18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Eon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at3 p.m., and read prayers.
– On the 5th October, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) asked me a question in relation to coal production from opencut mines by Army personnel during the recent coal strike. In reply I mentioned that a similar question had been asked in the House of Representatives recently and that I would obtain the information for him. I now furnish the honorable senator with the following information in reply to his question: -
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel inform the Senate whether it is a fact that stoppages have taken place in three collieries in New South Wales, resulting in a loss of some thousands of tons of coal daily? If so, what are the causes of the stoppages, and what action, if any, has the Government taken to remedy the position?
– Whilst it is true that there have been some stoppages in the coal mines in New South Wales, I think that the Leader of the Opposition, in common with other honorable senators, is fully aware of the turbulent nature of this industry. Very few stoppages have taken place recently. Indeed, since the general coal strike was settled, production in the mines of New South Wales has been much better than for some considerable time past. I am entirely satisfied with the position in the coal-mining industry. Some stoppages have taken place in recent weeks, but they have been dealt with by the appropriate tribunals. Inquiries cannot take place overnight. However, it is not the duty of this Government to interfere in such matters.
– Because of the great public concern in almost every part of Australia about the spread of poliomyelitis, will the Minister for Health say whether the Government is co-operating with State authorities in measures to combat the incidence of the disease? Has the Government any facilities for the conduct of research into the causes of this mysterious disease?
– The Government is, of course, concerned at the spread of poliomyelitis, and it is prepared to co-operate with State authorities to any degree desired in order to prevent the spread of the disease. I understand from my medical advisers that it is impossible to segregate the disease to particular areas. Persons who are themselves immune from the disease may be carriers, and in order to achieve complete immunity it would be necessary to segregate the entire population. I can assure the honorable senator that the Government provides facilities for the conduct of research into the causes of the disease. The Government subsidizes extensively the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, which operates in the grounds of Melbourne Hospital under the direction of Professor Burnett of the University of Melbourne. At that institute a great deal of important research work is conducted into viruses of various kinds, and the entire resources of the institute are available, if necessary, for research into the causes of poliomyelitis. The Department of Health is in complete touch with developments in health research throughout the world. So far Stateauthorities have not sought the co-operation of the Commonwealth in their efforts to arrest the present poliomyelitis epidemic, but 1 can assure the honorable senator that any assistance that can be provided by the Government will be readily forthcoming.
– In view of the urgent need of the British Government to obtain beef for its people and of the urgent desire of the Commonwealth to stimulate the production of beef for Great Britain, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture investigate the alleged wilful disposal of cattle stocks by a number of “ cattle kings “ in northern Queensland with a view to taking appropriate action, such as resuming a portion of their land for the benefit of those who are prepared to raise cattle for export to Great Britain?
SenatorCOURTICE. - The Government has negotiated with the Government of the United Kingdom to increase the supply of beef and of meat generally to that country. Do . I understand the honorable senator to suggest now that a number of pastoralists are deliberately refraining from supplying beef for export to Great Britain?
– - Yes.
SenatorCOURTICE. - Then I shall bring the matter to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation say what is the position regarding an agreement for the provision of a water supply for Lindisfarne and Bellerive and the Cambridge and Llanherne airports? Is a portion of the cost to be borne by Tasmania and a portion by the Commonwealth?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The matter was discussed between officers of the Tasmanian Department of Public Works and the Department of Civil Aviation, but for engineering reasons, the Department of Civil Aviation decided to investigate the possibilities of establishing a more economical selfcontained water supply in the Cambridge area to serve both the Cambridge and Llanherne airports. These investigations are at present in hand and are being undertaken by the Department of Works and Housing on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation.
– In view of the trade drive that was announced recently by the Australian Trade Commissioner in South America, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture investigate the possibility of reviving the export of apples from Tasmania to Argentina and Brazil, which accepted several shipments of apples from Australia before the war ?
– The honorable senator mentioned the subject to me a few minutes before the Senate assembled, and I had the opportunity to obtain an answer from the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. The main purpose of the trade mission to South America is to explore the market prospects for Australian products in particular countries. The export of apples from Tasmania to Argentina and Brazil will be carefully investigated by the mission.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs received the report of the Tariff Board on the cotton-growing industry since I asked a question on the subject last week? If not, has he received any advance information indicating the price that is likely to be paid for raw cotton for the 1950 season? Does he not consider that the information that I seek is an urgent and essential factor in determining the future prospects of the cotton-growing industry in Queensland?
– I agree with the honorable senator that the matter is of very great importance to the cottongrowing industry. I have just received the Tariff Board report, and I intend to table it in the Senate as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the Government is experiencing difficulty in having reports printed expeditiously because there is a great volume of such work to be done. However, in view of the urgent nature of the report, I shall have a number of typewritten copies prepared and will table the document as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture what prospects, if any, exist for the continued operation of the Commonwealth flax mills at Auburn, Laura and Morphett Vale in South Australia. Are the mills available for purchase by the South Australian Government, co-operative farmers’ organizations, or private enterprise?
– Owing to constitutional difficulties, the Government has decided to dispose of all Commonwealthowned flax mills. Tenders for their purchase have been invited and will close on the 30th November. The Government has offered the mills to the various State governments, including the South Australian Government, which has indicated that it is not prepared to pay the price that has been suggested. However, should the Government of South Australia indicate a desire to purchase the mills, this Government will willingly negotiate with it with a view to arriving at suitable purchase terms. The mills are available for purchase by co-operative organizations, and a farmers’ coopera,tive group has purchased a mill in Western Australia and is carrying on operations with it. The group’s purchase was guaranteed financially by the State
Government. The mills are also available for purchase by private enterprise by tender.
– Last week I asked a question of the PostmasterGeneral concerning arrangements for broadcasting the ceremony that is to be held at Adaminaby on the occasion of the turning of the first sod in the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. Can the Postmaster-General give me any further information on that subject?
– Yes. I have been informed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission that it has arranged to broadcast the opening ceremony in connexion with the commencement of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project on the 17th October from 2.25 p.m. to 3.25 p.m. on the national network, including station 2CY, Canberra, and shortwave station VLB. The commission will ako arrange an actuality programme, giving full simultaneous coverage of the opening ceremony and highlights of the opening for the peak listening audience, on the same evening from 7.15 o’clock to 7.25 o’clock on the national network and all regional stations. The commission proposes that the scheme will be covered as it develops in the commission’s broadcasts to schools next year. The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has indicated that it is prepared to pay any land-line charges involved in relaying the commission’s description of the opening ceremony to commercial broadcasting stations, all of which have been informed that they may participate on this basis in the broadcast.
– Has the Minister for Health had an opportunity to make a careful study of the High Court’s decision in the pharmaceutical benefits case? If so, can he inform the Senate of the degree to which the decision invalidates the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act?
– I had an opportunity during the week-end to digest thoroughly the six judgments of the justices who heard the case in Sydney in August. The effect of the decision is merely to declare invalid one section of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act. I point out that many sections of the act, and a very great number of regulations, were under fire in the course of the case. They were examined very meticulously by the High Court, and the- net result is that only one section has been declared invalid. That is the section which provided that, if a doctor decided to prescribe for a patient a drug that was included in the Commonwealth formulary, he should do so upon the official form and so start the machinery that would make the drug available free of charge to the patient. In making that provision, the Government neither desired nor intended to interfere in the slightest degree with the medical discretion of a doctor. However, the relevant portions of the High Court judgment, which was a majority decision only, indicate that the justices regard the mere commitment of a prescription to paper as being a medical service. Having so held, they felt that that particular provision attracted to itself the prohibition of any form of civil conscription. Being called on to interpret that particular provision in the Constitution, the High Court, again by a majority only, held that it regarded conscription as any form of compulsion. So, bracketing the two propositions together, it claimed that the mere committal to writing of a prescription, determining whether it was placed on this or that form was in .fact a medical service and as there was a prohibition against any form of conscription in a medical service, and interpreting conscription as mere compulsion, the court held that that particular -provision was invalid. A rather extraordinary result is produced in that by another finding the High Court decided that prohibition against civil conscription had application only to the provision of medical and dental services and1 was not applicable to the Parliament’s power to make laws for the provision of pharmaceutical benefits. Thus, we reach the rather extraordinary position that whereas there may not be the slightest form of compulsion even in relation to what appears to be merely a procedural matter that is not true of those concerned with the provision of pharmaceutical supplies. In the matter of forms, any degree of compulsion could be exercised upon chemists, but not upon doctors, or dentists. It is not necessary to make an invidious distinction, but in complete fairness to the -chemists I say that there has not been the slightest need throughout the whole of the negotiations with respect to pharmaceutical benefits to suggest any form of compulsion to them. They have been most co-operative and earnest in their desire to ensure that pharmaceutical benefits shall reach the sick people. They have taken no part whatsoever in any of the differences of opinion that have existed between the British Medical Association and the Government. I conclude by stating that while, of course, the decision is one .that must be accepted, having been pronounced upon by the High Court, there are two strong dissenting opinions by two of the justices, Mr. Justice Dixon and Mr. Justice McTiernan, both of whom hold views altogether contrary to those of their brother justices. I simply record the fact that the result is unfortunate for the sick people of this country.
– In view of the fact that pharmaceutical benefits are not being made available to persons who desire them, I ask the Minister for Social Services what action does the Government propose to take consequent upon the decision of the ‘ High Court in the pharmaceutical benefits case? Does the Government contemplate widening the formulary or giving the right to doctors to use their own prescription forms so as to enable those desirous of doing so to receive such benefits ?
– I arn sure that the honorable senator will excuse me if I say that I must first take Cabinet into my confidence before intimating to the Senate what the Government may contemplate. I shall make certain recommendations .to Cabinet which will no doubt later go before the Federal Parliamentary Labour party to ensure that the people will, in fact, get the benefits that the Parliament intends .that they shall have. In the meantime the scheme stands on a purely voluntary basis, as the High Court itself intimated, and the people of Australia, particularly the sick, are dependent upon the goodwill of the medical practitioners of this country whether they must pay for their medicines or get them free. That is a matter for decision by each doctor; it is one that he has to put to his own conscience in respect of each patient. The scheme has been broadened very appreciably since its inception. Forms of a far better type have been made available, and the British Medical Association has been conceded many points. The scheme does not restrict a doctor as to the quantity of particular medicaments that he may include in a prescription, or as to the total quantities of medicine that may be made available. Altogether the scheme has been liberalized and broadened in the light of criticism over a considerable period. I am not pretending for a moment that it is perfect. Such imperfections as it may have no doubt arise very largely from the fact that, despite repeated requests, the British Medical Association has declined to co-operate with the Commonwealth Formulary Committee. There has been a constant offer to the British Medical Association to come on to the formulary committee and to take whatever steps experience shows to be necessary for widening or improving the formulary. The British Medical Association for reasons that seem to it to be good has hitherto decided not to do that very thing. However, I assure the honorable senator that the Government, whilst accepting the decision of the High Court of Australia, as it must, will not recede from its determination that the benefits shall reach the people of Australia.
– Will thu Minister for Social Services undertake to inform his colleagues in the Cabinet of the concern of the Leader of the Opposition at the apparent delay in implementing the operation of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme under which such benefits will be available for the people of Australia who need them?
– I shall be very happy indeed to do so. I would add. in relation to the Leader of the Opposition, that he has shown himself personally to be very liberal-minded in relation to the provision of social security for the people of Australia. Honorable senators will recollect that he was a very prominent and enthusiastic member of the Joint
Parliamentary Committee on Social Security. He was very active. Narrow as the Opposition generally is in its point of view, and in its approach to the subject of social security, I think that the Leader of the Opposition is an outstanding exception.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been drawn to an article in the current issue of Smith’s Weekly making grave allegations against various firms of undertakers? If that newspaper’s allegations are correct, what steps can be taken to ensure that the public shall not be exploited at a time of great sorrow? With respect to the Government’s grant towards the payment of funeral expenses of pensioners, is any supervision exercised by any authorized person to ensure that such funerals are carried out decently and not as funerals of recognized paupers as was the case in the days of Dickens? What control, if any, is exercised over so-called funeral benefit funds to which most pensioners contribute?
– I have not seen the article to which the honorable senator has referred. As to what steps it is proposed to take to ensure that irregularities shall not creep into the provision of funerals, all that I can say. is that, with some little knowledge of the Government’s constitutional powers, I cannot see any heading upon which the Government can rely to embark upon that field. I cannot see any heading that would justify us in interfering with cremations or burials. We come into the field solely in respect of the provision of funeral benefit for invalid pensioners and we make a contribution up to £10 towards the cost. In some instances, that contribution covers the whole cost. We exercise certain control there in that the amount is not paid to people responsible for handling funeral arrangements or funeral contributory schemes. We pay the benefit to the person who accepts the responsibility, but not to bodies of the kind that I think are contemplated by the honorable senator. We exercise very complete control over the distribution of the benefit which is the only phase in the last stage of man in which we are permitted to be interested.
– I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs has an answer to a question that I asked on the 6th October relating to the amount that has been expended by way of tea subsidy and the rate of subsidy that is being paid at present.
–The answer to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing been drawn to a statement by a Minister in the Queensland Parliament that approximately 1,700 families in that State are living in temporary accommodation in housing camps and that there is a long list of applicants waiting for even such temporary accommodation? Will the Minister ascertain from each of the States how many families are living in temporary housing and similar camps so that we may have an adequate record of the numbers of families who are enduring temporary, or make-shift, accommodation while waiting for proper homes ? Will he also ascertain how many applicants are on the waiting list for even temporary accommodation of that kind? Can he say when he expects that the States will be able to overtake the housing shortage and when it will be possible to commence the evacuation of camps of the kind to which I have referred?
– Generally the information sought by the honorable senator can be supplied only by the State governments, which I am sure will supply such information upon request to my colleague, the Minister for Works and Housing. I shall ask the Minister to endeavour to obtain the information from the States, in which event I shall convey it to the honorable senator.
– “Will the Minister representing the Treasurer inform the Senate what percentage of the proceeds of the petrol tax in made available to the States for road construction and maintenance? Is there any justification for the assertions of certain bodies that a bigger percentage should be made available for the purpose?
– I am unable to supply that information offhand, but I shall make inquiries and furnish the honorable senator with particulars as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
– In view of the despicable insinuations that have been made in another place and given prominence in press reports, that the Labour Government would stack the High Court in the event of re-election, will the Minister representing the Attorney-General inform me what is the method of appointment of justices to the bench of the High Court of Australia? How many of the present justices of that court have been appointed during the regime of this Labour Government, and how many were appointed by anti-Labour governments?
– Answering specifically the first portion of the honorable senator’s question, I inform him that justices are appointed to the High Court of Australia by the government of the day. Only one justice has been appointed by the present Government and its predecessors since October, 1941, that is, during a period of eight years. I refer to Sir William Webb, who was appointed two or three years ago. However, he did not take his place on the High Court bench for some time because of the fact that he was Chairman of the War Trials Commission which was sitting in Japan. At the time of his appointment His Honour was Chief Justice of Queensland. Unquestionably his appointment greatly helped the work and activities of the High Court. I do not know how many of the present justices of the High Court were appointed by non-Labour governments. As far as 1 can recall, all except one were appointed by non-Labour governments. It is completely true that the Government may appoint an unlimited number of High Court justices. I thinkthat the honorable senator will appreciate the sense of responsibility that the Australian Government has exercised in that matter when he realizes that during a period of eight years it has made only one appointment to the High Court bench, whereas if it had wished to do so, it could have made a hundred appointments. I took particular notice of the adjective that was used by the honorable senator in framing his question. I am thinking particularly of a member of the House of Representatives who suggested that this Government would stack the High Court if returned to office. He is a member of the legal profession. In addition to being wholly untrue and without the slightest basis or justification whatever, his statement was a most scandalously slanderous criticism of the Government. It also reflects gravely on the legal profession because of the implication that this Government could reach out amongst barristers and legal practitioners of at least five years’ standing and find men who would go onto the court at our dictation and be false to their oath to true justice make and true deliverance give, by perverting themselves and the course of justice. The mere fact that anybody who is supposed to hold a responsible position in this community could have that thought, let alone express it, does no credit to his outlook or his standing. I trust that it will be resented as much by every member of the legal profession in this country as it is by the Australian Government.
– Can the Minister representing the Attorney-General confirm or deny reports that the legal aid now being provided to ex-servicemen by the Attorney-General’s Department is to cease? If the reports be true, are arrangements being made for another department to continue that very necessary service?
– The report is wholly untrue. The Legal Service Bureau which had rendered most valuable assistance to ex-service men and women is to continue. In fact, following consultations with myself, the Attorney-General has decided to extend to aged and invalid pensioners the facilities offered by the bureau. Therefore, far from the service being abandoned, its activities and usefulness are being extended.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The anwers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) Yes. (&) The following table sets out the approximate quantities authorized for importation and the value of actual imports of corrugated galvanized iron for the months April to August, 1949: -
A substantial increase in imports is expected in the next few months.
Information supplied by importers to the Department of Trade and Customs concerning the landed cost of any goods is treated as confidential and I am therefore unable to answer this portion of the honorable senator’s question.
The Government considers that it is most unlikely that roofing iron or similar commodities will be obtained from Japan in the form of reparations. Generally speaking, the price of corrugated iron imported from <Ja,pan is approximately 100 per cent, greater than that of the Australian product.
– That is the selling price in Australia?
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following are the replies to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Postmaster-Genera], upon notice -
Is it the policy of the Government to extend as rapidly as possible the provision of telephone lines and services to outback areas, particularly new settlements such as the new Loxton irrigation settlement, South Australia, and at the same time reduce charges to outback subscribers?
– The following is the reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
It is the policy of the Government to extend telephone facilities to outback areas as rapidly as possible. Where there are groups of residents in localities remote from existing telephone services, the Postal Department extends the trunk-line system on a generous basis. The great majority of the residents are therefore able to obtain individual services wholly provided and maintained by the department at the minimum rental of £3 10s. yearly. The charges for telephone services in country dis tricts compare favorably with those made by telephone administrations in other countries. The base rate applies to all subscribers’ services situated within 2 miles radially from the exchange, and where the line extends beyond that distance an additional mileage charge is applied. This extra mileage charge was reduced substantially in 1940, and the yearly rate for each quarter-mile is now 6s. 3d. for the section between 2 and 3 miles from the exchange, 5s. for any section between 3 and 4 miles, 3s. 9d. for any section between 4 and 5 miles and 2s. 6d. for any section beyond 5 miles from the exchange. Formerly, the rate was 7s. Od. a quarter-mile for the whole of the section of the departmental line extending beyond the 2-nvile boundary. With regard to the new Loxton irrigation settlement, the department already extended the trunk-line service into that area, and a telephone office was established at North Loxton on the 1st March, 1949. A telephone exchange will be established and 25 residents who desire telephone service will be connected as early as practicable. The provision of lines involves the construction of new pole routes and a considerable amount of new wires. Although some items of material for such works are in short supply, it is expected that the services will be installed within the next four months.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied .the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
SenatorCOURTICE. - I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Mercury Contact Tubes (Interim report).
Spectacle Frames, Lenses andCases: Spectacles.
Ordered to be printed.
Bill received from the Blouse of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Courtice) read a first time.
SenatorCOURTICE (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs) [3.55]. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to ensure that there shall be no disparity in the payment of the parliamentary allowance as between members of the House of Representatives elected at the forthcoming general election and the senators elected at that election who will take their seats immediately the new Parliament meets. The Parliamentary Allowances Act provides that the allowance payable to a member of the House of Representatives shall be reckoned from the day of his election. The SolicitorGeneral has advised that, in accordance with that provision, the allowances payable to the new members of the House of Representatives who are elected at the forthcoming general election are to be reckoned from the day of that election. Honorable senators are aware that in each State seven senators will be elected at the forthcoming general election. Four of these will be new senators who, in order to bring the Senate up to full strength, will take their seats immediately. Thus, when the new Parliament meets there will be a number of new senators and a number of new members of the House of Representatives who will take their seats simultaneously. Without the passage of this bill, while the new members of the House of Representatives would receive the parliamentary allow ance from the date of the general election, the payment of the allowance to the new senators would not commence until the date of the meeting of the Parliament. It is considered that such a differentiation between new members andnew senators would be inequitable and anomalous. To avoid that inequality and; anomaly, I ask the Senate to approve of this bill.
I wish to make it clear that the provision that is contained in clause 2 of this measure relates only to the four new senators in each State who will be elected at the forthcoming general election and will take their seats immediately the Parliament meets. It will not alter in any way the existing provisions of the Parliamentary Allowances Act in respect of senators elected, either at the forthcoming general election or at any future election, to fill periodical or casual vacancies.
– This is merely a machinery measure, the introduction of which has been necessitated by the increase of numbers of the members of Parliament. It is necessary to pl ace the new members of this chamber on the same basis as the new members of the House of Representatives. The Opposition has, therefore, no desire to impede the speedy passage of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 6th October (vide page 1048), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the following papers be printed : -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending the 30th June, 1950;
The Budget 1949-50 - Papers presented by theRight Honorable J. B. Chifley, M.P., on the occasion of the Budget of 1949-50;
– In continuation of my remarks, I point out that never before have the people been so well off. Tor verification of that we need only to refer to the clothing worn by people now, and their appearance generally. Australia is doubly fortunate not only because it is at present enjoying prosperity, but also because it has the prospect of continued prosperity and social security under the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who is a man of sense and balance. He is determined to look after the interests of all sections of the community, because he knows that if any substantial section is doing well then the other sections of the community also must enjoy prosperity. One result of the social security enjoyed by our people to-day is that young men have every inducement to marry while they are still young. The situation is unlike that which obtained only a few years ago.
I propose to say something now concerning our primary producers, and I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) on the splendid efforts that he has made to assist them. As a farmer himself the Minister has a first-hand knowledge of the difficulties that beset primary producers. It is largely because of the intimate knowledge of those difficulties that his stocks stand so high with primary producers throughout Australia to-day. He has rightly stressed that one of the greatest hazards that confront the man on the land is the sudden collapse of the prices paid overseas for his products. By making agreements with overseas countries the Minister has done his utmost, to ensure, as far as it is possible to do so, that the prices of primary produce shall remain stable. He realizes that the primary producers are the backbone of this country, and that when they are doing well the secondary industries in the metropolitan areas usually reflect their prosperity. Consider the position of the wheat-growers to-day. They have received substantial encouragement from the Government. Wheatfarmers share in the subsidies that have been paid to keep down the price of superphosphate. In some States the amount of that subsidy is £2 5s. a ton, whilst in Western Australia, which I rep resent, the subsidy is as high as £2 15s. a ton. Because of the practical knowledge of these matters possessed by the Minister, he realizes that the freight charged for the haulage of superphosphate to Western Australia is much greater than that charged for fertilizer used in other States, and that is why the amount of subsidy paid in Western Australia is so much higher than that paid in other States. The wheat industry has, in the past, suffered more than any other industry from false counsels and party political exploitation. Indeed, those who have endeavoured to exploit the wheat-growers for political gain are a greater handicap to wheat-growers than are grain speculators. During the depression years, when the price of wheat fell to as little as ls. 6d. a bushel, the industry was in the economic gutter. It never deserved such a fate. When the recent ballots of wheatgrowers were taken it was apparent that the wheat-growers had disdained the advice of those who had influenced them, in the past, which indicates that they are at last realizing the truth. Most people know that the real test of sincerity lies in what a party does when it is in power, not in what it promises to do if it is returned to power. All of the promises that the Labour party has made to the primary producers have been honoured. The Opposition parties cannot truthfully claim that they have such a record of achievement. When I was a member of the Parliament of Western Australia, members of the anti-Labour parties promised on the hustings that they would guarantee prosperity for the farmers if they were returned to power. They were returned with a majority, but as. soon as they took over the reins of office they forgot about the farmers. They were concerned only about the “ St. George’sterrace farmers “, the “ town cockies “ who bled the farmers in the days before the Labour party came to power in the Commonwealth sphere. Anti-Labour governments betrayed the farmers in South Australia and Victoria in the same way. Primary producers to-day are assured of profitable returns for their labours. A man who is well versed in the business of farming can calculate his returns in advance, even before his crops reach maturity. That is the result of the system of prices stabilization that the Labour party has introduced. He can calculate his future expenditure in the knowledge that he will have security because profitable prices are guaranteed to him over long periods, instead of from year to year.
There is ample scope for the development of this great nation. We have plenty of room for new settlers who, if they are willing to work and have initiative, cannot fail to be successful. The old pioneer days have passed, but we should recapture some of the pioneer spirit that imbued our forefathers. When travelling through Western Australia, I have seen farms in good productive districts which, because of bad farming practices, have been allowed to revert to bushland. A good farmer keeps his property in apple-pie order and, under the administration of this Government, he has no cause for worry. Given good rainfall he knows that his industry will be rewarded. Australia offers great opportunities for the establishment and expansion of secondary industries. Our big cities are already overcrowded, and further industrial developments should take place exclusively in the less densely populated areas of the continent. For example, big industries in the eastern States should concentrate their attention upon the establishment of subsidiary industries in the less industrially developed States, such as Western Australia and Tasmania. South Australia now has many large and important secondary industries, which helped its economy during the war and have continued to do so in the post-war- period of reestablishment. Formerly, I was accustomed to plead South Australia’s case with that of Western Australia, but South Australia needs no such help now. Tasmania is in a situation similar to that of Western Australia. Both States would benefit considerably from the establishment of off -shoots of the major industries in the eastern States, especially as this form of decentralization would save them from the worst effects of shortages that occur from time to time when supplies from the main industrial areas in New South Wales and Victoria are temporarily interrupted.
Good use could be made of much of this continent’s open spaces by encouraging the establishment of industries from overseas. This has already been done in Queensland to a limited degree, but a vast field for capital investment from the United Kingdom and the United States of America still remains to be exploited. Big industries could be established with profit to everybody concerned in the less populous zones near the main metropolitan centres. Furthermore, the development of such projects would provide assured prospects of employment for thousands of young Australians in the future. We must have new capital in the country if we are to survive as a nation. Therefore, the Government should co-operate with overseas business establishments and encourage them to invest in Australia. The results of such a policy would be beneficial to everybody. A sustained policy of immigration also is vital to us. In the interests of national defence and our economic prosperity, we must encourage new settlers to come from the United Kingdom and Europe. New Australians must be selected carefully, so that we obtain men and women of initiative who are willing to work hard. Great opportunities are available to such people. It will be of no use to us if immigrants arrive in Australia in the belief that gold can be picked up in the streets. That happened frequently in earlier days, and we know the unfortunate consequences that followed. It is true that even now one may find gold in the streets of Kalgoorlie after a rainfall, but the days of easy money have gone. Our new citizens must be prepared to work hard. If they approach Australia in that spirit, they will succeed.
The Liberal party and the Australian Country party have never been able to offer a satisfactory alternative policy to that of the Labour party. They merely try to foment all sorts of grievances that have no real foundation. For the first time in Australia’s history, we have full employment in time of peace. The Government has tackled the problems that confront it with great courage, and the good effects of its policy are apparent to the people. The Liberal party and the Australian Country party have relied upon propaganda about communism and socialism as their main weapon. But that weapon has proved to be a broken reed. I do not know what they will fall back upon now. They declare that, when a country has travelled a certain distance along the road to socialism, there can be no return in our life-time or in the life-times of our children and grandchildren. That is exactly what we want - long-term security for the people. Day and night, over the air and in the press, the Opposition parties accuse the Government of causing all sorts of trouble. Never yet have they praised it for the great work that it has done. They are not progressive. They talk, but they never translate their promises into acts. Business has prospered under Labour’s administration, both during and since World War II. The people should treat Liberal and Country party promises with great care. Both parties are spending thousands of pounds in order to disseminate their propaganda through the press and the broadcasting stations, and it is obvious that they have some special object in view. The truth is that, if they are returned to power, their expenses will be returned to them, with profit, as the result of the policies that they will pursue. However, the people know what the Labour party has done for them, and the anti-Labour parties have little chance of gaining power.
The people have prosperity and happiness, and they know that their future is assured. The Liberal party and the Australian Country party have plenty of money, but they lack constructive ideas. Their policies consist of little more than hot air. The Labour party believes in encouraging the constant flow of money into the homes of the people so that they can purchase not only the necessities but also some of the luxuries of life, lt believes in full employment, which we already enjoy. The prosperous condition of the community in general is indicated by the figures of total bank deposits. The Labour party turns neither to the left nor to the right. It pursues a constant middle course that will ensure employment and prosperity for everybody. The success of its policy is evident throughout the Commonwealth. We have more jobs than we have people available to fill them.
Our housing difficulties have been very great but they are steadily being overcome. When I was first elected to the Senate, the anti-Labour government of the day had great schemes for housing, which it failed to carry into effect. It planned the expenditure of considerable sums of money upon house construction in Canberra alone. But only one house was financed from that fund. It did not build houses for the people. The present Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon), who comes from Western Australia, is a young man who has put his heart and soul into his work. Our building trades are working at high pressure to overtake the shortage of accommodation in every State. Conditions in the building trades provide a sound indication of the condition of the national economy. When they are not busy, there is a slump in the country. But while they are prosperous, employment is general and industries thrive. The existence of full employment in Australia helps to increase employment in other countries and thus to reduce fear and want in the world. High production in this country benefits the people of countries that buy our exports. Full employment and ample social security mean that the children of to-day are assured of a comfortable and happy adult life. They will have available to them the basic necessities of life and sufficient luxuries to keep them happy and healthy. Credit for our improved social services is due to the Minister for Social Services (.Senator McKenna) who has left no stone unturned in his efforts to help the people.
The Opposition parties declare that, if they gain control of this Parliament, they will deal effectively and promptly with the housing shortage and will stabilize housing costs. The heavens are weary of vain words. Speeches do not build homes. Under the administration of the present Minister for Works and Housing, home building schemes in all parts of the Commonwealth have made rapid inroads upon the accommodation lag. The following figures, which refer to Western Australia alone, give convincing evidence of the success that he has achieved: -
I congratulate the Minister upon the way in which he has done his job. He deserves all the credit that can be given to him.
Greater simplicity is needed in the economic field to-day. I confess that I cannot understand all of the implications of our dollar problems, and I am sure that most other people are in the same position. Such problems should not be so obscure. Efforts should be made to clarify the intricacies of financial affairs. I now express an opinion with which many honorable senators may find themselves at variance. I refer to the appointment of women to parliamentary committees. I have always believed that the presence of women on such committees is of great value. Women delve into all sorts of problems that remain obscure to the male mind. For example, they usually have an intimate knowledge of factors affecting living costs. I remember reading the story of a woman who was so anxious to ensure that she gave only pure milk to her child that she used to ask if the milk were pure, and on one occasion a milkman replied, “ Sure, lady, I always boil the water before I put the milk in”. I repeat that women can do very valuable work on parliamentary committees.
Recently, the general manager of the Rural Bank, Sydney, declared that Australia is a great nation and that its position to-day indicates that it is on the eve of becoming a much greater country. I should like to hear any views that members of the Australian Country party might wish to express in rebuttal of that opinion. I again strongly urge the
Government to encourage the provision of adequate water conservation and irrigation. I have advocated this policy ever since I was elected to the Senate. We must do all we can to help the primary producers. I am glad to say that all moneys that the Government is providing for that purpose is being wisely expended in the interests of the producers. I shall not deal with the subject of standardization of railway gauges because I have dealt with it on so many previous occasions. However, I am still living in the hope of seeing that project brought to fruition. J congratulate the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) upon the standard of the houses that his department has provided for employees on the trans-continental railway. As a consequence, those employees are much happier to-day than they have ever been before.
The Government’s policy is straightforward and honest, and the Government will implement it in the interests of all sections of the community. Labour has always stood for liberty and security, and it will continue to uphold those principles. I deeply regret the tactics that the Opposition parties, with the aid of the press, have adopted in misrepresenting the -Government. I particularly regret that the newspapers make a practice of lampooning the Prime Minister. Some of the cartoons in which the right honorable gentleman has been caricatured are, to say the least, unworthy of the publications responsible for them. However, Labour supporters have one consolation in this matter. It is clear that, as the result of such continual misrepresentation of the Government, Labour is rapidly gaining in popularity with the people. The fact that the Prime Minister has been made the butt of unfair caricatures has won increasing support for him. The people have nothing’ to fear so long as the Prime Minister remains in control of the ship of state, because his outstanding leadership will keep it on an even keel. The slogan throughout Australia to-day is, “ Forward with Chifley, and keep Labour in power “.
– The Government has every reason to be proud of the budget now before the
Senate. It is a progressive budget, and the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has introduced it at a time when Australia is enjoying unprecedented prosperity. Every day in the financial columns of the press reports and balance-sheets of companies of all classes reveal that they are making profits of proportions undreamed of before . Labour assumed office. On every side we see evidence of progress and prosperity throughout the land. Labour does not have to boast about its record because its achievements speak for themselves and provide the clearest answer to the Opposition parties which are so devoid of real argument. Indeed, when listening to their criticism I am reminded of the “lonely little petunia in the onion patch “. All they do is cry all day. Every feature of the budget is constructive and it presents a policy of hope and progress. The Treasurer, in his budget speech, said -
The past ten years have proved the resilient strength of our country. When faced with danger, we put forth a military and industrial effort far greater than was formerly thought possible, and since the war, we have been able, despite many difficulties arising from that conflict, to recover lost ground and advance along the road of progress again. Indeed, Australia is in mu ny ways much further ahead than ten years ago. In manufacturing, our capacity has increased at least 50 per cent. Throughout the economy as a whole, there are 40 per cent, more people at work than there were then. From a social standpoint we have greatly extended the range and value of services available, and experience has shown, not merely that we can afford these services, but that they have a positive worth in keeping up the demand for goods, and hence employment and investment.
These examples of constructive achievement in a time disordered by war, and the effects of war, point to what can be done under normal conditions. Knowing our resources, we should not be afraid to set our goals high.
Anti-Labour governments in the past let slip the opportunities that were presented to them to develop this country as it should be developed. It is significant that only to-day the Government is about to embark on the great Snowy Mountains hydro-electric power scheme, whereas that project had been strongly advocated for 30 years when anti-Labour governments were in office. It has remained for the present Government to show its confidence in the future of this country by undertaking that project. However, we are now short of man-power which is probably the most important asset that we could possess now that we are on the threshhold of full development under a progressive government. In the past anti-Labour governments wasted that asset to such a degree that at one period over 500,000 people were unemployed. The Treasurer, in his speech, continued -
I believe, for example, that our population can be doubled within a few decades. I believe also that our present problems of fuel and power can be solved, so opening up immense industrial possibilities. Housing, again, difficult though it has been in recent years, will be overcome if we keep up our efforts.
But it is a condition of all this, that we should accept as a common aim, the future greatness and security of Australia, and as a common responsibility it rests with us, in our own generation, to do our utmost to achieve these things.
For such a young country, we Australians are extremely fortunate that we oan speak in terms such as these. In them there are all the attributes of a high ideal based on the firm foundation of reality. One of the influences at work and which it is difficult for newcomers to understand, is the attitude of the press. No doubt, those newcomers find it difficult to understand why there is not a harmonizing influence in the press of this country. Fortunately, however, a glimmer of such an influence is making its appearance in the columns of one large daily newspaper in Melbourne. Recently, I had occasion to refer to some of the comments published in the newspapers with respect to the findings of the royal commission that recently inquired into the press in Great Britain. During the general election campaign in that country when I was there in 1945 I had the opportunity to note the tactics that were employed by the British press in its endeavour to influence public opinion against Labour by indulging in scares, insinuations and half-truths. However, the British people did not succumb to that influence; they rejected the antiLabour parties. Giving evidence before the royal commission to which I have referred Lord Kemsley, one of the newspaper barons of Great Britain, was asked to define distortion, and he replied as follows : -
Neither in headlines nor in the text should propaganda be allowed to colour news. The aim is always accurate, fair and honest news reports. To write up news from a particular angle is to distort news.
That royal commission on at least twelve pages of its report cited examples of distortion taken from the columns of the British press. The Australian press failed to make any reference to that aspect of the evidence given before that body. Some sections of the Australian press indulge in distortion of news to a greater degree than the British press does. The commission attributed that practice to the influence of excessive political bias. Without the assistance of the press our efforts would be hampered, and there would be bred the very set of circumstances that most people want to avoid, this is lack of confidence, and lack of Australian sentiment. A seed-bed would be formed which would assist the spread of alien philosophies in this country. I say very sincerely that the Australian press, by its attitude of distortion and political bias, is not doing justice to our great future. The report of the royal commission also stated -
The combination, day after day, of distortion arising from political partisanship, has a cumulative effect on the reader. It results, where it is carried farthest, not only in a debasement of standards of taste, but also in a further weakening of the foundations of intelligent judgment in public affairs. Political partisanship alone, deprives the citizen of the evidence on which conclusions should be based; political partisanship, in conjunction with distortion for news value, may lead him to forget that conclusions are, or should be, grounded on evidence.
But it is indeed very heartening, as I have said before, to see a glimmer of impartiality appearing in one newspaper in Melbourne, the Argus. Its leading article of the 8th September, to which I refer, has previously been mentioned in this chamber. In my opinion it is an example of fair reporting. It reads -
Mr. Chifley, ;is Treasurer, has produced si Lower Cost of Living Budget
He lias resisted the tendency, tempting for political leaders, of making spectacular eleventh-hour concessions in election year. This budget is an instrument of economic and social policy. The instrument is obviously to bc used in this case to underpin social service programmes; to guarantee continued full employment; to promote the policy of planning Australia’s economic development.
As this policy is one that has clearly come to stay - not only in Australia, and not only as Labour policy - the budget is a sound one. Some may make the criticism that the Treasurer is budgeting for a deficit. The answer has already been given: He is budgeting for a social service policy.
Deficits, if the rise in national income is maintained by increased production, become surpluses, and revenue excess must mean more tax reduction. The moral is: Increased production within the working week will result in greater social security. That is, if budgeting of this kind continues.
When we examine details it becomes clear why this is an L.C.L. budget. It reduces forms of taxation which inflate prices. Thus it helps the individual to avoid higher living costs in some degree. It attacks the prices of commodities directly by, for example, freeing 400 items from primage; this again helps the individual, particularly that important representative of consumers, the housewife.
Further, it indicates to the public that the real power to deal with the cost of living is in the hands of the Federal Government. It is an incentive budget, because it encourages really enterprising ‘business to be more enterprising. It does this by making concessions for investing new capital on new equipment. And this in turn ultimately favours the consumer: enterprising and prosperous industry always does.
This budget embodies the conception of setting the people free. It is an instrument which frees people from fear of social insecurity and from the menace of unemployment. At the same time it extends freedom to industrial enterprise by liberating it from the restrictions of out-of-date and outmoded machinery. That is realist, and it is economically sound.
It is sound because it gets down to bedrock and provides positive recipes for lower living costs. In short, it is a good budget.
It is good for the best of possible reasons; that is to Bay, for a truly national reason. It must contribute greatly to the future stability and prosperity of all classes in Australia. It serves all interests. Lower living costs give consumers greater buying .power; business incentives provide them with more to buy.
That is the opposite of an economic vicious circle. It helps to integrate all sections of the community into a cohesive social whole.
It is a good budget, and an L.C.L. budget.
– I understand that the majority of shares has changed hands, and that there has been a slight, change in administration. An article such as that is out of the blue.
– Does the honorable senator mean out of the red?
– This is the first glimmer that we have seen in this country of one of the leading newspapers presenting an unbiased opinion. That such a constructive article should be published by a newspaper of such long standing as the Argus is like a breath of air in a furnace. I compliment the management of that newspaper on its contribution to common-sense public opinion in this country.
The Opposition has criticized the alleged lack of production in this country and many references have been made by noted speakers at meetings of Chambers of Commerce, Chambers, of Manufactures and numerous other organizations to the production lag. Honorable senators will be interested to hear figures that were compiled by the Economic Research Bureau of the University of Melbourne and tendered in evidence .before the Full Arbitration Court. They indicate a significant increase of production per man-hour over the past two years. When giving evidence, Professor Higgins said that Dr. S. S. Stevens, of the Economic Research Bureau at the University of Melbourne, had shown that the output of 71 Victorian manufacturing firms, employing 11,000 people, had been virtually unchanged by the introduction of the 40-hour week, and that productivity per man rose by 9 per cent, during 1948.
During the past few weeks statistics have been cited in another place about production in this country, and many statements about lack of production have appeared in the press. I have before me some interesting figures in relation to primary production. The quantity of wheat produced in 1938-39 in this country was 155,368,621 bushels. In 1947-48, 220,116,317 bushels were -produced. In that year also 40,696,992 bushels of oats were ‘produced, compared with 15,554,735 bushels in 1938-39, whilst the production of barley amounted to 20,855,932 bushels compared with 10.830,714 bushels in 1938-39. The quantity of blue, grey, and other field peas produced in 1947-48 was 22,799 tons, compared with 11,628 tons in 1938-39, whilst the production of cheese increased from 29,304 tons in 1938-39 to 41,478 tons in 1947-48. The production of powdered and condensed milk increased from 29,705 tons in 1938-39 to 92,575 tons in 1947-48.
Increased production has also been achieved in relation to housing. The charge has been made that this Government does not favour people owning their own homes. The lie direct is given to that assertion by the amount of home building that has taken place during the last four years. One cannot but ‘be impressed by the amount of home building that is in progress in every part of this country, as can be seen in a bird’seye view of suburban and town areas when travelling in an aircraft. The following figures in relation to the production of building materials indicate the increased production that has taken place since the pre-war years: -
We have heard something about the falsification of statistics. Admittedly the figures that I have cited do not show the complete picture, but they were the only ones that were available to me. Certain newspaper reports of debates that have taken place in the House of Representatives, have been most onesided. For instance, recently the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) said that there had been a fall of 1 per cent, in the production of greasy wool. He failed to add, however, that the production of scoured wools, culls, and tops had increased by 132 per cent. He said also that there had been a 5 per cent, decrease in wheat exports; but there had also been a 63 per cent, increase of the quantity of flour exported. We have been told that beef exports are down by 16 per cent., but our critics have failed to mention that exports of canned meat have increased by 550 per cent. Similarly, a 10 per cent, reduction of butter exports is much more than offset by a 400 per cent, increase of exports of processed milk an/1 other dairy products. Coming once again to newspaper distortion, I remind the
Senate that on the front page of to-day’s Sydney Daily Telegraph are screaming headlines-“ T.A.A. < Falsified ‘ Books “. That is a very grave charge to make against any organization although it is partly neutralized by a rather insignificant report on an inside page. The aim obviously is to discredit a very fine organization, Trans-Australia Airlines. The progress that Trans-Australia Airlines has made in the three years since its inception has aroused considerable jealousy amongst private airline operators. They are jealous of the ability, efficiency and courtesy of the Trans-Australia Airlines staffs.
– The honorable member who made that attack on TransA.ustralia Airlines paid a tribute to the courtesy and efficiency of that organization. He criticized only its bookkeeping methods.
– The honorable member who made the attack, and one of his colleagues, are repeatedly making assaults on all phases of the activities of Trans-Australia Airlines. “Why is there such organized opposition to this government airline? The reason is, of course, that had the Government not entered the field of civil aviation, vested interests would very soon have had a complete monopoly of Australian airlines.
– The Commonwealth itself tried to establish a monopoly.
– It did, but was prevented by the High Court.
– The Commonwealth introduced legislation to curb the activities of a private organization which threatened to become a monopoly. It was the responsibility of the Government in this democratic country to deal with this octopus. The main shareholders in Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited are five powerful international shipping companies - HuddartParker Limited, the Union Steamship Company, and Holyman Brothers Propiietary Limited, each with 74,999 shares, the Adelaide Steamship Company with 75,000 shares, and the Orient Steam Navigation Company with 74,998 shares.
Until the establishment of TransAustralia Airlines, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited practically had an open field. In 1938, there were sixteen private airline operators in Australia. By 1944 only nine remained, the remainder having been swamped by this growing monopoly. Various happenings since that time have revealed that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited has a finger in many other pies. It is financially interested in small airline companies operating subsidiary services throughout this country. Therefore, the Australian National Airlines Commission has carried out an important democratic function by preventing a complete monopoly of air transport. It has broken the stranglehold of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. In Tasmania, we have received deputation after deputation from King Island residents whose only transport services are ships operated by William Holyman & Sons Limited or Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited aircraft. The people of King Island are complaining that they are not getting the service to which they are entitled. A similar situation exists on Flinders Island. We on this side of the chamber are not ashamed that we have been able to bring to fruition so quickly measures to counteract the activities of this monopoly which once seemed likely to control all Australian air services.
I come again to the falsification of news. The publishers of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which has its greatest circulation in the Sydney metropolitan area, know well the impression that will be created in the minds of the people by large headlines proclaiming “ T.A.A. Falsified’ Books”. The reply by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) to the charges levelled by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), is published inside the paper in small print. The Minister said that the honorable member for Flinders had been misled, which is quite true. Obviously, he was very badly misled. The accounts of Trans- Australia Airlines have been certified by the Auditor-General, and the charges that have been made against Trans-Australia Airlines are, in effect, grave reflections upon this senior public servant. They cannot be substantiated. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited is obviously jealous of the accomplishments of TransAustralia Airlines, which, in its three ;years of operation, has established a wonderful record. There has not been one casualty amongst its passengers. This year, Trans- Australia Airlines expects to budget tor a profit. Most new companies find it difficult in the initial stages to make ends meet. Their costs are high, particularly in advertising. It is only natural, therefore, that TransAustralia Airlines should have found it -difficult to balance its budget in its early years. Its staffs have been subject to continual bitter criticism. That they have been doing their job properly and efficiently is evidenced by commendation that has come from, visitors from all parts of the world. One of the most recent tributes came from Sir Keith Park. Most air travellers from overseas agree that the courtesy and efficiency of TransAustralia Airlines is second to none. In three years, Trans-Australia Airlines tas grown to the size of the eighth largest airline operating company in the United States of America. It has become the leading operator in Australia in route mileage. Its load factor too, is the highest, and relatively more people use its services. These comparisons, I remind the Senate, are with a private organization which for a long period of wears had an opportunity to expand its service and build up goodwill, virtually free from competition. TransAustralia Airlines has carried more than 1,000,000 passengers in its three years of service without losing one. That is a great achievement. The objects of “Trans-Australia Airlines as set out in the Australian National Airlines Act are fourfold. The organization is not meant to be only a carrier of passengers, freight and mails. As a national organization, it has a duty to foster trade and commerce, and to develop our outback regions. This task has been performed well by pioneers in the past, but accelerated development was necessary in our quickly expanding economy. Thus, it lias become part of the responsibility of Trans-Australia Airlines to establish unprofitable services to open up new areas of the Commonwealth for settlement. Trans-Australia Airlines functions as a vital reserve organ of defence. It assists the air defence of the nation by training commercial pilots, who would be available to the Royal Australian Air Force in time of emergency. Furthermore, the communications role of the Army and of the Royal Australian Air Force could be undertaken in time of emergency by Trans-Australia Airlines. The national airline is also charged with the responsibility of serving remote areas, and in that way it is performing an important developmental function. In addition, it has to undertake the carriage of mails whenever and wherever required by the PostmasterGeneral. During the recent floods and also during the prolonged coal strike Trans-Australia Airlines carried 720 tons of mail, which represents an enormous amount of mail. In return the airline received no special payment because the carriage of mails is part of its function. Indeed, the matters that I have mentioned are all part of the wider aims of the organization, which does not seek merely to carry passengers and freight for profit.
During the last financial year TransAustralia Airlines was debited with £130,000 for the use of aerodromes and navigational facilities provided by the Department of Civil Aviation. Whilst it may be regretted by some people that the national airline should be called upon to pay such considerable charges to the Government, I point out that the Department of Civil Aviation constructs and maintains a large number of modern aerodromes and provides efficient navigational aids, and it is only right that Trans-Australia Airlines, in common with other airlines which utilize those facilities, should pay something for their use instead of leaving the entire financial burden to be borne by the taxpayers. However, a private airline is now contesting the legality of the charges imposed by the Department of Civil Aviation, and should it be found that the department is not entitled to levy such charges on airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines’ finances will benefit considerably. Indeed, had it not been required to pay £130,000 to the Department of Civil Aviation during the last financial year, the undertaking would have earned a profit instead of sustaining a loss. Incidentally, I point out that the vicious criticism that has been made of the financial operation of the airlines overlooks the fact that an increase of Id. in the price of petrol costs TransAustralia Airlines £30,000, and the increase of 2d. a gallon of the price of petrol which occurred during the last financial year was more than sufficient to account for the relatively small loss incurred by it. The Jeremiahs who are using their influence to inflame public opinion against the national airline are doing this country a great disservice. The motive behind most of the criticism levelled at Trans-Australia Airlines is purely political. In order to damage the present Labour Administration some people are prepared to sink their principles and even to jeopardize the future of this country. However, history will judge those who are to-day endeavouring to frustrate the development of this country by opposing every proposal advanced by the present Government, and I have no doubt that in the fullness of time history will condemn them even more completely than I do now. However, to refute much of the criticism levelled at the conduct of Trans-Australia Airlines it is only necessary to point out that 75.8 per cent, of the seats offered to passengers by the airline during the last financial year were filled, which is ample proof of its efficient management. Because of my experience of air travel, I have taken a close personal interest in the operations of Trans-Australia Airlines, and throughout the ramifications of its service I have been impressed with the remarkable spirit of goodwill and co-operation evident amongst its members. It is indeed unfortunate that such efficiency and devotion to duty should be rewarded by allegations against the airline and its servants such as the unfounded assertion that its books have been falsified.
The airline serves 53 airports spread over a network of 13,000 miles. During 1947 it operated over 6,450 miles of air routes and last year it operated over air routes totalling 8,802 miles. The fleet has increased from a single aircraft to 31 modern aircraft. During the three years of its operation, its speed, safety, efficiency and service have placed it in the forefront of the world’s airlines, and I congratulate all members of its staff on their magnificent work.
Mention has been made in this chamber from time to time of the tendency towards the establishment of monopolies. That tendency undoubtedly still exists. During the war I had plenty of opportunity to reflect upon such matters, and I am convinced that the rivalries engendered by international trade are amongst the major causes of war. A great deal has been said and done during the last few years to prevent the outbreak of another major war, and to that end the United Nations and a number of subsidiary bodies were established. Unfortunately, we have in Australia a number of Jeremiahs who delight in decrying the efforts of supporters of the organizations that are attempting to prevent war. We need only recall the attitude displayed by the Australian press towards the magnificent achievements of the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). When he was appointed President of the United Nations General Assembly in recognition of his very fine qualities and achievements, the Australian press greeted the announcement with cynicism and disparagement. Similarly, the Australian press has sought to discredit our immigration policy. As proof of what I have been saying I shall read to honorable senators a statement which appeared in the press only a few days ago concerning the recognition extended to the right honorable gentleman outside Australia. When it was announced that General Carlos Romulo of the Philippines was to succeed Dr. Evatt as President of the United Nations the following commentary appeared in the Sydney press: -
Without any formal ceremony. Philippines diplomat General Carlos Romulo took over in the. course of the week.
The Doc. has been bracketed with the late President Roosevelt and Philippines President Quirino in a special Philippines citation.
The Philippines International Relations Association has cited them for “ outstanding leadership in international affairs, and distinguished services to the cause of world peace “.
With the citations go a life-size (sic) picture of Roosevelt, a sheepskin scroll, and a gold medal with fob.
Manila newspapers, announcing the honour, soft-pedal the information that the L>oc is a member of the Australian Cabinet as well as er-1’resident of the United Nations.
What contribution the press imagines it is making towards the cause of world peace I do not know, but it is undoubtedly doing its utmost to stir up strife between Australia and other countries in connexion with our White Australia policy, the application of which calls for delicate administration.
– Why make the task even more delicate?
– As an example of the complexities of administration involved in the administration of the White Australia policy I should like the honorable senator to attempt to draw the “ colour line “ between citizens of Portugal and those of Iraq. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize. The fact remains that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has carried out a most difficult task fairly, efficiently and courageously, and his administration of the White Australia policy commands the support of the majority of thinking Australians, who are convinced that vc must not depart from that policy.
The attack made upon the Government by its critics in the Parliament and outside it is concentrated on the so-called “ socialist objective “ of the Australian Labour party. I should like to draw the attention of the Senate to the definition of a “ progressive policy “ given by the political science writer, G. D. H. Cole, in the course of a recent book, in. which he stated -
The most universally important of all the objects of political and social activity is to raise the standards of living of ordinary people in our own country in such a way as to put an end to malnutrition, preventable disease and mortality, illiteracy and ignorance, sub-human living and working conditions, and the demoralising effects of unemployment, wherever they exist. No other objective can claim our allegiance when, it conflicts seriously with this primary object.
He believes that self-government and freedom are good things for both individuals and societies, and that it is the business of all good men to oppose tyranny of man over men. All men are brothers, and the only reason for hating one’s brother should be that he is acting against what is good and right in denial of our fundamental common morality. When asked what we should do, Mr. Cole says -
I would desire that we have education to give all people the best chance in life, education to teach truth, and education to teach citizenship.
He wants people to have good nutrition, good housing, good education, good working conditions, freedom of speech, writing and association, selfgovernment, peaceful relations with their neighbours, and the right for all to vote whether they want those things or not. In order to implement such a policy, the public ownership of the essential means of production would be necessary as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. In a recent broadcast, the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) called to task the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), for his repeated distortion of the objective of the Australian Labour party by dissociating it from its accompanying declaration. Twenty-eight years ago, in 1921, the Labour party decided, in the interests of the people of Australia, to give them the best chance in life, education in truth and citizenship, good nutrition, good housing, good education, good working conditions, freedom of speech, writing and association, peaceful relations with their neighbours, and the right to vote. That policy was broadly classified under the longrange objective of the socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange. It is not difficult to understand that a short, curt phrase such as that needs some qualification. Every member of the Labour party believes in his heart that the terms of the objective are qualified by the declaration that the party proposes collective ownership for the purpose of preventing exploitation and only tq the extent that may be necessary for that purpose. Wherever private ownership is a means ©f exploitation, it is opposed by the party, but the party does not seek to abolish private ownership, even of any instrument of production, if that instrument is used by its owner in a socially useful manner and without exploitation. The Opposition has no objective. Its declaration is unemployment, the dole, low wages, poor working conditions and a stricken agriculture.
A party does not need to have a declaration in order to achieve that. There is nothing to ‘he proud of in that record. The people of Australia have tried the Opposition parties, have found them wanting, and have cast their declaration into the discard. In conclusion, I quote Mr. Henry Wallace, a war-time VicePresident of the United States of America, who said -
The problem of statesmanship is to mould u policy leading towards a higher state of humanity. But it will be impossible to enter into the still almost limitless possibilities of science and invention until we have acquired a new faith, a faith which is based on the richer concept of the potentialities of human nature than that of the 19th century. The economic keynote, the scientific keynote, and the religious keynote of the new age must be the overwhelming realization that mankind now has such mental and spiritual powers, and such control over nature, that the doctrine of the struggle for existence is definitely outmoded and replaced by the higher law of co-operation.
The system of unlimited profit-seeking and competition necessarily creates a struggle for existence as brutal in the economic world as is the biological struggle for existence in the jungle.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have much pleasure in supporting this budget, the ninth in succession that has been presented to the Parliament by the present Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). Since 1941, each budget in turn has indicated a sounder and more stable economic condition. I listened very closely to various speeches that were made by members of the Opposition, both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, and I wondered whether they were debating the budget seriously or were using it merely as an excuse for levelling abuse at the Government. Criticism of members of Parliament who are attempting to do the job that they were elected to do often rebounds against the critics. The Opposition has used strange and conflicting terms to describe this budget, but it has been unable to find any grounds for an effective attack. When they observe the conditions of poverty and insecurity that exist in other countries and remember that similar conditions prevailed in Australia under anti-
Labour governments, the people should be thankful that they have a Treasurer who, both in time of war and in time of peace, has been able to frame a succession of budgets providing for continued financial stability. When he presented this budget in the House of Representatives, the Treasurer stated some interesting figures on the subject of tax reductions. He pointed out that reductions that had been made since 1944-45 represented, according to present income levels, an annual saving to the taxpayers of £280,000,000. One of the parrot cries of the Opposition has been “high taxation “. Nevertheless, the Labour party was returned to power at the general election in 1946 by an overwhelming majority although the Prime Minister had not promised any tax relief. The right honorable gentleman refused to do so merely to gain the votes of people who normally did not support the Labour party.
Taxes have been reduced five times during the past four years, with the result that citizens in the lower income groups are now not required to pay income tax. Their sole responsibility is to pay the social services contribution. Wage-earners are prepared to contribute to the National Welfare Fund because they know that it guarantees to them security in the event of sickness or unemployment. The people who pay income tax can well afford to pay. Those in the higher income groups will be obliged to pay at relatively high rates for many years to come because they were let off very lightly by anti-Labour governments prior to World War II., and they can continue to pay on the present scales without suffering hardship. The Government has set aside an amount of £108,000,000 this year for repatriation and the re-esta’blishment of ex-service men and women. Full details of its reestablishment programme have been given in the Senate on many occasions, and therefore I need not discuss it now. Obviously, the appropriation of an amount of £108,000,000 for this purpose is sufficient to convince the average citizen that the Government is honouring the promises that were made to Australian men and women when they were urged to join the fighting services in time of war.
The budget includes provision for a cash gift to the United Kingdom, which will bring the total value of Australian grants to the Mother Country to £45,000,000. Members of the Opposition criticized the Government’s decision on an earlier occasion to make a direct gift of £25,000,000 to Great Britain and wanted to increase the amount to £50,000,000. The Opposition parties would, not have dreamed of giving even £1,000,000 to Great Britain when they were in office. They never had as much money as that to spare. Any amount of more than £1,000,000 was considered by anti-Labour governments to be “big money “. Successive , Labour Governments since 1941 have so strengthened the national economy that we are now able to make such contributions to the re-establishment of the Mother Country without inflicting hardships upon Australians. The Government has increased social services benefits from £39,000,000 to £S.’I.,000,000 annually, and, at the same time, it has accumulated a credit of nearly £100,000,000 in the National “Welfare Fund. It has increased annual payments to the States from £48,000,000 to £79,000,000. In order to keep down the cost of living it has provided stabilization subsidies amounting to £132,000,000. In that way it has assisted both the primary producers and consumers. Those facts reveal the wonderful job that the Government has done during the last four years. Now, when the national income is high and the Government’s revenues are buoyant, the Treasurer is wisely making provision to meet future obligations. In spite of these facts members of the Opposition parties present the gloomiest picture possible of conditions in this country. They have claimed that many of our children are half -starved and ill-clad, and that householders are compelled to queue up in order to purchase the necessaries of life. The fact is, of course, that the Australian worker has never been so well off as he is to-day. That is one result of the Government’s policy of maintaining full employment. During the depression nearly half of the Australian population was unemployed. Hundreds of thousands were forced to live on the dole and trudge round the- country looking for work. Yet, some employers whom the Opposition represents refer to those times as the “good old days “. The anti-Labour parties strongly object to the Government’s policy of full employment. It is well known that some employers prefer that there shall always exist in the community a pool of unemployed that can be used to sweat workers who are lucky to have jobs. That state of affairs does not exist to-day. Reports published in the financial columns of the daily press record unprecedented profits of companies of all classes.
Even in the precincts of Parliament House we see evidence of the general prosperity now being enjoyed by the nation as a whole. Not a day passes without large bodies of tourists paying a visit to Parliament House. That was not the position prior to 1939. To-day, all travel agencies advise tourists and holiday-makers to book months ahead for accommodation on tourist buses, ships, aeroplanes and trains. That is the only sphere in which people queue up to-day, but in the past travel agencies were always clamouring for clients. The fact is that to-day great numbers of workers can afford to provide holidays and vacational travel for themselves and their families.
The Leader of the Opposition had much to say about the rise of the cost of living. It is most unfortunate that the people rejected the Government’s proposal to give power to the National Parliament to continue prices control on a nation-wide basis. What has been our experience since prices control has been handed over to the States? The Opposition parties strongly opposed this Government’s proposal at the recent referendum. They urged the people to sweep away all controls. But differences between the States with respect to principles of control have forced them to compromise in all directions. Whilst control of buildings has been substantially eased in most of the States the Liberal Government of Western Australia has applied controls in that sphere in a much more vigorous form than any Labour government has ever endeavoured to enforce. As the result of the judgment of the High Court, the Government has relinquished petrol rationing, and much the same confusion has arisen in respect of petrol as has occurred with respect to prices control. Our economic structure as a whole has been seriously affected by this lack of uniformity, and by the fact that the States are unwilling, or incapable, of establishing the requisite uniformity. Perhaps, as the result of these ill-effects the people will have learnt that it is in the interests of the nation as a whole, particularly of the less populous States, that the powers of the National Parliament should be enlarged in respect of the subjects that I have mentioned.
The Leader of the Opposition said that we were hearing too much about the Government’s policy of full employment, but anti-Labour governments did nothing to provide for the workers the conditions that they are enjoying in industry to-day. We can imagine what would have happened had the Opposition parties been returned to office in 1946. No doubt a state of affairs would now exist in this country similar to that which existed here immediately after World War I. when anti-Labour governments showed that they were entirely incapable of enabling the nation to change from a war-time to a peace-time economy. One has only to weigh-up the capabilities of members of the Opposition parties in this chamber and in the House of Representatives to realize that they have no members capable of administering departments as effectively as members of the present Government are doing. When we remember that fact it is not surprising that the Government has been able to maintain full employment. The Cabinet includes men who possess an intimate knowledge of industrial conditions generally. Some time ago I read a report of a statement by Professor Hytten, who was formerly economic adviser to the Bank of New South Wales. He was most outspoken in his criticism of the Government’s policy of full employment. That report stated -
He said that in the ‘twenties - the last period of reasonably full employment - Australia had unemployment varying from 6 to 11 per cent, of trade union membership.
In the best of those years, when unemployment was 6 to 8 per cent., there was a period when employment was fairly easy for those who really sought it.
There was neither scarcity of labour nor need for any one to be out of work long.
Complete stability, said Professor Hytten, was neither attainable nor desirable. Some of the problems of full employment were -
Shortage of 112,800 unfilled jobs, estimated by the Commonwealth Employment Service.
That statement proves the adage that employment creates employment. Professor Hytten added -
Lack of labour discipline.
Slackened effort, leading to increasing industrial costs, and in some trades to inferior work.
Raw material industries suffer labour shortage because workers go into more congenial and lighter industries. 1 do not know whether Professor Hytten has had any experience in a workshop; but it must be clear to him that no employer would continue to employ workers who were not capable of producing goods of first-class quality. There are many trades, particularly in the building industry, that are still experiencing a shortage of labour. Persons who worked in those industries prior to the war now have the opportunity, as Professor Hytten suggests, to transfer to more congenial jobs. They have the opportunity to get out of brick works, tile works and cement works and heavy jobs such as timber falling. They are hard, laborious jobs and no amenities of any kind are provided. I contend that there will be a definite shortage of labour in those industries until amenities are provided. That is why Professor Hytten has said that full employment is no good to this country. He prefers conscription of labour. He has stated, also, that workers slow down because they can work themselves out of a job by using up all of their material. That is a remarkable statement. I cannot imagine any boss allowing workers to slow down because if they were to maintain a reasonable rate of production they would use up all of the available material. As far as I know there is no shortage of material in the engineering industries.
Sitting suspended from 5.51 to 8 p.m.
– Continuing, Professor Hytten said -
Employers hoard labour, hold manpower where they normally release it, because they know they are unable to re-engage suitable labour.
Apparently, Professor Hytten, like many employers, would like to see a return of the alleged good old days when we had more than 250,000 people out of work throughout the Commonwealth. I do not ‘believe that employers to-day are holding labour just for the sake of holding it. Any labour that they have at their disposal, is I am sure, fully engaged in the workshops. Professor Hytten is the chief economic adviser to the Bank of New South Wales, and we all know, of course, that the banks are the backstop of the Liberal party. The remarks that I have quoted were made by Professor Hytten in a speech to the AustralianNew Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science, at Hobart, and were reported in the Sydney Sun of the 12th January, 1949.
The Leader of the Opposition (.Senator Cooper) said that although there were some bright points in the Government’s financial policy, ite main feature appeared to be a continuation of high taxes. The substantial tax reductions that have been made by the Chifley Government have been mentioned many times in this chamber, and it is not necessary for me to reply to the honorable senator’s criticism to-night. I need only point out that there are no indirect taxes on clothing or foodstuffs, so that the purchase of these commodities does not impose any unnecessary burden upon the working people. Income-earners receiving up to £10 a week do not pay income tax. It is true that they pay the social services contribution, but I am confident that most Australian workers are quite prepared to pay for their social services. The Leader of the Opposition spoke at length about the cost of living. We all know that the prices of many commodities have reached high levels. For instance, the cost of building materials has doubled since the pre-war days. I remind the Senate, however, that in May of last year, members of the Opposition parties in this Parliament did their best to convince the Australian people that they should reject the Commonwealth’s proposal to retain control over rents and prices. The referendum was defeated, and prices control passed into the hands of the States. Prices rose immediately.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the Treasurer, in his budget speech, gave no hope for a reduction of the cost of living. Undoubtedly the cost of living has risen considerably, but I wonder what the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition would be to, say, a proposal by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), that, as a contribution to a reduction of living costs, Australian wheat should be sold in this country at 4s. 6d. a bushel as it was prior to the war ! The Labour Government has paid £132,000,000 in subsidies on foodstuffs in an endeavour to keep the cost of living down, and to assist primary producers. Substantial subsidies are still being paid to primary producers. Can the Leader of the Opposition recall any LiberalCountry party government having given to wheat-farmers, potato-growers, dairyfarmers, and other primary producers, the assistance that they are receiving to-day from this administration? The Labour Government has been a good friend to Australian farmers, particularly during the last four years. The Bruce-Page Government and the Lyons Government were elected to office on promises made to the primary producers, but they failed miserably to fulfil those promises. At the last election, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and his colleagues made no promises, and Labour was returned to office with what was virtually an open cheque. I am quite satisfied that Labour will again be elected on the 10th December next.
The Leader of the Opposition also dealt at some length with the proposal that child endowment should be extended to the first child in each family. That of course is sheer trickery. We all know what would happen if that proposal were adopted. It would suit the employers admirably, because they would then be able to go to the Arbitration Court and urge the fixation of the basic wage on the needs of a man and wife, instead of a man and wife and one child as at present. Immediately after the last election, I inquired in Perth what amount was actually ineluded in the basic wage for the first child, and I was informed that the figure was approximately 14s. To-day, I think that it would be about £1. Therefore, the payment of child endowment of 10s. a week in respect of the first child, would probably result in a reduction of the basic wage, in Western Australia at least, by £1, because it would be argued that provision had to be made only for & man and wife.
I have taken a keen interest in the development of the northern regions of this continent, particularly the Kimberley district of Western Australia. I know the value of that district for the production of crops and the raising of beef cattle. Properly developed, with the assistance of the Australian Government, the northern areas of the Commonwealth would attract back hundreds of people who were starved out of those regions in the past. In addition, there would be thousands of new settlers. The Government proposes to expend £1,500,000 on road making in our northern areas. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that that scheme is still in the blue-print stage, but I am confident that it will be given effect. The Government has declared its intention to expend £1,500,000 on feeder roads from cattle stations to the Wyndham meatworks. I hope that there will be no delay in embarking upon this work, because if we are to fulfil our fifteen year contract for the supply of beef to the United Kingdom, the cattle population of the Northern Territory and adjacent areas will have to be increased considerably. In the past, it has been most difficult to obtain contracts for the supply of beef to Great Britain. The United Kingdom has purchased most of its beef from Argentina. Now we have an opportunity to show what we can produce and, with Commonwealth assistance, I am sure that Australian beef will be able to compete with Argentine beef in the United Kingdom market. It is our task to accelerate beef production. The Commonwealth is already helping the Government of Western Australia in a scientific survey of crop and pasture possibilities in the Ord River “-district of the Kimberleys. Should the soil prove suitable, assistance will be required for water conservation and irrigation schemes for fattening cattle. I shall read to honorable senators portion of an article that was published in the West Australian on the 29th July. It was written by the Director of Works in Western Australia, Mr. Dumas, who is also a member of the
Northern Australia Development Committee. The article stated -
We have failed in our responsibility to the north and although we may escape the results in our lifetime, I am sure that our sons, unless they do a better job than we have will reap the whirlwind. In Western Australia the lower North-west was as well developed as it could be; he could not see very much development from Broome southwards.
Air transport had changed the whole outlook of the north. There had only been real developments since 1944 after strips suitable for DC3 aircraft had been established at every town. That had enabled passengers, doctors, dentists, stores and spare parts to be transported quickly. There had been a change in road construction. Before 1944 the only tools were the barrow, spade and pick. Now the Main Roads Department had power road graders and they were forming roads so that they would become all-weather roads.
Dealing with the industries of the area, Mr. Dumas said that oil companies were carrying out exploratory boring at Exmouth Gulf. The discovery of oil .in the north would revolutionize the whole development of the area.
Of the new industry, the air transport of beef, he said that it was a break away from the “ pick and shovel method of moving animals on the hoof. Air transport had shown that it represented a great saving in the quality and quantity of meat. Air transport of beef was only one improvement; there were several other avenues for the improvement of savings. The establishment of petrol tanks at Wyndham would be a saving and Bristol freighters, instead of DC3 aircraft, would add to the advantages of the new method.
That is a report of the statement made by the Director of Works of the Government of Western Australia, who had just completed a survey of the northern part of that State.
An attempt has been made by private enterprise to establish abattoirs and freezing works on Glenroy station, which is approximately 200 miles from Wyndham. That is part of the scheme for aerial transport of beef to the port, and I understand that the State Government is subsidizing the enterprise. If the _ enterprise is successful it will eliminate the necessity for constructing roads, and I trust that the National Government will investigate thoroughly the possibility of transporting beef by air from stations where it has been killed. Closer settlement in the Northern Territory will depend on the development of the Ord River area, where the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is conducting research.
There are about 250,000 acres of black soil plain along the Ord River, and from reports- received rice, cotton, peanuts and sorghum can be grown there under irrigation. Another article that was published in the West Australian concerning Glenroy station is worth quoting. Captain Jordan, who was the pilot of a DC3 aircraft that was engaged in moving beef to the coast was interviewed by the press, which published the following account of the interview: -
Captain Jordan said that seven stations were involved in the carriage of beef by air from Glenroy station abattoirs to the Wyndham meatworks. These were Mount House, Tableland, Mornington, Gibb River, Mr Hart, Fossil Downs and Glenroy. Mr House, Tableland and Mornington were all within 50 miles of the Glenroy abattoirs and cattle were driven from these stations to Glenroy to be slaughtered. Before the air beef lift had been inaugurated cattle from those stations were driven overland to Wyndham - about 250 miles over very rugged country. The greatest distance that cattle were driven to Glenroy was from Fossil Downs - about 90 miles by road, as against the drive overland to Wyndham of 290 miles.
When cattle were brought into Glenroy they were slaughtered and the carcasses chilled to a temperature of minus 6 deg. Fahrenheit for seven hours before quartering, said Captain Jordan. At this temperature the meat was easier to cut down, did not “ creep “ and was easier to handle in loading. The forequarters »nd hindquarters of the carcasses were taken from the chilling chambers on a slide rail and slid to the end of a mechanical loading arm from which two men lifted them and stacked them into the plane.
Each plane load was 9,100 lb., made up of 28 forequarters and 28 hindquarters in addition to the offal. Three plane loads were made each day.
It took 25 minutes to load an aircraft and the same time to unload it on its arrival at Wyndham, said Captain Jordan. The flight from Glenroy to Wyndham at a height of 7,000 feet took li hours as against a three Meek trek overland and the meat did not change temperature during the flight. On its> arrival at Wyndham the plane was met by a seven-ton insulated truck into which the meat was unloaded. The beef was taken into the Wyndham freezing chambers to await export by sea to ports arranged by Great Britain, the United Kingdom being the sole purchaser.
The advantages of slaughtering the beef at Glenroy station and flying the carcasses to Wyndham wore many, said Captain Jordan. Previously the prime part of the beast had been lost on the hazardous overland drive, and “beef carcasses weighed from 100 to 120 lb. more on their arrival at Wyndham by air than when they had been driven overland and slaughtered at the meat works. Many young cattle which could not have been expected to make the overland trip were being slaughtered for carriage by air.
The statements contained in that article prove that if the National Government is serious about this matter and I believe that it is the killing of stock on stations and the carriage of meat by air will do a great deal to open up the Kimberleys, an area which has hitherto been undeveloped. The present Labour Government has a record of completing everything that it undertakes, and I trust that it will not rest until this scheme is completed. T believe that there is a big future for the beef industry in Western Australia, particularly in the Kimberleys. If the Government is to fulfil the fifteen years contract for the supply of meat to Great Britain it will be necessary to develop the production of stock in the Kimberleys.
The Leader of the Opposition complained of a shortage of steel, wire, barbed wire and sheet iron. As a primary producer he should know something about the matter. However, I think that the honorable senator was mistaken when he said that our steel plants were producing to only 70 per cent, of their capacity, because I have been informed that the production is now 100 per cent, of capacity. Only a fortnight ago I took the opportunity to visit the steelworks at Newcastle, where I made inquiries concerning the availability of labour and material. The steelworks management did not complain of any shortage of labour or material. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) recently allocated between 250 and 300 immigrants to the Newcastle steelworks, and they are working side by side with Australians. I made it my business to speak to some of the Australians employed there, and.’ they informed me that the immigrants were good workmates, and I am sure that the immigrants will succeed. The Broken Hil] Proprietary Company Limited works at Newcastle are employing 7,600 men. The plant is working around the clock, and the department which produces the steel from which wire and wire netting are made is working at full capacity for 24 hours a day. The wire rods are drawn from bars 20 feet long by l£ inches square. These bars are reduced to 3/16-in. rods a half-mile in length in one and one-half minutes. The drawn rod travels through the mill at the speed of 60 miles an hour. Three or four mills are working 24 hours of the day, so that it can be realized that a considerable quantity of steel is being produced for the manufacture of wire and wire netting, apart from other articles. The works that, actually manufacture wire and wire netting from the steel rods produced by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited works are well stocked with raw material, and the only disability that they experience is the shortage of zinc for galvanizing. It was stated in this chamber that Lysaght’s Limited had to suspend operations at its Newcastle works for a fortnight recently and stand down all its employees because it could not obtain sufficient zinc from Tasmania to continue its operations. Zinc was exported to Great Britain at a price of £109 a ton, whereas the local price for zinc was only £24 a ton, although I understand that the price has since increased. It is idle, therefore, for the members of the Opposition to attempt to blame the Government for the present shortage of galvanized iron and fencing wire. Primary producers have been agitating for some time for permission to import wire, and they are prepared to pay three or four times the price of the locally manufactured wire. It is obvious, therefore, that there is no substance in the contention of the Leader of the Opposition that primary producers are not doing well. “We did not hear complaints of shortages of such materials before the war.
– The primary producers did not have the money to purchase them then.
– Quite so. Before the war the factories which manufacture galvanized iron and wire were working only half-time and they had ample raw material. However, at that time wheatfarmers were receiving only ls. 6d. a bushel for wheat, and consequently they could not afford to purchase wire. “When I visited the Newcastle works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited I had an opportunity to witness the actual conditions under which steel workers carry out their tasks. Because some of them are receiving comparatively large wages when supplemented by bonus payments, many people imagine that they are overpaid. The fact is that steelworkers endure considerable discomfort and danger. The wire-drawing machines are particularly dangerous. The rods are drawn cold and travel at high speed through dies, and the men who tend the machines have to watch every movement of the machine. Men have to stand over the galvanizing pots all day breathing unhealthy fumes. Workers also complain about conditions on the wire-netting looms. The looms have to be watched very closely as the wire passes through them, and a severe strain is imposed upon the eyes of the operators. Conditions generally in the industry are unattractive and, in these days of full employment, men prefer to take better jobs elsewhere. Until the unsatisfactory / conditions are changed, boys and young men will continue to refuse to enter the industry, and we cannot rightly blame them for doing so. I know a factory in Western Australia which has ample stocks of wire rods, but which advertises daily for loomers, wiredrawers and galvanizers. Naturally, men who have worked in that industry will not return to its dangerous and unhealthy conditions while other wellpaid jobs are available.
Everybody in Australia has commended the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) for the manner in which he has conducted our immigration scheme. The Government’s policy of immigration has helped Australia in many ways. Immigrants have been directed to industries whose products are in short supply, with consequent benefit to the whole nation. For example, considerable numbers of new Australians have been employed in the sugar industry as cane-cutters. Others are working at brick kilns and cement factories, where conditions are not attractive to Australian workers. Many of them are doing useful work as timber fellers and spot mill hands in the bush and as iron and steel workers. The benefit of this policy has become increasingly evident in the form of increased production, especially during the last six months. Over 900 immigrants are working on the giant hydroelectric project in Tasmania. The
Minister deserves all the credit that he is receiving, and I am sure that employers in most industries heartily endorse his policy. I have much pleasure in supporting the budget.
– I rise to support the budget with a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. It is not only comprehensive; it is also generous and economically sound. It reflects great credit upon the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) and the Government as a whole, but, as usual, the Opposition parties are being unreasonably critical. As other honorable senators have already demonstrated, there is no ground for criticism of the budget, which provides for the continued prosperity of the entire nation. The Government’s record of achievement must commend itself to the people when they are called upon to express their opinion at the forthcoming general election. The Opposition parties are aware of that fact, of course, and they are resorting to all kinds of subterfuges in their frantic endeavours to whip up some support for their attacks upon the Government. The truth is that, under the administration of the Labour party, Australia’s credit overseas stands higher to-day than ever before. That fact was confirmed by the late Mr. J. A. Beasley when he returned to Australia a few months ago after having acted as High Commissioner for Australia in the United Kingdom over a period of years. The Melbourne Age of the 13th June published the following report of an interview with Mr. Beasley upon his arrival in Melbourne: -
Australia’s credit stands so high in the United Kingdom that she is able to convert loans at as low as 2 per cent, and never at more than 3 per cent, interest.
In these terms the Australian High Commissioner in London (Mr. J. A. Beasley) gave an account of his stewardship of more than three years when on Saturday he returned to Melbourne in the Athenic for a stay of six weeks in Australia.
The state of affairs that Mr. Beasley described was in distinct contrast with the conditions that existed overseas when tory governments were in power in Australia. During that era, great difficulty was experienced in having loans fully subscribed. Most Australian loans that fell due for conversion had to be under written. There has never been any trouble in converting our overseas loans since the Labour party has been in power. Such facts do not require elaboration. They speak for themselves.
The financial pages of newspapers throughout Australia show that record profits are being made and that overseas industries are endeavouring to establish businesses in Australia. Yet the Opposition parties persist with their ridiculous declarations that the nation is heading for socialism and ruin ! A typical statement was made by the president of the Liberal party, Mr. R. G. Casey, and published in the Melbourne Herald of the 26th April. The report was as follows : -
Whether the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) wanted it or not, the Liberal party would make socialization the chief issue at the Federal election, the Federal President of ‘the Liberal party (Mr. R. Gr. Casey) told the University Liberal Club to-day.
The Liberal party would fight this issue ai soon as the Privy Council decision on the banking appeal was given.
Mr. Casey claimed the Liberal party waa suffering from a whispering campaign directed by the Labour party.
Everybody knows that members of the Labour party do not whisper. We cry out aloud whenever we have something to say. Obviously Mr. Casey realizes the futility of the policy, if it can be called a policy, that the anti-Labour parties are offering to the people for their approval. Therefore, he has attempted to confuse the issue by claiming that the Labour party has engaged in’ a whispering campaign. The report continued -
Mr. Casey also said that the Liberal party was just as democratic as the Labour party, if not more.
Now comes the funny part of the story-
No one contributed funds with strings attached to the Liberal party.
Labour was constantly saying that the Liberal party was the party of big business, but this was untrue. No one had attacked bad employers as strongly and aa stringently as Mr. Menzies and himself.
In order to show how ridiculous that statement was, I refer honorable senators to a copy of a confidential letter that was distributed to various organizations by the Confederation of Victorian Employers. It gives the lie direct to Mr.
Casey’s statement that no ‘funds are given to the Liberal party with strings attached and that the Liberal party is not the party of big business. The letter was issued on the 22nd July, 1949, to the following affiliated organizations: -
Associated Banks, Associated Ice Manufacturers, Association of Piano Retailers, Belgrave and District Chamber of Commerce, Builders and Allied Trades Association, Electrical and Radio Federation, Footwear Retailers’ Association, Furnishers’ Society, Master Builders’ Association, Master Drapers and Traders’ Association, Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, Melbourne Corn Exchange, Property Owners’ Association, Timber Merchants Association of Melbourne and Suburbs, Victorian Employers’ Federation, Victorian Flour Mill Owners’ Council, and Victorian Storekeepers and Traders Association.
The letter begins in this way -
The Confederation of Victorian Employers has undertaken the task of conducting immediately a comprehensive campaign in defence of free and private enterprise, and to protect all employers’ interests now threatened by socialism, nationalization of industry and Government controls. It seeks your generous support for the campaign. If this is given in full relation to the importance of the issue, we are confident a really good job will be done.
The final part of the letter shows whether any strings are attached to funds that are contributed to the Liberal party and whether it is the party of big business. This is what it states -
A considerable sum of money is required to carry out the Confederation’s undertaking. An early and generous response from you to this letter would be the greatest form of assistance we could receive at this stage. I am submitting the matter on the highest possible, executive level because of having set ourselves the task to establish an initial fund of £100,000 to ensure this defence of employers’ interests.
The Council is convinced that every employer in Victoria will accept it as a privilege to make an individual and adequate contribution to the upholding and defence of their cause as a whole. Should you desire the matter to be privately discussed, I would arrange that our Finance Director call upon you for that purpose.
An amount of £100,000 was demanded for Victoria alone from the few organizations to which the letter was addressed. That gives the lie direct to Mr. Casey. Another statement that he made was reported in the Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial on the 22nd August. On that occasion he said that, under socialism, activities would be controlled by a central State at
Canberra. The old story about remote control from Canberra! We know what controls would be imposed upon the people if men like Casey and Menzies were in power. The report stated -
This State would say where you: would work, in what industry, and what you could sell.
We know that, when anti-Labour governments of which Mr. Casey was a member were in power, tens of thousands of people had no work and would have been glad if somebody had directed them to any form of employment. Obviously the Liberal party is endeavouring to whip up a state of hysteria by misleading the people. Its efforts will be in vain, however, because the people, I believe, are fully aware of the falsity of the protestations of the anti-Labour parties.
– They will not trust Menzies, Fadden or Casey.
– I am sure that they will not. However, in their frantic efforts to bolster up their own case, and because they are unable to find any chink in Labour’s armour, they are prepared to climb upon any band wagon in order to discredit the Government. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) when he was on his recent barn-storm tour of Victoria warned the people that under a Labour government, which he called a socialist government, the -people as a whole would have only one boss. My only reply to that is that it is clear that should the Opposition parties be returned to office hundreds of thousands of our people will not have even one boss.
– And hundreds would commit suicide.
– Yes, as hundreds committed suicide during the last depression and throughout the regime of anti-Labour governments prior to the recent war. The point was admirably put by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) in Melbourne recently when he warned the people not to be bitten by the same dog twice. The Opposition parties have always endeavoured to “ cash in “ on sympathy for ex-service personnel. Supporters of the Government, particularly honorable senators from Victoria, realize how insincere members of those parties are when they profess sympathy for exservice personnel. For instance, in 1944 when Labour in Victoria was endeavouring to liberalize the franchise for elections for the Legislative Council in order to give a vote to exservicemen the anti-Labour majority in that chamber defeated the measure. That fact should give some idea of the sincerity of anti-Labour parties when they profess sympathy for ex-service personnel. Nevertheless, those parties are still endeavouring to lead the people to believe that they are the only parties that are concerned with the ex-serviceman’s problem. They have always made a political football of that problem. The Leader of the Opposition has on many occasions in this chamber professed grave concern for the welfare of ex-servicemen, but that claim is not borne out when we compare conditions existing to-day, four years after the end of World War II., with those in which, not only ex-servicemen, but all sections of the community found themselves four years after the end of World War I. when antiLabour governments were in office. The Leader of the Opposition, as a member of this chamber, for many years prior to the outbreak of the recent war supported governments that never raised a finger to help the ex-serviceman. To-day practically no unemployment exists with the exception of persons who engage in seasonal occupations and are registered as unemployed while transferring to a new job. Compare existing conditions with those that obtained in this country in 1922 four years after the end of World War I. On the 21st March of that year the Melbourne Argus published a letter that its editor had received from the chairman of the Commonwealth Council of the Limbless Soldiers Association pleading that employment be found for large num1)ers of limbless soldiers. On the 1st April of that year the same newspaper reported that a fund had been opened to provide relief for distressed unemployed soldiers and their families who, Mr. David, the then secretary of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, said were destitute and starving. The Leader of the Opposition was a supporter of the government that was responsible for those conditions.
– And he voted against the financial emergency legislation that was introduced by the Scullin Govern-‘ ment.
– That is so. The Leader of the Opposition, who will endeavour to woo the electors at the next general election, voted against that measure, the object of which was to provide money for the feeding, housing and clothing of starving men and women and thus relieve the destitution that was rampant throughout the country at that time. The Melbourne Argus of the 3rd April, 1922, reported that a deputation of mayors, representative of 26 municipalities, and headed by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, waited upon the Premier of Victoria to urge the Government of that State to co-operate in providing work for from 1,100 to 1,200 ex-servicemen who, with their families, were on the verge of starvation. A few days later, the same newspaper reported that the Anzac House Employment Bureau, with the assistance of women folk of members of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, was providing 170 free meals a day to distressed ex-servicemen. The same newspaper on the following day printed the following report under large headlines : -
Although the efforts of the R.S.L. Employment Bureau have concentrated on reducing the number of unemployed soldiers in Melbourne, offers of employment are far below the number of unemployed soldiers registered at the Bureau. An appeal is made to employers to relieve the situation, otherwise it is feared the winter will bring distress to hundreds more former soldiers and their families.
The Melbourne Age of the 26th May, 1922, reported that the Repatriation Department had 1,086 unemployed exservicemen on its registers, or 265 more than were waiting for employment in the previous month.
– None. The Government is determined to prevent the recurrence of conditions that existed under anti-Labour Governments at that time. Should Opposition parties happen to be returned to office, we should soon see a recurrence of those conditions, because those parties are obsessed by the desire for profits and have little or no regard for the welfare of the people as a whole. The reports that I have just cited indicate the conditions under which not only ex-service personnel but members of all sections of the community suffered after World War I. The antiLabour Government of the day had no justification for allowing such conditions to prevail. There was no talk then about the socialist, or communist, bogy. The anti-Labour parties were in complete control of this country. At that time there were no shortages of commodities or of man-power, yet the government of the day allowed those conditions to exist; and I have no doubt that they would be repeated should the Opposition parties be returned to office. I repeat that there is practically no unemployment in this country at present. The latest figures available show that as at the 4th October last the total number of unemployed was only 1,177. As I have already pointed out the great proportion of those persons were then out of work as the result of the recent industrial trouble, whilst a large number represented seasonal workers who registered as unemployed while transferring to new jobs. The numbers of unemployed as at that date in the different States were as follow: - New South Wales, 580; Queensland, 329 ; South Australia, 30 ; Victoria, 106; Western Australia, 100; and Tasmania, 32. The largest number was recorded in New South Wales where the effects of the recent industrial trouble were felt to a greater degree than in any other State. The facts that I have given prove that the Government has maintained full employment. The Opposition parties are not in favour of full employment. They do not think that such a policy is practicable. They believe, as Professor Hytten said recently, that the ideal is always to have from 6 per cent, to 8 per cent, of the population unemployed; and I have no doubt that if by any mischance the Opposition parties should be returned to office at the next general election they will apply thai principle.
– There will not be any “ miss “.
– I am not a betting man, but I am prepared to wager that the people have sufficient political sagacity to return the present Government. Truly, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It is inconceivable that the people of this country would throw away the conditions that they are enjoying at the present time by electing to office the political parties that let the country down previously. I remind the Senate that both the Leader of the Liberal party (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) had their opportunities in 1939 and 1941. It could not be expected that they would do any better now, if given another chance, than they did then. Even Mr. Casey, who is now federal president of the Liberal party, deserted Australia in its hour of need in 1942 and sought selfaggrandisement overseas. He deserted Australia as a rat deserts a sinking ship. To give an illustration of the intention of the Opposition, I shall refer to a statement that was published in the press on the 24th September. The heading reads -
” DE-SOCIALIZE “, URGE LIBERALS - MOVE TO SELL GOVERNMENT PROJECTS.
Sydney, Saturday. - A vigorous policy ot “ de-socialization “, including selling socialized undertakings, will be urged by the Federal and State Liberal Parties at the Party’s State Council on Monday.
– What newspaper is the honorable senator citing?
– I am reading a statement that was published in the Melbourne Herald, which is a newspaper that invariably supports the views of the Opposition parties. It is one of their organs of propaganda. I realize that the Opposition does not like admitting these things because they are so patently ridiculous and insulting to the intelligence of the Australian people. This paragraph appears in the newspaper article -
State executive, in a report to the State council, reaffirms the Liberal Party’s policy on accepting donations.
I have referred to this matter previously. A few organizations in Victoria were requested to provide no less than £100,000.
Honorable senators will remember that an anti-Labour government sold the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers for a “ song “, although in actual fact we received only a part of the “ chorus “. “We remember, also, the alleged “sale” of the government woollen mills to private enterprise by an anti-Labour government. At least the Opposition has been frank about this matter. It is perfectly obvious that should the political parties now sitting in opposition again become the government of this country, we may expect a repetition of what happened in the past in relation to both the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers and the government woollen mills. In 1938 the then Treasurer, Mr. Casey, endeavoured to sell the Commonwealth Bank to the trading banks. The Liberal party, if elected to the Government benches, would de-socialize, de-control, de-employ, and finally de-moralize.
I shall refer now to a matter that was mentioned in this chamber earlier to-day in connexion with the appeal to the High Court of Australia against this Government’s banking legislation.
– The honorable senator should speak of something more cheerful.
– Mention was made of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) made certain statements in relation to the nationalization of the trading banks, and the subsequent appeals to both the High Court of Australia and the Privy Council. “What the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said is a damning indictment of the legal profession and of the judiciary of this country. It is also an indictment of his own political wisdom and that of the members of his party, that he should make such a statement. As reported in the Melbourne Age of the 8th October, the right honorable gentleman said -
Mr. Menzies said Mr. Chifley was reported to have said the Government’s belief in nationalization had not lessened, although nothing would be done that would be outside the Constitution … It also means that the Government will not go outside its constitutional powers - a curious concession, this, for so long as an impartial court exists it clearly cannot do so “.
Obviously, that is a correct report. The right honorable gentleman implied that it would be possible to establish a partial court, and further, that it would be possible to obtain men from the legal profession, of which he is an eminent member, to act partially in connexion with political questions. His less discreet colleague, the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) - if he could be called a colleague, in view of the fact that he is alleged to have “stabbed the right honorable gentleman in the back “ some years ago - is reported in the Melbourne Argus of the 8th October as follows : -
LABOUR’S BANK PLAN NO “DEAD LETTER”.
Cairns, Friday: Bank nationalization was. by no means a “ dead letter “, Mr. Fadden, leader of the Country Party, said tonight. “ Much though he might wish the public to believe that nationalization is not intended if this Government is returned, Mr. Chifley can not deny that he, every Labour candidate, and every Federal Labour member are pledged to Labour’s policy of socialization “, said Mr. Fadden. “This includes abolition of appeals to the Privy Council and giving the High Court final jurisdiction in all Australian causes. “ I am justified in warning Australians that, if Labour is returned on December 10 it will not hesitate to pack the High Court with partisan political appointees to help it achieve its major socialization objective “, he said.
His statement that Labour would pack the High Court with partisan judges is a gross reflection both on the judiciary of this country and on this Government. Such a statement is no recommendation for himself as the leader of a political party in this Parliament, which will shortly be appealing to the people of this country for support. As I have already said, those right honorable gentlemen have implied that biassed members of the legal profession could be obtained and placed on the High Court Bench for political purposes. I am sure that that suggestion will react to the disadvantage not only of those honorable gentlemen but also of the political parties that they lead at the forthcoming general election. In order to bolster up their respective parties they are prepared to endeavour to gain a political advantage by fair means or foul. A despicable advertisement over the signature of the Leader of the Liberal party published recently in the Melbourne Age. It promises that the Liberal party will provide houses for young couples if it is elected to office. That is absolutely dishonest, and I venture to say that the ma jority of the people of this country will perceive readily the motive behind this propaganda.
It is well known that conditions in relation to petrol have become chaotic since the Commonwealth lost its power to ration this vital commodity. The Commonwealth now has to depend on the States passing legislation to permit it to control effectively the distribution of petrol throughout this country. Yet according to big. banner headlines in the Melbourne Sun of the 7th October, the Leader of the Liberal party promises to make more petrol available to the people if the Opposition parties are elected to office.
– There will be more poverty rather than more petrol.
– This is indicative of the lengths to which antiLabour political parties are prepared to go in order to gain office in this country. That they are prepared to offer electoral bribes is an indictment of their own political dishonesty and lack of integrity. The Leaders of the political parties now sitting in opposition know full well that they are acting dishonestly in making those promises. I have not the slightest doubt that the reaction of the people of this country will be to ensure that those parties will continue in opposition after the forthcoming general election. I well remember that during the campaign that preceded the last general election in this country, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives claimed that he had done a great deal for the people of this country by helping to implement social services. However, the people were so grateful that they left him in opposition ! It would be futile in the time at my disposal to attempt to deal with the budget in great detail, because it is most comprehensive and caters for every section of the community. Its provisions will commend themselves to the majority of the people of this country. As I have already said, the propaganda contained in advertisements recently published in the newspapers at the instance of Opposition parties is an insult to the intelligence of the people of this country. The Opposition claims that it will de-socialize and de-control. We are familiar with what happened in Victoria when de-control was practised by the “ Ministry of Decontrol “ in that State following the defeat of the ref erendum on rents and prices. If Opposition parties are elected to office they will de-employ and demoralize thousands of people in the course of their de-socialization and de-control activities. Since the defeat of the rents and prices referendum the Opposition parties have allied themselves with the States as the defenders of State rights. In some instances they have gone so far as to advocate the creation of new States. As honorable senators are aware, since the referendum was defeated, the prices of commodities have skyrocketed and it has become increasingly evident that it is impossible to achieve a uniform system of prices control in this country under the administration of the States. During the campaign that preceded that referendum, members of the Opposition parties claimed openly that if the referendum were defeated, they would be assured of defeating the Chifley Labour Government. For political purposes, they were prepared to expose the people of this country to all the risks of inflation. In their propaganda for the forthcoming election they will be similarly heedless of the interests of the Australian people. But the Labour Government has commended itself to the people. We are living in an era of unprecedented prosperity. Every section of the community is infinitely better off than it has ever been. Under Labour’s administration, the people of Australia are enjoying living standards unparalleled in any other country. The Government has made provision to cushion the effects of any recession or depression that may occur overseas. Adequate precautions have been taken to ensure that the people of this country will never again have to suffer the conditions that were imposed upon them in pre-war years under anti-Labour governments. The Government has drawn up a comprehensive national works programme which is ready to be put into operation should any period of adversity come to this country through the collapse of the prices of our primary products overseas, or through some other circumstances beyond our control. Members of the Opposition parties have told us repeatedly that too much money is beingexpended on social services and that the level of production is to low. The Leader of the Opposition has made a great song about production on several occasions in this chamber. Admittedly we are not producing enough but one of the main factors in the present day shortages is the unprecedented prosperity of the Australian people. To-day, the people of this country are demanding things that they were not able to afford under the administration of anti-Labour governments. Never before have so many people in this country been in a position to purchase such luxuries as refrigerators, hotwater systems and motor cars: All those amenities have been brought within the reach of the ordinary working man. Australia’s prosperity to-day is spread uniformly amongst all sections of the people. Production is greater than it has ever been.
For propaganda purposes, the Opposition parties are prepared to jeopardize our immigration policy, and even the White Australia policy. When certain immigration legislation was before the Parliament during the last sessional period, they made frantic efforts to justify their attitude to it. They were eager to assure the people of this country that they supported the White Australia policy, but they criticized the Minister for Immigration for his steadfast administration of our immigration laws. They claimed that he was intolerant. Every little incident was magnified in an endeavour to make political capital. The press of this country gave widespread publicity to ministerial decisions which Labour’s political opponents believed could be used to their advantage. Always the story was that the Minister for Immigration was intolerant; that he should show greater compassion; but I remind the Senate that the Minister for Immigration is faced with many problems that have never faced any other holder of that portfolio. During the war, this country gave refuge to thousands of Europeans and prohibited Asiatics. Now, because the Minister has stuck to his guns and enforced our immigration laws which, supposedly are supported by all political parties, Opposition members do not hesitate to snipe at him and the newspapers seize upon every possible occasion to ridicule him.
Almost everything that can be said about this budget has already been said. I am convinced that the people of this country are fully aware of Labour’s capacity to govern. As I have said, under Labour’s rule Australia is enjoying unprecedented prosperity. If we are tohave once again on the treasury bench, a political rabble which continually changes its name, we can expect a return of conditions that obtained before the war. Thegreat advantages that have been derived from the implementation of Labour’ssocial services legislation will be dissipated over night. The Opposition partiesare more concerned with the profits and! privileges of the people that they represent - big business interests - than with the welfare of the people as a whole. I am certain therefore that when theelectors have an opportunity to record their votes on the 10th December, they will give wholehearted support to theLabour candidates. By retaining aLabour Government in the federal sphere, the people of the Commonwealth) will ensure a continuation of the improvement of their living conditions. Labour will continue to safeguard the economicand social security of all sections of thecommunity. The Opposition parties onceagain are raising the old bogys. In 1946: they were on communism, but it was a bad loser. Now, they are on socialism. The Communist bogy was raised by the anti-Labour parties led by Mr. S. M. Bruce at the 1925 election. ‘ Mr. Brucesaid that unless the people of this country elected the Nationalists, as they were then called, to office, Australia would be overrun by Communists. The Nationalistswere returned to office but did nothing about communism. Three years later however, the same old story was told and! with similar results. To-day, it is somewhat threadbare. I do not think that the Australian people will be fooled againby the Communist and socialist bogys. I assume that the defeat of the Opposition parties on the 10th December would cause them once again to change their name. I have been told that there is a special sub-committee of the Liberal party which is charged with the sole task of devising political names for that organization.
The Liberals have changed their names many time in the past, but they will never again be able to fool the people.
I am pleased to support the budget. 1 know that the people of this country will continue to support a government that has done so much for them in such a short time. They realize that, by keeping Labour in power, they can expect a continuation of budgets which provide equitably for every section of the community.
– This year’s budget is a complete vindication of the speech that I made on the 1948-49 budget last year. On that occasion I pointed out that the Government’s estimates of revenue were invariably wrong, in fact, so wrong as to provoke the thought that they might be deliberately wrong with the object of enabling the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) to maintain high levels of taxation. I recall that when I made those remarks, honorable senators opposite did not take very kindly to them. There were many interruptions. However, I again draw attention to the Treasurer’s figures to-night. I submit that on page 10 of the budget papers is to be found complete vindication of the speech that I made last year. During the year under review, revenue from taxes was £471,000,000, compared with an estimate of £431,000,000- a difference of £40,000,000. The following table shows the Treasurer’s record in estimating: -
The Treasurer estimates receipts for the current year at £544,000,000 but what can we expect the real figure to be? Is this year to be any different from any other year ? Can we accept the present estimate as being any more accurate than the previous ones? The following report was published in the Brisbane Telegraph on the 10th October :-
Figures released to-day by the Federal Treasury show that Customs receipts for the three months ended September 30 amounted to f 17,744,000, or £2,500,000 above the estimated receipts for the period; excise collections amounted to £14,771,000, or £1,000,000 less than the estimates; sales tax netted £9,870,000, or £500,000 moTe than the estimate; Post Office revenue totalled £8,325,000, or £1,000,000 less than the estimate.
Apparently revenue is buoyant and the estimate has been proved to have been faulty as was expected. Will the Treasurer ever submit to the Senate figures on which even moderate reliance can be placed? I submit that his record of understatement of revenue is so gross that we are entitled to ask why he has over-taxed the long suffering Australian people by amounts that have varied from £17,000,000, his smallest error, to £60,000,000, which was his largest error. Whether the error amounts to £30,000,000 or some slightly different figure I state emphatically that it indicates that the Treasurer has overtaxed the people deliberately.
What has become of all the surplus revenue? It all seems to follow a beautifully circuitous route until it winds up by being allocated to reduce our unfunded debt. We all agree that sooner or later the Treasury debt must be funded, but why redeem that debt from revenue? Why wring every possible penny from the people when funding the debt would spread the burden ?
The papers presented by the Treasurer in conjunction with the budget show that trust funds have increased from approximately £196,000,000 to £245,000,000, which is an increase of £49,000,000. It is obvious that a lot of revenue raised by taxation has been dumped into trust funds. The amount will be found mainly in the increased provision in the War Gratuity Fund and the National Welfare Fund. Having placed the money in those funds, the Treasurer has been able to use it again. I draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that trust funds have increased- from approximately £190,000,000 to approximately £234,000,000, which means that £44,000,000 has gone into Treasury I O IPs. The so-called internal treasurybills have increased from £141,000,000 to £183,000,000, which is an increase of £42,000,000. The money is in Treasury I O U’s. But the treasury-bills owing to the public have decreased from £208,000,000 to £123,000,000, a decrease of £85,000,000 of which £43,000,000 seem to have been accomplished by this legerdemain of transferring to internal bills. The rest is unexplained. It may be that it was from loan raisings. At any rate, if honorable senators will check page 120 of the budget statement they will find £85,000,000 of public treasurybills redeemed and £41,000,000 for new internal bills created. Whichever way we look at it, it is plain that the people have been overtaxed. A reserve of £41,000,000 was created from revenue. The reserve was then borrowed and used to redeem public treasury-bills. This circuitous practice was made possible by underestimating the revenue. When will this dangerous practice of deceiving the people cease?
I point out also that no reference ha3 been made in this chamber to the devaluation of the Australian £1. Honorable senators understand that the £1 was devalued after the budget had been compiled, and they appreciate that the references to international trade and payments which took up such a large proportion of the speech made by the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) were rendered obsolete by the Treasurer’s decision. But a statement about devaluation was made in the House of Representatives, and I consider that a similar statement should have been made to the Senate. In view of the importance to our national economy of the recent devaluation, and of its bearing upon the cost of living and the national income, I consider that the Senate has been slighted and that honorable senators have been ignored by the Government’s omission to make a statement in this chamber on the matter. In reply to a question that I asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel on the matter he informed me that the effect of devaluation will be to increase the annual charge for interest and sinking fund payments by £1,500,000. Obviously, no provision for such an amount has been made in the budget, and I consider that a supplementary statement should have been prepared indicating the effect of devaluation upon the national finances. The Minister admitted that our annual expenditure will be increased by £1,500,000, and such a large sum must concern all honorable senators. I certainly do not approve of the casual way in which the Government has withheld that information from the Senate, and I repeat that a statement should have been made by a representative of the Government in this chamber.
I should like now to refer to the National Welfare Fund. Last year the revenue of that fund amounted to £111,000,000 and its expenditure was £81,000,000, so that there was a surplus of £30,000,000. Statements are frequently made by the Government and its supporters that the workers of this country who are married and have dependent children, are not obliged to pay income tax until their income reaches a certain sum. However, I point out that when such statements are made the proper emphasis is not placed on the word “ income “, thereby obscuring the fact that the workers are compelled to pay social services contribution. And they pay a good deal in social services tax. For instance, last year they paid £30,000,000 more than they received in services from the Government. The average contribution overpaid by the people of this country including the wives and children of income earners and aged persons amounted to £4 a head. Furthermore, this £30,000,000 was not the only collection of that kind, because the accumulated balance of the fund is shown as nearly £100,000,000. Of course, that means that £100,000,000 was collected from the workers of this country over and above the cost of providing pensions, hospital benefits, maternity allowances, unemployment payments and child endowment. That huge sum was ruthlessly collected and has been stowed away by the Government, which has no plans for returning that amount to the workers. The Government has blatantly indicated that during the present financial year it again proposes to collect £21,000,000 more than it will expend on social services, even after providing for the payment of £2,000,000 for medical benefits and £2,300,000 for pharmaceutical benefits. When will this overextraction cease? The Government expects to end the present year with a balance of £121,000,000 that will have been collected from the workers over and above expenditure on social services. That is too much altogether. And what has happened to the money that has been collected ? There is a credit balance of £99,8S0,011 ls. 4d. in the National Welfare Fund. Of that huge amount £99,800,000 has been invested in internal treasury-bills. The Treasurer has simply borrowed the money and put it in the till. That is a bit tough on the worker who paid in the money. The balance of the account was £80,011 ls. 4d. - a nice sum from which to finance a monthly expenditure of £8,000,000! That is incredible finance.
I ask honorable senators to remember some of the difficulties encountered by pensioners who are trying to meet the rising costs of almost every item of their meagre existence. The investment of £100,000,000 in treasury-bills will not assist them. We should remember some of the widows who are striving to rear families on their pensions, or some of the invalids who are struggling to exist on their pensions while fighting illnesses. Will it help them if we tell them that the Government has accumulated a nest-egg of £100,000,000 from social services contributions that were exacted to finance the payment of pensions, and that the money is being held in reserve against the depression, which the Government so morbidly f ears ? I urge the Government to tell the people of that fact and also to tell them that until a depression occurs £100,000,000 has been borrowed from the fund by the Treasurer, and to accept the verdict of the people. The needs of pensioners are immediate, not distant, and in any event £121,000,000 will be paid into the National Welfare Fund this year.
I also draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that no reference was made in the financial statement to any steps being taken to control the cost of living, which is rising rapidly. No reference whatever was made to the inflationary spiral that is now in operation and is rapidly accelerating. It is poor consolation to people to read the remarks contained in the Treasurer’s statement that wages and internal prices have risen rapidly during the past two years and will probably go further in 1949-50. That is not very comforting. There is no question of the probability of prices rising; they are absolutely certain to rise. In fact considerable increases have already occurred. The Government has skilled economists to assist it to develop plans to combat the spiral of inflation. It is idle to tell the people that prices control is a matter for the States. I read into the Treasurer’s statement the obvious inference that world prices affect, and affect seriously, the cost of many household commodities in Australia. Since the Commonwealth controls not only imports and exports but also currency and credit, surely the skilled economist can devise means to check the spiral, which tends to make our wages unreal and our earnings inadequate. Most decidedly steps should be taken to restore the purchasing power of our money. I warn the workers of Australia that prices are continuing to rise sharply. The prices of wool and cotton are higher than they have been for some time. The prices of metals including copper, lead and zinc are rising, and the prices of tea, coffee and tobacco also will rise. The price of nearly every article that ia in daily use will continue to increase. Undoubtedly wages will be increased by the Arbitration Court when that body makes its periodical adjustments of the wage, but those wage increases are always belated because the court will not increase the basic wage until the cost of living has increased. It is imperative that steps be taken to check the increase of living costs, and to restore the purchasing power of our money. This subject alone could have taken up almost the whole of the Treasurer’s speech.
Another problem that seriously affects people throughout the length and breadth of Australia is the problem of housing. .Sometimes it is a Commonwealth matter and sometimes it is a State matter, but the funds needed to finance the States’ housing plans are provided for in this budget. How much progress has really been made with housing? In Queensland 1,700 families are living in temporary housing camps and there are long lists of waiting applicants. What is the use pf quoting statistics about the number of houses that are being built when there is not the vaguest sign of any of those camps having any vacancies ? In Queensland, the latest available statistics show that the number of new houses built was less than the number of marriages that took place. Obviously we are not overtaking the housing lag. It is no good saying that we are doing so. The number of people living in temporary camps and the long list of applicants waiting for accommodation in those camps provide proof of the crying need for housing accommodation. I know that there can be little or no improvement in the position until we get more building materials. Surely the Treasurer’s statement should have contained a survey of the housing situation and an indication of plans to stimulate the production of building materials. We have been told of the numbers of immigrants coming into Australia, but no indication of how they were to be housed was given in the statement. We must have more houses, and we must have them within a short space of time. There is timber to be won in our forests and iron to be rolled in our mills, and we can make tiles and bricks in our kilns. It is imperative that we stimulate the production of building materials, yet the Government is silent about its plans. In fact, I doubt whether it has any plans or is capable of devising any. Through thi6 Parliament I warn the workers that the cost of almost everything is rising, that the inflationary spiral is developing increased pace, that wage increases are always alow to reflect increased prices, that housing is not making the progress that it should make, and that taxation is excessive. No remedy for any of those ills was prescribed in the Treasurer’s statement. As a Liberal senator, I remind the workers that their problems of living costs and inflation find the Government devoid of plans and bare of resources with which to remedy the situation. Truly the lot of the worker is hard. But the lot, of the worker’s wife is harder still.
– I have no doubt that other honorable senators listened with interest, as I did, to the impassioned address delivered by Senator Rankin. It was quite correct for the honorable senator to say that prices were rising. As she said, the
Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) warned the people of the fact. He also warned them before the prices referendum that, if the Opposition parties were successful in their efforts to destroy control of prices on a national basis, disaster would fall upon the person earning a fixed income, and in particular upon .those citizens to whom members of the Opposition give lip service and for whom they shed crocodile tears - the pensioners. The Opposition parties and their supporters spent £250,000 in order to defeat the Government’s appeal to .the people for the retention of Commonwealth prices control so that the economy of the country couta bc kept stable and price increases held at a lower percentage than had been achieved in any other country. Now members of the Opposition have become critical of their own recipe. But the prices referendum campaign is still fresh in the memories of the people. They know that the big vested interests, seeking commercial advantage from discontinuance of Commonwealth prices control, campaigned against the Government with the complicity of the Opposition parties. Members of the Opposition, who bad sworn as legislators to attempt to govern impartially and to give honest criticism while they were in Opposition, and who, incidentally, accepted the people’s money for their services, revealed base hyprocisy when they told the people that prices could be restrained, as they had been restrained by successive Labour governments during the period of the war, if control were taken out of the hands of the Commonwealth and transferred to the States.
Now they criticize the Government because its revenue has increased as the result of high living standards that it has established throughout the community, as the result of the trend towards inflation that has made revenue generally more buoyant, and as the result of the great developments that are taking place in the country. They declare that they abhor surpluses. Deficits were the rule when the Opposition parties were in power. Anti-Labour governments had to borrow continually in order to finance their activities. They floated loans overseas instead of in Australia, and we are now paying out dollars and sterling in order to get the country out of pawn. I remind members of the Opposition that the succession of deficits sustained by antiLabour governments ultimately resulted in the banks and other overseas commercial institutions, which they championed, sending an adviser to Australia with a status that was sufficient to influence governments. Sir Otto Niemeyer told the government of the day how to correct the financial situation that had resulted from a series of deficits.
– Prime Minister of the day accepted his advice.
– The anti-Labour Government evaded the responsibility and thrust it upon the Labour party, just as another anti-Labour government did during “World War II. Make no mistake, the Labour party will carry out any job that it is called upon to do. Why are members of the Opposition so blatant ? Senator Rankin asked where the Government was obtaining all of its revenue, and suggested that taxes were too severe. I attended a meeting in Melbourne in 1942, when representatives of employers, trade unions and the people congregated in order to determine what action should be taken to meet the grave responsibility that had been thrown into the lap of the Labour party when an anti-Labour government collapsed as the result of its inability to govern, the splenetic charges that had been made by some of its members against their colleagues, and the over-riding of its will to save the country in time of war by ambition. At that conference the employers said, “ We want you to protect our assets. We do not care about taxation. We do not care if you spend the total income of the nation. We want our assets to be protected.” And they were protected ! In the course of protecting them, successive Labour governments incurred, over the six years from 1939-40 to 1944-45 inclusive, a national debt of £2,790,000,000. Yet Senator Rankin asks to-day, “ What does the Government want all this money for?” I shall refer to some of the items of expenditure for which the budget provides. Total expenditure for 1948-49 was £510,000,000, compared with an annual expenditure of £80,000,000 by the Commonwealth before the war. Honorable senators opposite appear to have no conception of the magnitude of the job that the Government is successfully carrying out. They are annoyed because the people are prosperous and because those receiving incomes of up to £1,000 a year are only lightly taxed, as I shall prove later. The Government can record a surplus of income over expenditure and say tothe people, “ At no time while the Labour party is in office will an international banker be sent to Australia to tell us that we must starve the people in order to send money out of the country to pay our debts “. ‘ Members of the Opposition ask how the Government proposes to expend its revenue. I challenge them’ to criticize any of the items of expenditure that I shall quote from the budget. Defence this year will cost £60,000,000. An amount of £26,000,000 is to be set aside for the war gratuity reserve. The Opposition parties would default on that payment, just as they did after World War I. This Government will not do so. It has established a trust fund, and themoney will be there ready to be paid when ex-service men and women present their vouchers. Furthermore. the debt will be paid in full. There will be no 12^ per cent. cuts. Re-establishment and repatriation costs will amount to £30,000,000 this year. War service homes expenditure will total £10,000,000. An amount of £59,000,000 will be set aside for interest and sinking fund payments on war loans. That is only £21,000,000 less than the annual expenditure when the Opposition parties were in office before World War II.
Social services will cost £88,000,000 this year. That is something worth while. I say with great pride that the amount would have been much higher but for the efforts of the Opposition parties and their supporters to prevent the people from obtaining the social services that they voted for at a referendum. The efforts of the Opposition have been temporarily successful, but eventually the people will’ be able to obtain in full the benefits that the Government has planned.
– They will get freemedicine.
– Yes. Payments to the States this year will amount to £78,000,000, a sum that was undreamed of in the years before the Labour party came into office, when the dual tax system was in operation.
– But the States controlled their own sources of revenue in those days.
– Expenditure on development in the States never amounted to anything like £78,000,000 a year in those days. The country was allowed to stagnate for 20 years until, when war broke out, the parties which had created all the chaos and had sent our assets out of the country heedless of the need for development, called upon the Labour party to take -control of the nation’s defence and remedy its deficiencies. The budget provides for a grant of £10,000,000 to the United Kingdom. Members of the Opposition have not objected to that, but we have heard some extraordinary suggestions from them about the approach that should be made to the financial relationship between the United Kingdom and Australia. They do not criticize the Government directly for aiding Great Britain but, on the vital problem of the devaluation of sterling and the Australian currency, they suggest that Australia should have looked after its own interests and grabbed what it could get while it was in a good financial position.
– nothing to do with the devaluation of sterling.
– Nor did we; but when we are involved in a fight we stand by our allies and our kin. Yet the Opposition parties speak of loyalty to our kith and kin in the United Kingdom. It is clear that all their talk about loyalty is mere lip service. Honorable senators opposite have criticized the government because it has shown surpluses and because its revenues are buoyant. Speaking in the House of Representatives on the 27th June, 1946, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) said that if the -Government would halve taxation it would encourage production. Bearing in mind the fact that to-day a man with a wife and two children with an income of £500 does not pay any tax, that statement means, in effect, that the tax payable by taxpayers in the higher ranges of income should be halved. But the Government must find the wherewithal in order to enable it to meet its commitments. The right honorable member for Cowper did not suggest where the Government should find the requisite finance, but obviously he intended that the bulk of it should be taken from the working man’s pocket. Contrast that statement with the following statement that he made on the 13th October, 1920, when he was defending the taxation policy of the government of which he was then Treasurer -
I make no complaint of the incidence of taxation. 1 do not complain of its being high because in my view, now is the time when we should tax ourselves with the object of reducing our public debt.
The right honorable member for Cowper made that statement just before the crush came when “ Otto “ and his satellites, the international bankers, said, in effect, to him “ You have indulged in an orgy of borrowing; you have shown deficit year after year, and you must correct the position”. Therefore, the right honorable gentleman had to make a last desperate attempt to restore some sort of order out of chaos before the financiers descended upon him. Although in 1946 he said that the Government should halve taxation in order to encourage production, in October, 1921, he said -
How can taxation be reduced if our indebtedness and interest bill is increased T
History shows that the anti-Labour government that was in office at the outbreak of the recent war brought about its own defeat. It was ejected from office by the vote of some of its own members and, subsequently, the people returned the Curtin Labour Government because they realized that the anti-Labour parties were thoroughly disintegrated and were not capable of prosecuting the war effort. Mr. S. Ricketson, Chairman of Capel Court Investment Company, an organization holding investments in no less than 217 companies mostly in Australia and New Zealand, said on the 22nd March, 1949 -
Some Australians may perhaps overemphasize their cwn political and industrial troubles, but careful examination of political, financial and economic conditions in all countries will disclose that Australia now is predominantly the best practicable field, the one offering the most attractions for investment of British capital, both directly or indirectly in the stocks of existing stable and expanding companies.
I commend that statement particularly to Senator Rankin who said that present taxation is crippling companies. It shows how silly and effervescent are the arguments advanced by honorable senators opposite. The latest figures available dealing with company profits, excluding bank and life offices that do not deal in kind but trade in risks, show that in 1938-39 profits before tax totalled £S4,000,000, income taxes paid amounted to £15,000,000, profits after payment of tax amounted to £69,000,000, dividends paid amounted to £27,000,000 and undistributed income amounted to £42,000,000. In 1939-40 those amounts had increased, respectively, to £99,000,000, £19,000,000, £SO,000,000, £30,000,000 and £50,000,000, whilst in 1947-48 they had increased, respectively, to £167,000,000, £67,000,000. £100,000,000, £41,000,000 and £59,000,000. Those figures reveal the prosperity that is now being enjoyed by companies, and reflect unprecedented industrial development in this country. All available plant has been purchased. Indeed, the difficulty confronting companies to-day is that they cannot obtain sufficient plant to meet their requirements. From 1938-39 to 1947-4’S company profits before tax was paid increased by 99 per cent., their profits after tax was paid increased by 45 per cent, and dividends paid increased by 52 per cent. Those figures conclusively refute, the claim made by honorable senators opposite that present taxation is crippling industry.
The Opposition parties, when dealing with taxation, indulge in sob stories about the workers. They are not concerned about the incidence of taxation upon the workers or about the provision of adequate social services for the workers ; thoi r concern is for the wealthly interests. Income tax and social services contribution now paid by a man with a wife and two children in all ranges of income compare more than favorably with the amounts which that class of taxpayer paid in tax, both Commonwealth and State, in 1938-39. When we bear in mind that the present Government is meeting huge commitments arising from the recent war, that is a remarkable fact as the following table shows: -
From the above figures it will be seen that if the suggestion of the right honorable member for Cowper that taxes should be reduced were put into operation those who would benefit most would be taxpayers with incomes in excess of £2,000. Honorable senators opposite remained silent when I challenged them to say whether they believed that we should repudiate our commitments. We must meet our commitments, and we can do so only by levying taxes on the higher ranges of income. It is clear that when the Opposition parties advocate reduction of taxes they would revert to the old system that they previously applied of levying tax at a flat rate on every pound of income earned from personal exertion ; and in that case the worker would be obliged to carry the heaviest burden. What might be called the personal side of taxation was dealt with very effectively by Senator O’Flaherty. The honorable senators’ statements in conjunction with the facts that other supporters of the Government have presented show how puerile are the arguments advanced by honorable senators opposite.
Whilst the Government has totally exempted from tax the lower ranges of income and substantially reduced taxes on the higher ranges of income it has, at the same time, pressed forward with its social services programme. It has increased the age and invalid pension from £1 ls. to £2 2s. 6d., and it has also increased the amount of income which pensioners are permitted to earn in addition to their pension. It has eased the means test substantially. To-day, an age pensioner and his wife receive by way of pension an income greater than the basie wage payable in some States. The Government has increased the rate of child endowment to 10s. a week. On the last occasion that the Opposition parties went to the country they said that if they were returned to power they would provide child endowment in respect of the first child in the family. That was really a let out for them because they knew that if that were done the whole structure of the basic wage would be upset and a heavier burden would be thrown upon the single worker. They gave no thought to the fact that the single worker should be enabled to save sufficient to enable him to marry. In addition, the Opposition parties saw the opportunity to claim that by providing child endowment for the first child in the family they were doing something for the family unit. I believe that the present basic wage is assessed on too keen a basis and is rather sub-economic. It is not sufficient to enable a worker to enjoy a decent and full living having regard to Australia’s present prosperity. However, the Government decided that the best way in which it could help the family unit was not by providing child endowment for the first child and thus upsetting the structure of the basic wage but by increasing the rate of child endowment from’ 5s. to 10s. The proposal of -the f Liberal ‘party to endow the first child would have resulted in an additional payment of only 5s. a week to a man with a number of children. However, Labour decided to double the endowment payable in respect of each child other than the first. That meant that for a man with six children the increased payment would bo 25s. a week, compared with an increase of only 5s. a week if the Liberal party’s plan had been implemented. It is merely camouflage to suggest that the endowing of the first child would solve the social family unit problem. The Australian Labour party considers that this problem can best be met by giving, as much as possible to the family man with the biggest ‘responsibility. If we had to decide again whether to endow the first child, or to double the endowment of the other children, we would act so as to do the greatest service to the family units in this country.
Much has been said to-night by the Opposition in relation to the plight of pensioners. This Government recognizes that people in receipt of pensions, and other people in the fixed income category, are having a very hard time because of spiralling costs, brought about largely by the defeat of the rents and prices referendum. As I know that the Government is sympathetic to their claims, I again make an appeal that persons in receipt of fixed and non-expanding incomes shall be adequately provided for in a rising economy. I am convinced that if the political parties now sitting in Opposition are elected to office that will not be done. Although advertisements have recently appeared in the press, at the instigation of Opposition parties, advocating the payment of higher wages to the workers of this country, industrialists on this side of the chamber know full well that in point of fact honorable senators opposite are opposed to the remuneration of the workers being increased. I do not contend that all employers are bad. On the contrary, gome of the employers in this country are prepared to do good things for their employees. However, when their representatives appear before the arbitral tion courts they endeavour to keep the minimum wages as low as possible. A big majority of the employers never pay more than the minimum, so that the minimum rates thereby become the maximum. Of course we know that at times some employers pay bonuses as an incentive to their employees.
I have been able so far to answer only some of the criticisms that have been offered by the Opposition during this debate, and I therefore ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
The following papers were pre sented : -
Aluminium Industry Act - Australian Aluminium Production Commission - Fourth Annual Report, for year 1948-49.
Australian National Airlines Act - Australian National Airlines Commission - Fourth Annual Report and Financial Accounts, for year 1948-49.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Supply and Development - J. N. Casey, J.O. Cuthbert, W. J. Perry, C. E. Prichard, J. H. Rattigan, D. M. Traves.
Works and Housing - A. J. G. Stevenson.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for-
Department of Civil Aviation purposes -
Adelaide, South Australia.
Postal purposes - Rock Park, Victoria.
National Fitness Act - Commonwealth Coun cil for National Fitness - Report of Eleventh Session, May, 1949.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance - 1949 - No. 2 - Coroners (Validation).
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinance - 1949 - No. 6 - Supply (No. 2) 1949-50.
Qantas Empire Airways Limited - Fifteenth Annual Report and Financial Accounts, for nine months ended 31st December, 1948.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 October 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1949/19491012_senate_18_204/>.