20th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Edward Mattner) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - An operation on His Majesty the King for a lung condition was carried out on Sunday last. The most recent advice of the King’s condition indicated that His Majesty was continuing to gain strength. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in conjunction “with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has already re-affirmed an earlier message that, while there was a strong desire among Australians and New Zealanders to see the King and Queen and Princess Margaret in 1952, we did not wish the King to undertake the tour at any cost to Eis. health. The Prime Minister has also forwarded the following message through the Administrator to the Queen: -
His Majesty’s Australian Government, all the people of Australia and I, most earnestly pray that His Majesty’s recovery may bie rapid and complete.
All realize how much his illness has ‘been brought about by intense devotion to His Royal task and warmly appreciate his constant’ and elevated example and leadership.
A statement issued from the Palace in connexion with the forthcoming plans for the Royal Family’s movements reads -
In connexion with to-day’s bulletin regarding the King’s health, the Governors-General of Ceylon, Australia’ and New Zealand and the Governors of Gibraltar, Malta and Aden have been informed that the final decision regarding the possibility of His Majesty’s undertaking his projected tour next year will be announced in a week or two.
In a world that is torn with strife and turmoil, a world which has been ravaged by hatred, disaffection and suspicion, it is a matter of great pride to all Britishers that in the esteem of people in every corner of the world .the British Crown and Throne stand as serene and strong as they ever did. In the arduous work which His Majesty has performed throughout the years on behalf of his Empire and his subjects, it must have been a great comfort and consolation to him to know that he holds an abiding place in the affections and hearts of millions of his subjects. It is our earnest prayer that he will be restored to full and complete health. I move -
That the following message be conveyed to His Majesty: - “We, the President and members of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in ‘ Parliament assembled, express our deep sympathy with His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, and the members of the Boya! Family in the illness of His Majesty.
We are gratified that His Majesty is recovering from his serious operation and we fervently hope thathe may be speedily restored in health and strength.”
– On behalf of the Opposition, I very cordially support the motion moved by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan). It is a matter of very great regret to the Opposition, as, indeed, to all Australians, that His Majesty is ill, and has had to face the risks of an operation. The Opposition approves the terms of the message which the Prime Minister has caused to be forwarded to His Majesty and to members of the Royal Family. On behalf of the Opposition I join with these expressions of hope for the speedy and complete recovery of His Majesty. I associate the Opposition with the expressions of loyalty and affection to which the Minister has given voice. His Majesty the King exemplifies to the Opposition, as indeed he does to all members of the British Commonwealth, two things. First, he has brought to his kingly tasks a great personality and in his family life he has set a high example to the world; secondly, which is perhaps more important, he is the symbol of the unity of the British Commonwealth of Nations. That unity, which is an indefinable thing, is a golden thread that runs right through the whole of the British Commonwealth, and makes possible a type of fellowship - to use the Australian term, a mateship - which it is very difficult for those outside the British family of nations fully to comprehend. On behalf of the Opposition I join with the Government in expressing the hope that His Majesty’s strength will not be overtaxed, or unduly risked, in any projected tour. The first consideration should unquestionably be his restoration to health. No undue strain or fatigue should be imposed upon him. Disappointed as the Opposition will be if His Majesty should be unable to make the tour to Australia, there will be complete and sympathetic understanding by the Opposition of the cause that would make the tour impracticable. On behalf of the Opposition I most cordially support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Acknowledgment by His Majesty the King.
– I have received from His Excellency the Administrator the following communication in connexion with the Ad dress-in -Reply : -
I desire to acquaint you that the AddressinReply at the opening of the Twentieth Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia has been laid before His Majesty the King, and I am commanded to convey to you and to honorable senators. His Majesty’s sincere thanks for the loyal message which your Address contained.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Commonwealth Bank Bill 1951.
Ministers of State Bill 1951.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill (No. 2) 1951.
Defence Bill 1951.
Defence Preparations Bill 1951.
– by leave - I have been asked by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to announce formally to the Senate the appointment of the honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) as Minister of State for the Navy and Minister of State for Air.. I have also to announce that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay) will act as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture during the absence from Australia of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen).
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Army aware that although on inspection days good meals areprovided for the eighteenyearold national service trainees in army camps, at most other times the food is insufficient, and that the trainees say that, despite the shortage of butter, the meals that they have at home during leave periods are the best they have, with the result that they are reluctant to return to their camps where food is so scarce?Will the Minister ensure that the food provided at those camps shall be brought up to the standard enjoyed by the Regular Army ?
– This is the first complaint that I have heard about thu food provided for national service trainees. All other reports that have come to the notice of Cabinet and of the Minister for the Army have been very good indeed. It is agreed by every one concerned that the national service scheme is operating efficiently and effectively, an 1 that the lads are happy and satisfied with the conditions provided for them. If the honorable senator will state chapter and verse of any specific complaint of the kind that he has mentioned I shall bring it to the notice of the Minister for t1Army who, I am sure, will have ii thoroughly investigated.
– I preface a question to the Minister for the Army by mentioning that although free bus transport was provided to take national service trainees to their homes during the recent training camp, many of the trainees had to pay exorbitant fares for their return journey to the camps. Will the Minister arrange for return transport to be provided free to enable trainees to travel between military camps and their homes while in training, or, if a charge lias to be imposed, will he ensure that it is a reasonable one, and that trainees are not exploited by being charged as much as £2 for a. return journey of 100 miles or £3 for a distance of 175 miles?
– I think that the honorable senator might have rounded off his question by including in it some particulars of the allegedly exorbitant charges–
– From Brighton camp to Launceston and from the same camp to the north-west coast of Tasmania.
– Now that the honorable senator has supplied that information I shall treat his question as being on the notice-paper, bring it before the Minister and obtain a reply for him.
– As most honorable senators are aware, it is the usual practice for the President to give the
Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to secure the first call from the Chair when questions without notice have been announced. To-day, Senator Amour anticipated my call for questions without notice, and I should like to make the position clear. I now formally call for questions without notice.
– Can the Minister representing the Treasurer say whether Mr. G. H. Grimwade who, in an address to a chamber of commerce meeting in Melbourne on the 27th July, said that unemployment was a great promoter of energetic endeavour and of respect for authority, whether benign or malign, is the same Mr. G. H. Grimwade who was recently appointed by the Government to the Commonwealth Bank Board? If he is, can it be accepted that the policy of the Commonwealth Bank is now in accord with the Government’s wholesale sacking policy?
– I have no knowledge of whether the two gentlemen mentioned by the honorable senator are identical, nor have I any knowledge of the statement alleged to have been made by Mr. G. H. Grimwade. I do know, however, that this is the first occasion on which I have heard one word of criticism, overt or implied, of the Government’s choice of the gentlemen to carry the high and responsible position of directors of the Commonwealth Bank. On the contrary, I believe that those appointments have given satisfaction throughout the whole of Australia.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say when the Government intends to return to the woolgrowers the money amounting to approximately £45,000,000 that was raised from them by the 7-J- per cent, retention tax for the proposed wool stabilization scheme ?
– The Prime Minister has announced that the money will be repaid as soon as possible. I understand from my departmental officers that it will take some time to have the records and the details prepared, particularly because of the pressure caused by the present wool sales. However, I assure the honorable senator that every effort will be made to reach finality and to repay the money as soon as possible.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture state whether the Government has decided on the method of distribution of joint-organization profits, which amount to approximately £67,000,000 Does the Government propose to distribute the money in cash or in bonds, or by some other method ?
– That matter is receiving consideration but I am not yet in a position to make a statement as to when and over what period the money will be repaid. However, I assure honorable senators that I shall let them have a report on that matter as soon as possible.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the Senate whether any intimation has been received from the Australian Wheat Board that a ‘further payment on last Season’s wheat will shortly be made? If any such recommendation has been made by the board, can the Minister indicate what the amount of the payment is likely to be?
– I have been advised by the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board that an advance of ls. a bushel will be paid on the 16th October next.
-Is the Minister for Repatriation aware that a veteran of World War I., who was an employee of the Postmaster-General’s line staff and was off duty temporarily while receiving treatment at a repatriation hospital for war-caused disabilities has, under the Government’s retrenchment scheme, received notice of his dismissal while still a bed patient at the hospital? Will the Minister call for a report on the patient in order to ascertain whether he can be employed on any other governmental project? Furthermore, will the
Minister introduce amendments to the “ preference “ provisions of the. Reestablishment and Employment Act in order to provide preference for exservicemen such as the individual I have mentioned, more particularly since New Australians are being retained in government employment?
– If the honorable senator will supply me with full particulars, I shall be very pleased to have the matter investigated.
– As Dr. Evatt, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, openly represented the Australian Communist party before the High Court of Australia, when tha validity of the Communist Party Dissolution Act was challenged, and defended that party during the recent referendum campaign, will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate whether the right honorable member for Barton acted in an honorary capacity for the Australian Communist party; if not, what was his fee? Does the Government possess any other evidence of the right honorable member’s collaboration with Communists ?
– I have no information at my disposal that would be of any help to the honorable senator.
– Towards the end of the last sessional period I directed the attention of the Minister for National Development to a number of matters associated with the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric undertaking. Will the Minister inform me whether he tas since visited the project and personally investigated the complaints ? Has he a report to submit to the Senate?
– Immediately after the termination of the sittings of the last sessional period I visited the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric undertaking. I remained in the area for three days and in company with the commissioners, inspected the project fully and had a good look at matters about which complaints had been made. Although I shall not pretend that I am able to judge everything that is occurring at that tremendous undertaking, some of the complaints made were so outrageously untrue as to destroy all confidence that any portion of the allegations was correct. As I have had no prior notice of the honorable senator’s intentions to ask this question, I am not prepared to refer to all of the matters raised by him previously. However, two matters come to mind. One allegation was that a number of prefabricated houses had been allowed to lie idle and deteriorate. I was shown a heap, not of prefabricated houses, but of the wooden sides of tents that are used by workmen on the project. The tents are erected with weatherboard sides. When the camp moves on the sides are taken down .and are stored. When the tents are re-erected elsewhere the sides are used again. That was one inaccuracy which I discovered. One cannot imagine that any reporter could be so ill-informed as not to be able to tell the difference between the side of a tent and a prefabricated house.
Another complaint concerned a heap of earthenware pipes which was shown to me and which, it was stated, had been wantonly damaged. The pipes shown to me were suitable for the use to which the Snowy Mountains authorities desired to put them. In the wilds of the Snowy Mountains it is not necessary to have pipes of first-class quality because they are to be used for only one-tenth of the time that they would be used in the metropolitan area. The pipes to which I have referred were bought cheaply and served the purpose for which they were obtained. I do not wish to throw a mantle over any administration for which I am responsible; I am prepared to defend it or to .criticize it as the circumstances warrant. However, after having spent three days in the area, I came back with a very .high opinion of the administrative staff and of the job that they are doing.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs indicate to the Senate whether quotas for the import of Japanese goods have been laid down definitely and whether imports from Japan are being strictly policed in order to protect the interests of Australian manufacturing industries and the economic stability of the United Kingdom ?
– I am very glad to answer without hesitation that the interests of the Australian economy are being well safeguarded by the Government. Concerning the quantitative restrictions on Japanese imports, the honorable senator may have seen announcements that have been made in the press from time to time since the 30th June last to the effect that small import quotas are allowed - up to £1,000 per quota holder or 5 per cent, of his imports during the previous six months, whichever is the less. There is not the slightest risk of the Australian market being flooded with Japanese goods or of Australian industries being seriously prejudiced as a result of Japanese competition.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether Australia’s adverse overseas trade balance is growing? If so, what does he expect the adverse balance to -be at the end of the present financial year? What is being done to protect the Australian economy against the effects of an excess of imports over exports?
– As frequently happens, the honorable senator’s question is based on wrong premises. Last year, we had a favorable trade balance of £200,000,000.
– Is it not a fact that when the peace treaty with Japan is ratified, Japan will be entitled to mostfavourednation treatment by Australia, and that the tariff on goods imported from Japan will be considerably reduced, and quota restrictions removed?
– That is not so. The honorable senator’s question is based- on a misconception which appears to be fairly widespread. In the event of Japan being admitted to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, it will not automatically become entitled to mostfavourednation treatment. Under Article 35 of the agreement, even though the necessary three-fifths majority is obtained for the admission of a country, any member has the right to object, and the objecting country will then be entitled to refuse to extend to the country objected to the benefits of most-favoured-nation treatment. The decision rests with Australia. In the event of Japan being admitted to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Australia is not committed to extend most-favoured-nation treatment to that country.
– Recently, when I was touring through the north-western part of Queensland in connexion with a matter about which the people of Queensland showed such good sense, I found that there was a grave shortage of powdered milk in the area westward from Townsville to Cloncurry and Mount Isa. As this is a serious matter for the people in that area, and particularly for children, will the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture see whether anything can be done to remedy the situation?
– I shall be pleased to investigate the matter, and see what can be done. I understand that the scarcity of milk has something to do with it. I assure the honorable senator that everything will be done to ensure that people in the area affected, and particularly the children, do not suffer hardship.
– During my recent tour of the gold-fields in Western Australia, I had brought to my notice repeatedly the scarcity of condensed milk and powdered milk in the outback areas. I understand that representations have been made to the State Government, but apparently that administration is not capable of remedying the situation or does not wish to do so. I am informed that considerable quantities of processed milk products are being shipped to the north. Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport take this matter up and ascertain whether something can be done in the interests of children of the outback?
– As I indicated earlier, every effort will be made to ensure that milk is supplied to outback areas in Queensland, and similar efforts will be made on behalf of the people of Western Australia. I regret very much that the people in those outer parts have suffered severely in two shipping strikes, but if we can get peace on the waterfront and in the seamen’s union I hope that we shall be able to improve the position very quickly.
– During the last sessional period of the Parliament, I asked a question about an Australian national song. I have since been advised by the Prime Minister that a competition for such a song was held and that first, second and third prizes have been allotted. I was further advised that the Australian public would be given an opportunity to judge for themselves which song they regarded as most suitable for a national song. How does the Government propose to obtain the opinion of the Australian public on this point? Will members of the Senate be given an opportunity during this session to hear the three prizewinning songs ?
– The honorable senator may be bringing a lot of trouble on himself if he insists on hearing the song sung by members of the Senate. I do not know what method will be employed to obtain the judgment of the public, but if the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall make inquiries, and he will be supplied with an answer. Apparently, the judgment of the public on similar matters has been obtained before, and I have no doubt that the same method will be followed in this instance.
– Having regard to the statement of the Prime Minister about the possibility of war, can the Minister for Trade and. ‘Customs say what is being done to train and protect the civilian population, particularly in the large cities ?
– I am not aware of details concerning the precautions taken, but I am sure that the Government will do what is necessary.
– During the last sessional period, the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior promised to consider my suggestion that a joint committee should be appointed to investigate proposals for electoral reform. lias he yet had an opportunity to confer with the. Minister for the Interior on the subject?
– I shall be pleased io confer with the Minister for the Interior, and let the honorable senator have an answer to his question as soon as [possible.
– In South Australia and, I understand, in other States also, an unusually large proportion of new Australians have been involved in accidents with motor vehicles. I ask the Min isster for Transport whether his attention’ has been drawn to this fact. In view of the language difficulties experienced by these people, and having regard to the lack of uniformity in the traffic laws throughout Australia, will the Minister seek the co-operation of the State governments with a view to formulating a uniform policy so that everything may he done, to ensure that new Australians who apply for driving licences are fully acquainted with the requirements of traffic regulations?
– The matter mentioned by the honorable senator comes under the control of the Transport Advisory Council. Traffic legislation is the concern of the States, but the Commonwealth, appreciating the gravity of the problem, has agreed to act as a coordinating authority. The very point raised by the honorable senator was discussed in September at a meeting of the Road Safety Council in Sydney which was attended by State and Federal Ministers. I was present at the conference, as was Mr. Cahill, Minister for Transport in the New South Wales Government. Members of the council were much concerned over the number of fatal road accidents, particularly among new Australians, and all the Ministers present agreed to take the matter up personally. Action has already been taken by some State governments, and I hope that similar action will be taken in the other States before long.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen an article in this month’s Headers Digest about the methods used overseas to reduce road accidents? If not, will he see that this article is examined by the Road Safety Council ?
– I have not seen the article to which the honorable senator has referred. The seven governments of Australia have a number of experts whose duty it is to examine carefully road safety measures being taken in New Zealand and in other parts of the world. At the recent conference on this subject I was impressed by the thoroughness with which information concerning those measures had been obtained. I thank the honorable senator for having directed attention to the article in the Readers Digest. I shall take the first opportunity to place a copy of it before the technical officers of my department.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-Genera! inform the Senate of the number of telegrams handled by the Telegraph Branch of the Postmaster-General’s Department in July and August, 1950, and in July and August, 1951? Will the Minister also state what revenue was derived by the branch during those periods?
– I shall be pleased to bring the honorable senator’s question.* to the notice of the Postmaster-General and to obtain a reply as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General state whether the Government has considered the granting of financial relief t” incapacitated ex-servicemen who, on medical advice, should be provided with telephone facilities? I asked a similar question some time ago, but I have not yet received a reply. Is the Minister yet in a position to state whether relief in meeting the exorbitant telephone rental charges imposed by the present Government can be afforded to such deserving members of the community?
– Representation* have been made by me in regard to the provision of telephone services at the expense of the Repatriation Department to ex-service men and women who, because of war disabilities, have been classified as totally and permanently incapacitated and on medical advice should have a telephone service. This matter was carefully considered by Cabinet and it was decided that such facilities would not be granted at present to those who had made application for them.
– In view of the fact that, according to press reports, the dismissal of 4,000 employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department under the Government’s retrenchment scheme will further delay the provision of new postal facilities and telephone services - I understand that 60,000 applicants are awaiting new telephone installations in New South Wales alone - will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General urge his colleague to consider an extension of the duplex system to subscribers now enjoying private services? Many people who to-day are deprived of telephones could secure early installation by agreement with present subscribers in the same locality. An extension of the use of duplex lines before the retrenchment of postal employees begins would enable deserving applicants for telephones to be connected much sooner than would otherwise be possible.
– I shall be pleased to bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– I should also like to know how many duplex lines and how many individual lines have been installed since the introduction of the duplex system.
– I shall be pleased to refer that matter also to the Postm aster-General.
– In view of the widespread interest taken in the continuation of Trans-Australia Airlines, and the precedent set by the Government in selling its shares in successfully operated enterprises, such as Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, will the Minister representing the Trea surer indicate whether there is to be a sale or a merger of Trans-Australia Airlines ? I ask this question in the interests of Tasmania, which depends on airlines for cheap, efficient, and regular freight and passenger services because of the poor shipping services to and from that State.
– I do not think that the honorable senator by any line of reasoning can connect the Government’s action in relation to its shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited with Trans-Australia Airlines. Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and its subsidiaries all are engaged in ordinary mercantile operations. There was no more reason why the Government should hold shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited than that it should hold shares in any large retail store, or in any other form of business. Trans-Australia Airlines is in quite a different category. The Government’s policy in relation to Trans-Australia Airlines has not been decided. The honorable senator must be aware that during the course of the recent referendum campaign both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer rebutted rumours that had been spread abroad by somebody that the Government had reached a decision on this matter. It has not considered the future of TransAustralia Airlines.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer state whether it is a fact that an instruction has recently been issued that importers of goods into Australia must now pay for such goods on sight instead of, as formerly, after 60 or 90 days? If the answer is in the affirmative, can the Minister inform the Senate by whom and for what purpose such an instruction was issued? Does the instruction apply to goods already on the water or only to future orders?
– It is not a matter of an instruction having been issued by anybody but a commercial arrangement between buyer and seller. The arrangement applies particularly to steel and steel productions. In the course of trade in the past the purchasers paid on draft in’ varying currencies. The British exporters - I think most of the exports came from members of the British Iron and Steel Federation - notified their Australian customers that, because of the congestion of stocks at the British works as the result of the shipping shortage, they were not prepared to finance stocks which remained in Great Britain until shipping was available to transport them to Australia. My recollection is that the federation asked for sight .draft payment as at the date upon which the goods were ready to be shipped, whereas previously payment was due from the date upon which the goods were actually shipped. When there is a wait of three months for shipping space the delay in payment is of considerable consequence. Representations have been made to have the arrangement altered back to that which had applied for a great many years, but I do not know with .what result. In view of the importance of the matter I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper so that I may be able to obtain full information for him.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether the Government has any policy on the granting of preference to exservicemen? If -the answer is in the affirmative, can the Minister state whether an ex-serviceman with years of active service to his credit, would be given preference over an ex-serviceman who had been called up for service one day and granted exemption on the following day, or soon afterwards, to engage in farm work?
– I am surprised at the honorable senator’s question. The people of Australia know very well that the Government has an excellent policy on the granting of preference to ex-servicemen. That policy is one reason why the Government was returned with such a large majority at the last general election. I do not propose to debate the Government’s policy with the honorable senator at present, but I have no doubt that if he studied it he would appreciate it, and might even be able to persuade the Labour party to adopt it.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me whether a Postal Department employee with years of active service to his credit would be given priority over a man who had been called into camp one week and exempted from service in the following week, but who, nevertheless, is classed as an ex-serviceman?
– The honorable senator has given only the barest outline of the case that he has in mind. However, I shall refer his question to the Postmaster-General for an opinion.
– In the past when questions have been asked in this chamber about the shortage of sugar in Victoria, the Minister for Shipping and Transport has blamed the “ Commo “ influence amongst seamen and wharf - labourers. As there have been few waterfront disturbances for a considerable time, can the Minister tell me why sugar is still scarce in Victoria, and whether any steps are being taken to alleviate the position ?
– The delivery of sugar from Queensland to the southern States has been seriously interrupted during the last twelve months by the Communist-controlled Seamen’s Union. Honorable senators will be interested to know that, during the twelve months which ended on the 18th September, no less than 176 ships were held up by members of that union. In view of the shortage of shipping on the Australian coast, those hold-ups have caused serious dislocation. We all know, of course, that acting on instructions from Dr. Evatt and others, Communist-controlled unions called off all strikes during the referendum campaign, but I regret to say that as soon as the referendum was over, they reverted to their old tactics. I assure Senator Sheehan that the Government will leave no stone unturned to ensure that adequate shipping shall be provided in spite of the misdeeds of the Communists.
– On the 14th July, 1951, Senator Tangney addressed the following questions to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in the Senate, upon notice -
The Postmaster-General has furnished the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Ministerfor Immigration has furnished the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : - 1 and 2. The statement attributed to Mr. Haveman, the Netherlands Commissioner for Emigration, is not wholly in accord with fact. It infers that Australia is, by the imposition of rigid selection criteria, discouraging Dutch migration. This inference is not correct.When the migration agreement was negotiated by the Australian and Dutch delegations the selection criteria proposed by Australia, were accepted by the Dutch” representatives in their entirety. It was agreed that because of our accommodation difficulties, selection in the initial stages would be confined to single men and women. However, to meet the wishes of the Netherlands Government, Australia later agreed to liberalize selection from the outset and to accept through out the year one-third dependants. This decision was taken in the knowledge that it would incur considerable strains upon our accommodation reserves and the Netherlands emigration authorities are well aware of this fact. Our insistence now upon the present selection criteria is asking only that the considerably relaxed criteria be adhered to. The statement that of 7,000 presented 700 only have been accepted tends to obscure the actual position unless it is amplified. The statement, as quoted, infers that from 7,000 persons processed 700 only have been selected. This is quite incorrect for it is manifestly impossible for 7,000 persons to have been through the processing machinery in the few weeks the agreement has been operative. It is necessary in order to put the statement in its true perspective to explain that the 7,000 persons referred to represent, in the main, migrants whose applications for emigration to Australia were filed before the agreement became operative. At the time suchapplicationswere
Hindi!, since Austral in was not providing financial assistance, the selection criteria were much wider than those imposed as a result of the agreement to subsidize passage costs. Under the terms of the agreement selection is confined proportionately to certain categories of tradesmen whose skill is urgently required by Australia and to rural and unskilled workers falling within defined age limits. It is not unnatural, therefore, that the application of this formula (which incidentally was agreed to by the Netherlands delegation) by the Dutch pre-selection authorities would result in a large number of migrants, the subjects of applications filed under the wider criteria, not being presented for processing by Australian selection officers purely because they were not of the trade category or age grouping required at present. In reply to the second part of the honorable senator’s first question dealing with skilled workers, I should like to say thai; Dutch tradesmen aic definitely not discouraged from migrating to this country. On the contrary every effort is being made to obtain the full quota requisitioned for, which is moir than half the total intake planned for this year from Dutch sources. There are, however, practical difficulties in thi: way of getting certain classes of skilled tradesmen from n”, country recognized as such in Australia. Of these the chief obstacle is their inability in many cases to comply with the Tradesmen’-! Bights Regulation Act. It is also incorrect to state that no provision has been made in the agreement for farmers or nival labourers. The requisitions forwarded to the Netherlands authorities provided amply for both categories. In fact, about 40 per cent, of the intake planned for during this year comprises miscellaneous workers which includes rural labourers. In addition, a special requisition has been placed for 400 farmers or farm workers.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has furnished the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Pens for WOOD asked Hip Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has furnished the following answers to the honorable senator’s question : -
asked the Minister representing the. Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
In view of the statement made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport in the Senate on the 13th July to the effect that the freighter River Glenelg is held up at Newcastle loaded with 0,000 tons of steel, and that the crew has been paid off because of seamen refusing to mau the ship, what action is to be taken to have this situation terminated, and will the Minister consider taking the same action that was intended in the case of the Aorangi, i.e., the action by naval ratings?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has furnished the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
The ship obtained a full crew on the 18th July and sailed early on Thursday the 19th July, 1951.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service the following questions, upon notice -
The Minister for Labour and National Service has furnished the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The following information has been supplied by the Western Australian railway authorities : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the success, being daily recorded in the press, of the educational tour of Australia by a group of men students from Pakistan to study the Australian way of life, will the Minister consider an invitation to a like number of women from Pakistan for the same purpose?
– The Minister for External Affairs has provided the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question: -
It is assumed that Senator Robertson’s question refers to the Pakistan students who are attending the Government Administration School which is being conducted by the Commonwealth Public Service Board in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. This school was organized as a part of the Australian contribution to the Commonwealth technical co-operation scheme. The students who are being trained at this school in public administration at the Commonwealth, State and local government levels are, upon the request of the Government of Pakistan, being given the fullest possible opportunity of observing the Australian way of life in the free time allowed by their studies. The students attending the school were nominated by the Government of Pakistan, which was free to nominate either men or women. The Australian Government places no restriction as to sex upon nominations which may be submitted for training facilities mode available in Australia pursuant to the three international technical assistance programmes in which Australia is now participating - the Common wealth technical co-operation scheme, the Unesco fellowship and scholarship .programme, and the United Nations programme.
asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Vegetable production lies entirely within the control of the States but theCommonwealth being fully aware of the necessity for adequate supplies for consumers, has taken all possible action to ensure that the requisites for production are available. Principal action taken has been to manufacture, import and subsidize., nitrogenous fertilizers required by vegetable growers, the importation of essential vegetable seeds to avert threatened shortages even though dollar expenditure was involved, the assisting in the mechanization of the vegetable industry in an endeavour to overcome the labour shortages in this industry and to facilitate the manufacture or importationof essential agricultural chemicals required by growers. The volume of production is influenced by many factors, but there is no positive indication of approaching famine conditions. Should the States desire to discuss this question it can be competently raised at either the Standing Committee on Agriculture or the Australian Agricultural Council.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
SenatorSANDFORD asked the Minis ter for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Have any licences for the export of cement been issued to any individual, firm or firms since the Labour Government relinquished office ?
If so, what quantity (if any) has been exported during the last eighteen months, by whom, and to what country or countries?
If cement has been exported and in view of the acute shortage of cement for home building in Australia and the necessity for some firms to import cement for home building, will the Minister undertake immediately to prohibit the exportation of this commodity?
SenatorO’ SULLIVAN. - The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
It is not the policy of the Department of Trade and Customs to divulge the namesor details of the operations of private firms doing business with the department. Approval has been given for exports of cement as indicated hereunder. Exports of cement from 1st January, 1950. to 30th June, 1951, were as follows : -
asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of Scientific and Industrial Research -
SenatorSPICER.- The Minister in charge of Scientific and Industrial Research has supplied the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question : -
asked the Minister act ing for the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the Senate the Reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -
Textile Piece Goods in Strip Form with Hooks and Eyes attached.
Tool Tips having a basic composition of Tungsten.
Machine Tools, Metal-Working, Tipped with alloys having a basic composition of Tungsten, Tantalum, Cobalt, Boron, Titanium and Alloys thereof.
The implementation of the Tariff Tariff Board’s recommendation in respect of felt polishing bobs, would create certain administrative difficulties, because certain types of bobs were not reportedon by the board. For that reason and also because the rates of duty are not affected at this stage by the board’s recommendation, it was decided not to implement the report, but to refer the matter to the board again so that a more comprehensive investigation could be made covering, in addition, the types of bobs not covered by the previous reference.
– I lay on the table the following papers : -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1952;
The Budget 1951-52 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Sir Arthur Fadden on the occasion of the Budget of 1951-52;
National Income and Expenditure 1950-51, and move -
That the papers be printed.
The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is delivering, in another place, the budget speech for the financial year 1951-52. I propose to inform honorable senators of the principal features of his speech and to give details of certain revenue and expenditure proposals contained in it.
In a review of the economic situation, it is stated that the recent steep rise in prices and costs bears witness to the acuteness of the problem of inflation. Besides having grave social and economic consequences for many sections of the community because of rising prices, inflation is in large part the cause of the misdirected enterprise, the shortage of critical materials and the wastage of plant capacity that are hampering industry and construction to-day. For that reason it presents a special danger at a time when we are preparing against the possibility of war at short notice. We are engaged, also, upon an attempt to enlarge all of our basic industries and services, in keeping with the rapid growth of population that is now taking place. These objectives demand that our resources should be concentrated upon the most essential enterprises and works instead of being dispersed over a host of less essential activities, as they are now. It follows that the problem of inflation must be mastered if our defence effort and our developmental plans are to be carried through and our standards of living preserved.
Although overseas developments have contributed to the problem through increases of export and import prices in recent years, the main causes of inflation are of local origin. The essential nature of inflation lies in a disproportion between money demand for goods and productive resources on the one hand and the supply of goods and resources on the other. During the post-war period the money demand for goods has continually risen in advance of the available supply of goods, both local and imported.
It may be that economic trends in the outside world will lead to some mitigation of the pressures with which we are confronted. Wool prices have already fallen a long way from -the peaks reached early in 1951, capital inflow from abroad has fallen off, and imports have continued to rise strongly. It seems likely that during 1951-52 we shall achieve a significant import surplus. On the other hand, we know that rearmament is proceeding rapidly in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Western Europe. This presages a continued strong demand for our exports generally, as well as further rises in import prices. Even at current prices, wool income still would be above anything we have known in earlier years. Notwithstanding such adventitious developments, it is evident that we .ourselves must make a determined effort if we are to weather the storm which inflationary pressures have been brewing in this country.
The Government rejects the idea of a complete freeze of prices and costs as affording no real remedy for our present situation. Experience has established two main facts about prices control - first, that it has little value to any one unless applied to all the main commodities; secondly, that unless costs and, particularly, wages are also controlled, prices control can do little more than record cost increases. Even, however, if all prices and costs were frozen, the basic situation would not be rectified and inflation would not be conquered. Great inconvenience would be caused to industry and trade, and we should have done no more than throw an illusion of stability over a situation growing rapidly more explosive. In broadest terms, the main remedy for inflation consists of closing the gap between the money demand for goods and the supply of goods. It is of fundamental importance that everything possible should be done to increase production in the key industries and to push on with works in such basic fields as power and transport. The requirements of defence must, however, he fitted in and, indeed, given priority.
Looking at the other side of the problem, it has to be recognized that the time has come to impose effective restraints on money demand for goods and on the indiscriminate production of less essential goods. There is no other way to limit the struggle for resources that is impeding the defence effort and the progress of basic works projects and industries.
By co-ordinated financial action a great deal can be done, both generally and in particular directions, to check the growth of consumption demand for goods and investment demand for resources. The Governmentand its various agencies have already instituted some powerful measures in this field and these are being made progressively more effective. They include control of the volume of bank credit through the “ special account “ procedures, the advance policy instructions issued to the trading banks, and control of capital issues. In a situation such as the present, however, by far the most effective action agovernment can take is through its budget, using that term in a broadsense. On the expenditure side there is the strongest possible case for eliminating every item that possibly can be dispensed with. A time of inflation is the wrong time for starting new services to the public or for raising standards of existing services. This can be done better in times of assured peace and easy progress.
Perhaps the greatest need for revision of current ideas about what is good and. timely lies in the field of public works in which far too many jobs have been started all over the country, and in which the absurd stage has been reached that major public projects are bidding against each other to attract key men and supplies. It is quite certain that if resources were concentrated on fewer jobs - those of a really essential kind - a greater volume of work would be completed and the economy as a whole would be better for it.
The Government believes firmly that under the present highly inflationary conditions total receipts should do more than cover total expenditure ; theyshould be sufficient also to provide a substantia! surplus. Modern thought on the relation of public finance to economic stability, is quite clear on the point that in times of depressed trade and unemployment, governments may justifiably run into deficits and even finance some part of thorn with central bank credit, so raising the level of community spending power. It is a vital corollary of this view, however, that in times ofexcessive demand and scarcity of labour, governments should draw away from the public in taxation and loans more than they spend for current purposes. If ever there was a situation which called for sucha measure, it is surely the present situation in Australia. During last financial year national income rose by no less than £800,000,000, or 35 per cent. This deluge of additional spending power threatens to overwhelm us. What the Government proposes to do is draw at least a parr, of it off and put it for the timebeing where it can do least harm.
In the statement, the subject ofComrnon wealth expenditure is reviewed in a general way. Allowing for proposed increases in certain repatriation benefits, total expenditure from Consolidated Revenue in 1951-52 is estimated at £927,000,000. Including expenditure on war service homes, which was financed from loan fund in 1950-1951 but which is to be’ financed from Consolidated Revenue in 1951-52, the comparable figure for actual expenditure in 1950-51. is £808.000.000. The estimated increase in expenditure for 1951-52 over the previous year is thus £119,000,000. These figures do not include expenditure onself- balancing items in the primary production field.
The major items on which expenditure will increase are as follows : -
In addition, expenditure from the National Welfare Fund this year, after taking account of proposals relating to pensions, is estimated at £138,000,000 as against £115,000,000 in 1950-51. The transfer from Consolidated Revenue Fund to the National Welfare Fund is estimated at £185,000,000. In accordance with the legislation governing the fund, collections of pay-roll tax are paid into the fund together -with a further amount from Consolidated Revenue determined by varying a base amount of £104,000,000 according to the increase or decrease in the collections of pay-roll tax. The estimated revenue from pay-roll tax this year shows an increase of nearly 40 per cent, and the estimated transfer to the National Welfare Fund has gone up accordingly.
Expenditure by the departments of the Navy, Army and Air in this financial year is estimated to be £52,000,000 greater than expenditure in 1950-51. Total expenditure by the departments of Supply and Defence Production, which last year were combined, is expected to increase this year by £6,000,000. This higher level of expenditure mainly reflects the expansion of the defence effort, although some part of it is, of course, attributable to increasing costs. The amount of £32,500,000, which it is proposed to transfer to the strategic stores and equipment reserve this year is smaller than the amount transferred in 1950-51, which was £57,000,000. The purpose of this reserve is to provide for stockpiling of vital war materials and related expenditures. Through difficulties in getting materials, some of which are very much in demand abroad, the rate of expenditure so far has not been high. Up to the 30th June, 1951, the amount spent was about £9,000,000. The Government has, however, authorized a very large procurement programme, and is doing everything possible to obtain materials arid equipment.
Payments to the States will increase greatly this year mainly because of the proposed payment of £33,600,000 to supplement the tax reimbursement grant. The finances of the States are, of course, feeling the impact of rising prices and costs very strongly, and in these circumstances it is clear that they could not maintain their essential services without further assistance from the Common wealth.
The rise in the working expenditure of the Postal Department, railways and broadcasting services is almost wholly a reflection of rising wages and salaries and costs of materials and equipment. It was to meet this position that postal, telegraph and telephone charges were increased earlier this year. The Commonwealth Railways have recently increased fares and freights for the same reason.
The estimate for international development and relief shows an increase of £S,400,000 over actual expenditure last year primarily because of Australia’s participation in the Colombo plan. This plan is designed to promote the economic development of South and South-East Asia. Because of our close interest in South-East Asia, the Government has decided to contribute £31,250,000 over, the six years to June, 1957, with an initial contribution of £8,750,000 for the first year, 1951-52.
In a thorough-going review of public expenditure to determine what is irreducible and what is not, the Government has given special attention to three items. One is capital works and services.
It is now proposed that, including £4,100,000 to be met from loan fund, the total provision for capital works and services in this financial year shall be limited to £106,000,000. The comparable figure for total expenditure last year was £102,000,000. Allowing for the higher level of current costs, it can be said that the volume of constructional work to he carried out this year will be smaller than in 1950-51.
Subsidies are the second item which offers scope for economy, and the Government has made a review of existing subsidies in the light of the financial position. It. decided some time ago to limit the amount of subsidy payable on dairy products this year to £16,S00,000.
It has also decided to end the bounty on woollen goods. Wool prices have fallen considerably, and experience during the past year had in any case raised serious doubts as to whether the full benefits of the bounty were getting through to the purchasers of woollen articles. An amount of £2,200,000 has been included in the Estimates to cover claims for bounty which were outstanding at the -30th June, 1951. The estimated total expenditure of £33,000,000 on subsidies this year represents a saving of approximately £7,700,000 on expenditure last year.
The third expenditure item which has had special consideration is that of administrative costs. Because of increases in wages, salaries and general expenses this branch of expenditure is necessarily rising. But that is all the more reason why the Government should look to the organization of departments and eliminate anything in the nature of overstaffing, or waste of resources. After extensive preliminary investigations into this problem, the Government has directed that a reduction of 10,000 be made in the staffs of Commonwealth departments and authorities, and provision in the Estimates for administrative expenditure has been adjusted appropriately.
The Government is determined to press on with all possible economies in administration, and as a further step in that direction it is proposed to re-establish the Public Accounts Committee.
To one branch of expenditure, however, a -special set of conditions apply. The, position of pensioners and their dependants has undoubtedly been affected adversely by the rise in prices, and the Government has decided to increase a number of repatriation and social service benefits.
It is proposed to increase the special rate war pension for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen by £1 15s. a week and the domestic allowance payable to war widows who have one or more children, or who are 50 years of age or over, by £1 2s. a week. Service pensions are to be increased by amounts up to. 10s. a week for an unmarried pensioner and up to 18s. 6d. a week for a married pensioner with a dependent child; and the pensions payable to parents of deceased ex-servicemen by amounts up to 10s. a week. These increases will become payable on the first pension pay-day after the’ legislation is passed.
From that date also, it is proposed to increase by 7s. 6d. a week the living allowances payable to Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme trainees and .to settlers under the war service land settle- ment scheme and the maximum rates of reestablishment allowances for exservicemen engaged in farming and other occupations. The fares allowance payable to Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme trainees will also be raised from 5s. to 7s. 6d. a week.
It is estimated that the additional expenditure involved in these various proposals will be £3,200,000 for a full year and £2,150,000 in 1951-52.
It is proposed to increase by amounts up to 10s. a week age and invalid pensions, and the pensions payable to widows who have one or more children. The pensions payable to other classes of widows and the allowances payable to dependants of invalid pensioners will also be increased. The increases will become payable on the first pension pay-day after the legislation is passed.
At the same time it is proposed to ease the means test in certain ways, the main one being to raise by £250 the property limits above which no pension is payable.
The Government will also propose amendments to the provisions of the scheme for the rehabilitation of physically handicapped persons.
Further, it is proposed to increase the allowances payable to persons suffering from tuberculosis by £1 7s. 6d. a week for a sufferer who is unmarried and by £1 15s. for a man and wife.
It is estimated that these proposals will cost £13,900,000 in a full year and £9,300,000 in the current financial year. The cost will, of course, be met from the National “Welfare Fund.
The living allowances payable to holders of Commonwealth scholarships are to be increased by amounts up to 7s. 6d. a week. The increase will take effect from the 1st January, 1952.
At the same time the means test associated with the living allowances is to be eased. Where full living allowances are not already payable the effect of the amendment will be to further increase the living allowances otherwise payable by amounts up to £15 a year or 5s. 9d. a week. »
It is estimated that the additional cost will be £85,000 in a full year and £43,000 in 3951-52.
It has already been announced that the £45,000,000 collected as part of the initial capital for a possible wool stabilization scheme will be repaid as soon as practicable. As to the larger sum which will ultimately accrue from the Joint Organization’s wool disposals operations, the interests of wool-growing taxpayers and of the community at large combine to suggest that it would be reasonable to spread the disbursement, at least of the larger amounts, over a reasonable period of time. The exact method by which this might be achieved is currently receiving the Government’s attention.
Before taking account of proposals for additional taxation, total revenue for 1951-52 is estimated at £881,500,000, of which £798,300,000 is revenue from taxation, £67,700,000 is revenue from business undertakings and £15,500,000 is revenue from other sources. Total revenue from all sources in 1950-51 was £783,600,000. These figures exclude the primary production self-balancing items.
Expected revenue from income tax this year naturally reflects the extraordinary lift in incomes, and especially in wool incomes, which occurred during 1950-51, as well as the higher levels of earnings from which instalment deductions will be made during 1951-52. At the same time, there has to be offset against income tax assessed this year on 1950-51 wool incomes an amount estimated at £98,000,000 on account of wool deductions made during 1950-51. Allowing for this factor, revenue from income tax and social services contribution on individuals and companies at existing rates is estimated at £462,000,000 in 1951-52. This is approximately £120,000,000 greater than the revenue obtained in 1950-51.
Estimates of customs revenue allow for a further increase in the volume and value of imports compared with 1950-51. Similarly, the excise estimates provide for an increase in sales of beer, spirits and tobacco.
A very great increase in revenue from sales tax, amounting to £24,800,000, is expected, because of the rise in prices and a likely increase of the volume of sales of both local and imported goods subject to tax.
Because of increased wages and salaries and higher employment the estimate of pay-roll tax also shows a large increase of £11,300,000 over revenue in 1950-51.
Revenue from the Postal Department and the Commonwealth Railways this year will, of course, reflect the increases in rates and charges which have already been made.
A total revenue of £881,500,000 would not suffice to cover total expenditure, estimated at £927,000,000, much less provide for the other needs to which reference will be made later. The Government has, therefore, decided to bring down proposals for additional taxation estimated to produce £160,000,000 in 1951-52. Bringing these proposals into account, total revenue for 1951-52 is estimated at £1,041,500,000. which, after meeting the estimated expenditure of £927,000,000, will provide a budget surplus of £114,500,000.
In framing its taxation proposals the Government has been concerned to ensure that they will operate as fairly as possible between the various classes of people who will pay the additional taxes, that they will have a maximum effect in curtailing the excessive demand for goods and that they will do the least possible harm to incentives to work and save. It has followed the principle that by distributing the burden of additional taxation as widely as possible it will fall with the least possible weight on particular classes of taxpayers. It has also sought to weight its various proposals so that they will fall more heavily on spendings than on earnings. I shall explain each of the proposals briefly.
Individual taxpayers will be called upon to pay a special levy equal to 10 per centum of assessed tax. This levy will be imposed in the assessments of income tax and social services contribution calculated at present rates on income of the current year 1951-52. Instalment deductions made at the source from salaries ‘and wages will be increased on and from the 1st November, 1951, by 10 per cent. Correspondingly, provisional tax and contribution on taxable incomes, other than salaries or wages, will be increased. The increased provisional tax will be shown in assessments based on income derived during the year ended the 30th June, 1951. These assessments will be issued following approval by Parliament of the proposed increase. The increase in the instalment deductions from the earnings of employees will operate for only eight months of the current year. Moreover, it will not be possible to collect the full provisional tax mid contribution as many taxpayers fail to lodge their returns in sufficient time to enable assessments to be made and paid before the close of the year. Hence, although the proposed change would, on the basis of current incomes, yield £38,000,000 in a full assessment year, it is estimated that extra collections in this financial year will not exceed £25,000,000.
Comparative tables are being circulated showing the tax and contribution payable on selected incomes (a) at war-time rates, (b) at current rates, and (c) at the increased rates now proposed. These tables will show that, despite the proposed increase, the new rates will be comparatively light by comparison with war-time rates. I desire also to stress that, even with the increase now proposed, income taxes in Australia will still be much lower, in every grade of income than income taxes in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand. Tables comparing the income taxes in the three countries are also being circulated to honorable senators.
A review of the effects of the averaging system has disclosed a pressing need for some modification of that system. The averaging of taxable incomes for income tax rating purposes applies only in the assessments of primary producers, who, broadly, pay tax on taxable incomes each year at the rate appropriate to the average of taxable incomes of the current year and the preceding four years. The averaging system is intended to protect the taxpayers concerned against disadvantages arising from fluctuations of prices for their products and from variations of income due to seasonal conditions. The system is meant to ensure that primary producers shall pay approximately the same amount of tax as other taxpayers receiving the same total income during the same period in reasonably even instalments. Tt has always been recognized that the system has faults. For example, it operates to the advantage of the taxpayer in a year of high income when he is best able to pay and to his disadvantage in a year of low income when he is least able to pay. Despite these disadvantages, however, the system worked reasonably well until about three years ago, when incomes began to increase steeply year by year. As a result of that rise in incomes the position has now been reached in which, if the system were to continue without modification in respect of incomes of the year ended the 30th June, 1951, taxpayers subject to averaging would have an advantage estimated at £62,000,000 in assessments on incomes of the year 1950-51 by comparison with what they would have had to pay if averaging did not apply. About £50,000,000 of this total amount would accrue to taxpayers who had taxable incomes in excess of £4,000 in that year.
On the other hand, for averaging to achieve its expected purpose in some future period when incomes are declining, the taxpayers concerned would have to be required to restore to revenue amounts equivalent to the tax advantages they have received over the past three or four years. If incomes were to fall far enough to make this a possibility, it seems fairly obvious that the task would exceed the financial capacity of most of the people concerned, lt seems preferable, therefore, that the system should, be modified, and prevailing conditions make this an opportune time to do so. The modification proposed is to confine the averaging system to that part of the taxable income which does not exceed £4,000. Where the taxable income is £4,000 or less and the average is less than £4,000, the present system will apply without change. Concurrently with the introduction of the amendment it is proposed to give taxpayers now subject to averaging the option of electing to withdraw permanently from the averaging system and to be taxed on the same basis as other taxpayers.
The annual gain or loss to revenue from these proposals will vary from year to year. The gain to revenue in the present financial year is estimated to be £47.000,000.
It is not proposed to continue the wool sales deduction in the current year. In the Government’s policy speech, it was announced that the prepayment would be discontinued as soon as the provisional tax reasonably provided for the tax obligations of wool-growers.
While uncertainties as to the trend of wool prices make it difficult to estimate the exact position, it is undoubtedly true that the margin between the provisional tax and the actual amount assessed will be substantially less this year than it was in 3950-51. In conformity with its promise, therefore, the Government will repeal the wool sales deduction legislation and deductions made in respect of wool sold or exported since the 30th June, 1951, will be refunded by the Government. Deductions made in respect of wool sold or exported prior to that date are of course to be offset against tax liabilities of woolgrowers in the current year.
Increases are proposed in the taxation of company profits. At present companies pay a primary tax at the rate of 5s. in the £1 on the first £5,000 of taxable income, and 6s. in the £1 on the balance of taxable income. In addition, public companies pay super-tax at the rate of ls. in the £1 on the excess of taxable income over £5,000, and a further tax at the rate of 2s. in the £1 on that part of the income which is not distributed as dividends to shareholders. It is proposed to impose a primary rate of 7s. in the £1 on the taxable incomes of public companies, and to abolish the super-tax and the undistributed income tax. Both super-tax and undistributed income taxwere war-time measures. Super-tax, which was complementary to war-time company tax, has been continued although war-time company tax ceased as from June, 1946. The amalgamation of the three taxes gives effect, in principle, to a recommendation, made by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. The interests of simplification are served by the amalgamation, and the abolition of the undistributed income tax acknowledges the principle advocated by the committee that a public company should be taxed on the profits it earns and not on the profits it retains.
Last year, it was stated that, as part of a balanced plan to bring inflationary forces under control, measures to draw off some part of abnormal profits were being considered.
That statement has been interpreted in some quarters to mean that the Government proposed an excess profits tax on all forms of business profits. Clearly, however, an excess profits tax is unneces sary in the case of individuals because the graduated rates can be adjusted to draw off the desired amount in taxation. Similarly, an excess profits tax on private companies is not necessary because the individual graduated rates apply both to dividends distributed and to profits retained by those companies. Hence, to give effect to the announced intention of the Government it is now necessary to find a means of dealing with the profits of public companies. The methods that might bc adopted to implement the Government’s intentions in regard to public companies were referred to the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. After thoroughly examining many different plans, the committee found it impracticable to recommend a scheme in any of the recognized forms that would serve the desired purpose and, at the same time, be reasonably free from anomalies for taxpayers and difficulties of administration. In particular the more usual forms of tax would be ineffective for a period of up to two years after the profits had been derived.
In the light of the committee’s reports, the Government proposes that the additional contribution to revenue by public companies shall be in the form of a special levy at the rate of 2s. in the £1. The proposed new primary rate of 7s. in the £1, and the special levy of 2s. in the £1, will commence to apply to taxable incomes derived by public companies during the year ended the 30th June, 1951. By imposing these rates and abolishing the super-tax and undistributed income tax, the net yield in a full assessment year will be £13,000,000, and in this financial year, £10,900,000.
It is proposed to retain the present primary rate of 5s. on the first £5,000 of taxable income of private companies, but to increase the rate from 6s. to 7s. on the balance of taxable incomes of such companies. The 5s. rate up to £5,000 is being retained because an increase would weigh with undue severity on small private companies. The rate over £5,000 is being increased by ls. in consonance with the proposed increase of rates of taxation on individuals. This should have the effect of bringing the tax on private companies and their shareholders approximately in line with the tax on partners in comparable partnerships. The special levy of 2s. in the £1 will not be imposed on private companies. This is because the graduated rates and the special levy on shareholders’ dividends, or on profits retained by private companies but deemed to be distributed, will keep the level of taxation on those profits in proper relation to the taxation of other incomes. These adjustments of the rates are estimated to yield £7,300,000 in a full assessment year, and £5,900,000 in this financial year. Certain measures are also proposed to defeat evasions of tax by some private companies. Those measures will be explained when the assessment bill is introduced later in these sittings.
It is further proposed that every company, public or private, shall pay in this financial year, an advance payment to be credited against its future tax liabilities. Since the tax payable by companies is not assessed until some months after the close of the year of income, there is, in the opinion of the Government, a clear case for some advance payment by companies of part of the tax to which the earned profits are liable. Since the system of payasyouearn for wage and salary earners and collection of provisional taxation from individuals was introduced, companies have been at some advantage as regards payment. That advantage is found in companies being able to use, for long periods, the money represented by the tax due by’ them. In the current financial year the aggregate sum will exceed £100,000,000.
There is also some ‘ inherent danger to revenue in the delayed system of company taxation. In some cases money held by large companies runs into six figures, and should misfortune overtake the company, there may be total or substantial loss to revenue, notwithstanding the priority of the Crown in liquidation, which applies only as against unsecured creditors. The advance payment proposed in the case of public companies is an amount equal to 10 per cent, of the primary tax of 7s. in the £1 and the special levy of 2s. in the £1. Private companies will be liable also for an advance payment of an amount equal to 10 per cent, of the tax at the primary rates of 5s. in the £1 on the first £5,000 of taxable income> and 7s. in the £1 on the balance of taxableincome. The advance payment of company taxes is estimated to yield. £14,100,000 in a full assessment year,, and £11,200,000 in this financial year..
As already announced, the Government proposes to discontinue the special depreciation allowance on plant as from the 30th June, 1951. First granted in 1946 to encourage the replacement of plant worn out during the war years, the original arrangement permitted a deduction of 20 per cent. in the first year in addition to the ordinary depreciation allowed, and the concession was torun for five years. In 1949, the concession was extended until June, 1952,. and the maximum rate of deduction wasincreased to 40 per cent. Taxpayers could choose either the 20 per cent, or the 40 per cent. rate. Most did in fact choose the 40 per cent. rate. Since then,, however, the economic situation haschanged greatly and the concession hasbecome a stimulus to excessive privateinvestment in many directions. A similar situation has developed in the United’ Kingdom where the Chancellor of theExchequer has given notice that theinitial depreciation allowance must besuspended. Moreover, since the endingof the concession will merely restore thesystem operating before 1946, under which the full cost of plant is written off in annual deductions at normal depreciation rates, the curtailment of the period’ of the concession will in no way reduce the full deduction for depreciation towhich taxpayers are entitled. .
Mutual life assurance companies will not be required to pay the special levy of 2s. in the £1. It is also proposed that the present ls. margin in the primary rates as compared with other companies should be preserved, namely, that the primary rate should be 6s. in lieu of 7s. in the- £1 for other companies; The companies will be required to make an advance payment as in the case of other companies.
It is proposed that the special levy shall not be payable by companies which are not carried on for the profit of their individual members and which are prohibited from distributing profits to members. Co-operative companies will also be exempted.
The Government has decided to relieve aged persons in the lower income groups from income tax and social services contribution. This concession will apply to women of 60 years and over and to men of 65 years and over. In the case of a single person, no tax and contribution will be payable if his income does not exceed £234. In the case of a married couple, there will be no liability to tax and contribution if their total income does not exceed £468. The limits of these exemptions coincide with the limits of permissible incomes for the Commonwealth age pensions as already announced.
Income in the form of scholarships held by students who are receiving full-time education at a university college or school will be exempted from taxation as from the 1st July, 1951.
It is proposed that the standard deduction for the cost of keep of employees should be increased by 5s. a week. This follows a recommendation of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. From the 1st July, 1951, the standard deduction will be raised to £1 a week for the keep of each employee. This deduction is allowed where the employer is unable to state the actual cost of the employee’s keep. .Where the award under which the employee is working does not specify the value of the keep provided by the employer, the taxable value of keep to the employee will also be raised by 5s. a week.
Gifts to hospitals which are not carried on for the profit or gain of individuals will be allowed as a deduction for income tax purposes. This concession has been recommended by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation so as to remove the existing anomaly that, whereas gifts to public hospitals are allowed as deductions, gifts to community hospitals are not so allowed. The concession will apply to gifts made on and after the 1st July, 1951.
It is proposed to exempt, as from the 1st July, 1950, the service pay and allowances of members of the Navy, Army and Air Forces serving in operational areas in and around Korea and Malaya. Generally, the conditions as to categories of personnel and the periods of eligibility for the exemption will be uniform with those prescribed in regard to the provision of war pension and repatriation and re-establishment benefits.
It is proposed to increase rates of sales tax so as to secure additional revenue amounting to approximately £35,000,000 during the current financial year, or £52,000,000 in a full year. The present general rate of Si per cent., which applied to the main bulk of the taxable goods, will be raised to 12-J per cent.
In addition, sales tax on other goods, which will be specified in separate schedules, will be raised to rates ranging from 20 per cent, to 66$ per cent. In addition to the goods which have hitherto been subject to special rates of tax, sporting equipment, toys, games, confectionery and ice cream, as well as toilet requisites used by men in the form of shaving cream, shaving soap, safety razors and safety razor blades, will now be subject to higher rates of tax.
Details of the goods affected and the relevant rates of tax will be given when the legislation is introduced later to-day.
Consideration has also been given to a number of requests which have been made, from time to time, for relief from sales tax in respect of particular goods, and it is proposed to allow certain additional exemptions from the tax. These concessions are merely logical extensions of exemptions hitherto in force and are designed to remove anomalies. They involve an annual loss of revenue estimated at £24,000, or approximately £16,000 in the current financial year. Details of the goods will be given later when the bills are introduced.
Land tax assessments for the financial year 1951-52, based on land owned at the 30th June, 1951, will be based upon the actual unimproved values as at that date in contrast to the pegged values which have been the basis of land tax assessments since the financial year 1941-42.
The unimproved Values of all types of land have increased very substantially over the values at which they were pegged. The effect of the increase in unimproved values will be to bring into the taxable field for the first time the land of a large number of land-owners. The increase in revenue from this source in the current financial year is estimated at £4,000,000.
A small amendment of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1950 will be proposed in the interests of simplicity of administration. Section 39 of the act renders liable to tax a shareholder’s deemed interest in the unimproved value of land owned by the company in which the shares are held. In order to obviate a great amount of work for a small ii mount of revenue, the section directs that individual share interests of not more than £100 and aggregate share interests of less than £500 are to be ignored, in the assessments of the shareholders. In view of the increase in values generally that has taken place since this provision was put in the act in 1927, it is proposed to bring down amending legislation to extend the exemption from tax.
Increases proposed in customs and excise arc estimated to produce £32,000,000 additional revenue in a full year and £24,000,000 in 1951-52.
Increases are proposed to broadcast listeners’ licence-fees in order to meet the higher costs of maintaining the broadcasting services and facilities provided by the Government. With the development of the services and the great increase in costs of equipment and materials as well as wages and salaries, revenue from licences is falling short of expenditure by about £2,000,000 per year. The Government, therefore, has no alternative but to raise the charge on listeners. It is proposed that the licence-fee be increased to £2 in Zone 1 and £1 8s. in Zone 2. No increase will be made, however, in the fee of 10s. at present paid for licences by pensioners. Moreover, it is proposed that listeners holding more than one receiving set will no longer be required to obtain more than one licence. It is intended that the proposals shall come into effect as from the time when legislation is passed by Parliament. The additional revenue is estimated at £1,700,000 in a full year and £1,000,000 in this financial year. [Extension of Lima granted.]
The main taxation proposals may now bc summarized as follows : -
Bringing into account the revenue and expenditure proposals outlined, the budget for 1951-52 may therefore be summarized as follows : - Revenue -
Thu total programmes submitted to the Loan Council at its meeting in August this .year, including advances under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, would have involved borrowing an aggregate amount of just over i’ii 1)0.000,000. The actual borrowing programme in 1950-51 was £165,000,000.
In view of trends in the loan market, it was clear that nothing like- the full amount of £300,000,000 could be borrowed this year on reasonable terms and conditions. lt was also apparent that, whilst all the works included in the State programmes were of a useful character, they varied so considerably in relative urgency that some could be deferred for the time being without harmful consequences. On the other hand, to provide finance for the full proposals would necessarily have involved the use of central bank credit. In current circumstances, resort to such methods of finance would on all counts bc thoroughly unsound, and the Government has irrevocably set its face against it.
After full discussion, it was decided by the Loan Council to limit the total borrowing programmes for the year to £225,000,000. This represented a 25 per cent, reduction in the programmes originally put forward but an increase of fi6 per cent, on the actual borrowing programmes of last year. The Commonwealth agreed to accept responsibility for ensuring that the States gained access to loan funds for their works programmes during 1951-52 up to the amount of the approved programme of £225,000,000.
It is impossible at this stage to forecast what amount will be raised by public loans during the financial year, but it would seem that even the reduced programme of £225,000,000, is substantially in excess of the capacity of the loan market. To the extent that loan raisings fall short of the approved programme the Commonwealth will need to finance the balance from its own resources.
Apart from the requirements of new loan money for works programmes, money is also needed for redemptions of maturing securities. It is estimated that £7,000.000 will be required in 1951-52 Tor the redemption of war saving certificates and saving certificates. The requirements for redemptions which may arise out of the maturing of £72,000,000 of Commonwealth and State debt in November, 1951, and April, 1952, cannot as yet be estimated.
It is now possible to summarize the main elements of the financial problem which confronts the Government.
First, even after the rigorous scrutiny of the expenditure estimates to which I have referred, taxation at existing rates would leave a budget gap of nearly £50,000,000.
Second, there is an indisputable need to ensure that the financial operations of the Commonwealth for the year result in a substantial excess of cash receipts. This we believe to be one of the most effective counter-inflationary measures available to the Government.
Third, we have a contingent Commonwealth responsibility to assist the States by filling from Commonwealth resources whatever gap may be found between the approved Loan Council programmes and actual loan raisings. Many of the State works projects for power, transport and so forth are of the highest priority, both on defence and developmental grounds, and if the Commonwealth was not prepared to assist in this way, the only alternatives would be a drastic interruption of really urgent works or an extensive use of central bank credit. In current circumstances neither alternative can be contemplated.
It was only after the closest study of all these factors that the Government decided to bring down its proposals for increased taxation. After bringing them into account, total revenue for 1951-52 is estimated at £1,041,500,000 which, after meeting the estimated expenditure of £927,000,000 from Consolidated Revenue, will provide a budget surplus of £114.500,000.
It is proposed that this surplus be paid into the National Debt Sinking Fund, and that the National Debt Commission shall be empowered to invest some part thereof in loans raised for Commonwealth or State purposes. To the extent that these special moneys are not required for direct or indirect assistance to the Loan Council borrowing programmes, they will be available to the commission for repurchases and redemptions of debt, including debt owing to the central bank. Separate legislation to authorize the appropriation of the surplus to the National Debt Sinking Fund will be put before Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Cooper) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Repatriation Act 1020-1950, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the bill he now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to increase the rates of pensions and allowances payable to various groups of persons under the Repatriation Act 1920-1950. Honorable senators will remember that in November, 1950, anomalies in the provisions of that legislation were adjusted, and substantial increases were made in all pensions and allowances. These involved an increased expenditure of approximately £6,000,000 a year. In the joint policy speech of the Liberal and Australian Country parties that was delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the 3rd April, it was intimated that a further review of repatriation pensions and allowances would be carried out, especially in relation to persons who were more or less dependent on their pensions for a living. Such a review has now been completed, and certain provisions have been made in the budget that was brought down earlier to-day.
Having regard to the increased cost of living during the last nine months, the Government proposes to increase the rates of pensions and allowances payable to pensioners who are mainly dependent upon such pensions and allowances as a means of livelihood. It will be observed that fortnightly rates of pensions are specified in this bill, as war pensions are payable fortnightly. However, for convenience, I shall refer to weekly rates. Under the second schedule to the Repatriation Act 1920-1950 a member who, as a result of war service, is blind or unable to earn other than a negligible percentage of the living wage, is granted a special rate pension of £7 a week. It is proposed to increase the rate to £8 15s. a week. This increase will necessitate a similar increase of the rate of medical sustenance payable under regulation 71 (4) of the repatriation regulations. When a member who is suffering from a war-caused disability has to go to a repatriation hospital to be treated for his disability he receives sustenance at the same rate as the special rate pension if he is not receiving wages or sick pay during the period.
Under the fifth schedule to the act, members suffering from amputations of limbs receive an amount in addition to the pension payable in accordance with the first schedule. This is called the base rate schedule. The first six items in the fifth schedule at present provide for the payment of an additional amount of £3 10s. a week to members who are suffering from certain amputations of two limbs. These payments give them the equivalent of the special rate pension of £7 a week. To preserve that principle, this bill increases the fifth schedule amount by £1 15s. a week to £5 5s. a week. This will give a totally and permanently incapacitated, blinded, or tubercular member a total amount of £8 15s. a week, and £1 10s. 6d. a. week for his wife. If they have one child the amount, including child endowment, will be £11 2s. a week. If they have two children, one of whom is attending school, the amount, including child endowment, will be £12 12s. 6d. a week. If a member has three children, two of whom are attending school, the amount received will be £10 5s. 6d. a week for himself and his wife, lis. 6d. a week for each child, £1 ls. education allowance, and £1 5s. child endowment, making a total of £14 6s. a week.
A war widow receives £3 10s. a week, equal to 100 per cent, base rate for a member. But if a war widow has a child, or children, under the age of sixteen years, or if she is over the age of 50 years, she receives a pension of £3 10s. a week and an allowance of 10s. a week.
It is proposed to amend the repatriation regulations to increase the allowance of 10s. a week by £1 2s. a week. This will provide such widows with a pension of £3. 10s. a week and a domestic allowance of £1 12s. a week, making a total of £5 2s. a week. It is also proposed to amend the regulations so that the allowance can be paid to a widow who is under 50 years of age and has no children under sixteen years of age, but who is permanently unemployable. A war widow with three children all under sixteen years of age will receive an allowance of £3 10s. a week for herself, a domestic allowance of £1 12s. a week, for the first child of say fifteen years of age, war pension of £1 2s. a week, for the second child of say thirteen years of age, war pension of 15s. 6d. a week, and for the third child of say ten years of age, war pension of 15s. 6d. a week. She will also receive an education allowance in respect of two children of £1 ls. a week, and child endowment of £1 5s. a week, making a total of £10 ls. a week. As honorable senators know, these pensions are not subject to a means test. Furthermore, war widows and their children are accepted for any hospitalization or medical attention required. I remind honorable senators that totally and permanently incapacitated members are accepted for hospitalization and full medical benefits in respect of any medical attention required, whether it is warcaused or not.
Service pensions are payable to members who are suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, and to members who served in a theatre of war and are permanently unemployable, or have attained the age of 6.0 years, or 5’5 years in the case of females. Service pensions are subject to a means test similar to the means test applied in connexion with age and invalid pensions payable under the Social Services Consolidation Act. The present maximum rate of service pension payable to a member is £2 10s. a week, but as age and invalid pensions are to be increased by 10s. a week, service pensions of members will be increased by a like amount. Honorable senators will observe that the bill provides that the rates of service pensions payable to wives are to be increased from £1 4s. a week to £1 10s. a week, and that service pensions of first children are to be increased from 9s. a week to lis. 6d. a week. At present a member cannot be granted a service pension if he has accumulated property, apart from the home in which he resides, of a value of £750. The bill provides for that amount to be increased to £1,000 and for the exemption on the surrender value of life insurance policies to be increased from £500 to £750.
Under section 91 (a) of the Repatriation Act, a limitation is imposed upon the amounts of payments to service pensioners who are also in receipt of wai pensions and/or pensions under .the Social Services Consolidation Act. The bill provides for .these limits to be increased by 10s. a week in the case of unmarried persons, by 15s. a week in the case of a married person whose spouse is also a service pensioner or a civil pensioner, and by 10s. a week in the case of a married person whose spouse is not a service pensioner or a civil pensioner. The ceiling rate of £3 10s. a week for war pensions and service or civil pensions, that is age and invalid pensions, payable to single persons, will be raised to £4 a week. In addition the pensioner may receive other income of 10s. a week before the rate of pension payable to him will be affected. Therefore, the total allowable income of a single person pensioner will now be £4 10s. a week.
The existing ceiling rate of war, service, or civil pensions for a married person whose spouse also is a pensioner will be raised from £6 10s. a week to £7 5s. a week. In addition the couple will be permitted other income of £1 15s. a week before the rate of pension is affected, making a total allowable income of £9 a week. A married person whose spouse is not a war pensioner, a service pensioner or a civil pensioner could receive war service or civil pension amounting to £5 17s. 6d. a week. In addition, the couple could have other income amounting to £3 2s. 6d. a week before the pension is affected, so that they may receive £9 a week before the pension is affected in any way.
An increase of the rates of age and invalid pensions payable under the Social Services Consolidation Act has an effect on the basis of war pensions payable to parents of deceased members, permitting higher assessment of war pensions. The Government intends to increase the allowances payable to beneficiaries under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme by 7s. 6d. a week. and to increase the fares allowance by 2s. 6d. a week, making a total increase of 10s. a week.
The proposals contained in the bill and contemplated increases of allowances will cause the following increases of annual liability: -
The opportunity has been taken to include in the bill some items that are not associated with the main object of increases of pensions and modification of factors concerning assessment of pensions. For example, provision is made for the payment of gratuity to a widow on remarriage introduced by the amending act of last year, in order to cover the few instances where widows, although nol actually in receipt of pensions at the time of re-marriage, are nevertheless entitled to a. pension and, in all equity, entitled to a gratuity. The Government proposes to overcome that anomaly by a slight amendment to the act. Another provision concerns members afflicted with mental trouble by ensuring that their children are adequately assisted not only in respect of general maintenance but also in respect of their education, subsequent training for positions in life and general advancement. These matters will be explained in detail during the committee stage of the bill.’
I trust’ that the bill will meet with the approval of honorable senators and that it will be passed as speedily as possible. I commend the measure to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator O’sullivan) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that the wig which I arn now wearing has been donated to tine Senate by the family of the late Sir Josiah Symon, who was one of the first senators from South Australia to sit in this chamber. In the first instance the wig was donated to me by the family, but I asked whether they would be good enough not to make it a personal donation but to give it to the Senate. They gladly acceded to that request, so that this wig is now the property of the Senate, and I take this first opportunity of announcing the gift. Suitable acknowledgement has been made of the donation.
As no doubt all honorable senators are aware, Mr. Arthur Savage, a well respected officer of the Senate and one who gave yeoman service to all honorable senators, has passed away. On behalf of honorable senators messages of condolence were conveyed to his widow and family by the Clerk of the Senate.
– Tn reply to a question that I asked this afternoon the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) stated that the policy of the Government is to give preference to returned soldiers, but I fear that the .Government will not give effect to that policy about which it has boasted so openly. In speaking of returned soldiers, I wish to refer to a man who had several years of active service, who suffered disabilities and who still suffers from them because of his war service, and who applied for a position in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. His application was rejected, and the position was given to a man who claims to be a returned serviceman but who in fact was called u-p during the last war, was taken into camp and almost immediately discharged because his relatives applied for his release on the ground that he was needed for employment in rural production. I consider that if there is any effective policy of preference to returned soldiers, the man with years of active service, with all the ‘qualifications and with the capacity to fulfil the position should have received the preference.
– The other man is not a returned soldier and could not join the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia.
– I appreciate that interjection because it strengthens my case. The reply that I have received, from the Postmaster-General’s Department is that .the man who secured the position is .a returned serviceman in the eyes of the department and stands on an equal footing with the other man to whom I have referred. When a reply which is obviously incorrect is received from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department I contend that it is time that the investigating officers of the department approached persons such as myself in order to obtain the facts.
I now wish to .say something concerning the installation of telephones. There has been a great deal of talk about retrench ments in the Public Service. Practically the whole of the file before .me at the moment consists of applications for telephone services in reply to which the applicants have been informed that connexions cannot be made because labour cannot be obtained for the necessary work. Yet the Postal Department is dismissing linemen, which .will have the effect of further retarding the completion of such installations. In some instances where telephone services have not .been made available other people have come into the district and within a week have obtained telephones. In reply to a complaint made by me, the department stated that my information was incorrect. I say that it is correct and that the same thing has been done since my complaint was made. I never inquire concerning the politics of a person when a request is made to me for assistance, and I have been successful in fighting cases for many members of the Liberal party. I am elected to do a job for all of my electors. I am concerned that the electors receive equal justice, and I contend that they have not done so in the instances that I have quoted. I wonder whether the Postal Department has a black list of applicants for telephones.
– I take the opportunity of referring very briefly to the two matters to which you, Mr. President, made reference. The Opposition wishes to express its pleasure at the very gracious action of the family of the late Sir Josiah Symon in presenting to the Senate the elegant wig which you now adorn. I think that their graciousness in making the presentation was equalled by your own, Mr. President, in suggesting that the gift should be made not to you personally, but to the Senate. The ‘Opposition congratulates you upon your action. Without disrespect to the wig that you wore on prior occasions, I suggest that it was you who .adorned it and lent it distinction, and not that the reverse took place. I am ‘ delighted to say now that I think that you and the wig are mutually complimentary in lending distinction one to the other. The Opposition accordingly congratulates you upon the new assumption of dignity both by the wig and by yourself.
Every mem’ber of the Opposition is filled with regret because of -£he untimely death of Mr. Arthur Savage, a member of the Senate staff, and we -express to you, Mr. President, our thanks for conveying our condolences to his relatives. We all knew Arthur Savage as a very helpful, very courteous, very -efficient and very friendly officer, and we were all tho recipients of many courtesies and friendly services from him. We shall all miss him sadly. On behalf of the Opposition, I express our deep sense of loss at his death.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Apple and Pear Organization Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 82.
Broadcasting Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 50.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 49.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 42.
Commonwealth Railways Act - By-law No. 89.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No.64.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 71, 75.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 47, 48.
Dairy Produce Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 60.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 56.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and Designs (9).
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 45,61,68, 83.
Defence Preparations Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 84.
Distillation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules1951, No. 80.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules1951. No. 65.
Egg Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 62.
Excise Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 81.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired forBanking purposes - Mount Barker, Western Australia.
Defence purposes -
Bathurst. New South Wales.
Bohle River, Townsville, Queensland.
Cooktown, Queensland. .
Pinjarra. Western Australia.
SchofieldsNew South Wales.
Unley,SouthAustralia. DepartmentofCivilAviation purposes -
Cleve, South Australia (substitute copy).
Department of Trade and Customs purposes - Cottesloe, Western Australia.
Immigration purposes -
Eelmont, New South Wales.
Cabramatta, New South Wales.
Dundas, New South Wales.
Lithgow, New South Wales.
Penrith, New South Wales.
Postal purposes -
Broadmeadow, New South Wales.
Guyong, New South Wales.
Hallett, South Australia.
Keilor East, Victoria.
Queanbeyan, New South Wales. Rosebud, Victoria.
National Health Service Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1951, No. 63.
Nationality and Citizenship Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 46, 86.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 52,53, 66, 76, 87.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 195 1, No. 67.
Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1 951 -
No. 2 - Tuberculosis.
No. 3 - Mining.
No. 4 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Regulations - 1951 -
Nos. 3 and 4 (Darwin Administration Ordinance).
No. 5 (Alice Springs Administration Ordinance) .
No.6 (Apprentices Ordinance). Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1951-
No. 14 - Poor Persons’ Legal Assistance.
No. 15- Supply (No. 1) 1951-52.
No.16 - Evidence (New Guinea).
No. 17 - Port Moresby Water Supply.
No. 18 - Insolvency (New Guinea).
No. 19 - Amendments Incorporation.
No. 20 - Superannuation (Papua and New Guinea)
No. 22 - Liquor (New Guinea).
No. 23 - Adoption of Children.
No. 24 - Deserted Wives and Children (New Guinea).
No. 25 - Native Women’s Protection.
No. 26 - Forestry (Papua).
No. 27 - Forestry (New Guinea).
Patents Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 51.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 72, 74.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Departmen t -
Air - K. J. Holmes, J. J. Thompson.
Attorney-General’s - J. W. Bates.
Civil Aviation- W. E. Forty, R. N. Lake.
Commerce and Asrriculture - K. L. Kinsman. F. N. Robinson.
Defence - D. T. Forsvth.
ExternalAffairs - R. R. Fernandez.
Health - B. C. Bonner. E. J. R. Burton, A. A. Carson, E. Cent, R. H. Hook.
Interior - J. P. McMahon.
Postmaster-General’s- M. L. Allen, W. H. Bloxham, N. C. Breddy, K. If. Brown, H. E. Coleman, N. D. Crew, M. H. Crisp, G. G. Gahan, J. B. Goodfellow, A. V. Helm, F. G. Keaney, R. W. Lawry, M. A. O’Grady, G. Page-Hanify, J. E.Rule, T. M. Sabine, A. G. Savage, E. F. W. Shuttleworth, J. F. Sinnatt, N. M. H. Smith, A. F. Weckes.
Repatriation- J. Andrews, M. H. Boxhall, K. B. Burwood, E. L. Davey, M.E. Dennis, V. G. S. Desgrand, J. F. S. McKee, I. Miles, E. H. Sims, P. A. Tod, R. M. Withers.
Social Services - J. E. Bayly, L. Taylor.
Supply- W. D. Allan, R. S. Appleford, G. F. Auberson, J. H. Auld, L. Austin, K. Bailey, , 1. S. Baker, D. E. Baum, J. H. H. Beale, K. R. Russell, J. P. Callinan, M. F. Carney,C. G. Carter, R. A. Coyle, K. A. Cross, J. S. Danger, N. S. Dempster, J. C. Ellis, L. H. Esmore, J. F. Finegan, A. T. Fowler, R. W. Gibbons, T. P. Gill, A. S. Goodin, G. Gourley, A. C. Gray, J. R. V. Groves, W. M. Harper, M. Hatherly, J. G. Hayes, A. F. Heather, G. E. Helme, E. H. Hirsch, T. A. Hood, J. F. Horwood, C. F. Howie, W. H. J. Jackson, V. J. Jenkin, G. Karoly, N. J. Kelly, W. B. Kenn, P. J. Knuckey, A. B. Kohn, I. R. Lamborn, G. J. Lincoln, S. A. Lott, H. K. Lutwak, G. G. McDonald, C. O. Malmgren, M. D. Marks, W. A. Moore, T.O. Mulhearn, J. F. Nankivell, J. W. Nethercote, W. J. Nunn, C. G. O’Connell, C. F. Osborn, R. B. Pover, R. N. Ride, R. M. Robb, K. N. Rowles, V. D. Rowlston, E. J. Scott, K. C. Seddon, R. W. Sheldon, M. Shnider, J.Stapleton, B. A. Stone, M. F. Sweeny, C. R. H. Taylor, H. D. Thorn, S. Thomas, A. L. Thompson, L. L. Valentine, A. P. Vulcan, B. A. Walton, P. F. Weinrich, R. N. Whittem, P. A. Wibrow, T. W. Wickens, A. R. Williams, R. G. Woodward, W. Worth, P. J. Wrigglesworth, F. S. Young, M. C. Zenner.
Treasury - J. M. Reed.
Works and Housing - J. G. Brownlow, G. E. Cox, M. J. Dabourne, J. E. Dale, E. W. Gooey, J. W. G. Haller, A. C. Mudd, F. R. McGeachin, W. S. Macready-Bryan, E. M. Moore, E. W. N. Oxlad, L. T. Ryan, T. W. G. Scefeld, K. G. Sweet, D. E. Watkins, G. R. Wraight.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, Nos. 77, 78.
Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 79.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 57.
Repatriation Act -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 58.
Repatriation Commission - Report for year 1949-50.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances - 1 951 - No. 7 - Court of Petty Sessions. No. 8 - City Area Leases. No. 9 - Real Property.
Regulations - 1951 -
No. 2 (Advisory Council Ordinance). No. 3 (Motor Traffic Ordinance). No. 4 (Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance).
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Variation of the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs, together with the plan referred to, dated 10th September, 1951.
Services Trust Funds Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 54.
Superannuation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No.59.
War Service Estates Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 55.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Acts (No. 1) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 69.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Acts (No. 2) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 70.
Wool (Reserve Prices) Fund Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1051, No. 85.
Senate adjourned at 8.31 p.m,
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 September 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1951/19510926_senate_20_214/>.