exceed the budget estimate by about £14,000,000. Improvements in revenue collections have been principally due to income tax and social services contributions, and customs and excise duties, a fact that definitely reflects the full employment of men and industry. Hundreds of manufacturers in other countries would be glad to come to Australia to establish new .industries if sufficient man-power were available here. This state of affairs would not have been brought about had the Government, like the Opposition parties been anti-British. The Government is doing everything within its power to assist the Mother Country to regain economic stability. Nevertheless, when it asked for- power to control industry in the best interests of the nation and the Empire’ during the transitory period from war to peace-time conditions, the Opposition parties used the most insidious propaganda^ through the daily press and the radio stations; in order to bring about the defeat of the Government’s referendum- proposals. I point out that many of the young men who were discharged’ from the services and from the war industries after the war did not know what it was to have a job before the war. However, this Government was prepared to train those men in the interests^ of this country and the British Empire. After the war men who were not wanted further in- the munitions and’ allied industries were absorbed” in luxury industries, with the result that to-day luxury goods are available in abundance. Although, as Senator Cooper has pointed out, men are required to win coal to produce steel, and to kill dingoes in. the rural areas of Queensland, the men who made money available during the war period know that many people saved money then because they were unable to spend it. As with the building of a house it is necessary that firm foundations should first be provided, so with the building of a nation, manpower must be directed to the heavy industries. No blame is attributable to this Government for the position that has arisen. Although it has been claimed that income tass rates are still too heavy, and that the Treasurer budgeted for £35,000,000 more than he needed, I point out that that amount has been paid by industries, that have prospered and people who can afford to pay. To-day a man with a wife and four children, earning up to £11 a week, is not required to pay income tax or social services contributions. I remind the Senate that during 1934, 1935 and 1936, a man who was on the dole was called upon to pay 4d. in the £1. If he could not pay in the current year the amount involved was debited against him in subsequent years.. It mattered not whether he had five, six, seven, or eight children. Any surplus, will be utilized to provide, social services for people who have been exploited over the years. “When this Government assumed, office in 1941 the provision of social services was costing, this country only £16,000,000 a year, compared with ‘ £80,000,000 now. I am proud to be a supporter of a. government that has realized that the people, who have earned this money are entitled to some benefit from it. I claim that not one member of the Opposition is prepared to advocate the abolition of any of the concessions that this Government has made available because of its full employment policy and resultant, industrial prosperity. £ recall vividly the- events of 1929 when the greatest political trick in the history of this country was put aver the Australian Labour party. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes.) voted against the BrucePage Government because it was alleged, that that Government in tended to dispense with arbitration. Although it had no such intention it knew that if that proposal was put before the people* the people in. turn would take the reins of” government away from it. In 1929 Mr. Scullin was returned to office with a big majority in the House of Representatives. In this chamber, however, the Australian Labour party had a minority. Sir Otto Niemeyer and representatives of the English banks who visited Australia expressed the view that wages in secondary industries would have to be reduced and social services whittled down. The Government of the day said it was not prepared to do that. Mr. Scullin was jerrymandered into the House of Representatives with a big majority, but with a hostile Senate to defeat any legislation passed by that House. The Scullin Government was forced’ to reduce the social services benefits in this country, because of economic considerations; Mr. Scullin had to try to balance his budget. Later the harvest was reaped by the late Joseph Lyons, when Prime Minister of Australia. Because of that political trick the Australian Labour party was defeated and put out of office until 1941. However all of the subversive and filthy propaganda that has been disseminated over the air during the last three general elections, will not induce the people of Australia to defeat the Chifley Government at the forthcoming general election.
As a result of the decision of the Ful High Court of Australia the Commonwealth has lost its power to control petrol rationing. Only a limited amount of petrol may be imported into this country at present, and some of the people who are now rejoicing may find in the near future that they were mistaken in their views.; if all available supplies are used on one day, obviously there will be nothing left for the following day. It has been claimed that the States will be able adequately to control petrol rationing; it will be interesting to- see what develops in that connexion.. As a result of the court’s decision, the benefits of women’s employment regulations have also, been lost. I believe that if the electors of this country want this Government to continue under the leadership of the present Prime Minister for the next tcn years to build Australia into a powerful nation, they must give more time to a consideration of the need to alter the Constitution. If, on the other hand, they are satisfied that five or six High Court judges shall rule this country, we are heading for bankruptcy and another depression similar to that which occurred in 1931. As I have said before, I have no quarrel with the judges because I consider that they genuinely interpreted the Constitution as only legal minds could interpret it. However the people of Great Britain who accepted the Constitution in 1901 were not all High Court judges, and the people in Australia could only accept the words of the Constitution as understood by ordinary laymen. If this country is to prosper the people must give the Australian Government, irrespective of party, more power to control this country, as was done under the defence power during the war period.
Although a lot of criticism has been levelled against the immigration policy of this Government the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has done a remarkable job, for which I give him great credit. Despite what is read in the daily press or heard in broadcasts, the people of Melbourne are appreciative of the Minister’s work with relation to immigration. I have received an invitation to attend a complimentary luncheon to the Minister, to be held in Melbourne on the 27th June. It states -
It is the intention of a- group of Melbourne citizens, of varying political beliefs, to tender a complimentary luncheon to the Hon. A. A. Calwell, M.H.R., Minister for Immigration and Information. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Cr. J. S. Disney, will preside. The object of the luncheon which, it is expected, will be fully representative of all interests, will be to express appreciation of the manner in which the Minister has formulated, organized and carried out the scheme whereby an ever increasing number of migrants is being brought to Australia. If we must retain and develop this continent, the need to increase our population is vital. Therefore we feel that the energy and ability expended by the Minister towards the solution of the migration problem should be recognized. The Minister is held in the highest personal regard by his colleagues and associates in public life, and in addition he bears the esteem and goodwill of the citizens of Melbourne. At the luncheon an opportunity will be taken to present to Mr.
Calwell a gift which will be a permanent token of the appreciation in which he is held. Feeling that you would desire to be present at the function, a cordial invitation is herewith extended with the hope that it will be possible fi.r von co accept. This being so, would you be kind enough to complete and return the enclosed card without delay, in view of the limited seating available. Please note that additional reservations may be made if so required.
This invitation was signed by Mr. P. Page, honorary secretary, Nicholson and Merri tt Proprietary Limited, 117 Stationstreet, Carlton. It is interesting to note that the following distinguished personages comprise the committee which has organized the luncheon: Sir Frank Beaurepaire; Mr. K. R. Broadby, president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party; Rev. J. P. Chalinor president, Federal Inter-Church Migration Committee; Mr. P. J. Clarey, president Australian Council of Trades Unions; Mr. L. J. Hartnett; Mr. J. C. Jessop, chairman. Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works; Mr. Ray Joseph, federal president, Australian Natives Association; Mr. J. C. Neagle, federal secretary of the Returned Servicemen’s League; Rev. Father J. P. Pierce, Catholic migration officer; and Archdeacon R. H. B. Williams, secretary, Federal Inter-Church Migration Committee, and Mr. Page. This is proof positive that the splendid work performed by the Minister for Immigration is recognized by people in all walks of life.
The Leader of the Opposition has stated that the graziers in Queensland want more men to kill dingoes and to erect fences. If that is so, the immigration policy of this Government must be supported fully, so that more and more migrants will be directed into Australia’s heavy industries.
– But the honorable senator should know that the unions will not permit the migrants to work in heavy industries.
– Doubtless the Leader of the Opposition read a report to that effect in the press. There is no objection to these men being employed in the heavy industries. Had they been available in the past we should now have had ample coal and steel to provide for the development of this country.
The honorable senator also referred to this Government’s attitude to returned servicemen. Speaking as a returned soldier of the 1914-lS war, I claim that the ex-servicemen of World War II. have been treated at least as well as any soldiers in any part of the world have been treated after any war.
– They have been treated far better than the ex-servicemen of other countries.
– Following World War I., the ex-servicemen were treated disgracefully. I recollect that when I returned to Australia 1 was placed on sustenance of £2 2s. a week. At that time the right honorable member for North Sydney was Prime Minister of this country.
– And the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) was Treasurer.
– The honorable senator has apparently done well on it.
– That is because 1 have looked after myself. The point that I am making is that there is no comparison between the treatment given to ex-servicemen after World War I. arid that given after World War II. After World War I., Australian exservicemen walked the roads of this country without soles to their boots and without, blankets. They had to beg food and clothing from the people whom they came across. Contrast that with the generous treatment given to the ex-servicemen of World War II. by the present Government. The Leader of the Opposition said that we should measure the adequacy of repatriation pensions by comparing them with the pensions paid to the aged and invalid, but there is no analogy between them. Repatriation pensions are intended to supplement the income of those whose potential earning capacity may have been impaired by their war service, and so provide some compensation for injuries that they sustained while doing their duty to their country. They are also intended to supplement those whose incomes are not sufficient to afford them a res) living wage. The pensions paid to the aged and invalid members of the community are a contribution by the income- earners of the community to those who are not able, because of their disabilities, to earn sufficient to maintain themselves. Consider the treatment meted out by the anti-Labour governments after World War I. to the ex-servicemen of that period.
– The nonLabour administrations that were in office even seized their homes and threw them out in the streets.
– No, the Scullin Government was in power when that happened.
– Th? Leader of the Opposition should bow his head in shame for having made such a statement. The Scullin Government wa« forced to do many things because of the impossible financial restrictions placed upon it by a hostile majority in this chamber. I know many ex-servicemen of World War I. who are suffering from the privations that they endured during that war. Nevertheless, the vast majority of them are unable to convince th» Repatriation department that their disabilities are due to their war service. Those men fought for this country, and one of the results of the Allied victory in that war was the prosperity enjoyed by the graziers and other big interests in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition complained of the lack of the means of killing dingoes, but ‘many of the exservicemen of World War I. who own nothing to-day would like to kill some of the real “ dingoes “. The present Government is doing a good job and I heartily congratulate it on its record. I commend the bill.
– The measure before us, which has been introduced to provide additional supply for the remaining months of the financial year, offers wide scope for debate. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) took advantage of that fact to refer to a great number of matters. His remarks ranged over the payment of social services pensions, through a great many fields, and finally concluded with a discussion of dingo baits in the far west of Queensland. Whilst it is admittedly part of the function of the Opposition to offer criticism on as wide a basis as possible, I think that the honorable senator’s speech was more in the nature of a deliberate attempt to discredit the Government in the election year than a constructive contribution to the solution of the problems that confront us. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the administration of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who, in his capacity as Treasurer, has introduced to the Parliament yet another financial measure which indicates the soundness of the Government’s financial policy. The Leader of the Opposition criticized particularly the allegedly high rates of taxation. His criticism is not borne out by facts. Since 1942, taxation concessions, exemptions, and reductions have been made which total approximately £139,000,000. Income tax and social services contributions have been reduced by £102,500,000. Tax exemptions from and reductions of sales tax aggregate £28,000,000. Customs and excise duties have been reduced by £4,000,000 ; estate duty by £100,000, and gift duty by £50,000. Gold tax has been reduced by £550,000, and war-time company tax by £3,500,000. Those reductions total £139,575,000. Those figures cannot be controverted, whereas the general charges against the Government made by the Leader of the Opposition are unsubstantiated. During the campaign which preceded the general election in 1946, the Prime Minister promised that as the economy of the nation permitted, taxes would be reduced, and in accordance with that promise, he has progressively reduced taxes. Since 1942 taxation has been reduced by £139,575,000. In addition, concessions in social services contributions tax are proposed to be made during the next financial year amounting to £36,500,000, and reductions in entertainments tax totalling £135,000 will he made. The total concessions made since 1942 to the time of the next budget will amount to £176,201,000. Direct taxes have been reduced substantially since January, 1946. Four separate and distinct reductions have been made since then. On the 1st January, 1946, reductions of income tax amounting to 12£ per cent, were made. They cost the revenue £20,000,000. On the let July, 1946, only six months later, a further reduction of 11 per cent. which reduced the revenue by £17,500,000, was made. On the 1st July, 1947, another reduction of 26 per cent, whichamounted to £33,000,000 was made. At the same time the allowances paid to dependants under the social services scheme were increased, £11,500,000 of this amount being provided for that purpose. On the 1st July, 1948, income tax was further reduced by 17 per cent. That reduction affected the revenue by £26,000,000. In addition, it is proposed during the forthcoming financial year to make a further reduction of 23 per cent, in income tax, and it is estimated that the concessions will amount to £36,500,000.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– During the last election campaign, the Prime Minister promised the people full employment and social security. He aLso said that taxes would be reduced as the finances of the country permitted. Every one of those promises has been honoured. The 1948-49 budget was balanced, but the Opposition raised such a cry that one would have thought that balancing a budget was a crime. Anti-Labour governments, which held office for so many years before World War II. could never balance their budgets. They were in debt at the end of every financial year.
– They were bankrupt.
– Absolutely, and what is worse, they were in the grip of overseas money-lenders and bankers who sent their representatives to this country, allegedly to assist it, but all that they did was to advise a harsher application of the thumb screws to our economic system, with the result that unemployment reached a peak of 300,000.
The Leader of the Opposition complained about the dingo menace in Queensland. The increase of the numbers of dingoes can be traced to the depression days, when graziers had not sufficient money to pay doggers or trappers to keep their properties free of this pest. Farmers had their motor cars jacked up on blocks, and could not make essential trips to adjacent townships. Many of them- were bankrupt, and were at the mercy of not only the banks, but also the city finance companies. Doggers could not earn a living with the result that, over the years, the numbers of dingoes had increased to such a degree that today they are a serious menace. The blame for this cannot be laid at the door of the present Government. However, the Government is taking a close interest in the production of wire netting, which is most important in the control of dingoes. Marsupial netting, dog netting and rabbit netting have been in short supply for some time, but now the position is improving, and graziers have sufficient money to enclose their properties and thus make a concentrated attack upon dingoes by isolating affected areas. Recently in the press I read of a grazier leaving his property because wild dogs and dingoes were travelling from Queensland to New South Wales and South Australia because of the poor state of the border fence. I point out, however, that there is some misconception about the wire netting position in the minds of many country residents. One frequently hears the criticism that the Government is doing little to increase supplies of wire netting, but whereas before World War TI., less than 13,000 tons of wire netting was demanded each year by the graziers and farmers of this country, the current annual demand is estimated at 14,000 or 15,000 tons. Lack of production in the war years of course caused a serious backlog, but everything possible is now being done to overtake the demand. It is estimated that production this year will reach 11,000 tons. In addition, licences have been issued for the importation of 4,500 tons from Belgium, 7,000 tons from France, 10,000 tons from Germany and smaller quantities from other suppliers. Importations, plus local production, therefore, will make available 35,000 tons this year. That will place the onus on the graziers to repair their fences, which is the first essential in the extermination of dingoes. The teaching of trapping methods to young men will, of course, take time. It is a highly specialized job, and requires a full knowledge of the habits of dingoes and of the correct decoys and baits. Again I emphasize, that in the period between the two wars, when anti-Labour governments held office, the return that primary producers received for their goods was insufficient to enable them to employ doggers on their properties to keep the dingo menace in check. The dingo menace is a legacy that the Labour Government inherited from the maladministration of its predecessors. Not only is the Government doing everything in its power to make adequate supplies of wire netting available, but also it is utilizing the resources of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other government instrumentalities in its endeavour to destroy this pest. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that this is a matter of national importance but I contend that the initiative must come from the graziers’.
I return now to the charge that high taxation is retarding production. The real producers of this country’s wealth are the working men. The man on £5,000 or £10,000 a year can afford to pay high taxes. Therefore, let us examine the commitments of working people. I have pointed out that since 1942 tax concessions have aggregated £140,000,000, and that reductions have ranged from 100 per cent, on low incomes to 20 per cent, on high incomes. Here is a practical illustration : A man with a wife and two children who earned £6 a week paid £4 in tax in the highest taxed State in 1938-39. To-day he pays neither income tax nor social services contribution. In fact, he can now earn up to £8 a week and still pay less in tax than he paid in’ combined Commonwealth and State taxes prior to the introduction of uniform taxation. Therefore, the argument advanced by the Leader of the Opposition is not borne out by facts. The honorable senator dealt in generalizations, but I am dealing in facts. Let us examine the financial position of this country to-day. Last year, our national income was £1,571,000,000, and the gross rural production was valued at £537,001,000. Wages and salaries totalled £860,000,000. All those figures, represented substantial increases over those for the previous year. Here are some items of expenditure. Approximately £38,000,000 a year is expended’ upon re-establishment and repatriation, benefits. Expenditure under those headings is expected to continue at that level for quite a period. War debt charges amounted to £50,000,000, and post-war defence measures cost £70,000,000, compared with £10,000,000 before World War II. Our social services bill is £89,000,000, compared with £20,000,000 in pre-war years and it is estimated that social services will ultimately cost £100,000,000 a year. I draw the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to another promise that was made and honoured by this Government. The honorable senator said that Australia was in a mess to-day because of Labour’s administration and that only the advent of a Liberal party government could get it out of that mess. Somebody said recently - I think that it was the “Bengal Tiger” - that Labour party supporters had started a whispering campaign to the effect that the Liberal party did not have any policy. The Labour party does not have to start any whispering campaign about that. We could shriek it from the housetops, because everbody knows that the Liberal party has no .policy. The approach of the antiLabour parties to all our national problems is completely negative. Even in debates in this Parliament, they have no constructive suggestions to offer. It is no wonder that in time of stress this country turns to Labour to get it out of trouble. Aspersions are frequently cast upon the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), who was Prime Minister during the early depression years. I remind the Senate, however, that although the people elected the Scullin Government to get them out of trouble, the banks turned it out of office. They would not let Mr. Scullin introduce the financial reforms that were essential to the rapid economic recovery of this country. This Government knows that the power wielded by the banks is much too strong, and should be in the hands of the people. Democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people. It is not government by the bankers, and that is why Labour is meeting such powerful opposition to-day. Every day we see in the press advertisements by the Liberal party, financed by the banks. Other advertisements are inserted by such organizations as the Sane Democracy League and the Constitutional League. - Over the air, we hear the John Henry Austral broadcasts and other obnoxious items. They too are financed by the banks in their premeditated and calculated endeavour to hoodwink the people and remove this Government from office. Vested interests realize that they are in their last bastion. They know that we are awake to their old tricks, and they realize that if they cannot win the forthcoming election for the Liberal party, their influence will be ended. We can read those fears in the remarks of Opposition members in this Parliament. They know well that the interests that they represent in this Parliament are soulless and superficial. They endeavour to pull the wool over the eyes of young people by forming organizations such as the Young Liberal League. They are using the young people in an endeavour to get into power in this Parliament. However, if the Opposition parties were to regain office we should not hear any more talk from them about social services or about improving the standard of living of the people. In that event they would just dump the people again as they did in the past. The Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) has emphasized that the social services provided in this country are not equalled in any other country. That observation applies also to the Government’s policy of full employment. That is why Australia is now enjoying unprecedented prosperity. As the Minister has said, the basis of the Government’s social services policy is family security. Every man and woman who accepts family responsibilities will be helped financially to meet them. The Minister pointed out that no young man in this country to-day need have any worries about marrying because his family’s future will be secure from a financial point of view. Should his wife fall ill she will be able to obtain the best care in public hospitals free of charge, and if she enters an approved private hospital she will receive a contribution of 8s. a day towards her expenses. The maternity allowance at present ranges from £15 to £17 10s., and no means test is applied to applicants for that benefit. The present rate of child endowment is 10s. a week for each child except the eldest under sixteen years. No means test is applied in respect of that benefit, which may amount to approximately £400 for each child until he, or she, ceases to be eligible for it. Should any member of the family fall ill he or she may receive free medical treatment and care in a public hospital or a contribution of Ss. a day towards treatment in a private ward. The Leader of the Opposition referred to widows’ pensions. When the Labour Government assumed office in 1941 the maximum rate of age and invalid pensions was 21s. 6d. a week. The maternity allowance, which was then subject to the means test, ranged from £4 10s. to £7 10s. and child endowment, which at that time had been in force for only three months, was 5s. a week. Since that time the age and invalid pension has been increased from 21s. 6d. to 42s. 6d. a week; the maternity allowance has been trebled and child endowment has been doubled, [n respect of each of those benefits the means test has been abolished. Those figures fully answer the airy generalizations of the Leader of the Opposition when he criticized the achievements of this Government. They show that the Government is honouring the promises that it made to the people at the general elections in 1946. The Leader of the Opposition would like to create the impression that the Government is crippling production in this country. After all, the worker is the real producer, and the Government has given him the most generous tax reductions. The workers are the important people; they comprise the majority in our community, and they actually govern this country because this Government was elected by that majority. The Government must meet annually from revenue commitments in respect of the rehabilitation and repatriation of ex-service personnel amounting to £38,000,000, a payment of £50,000,000 in respect of war debt charges, and social services benefits, which are estimated to cost £100,000,000 next financial year. The Leader of the Opposition said that the present allowances paid to war widows were insufficient. I agree that the best that we can do would not be good enough for the war widows. However, we must draw the line somewhere. The pension payable to a war widow without dependants is £6 a fortnight. A war widow with one child receives £7 15s. war pension and 15s. domestic allowance, or a total of £3 1.0s. a fortnight. A war widow with two children receives £9 war pension, 15s. domestic allowance and £1 child endowment or a total of £10 15s. a fortnight. A war widow with three children receives £10 5s. war pension and £2 child endowment, making a total payment of £12 5s. a fortnight, and the total payment increases to £14 10s. a fortnight for a war widow with four children, £15 16s. a fortnight for a war widow with five children, and £19 a fortnight for a war widow with six children. In addition, those classes of persons are eligible for an education allowance and free medical and hospital treatment for themseves and their children. Generally, those pensions are related to the income the husband was receiving at the time of his death. Although we have the greatest sympathy for war widows, the assistance provided for them must hear some re’ation to that given to other classes of widows. I should like to see the pension to war widows fixed at a flat rate of £10 a week, but such a provision would hardly be practicable at present. The existing rates are reasonable, particularly when we compare them with the pensions made available by anti-Labour governments in the past. The Leader of the Opposition also referred to pensions payable to permanent and totally incapacitated ex-servicemen. Those pension? range from £10 12s. a fortnight for an ex-serviceman without dependants to £13 18s. a fortnight for an ex-serviceman with a wife and two children, and £23 8s. a fortnight for an ex-serviceman with a wife and six children, the lastnamed amount including £5 child endowment. I emphasize that the existing pensions are being constantly reviewed. When we compare those rates with the rates paid by anti-Labour governments in the past, this Government deserves every credit for what it is doing for disabled ex-servicemen. I shall do my utmost to have those pensions increased as circumstances permit.
The Leader of the Opposition said, in effect, that Australia is in a mess. That, statement cannot be substantiated when we examine the position of secondary industries to-day. Enormous development is taking place in all spheres of production, including the manufacture of aircraft and mechanical vehicles, telecommunications, food preservation, shipbuilding, and textiles.
– The honorable senator forgot to mention the coal-miners and waterside workers.
– Conditions in those industries conform to the general pattern of prosperity in this country. In 1947 the value of factory production in Australia totalled £412,000,000, which was more than double the value of production in 1939. During the same period the Dumber of factories increased by 29 per cent, and the number of persons employed increased by 42 per cent., whilst wages and salaries paid to factory employees increased by 121 per cent. Those figures make interesting reading, especially as the-y are in respect of a period when we had to change over from a war economy to a peace-time economy. I notice that all of the attacks which the Opposition makes upon the Government relate to that transitional period. If the present Government had had the opportunities which anti-Labour governments had before the war, its record would be .even better, because, although man-power and materials were unlimited, and the country was crying out for development, those anti-Labour governments allowed the country to slip. No effort was made to increase our population and no impetus was given to progress at all. Our economy degenerated to such a degree that thousands of young men could not find jobs. During the same period, the Government of New Zealand induced many of our craftsmen to go to that dominion to work on its housing programmes.
– And that Government was a Labour Government.
– Yes ; it had sufficient intelligence to see that there was a pool of labour idle in this country which the reactionary governments of that day refused to use. To-day, New Zealand has a very good housing record. If the present Government had had more time to tackle these problems I have .no doubt that its record would .be remarkable. However, it is only four years since the war in Europe ended and a little over three and a half years since the war in the Pacific ended. Considering the enormous volume of productive effort that was diverted to war purposes and the magnitude of the task of gearing that effort to peace-time needs, the Government deserves whole-hearted commendation for the smoothness with which it has accomplished the transition. This country has also suffered great disadvantages as the result of the dollar shortage. Unfortunately, economic conditions in the United States/ of America and in the United Kingdom have been such that it has been necessary for us to devote a great deal of our efforts to the assistance of Great Britain in its time, of need. The people of the United Kingdom made what was perhaps the greatest contribution ever made to civilization when they .alone resisted the Germans in 1940. As the result of that great struggle, their overseas assets to the value of £4,000,000,000 were completely wiped out and they found themselves a debtor nation for the first time in their history. They have had to try to balance their budget, as we have succeeded in doing. The members of the British Commonwealth of Nations are standing together to help Great Britain out of this mess. After the war period, Australia co-operated with the United Kingdom and other sterling countries in pooling their dollar resources. We remember how, when price ceilings were lifted in the United States of America, the value of the United States loan to Great Britain depreciated almost overnight. We had to assist the United Kingdom to overcome such disabilities, and the pooling of the Empire dollar resources has had its effect upon Australian supplies of such things as petrol, motor vehicle chassis, newsprint and tobacco. It is easy fox the Leader of the Opposition to make charges against this Government, but the Government is constantly aware of the necessity for helping the United Kingdom to conserve the dollar pool and overcome the enormous difficulties that face us. Our imports of dollar goods last year were valued at £82,000,000, and we must reduce that rate of dollar expenditure further in the coming year. The Government has pledged itself to assist Great Britain, and I am certain that every right-thinking Australian will support that pledge. I could mention many more of this Government’s great achievements.
Home building is a bone of contention. During the last twelve months, 49,000 homes have been erected in Australia. The total number completed since July, 1945, is now 100,000. Those figures bear examination. The rate of construction is increasing all the time and, considered in conjunction with the other jobs that the Government must do during the transition period, progress in the field of housing has been highly commendable. Nevertheless, one would think, after listening to honorable senators opposite, that the Government had done nothing. Under the Commonwealth and States housing agreement, it has advanced £34,000,000 for home building, and work under that agreement is being pushed ahead to the limit imposed by shortages of labour and materials.
– did the Government get the £34,000,000?
– From Consolidated Revenue. The honorable senator, like every other taxpayer, had to contribute his fair share. Under the Government’s system of taxation, those who can afford to pay the most are required to pay the most, and those least able to pay make the smallest contributions. That is how democracy works. I shall not deal with the subject at greater length, because the charges made against the Government by the Leader of the Opposition had very little substance.
We have an enormous job before us in developing Australia so that it can fulfil its destiny as a nation. That job requires the assistance of all Australians. That is absolutely essential under the democratic system. I am certain that, but for the destructive criticism of Opposition parties and the press, the Government would have much .greater support than it has received from the people. There are too many “ knockers “ and Jeremiahs who do not want to see democracy in action because it is the enemy of capitalism. Capitalism wishes to retain privilege for a favoured few. Democracy consists in government of the people for the people. That is where the fundamental clash of ideologies arises. However, I am certain that the common sense of the people will prevail. When they see the progress of such schemes as the Snowy Mountains plan, water conservation and irrigation projects, the standardization of railway gauges, the development of the Northern Territory, the hydro-electric scheme in Tasmania, and other magnificent national undertakings, they must realize that this Government is administering the nation’s affairs in a progressive and democratic way. We must press on with the task, regardless of the Jeremiahs, the John Henry Australs and all the money that is being poured into the propaganda campaign over the radio and through the press in an effort to bring down one of the finest governments that Australia has ever known. We have one of the finest men, a true home-spun Australian, Ben Chifley, at the helm, and I am certain that this country is in safe hands and will continue to prosper under his able management.
– I shall deal with some of the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), with particular reference to his comments about production, coal and socialism. First of all, I correct a misstatement that he broadcast throughout Australia this afternoon when he said that this Government would end the financial year with a surplus of £35,000,000. The Government budgeted for a deficit of £18,000,000 in 1948-49 and, although a surplus is now expected, the budgeted deficit of £18,000,000 must be allowed for before the true position can be known. Would the Leader of the Opposition suggest that, had the Government budgeted for a deficit of £118,000,000, it could borrow £118,000,000 and show a surplus of £118,000,000? There cannot be any surplus until the anticipated deficit of £18,000,000 has been accounted for and a balance achieved. That amount would have had to be borrowed if not collected from Consolidated Revenue. The Leader of the Opposition also wanted to know what was becoming of the surplus that the Government had accumulated over the last year or two. Surely he must be aware that the Government must pay war gratuity to the sailors, soldiers and airmen who went overseas and fought to save Australia. Does he want to borrow the money needed to honour that obligation or would he collect it from Consolidated Revenue? When anti-Labour governments were in power we passed through a period of boom or burst. Then we reached a stage at which so much money had been borrowed in the United Kingdom that we had to go back and borrow more money with which to pay interest on the debts that we had already incurred. No such mismanagement has occurred under th:s Government. Yet, because the Government is adhering to a policy of sound finance for the economic development and the benefit of the nation, the honorable senator claims that we should borrow in order to show a budget surplus !
The honorable gentleman also complained about under-production. He said that Australia was not producing sufficient to meet the requirements of local and export markets. The Opposition often forgets that men and women in this country were not born to live to work. They were born to work to live. The only conclusion that could be drawn from the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition was that he wanted the people of Australia to give more than they are giving to-day. He must consider that they were horn merely to live to work.
– He said exactly what the Prime Minister said..
– I know what the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said. He and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) are working their fingers to the bone in order to bring more people to Australia so that we can increase production, and the honorable senator knows that. He is always calling upon men who are doing a fair day’s work and producing to the best of their ability to work harder and produce more. The Leader of the Opposition criticized the output of coal, and said that production would be 1.000,000 tons short of demand this year. He did not point out that each year Australia is producing hundreds of thousands of tons more coal than it was producing when he supported Liberal governments notwithstanding that the number of miners has decreased by many thousands. Those are the cold facts. Men cannot be forced to work in the coal-mines. They can only be induced to do so. If coal-mining is such a wonderful job a-5 the Leader of the Opposition claims, why is he not able to persuade more men to enter the industry to produce the coal that we need?
– Liberals do not go down mines.
– Their policy is so liberal that they stay on top while other men produce the goods, lt is a sore point with the Opposition that the workers in Australia are employed to-day instead of walking the streets or standing in queues to collect doles. People are employed by private enterprise, ls it not a fact, therefore, that if there is any shortage of production in Australia the fault lies at the door of private enterprise for falling down on the job? However, 1 say that that is not the way to put the situation. The correct way to ‘put it is to say that we are definitely short of the labour needed to produce the goods that we must have if we are to meet local demands anC satisfy export markets. It is much better to have everybody employed and he a little short of goods than to have plenty of goods and people walking the streets without money to pay for them. We have experienced both of those conditions in Australia, and it is a very sore point with the Opposition to-day that there are not 100 men to chase every 80 jobs, as was the care when their parties were in power.
I come now to the bogy of socialism. Socialism is nothing new whatever the form of government in Australia. It has been practised by every State government, by every municipal council and city council, and by every other body that acts on behalf of the public.
why did the Labour party pass its socialization resolution in 1921 ?
– The honorable gentleman is so ignorant that he is unaware that the greater Brisbane Council, the Melbourne City Council, the Sydney County Council and local government authorities throughout Australia are carrying out a policy of 100 per cent, socialism. However, he cannot get away from that fact. He condemns whatever this Government does as 100 pex cent, socialism. It is carrying out projects that are not nearly so socialistic as are the acts of local-governing authorities, yet he classifies everything that it does as socialism. Of course, some of our legislation is socialistic. That term could be applied to legislation governing the operations of the Post Office, and to the social services legislation. Would the Opposition throw that legislation overboard? Would the Opposition ask private enterprise to institute some form of insurance to guarantee its members security in their old age and invalidity? Either the Opposition subscribes to that policy or it does not. I congratulate Senator O’sullivan for subscribing to socialistic measures passed through this chamber during the last sessional period and thereby supporting a 100 per cent, socialistic policy in some matters. Would the Opposition sell the main roads to individuals or ask the Liberal Governments of Victoria and South Australia to keep them in repair? Where would private individuals obtain revenue to maintain those roads? I can well imagine what Senator O’Sullivan’s reactions would be if he were charged a poll tax every time that he drove over a road. It would be utterly impossible for any country to carry on without some pattern of 100 per cent, socialism. If we had power under the Constitution I would socialize anything that interfered with the development of the country and the well-being of the masses.
– The honorable senator has already pledged himself to do that.
– Yes, so far as the Constitution allows. Senator O’sullivan knows full well, as do the amateur Opposition candidates that will be standing for the elections, that there is no power under the Constitution to do a fifth of what he claims this Government wants to do. The old bogy about the Labour Government ‘ taking away from the people their farmhouses or little stores was disposed of 50 years before Senator O’sullivan was elected to this chamber. Labour governments that have been in office since then have been tried and proved not wanting. The Leader of the Opposition said that we are enjoying false prosperity at present, ‘ ‘hat is not true. In the. years 1926, 192T, 1928 and in the beginning of 1929, however, there was a short term of false prosperity.
– Is this confidential?
– No, the proceedings in this chamber are being broadcast so that the people throughout Australia may hear them. Doubtless, however. Senator O’sullivan will wish before 1 conclude that my information- had been kept confidential. The period of false prosperity to which 1 have just referred was brought about by that “tragic Treasurer”, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), who borrowed money overseas to pay the public servants of this country, in order to keep going. We lived on money borrowed from overseas for some years, and had to pay the penalty subsequently. We suffered a reverse from 1929 until 1941 when the Australian Labour party was elected to office. I have never heard of such a disgraceful state of affairs in any other country, nor have I heard of such degradation as was suffered by this country during that period. However, when the present Government assumed office the affairs of this country were placed on a sound economic basis. The whole of Australia’s effort in World War II. was financed from within Australia; not one penny-piece was raised beyond our shores. As the Leader of the Opposition rightly said we are now collecting millions of pounds more revenue and expending more money than ever during pre-war years. To-day there is full employment and conditions generally are much better than when 700,000 of our people were unemployed. All of our people are profitably employed and earning good money. That makes a tremendous difference to the country from a revenue point of view. One can easily realize that 700,000 people unemployed could result in inadequate “food and clothing for 2,000,000 people. For a quarter of a century before the present Government came to office this country, had been lying dormant under anti-Labour governments. The Leader of the Opposition complained volubly about what this Government had done or failed to do for the primary producers. However, did the anti-Labour Governments of the past ever do anything to assist the primary producers of this country ?
– Yes, definitely.
– Did they ever subsidize the dairying industry? They did not. The dairy-farmers received only 6^. per lb. for butter-fat. Wheatfarmers went “ broke “ because they werecompelled to sell their wheat for ls. 9d. a bushel.
– Many wheatfarmers went bankrupt.
– In an effort to stabilize the dairying industry this Government increased the price of butter-fat from ls. 4£d. per lb. to 2s. 7Jd. per lb. In addition subsidies amounting to £35,800,000 have been paid to that industry. I remind the Senate that for the preceding quarter of a century the dairyfarmers did not receive one penny as subsidy from anti-Labour Governments. As I was a producer at that time I know the facts first-hand. The Daily News, on the 15th March, 1939, reported Mr. Blythe as saying at a meeting of dairy-farmers held at Kempsey -
Sir Earle Page has never represented hia constituents,, and never will. . . . He is the biggest failure ever known as a politician aa far as the dairy industry is concerned . . . Sir Earle Page helped to control the destinies of Australia for twenty years and did nothing for the dairy-farmer.
Why did not he do something? I was here for a long time before supporting the Government in this chamber. During that period I witnessed much wrangling between the members of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party to see who was to have the plums of office.
– The fight is not yet finished.
– That is so: Honorable senators will recollect that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) described” the. Leader, of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies). ..as the greatest self-seeker that this country had ever produced, whilst the Leader of the Australian Country party in’ that House (Mr. Fadden) said- that the right honorable gentleman had stabbed him in’ the back. To-day the members of the Australian Country party and the Liberal party in Victoria are fighting the most bitter war that has ever been waged between two political parties in this country. I need hardly remind honorable senators that those two parties which claim to have done so much for industry and primary producers generally were engaged in this battle at the most critical stages of the recent war. That is indicative of the co-operation that the people received, from their representatives in those parties. The Leader of the Opposition claimed, that there is insufficient production in Australia. When I asked him how he would overcome the deficiency he stumbled badly.
– The- first thing necessary would be a change of government.
– We should then have a state of chaos because the workers of this country now realize that they were born not merely to work, but to live. The Leader of the Opposition also said that we should import our requirements from other, countries. Only a few minutes previously, he had decried socialism and asked why this Government should import goods pursuant to a socialist policy and dole them out. There is nothing to prevent the State governments from importing goods from overseas.
– They are importing coal now.
– Why did they not do it before? It is not the responsibility of this Government to continue to spoonfeed them as was done during the war.
– The present Government accepts no responsibility at all.
– It is clear that the honorable senator does not know the difference between irresponsibility and responsibility. That reminds me of the utterances of one his amateur associates, who I understand will seek election at the forthcoming general election. He said, “We should tell that bunch’ ia Canberra what they should do. They should not tell us what to do. It is only pushing us around.” He was referring to the members of this Parliament. What a conception of political life that gentleman has! Yet, by a lucky fluke he may gain a seat in Opposition in this chamber. The only people that have been pushed around are those who have defied law and order. The gentleman I have mentioned also said, “ We should tell them what to do because they are our servants “. While it is true that we are the servants of the public, we have been elected to carry on responsible government and to keep law and order. I cannot agree that we should be told what to do. If we listen to every trade union, chamber of commerce, and local government body, we should have many public bodies outside telling us what *e do ; if we obeyed them we should be described as weak-kneed, and rightly so. A party goes to the country on its policy. The Australian Labour party has a policy and does not need to be told by the outside public what to do, when elected. I recollect that in 1939 the outside public told the government of the day what to do. In that year the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives came back from England and told us of the ghastly horror of war in Great Britain and in other parts of Europe. In effect, the people of Australia said, “ Tell us what you want us to do and we will do it “. They were ready to take any instructions and orders. The ball was at the right honorable gentleman’s feet but he did not have sufficient common sense or ability to kick it. He contrived to retain office until. 1941, but in that year he had to resign his commission because he was incompetent to carry on. He recommended to the Governor-General that Mr. Fadden should form a government, and a commission was issued to Mr. Fadden. His Government remained in office for only three weeks, when it was compelled to resign because of the incompetence and intrigue which characterized it. Mr. Curtin was then entrusted with the destinies of the nation. He found that there were still 200,000 people unemployed and that the nation w.as totally unprepared for war. He. had to begin right from scratch-
– That is not what he said.
– But that is exactly what happened. The Leader of the Opposition is typical of the candidates that the anti-Labour parties will offer to the electors at the next general election. They will tell the electors that if their parties are returned to office they will make a practice of asking the general public what it wants them to do. Just imagine the chaotic state of affairs that would develop if an Administration had to seek the advice of outside public bodies’ before taking action! It would be showered with conflicting advice by 1,001 outside bodies. The Opposition should now acknowledge frankly the very able job that this Administration has done in implementing its policy - call it socialism if you like. What is the alternative to socialism? The only alternative is slavery. The only instances of socialism having failed in Australia have occurred where the Administrations that were elected to implement that policy found themselves incompetent to do so. That has occurred, and continues to occur, in a number of States. I commend the bill.
– I listened attentively to the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), and I was struck by the heavy weather that he apparently encountered in making’ it. In the course of his address, which occupied approximately one hour and a half, he appeared to make three points. He appealed to the Government to improve the conditions of totally incapacitated ex-servicemen, and when he made that appeal he sounded as though his heart bled for them. As a matter of fact, my heart bled for him. He knows very well that this Government will adequately attend to the welfare of exservicemen, because it has been much more solicittous of the best interests of ex-servicemen than have governments of other political faiths. My heart bled for him when he made his appeal because of the difficulty that I knew he must have experienced in having to attack an Administration with which he is, in the main, heartily in accord. I think that his reluctance to make that attack was responsible for the very heavy weather that he obviously experienced. The Leader of the Opposition seems to me to be something of an anachronism, in that he still adheres to the anti-Labour party which treated ex-servicemen so badly after World War I. The Administration that was in office at that time enacted a measure to give what it termed “ preference “ in employment to exservicemen. In practice it was found that it gave them preference only for the manual and menial jobs, such as attending to the business end of a pick and shovel. Almost every provision of the preference measure contained some qualifying phrase, such as, “ other things being equal “. I know at first-hand the shocking experiences of many exservicemen of World War I., and I know how bitterly they resented the treatment given to them. Indeed, I have related many of their experiences in this chamber on various occasions. If the political parties that are at present in Opposition were in office to-morrow they would undoubtedly repeat the treament given to exservicemen by the reactionary government that ruled England immediately after the Crimean War. Harry Yorke, who was a prominent author at that time, wrote a song which became very popular. I could not help thinking of the words of that song while I was listening to the Leader of the Opposition. Yorke put into the mouth of an imaginary Victoria Cross winner these words -
What have they done for their heroes?
How have they treated their heroes?
Starved and neglected them,
Spurned and rejected them,
Until in the workhouse life ends.
Now, kind sirs, I will be going; -
On charity no longer I’ll live -
My heart is nigh broke;
I feel I should choke.
That’s how John Bull treats his friends.
That is how John Bull treated his heroes, and that is how the prototypes of the reactionaries of England, the anti-Labour parties of this country, treated the heroes of Australia after World War I. For that reason I know that the appeal made by the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the political parties opposite to the present Government to be more solicitous of the interests of ex-servicemen was just so much beating the wind. The members of those parties know very well that the interests of ex-servicemen will be more sympathetically and effectively safeguarded by Labour than they would be by a non-Labour administration. In short, the answer to the honorable senator’s criticism of the Government’s policy towards ex-servicemen is that it is proposed to appropriate £16,900,000 to further their interests, among other things.
Although the Leader of the Opposition accused the Government of wasting public money, he proceeded almost immediately to indicate another direction in which the taxpayers’ money might be squandered. He spoke eloquently of the “ cocky farmers “ who, he alleged, are suffering from the depredations of the dingoes, and he advocated the payment of a poll tax on the scalps of dead dingoes-
– I made my appeal on behalf of a primary industry which is a national asset, not on behalf of the “ cocky farmers “, as the honorable senator termed them. Of course, the honorable senator would not understand that
– No, I do not understand dingoes. I have not had much to do with them. I believe, however, that they hunt in packs, and that when one is found on its own it is invariably shy, nervous and cowardly. The honorable senator also appealed to the Government to reduce income tax. He accused the Government of having squandered a great deal of money, and said that the fact that during three consecutive years the revenue received had exceeded the estimates by an aggregate amount of £125,000,000 indicated incompetence on the part of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). I do not know whether the honorable senator was really worried about the excess of the actual revenue over the estimated receipts, or whether he was merely repeating something that he had heard in the House of Representatives. The reason for the increase is easily understood when we realize that under sound administration and prosperous conditions more people obtain employment and so bring themselves within the ranks of the taxpayers. As individuals’ wages increase the scale of taxation also increases, so that to-day much more is being collected in income tax because there are more taxpayers and most of them are earning more money. Since no one can accurately foretell the future, the Government cannot be blamed because, under its enlightened administration, more people have found remunerative employment than ever before, are earning more money than ever before, and consequently, are contributing more in taxes. It is an instance of success begetting success. Of course, none of the administrations which the honorable senator supported was fortunate enough to have so many people in employment as are employed at the present time, and hence not nearly so many people were able to pay income tax. When times are bad most people do not complain of income tax because they are not earning sufficient to have to pay tax. One reason why the number of taxpayers was so much lower under anti-Labour administrations than it is at present is that the anti-Labour parties do no believe in full employment. On the contrary, they believe that there should always be a reserve of unemployed, so that the interests that they represent may use the threat of unemployment to compel those who are fortunate enough to be in employment to keep their hands and heads to their tasks.
Although the anti-Labour factions have changed their names many times in the last 50 years they have not experienced any real change of heart. One of their customary political tactics is to seek to frighten the electors with a bogy. The bogy with which they are attempting to scare the people now is the same as that which they used as far back at 1908, when I came to this country. At that time they were preparing their bogy for the general election of 1940. It was a hideous and gaudily painted tiger, which was supposed to represent socialism. They have never yet contested an election on real issues. Because a general election will be held later this year we must beware of our opponents and their favourite bogy. As the soundness of the present Government’s administration becomes more apparent, and as the popularity of that administration increases, fo will the intensity of the Opposition’s attack increase. The campaign against the Australian Labour party will be augmented and intensified considerably between now and the date of the election. Our opponents will use the press, the platform, and, I am afraid, in many instances, the pulpit, in order to discredit us and mislead the people. We realize that. One never expects a burglar to drop his loot without waging some sort of struggle. Labour is now in the position of the pursuer who is overtaking the burglar, who is fighting rather than drop his loot. The trading banks are frantic because they appear likely to lose the tremendous power that they have wielded over the industrial and commercial enterprise and the people of this country. I predict that within a few days the Australian Government will have won its appeal to the Privy Council against the decision of the High Court in the banking case. Then there are the shipping interests, with their wide ramifications, which are opposing very bitterly the attempts of the Government to nationalize the airways. The moneyed interests of this country have their tentacles deep in the banks, the shipping companies and the airways. Then we have the coal barons, many of whose names are prominent in the list of shareholders in banks, shipping and industrial concerns. Then, of course, there are the doctors who recently broke out in open rebellion, and, by so doing, were guilty of just as much lawlessness as could ever be attributed to the Communists. They are claiming the sole right to be the guardians of the health and well-being of the community; but surely that too is a responsibility of governments, although the Labour Government is the only administration in the history of the Commonwealth that has ever been prepared to shoulder that responsibility. We believe that it is our job to implement a comprehensive health service as part of our complete social welfare programme. Such a service should include free hospitalization, free medicine and free medical and dental treatment. ‘ We are determined to safeguard the health and general welfare of the people of this country. However, the medical profession is firmly entrenched, and has the backing of financial interests. They are putting up a fight. The miner who strikes over a trivial issue is not nearly so guilty as is the doctor who rebels against the Government. The waterside worker who withdraws his labour from the wharfs has a much better case, poor though it may be, than has a doctor who claims the right of life and death over members of the community in spite of anything that the Government may ask him to do. The British Medical Association has issued its challenge, and has refused to retreat from the stand that it has taken. I am rather disappointed that the Government has appeased the British Medical Association to any degree at all. The Minister for Health (Mr. McKenna) has made repeated appeals for conferences, and various matters have been discussed, but without success. The doctors have been adamant. Ultimately, we shall have to use the strong arm. We shall bring these people to book just as we shall bring any other law-breakers to book. Members of the Liberal party are the champions of the British Medical Association, and we can expect the Liberal party, with the aid of the press, to wage a bitter campaign to prevent the Government from- reaching its objective. But Labour never expects any other treatment from the press, which has always supported repression. T remember that in 1939, when the then Prime Minister of this, country, who is now the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), returned to Australia after a visit to Great Britain, wide publicity was given to an announcement that the right honorable gen tern an would deliver a speech of the utmost importance upon his arrival at Rose Bay. Everybody was told to listen for that vital message from the Prime Minister. Fresh from am interview with the Italian fascist leader Mussolini, the right honorable gentleman spoke for three-quarters of an hour. He made two points. The first was that the people of Australia should produce more and more in competition with their rivals in Europe, and the second was that they should “ beware of the Communist “. That has been the cry of the anti-Labour parties for many years - “ Beware of the Communist “ - yet they have done more than anybody else to foster communism. A brief survey of present-day conditions throughout the world will convince anybody that communism thrives most where stomachs are empty.
– That is all rot. What about the coal-miners? They are amongst the most highly paid workers in industry in this country.
– They are coalminers. I regret that the honorable senator does not see eye to eye with me on this matter. I was cherishing the sweet thought that the honorable senator’s absence from this chamber when- the pharmaceutical benefits legislation was walder consideration earlier this year was due to his agreement with Labour’s aims. I had given the honorable senator a credit mark for his attitude^ and I regretthat I was wrong. However, I am still hoping that he will join us on this side of the chamber some day. We shall receive him as a repentant sinner. After making the two points to which I have referred, the then Prime Minister said that he was sorry thai he had to come back to this country to take part in the diabolical game of politics. I have been interested in politics for many years, but I have never known anybody to be so diabolical politically as is the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. He is up to the same old tricks. He has been stumping the country stating half-truths and imparting questionable items of information in an endeavour to sidetrack the people as they were sidetracked at the last two referendum campaigns. Between times, the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues have been harassing a really great Australian, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who has put Australia on the political map, and has proved himself to be a great leader. Attacks by Opposition members upon the Minister for External Affairs remind one of a packs of dogs yapping at the legs of an elephant. The anti-Labour parties had made a flying start at recent referendum campaigns. The Labour party has always had to hold back because of the lack of the funds necessary to wage a lengthy campaign. Due mainly to the success of this technique, the Liberal party has been able to deceive the -people into voting against the Government proposals. Take, for instance, .the three-point referendum of four years ago. The Government sought .power for the Commonwealth in respect of social services, organized marketing, and trade and commerce. Only the social services question received an affirmative vote, although the Government has helped in respect of organized marketing since that date at the request of the primary producers. In rejecting the proposal to -confer upon the Commonwealth power to legislate in respect of trade and commerce, the workers of this -country .made a great mistake, because with that power the Commonwealth would have been able to embark upon the production .of essential goods in its war-time factories. That would have brought about a measure of decentralization, extended the amenities of city life to country areas, and helped to preserve the .country family unit. Incidentally it would .also .have relieved the coal and electricity position which is so acute to-day, .particularly in Sydney. Those are all incidental benefits that would have accrued. There would, also have been direct benefits. If, for instance, a -dispute occurred in the coalmines, on the waterfront, or in the shearing sheds, the Government would have been .able to step in and mediate much more effectively than can the States. It would also have been able to prevent threatened disputes. When strikes occur one often hears the question, “ Why doesn’t the Government do something about it ? “ The reason is .that the people refused to give the Government power to act. Unfortunately at the referendum campaign four years ago they swallowed the propaganda that was fed to them by the Opposition parties. As the .event happened .so recently I do not need to recapitulate; but they swallowed the advice of the Liberal party and its cohorts to reject the Government’s proposal to give to the Commonwealth power to continue prices control on a nation-wide basis. The Government warned the people of what would happen should they reject that proposal, and its warning has been proved to be justified. A movement was initiated recently in the House of Representatives with the object of upsetting the rationing of petrol. At the same time, an unsocial individual in Queensland who had been arraigned on a charge of black .marketing following the discovery that he possessed more petrol ration tickets than he could properly account for, questioned the validity of the Government’s power to continue petrol rationing,; and the High Court’s decision in that case declaring the petrol rationing regulations to be invalid created .more confusion. I nave no doubt that, consequently, black .marketing will become rife within two or three months and that chaos will exist as the general election approaches »t :the end of the year.. The people will realize the real cause of such conditions. They will realize that no blame .can be laid :at the .door of the Government, just as they now realize that the higher prices which they must pay at present for commodities are due to the fact that they accepted the advice of the Opposition parties and rejected the Government’s referendum proposals. In those circumstances, our opponents will be hoist by their own petard. The Opposition parties have .undertaken two campaigns in preparation for the coming general election. They are getting in early. Tie first is their public campaign against the Communists who, they say, are controlling the Labour party. They are endeavouring to attach the Communists to the Labour party. I have no connexion with the Communist party. I am bitterly opposed to it because of the methods to which it resorts. Basically, the Communists may have the same ideals as we have.
– Or lack of them.
– It will be easy for Senator O’sullivan to assimilate socialism when we have won him over ito our side.
– Socialism would give me indigestion.
– We can find an antidote for that. The result would depend upon the honorable senator’s mental as well as his physical powers. At first, perhaps, he might suffer mental indigestion because of his long association with his present friends. The second campaign which .the Liberal party is now conducting is a whispering campaign with the object of stirring up sectarianism. In this campaign our opponents are saying that the Government is controlled by a certain church. Thus, on the one hand, they say that the Government is controlled by the Communists, and, on the other hand, that it is controlled by a certain church, which, incidentally, is the greatest enemy of communism. The Opposition parties cannot have it both ways; that is the explanation of their whispering campaign. I warn the people that if they swallow that sort of thing it will be a bad day for them. Personally, I do not think that they will. In any event, their reaction to that sort of propaganda, whatever it may be, will not affect me personally, because by the time any such campaign can produce any ill effects in our party I shall no longer be interested in the position which I now occupy in the party. I am happy in the knowledge that I support a Government whose primary objective is the emancipation of the poorer sections of the community and a fairer distribution of this world’s goods and comforts in the community generally. It is because the Government’s policy is humane that our opponents are so bitter and are waging such an intensive campaign against us. Those parties arp now looking for a whip with which to thrash us; that is how they are preparing for the next general election. But their campaign is foolish, because if I know the temper of the community in which I have lived and studied the political atmosphere for many years, the people, notwithstanding that they may be irritated by certain restrictions will realize that the alternative to a Labour government is too awful to contemplate. Whilst the people may evince irritation at some of the Government’s actions, I believe that basically they are determined to keep the Chifley Government in office for as long as possible. I am sure that before I leave the Senate the Labour party will have fully implemented its social services programme and thus will have given economic security to the people. By that time we shall definitely have destroyed the bogy of communism that has been used against us during the last 45 or 50 years, because when this Government has given economic security to the people we shall have done the job which the Communist party professes it came into existence to achieve; and we shall have done so by constitutional means without resorting to the rule of force. I hope that within the next few weeks, when the result of the Government’s appeal in the banking case to the Privy Council is made known, we shall have dried up the reservoir of funds on which the Liberal party has depended in the past and that we shall have destroyed the need for the existence of the Communist party as a separate individual entity and, at the same time, we shall have destroyed the means upon which the Liberal party has depended up to date for its existence.
We know that the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues must put up some sort of a case. Like the ordinary workers, they have to fill in their timesheet and give an account of their stewardship. Otherwise they would not be furnished with their election campaign funds; and it would be a very expensive proposition for them to run an election campaign unless they received funds and support from the press, banking institutions and other vested interests. Unlike the Liberal party, the Labour party is able to foot its own bill, because it is an idealistic party which depends upon the zeal, enthusiasm ami voluntary effort of its members to achieve its objectives. The Liberal party depends upon the “ money bags “ and the press. I have no doubt that within the next few weeks we shall find that the source of the Liberal party’s funds will be dried up, and consequently the present Government will be free of any danger of losing the reins of office until such time as it has fully implemented its social security programme. I can see that Senator O’sullivan desires to belong to a party whose whole policy he can support.
– a complete “ ratbag “ yet.
– In spite of what the honorable senator may say, 1 know from his general expression and behaviour that he has much more in common with the Labour party than he has with the Liberal party.
– Consideration of the measure now before the Senate involves discussion of the Government’s future requirements. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) said that production was being held up because of strikes, and, as the Opposition invariably does, he placed all the blame for strikes upon the workers. I do not accept that view. I believe that the worker who sells his labour has a perfect right to receive the full value of what he produces. But that is not so under our system.
– Who denies that?
– The people whom the honorable senator represents, who have attempted to deprive the workers of their rights in the past. Now they are trying to introduce what they call incentive payments in an effort to speed up industry as much as possible and get more and more out of the workers. If the Australian people heed our advice, they will have nothing to do with incentive payments. Workers throughout the world have had bitter experience of incentive payments. Only recently, upon the introduction of the 40-hour week, the match manufacturers, Bryant and May Proprietary Limited, decided to increase the speed of operation of their machines from 36 revolutions a minute to 44. Under the 44-hour week, the factory had been producing 1,350 gross of boxes of matches daily. With the speeding up of the machines under the 40-hour week, the output was increased to 1,400 gross of boxes daily. That brought about a reduction of the incentive payments to workers. Employees had been getting a bonus of 17s. or 18s. each a week under the 44-hour week, but that payment was reduced to 12s. 2d. a week after the rate of production had been accelerated. No doubt, if the company discovers another way of speeding up production even further, it will reduce incentive payments again. Let the workers be warned not to have anything to do with incentive payments! While Senator Large was speaking, Senator O’sullivan suggested, by interjection, that the miners were the highest paid workers in Australia. That i.« absolutely untrue.
– Who is paid more highly?
– The average wages of the miners arc £8 a week.
– That is wrong.
– That is absolutely true, and I can produce the authority for my statement. The honorable senator interrupts with interjections, but can give no authority for his assertion. I tell him now that I am speaking authoritatively when I say that the average earnings of the miners are £8 a week.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order! Senator Morrow must be allowed to make his speech in his own way without interruption.
– I do not mind, Mr. Deputy President, but when I hear untruths cast about the chamber, I think that somebody should prove to the people that they are untruths.
I shall state the facts about coal production in Australia, and I take my figures from statistics prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician. During 1947-48, coal production in Australia amounted to 14,719,000 tons. In 1938-39, it amounted to only 12,198,000 tons. Furthermore, there are now 10,000 fewer men employed in the industry than in 1924. If the coal-mining industry is in a sorry state, what is the cause? The truth is that, if the work is not made sufficiently attractive to induce men to engage in it, they will go where the best rates of pay and the best conditions apply in safer occupations. Mine workers follow a very precarious occupation. When they leave home in the morning they do not know whether they will return at night. In fact, they cannot be sure that they will arrive at their place of work because some of them have to walk two or three miles underground to the coal face. They are obliged to walk because the mine owners will not provide transport for them. The mine-owners always wait until they are forced to do things before they comply with the requests of miners. A former government established a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for the purpose of settling industrial disputes. But has that tribunal acted as it was intended to act? As all honorable senators know, the Arbitration Court is presided over by judges. It was established for tie purpose of preventing industrial disputes and ensuring that they should not lead to strikes. Unfortunately, the experience of the Australian people has been that, unless they are. prepared to take industrial action in order to force recognition of their claims, no notice is taken of them. Mine-owners and the Arbitration Court have, in fact,, encouraged industrial disputes by neglecting the requirements of the men. I shall relate some of the causes of industrial action in the mining industry in order to demonstrate why the men have been forced to strike or to threaten to strike. A mine-owner in Queensland refused to comply with the demand of a miners’ lodge that wooden rails be replaced with steel rails. He said that there was no steel available in the State. The miners threatened to strike, and next day sufficient steel rails to replace the wooden rails were produced. The men had been forced to threaten to strike. Here is another instance. After nine months of fruitless agitation, a New South Walesminers’ lodge informed the management of the mine that the men would go on strike if a bathroom that let in water was not repaired. They stopped work for oneday, and the bathroom was repaired by the next day. The management encouraged that strike. The management of another mine in western New South Wales refused, to provide a. proper bathroom for the workers. It claimed that the mine was declining and estimated that it would not last more than another forty years ! That is the sort of thing that has encouraged people, to take industrial action. They realize that they get nowhere with conciliation. The same sort of thing happens in the: Arbitration Court, of which I 9peak from- experience, having appeared before many judges and conciliation commissioners. As honorable senators are aware, this Government attempted to have the Constitution altered so as to provide the Commonwealth Parliament with power in relation to employment and unemployment. However, as the result of the activities- of the Liberal party, the. press, commercial radio stations, and other organizations, the people did not give their authority for the proposed alteration. Consequently, the only tribunal that exists to deal, with problems of employment is. the Arbi*tration Court. Recently, a man was jailed for contempt of the. Arbitration. Court. He purged his offence, but the judges would not allow- him to appear before the court because he re: fused to give an assurance that he would prevent strikes from being used as a means: of enforcing an increase of the basicwage: They know very little about the trade union movement if they ask a union T representative to give such an undertaking,! A man who appears in a court on behalf of a trade union, is expected to put its case to the court. The judges have the right to listen to that case and to the case in rebuttal. They have no right to ask any individual to assure the court that there will be no industrial strife if the men do not get what they want from the court. This tribunal is trying to dictate to the workers.
– They must abide- by the- award of the court.
– If people had abided- by the law in the past we should not be in the position that we are in to-day, because the workers have had to break laws inorder to make progress: I recall an occasion when I appeared’ before an Arbitration Court judge to apply for a war loading for railwaymen in Tasmania. Only a few days previously that judge had made an order prescribing a war loading for railwaymen in similar positions on the mainland. He did so on the grounds that the men had been put to extra inconvenience, and were doing more work and carrying more responsibility than previously. That was also true of the railwaymen in Tasmania on whose behalf I approached the court. The real, reason why the judge made that order was that the men on the mainland had threatened to strike. He knew that Tas mania was quieter than the mainland and that the workers there were not so rebellious. He did not expect them to tate any industrial action, and he said that he would not grant them any increase of wages because he did not believe that they were entitled to it, even though he had already granted an increase on the mainland. Mr. J. E. Chapple, the general secretary of the Australian Railways Union, and I appeared before the judge. At 2 p.m. we completed the presentation of our case for the union. The employers’ representative presented their case. The judge then pulled out his judgment from under the counter and read it to us. His associate afterwards handed a copy of the judgment to us and remarked, “ I am tired “. I asked why she was tired, and she replied, “ I was up till twelve o’clock last night typing this judgment”. The judge had prepared his judgment before he had heard the case .’ One cannot have respect for an institution that operates in such a manner. On another occasion I submitted a claim for an allowance of 12s. a day for men who were required to leave their homes in the course of their work. At that time they were receiving “ away from home expenses “ amounting to 8s. a day. I told the judge that I was ashamed to be asking only for 12s. a day because I believed that the amount was inadequate. The judge asked, “ Why do you want 12s. a day “ ? I replied, “ For the purpose of compensating these men for wear and tear on their clothing while they are away from home, for outofpocket expenses and for the loss of the comforts and association of home”. “Oh”, he said, “I get £2 2s. a day, and that does not compensate me “. I said, “ Then I need not proceed with my argument. I can sit down since Your Honour is on our side “. He replied. “ No. I am different.”
I consider that no judge has the right to ask an advocate to give an undertaking to the court that the trade union members whom he represents will not take direct action if they are not satisfied with the decision of the court. I shall quote the statement that the man who had been gaoled for contempt of the Arbitration Court was asked to sign when he appeared before the court again on behalf of his union. He was told that he would not be heard in the court unless he was prepared to sign this document -
I desire to say that T. accept the decision of the court on the charge of .contempt recently made against tug and that I retract the words found to have been used by me. I now believe that the judges of the court will not be affected in the proper performance of their duty hy any industrial pressure, whether of strike or lockout, which may be resorted to for the purpose of influencing .their decision. I withdraw the suggestion of vindictiveness on the part of the court which I made yesterday.
The man said .that he would not sign it and I think that he was quite right. It is not- right that a court should challenge any representative of the workers. That man was sentenced to a month in gaol, and in .accordance with British justice, having purged the crime, he was a free man again. There have been many instances of the courts failing to deal with cases as expeditiously as they could. In October, 1946, the Australian Railways Union in Tasmania lodged a claim in the Arbitration Court for improved wages and conditions. The majority of the claims have not yet been heard. Had the Tasmanian ‘railwaymen rebelled and struck, their claims would probably have been heard long ago. In this way the courts encourage industrial trouble, because the men have to resort to direct action in order to get .a hearing. I. believe that if the incentive in the coal-mines was the production of coal for use, rather than for profit, we would not be in the position that we are in to-day. I have been told that there are 70,000,000 tons of coal which will never be won because the owners used the pillar system. The best coal was hewed out and the inferior coal left standing. All that they thought about was profit. The Leader of the Opposition said that we should import more coal from England and other places. The reason why .coal has not been imported in any great quantities is that such coal is too dear. The Australian coal-miners to-day are producing coal more cheaply than are any other coal-miners in the world. The price of Australian coal .averages between 30s. and 30s. 5d. a ton, compared with £6 2s. 6d. in Great Britain, £3 14s. 4d. in the United States of America, £7 4s. 8d. in India, and £2 19s. in New Zealand. It is obvious, therefore, that the reason why more coal is not imported is that it costs too much. The Australian coal-miners are efficient and produce a greater amount of coal at :a cheaper price per man than do coalminers elsewhere. Each year they are producing about 200 tons a man more now than in 1924. We are told that man will not work. I contend that they will work provided that they are treated fairly. In the coal districts of Australia there are big collieries 50 years old with no sanitation and no drinking water. A survey conducted in the northern districts of New South Wales last year revealed that there were only eight collieries with adequate pit-top shelters and six with lunchroom facilities. Eight had no bathroom, and none had a bathroom up to standard. That is enough to make men rebel. They are entitled to fight because they are being robbed right and left not only with relation to wages but also in connexion with their conditions generally. If the coalowners of this country were prepared to treat their workers fairly there would be no trouble on the coal-fields to-day. I do not know how the owners manage to get the miners to work at all in view of the inadequate facilities that they provide for their men. Many miners are moving to the cities because employers there offer better remuneration and more consideration. Because the Commonwealth cannot nationalize the coal mines the States should do so immediately in order to prevent waste of coal and provide the coalminers and their dependants with a better livelihood. A recent inspection of coalminers’ homes revealed that they were not equipped with hot and cold water systems, that they had inadequate sanitary arrangements, and no heating facilities. The men were living in shacks which were anything but comfortable. Frequently members of the Liberal party complain that the workers of this country are not producing sufficient building materials. However, on investigation it has been found that production has increased considerably since 1939. That applies particularly to timber and cement. In 1938-39, 868,000 tons of cement were produced, whilst in 194748 production amounted to 988,000 tons. In 1938-39, 7,605,000 square yards of fibrous plaster sheets were produced, compared with 11.099,000 square yards in 1947-48. There has been a big increase in the production of roofing tiles also. In 1947-48, 1,099,000,000 super, feet of sawn native timber was produced, compared with 717,000,000 super, feet, in 1938-39. Throughout the whole range of building materials, production has increased considerably. Yet we are repeatedly confronted with the old cry that there are shortages to-day because the workers will not produce.
I consider that the basic wage in thi* country is inadequate. As I pointed out before in this chamber, during my speech on the budget, if people wanted to buy the quantities of goods mentioned in the Piddington Report they would require £10 a week. Application has been made by the unions for a basic wage of £10 a week, with an interim increase of £2 a week. That interim rise has been rejected. Is not that encouraging tin people to take the whole situation into their own hands ? If logical action is no’ taken in the very near future Australis will be in a state of turmoil because of the increase in the cost of living and inflationary tendencies. The purchasing power of the £1. is diminishing to such a degree that the people are unable to enjoy a reasonable standard of comfort. Furthermore, the Arbitration Court provides that the individual shall have only 76 quarts of fresh milk and five tins of condensed milk a year, despite the fac* that milk is essential for the maintenance of good health. I believe that if we are prepared to help the working people of this country production will be increased considerably. Unfortunately the Commonwealth does not possess the requisite power in this connexion. In many instances, the workers say to themselves. “ Why should we burst our boilers when the major portion of the profits are taken from us? “ It has been said that, due to high taxation, neither the workers nor the employers will produce. According to official figures, profits before tax have increased by 99 per cent, and profits after tax by 45 per cent, since 1938-39. Dividends paid have increased by 52 per cent. In view of that big increase, the workers are entitled to a greater share of the commodities produced or the value of the goods that they produce. The newspapers have been telling the people of this country that the workers will not produce because if they work overtime they are taxed so heavily on their earnings that they are almost working for nothing. That is erroneous. The newspapers are trying to mislead the people. If a man with a dependent wife and two children, working a normal week of 40 hours and receiving a wage of £10 a week, should work three hours overtime, he would receive £1 2s. 6d., less 3s. lOd. tax; if he worked nine hours over-time he would receive a payment of £3 7s. 6d., less lis. lOd. tax. If he were in receipt of £11 a week he would receive £1 4s. 9d., less 4s. 9d. tax for three hours over-time, and £3 14s. 3d., less 14s. Id. tax for nine hours overtime. I contend that a deliberate attempt has been made to hoodwink the worker into believing that he is being robbed by the Government instead of by the employer, or because of the system under which he is working. I cannot see any remedy unless the people of this country are prepared to take into consideration the way that this Government, or for that matter any other government, is fettered. The Constitution was drawn up in 1900. lt was designed to fit in with the progress of this country at that time, gauged by horse-and-buggy speed. Now, however, we are trying to apply a horse-and-buggy Constitution to the aeroplane speed of modern times. The people of Australia would be well advised to study the Constitution in order to understand why the Government seeks authority for alterations. I am convinced that when the fourteen points wore put. to the people, they did not understand them. We have not given the people sufficient education about the limitations of the functions of government imposed by the Constitution. Governments are forced to resort to palliatives. We get into a vicious circle and keep going. The only way that the people of this country will obtain any benefit is by the application of socialism. I say that advisedly because the people would then be getting the full value for their labour and would not be exploited for profit by a few individuals.
– I agree with Senator Morrow about the necessity for an amendment of the Constitution. Although this Government is expected to do things on a national basis and with a national outlook, the Constitution under which it has to work prevents it from accomplishing most of its objectives. I believe that the motto “ Australia a nation “ should be adopted. The people should look at matters from a national, rather than a parochial or State, point of view. Australians have participated in two world wars. Had the States not pulled together as one unit, a nation, we should not have been able to prosecute our part in those wars to a successful conclusion. I believe, therefore, that the people of Australia are lacking in knowledge and appreciation of the constitutional limitations imposed upon the Parliament and the Government to implement proposals that would advance the real interests of the community.
– The real issues have always been obscured and confused by vested interests.
– That is correct. In the course of a broadcast which the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) recently delivered, he said that he knew of no better country in which to live to-day than Australia, and I do not think that any one will deny the truth of that statement. This is undoubtedly the best country in the world in which to live at present. I emphasize, however, that the favorable conditions enjoyed by the majority of people can continue only if a Labour administration of similar calibre to the present Government continues to control the affairs of this country. In the course of that speech the Prime Minister said -
That is because the Government has proceeded, step by step, as the position warranted, whereas, to have reduced taxes blindly would have meant that the Government would have had to borrow; social services could not have been increased; and there would have been an inflationary boom, leading to unemployment.
That is a statement of fact and it reflects the accomplishments of the present Government. To use a colloquialism, the Opposition has not a feather to fly with. It cannot possibly substantiate the criticisms that it has made of the Government. There is no need for me to recapitulate the events associated with Labour’s accession to office during the war and its conduct of affairs at that time. Because of the soundness of its policy and administration, and the enthusiastic co-operation of the people of this country it was able to transform the inertia that characterized our efforts until then into the totalitarian effort that was necessary to win the war.
If we review the record of Labour’s achievements from the time it assumed office in 1941 until now, including the two very difficult periods of the- war and the aftermath of the war, I think that it will be agreed that no government in any country has done a better job. Furthermore, that statement, unlike most of thestatements made by our critics, can be substantiated by actual achievements.
These bills propose that a total of £22,924,000 shall be appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue. When the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Treasurer, introduced the budget in September last,, he estimated that revenue from all sources would total £492,800,000, and. expenditure was estimated at- £510,500,000 so that there was an estimated deficit of £17,700,000. Since the estimates were made and the budget was introduced many changes in our economy have occurred. Revenue has increased beyond expectations: That increase which, has been criticized by the Leader of the Opposition,, is made up of higher returns from income tax,, social services contributions duties of. Customs and Excise and one or. two other sources. Because of that increase the Government now finds it necessary to revise its earlier estimates. It now believes that revenue will exceed the budgetary estimate by approximately £35,000^000, and that the actual expenditure will exceed the estimated expenditure by approximately £14,000j000, so that the result should be a surplus of approximately £3,000,000. Our opponents have contended- in the course of this debate that, the Government will have a much larger surplus, and statements have been made recently outside the- Parliament that the Government, will have an astronomical surplus in- hand at the end of the financial’ year. The inference which our critics desire the public to draw from those’ statements is that the Government, knew when it made its original estimates that the revenue would greatly increase, and’ that’ it deliberately understated the estimates of revenue in order to avoid making the taxation concessions’ that it would, otherwise have felt impelled to make’. But. the revised estimates that’ we are now considering indicate the soundness of the- Government’s policy. Employment’ is higher than ever pre- viously. Official statistics show that more than 2,000,000’ people are in employment: That is higher than any previous figure. We all know that at present there is- practically no- unemployment and that there is a great scarcity of labour. Every day we see advertisements offering inducements of all kinds to attract people to industry, which has not sufficient labour to fulfil its demands. I believe that there is a definite desire on the part of certain interests and their representatives in the Parliament to create a measure of unemployment, so that we shall revert to the position that obtained when there was always some one lookingfor another man’s job. We have had experience of that state of affairs, and we do not want it repeated. The Government is endeavouring to obviate a recurrence of that state of affairs, and it hopes that the legislation which it has introduced will prevent, as far as it is possible to do so by legislation, a reversion to that state of affairs.
The production of our secondary industries has been criticized in the course of this debate. After listening to members of the Opposition, one. might imagine that production was not. increasing, and. that, because of the higher prices obtaining now, the total monetary value of current production did not’ reflect any actual increase of production. The fact is that since 1941, when Labour assumed office - not as the result of the expressed will of the people, but because of the ineptitude of an anti-Labour administration and’ because, of the critical attitude towards it of two independent members of the House of Representatives - the1 Curtin Government was confronted’ with a state of industrial stagnation. Labour has accomplished so much since that, time that during 1946-47 factory production reached an all-time record” of £412,000,000, which was more than double- the value of production in the financial year 1938^39. During that period, the- number of factories increased by 29 per cent., and’ the number of persons employed in- those factories’ by 42 per cent. Wages and salaries paid to factory employees, increased’ by 121 per cent. I think that those statistics effectively answer the criticism of production advanced by the Leader of the- Opposition. Furthermore;. the soundness of the Government’s policy is reflected in the rapid increase of current production, in the greater flow of imports, and in the expanded turnover of business generally. Those statements are borne out by current economic facts. A question that was asked in this chamber earlier to-day indicated the enormous amount of overseas capital that is awaiting investment in this country. The investment of that capital will, of course, still further increase production. During this period of prosperity - and I do not think it is an exaggeration to use that term - the Government has made tax concessions which have amounted to £140,000,000. That statement flatly controverts the contention of the Opposition that Labour is unduly taxing the people. “We have been told again and again that high taxes are crippling industry. That statement does not appear to be borne out by the press reports1 that appear from time to time, indicating that even after the payment of taxation most large public companies are now making greater profits than ever before. Of the wage-earners who ordinarily have to bear a large’ portion of the taxation burden, many now pay only half, and some less than half, the amount that they paid during the war. In some instances taxpayers are paying less than they did before the war. Income tax reductions have ranged from complete removal of tax from low incomeearners with dependants to reductions of 20 per cent, of the tax levied on those with high incomes.. It is. precisely because of the present incidence of taxation that our political opponents are so concerned. The consistent policy of Labour is to tax those who have the ability to pay. Because of that policy it has removed completely the burden of tax from small income-earners with dependants who cannot afford to- contribute, and has reduced the taxes on those with higher incomes by only 20’ per cent. Those who enjoy the largest incomes are called upon to bear the brunt, of the tax burden.. After all, people on very large incomes are unable to expend quite a large proportion of their earnings. They invest the surplus in securities or put it into fixed deposit.. Otherwise, the money would become stagnant, and stag nant money in a community means unemployment. Money is of value in the community only while it is circulating freely.
Reference has been made to the social services contribution. This year the Commonwealth will spend approximately £88,000,000 on social services. That money will be paid to people who are entitled to it, and the recipients of the payments are not likely to make a profit on them. Generally speaking, they will spend all the money that they receive. Therefore, as a result of the payment of £88,000,000 on social services, employment will be provided for thousands of people and to that degree, expenditure on social services will mean increased production. Therefore, the Government’s social services programme is contributing towards the maintenance of full employment in this country. What is wrong with that? This afternoon, Senator O’Byrne quoted a striking example of reduced taxation which I consider to be worth repeating. A man with a wife and two children, who- earned £6 a week in the State that imposed the lowest rate of tax in 1938-39, paid £4 in tax in that year. To-day he pays’ neither income tax nor any social services contribution-. If he were in the State that had the highest rate of tax in 1939, he could now earn up to £8 a week, and still pay les3 tax than he would have paid in combined Commonwealth and State taxes prior to uniform taxation. The few examples that I have- given completely refute the arguments that have been advanced by honorable senators opposite.
In 1947-48, our. national, income was £1,571,000,000,, which, was a substantial increase on the figure for the previous year. Despite higher prices increased production was responsible for that record national income; but the point is that to-day the finances of this country are buoyant, and our national income is five times greater’ than it was Before the war. Therefore,- looking at things fairly and squarely I cannot see that any argument can.be adduced in support of the contention that this- Government is not doing, its best, for the- people of tin’s country. On the expenditure side, rehabilitation, and repatriation- benefits for ex-servicemen are costing the Commonwealth £38,000,000 a year, and expenditure will probably continue at that level for some time. Obviously taxes will have to be levied to meet that liability. I contend that it is much better that we should meet that liability from revenue than from loans. War debt charges are costing the Commonwealth about £50,000,000 a year and post war defence measures £70,000,000 a year compared with £10,000,000 a year before World War II. One frequently hears the allegation, both in the Parliament and elsewhere, that the Government is not providing adequately for the defence of this country. I answer that charge by emphasizing that, just prior to the outbreak of World War II., the then Government, which was not a Labour administration, considered that £10,000,000 was sufficient to meet the defence requirements of this nation.
– The Australian Labour party thought that it was far too much.
– I am merely stating the opinion of a previous anti-Labour administration, regardless of what the Australian Labour party may have thought. That Administration considered that £10,000,000 was a tremendous sum of money to expend on defence. Why? Obviously because it was not game to tax the “ tall poppies “ in this country. Supporters of that Government were more concerned with pleasing their political adherents than with the destiny of this great nation. That is the answer to the Opposition Leader’s charges. This Government regards the nation as a single unit, composed of people in all strata of society. It believes also that taxes should be imposed in accordance with ability to pay. That, I submit, is the correct view. I have no doubt that, should a change of government occur, taxation also would be completely revised so that people on the lower incomes would pay more, and people on the higher incomes would pay less. It is all very well to utter catchcries designed to tickle the ears of the public, but the facts are as I have stated. This Government did a good job in wartime, and is doing a good job in peacetime. Despite substantially increased commitments, it will finish the current financial year, not merely with a balanced budget, but with a small surplus. That is something that was not accomplished on many occasions by anti-Labour governments.
Liberal party and Australian Country party propagandists would have us believe that the alleged crippling burden of taxation is injuring this country, but [ repeat that the soundness of the Government’s policy has resulted in full employment, increasing production in every field, and the stimulation of enterprise It is interesting to note that in 1946-47 undistributed company profits amounted to £39,000,000, which represented an increase on the 1 938-39 figure. In addition, savings bank deposits, which I consider to be a barometer of the prosperity of a country, amounted to £245,000,000 in 1939, whereas, by 1947, the figure had reached £660,000,000, and to-day, I understand, it is approximately £700,000,000. I ask members of this chamber, and the people of Australia, to compare Australia’s economic position to-day with that of the depression years. We all know that the depression was the result of the financial power wielded by vested interests internationally and in this country. We know too that the depression could have been avoided, but that the Government of the day was so recalcitrant to the trust reposed in it by the people that it permitted a condition of affairs in which 300,000 people were seeking jobs in this country. That administration was entirely bereft of ideas to cope with the position. Do we want that to happen again? No doubt many people to-day have forgotten the depression years or hold the false idea that what happened before will not happen again ; but history has a habit of repeating itself, and I submit in all sincerity that there is a possibility of another depression. It may not be of such a magnitude as the depression of the early 1930’s, but already in the United States of America there are 4,000,000 people out of work, and hundreds of thousands working only three days a week. Although the United States has the greatest productive capacity of any nation, the American people find it impossible to secure markets for the goods that they can produce. The result is that, under the system of government obtaining in that country, unemployment exists and may become more acute. Conditions in America arc a portent of what may happen here, particularly should a change of government occur. We may again see unemployment in this country. Exponents of Liberalism have already expressed the view that to preserve the economic stability of a country there should be an unemployment rate of approximately 5 per cent, or 10 per cent, of the employable population. This Government has planned to cope with any recession that may occur. The National Works Council has drawn up a public works programme which will involve the expenditure of approximately £300,000,000. That programme will be undertaken should the necessity arise. Had a similar precaution been taken prior to the last depression, there would have been no necessity for the degradation that was suffered by more than 300,000 Australians in subsequent years.
I estimate that there will be a surplus of £3,000,000 at the end of the current financial year. What will happen to that money? It will be paid into the War Gratuity Trust Account. Payment of the war gratuity will fall due in 1950-51, and the estimated cost to the Commonwealth is £75,000,000. The Government has already transferred large, sums from revenue to that fund in order to meet that contingency. It has used its surpluses for that purpose. Had it not done so, we should now be obliged to raise that sum of £75,000,000 by loan.
The Leader of the Opposition criticized the Government’s defence policy. I point out that for the first time in Australia’s history this Government has enabled the defence authorities to plan ahead. In the past, those authorities have been severely handicapped because they have been obliged to plan from year to year. For that purpose the Government has allocated the sum of £250,000,000 to be expended during the period of five years, that is, an average expenditure on defence of £50,000,000 a year. AntiLabour governments in the past never dreamed of approaching the problem of defence finance in that way. I congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr.
Calwell) on the policy that he has implemented during recent years. He has had to meet much unjust criticism. Some of his actions have not benefited either the Government or himself from a party political point of view, but he has invariably insisted upon a strict observance of the law of the land. In a recent statement the Minister said -
Australia with an area of 3,000,000 square miles has a population of less than 8,000,000.
There was a time when we liked it that way, when none of us cared very much how few people there were in Australia so long as they were Australians. Those were the careless days when the troubles and squabbles of the rest of the world were comfortably remote.
To-day, Australia cannot afford to dream internationally. The present position is vastly different from that which existed in years gone by. The world is very troubled and uneasy. We may hope for the best, but in the interests of our own defence we must increase cur population as rapidly as possible. Our present economic prosperity is evidence of our capacity to absorb people from overseas. I fully endorse the Minister’s plan to bring 100,000 people to Australia this year. Of that number, 80,000 will be British. That will be a remarkable achievement, particularly when we remember the difficulties arising because of he shortage of shipping. The Minister has already overcome those difficulties to a great degree. Australia cannot afford to take any risks in the international sphere. I believe that the United Nations is capable of maintaining world peace provided that the nations generally “ play ball “ with that organization. Whether all of them will do so still remains to be seen. However, the existence of the United Nations has had a most beneficial effect on world thought and offers some guarantee that the world conflagrations of the past will not be repeated.
Much has been said about the social services benefits which the Government has provided. I shall not discuss them in detail because they have been dealt with by previous speakers. The record of the Government since it assumed office in 1941 is outstanding and is above comparison with that of any previous government. What has the Opposition to offer to the people ?
– Peace, order and good government.
– That is a mere phrase. The Opposition parties can offer the people only promises. They promise that if returned to office they will ban communism and that they will speed up the provision of housing. Very costly advertisements are now appearing in the press in the name of the Liberal party. Those advertisements promise young couples that the Liberal party will do something to speed up housing. The fact is that the Australian Government has not the power under the Constitution to build one house for persons other than its own employees or ex-servicemen. Why does not the Liberal party tell the people the truth in this matter? The Government ‘has done the only thing that it can do and that is to make arrangements with the State governments whereby they will undertake the construction of homes and the Commonwealth will finance their housing programmes. The Government has already made available the sum of £34.000,000 to the States in terms of an agreement under which more than 17,000 houses have been constructed, and more than 10,000 are in course of erection. In addition, since July, 1945, private and public bodies hare constructed more than 100,000 homes. Therefore, the Opposition parties cannot sustain their charge against the Government in respect of housing. I personally wish that the present rate of building could be further accelerated. I know many people who are urgently waiting for homes, including some of my own kin who are ex-servicemen.
However, when we remember that during the war years home building was completely suspended, it is now physically impossible for any government to make available in so short a time adequate labour and materials to meet the full requirements of the community. Therefore, it is hypocrisy on the part of the Liberal party to endeavour to mislead any section of the community by the advert;.°ements which it is now sponsoring in the press. The Opposition parties also suggest that if they are returned to office they will increase production by providing for incentive payments in industry, and that they will reduce the cost of living. All of us are familiar with the arguments relating to incentive payments. With respect to the cost of living, however, I need only remind the people that the Opposition parties are mainly to blame for the rise of prices of commodities because they opposed the Government’s proposal to give to the Commonwealth power to continue prices control on a nation-wide basis. Those parties said that the States could do the job. Well, the States have done the job with the result that commodity prices are now . approximately 30 per cent, higher than they were before the Commonwealth was deprived of that power. The Opposition parties know that the States cannot cope with that job. Indeed, the States are merely flirting with it. Only recently the Prices Commissioners from the other five States hurried across to Western Australia for a conference to decide how they could remedy the present position. The Opposition parties are never at a loss for promises, but after they were returned to office in the past they promptly forgot all the promises they made at the preceding general elections. To-day, they have no constructive policy. They have never submitted a single constructive thought to the Parliament. They have endeavoured to construct a fear psychology. They are adepts at such tactics. With that object in view they promise to ban Communism, and they have much to say about socialism and dictatorship. The Government has a record of which it can be proud, and I have no doubt that the people will endorse that record at the next general election.
– After seven and a half years of office the Government has achieved a wonderful record. Tt has increased social service benefits generally, including the age and invalid pension and child endowment. The people will never forget that it was a Labour government that introduced widows’ pensions. I regret that a discrepancy exists between the widow’s pension and the war widow’s pension. The earnings of widows in the farmer class are restricted whereas war widows remain eligible for full pension regardless of the amount of their income. I submit that all classes of widows should be treated alike in this matter, and I appeal to the Government to establish uniformity in this respect. In view of the cost of living and the increases of wages generally, I should like to see the age and invalid pension increased to the equivalent of a substantial percentage of the basic wage. The Government has also provided hospital, medical and pharmaceutical benefits, special benefits for sufferers from tuberculosis and allowances for the wives and children of invalid pensioners. In respect of all those benefits it has abolished the means test. It has increased the invalid pension and extended the permissible income of applicants for that pension from £450 to £750. That is a record of which the Government can well be proud. I am a great believer in paying back to the people through social services what they pay to the Government. In return for what it receives from the people every government should provide them with security against social ills. Senator Nash commented on the propaganda advertisements that are broadcast over the radio throughout Australia. I have here an example of the newspaper advertisements that are published in Western Australia. It bears a picture of “ Brother Bob Menzies “ and the heading “ Chifley Government’s fake excuse for high prices exposed by actual facts “. It states -
The Liberal party, as soon as returned-
Mr. Menzies seems to be sure that he will be returned to office, but I do not like hia chance - will take prompt steps along essentially practical lines to remedy the present disastrous position, and will, by the encouragement of incentives to increase production, stabilize and progressively reduce prices.
He knows full well that he cannot do that. He has no earthly chance of doing 30. I have here another statement published in Western Australia by Mr. Menzies declaring what he will do about rural housing, if he is returned to power, ft reads -
When in office we will deal promptly and effectively with the three main causes of the drift:
First, lack of housing.
E shall, contradict that at once. I shall bowl the right honorable gentleman middle stump. Under this Government, the rate of house construction is steadily increasing. More homes were built in Western Australia last year than in 1947. The following newspaper report sets out the facts clearly: -
A striking story of the building industry’s response to the acute housing shortage is provided by the construction in Western Australia last year of 27 per cent, more homes than in 1947.
Last year 3,050 homes were built compared with 2,400 in 1947. Just before the war about 2,000 were erected annually.
Throughout Australia, 49,529 houses and flats were completed in 1948, an increase of 26 per cent, over the previous year’s total of 39,209 dwellings, according to the latest figures of the Commonwealth Directorate of Housing.
Nobody could expect a better record than that under present conditions. While men were at war we could not get timber, bricks or cement. We cannot have our cake and eat it too. The Government has done a wonderful job. Senator Nash stated that the Government had handed £34,000,000 to the States under the Commonwealth and States housing agreement. I have been informed authoritatively that the amount is £44,000,000. Apparently, since the period covered by the figures obtained by Senator Nash, the sum has been increased by £10,000,000. That will finance the construction of many homes throughout the Commonwealth. The Liberal party advertisement from which I was quoting earlier promises that Mr. Menzies, if returned to power, will also deal promptly and effectively with “ ineffective stabilization of prices “. We shall leave that to the States, because we know that the right honorable gentleman, if he were Prime Minister, would have no more control over prices than has this Government. The people rejected the Government’s proposals at the prices referendum, and those who were sensible enough to support the retention of control by the Commonwealth must now unfortunately bear the brunt of the collapse and pay the fame prices as those who were silly enough to vote “ No “. The same Liberal party advertisement promises that Mr. Menzies will deal with the “lack of amenities”. The people are weary of hearing such promises. Since when have politicians built houses? The Opposition’s promises about housing are sterile and void of constructiveness. One aspect of house construction to-day that I do not like is the cost of homes. They are too dear-
– We have been saying that for a long time.
– The people whom the honorable senator represents made them dear.
– That is true. The Opposition parties, when they were in power, had £20,000,000 to spend on houses, but scarcely one home was built in Canberra under their administration when bricks, mortar and timber were abundant. I have travelled all around Australia since I have been a member of this Parliament. Honorable senators can obtain no better education than can be had by travelling from one State to another. Members of Parliament who accompanied mc on a trip to Northern Queensland had their eyes opened. They would be equally enlightened if they visited Western Australia. Such visits broaden the mind. They should not remain only in New South Wales and Victoria, which are jealous of one another and afraid of Queensland, because it is galloping well in the field, and Western Australia, the first and the last State visited by ships travelling between Australia and Europe, is gaining a little and doing better than it has been doing. It is an unfortunate fact that the two most populous States are the greatest “ grabbers “. They have the big industries which sell their products at high prices in Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. There is nothing to prevent those industries from expanding into the four less wealthy States so that their citizens could at all times have stocks of essential goods at cheaper prices than are charged to-day. At present, resident!) of Western Australia have to wait for many commodities until they arrive by sea or by rail. Consignments often lie on wharfs and in goods yards for long periods before they are delivered, and all of this adds to the cost of individual items. I have long advocated that the large well-established industries in New South Wales and Victoria should establish subsidiary factories in the other States. Such factories could be operated profitably and with benefit to consumers. One establishment in Western Australia recently commenced the manufacture of tractors that are as good as any in the world. It has already produced twelve machines, and the rate of production now is one tractor daily. The company hopes to be exporting machines within two years. Western Australia has almost unlimited reserves of iron ore. Those deposits provide the needs of all iron foundries in the State as well as a surplus of 2,000 tons of ore which is to be shipped to the eastern States this year. The State is progressing slowly but surely, and the time will come when the Commonwealth will realize its importance. It is virtually the backbone of the Commonwealth. It provided the wealth of Australia in the boom days of the goldmining industry, which deserves more assistance than it now receives from the Commonwealth. The slogan of the British people to-day is -
Labour believes in Britain and Britain believes in Labour.
In Australia, I say -
Forward with Chifley and backward with Menzies and Fadden, who are all promises and no action.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks on the next day of sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Aliens Deportation Act - Regulations -
Statutory Rules 1949, No. 21.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1949 -
No. 25 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 2fi - Hotel, Club, Restaurant and Caterers Employees’ Union of New South Wales and Federated Liquor and Allied Trades Employees’ Union of Australasia.
No. 27 - Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australasia.
No. 28 - Commonwealth .Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
No. 29 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.
No. 30 - Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.
No. 31 - Postal “ Telecommunications Technicians’ Association (Australia) and Postal Electricians Supervisors and Foremen’s Association.
No. 32 - Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.
No. 33 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 34 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
Bankruptcy Act - Twentieth Annual Report by Attorney-General, for year ended 31st July, 1948.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Appointments - C. E. MacNaughtan, J. F. Symonds, G.R. Taylor.
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1949, Nos. 20, 28.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General’s - R, H. Bird, J. P. Dulihanty.
Commerce and Agriculture - W. P. Dunk.
Defence - E. W. Battersbey, A. P. Crow, P. Grange, A.W. McCasker, R. R. Shearer, S. G. Silveston, A. S. Storey M. T. Van Baer.
External Affairs - P. G. Law.
Interior - J. Boyle, J. J. S. Clifford, K. R. Morgan, B. C. Perrers, J. M.
Stack, J. W. Stevenson.
Labour and National Service - R. Turner.
Parliamentary Library - A. T. Dix, D. I. Gilfedder, M. G. Williams.
Postmaster-General’s - W. A. Thorogood, A. E. Tonkin.
Post-war Reconstruction - M. J. Coleman, K. H. Herde, J. J. Pratt, E. A. Rowe.
Repatriation - N. U. Denniss.
Trade and Customs - D. D. Simpson-Lee, F. Woodlock.
Treasury - J. T. Bennett, J. F. Deall, C. A. Fletcher, B. D. Haig, F. J. Mobbs, C. E. H. Rich.
Works and Housing - B. H. Buddie, R. W. Cameron, C. Clarke, J. J. W. Gray, J. H. Raves.
Customs Act - Regulations- Statutory Rules 1949, Nos. 10, 17, 18.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1949, No. 27.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act-
National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations - Order - Economic organization (Interest rates) .
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (72).’
National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regulations - Orders - 1949, Nos. 1-3.
National Security (Prices) Regulations -Orders- Nos. 3421-3420.
National Security (Rabbit Skins) Regulations - Order - Returns.
National Security (War Damage to Property) Reputations -War Damage Commission - Report for period 1st January, 1948, to 30th September, 1948.
Regulations- Statutory Rules 1949, Nos. 14,15.
Egg Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1949,. No. 20.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1949, No. 25.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Banking purposes - Rosebery, New South Wales.
Defence purposes -
Mallala, South Australia.
Mount Gravatt, Queensland.
Mount Louisa, Queensland.
Newington, New South Wales.
Nowra, New South Wales.
Port Melbourne, Victoria.
Department of Civil Aviation purposes -
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales.
Guildford, Western Australia.
Mangalore, West Victoria.
Narromine, New South Wales.
Port Hedland, Western Australia.
Department of Commerce and Agriculture purposes- Geraldton, Western Australia.
Department of the Interior purpose-
Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
Carnarvon, Western Australia.
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Department of Trade and Customs purposes - Glen Davis, New South Wales.
Postal purposes -
Adelaide, South Australia (2).
Armidale, New South Wales.
Auburn, New South Wales.
Balaklava, South Australia.
Belmont Park, Western Australia,
Berri, South Australia.
Boddington, Western Australia.
Bunbury, Western Australia.
Darlinghurst. New South Wales.
Deniliquin, New South Wales.
Essendon West, Victoria.
Huonville, ‘J asniania.
Inman Valley, South Australia.
Katoomba, New South Wales.
Keyneton. South Australia.
Lake Clarendon, Queensland.
Maclean, New South Wales.
Marleston, South Australia.
Meadow Flat, New South Wales.
Mermaid Beach, Queensland.
MolongNew South Wales.
Morawa, Western: Australia.
Mount Alford,. Queensland.
Mount Compass, South Australia,
Mount Mee, Queensland.
Myponga, South Australia.
Narrogin, Western. Australia..
Revesby.,. New South Wales.
Rivervale, Western Australia.
Rosebery, New South Wales..
St. Leonards, New South Wales.
St. Marys, Tasmania.
Salisbury, South Australia.
Scarborough Beach, Western Australia.
South Kilkerran, South Australia.
Thirroul, New South Wales.
Turnby Bay, South Australia.
Wellington Point, Queensland.
Wirrulla, South Australia.
Yealering, Western Australia.
Repatriation Commission purposes -
Life Insurance Act - Third Annual Report of the Insurance Commissioner, for year 1948.
Nationality Act - Return for 1948.
Norfolk Island Act - Regulations- 1949 - No. 1 (Public Service Ordinance.) .
Northern Territory Acceptance. Act, and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
No. 1 - Apprentices.
No. 4 - Public Service;
No.5- Buildings and Services.
No. 7 - Interpretation.
No. 10- Marine.
N0.1 - Police Arbitral Tribunal.
No. 2 - Crown Lands:
Regulations - 1949 -
No. 1 (Plant Diseases Ordinance).
No. 2 (Licensing. Ordinance),-.
No. 3 (Crown Lands Ordinance).
Overseas Telecommunications Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1949; No. 24.
Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinances - 1949 -
No. 2 - Superannuation.
No. 3 - Explosives- (New Guinea).
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations -
Statutory Rules 1949, Nos. 19, 22,. 23.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances - 1949 -
No. 3- - Companies-
No. 4 - Industrial Board-.
Regulations- 1949 -
No. 3 (Stock Ordinance).
No.. 4 (‘Building and Services Ordinance).
Services Trust, Funds. Act - Services Canteens Trust Fund - Reportfor: year 1947-48.
Stevedoring Industry Act - Orders - 1949. Nob. 4-10.
War Service: Homes Act -
Land acquired at- -
Enfield (Rayleigh Town), South Australia.
Findon West,, South Australia.
Miranda, New South- Wales..
Warrawee, New South Wales.
Regulations - Statutory Rules. 1949, No 29.
Senate adjourned at11.8p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 June 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1949/19490608_senate_18_202/>.