8 September 1955

21st Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

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Senator ASHLEY:

– Can the Minister for National Development say whether tests of high-octane petrol made hy the Australian Government disclosed improved performances only in new vehicles, and that in most vehicles which travel short distances and make many stops and starts .the benefits are less obvious? If so, will the Government make available to the Senate the results of the extensive tests of different types of vehicles that were made by the Government, in order that motorists and other users of petrol in this country may be protected from further exploitation by the major oil companies ?

Senator SPOONER:
Minister for National Development · NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I know nothing about this matter other than what I read in a newspaper report this morning. I assume that, as a purchaser and consumer of petrol, the Government made its own inquiries and reached its own decisions. I doubt whether it would be proper for the Government to make available the results of its own tests. I assume that most consumers of petrol are making similar tests, and also that it is not a matter of exploitation by the oil companies. They are offering the people a choice of petrol, and it is up to the consumers of petrol themselves to make up their minds whether they prefer the old grades or the new grades of petrol.

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Senator COLE:

– Is the Minister for National Development able to say whether it is a fact that the local demand will absorb all the Australian production of steel and steel products in the forseeable future? If so, how does the Government justify the continued export of approximately 8 per cent, of Australia’s steel production, giving as an excuse that the export is necessary to maintain our overseas markets for steel?

Senator SPOONER:

– I do not necessarily accept the figure of 8 per cent, mentioned by the honorable senator. The only steel that is being exported from Australia is either steel of a particular category of which there is a surplus, or, alternatively, steel sent to the Pacificislands and New Zealand. From time- to time, in the process of manufacture, some particular varieties of steel become surplus to requirements. Only those steels may be exported. That is the only sensible thing to do. The alternative would be to stop producing, make plant idle and discharge men. We want all the export income we can earn. As to New Zealand and the Pacific islands, we have an obligation to cater for their requirements within reasonable terms and limits. We discussed that matter recently when a member of the New Zealand Government visited Australia. We worked out then what we thought would be a fair arrangement both for Australia and New Zealand.

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Senator HENTY:

– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that the steamer Kootara was scheduled to take a full loading of coal to the Launceston Gas Company and, on the 19th August, was at Newcastle awaiting the coal which had been allocated to it by the Joint Coal Board? Is he aware that, owing to a shortage of gas coal on that date, the steamer Age, a vessel which berthed after Kootara, was given the coal for Victoria, and Kootara sailed in ballast?- Will the Minister ascertain why the Launceston Gas Company was deprived of its allocation of coal? As the company urgently needs this coal, will the Minister examine the possibility of providing sufficient shipping to carry at least 5,000 tons of coal to Launceston to cover the miners’ holiday period at Christmas and the New Year?”

Senator McLEAY:
Minister for Shipping and Transport · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– The matter to which the honorable senator has referred was raised with the manager of the Australian Shipping Board when he was in Canberra yesterday. I have received the following reply from him-

Senator Critchley:

– It is a “ Dorothy Dix “.

Senator McLEAY:

– It does not matter whether it is a “ Dorothy Dix “ or not. [t is an intelligent question and, as a result of prompt service, I happen to have the reply here at the appropriate moment. The position is that Kootara was available, and waited at Newcastle from the 23rd August to the 26th August, but, as no coal was available, the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand Limited despatched the vessel in ballast for another task. I am advised that Kootara is to load approximately 1,500 tons of coal for Launceston and Kim approximately 1,000 tons for Bell Bay. Both vessels will be available to load at Newcastle during- the week ending the 17th September. Coal for the Launceston Gas Company has been the Union Steamship Company’s responsibility for many years, and it is hoped that this arrangement will meet present requirements.

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Senator WRIGHT:
TASMANIA · LP; IND from June 1978

– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development supplementary to the question that was asked by Senator Cole. In recent years, the Hydro-Electric Commission in Tasmania has undertaken intensive construction work. The commission has been able to obtain only about one-third of its steel requirements from the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. The balance had to be imported from abroad at considerably higher prices. And that is not an isolated experience; other agencies, both private and public, have had to adopt a similar practice. Will the Minister for National Development inform the Senate whether any recent examination of the position has been made to ensure that, notwithstanding the tremendous expansion that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has undertaken, the steel resources of Australia are being expanded to their maximum, so that production in this industry will be increased to coincide with the requirements of the Australian market ?

Senator SPOONER:

– The honorable senator has raised a very big question. Currently, we need to import about 40,000 tons of steel to meet all requirements. Steel is not just steel. There are many different kinds of steel, and. the problem must be examined in its right perspective. It is necessary to have a knowledge of the demand for, and production of, various kinds of steel. The steel industry’s programme as every one knows has been tremendous. It has been a very large programme indeed. I am told that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited holds the view that its programme can be carried to a stage at which it will .be able to cater for all Australian requirements by about I960. It is not only a matter of capital investment, but also a matter of obtaining labour and materials and developing coal mines so that the supply of coal will meet the requirements of the industry. There is also the necessity to develop shipping in order to convey the iron ore, and the iron ore itself must also be developed. It is a very big problem all round and technical knowledge and technical ability is required to be able to express an opinion upon it. My department is very keenly interested and is closely in touch with the subject. Currently it is carrying out the type of investigation that the honorable senator has mentioned.

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Senator SCOTT:

– My question _ is directed to the Minister for Shipping. Is it a fact that a quantity of 1,000 tons of lead concentrate has been lying at Geraldton for three months awaiting shipment to Italy? Is it a fact that the mines concerned have approached various shipping companies without success ; and have they now approached the Minister? As this 1,000 tons of concentrate, valued at £100,000, is proving an embarrassment to the company concerned, will the Minister advise me whether he can facilitate the shipment of this valuable concentrate?

Senator McLEAY:

– The answer to the first three questions is “ Yes “. 1 am in touch with representatives of the overseas shipping organization and efforts are being made to see if something can be done to lift the 1,000 tons of concentrate. It is not sufficient to send a special ship there, as certain difficulties are associated with delivery. I am hoping that we will find a way to move it, particularly in view of its value and importance to our export trade. If [ obtain a reply from Sydney to-day on this matter, I shall let the honorable senator know.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for National Development been directed to a report that appeared in the Melbourne Age of the 7th September containing a statement made by the Premier of Victoria,- Mr. H. G. Bolte, to the effect that the State Government had received an ultimatum from the Australian Government to increase housing commission rents to an economic level or lose the Commonwealth subsidy? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the facts in relation to this matter?

Senator SPOONER:

– I have been following with some interest the newspaper controversy in Victoria. The facts of the matter are that under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement the rents of all these houses are subsidized by the Australian Government. The Commonwealth provides money at 3 per cent, interest which is a substantial subsidy in respect of the rents. The previous Labour Government in Victoria did not charge the economic rent based on that subsidized interest rate. En other words, it made a bid for popularity by making cheap rents available and it forwarded the bill to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth officers quite fairly refused to pay that bill. The Commonwealth was already subsidizing the rentals, and if a Labour government in Victoria wanted to make the rents cheaper still it was that government’s responsibility to meet the bill. There are two sides to this question. People who live in government houses have the rents of their homes subsidized. People who live in non-government houses, and sire paying for their homes through- building societies and so on, do not receive the benefit of a government subsidy. They are, therefore, paying for their own homes and also contributing, through taxation, to the subsidy paid in respect of the tenants of government houses. I do not believe that it is fair that having once subsidized certain rents we should subsidize them a second time, and I believe that the Victorian Government is correct in charging a fair rent for government houses. By so doing it is acting fairly towards the people who live in nongovernment houses.

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Senator PEARSON:

– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Agreements have been entered into by some States, particularly Victoria and South Australia, with regard to the purchase of New South Wales coal. Those agreements are for a stated period, and, I think, for the purchase of coal at fixed prices. Will the Minister indicate whether the prices which have been published in connexion with those agreements will apply for the full term of the agreements, and why it is now possible to supply New South Wales coal to the governments of other .States at prices less than the prices that previously ruled?

Senator SPOONER:

– The two contracts with the Victorian railways and the South Australian Electricity Commission are very interesting developments in the coal-mining industry. The agreements provide for the supply of much better coal than those States were previously able to obtain, and at substantially lower prices. As the prices concern only the contracting parties, I consider that it would not be correct for me to disclose those prices, but they are appreciably lower than were previously paid by State governments. This development is an indication of the progress that is being made in the coal-mining industry. The industry has now reached the stage when large consumers of coal can get the benefit of the competition between coal producers, and it is not necessary for the authorities to notify consumers that they must accept certain types of coal. As the result of the mechanization of coal mines, and because of coal washing plants that have been installed outside the mines, the industry is, from a competitive marketing viewpoint, in a much better position than it was a few years ago.

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Senator LAUGHT:

– By way of preface to my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer, I point out that early in June the Treasurer, when tabling the Hulme report on depreciation, announced that the special 20 per cent, initial depreciation concession for primary producers would be continued for a year after its’ expiry date on the 30th June, 1955. There was no reference to this important and imaginative taxation concession in the budget proposals, and that fact has given rise to doubts in the minds of primary producers concerning the position. Is an amendment of the Income Tax Assessment Act contemplated in the near future, along the lines of the Treasurer’s statement? If so, will the Minister inform the Senate when he expects such amending legislation to be introduced ?

Senator SPOONER:

– I am not able to say whether it is necessary to introduce a bill into the Parliament to extend the period of the allowance mentioned by the honorable senator for a period of twelve months, but there has been a Government decision that the concession period will be extended.

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Senator BENN:

– My question arises from that asked a few minutes ago by Senator Wedgwood. Will the Minister for National Development supply me with a statement showing how the economic rental for houses controlled by State housing commissions is calculated?

Senator SPOONER:

– The honorable senator can obtain that information from the Commonwealth-State housing legislation. The act contains the agreement, and the agreement sets out the formula. I cannot supply the details offhand because they are too technical.

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Senator SEWARD:

– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture by saying that, in May last, the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture obtained for the information of senators copies of a report issued by a trade and business delegation which visited SouthEast Asia, and stated that the commercial results of the mission would be shown in the order hooks of the business members. I ask the Minister whether, in view of the fact that the trade mission to South - East Asian countries last year was organized and led by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, he can give any details of increased business that has resulted from that mission. If not, will the .Minister endeavour to obtain such figures for guidance when arranging for similar missions to other countries?

Senator McLEAY:

– I shall be pleased to obtain the information for the honorable senator.

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Senator MATTNER:

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army whether action can be taken to review the national service training legislation. Honorable senators may be aware that when a national service trainee has completed 90 days of service he becomes liable for further varying periods of training in subsequent years, and this has caused extreme hardship in some cases. It appears that no provision is contained in the act to empower the Minister or the commanding officer or the training officer to grant a trainee exemption from further service. Will the Minister ascertain whether it is possible to amend the act to provide for exemptions in cases of hardship? Not many of these cases have arisen - in South Australia I am informed that the number would not run into double figures - but the act provides no means of relief.

Senator SPOONER:

– I will bring the subject of the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for the Army.

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Senator ASHLEY:

– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and concerns the coal industry, which earlier he dealt with at length in an endeavour to bring great credit to the Menzies Government. Is it not a fact that coal at the reduced price was available to Victoria and South Australia until the Menzies Government, through the intervention of the Prime Minister, and probably of the Minister for National Development who, no doubt, the Prime Minister would have taken along with him, directed the appointment of a committee, which resulted in the price of coal being fixed so as to yield 6s. a ton net profit, irrespective of the quality or quantity of coal mined? Is it not also a fact that this rise in the price of coal at that time has contributed greatly to inflation and the high cost of living in this country to-day?

Senator SPOONER:

– I know that it is very trying, indeed, for the honorable senator to find the coal-mining industry so prosperous, with so little unemployment and developing rapidly and soundly. It is an interesting fact that, since the beginning of this year, coal has been one of the few commodities of which the prices have not increased. We are now getting better coal, in greater quantity, at reasonable prices. I know that that is a sad trial to the honorable senator; nevertheless, the facts speak for themselves.

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– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer make an early, comprehensive statement concerning Australia’s reported entry into the World Finance Corporation, an instrumentality of the United Nations? In so doing, will he set out details of the financial structure of that organization, the extent of Australia’s participation, and the terms on which loans will be made to applicant countries ?

Senator SPOONER:

– I am pretty certain that the decision of the Government to go into that corporation needs to be supported by legislation. If I am correct on that point, then legislation will be brought down during the current sessional period to deal with it. However, in case I am incorrect in saying that, I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper and I shall see what information can be obtained for him.

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The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.

  1. M. McMullin). - I draw the attention of honorable senators to this matter of questions which obviously cannot be answered straight away by the Ministers concerned. Would it not be better if honorable senators were to place such questions on the notice-paper ? I think that the adoption of that course would lead to better replies to questions. It is obviously unfair to expect Ministers to give immediate replies to some questions that are asked. On the other hand, if notice is given of questions of that kind, the Ministers concerned will have an opportunity to prepare replies. The adoption of that practice would also avoid the asking of questions of the “Dorothy Dix” type. I do not think that it is wise to ask questions of that kind. It is only necessary for honorable senators to give notice of those questions the day before, and Ministers can then obtain the necessary information. I ask honorable senators to apply their minds to tightening up the asking of questions.

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Senator BENN:

asked the Attorney-

General, upon notice -

  1. Has the Attorney-General discussed with his officers the question as to whether State Governments can effectively grant, by legislation, long service leave to Commonwealth employees and to employees whose employment is governed by Commonwealth awards?
  2. If he has not discussed such question with his officers, will he do so and inform me at a later date of the conclusion reached?
Senator SPICER:
Attorney-General · VICTORIA · LP

– The following answer is now supplied : -

It is not customary to give, in reply to a question in the chamber, opinions on questions of law and particularly questions of constitutional law. The matter raised by the honorable senator has, however, engaged the attention of my department in view of recent High Court proceedings.

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Discharge of Motions

Motion (by Senator O’Byrne) - by leave - agreed to.

That the following orders of the day, General Business, be discharged: -

No. 2. - Water supply storage system, Canberra -Report of Public Works Committee - Adjourned debate on the motion that the report be adopted.

No. 3. - New bridge over MolongloRiver, Canberra - Report of Public Works Committee - Adjourned debate on the motion that the report be adopted.

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Debate resumed from the 7th September (vide page 66), on motion by Senator Spooner -

That the following papers be printed: -

Estimates of Receipts and. Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and other Services involving Capital Expenditure for the year ending the 30th June, 1956.

The Budget 1955-56 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Sir Arthur Fadden on the occasion of the Budget of 1955-56.

National Income and Expenditure 1954-55.


.- Mr. President, the budget debate allows all honorable senators very wide scope. They may discuss, not only the budget, but various other matters in which they are interested. At the outset of my remarks I want to give an answer to Senator Guy, because it is rather annoying to sit here for the second time during a budget debate and listen to his dissertation on pensions. If there is any man in this Senate who should say the least about pensions, it is Senator Guy. One has only to peruse the Hansard reports of the years 1930 and 1931 to see that Senator Guy’s name appears among those who voted in the divisions for a reduction of pensions. I am not saying whether he was right or wrong at that time, but it is rather nauseating to hear him make these statements during every budget debate. I regret that he is not present in the chamber.

I listened with great interest to the speech of Senator Cole. I enjoyed it. I regret that he did not tell the Senate the causes of our present position, and that he did not go on to say how we could get out of our present trouble.

Senator Ashley:

– He does not know !


– I shall not pass any opinion as to that. I enjoyed his speech, and any interjections that I made were for the purpose of seeking information from a man to whom I give credit for at least spending some time in preparing his speech. But I think all honorable senators can say with honesty that he gave no indication of the cause of our present position, nor did he submit, a remedy. But at least I can congratulate him on making an informative speech.

This budget debate gives to honorable members an opportunity to study the speech of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and also that of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). The main theme in both speeches was the fear of further inflation. Senator Guy made use of an interesting: phrase when he said that inflation was showing its head. In my opinion, inflation in this country has shown its head for so long that, like Senator Ashley’s head, which has been so long in the open, it is almost devoid of hair. At all events, inflation has been showing its head for quite a long time, and to my mind it is rather late in the day for a responsible Minister to rise in his place in this Parliament and express fears regarding it. Inflation is a fact in our midst. If we cast our minds backs to the election of 1949, we will recall that candidates representing the parties now in office promised to put value back into the £1. Unfortunately, the people of this country know only too well that, far from value being put back into the £1, the value of the £1 has receded. If we take 1939 as a base year, statistics reveal that in 1949 the £1 was worth only 14s. 7d. ; and to-day its value is less than 7s.

Senator Mattner:

– I am prepared to give the honorable senator 7 s. for every £1 he has.


– It is well to seek the causes of inflation. Whether the Government believes it or not, it is impossible to have a planned economy in any country unless governments and people are prepared to have controls, however much they may dislike controls. It is fundamental that a country cannot afford to allow its people to spend their money in the production of luxury goods at a time when the necessaries of life, including housing and shelter, are in short supply.

Senator Wedgwood:

– The honorable senator is rather bitter.


– I suggest that Senator Wedgwood should keep on reading whatever is before her, and not make foolish interjections. We would then get on better. I do not feel bitter, but I do feel disappointed about some things. I hold strong views. They may be right or they may be wrong; but if I think I am right in holding those views I go for them. However, I do not entertain much bitterness against others.

In my opinion, the problems that confront us as a nation have been caused largely by the people who support the political views of the Government now in office. The problems facing us relate largely to the disposal of our primary products and the export of our surpluses. Those problems have arisen largely because the Government and its supporters lifted controls over land prices, or at least condoned the lifting of controls in that and other spheres. With the price of land what it is in Australia to-day, how can we expect to sell our surplus products overseas? We .have surpluses available for disposal.

For instance, we have at the present time at least 90,000,000 bushels of surplus wheat in storage. Only yesterday the Minister for National Development introduced a bill to authorize the provision of storage for wheat that we cannot sell. An expenditure of about £3,500,000 is involved. The trouble is that that legislation will not solve the problem, because next year we shall probably have a further 90,000,000 bushels, or perhaps 100,000,000 bushels, of wheat as a carry-over. I do not agree that ~we shall find in Eastern countries markets for our surplus wheat. I agree with the senator from Queensland who said yesterday, by way of interjection, that the people of Asian countries prefer rice to wheat, and eat wheat only when they cannot get rice. Perhaps, it would be ‘worth while to do with wheat what the manufacturers of cigarettes in America did in China many years ago. They sent a number of aeroplanes over the country to drop millions of cigarettes. According to a report in an American journal, their purpose was to get the people of China into the habit of smoking cigarettes, and in that way to build up for themselves a market for cigarettes in China. Why is it that wheat has got out of control as an export from Australia ? The only reason is that the price is too high. What has caused that rise in the price of wheat? One of the main causes is the lifting of controls on the prices of wheat lands.

If the control of land prices is lifted, it is lifted also in the case of land used for other purposes. I predict that we shall continue to be in trouble over wheat. Already, 10s. a bushel has been paid to growers of the 90,000,000 bushels of wheat now being held, and I understand that they have been guaranteed 14s. lid. a bushel for that wheat. What is the Government going to do next year ? The Government and .its supporters, both in the Parliament and outside, are not prepared, because of their political views, to do away with controls. They claim to believe in freedom of action. We all do, and that policy is all right up to a point; but “whether it is in the interests of the people generally to do away with controls is another thing. It cannot be denied that many controls are in operation to-day, despite our love of freedom. When the price of wheat land jumps from £20 an acre to £50 and to even .£54 an .acre, as it has done in the Wimmera district of Victoria, a man who buys land at that price cannot hope to produce wheat at the price obtainable in the world’s markets. Unfortunately, he cannot find markets for his wheat at a price that will be satisfactory to him. We can do one or two things. Either we can adopt the Government’s policy and leave things alone while we wait for something to turn up, or we can. wait until there is a drought in other wheat producing countries. Another alternative would be to subsidize exports of wheat.

Senator Spooner:

– The price is not what is making it difficult to sell wheat.


– Oh, yes it is. This Government could have signed the International Wheat Agreement and taken 18s. a bushel. It held out for 18s. 5d., and now it has wheat -on its hands. We have an estimated exportable surplus of possibly 120,000,000 bushels, and .the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has said that the price of wheat has nothing to do with the problem. What is the Government going to do with the surplus? Does it propose to continue to store it? How long can it continue to do so? If Australia put wheat on to the world markets at 10s. a bushel, neither the Minister nor anybody else could claim truthfully that we would not be able to sell it.

Honorable senators on both sides of the House agree that the farmers are entitled to the best return they can get for the capital and labour they put into the production of wheat, just as honorable senators on the Opposition side believe that those who have only their labour to sell should get a fair return for it. Either the Government must retain the surplus on its hands and wait for something to turn up or it must subsidize the export of wheat. The Minister for National Development has said that the price of wheat has nothing to do with ability to sell it. I do not think he believes that.

Senator Spooner:

– The problem of wheat is not one of price, but of bounteous seasons and tremendous production throughout the world. Every other wheat-producing country is in the same position.


– I disagree with the Minister. I say the problem is one of price. I do not believe that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) would support the Minister for National Development in his contention that we could not sell all the wheat we have in store on the world’s markets if we offered it at a price that buyers would pay. I do not believe that the comparatively small quantity of 90,000,000 bushels would greatly affect export markets of wheat.

Senator Pearson:

– What would happen if the United States of America and Canada had the same idea?


– The quantity of wheat that we have available would not interfere greatly with the surplus of other nations. I believe that the Government wanted to curry favour. It said that the Australian Labour party wanted to retain controls while the Government wanted to lift them. I can only say that the Government will reap the whirlwind. It is true that we can sell our butter overseas, but at what price? We are selling Australian butter totalling about 85,000 tons - about 31 per cent, of our production - at a loss if 96s. a cwt. on the cost of production. I do not want to repeat the weary story of dried fruits. We have almost to give them away on the export market, and I respectfully suggest to those in charge of that industry that they might do much better if they tried to sell more dried fruits on the home market. We can forget about eggs so far as the export trade is concerned. If wool price? maintain the trend of the past few weeks we shall all be in trouble. Nobody want? it.

We do not want to return to the year, when all our people, and not only the primary producers, suffered economic hardships. The Government has created the current problem. It would not face the facts. It wanted to give controls away, and the problem is in its lap. The people expect the Government to show them a way out of their troubles. With Government supporters, I hope that we can get out of them. We can either wail for a drought in other wheat-producing countries - and that is tempting Providence too far - or the Government can give the primary producers an export subsidy. I shall be asked, of course, “ Where is the money coming from ? “ I am one of those who always asks others how they are going to do things. My reply is that, as much as we may not like taxation, there is still room to tax people and the companies. It will not harm the companies. I do not think that any honorable senator on the other side is proud of the Government’s effort last year in reducing company taxation. One firm in Victoria thereby’ saved £1,000,000. That reminds me of a rather interesting episode. Two days before General Motors-Holden’s Limited announced its £10,000,000 profit for this year the Melbourne Herald had an article on their front page, together with photographs - it always looks after its big advertisers - disclosing that the managing director of the firm had given £30,000 to the Melbourne University. To the average person, that seems a fairly large contribution but when one does a little arithmetic he finds that of the £10,000,000 profit that donation was only one-third of 1 per cent. If that is not attempting, at least, to throw dust in the eyes of the people, I do not know what is. Money could be obtained from that source.

How long is it expected that these granaries will be necessary for the storage of wheat? I have listened with great pleasure to the manner in which the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator McLeay), who represents the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in this chamber, answers some of the questions put to him. He is an old hand at the game. He has amused me at times, but I give him credit for the way he handles his answers. He, surely, would not refer to good seasons in the United States of America, Canada or even in Russia. One is nearly frightened to mention Russia for fear of being called a “ Comm “ ; but, of course, that is just rubbish. It is up to the Minister to find out what should be done.

What happened after the last budget? Three days after its presentation the arbitration court suspended the quarterly adjustments of the basic wage. We have always been told that the uplift of wages brings about inflation, but since the Government has pegged our wages, have things improved? This is the first time since I have been a member of the Senate that we have been told that inflation is the trouble. The Government did peg our wages.

Senator Guy:

– The court pegged wages.


– It is true that the court pegged wages, but honorable senators on the other side agreed with what the court did even though they may not have had the courage to say so openly. I think that is a fair statement. Their attitude was that if wages were pegged everything would be all right and their political backers would be able to reap the harvest while the workers would have to tighten their belts. Irrespective of what any honorable senator opposite says, when a worker pays his rent and supports his wife and even one child at a normal standard of living, his £15, or £16, a week does not go very far.

Honorable senators opposite thought that having pegged wages, that would be the solution. There has been in recent months an increase in margins, but apart from that, the status quo has been maintained so far as wages are concerned. The white paper presented by the Government shows that wages and salaries, including payments to the forces, have risen by 5£ per cent. Total wages, not individual wages, have risen to that degree. Every one knows, of course, that a number of young people leaving school have entered industry, and I suggest that that h per cent, increase is due entirely to the increase in the number of people now in employment. I have already said that workers are finding it tremendously hard to carry on. In fact, it is practically impossible for a person to rear a family, however small, unless he is fortunate enough to work overtime. If penalty rates do not boost his purchasing power, it may be that his wife is working part of the day. I am one, however old-fashioned I may appear, who refused, even during war-time, in spite of the opinion of some responsible Ministers, to be a party to women, with children to care for, going into munition factories until it could be proved that every single person was engaged in industry. I adopted that stand then, and I adhere to it now. A married woman’s place is in her home. If she is not prepared to stay in it, she ought not to get married. However, I do not want to go into the complications of that subject. The Treasurer said that the workers must spend less. That is a most remarkable statement. Single persons may have an excess of purchasing power, but it is fantastic to make that general statement. I do not like time payment. I have never agreed with it. I believe in the old saying that if you earn £1 in a week and spend 19s. 9d. of it you will be happy, but if you spend £1 Os. 3d. you will be unhappy. I endorse what was said by Senator McKenna to the effect that in these days people are entitled to have what science has made it possible for them to have, such as washing machines and refrigerators. If this Government does not approve the activities of the sharks and hawks - for that is what they are - it should take some action. How can the Government expect ordinary persons to put £100, £200, or £500 into a Commonwealth loan when at any time they can see half-page advertisements in the press asking them, for money on behalf of hire-purchase finance concerns, and offering very high rates of interest? If the Government wants to reduce the amount spent on hire-purchase it should consider that aspect of the matter.

I suggest that if the Government goes to the people in December, it should remember what I have said. I want the Government to go on the hustings in December, because I want the people to clean out of the Parliament those who got here under false colours and are now afraid to face the people. If the people want to re-elect them to office under another banner, that will be quite satisfactory to me, but I do not like those who masquerade under false political colours. I want to see a general election, and the Government can have it as soon as it likes as far as I am concerned.

Senator Wright:

– The honorable senator wants it in order to complete his caucus dissolution.


– I want a general election so that Senator Wright and his colleagues will have to go out and tell the people what they propose to do to stop the roof from being blown off the economic structure of this country. And I warn them that that will not be an easy task. I smile when I hear the Government telling us that we are consuming too much, although I do believe there is a gap between consumption and production. However, I do not think that we shall be able to avoid our troubles by consuming less, because the White Paper shows that our production has increased during recent years by about 33 per cent. The Government does not seem to worry about how much is taken by industry as profits and how much is put back into further expansion of industry; but, if the Government exercised control in the interests of the nation, we should remain in the position that we are in now.

I shall now deal with some of the individual items in the White Paper. It is true that the Government will increase some classes of pensions by 10s. a week. The age, the invalid and the war widows’ pensions are all to be increased by that amount. I do not want to be accused of making political capital out of the un fortunate position of other people, but I say, with respect, that the granting of an increase of 10s. a week is the very least that the Government could have done. 1 am not worried about pensioners who are at the limit of the means, test, I am worried about the 78 per cent., or SO per cent, of pensioners who have nothing but their pensions. Surely their plight must worry the Government also. To-day inflation is on the march, but the Government is asking those persons to live on £4 a week. The least I can say about that attitude is that honorable senators opposite are pretty mean.

The budget does nothing for the family man. For example, child endowment has not been increased. Senator Paltridge, or one of his colleagues, has stated that the Labour party opposed this Government’s proposal to pay endowment in respect of the first child in each family, and it is quite true we did oppose that, proposition. However, we had a very valid reason for doing so. Child endowment was first introduced in order to prevent a tremendous increase of the basic wage, and thus save industry from having to meet greatly increased costs of production. Labour opposed endowment being awarded in respect of the first, child,, because we considered that the same thing would happen again, and that the first child would be left out of the computation of the basic wage. Before child endowment, the basic wage was computed on the basis of a man, wife and three children. After all children except the first were endowed, it was computed on the basis of a man, wife and one child. We considered it logical that if the first child were endowed, the basic wage would be computed on the basis of a man and wife only. However, although I would not say that the Government had any influence with the court - God forbid - for reasons best known to the court itself, it took one action in respect of child endowment when it was first introduced and a completely different action when child endowment was introduced for the first child. We have no regrets for the stand that we took. The Government should have had some regard for the wants of the family man. For the moment I have forgotten the amount appropriated for immigration. I am not opposed to immigration, but the Government would do better to help our own people.

I ask any honorable senator opposite what chance his son or mine has to marry in the present economy. To buy a fiveroom wooden house with furniture in Victoria would cos’t him £5,000 or £6,000, and if it were brick, an extra £1,000. People advise young persons to leave home and make - their own lives, but with the economic position as it is to-day, and no one knowing what might happen within the next six months, what young fellow would want to incur a debt of £5,000 or £6,000 ? I should be the last to attempt, either by voice or deed, to hurt the economy of this nation, but we must face facts. This Government has never blotted out of our minds what it did to the people between the years 1932 and 1935. It took our homes from us and broke our hearts. The loss of a small amount of money could be borne, but the loss of a home is too heavy a blow. I do not care what people may call me - even if they label me a “ Commo “ - I will ally myself with anybody in this country to prevent such bungling of the economic position as would result in decent young people finding themselves on the scrap heap with their homes gone. Honorable senators should at least agree that the homes of the people ought to be saved. We have a duty to those who have to carry on in the future. That is why I wondered why the Government had not increased child endowment. Honorable senators are aware how much the child endowment would purchase when first it was provided, compared with to-day.

How long will the Government allow private firms to make fortunes out of hospital benefit schemes ? I am not speaking of friendly societies, but honorable senators must have read in the press the profits that some insurance companies and other concerns are making out of these schemes.

Senator Kendall:

– They are not making anything.


– The honorable senator says they are not making anything.

Senator Kendall:

– Who is making a profit ?


– They are ali making profits.

Senator Wright:

– Why did the honorable senator call them “ private firms “ ?


– Are they not, in the main, private firms? I excluded friendly societies. Would Senator Wright say that no private firm or company that has interested itself in one of these benefit schemes is reaping profits out of it?

Senator Kendall:

– Which firm does the honorable senator mean?


– I am including them all. It is time that honorable senators opposite had the courage to deal with them. Obviously, the Government will not look after people when they are sick by providing free hospital treatment, for them, but it does not mind handing to its backers, such as General MotorsHolden’s Limited and others, a coo! £1,000,000, as it did last year, and £2,000,000 this year. If I remember correctly, last night my leader said thai the average contribution to a hospital fund was about £15 a year, and the least the Government should do is to increase the benefits to the contributor rather than allow private companies to make huge profits. Honorable senators opposite well know that one cannot afford to become sick to-day, irrespective of one’s circumstances. I understand that in New South Wales hospital charges are to. be doubled, and it is possible that that will happen in Victoria, also. As one who has taken some interest in one of the hospitals in Victoria, I know that it is a work of art to gain admittance to it as a patient. Then, after gaining admittance, the patient has to pay 18s. 6d. a day, and in some States that fee is to be doubled. Where will it end?

The budget has nothing to say about, sales tax. That has just been allowed to continue. Is that because the Government considers that the people arc consuming too much? No mention is made of petrol tax; that is retained. It is true that last year the Government gave something to the States from this source, and it is holding in reserve a measly £7,000,000. In Victoria, statistics snow that there is one car to every four and a half persons. I shall not venture an opinion whether that is wise. Unless a motor car can earn part of its owner’s income, even here, it is an expensive toy. But the average young person reasons this way: “Why should I. commit myself to an obligation of between £4,000 and £6,000 for a house, on which T shall have to pay interest? At 5 per cent, on £5,000 I would have to pay £250 a year, as well as repayment of principal. Let the future look after itself; [ would rather buy a motor car “. My advice to one who is very dear to me was this, “Any fool can get a motor car, but it takes a wise man to keep it. running”.

Senator WRIGHT:
TASMANIA · LP; IND from June 1978

– Did the honorable senator suggest to him that the foolishness of his father was partly responsible for such a state of affairs?


– No, because that would not have been correct. Members of the honorable senator’s party have said that the present economic troubles are all due to high wages and the shorter working week. A new theme bas been introduced by an honorable senator opposite. He has said, “We must get together and work harder “. All that honorable senators have to do is read the financial press in any State of the Commonwealth and have a look at the profits that are being made. But profits are not to be touched at all.

Now I want to say something about the expenditure side of the budget. Senator Cole said last night, in answer to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), that if we curtailed the defence of this country it would be a crime. Senator Paltridge said that Labour was hopeless in defence. We certainly disproved that in 1941. At that time, the nation was in danger, and although the present Government parties had a majority in both Houses of the Parliament, they could not do anything about defence. Instead, they got out of office, and they will never be able to live down that fact.

Senator Wood:

– Rubbish !


– That is the truth. Despite that, honorable senators opposite have the audacity to say that we of the Labour party are hopeless in defence. Last year, the Government allocated £200,000,000 for defence purposes. If I remember correctly, it spent only £178,000,000. This year defence expenditure has been cut down to £190,000,000. I want it cut down to £150,000,000 at most. It is up to the Government to give us an itemized account of how that money has been spent. The people who, in the main, support the Government parties, supply the money, whilst the people who, in the main, support us, put in their blood. 1 ask the Government to tell us on what that money has been spent.

The newest defence project of the Government is the proposal to send forces to Malaya. That is just a joke. The Government should not think that the people of the country support the proposal. First of all, the Government said, “ We shall send troops to Malaya to beat the terrorists “. To-day’s Canberra Times states, “ Malayan troops’ role may be modified if amnesty plan succeeds “. In view of that, why is it still proposed to send the forces there? On the one hand, the Government boasts about the Colombo plan, with which no one disagrees, and about which no one ever raises the question of how much money goes into it, because it is for the purpose of trying to improve the living standards of the Asian people, and on the other hand, the Government has decided to send troops to Malaya. Perhaps that policy can be described properly as a “ shandy “, a mixture. We are going to help the people of South-East Asia on the one hand, and on the other, we are going to send troops there.

It has been suggested to me by somebody who ought to know that if the Labour party knew the reason that prompted the decision to send troops to Malaya it would support the proposal. That person at least agreed that we of the Labour party believe in safeguarding Australia as much as do other people in the community - no more, but certainly no less. If that is the position, then why should not the Government tell us the reason for the troops being there?

La my opinion, it is a most stupid decision for any government to make in peacetime. If the position in Malaya improves and the terrorist activities fold up, so that there are no terrorists to terrorize, what are our troops going to do there?

Some people look to the East, and all they are able to say is, “ The Comms are coming “. My answer to them is, “ If you breed Communists in the conditions of the East, how can you expect the position to be otherwise?” If my wife and children were hungry, I should certainly advocate any proposal which would give them bread, and I do not think I am the only one who would do so. In Italy, at the last general election, 9,000,000 Italians did so. They voted for Communist candidates. I am amazed to think that the Government will not tell us why it is sending forces to Malaya, and what is behind the proposal. Is it that the Government does not trust the Opposition as far as the safety of the country is concerned? Surely that mistrust wa3 obliterated, if it needed to be, from 1941 to 1946.’ I cannot help wondering on what this sum of £190,000,000 will be spent. I hope - and I say this so that it may be conveyed to my friend, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) - that the sooner the defence forces, whether they be Navy, Army or Air, get out of Albert Park, the better I. shall like it. That is our park and the defence services should vacate it. We do not want their rent.

Could not some of this money allocated for defence purposes be used to construct roads? If that were done, at least we should see something for the money. During World War II. great trouble was caused by lack of roads, and had it not been for the Allied Works Council, how would our forces have got to the north of Australia? The States cannot, without Commonwealth help, put their railways into the condition in which they should be, and it cannot be denied that railways are useful for defence purposes. Therefore, why cannot some of this money, at least, be spent in that way? In my opinion, the Government is overspending. Honorable senators who have had experience in the settling of industrial disputes know that the principle “Keep them talking “ is a very good one. Now we have the Big Four talking. I am not going to say, and I. do not wish to imply for one moment, that out of those talks will come all that we wish, but no one has any right to say that the talks may not represent the beginning of a peaceful era for the world.

I read a statement reported to have been made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). .1 do not wish to be unfair to the right honorable gentleman, but I do not consider him to be one of the notable people of the world, and in my opinion his statement on the outcome of the Big Four meeting did not do credit to his country. I believe that all nations are frightened of what science has given them in the way of atomic power.- I do not care whether we have peace through fear or, better still, peace through decent understanding between the peoples of the world. All I want is peace. I say that it is not necessary to-day to spend so much money on defence and to deny this huge sum of £190,000,000 to those who need it much more. I doubt whether the Government will spend as much as that on defence this year. However, I do not wish to get into a controversy with somebody else, and I do not disagree with the manner in which the Government proposes to deal with its surplus. I hope that at least the Government will face realities, irrespective of political consequences. After all, there are more important questions than that of who sits on this side of the Senate and who on that. We all have a duty to this nation, which we love. The Government does not know how to remedy the present situation. Supporters of the Government are merely telling us something that we have been telling them for years. The Government has got us into this trouble, and it is the Government’s responsibility to get us out of it.


– I rise to support the budget presented by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). As Senator Kennelly told us at the beginning of his speech, and as he so convincingly proved, the budget gives us an opportunity to discuss the many and varied aspects of government administration throughout the year. Senator

Kennelly dealt at length with the subject of wheat. Quite frankly, I do not know the wheat-farmers in my State, and I shall not deal with that side of the honorable senator’s speech. However, I was somewhat nettled, surprised and disappointed to hear Senator Kennelly, in his tirade on defence, imply that the supporters of the Government had the money for defence spent on them, and that they provided money for defence, but that the supporters of the Opposition were those who spilled their blood in defence. That is a very wrong and lying statement. If one studies the various parliaments in the Commonwealth to-day, either upper house or lower house, one finds that in the great majority of cases those who are privileged to- wear ex-servicemen’s badges support the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. That shows one thing quite clearly to Senator Kennelly. It is that in those parties are a greater number of people who have offered to shed their blood than are elected to represent the Labour party. I believe that the honorable senator’s remarks form part of a very bitter and deeply ingrained class war, which has been so often waged by Labour politicians in recent years. Senator Kennelly says these things in order to breed hatred and dislike, to make the working class feel that the capitalists are sending them out to shed their blood. I would like to see the Labour party emerge, at least to someextent, from its present troubles, and, therefore, I say to the members of that party that they should realize that a far greater number of what they call workers, and what I call trade unionists, are supporting the non-Labour cause throughout Australia to-day than Labour members ever dreamed of. It would do Labour politicians and their cause the world of good if they adopted a more Christian outlook and stopped this class hatred. Honorable senators opposite have been aware of that feeling in their own caucus, and it exists throughout all the Labour party branches. But never let it be said or believed by any Labour man that the people on this side of the Senate arc not great supporters of the active defenders of this country.

Senator Kennelly criticized the sending of troops to Malaya. There are not many public men who will stand up and criticize the sending of troops and air forces toMalaya. One of the wisest Premiers inAustralia, Mr. Robert Cosgrove, supportsthe Government’s policy in this regard, asdoes his Minister for Immigration; andthe Labour caucus in that State does nol dare to oppose them, because it knowsthat the people of Australia are in favour of the policy of sending this token, strategic force to Malaya. In the matter of defence, the Labour party has never yet known where it was going, or how i( would get there. Senator Kennelly’s remarks, I believe, are an open admission of one of Labour’s greatest faults inmatters of defence. He said that the Big Four are having talks and that there are signs that peace will reign for a considerable time. They are only vaguesigns, however, and I believe that if Senator Kennelly and his section of theLabour party were in power, his policy on defence would be so vacillating that hewould start to cancel the things that arebeing done now, and then as the clouds of war commenced to gather he would1 have to try to pull the threads together again. Supporters of this Government can at least take pride in the fact that, as regards the defence of this country., what was a wreckage when we assumed’ office in 1949 has been restored gradually as a modern force, which is proving that it can be developed upon gradual and’ correct lines and be ready for operation if called upon.

Senator Kennelly dealt with inflation. He spoke of some of the problems confronting this nation, and no one will denythat those problems exist. He was within his rights in speaking of them. But in his remarks was the implication that this country was not happy, that it was in grave economic danger, and that for that reason if an election were held the Government would be swept from office. J remind the honorable senator that although the public memory is said to be short, it is a better memory than his, and that when the people have to decide whether this Government should continue in office they cannot help remembering the period between 1946 and 1949. They must remember black markets, shortages, rationing, discontent and fear, and the threat of socialization, and they will compare the evils of those days with the conditions existing to-day, when obviously there is prosperity, full employment and unparalleled development. There is greater and more lasting development of many of our essential industries at present than there has been iri any period of our history. Although the honorable senator says that he wants an election, I do not believe that he really thinks that the people will change the Government. If he wants an early election, it is only in order to help resolve the difficulties in hi3 own party. He was the leader of the band in Victoria recently when an election was held in that State which resulted in a sweeping victory for the Liberal party.

I am the first to admit that we have problems. There are problems of costs in Australia to-day. I shall produce some interesting and authoritative figures which will give the Senate some idea of the reason why shipping costs have risen.

Sitting suspended from 12.1/-5 to 2.15 p.m.


– I propose to cite some authoritative figures to show some of the reasons why we suffer from high freights and high shipping costs. They are of particular importance to Tasmania because they affect the cost of living and the livelihood of its people, lt is my belief that a good and fair wage should be paid for a fair day’s work. I also believe that adequate payment should be made to those who have to accept responsibility. I also favour the payment of margins for skill. But what is the position on the vessels plying in Australian waters? The Australian Shipping Board operates a number of “ I) “ class vessels between Tasmania and the mainland, and for the period of eleven months ended the 31st March, 1955, the average income of the 37 members of the crew of one of these vessels was £.1,480. The highest paid member of the crew was the donkey man, who in that period drew £2,430. The next on the list was the second engineer, who received £2,275. Following him, came the chief engineer who was paid £1,899. The next highest paid member of the crew was the chief cook, who received £1,785. Continuing down the list we come to the master of the vessel, the man who is on duty 24 hours a day and has to accept full responsibility for all that happens on board the vessel he commands. The master has far more responsibility every 24 hours than most men in industry have, yet he is only eighth on the list as regards salaries. He drew £1,525 for that period of eleven months. That was only £40 above the average payment made to the 37 members of the crew, the lowest paid member of which was a deck boy who received £556. A lot of the time taken up by honorable senators during this debate so far has been devoted to the subject of wages, and rightly so, but 1 suggest that the figures I have cited show clearly that there should be some inquiry, and real action, in connexion with such a state of affairs. I am. told that a similar position exists on all the freighters plying on the Australian coast. However, I shall not develop the subject further because I wish to refer to a number of other matters.

I shall leave my remarks regarding pensions until measures to give effect to decisions of the Government come before us. Nor do I propose to deal now with items of government expenditure, because I am sure that the Minister in charge of the debate will allow honorable senators plenty of opportunity to say what they want to say, and to ask for information, during the debate in committee on the Estimates. Those things can wait. Onereason why I am proud to be a supporterof the present Government, and of themajor aspects of its policy, is that theGovernment is on the ball all the time and is doing great work for Australia. I referparticularly to its attitude towards the defence of Australia^ concerning which I have already spoken in reply to SenatorKennelly’s remarks. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and othermembers of the Cabinet are doing an. excellent job for Australia in relation toforeign affairs. It cannot be denied that Australia’s name abroad, especially in the countries to the near north and east of Australia, is higher now than when the present Government came into office in 1949. That is due solely to the statesmanlike approach of the Minister for External Affairs, the Prime Minister, and other members of the Cabinet towards international affairs.

Australia’s banking policy must be watched carefully, and I believe that the Government is not only capable of doing that, but is willing, and even eager, to do so. Earlier, I commended the Government for its initiative in matters affecting the development of Australia during the last five years. I referred particularly to the search for oil and uranium. Should any member of the party now in Opposition claim in time to come that the Labour party played its part in helping to develop the oil refining industry of Australia, I tell them now that if the Labour party had been returned to office in 1949 there would not have been the exploration for oil, or the establishment of oil refineries, in Australia to-day.

Senator O’Byrne:

– Nor would there have been so many speculators or racketeers.


– Those developments have taken place because of the change of government in 1949. Persons and companies with money and the necessary knowledge were prepared to act because they knew that, for a time at least, there was no fear of the socialization of their enterprises. A measure of the success of the Government’s search for national wealth and its new approach to industry is afforded by the words of the managing director of the company which has had some success in the search for oil. After the discovery of oil in Western Australia, he said -

The nationalization policy of the Australian Government seven years ago delayed the discovery of oil in Australia. In 1946, we did not have the amount of risk money or the knowledge to search for oil in Australia. A Californian company was on the point of providing the money when Australia’s nationalization policy became news. The Californian executive immediately drew out saying he had lost 20 million dollars through nationalization in Mexico. We could not interest American, Canadian or British Companies in the Exmouth Gulf prospect.

That extract is clear proof that the election to office of the present Government, and its policy, have encouraged the development of Australia. In addition to giving effect to the major items of its policy for the good of the nation, the Government has done a lot of which the public, and even honorable senators, are not aware. The Government has great responsibility in administration in addition to its legislative responsibility. It also has great powers. I do not say that the previous government also did not do well in the administrative sphere.

I wish now to refer to the subject of civil aviation. Australian airways are an example to the world in safety, service, and modern aircraft. This Government has spent millions of pounds in the provision of safety measures, improving aerodromes, and encouraging both government-owned and private air companies to provide the most efficient service to Australia. Because of these things, Australia is becoming one of the most air-minded countries in the world. These services are of great value to Australia.

I am glad to say that the Government has also shown initiative in connexion with its administration of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. During the five years that it has been in office postal services and communications have been greatly expanded. I remind honorable senators that the Post Office is the biggest business undertaking in Australia to-day. People are still needing services. That need will always remain in an expanding economy like Australia’s but’ the fact is that, in five years, 549 new post offices have been opened, more than 300,000 new telephone subscribers have been connected to the system, and more than 640 automatic telephone exchanges have been installed. Each week, some progress with developmental work is reported in the press, and I pay a tribute, not only to the Government, but also to employees of the department from the top to the bottom for the excellent work they are doing in developing these services throughout Australia.

The Postal Department is in an extraordinary position. Directly it installs a telephone in a street, it receives requests for more telephones from nearby residents. When it provides new trunk-line channels, such as those between Hobart and Launceston, subscribers get a “ hold-the-line “ service, but within a few months, delays begin, because business people and the public generally realize that a good service is available and use it more. Therefore, the Postal Department is faced with the extraordinary position that the better the service it provides, the more calls it has upon its services. From a budgetary point of view, of course, that is of great assistance.

Senator Kennelly spoke disparagingly of the medical benefits scheme. He implied that private firms were making money out of the premiums paid for medical benefits. I believe I am correct in saying that medical benefits funds all operate on a non-profit-making basis. They are also controlled by government regulation as to the percentage of income that they may spend on administration. This is only a new service, and it has many contributors. Naturally, it must build up reserves from the premiums paid by subscribers so that it will have reserves from which it can pay out benefits as required. If Senator Kennelly’s outlook towards these medical benefits funds is in line with that of any one section of the Australian Labour party, I suggest to the insurance companies of Australia that they should take heed, because they have built up large reserves of funds from the premiums paid by policy holders. Anybody with any business sense knows that persons continue to take out insurance because they know that the companies have been well-conducted, and have built up reserves so that they can meet their commitments.

If the attitude of the Labour party is that the companies must not build up reserves, its policy is suspect. Senator Kennelly said that the Government should not allow private companies to build up reserves. “Why don’t you take them over ? “ he shouted. In other words, the writing is on the wall for the insurance companies, the medical benefits funds and the friendly societies. If a Labour government gets into office, it will socialize them, just as it tried, but without avail, to socialize the banks.

I pay a tribute to the Government for its work in the sphere of social services, not only for the medical benefits scheme which has brought medical care and hospital treatment within the reach of so many subscribers, including families, but for its activity in other avenues of social servicer!. Family men now know that, for a comparatively small outlay, they and their families will receive considerable help in case of illness.

I pay tribute also to the Department of Social Services for its administration of the grant for homes for the aged. Throughout Australia, the aged are being assisted more and more because of the lead given by the Australian Government in making £3,000,000 available on a £l-for-£l basis. Even in the comparatively small State of Tasmania, more than £200,000 is being spent on additional accommodation to house the aged. In these days, when young people are rather prone to forget the aged, homes for the aged are fulfilling a great need. The Government deserves praise for giving this lead, and I pay tribute to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon) for the manner in which the vote is being administered.

Reference has been made during the budget debate to taxation. One section of the Opposition believes that’ taxes should be increased. A spokesman for the other section indicated that, in his opinion, some forms of taxation should be reduced. I believe that the people of Australia will look at the matter more fairly. They will not judge the Government solely upon this budget. They will examine the Government’s record. The history of this Government’s administration proves that the Liberal party’s 1949 slogan, “ We are a tax reduction party “. is genuine. The people will remember, even if the spokesmen for the Opposition forget, that this .Government has abolished land tax and entertainment tax, and greatly curtailed the incidence of the pay-roll tax. Personally, I should like to see that iniquitous tax abolished. It is a heavy charge on industry, and the sooner we are rid of it the better, but for the next twelve months, at least, I am prepared to leave a decision on that matter to the Government and its economic advisers, because I know that if the Government believes it can and should abolish the pay-roll tax, it will do so. The sales tax is still returning considerable revenue to the Treasury, but in previous budgets the incidence of sales tax was progressively reduced. I believe that it should receive further attention in the years to come.

No provision has been made in this budget for a review of income tax. I do not believe that many persons, other than the wealthy, are complaining about the incidence of income tax at present. The Government and the Taxation Branch have an important duty in connexion with income tax. I believe that a Parliament should legislate in such a way that there is no loophole for persons to avoid obeying the. law. Salary and wage earners have no possible way of avoiding the payment of income tax as provided by legislation, but there are many ways of evading income tax in certain businesses and professional undertakings. It is not only dishonest to evade the payment of income tax; it is also terribly selfish. It affects the Government by reducing its income, but it hits harder at the wage-earners and those in the lower salary groups, because the Government must budget for a certain amount of revenue from income tax, and if the tax is evaded, the Government must maintain higher rates. I have discussed this matter with certain persons, and have heard it said that if income tax were paid strictly according to the letter of the law, the Government could reduce the overall incidence of income tax by at least 5 per cent, if not 1 per cent. I wish we could get this opinion abroad and instil into the minds of people who take a covert delight in avoiding taxation that they are robbing not only the Government but also the lower paid workers and the man who is on a salary, whether he be a politician, priest or any other type of salary earner.

The Government has commenced this financial year in a very sound position. It has its problems, but it also has serious work to do in addition to overcoming its economic and other problems. It is mandatory that it should set up a committee to inquire whether or not the Constitution should be amended, and, if so, how it should be amended. The Government has a great responsibility to try to rid us of uniform taxation. This is a subject which seems to come up at budget time and then dies a natural death until there is an election or another budget is presented. It has been interesting to read during the last few days that both a Liberal and a Labour State Premier have talked about the abolition of uniform taxation. It should be the earnest desire of a Liberal-Australian Country party government to abolish this iniquitous system, in which the people who raise the money do not have the responsibility for spending it, and, in reverse, those who spend it have not the responsibility of raising it and, therefore, do not incur the resentment of the taxpayers. The State Premiers merely growl about the Australian Government and say that they are not getting enough, and the Australian Government, when it goes to the country, is blamed by the people for the taxation it imposes. The uniform taxation system is responsible for Labour governments being retained in the States, except on those occasions, which are a little more frequent now than previously, when the Labour party, because of its internal brawls, falls before the votes of the electors. I do not think a Labour government has been elected in recent years purely on its policy, or on the results of its policy. Labour governments have been elected because they have been able to spend money and then blame the Australian Government for any shortages.

Finally, I desire to make two suggestions. The first of them is that we should instil into the people of Australia the need to be as loyal as possible in supporting Australian industries. The Government should serious-> consider spending money on a “ Buy Australian-made “ campaign. A lead in this direction can be given only by the Australian Government, chambers of manufactures and such organizations. It is the Australian Government’s responsibility, and I think it would be to Australia’s advantage if such a campaign were conducted to instil into the minds of the people’ the importance of buying Australian-made goods whenever possible.- The other suggestion is an enlargement on one made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) last night in relation to the tourist industry. All the States would greatly benefit from an economic point of view if more tourists were attracted from overseas. The States individually cannot successfully undertake a campaign to attract overseas tourists. The Australian Government should call a conference of State Ministers in charge of tourist activities, and interested people in private enterprise, to discuss plans for campaigning in America, New Zealand, Canada and England in order to bring tourists to Australia. The New Zealand Government has done this very successfully in Australia, and I believe that we are losing more money to the tourist trade in New Zealand than we are receiving from New. Zealand tourists who come here. No one State could effectively carry out a campaign such as I envisage. I support the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in his suggestion that we could help Australia from an economic point of view if the Government gave a lead and made money available for. the purpose of embarking upon a campaign to attract tourists to this country. I do not think the time for action could be riper than it is now. The Olympic Games and the Davis Cup challenge round are scheduled for next year. Shortly after that the very popular and interesting series of international cricket test matches will be held. Merely from a sporting point of view those are events which could be used as part and parcel of a campaign to bring tourists to this country. I leave that suggestion for the consideration of the Government.

In conclusion, I hope that the Government will not be lulled into a sense of security because it is not opposed by a unified and fighting Opposition. It is important that the year ahead should be one of progress and action. If the Government remembers that, Australia will make progress and so will those of us who support the Government at the next elections.

Senator CAMERON:

– Certain so-called financial experts in Sydney and Melbourne have referred to the budget as a “ stay-put “ budget. No government can stay put. It has either to go forward, progressively improving the conditions of living and employment of the people, or it will go in reverse. There is no such thing as standing still in politics, or in any other branch of human activity. So much for the financial experts. Actually the Government, ever since it was first elected in 1949, has been going in reverse. In other words, it has assisted in every way possible to worsen conditions of living, especially those of the workers. Hence the dissatisfaction that exists to-day. When I say that, I am speaking relatively because we are living in a highly monopolistic and mechanized age. A new word “ automation “ has been coined in the United States of America to describe the process. In that country, they have automatic factories with the result that fewer and fewer workers are employed. Production has increased enormously but the number of workers who have been forced on to the streets has also increased. That is the position in England as well, and in every other highly industrialized country of the world. The safety valve for the time being of this system is an increasing expenditure on luxuries of all kinds, and on preparations for war. If the luxury expenditure and the military expenditure were stopped, .millions of people would be thrown out of work in the capitalist countries, because the safety valve of capitalism would no longer be working. Senator Marriott referred to the Olympic Games. The expenditure on the Olympic Games is an example of what takes place under the capitalist system. Australia is spending millions on the Olympic Games, but refuses to spend hundreds on the abolition of slums. Perhaps that is because the Olympic Games will pay, but the abolition of slums will not.

Expenditure on luxuries such as palatial residences, expensive vehicles and so on, is increasing enormously, and our slum areas are also increasing. The only difference between Australia and other capitalist countries in regard to the effects of the capitalist system, is a difference of degree and not of kind. If this country were as thickly populated as the countries of Western Europe and America, our economic position would be similar to the position in those countries. Another overall effect of the capitalist system and this Government’s policies is practically unchecked inflation of the currency. Inflation began in Australia after World War I., when £1 notes were made non-convertible to gold. Prior to that time, banks were required to have a reserve of gold, and consequently inflation was not then possible to the degree that it is to-day.

When notes are made non-convertible there is no check at all on inflation.

Another overall effect is the accumulation of primary and secondary stocks which cannot be disposed of at a profit. Senator Kennelly, Senator O’Flaherty and others, have directed the attention of the Senate to the piling up of wheat, and we recently had before us a bill to expend £3,500,000 on additional wheat stores. Moreover, what applies to wheat in this and overseas countries applies also to other products, both primary and secondary.

Let us now deal with the effects of inflation. We find that inflation causes sustained increases of commodity prices. Ever since 1949, when this Government first assumed office, the prices of commodities of all kinds have been increasing. Senator Kennelly referred to controls, but I inform honorable senators that everything is controlled, and the question to be considered is how it is controlled. To-day, the industry and financial resources of this country are controlled mainly by production and financial monopolies, while the Government stands idly by and allows those organizations to dictate its policy.

Another effect of inflation is the sustained increase of the rates of interest. Interest is the price paid for borrowed money. To the degree that the currency is inflated, the rate of interest rises and the prices of commodities increase. Interest has increased so greatly that to-day we read of 8 per cent. being paid in respect of hire purchase transactions, and10 per cent. in respect of private loans.

Another effect of inflation is to reduce the purchasing power of wages, small salaries, pensions and fixed incomes. It should be perfectly clear that, as prices of commodities are increased and the prices of services are increased, the purchasing power of fixed incomes will go down, as also the purchasing power of savings and the value of bonds. Recently, we have noticed expensive advertisements which appeal to the workers to be thrifty and to save their money. If the workers put their money into the savings banks or other banks, inflation reduces the purchasing power of those savings. The Government desires us to invest in bonds, and says that if we do so it will be for the security of Australia, but I suggest that it would be for the security and the profit of the banks. If we decide to redeem our bonds, we find that their value has gone down and the purchasing power of the proceeds has been greatly reduced.

Another effect of inflation is to slow down production. To-day, we speak of reducing the acreage under wheat in this country. That is one of the effects of inflation, and in many directions production, particularly the production of basic things, like food, clothing and housing, is slowing down. There is an appalling shortage of houses for workers, but the Government does nothing about it. That is because the Government has no policy to deal with housing. One can read all the financial and banking publications, and discover that not one of them has any suggestion as to how the slowing down of production can be prevented, particularly the production of essential things.

These factors all tend to produce slums.

During the last few months, a number of pensioners who had been hard working all their lives, who are quite unsophisticated and have accepted what politicians told them was best for them, found themselves herded together in houses that have been condemned by the authorities as unfit for human habitation. But those are the people who developed Australia, and made our existence comfortable. The pensioners who own their own cottages are in a different category, but those who pay rent are exploited to the extent of having to pay £2 a week for a room, which means that at present they are expected to live on £1 10s. a week. It has recently been declared that the Government will increase the age pension by 10s. a week, and since then numbers of pensioners have been told that their rents will also be increased. So actually the increased pension that will be paid by the Government will be no increase at all, because it will be cancelled out by increased rents long before the pensioners get it. The Government has no policy to protect these people, and they are being starved. Although the Government poses as humanitarian and

Christian, its attitude is purely hypocritical. I have no wish to be personal, but one must be emphatic to make people realize the facts. That is what is happening to thousands of age pensioners, as well as to those who are not pensioners, but are employed in what are. regarded as comparatively good positions. They cannot obtain houses. I have in mind a young man who has a wife and three children. They are paying £3 a week for a room and the use of the kitchen in a bouse in Collingwood. It is impossible for them to find better accommodation. There is no home-building programme worthy of the name, but in the event of war there would be no difficulty in finding labour and materials and accommodation of all kinds. The aborigines, that lost race that is being allowed to die out, treated their old people better. Years ago, in connexion with my union activities I had considerable experience with the aborigines in the northern parts of Western Australia. I never saw the aborigines treat the aged in the inhuman way that age pensioners are being treated by the Government. Even if water was running short, the aged aborigines always received their fair share. Comparatively, those natives are far more humanitarian than are the members of the Government.

The reduction of exports is another effect of inflation. Recently, the Minister for Labour said that costs of production were very high. I have here a letter from a dairy-farmers’ organization at Leongatha, in Victoria, pointing out that the cost of .producing butter is very high. [ have said in this Senate on many occasions - and no honorable senator opposite has attempted to prove the contrary - that to say the cost of production is too high is merely a half truth. The real cost of practically any article has never been lower than it is to-day, if it is assessed in terms of gold or in terms of labour costs. They are the two reliable measurements. But costs in terms of inflated currency have never been higher. What can be done to reduce them? The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) speaks in vague generalities about the inflationary spiral. The press refers to it also, but not a word is said about how it can be dealt with, and the position goes from bad to worse. It is inevitable that it should do so, because in spite of all man-made laws the natural law of cause and effect cannot be ignored. Senator Marriott reprimanded Senator Kennelly on the question of class hatred, but the people with whom Senator Marriott is associated cause class hatred. That has been the case since the early nineteenth century, and as a result the workers have become blinded with prejudice. They hate government, and they hate the employing class and the capitalist class. They do not hate them because it is their nature to hate, but because they are being forced down to the lowest level of human existence. That is happening in Australia.

Another effect of inflation is import restrictions, and this leads to an inflation of profits. General-Motors Holden’s Limited provide an example with a declared profit of £10,250,000 last year. If one had examined the books of that company, as I had the privilege of examining certain firms’ books during the war, a profit of nearer £15,000,000 might have been discovered. That is a result of unchecked inflation about which the Government does nothing. All profits, in” effect, represent so much unpaid wages. Profits can be obtained in only two ways - underpaying the man on the job and overcharging the customer over the counter. I should like honorable senators who believe in the profit motive to inform me how profits can be made without robbing somebody who has no means of redress.

A further effect of inflation is the expansion of credit facilities in the form of hire-purchase. According to this morning’s press the Prime Minister is silent on the subject, but the - Treasurer referred to it in his budget speech and said that it is causing great concern. The Governor of the Commonwealth Bank is gravely concerned also, but what will all these persons do about it?

Senator Kendall:

– Can the honorable senator tell us what the Government should do about it?

Senator CAMERON:

– I am certain that the Government will take no action against those interests operating the hirepurchase system because they represent financial organizations on which the

Government relies for much of its support. Hire purchase comes into .being simply because stocks of goods pile up. When that happens, one or two things must result. Either the goods must be disposed of, or the manufacturers must close down production. Therefore, the manufacturers make a virtue of necessity and share their profits with the persons who control hire purchase. The Government is in the same category. It is now speaking about selling wheat on credit, a thing it would never have dreamed of doing if the people who needed wheat in Australia and in other countries of the- world were able to pay cash. Inflation of the currency makes it impossible for them to do so. Hire purchase comes into the scheme of things as the result of inflation and stockpiling of goods beyond the capacity of manufacturers to dispose of them in the usual way for cash.

Last, but not least, we have the inevitable resultant strike action by workers. Let us take, as an example, an intelligent worker who has some idea of the position in this connexion- and the number of such workers is increasing. The only way in which workers of that kind can enforce the measure of recognition and consideration to which they are entitled is to cease work. The tendency to-day is to cease work far more frequently than it was in the immediate past. Recently, the Australian Council of Trades Unions repudiated the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. The intelligent person knows that arbitration is one thing and that the Commonwealth Arbitration Act is another thing. For all practical purposes, the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, whether they know it or not, are giving effect to government policy and are facilitating inflation of the currency. The effect on the workers is that quarterly adjustments of the basic wage have ceased. Wages have been frozen. In the meantime, the salaries of judges have been increased. That is the kind of thing that creates class hatred.

The supporters of the Government claim to be civilized people, but they look upon those who work on the waterfront, in transport and in the workshops as so many units of labour power to be used for the purpose of increasing profits and then to be discarded. They claim to takea broad humanitarian view of suchmatters. When the workers realize, as they are beginning to realize now, that political action to protect them and toimprove their living and working conditions is failing, they take strike action.. When they do, what can the Government do about it? Nothing! The supporters of the Government cannot do the work, themselves. Boards of directors are practically helpless as workers. They aredependent on the people in their officesand workshops to carry on. When the workers cease work, we hear of unauthorized strikes. So there is increasing industrial unrest. Strike action is theinevitable result of government policy to-day. Not one word is said about thebest method of preventing that kind of thing from taking place.

I wish to refer to what one of England’sleading orthodox financiers has to say about the financial system. I refer to Dr. Paul Einzig, whose publication How M’oney is Managed - The Ends and’ Means of Monetary Policy was published’ last year. He has been studying bankingfor many years and has written, according to a statement in the book to which I have referred, more than 40 books dealing with the subject of banking. I haveoften quoted him in this chamber, becauseif he is orthodox, at least he is honest, which cannot be said of most of our orthodox financiers and university economists. This book may be purchased for 4s. 6d.,. and it is well worth that amount. It isvery informative, provided that those whoread it understand what they are reading.. At page 352, when speaking about the effects of inflation, he says -

The conception that a country’s economy can be run satisfactorily with the aid of purely monetary methods, which becamefashionable between the wars, is now at a discount. It is now realized that much moreis needed than to take appropriate monetarymeasures and hope for the best.

Then he goes on to say -

In spite of its progress during the last twodecades, monetary policy is always liable toremain somewhat -behind in the development of the monetary situation. History in themonetary sphere seldom repeats itself exactly. There are always new factors or different combinations of the old known factors calling’ for original measures. Confronted’ with new situations, those in charge are often not in a. position to apply rules elaborated on the basis of former inexperience . . . Only too often they have to be content with being wise after the event.

Just as they were after every depression which has taken- place in Australia. We :had depressions in 1893, 1907 and 1912. World War I. intervened, and then we had the depression of the late ‘twenties and early ‘thirties. Now we are on the threshold of depression again. After all of those events, the people who occupied positions similar to those occupied by the supporters of the Government to-day, (became wise after the event. Dr. Einzig continues -

Even that is preferable to not being wise even after the event. Mistakes will always be made through the application of wrong devices or through the application of right devices in the wrong way. Important as it is to avoid such mistakes on the basis of accumulated experience and foresight it is -even more important that the ends which monetary policy is to pursue should be correctly conceived. The solution lies in a reconciliation between social and economic -ends. This may appear to involve some sacrifices from a social point of view. In the long run, however, even social interests are likely to be better served by making reasonable allowances for economic ends. [ am dealing with economic ends when I. refer to the effects of inflation -

It is to be hoped, in the interest of progress and stability, that, through trial and error, the correct balance between the conflicting ends will be discovered, for the lasting benefit of mankind.

I could not expect most honorable senators on the other side of the chamber to be impressed by that. I can expect from them the same results as they achieved in the ‘thirties, when they brought the late Sir Robert Gibson, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board, on the floor of this chamber in order to question him on what was best to be done in the circumstances. He could not tell them, and they themselves did not know, and the position went from bad to worse. I am emphasizing this aspect, because I think it is necessary to do so. Neither in the budget, nor in any of the documents issued by the Government, nor in any of the periodicals issued by banks or other institutions, is there suggested any solution to the difficulty. Even the Chancellor of the Exchequer in England,. Mr. Butler, has a lot to say about the position, which is becoming very acute in England as it is in other countries, but he offers no suggestion as to resolving the difficulty. I am of the opinion that the solution will ultimately be forced upon honorable senators opposite, whether they like it or not, and they will have to face the consequences of their deplorable ignorance and inaction.

For the guidance of honorable senators I will define inflation in a. few words. It means the issue of paper money greatly in excess of the amount of gold which would be in circulation if there were no paper money. Actually, there has been no real increase of wages. The increase has been more apparent than real. That statement may be tested in this way: When notes were convertible, and a worker received £3 a week, that was equal to three-quarters of an ounce of gold. If no increase had been granted, and £1 notes had the same purchasing power now as they had then, he would now receive £12. For that he would work 40 hours. But although he bought a suit of clothes for £3 for 48 hours work when notes were convertible, he now has to work for more than SO hours to earn enough to buy a suit of clothes. What can be said about suits of clothes can also be said about food, housing, and almost anything else. The dice have been loaded even against honorable senators, although they may not realize it. Section 48 of the Australian Constitution reads -

Until the Parliament otherwise provides, each senator and each member of the House of Representatives shall receive an allowance of four hundred pounds a year, to be reckoned from the day on which he takes his seat.

That was in 1901. At that time, £400 had a purchasing power in. excess of that of 100 oz. of gold, which was worth about £3 17s. 6d. an ounce. Those 100 ounces of gold are at present worth £1,600 at the fixed price, or about £2,250 on the free market. Therefore, the dice have been loaded against honorable senators, just as much as they have been loaded against lower paid people. But those people suffer privations. In many cases they suffer semi-starvation, while honorable senators are well fed, and do not see or refuse to see the position in the same light as those people do.

There has been no actual increase at all in the purchasing power of wages. The increase has been merely apparent, and that apparent increase has been made possible by inflation, which the Government refuses to take action to prevent. When the matter is considered in that light, it is not an exaggeration to say that inflation is the cause of most of the troubles that we face to-day. It is not understood by the Government, or, if it is, no action has been taken to deflate the economy in the proper way in terms of gold. The Government stands idly by, seeing the sufferings to which the people, particularly the aged, are subject, and does nothing to relieve their plight. The Government has given pensioners an extra 10s. a week, which does not even make up the deficiency, any more than do the increases in wages granted by the Ar.bitra. tion Court. Money wages are reduced because of the increase of prices, and what the court does, if it is so disposed, is to make up the deficiency, but real wages are never increased.

I now wish to direct attention to another aspect of the matter. Senator Critchley asked some questions of Senator Cooper in regard to what had been done for ex-service men and women. Exservicemen are saying just what a number of other people are saying, that the Government is giving them a raw deal and is not providing for them to the extent that it could, and should. I have here a copy of The Legion, for June, 1955, which is the official journal of the Australian Legion of ex-Servicemen and Women. The editorial in that journal refers to what the servicemen did in 1942, and what the Government is doing in 1955. It says -

To-day, in. 1055, the 1942 position is reversed. Australian former servicemen are in need of insurance. (It is well we remember the formula.) This editorial does not seek to ape the calamity-howler or cry havoc at the slightest hardening of the country’s economic arteries. But there are dangerous portents in banking, credit, export and import balances; and these facts are undeniable :

Ex-servicemen’s preference in employment has almost been wiped out!

More than 80 per cent, of pensions appeals are currently disallowed.

Rates for war and service pensions is unqualified wife-and-child starving.

The War Service Homes scheme retains itf partisanship and yearly functions less and less despite the agonizing demand.

That extract is from the official journal published on behalf of the men to whom all sorts of promises were made when they went away. It shows what is being done for them in 1955. I remind the Senate that those words were written, not by some Communist or other discredited person, but, as I have said, have been taken from the official journal of the men who fought. They had an interview with the Minister recently. He was sympathetic, but he promised nothing. After referring to some appeals which had been heard, Mufti, another journal which expresses the views of exservicemen, stated -

The Minister knows the need and appreciates the worth of the request. Why not bring down legislation to provide that all returned war nurses 55 years and over, and all returned ex-servicemen 60 years and over shall automatically become entitled to repatriation treatment, including the right to be admitted to repatriation hospitals, whether they are suffering from formally accepted conditions or not.

Senator Cooper:

– Why did not the Government in which the honorable senator was a Minister do that when it was in office?

Senator CAMERON:

– The extract continues -

This would be a major contribution towards solving the problem, and would enable the Government to budget and plan for the day when the ideal achieved in America - that of treating all returned ex-service men and women - shall be similarly achieved in Australia.

In America, all ex-servicemen who are not in a position to pay for hospital treatment are given that treatment free. A similar state of affairs should exist in Australia. The report proceeds -

Take care of the 5o’s and 60’s, Mr. Minister! That will be a start towards discharging the sacred obligation of the Government, on behalf of the people, to care for those whose services’ to the nation were heralded so vociferously when danger threatened.

Those are the remarks of men who are actually suffering as a result of the policy of the present Government. They are heroes when they go away to fight, but are treated as encumbrances when they return. I have here a quotation from Reveille dealing with the onus of proof. It was written by a legal man. He says -

As a result of my examination of the position, I am of the opinion that the Act should he amended to provide -

for the right of appeal on a matter of Law to a Judge of the High Court or some other judicial authority. This would necessitate the Tribunal and the Commission giving some written statement in judgment as to the reason for rejection of the claim where evidence appeared to warrant the application of Onus of Proof and Benefit of Clause Sections.

b ) Giving to the Appellant the right to appear at all sittings when the Tribunal is considering any evidence respecting the claim.

The right to question those who have submitted medical evidence or opinions on the claim.

The implication is plain. The Government is deliberately penalizing men, by denying them the consideration to which they are entitled, through the medium of these tribunals against whose decisions there is no appeal. I have in mind a returned serviceman who was examined by seventeen doctors representing the Repatriation Department. All of them declared him to be incurable. He went to another doctor, who performed an operation, and he was cured. The operation cost him £160, yet when he applied to the department for a reimbursement of that expenditure, payment was refused. That is the overall position as I see it.

I repeat what I have said before, that this country is facing a situation which may be much more serious than the situation which faced us in the 1930’s. Moreover, if the storm comes, as it is likely to do, it will come overnight. All this talk about our so-called prosperity is merely so much political eye-wash or shadowsparring. The overall position is that the people who are most deserving of consideration are not receiving it. A few months ago I attended a meeting of the Australian Natives Association. Those present were discussing what should be done to improve conditions in Australia. When I was invited to say a few words [ told those present that Australia would never be a nation worth being called a nation until the national household was organized on the same basis and was as well managed as is a well-conducted private household. I urged them to strive to make Australia a country where the young, the ailing and the aged would be given priority. Then there would be no poverty, suffering or degradation. 1 went on to say that Australia’s national household was being managed badly, and by way of illustration, in support of that view, I drew attention to the fact that many wives had to go to work in order to balance the family budget. That meant that the children were left to play in the streets, and that the position was becoming worse and worse. I pointed out that children could not be expected to develop into good citizens in such circumstances. What is the result of this state of affairs? As we all know, there has been an increase of teenage delinquency and crime in both Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Young men and women are growing up under conditions of frustration. They become desperate, and so they commit crimes, and eventually are put in gaol. It is sad to reflect that our gaol population is increasing, as is also the number of people who are physically and mentally ill. Those who are mentally ill are in that state largely because of the deplorable conditions under which they live. Unless the Government deals with the position as it should be dealt with, and as it can easily and constitutionally be dealt with, the situation must continue to go from bad to worse. Thatis inevitable unless proper action is taken. Honorable senators should not think that I derive any satisfaction from saying these things. I mention them only because I believe that I am under an obligation to do so, because I claim to understand the human document as well as I understand the written document. There are many theorists, particularly economists, who would do well to become interested in the human document, because most of the hardships and suffering to which I have directed attention would not exist if proper attention weregiven to the human aspects of present-day living. I should like any honorable senator on the Government side who can do so to show me where I am wrong in my interpretation of the effects of inflation. So far, no honorable senator supporting the Government has tried to do so. They sit in their places, as dull as oysters, and allow this state of affairs to continue. They should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves when they draw their parliamentary allowances.

Senator KENDALL:

– I do not propose to use my time in this debate dealing with the overall picture presented by the budget papers. I intend to refer now to only one item. I shall refer to others when the Estimates are before the Senate. The item to which I propose to refer now is the amount of £160,000 shown in the budget for fisheries research conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. During 1954, I was asked by some branches of the professional fishermen’s association in Queensland to attend some of their meetings and listen to what they had to say about the fishing industry in Australia, in general, and in Queensland, in particular. I was appalled by what I found up and down the Queensland coast when I studied the condition of the vessels and the conditions under which the men work. I spent a considerable time discussing their worries.

My object in speaking to the Senate is to give honorable senators some idea of what can be done if we copy practices adopted in Canada, the United Kingdom, United States of America and other countries. I also hope that the Government will take some notice of what I say, because this will not be the last time I shall speak on this matter. It is my intention to do all I can during any years I may remain in this Parliament to keep this matter before the Government, because the existing state of affairs is disgraceful, and it need never have been brought about. I do not refer only to the administration of this Government, but to the many governments that have held office during the history of federation in Australia.

Even at this late stage, I believe that the fishing industry in Australia, if taken in hand properly, ould be placed on an economic basis. We need the fish, not only for consumption by our own growing population, but also for the export trade to which frequent reference has been made during this debate. It might be said that this is primarily a matter for the individual States but, sofar as research is concerned. I do not agree. It is a matter for the Commonwealth Parliament and not for the States..

There has been much indiscriminatetalk about the three-mile limit as it applies to Australia and the States, so I want to define clearly the meaning of the three-mile limit. On this occasion, I am discussing only the deep waters. I am not discussing the continental shelf, concerning which legislation was before the Senate eighteen months ago, and is now before the International Court. I am not referring to sedentary fish, but to pelagic fish outside the three-mile limit, but not on the continental shelf.

The three-mile limit has been discussed over the past three months, and I have seen much nonsense written about it. It is the limit off the coast which has been fixed by international agreement. It runs parallel to the coast except where it crosses over estuaries and hays when a straight line is drawn across them. Within that three-mile limit, the Stateconcerned has jurisdiction over bothforeign and national vessels and persons.. Outside the three-mile limit, the Australian Government has jurisdiction over Australians only, and not over any foreign vessels. I made inquiries about thismatter from the Attorney-General’s Department and from the Senior Lecturer in Law, Mr. Ross Anderson, at the Queensland University, and there is nodoubt about it. Before we can alter those provisions the Australian Parliament must announce clearly its intention tochange the three-mile limit. As it hasnot done so yet, there is no need to pursuethat point further.

With regard to the Great Barrier Reef, one hears it said that it comes under thejurisdiction of the Government of Queensland, but that is not so. The islands off the coast come under the jurisdiction of the Government of Queensland although, in themselves, they have their own threemile limit. That applies to each small island. They are not lumped together, as one is led to suppose by newspapers and’ in other places.

In connexion with the fishing industry,, we can ask ourselves three questions-

First, do we need more fish in Australia? Second, why is our present catch so small, and, finally, if we agree that we need more fish, how can we go about improving the catch? In the first place, we do need more fish, because there is a magnificent export market all over the world. People are crying out for fish, and we have the fish at our door. With careful research, and the proper use of our fishing fleets, we could turn the fishing industry into a magnificent export trade. In addition to a natural increase of 150,000 persons a year, we have admitted 1,000,000 immigrants to Australia since the war. Most of them come from countries where fish is a staple diet.

I was interested to read an article by Dr. Bircher, a famous dietitian, who stated that in Australia in the past twelve months, we consumed 280 lb. weight of meat for each man, woman and child, whereas only 22 lb. of meat a head is necessary for good health. Somewhere between those two figures there must be an optimum. If we could get more fish into Australia at reasonable prices, there is no doubt that our meat diet could be improved by a substantial quantity of fish. It is an interesting fact that Scotland, with half the population of Australia, eats three times as much fish as wc do. That makes me wonder whether there is some truth in old wives’ assertion that fish food makes brains. When we see the disproportionate number of Scotsmen who are heads of departments and offices in Australia, there may be something in it. Secondly, why do we have such a small catch? This is due, first of all, to the complete lack of interest of those in power. I refer primarily to governments, to successive governments regardless of party, in the federal sphere. I am, not referring to any one party, because this is not a party matter at all; it is a federal matter. There has been a complete lack of interest over the years in what happens to our fishermen. Marketing has been left to the odd person to try to form a co-operative or to do something to help the fisherman; but it has not been a success. Secondly, nothing has been done in respect of marketing, storing, canning, advertising and all the many things that go to make a successful fishing industry. In addition to that, in Queensland the Fish Marketing Board charges 17£ per cent, for handling the fish whereas before the war the chargewas only 2^ per cent. All these things tend to keep the catch small. Thirdly, it is necessary to consider the types of vesselsthat are in use. The vessels in use in Queensland to-day are mostly unseaworthy and unfit to be taken outside the estuaries or bays. Certainly, they are not fit to be taken into the Coral Sea. They are not of sufficient draught and have not the range. They have not refrigeration or anything that is necessary to enable them to go out and search for tuna in the deep waters of the Coral Sea. Fourthly, the war decimated our fishingfleets by taking not only ships but alsomen who joined our naval reserve. That weakened the whole structure of the industry so much that it has never recovered. The result is that fishermen make so little, a mere pittance, for their hard work and their long absences from their home3 that they do not find it worthwhile to carry on. Indeed, many of them, would pull out if they could find a ready sale for their small fishing vessels. Unfortunately, the sales are not there; and they just have to hang on and do thebest thing they can do to eke out a precarious living on a very small income.

Another thing that has upset the fishing industry is the fact that those engaged in it have to pay what, in effect,, is a road tax on their fuel. They pay exactly the same as the motorist who usespetrol or diesel oil. These unfortunatemen have to pay exactly the same tax as do motor users. In other words, the fishing fleets are paying road tax. I do not know how to describe it ; but it seemsquite wrong. As a consequence the industry is dying in Queensland. It isstatic in New South Wales and it is goingdown in Western Australia. I am primarily interested in Queensland because of the warm water fish and the tremendous amount of fish being taken out of the Coral Sea at the present timeby the Japanese. The third question I posed at the beginning was : What can be done about it? The first thing to dois what I myself have done, and that isto inquire what other countries have done.

I have spent nearly twelve months in correspondence with interests in Canada, the United States, South Africa and Dutch New Guinea and the United Kingdom; and I have with me to-day the collated information that I have received from those various countries. I sincerely hope that the Australian Government will take cognizance of what I have said and see whether we cannot do the same things here. I make it quite clear that what I have to say is no reflection whatever upon our fisheries research officers in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or upon men such as Mr. Anderson, the Director of Commonwealth Fisheries, and Mr. Roughley, who recently retired, or our ichthyologist in Queensland, Mr. Marshall. These men are doing a grand job and will continue to do it, but they have not been given the wherewithal in the past. They have not been given the ships to go out and find the data on which to base their calculations. Until they do that they will not get any further than they have up to date. Mr. Roughley, who recently retired from the New South Wales Fisheries Department has left just at a time when he could have been of most use to us, and I cannot understand why he has not been asked to join the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to assist on the federal side. He has spent the whole of his life in the industry and just at the time when he could be of the greatest value because of his great experience in these matters, he is allowed to retire. The same thing applies to several other people.

Before I go further, I desire to answer a suggestion that has been made so often. 1 have spoken to Ministers on this subject and, so far, they have put me off by saying, “ How do we know there are any fish there? We do not think there are. We do not know anything about it.” Surely, the only way to do anything about it is to try to get the facts. I have with me a book entitled The Commercial Fishes and Fisheries of Queensland, which was written 30 years ago by Ogilvy of Queensland. I should like to quote a few sentences to show what was known in those days. This book has recently been brought up to date and it tells an interesting story. I shall read a little from it -

The far stretching and deeply indented coast of Queensland intersected as it is by numerous estuaries, forms an ideal spawning and feeding ground for many and varied products of marine life. It is therefore not astonishing to realize that the wealth contained within our waters is incalculable, and will at some future time, when exploited by more practical and scientific methods than are now in vogue, constitute not only one of the richest but assuredly one of the most permanent and reliable assets of the State.

I repeat the words, “ will at some future time, when exploited by more practical and scientific methods “. That time is now when we have ichthyologists and hydrographers who understand the problems, and when we have developed underwater photography to show us exactly what goes on along our indented coastline, what happens in trawls and how fish get in and get out. That time is now. Ogilvy goes on to say -

It has been estimated that the waters of Queensland, together with outlying islands and reefs, nourish fully 1,200 distinct species of fishes, at least one-fourth of which are edible.

A little further he says -

In the estuaries and bays along our entire coastline we find several species of small deep-bodied herrings (Fig. 2.) ; these grow to about eight inches and are excellent breakfast dishes, having all the flavour of true British Herring, while on our southern seaboard there arrive during the winter months, countless hosts of true Pilchards which are destined some day to form the nucleus of a fishery, which may, with the co-operation’ of our southern neighbour, in time rival in magnitude and importance the pilchard fisheries of the English Channel.

Further on, he speaks about the numerous anchovies which are found there and which some day will be manufactured into a sauce and paste equalling the finest products of British and European factories. Surely, all this should show that the fish are there not only for our own eating but also for export to help us in our present export troubles. Any scheme such as I suggest will take some time to put into operation because nobody seems to have taken much notice of the matter.

Marshall has this to say -

As for tuna, with organization and knowledge, they are there for the taking.

We have only to see what the Japanese are doing and the amount of fish they are taking away - they come 9,000 miles to fish in the Coral Sea - to realize that that statement is completely true. To obtain the requisite knowledge, as I said previously, I went abroad to find it. In the United Kingdom, which was the first country I investigated, I found that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Herring Board, the Fisheries division of the Scottish Home Department and the White Fish Board all work very closely together. Between them, they have no less than thirteen survey vessels working anywhere from the Berents Sea to the Bay of Biscay or from the Norwegian coast across to Greenland, all doing different types of work. I have a list of them here from which I shall quote two or three to show the types of vessels in use and what they are actually doing. We have the 193-ft. steam trawler Ernest Holt, and her work is hydrographical and biological investigations into the shoaling habits and behaviour of cod stock. She has a fitted laboratory, and accommodates six scientists for work in the Berents Sea area. There is also Sir Lancelot, a 126-ft. steam trawler which follows the position of trawl fish, particularly plaice, in the North Sea area. She also stops depletion and makes quantitive forecasts. Then there are smaller vessels such as the Kathleen, which is a little 53-ft. vessel that investigates young, offshore stocks that have nurseries near the land, and deals with plankton and bottom fauna. There is also the .Silver Scout, which makes experiments into the seaworthiness and efficiency of herring vessels, methods of shoal location, and new fishing grounds and testing of gear. Since 1952, it has been engaged in experiments in electrical fishing.

That type of work is being carried on all the time by thirteen vessels in United Kingdom waters, and all discoveries are sent to the shore laboratories at Lowestoft, Conway, Burnham and so on. From those laboratories the results of the investigations are published in plain language. In the case of the United Kingdom

Ministry of Fishing, the results are published in little booklets of which I have a number before me. They are known as Fishery Notices, and are sent to various ports and distributed among fishermen. Certain descriptive matter is printed on the front which reads, inter alia -

This leaflet is intended to let fishermen know what English fishery scientists found out in 1954. It contains news: just news, no more than that.

If any fisherman would like more information about the subjects mentioned on these pages, the Director of Fishery Research will gladly answer letters. . . .

At the back of those notices is a list of the latest scientific works on fisheries. No doubt they would be of no more use to the ordinary fisherman than they would be trine. The Scottish Home Department, Fisheries Division, produces the Scottish Fisheries Bulletin, which embodies some very fine photographs showing what happens to various types of nets under certain strains, what happens to the fish when they enter the net, and, if they get out, how they do so. It also details the distribution of various fish in the North Sea, and all the things that the practical fisherman wants to know. Now, turning to Australia, we find that there is the Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. I shall read something from an article in that book -

Rostrum dorsally armed with 5-7 (usually) teeth, including the epigastric tooth, and reaching to tip of antennal scale. Its distal quarter is toothless, styliform, and distinctly uptilted. The postrostal carina if broad and low, and disappears before reaching the posterior third of the carapace.

This, Mr. President, is a prawn. I realize why that book is published; it is for scientists. But with great respect to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, I cannot even pronounce the words used, let alone understand what they mean. Therefore, how can a fisherman, who perhaps has not had the opportunity of reading as much as I have had, understand them? Such a book is of no value to anybody except the scientist with a good knowledge of fish. In the fishing ports of England and Scotland meetings are held and films are shown, and everything possible is done to inform fishermen of the best ways of going about their work. There is also a squadron of mine-sweepers known as the Fifth Fisheries Protection Squadron, which is at all times available to give assistance to any fishermen in distress or international trouble of any sort.

In addition to those benefits that fishermen receive, grants and loans are made to them in four different ways. The British Government makes advances and loans, and in some cases subsidies - although I am not an advocate of subsidies - to fishermen. The British Government, the Herring Industries Board, the White Fish Industries Board and the Scottish Home Department all make long-term loans to fishermen so that they can purchase new vessels, repair old ones, reengine vessels or do whatever else they require. I believe that some thought should be given to the making of longterm loans to fishermen in Australia. I assure the Senate that in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the fisherman is far from a forgotten man. He has been well looked after, and Great Britain has benefited from looking after him to the tune of 2,240,000,000 lb. of fish a year. Much of that fish is exported, and it is an important addition to the exports of Great Britain at present while that country is in such bad straits with her overseas trade. In the United States of America quite a number of vessels, some larger than those in the United Kingdom, are engaged in the fishing business. There is Albatross, a vessel of 170 feet which works in the West Atlantic. It is equipped for underwater photography and oceanography, and it has electronic devices and experimental fishing gear.

There is another vessel on the west coast, three in the Hawaiaian Islands, one in the Gulf of Mexico and two or three in the Pacific Ocean. They distribute information that they obtain to the distributing centres on the American coasts, and the shore establishments also investigate salting and refrigeration, the use of fish livers and so on. One of the products that they have developed recently is the fish stick. The fish stick is a fillet of fish about as big round as a sausage and seven or eight inches long. It is packed in “ Cellophone “ and stored in refrigerators. All that the housewife has to do after she buys it is to grill or fry it. She has no trouble at all to cook it, as it is already prepared. She just has to drop it into a pan and go ahead with the cooking. At present fish sticks are having a tremendous boom in the United States and Canada, and I fail to understand why they should not be prepared in Australia.

Senator Wordsworth:

– They can be obtained in Tasmania now.

Senator KENDALL:

– I am pleased to hear that. In the last issue of the Fisheries Newsletter, which is published in the United States, honorable senators will find a picture of one of the privately owned fishing vessels of the United States. It is of the latest tuna clipper design, and is owned by people in San Diego. It is of 765 tons and cost about £220,000 to build. There are other pictures in the Newsletter which indicate that we should be doing similar work in Australia. The Americans would certainly not spend money on an investment in a vessel like that unless they were sure that they would get a pretty good return for it. I suggest that we could get the same type of return out here. Canada operates thirteen research vessels around her coasts. I have a list of them, but the names would not convey anything to honorable senators. The largest is the Investigator II., a vessel of 124 tons. The remainder range in size down to the smallest craft. Their job is to investigate new areas, discovering new fish. They are equipped with up-to-date gear for the work of hydrography, oceanography, and everything connected with fish survey. The Canadian Fisheries Research Board tabulates all information, as is done in England and in the United States of America. In addition to issuing a simple form of marine notices to the fishermen it produces an attractive journal annually, somewhat similar to ours, but written in simpler language. I have here a copy which contains a list of the members of the Fisheries Research Board. The qualifications of these men demonstrates the importance that Canada attaches to her fishing industry. I shall read some of the names of the members and their qualifications -

  1. B. Reed, O.B.E., M.A., B.Sc., Ph.D. (Harvard), F.R.S.C., Professor of Bacteriology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.
  2. R. Dymond, O.B.E., M.A. (Toronto), D.Sc. (British Colombia), F.R.S.C., Head of the Department of Zoology, University of Toronto.
  3. W. Argue, C.B.E., B.A., B.S.A., M.S., D.Se. (New Brunswick), Dean of Science and Professor of Biology, University of New Brunswick.
  4. E. Gagnon, B.A., B.Ap.Sc, D.I.C. (London), Ph.D. (Laval), D.-es-Ec. (Paris), D.Sc. (McMaster), L.L.D. (Bathurst), F.R.S.C. Director of the Department of Chemistry and Director of the Graduate School Laval University, Quebec.

In Canada, fishing is hig business. According to the latest figures I was able to obtain last year, the value of the total catch was 200,000,000 dollars. That was the value of approximately 2,000,000,000 lb. of fish brought into Canada by its fishing fleet.

Senator BYRNE:
QUEENSLAND · ALP; QLP from 1957; DLP from 1968

– Potentially, Australia would not have a fishing industry like that of Canada.

Senator KENDALL:

– Why not? We do not know. I am asking that ships should be provided and equipped so that a search can be made. As I said before, Japanese ships have come into Australian waters and taken away our fish. Records da.ting back over 30 years, including those made by Ogilvie, state that the seas around Australia are absolutely teeming with fish. If we only knew how to go after them the fishing industry could be enormously increased. It is useless to say that the fish are not there. We need tn find where they are.

Senator MAHER:

– As a result of using new methods, large catches of prawns have been made in recent times off the Queensland coast.

Senator KENDALL:

– Canada spends between 750,000 and 1,000,000 dollars each year on fish culture. In addition, the universities of Price Edward Island, No via Scotia, and New Brunswick spend between 76,000 and 80,000 dollars a year in educating adult fishermen in those areas. During the year Canada spends between 9,000,000 and 10,000,000 dollars on field research and other aspects of the fishing industry. They have 50,000 fishing boats as against 7,700 in Australia. The Canadian fishing fleet catches 2,000,000,000 lb. weight of fish a year, whereas the Australian catch is approximately 70,000,000 lb. a year, which is about 3i per cent, of the Canadian catch. Canada spends 10,000,000 dollars a year on fishery research, but last year Australia spent £140,000, which is about 3 per cent, of the Canadian expenditure. Anybody who examines these figures will realize that the increase in fish poundage is in direct proportion to the amount of money spent in research. That is an inescapable conclusion. Working along those lines, the Australian budget appropriation should be in the nature of £1,400,000 instead of £160,000.

I now mention South Africa because recently South African fish have been imported into Queensland, which to me is simply a crazy idea when our own waters are teeming with fish. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce), in another place, recently obtained an import licence to have South African fish brought into Australia. In South Africa, the fishing industry is in its infancy, but they have three research vessels operating. They are building two new vessels, one to cost £35,000 and the other £85,000 for fishery research in South African waters. In Dutch New Guinea, in one of the areas under the control of the South-Pacific Commission, three ships are engaged in investigation work. From the quarterly bulletin published by the South-Pacific Commission in Noumea, New Caledonia, I quote the following: -

Operating daily from Hollandia, two launches with Papuan crews are trolling, trawling or beach seining in the Humboldt Bay area up to the Australian New Guinea border with satisfactory results. The fish are sold at ship’s side and demand exceeds the supply. Long range plans are being made for the development of Papuan fishing co-operatives to exploit this fishery.

Senator MAHER:

– Do the Dutch operate those vessels or the Administration in New Guinea?

Senator KENDALL:

– They are controlled by the Dutch New Guinea Administration. Over the past 30 years, Australia seems to have been merely playing with the fishing industry. As a result of my research, the first information I can find is of a conference held in 1927 between the Federal Government and the State government departments dealing with fisheries, when consideration was given to the question whether research should be made into the fishing industry. Two years later, they agreed that research should be undertaken and that it should be a responsibility of the Federal Government. In 1938, nine years subsequently, a ship was built costing £17,000, and at that time that would have been a reasonable amount, and should provide a vessel perhaps eminently suited for the job. But nine years was taken to reach that stage. I have tried hard to find what happened to that ship. I assume that during the war she was taken over for war-time purposes, but nobody seems to know what happened to her. There is no record of her being sunk by enemy action, and no one seems to know what became of her. In 1941, the Commonwealth Tariff Board inquired into fishery matters and decided that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should undertake fishery research. In 1942, the Government decided to set up a Directorate of Fisheries, which was to be under the control of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. That directorate is still operating under bis control. The most recent effort to do something was, in my opinion, futile and stupid. Two vessels, the Fairtuna and the Fair Venture, were sent out to explore the waters in the Barrier Reef area. One was to operate inside the reef and the other outside for two months. The report that was written is full of pious hopes. Here is an example -

The possibility of one day establishing an Australian industry utilizing the fish stocks of the tropical waters has often been suggested.

But nothing has ever been done other than by the unfortunate fishermen themselves. They were sent out for a period of two months. By the end of that time, it was evident that the period allotted in which to carry out the survey was insufficient. I could have told them that before they started, and they need not have wasted their money. The report states that earlier reports from Queensland fishermen indicating that large quantities of fish suitable as bait for live-bait fishing appear to have little foundation. They had no business to say that, having been there for only two months. They attempt to contradict what has been well-known for the last 30 years. As I have already said, pilchards and anchovies are the best forms of livebait that can be used. Just because these people happened to be up there at the time of the year when pilchards and anchovies were not available, they make that sort of statement. Fortunately, they go on to say that only further work will enable a definite conclusion to be arrived at. But what guarantee have we that further work will be undertaken? Having regard to this year’s allocation of £165,000, I can assure honorable senators that there will be no further work, because all that money will be swallowed up in research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The amount is a ridiculous one to provide.

It is admitted that it is possible that tuna are there in sufficient quantities for commercial fishing, but as I have said three times already, and I repeat, the fact that there are tuna in the Coral Sea is so well-known that I cannot understand why, in a report of this kind, those who wrote it should say that tuna may be there. The Japanese come down 4,500 miles, catch our tuna and take them away. We cannot do anything about it. Some time ago, I suggested to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), when we were having a lot of adverse publicity in connexion with Japanese buoys being found all along the Queensland coast, that as, perhaps, it was not possible for our own fishermen to go out in their boats because they were not seaworthy, the Government might man boats with professional fishermen, equip them with refrigeration and two-way wireless, send them out and let them report back to Australia about what was going on out there, instead of having to send a corvette or a Lincoln aircraft. I must say that Sir Arthur Fadden was rather keen on the idea as I explained it, which I did more fully than I have here this afternoon, but unfortunately the Cabinet did not see eye to eye with him, and the scheme has never materialized.

I ask the Government to give this matter far more consideration than it has been given over the last 30 years. Let us start, perhaps during the next twelve months, by having one fisheries survey vessel working, and during the ensuing twelve months let the Government find out what is done in other countries. Let it, perhaps, obtain the services of one or two persons from other countries, so that by the time the next budget is presented, the Government may see its way clear to increasing the allocation. In the meantime, perhaps the amount could be increased by means of a supplementary estimate. In conclusion, may I parody the popular song and say, let us disembark from our “ slow boat to tuna “ and start to get somewhere, instead of continuing the futile measures that have been taken during the last 30 years to help our fishermen, which have got us practically nowhere.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– The budget which we have before us for consideration might well be described as a “Doolittle” budget. The “Doolittle “ I refer to is the character in Shaw’s Pygmalion, who said, “ I puts it to you and I leaves it with you “. The budget that has been placed before us is a take-it-or-leave-it document and represents a very inept approach to the tremendous economic problems that face the country to-day. It contains no indication at all of where the country is heading economically. Australia is perhaps one of the few modern countries that has no economic plan. The people of Australia are not informed about the future plans of the Government, and this budget contains no indication of future governmental policy. It is a cold statement and, as the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has said, it is of a stocktaking nature. I agree that it has been presented with diligence, candor and thoroughness. The only sign of hope for the people of Australia that it contains is to be found in these words of the Treasurer -

The year 1954-55 brought gathering signs of strain in the economy and a movement away -from the balance which had been achieved in the two preceding years.

There is no indication of hope for the people in that statement. The right honorable gentleman continued -

Wages and other elements in costs began to rise again and this in turn led to upward pressure on prices. The deficit in our external trade, which had already appeared before the financial year was begun, widened rapidly, and our exchange reserves ran down.

Great claims have been made by the supporters of the Government concerning the relationships between Government policy and the prosperity that exists in this country. The words of the Treasurer seem to be somewhat doleful in comparison. I nut it to the right honorable gentleman, and also to the Government, that besides presenting a budget with diligence, candor and thoroughness, it should be presented also with honesty about the economic policies of the Government. The people should be informed where they are going.

In other parts of the world, hope seem? to have taken the place of fear. I say that advisedly, because I think it is the spirit that is pervading the western world to-day. On the .distant horizon there i? a spark of hope for mankind, as a result of the recent Geneva conference of thi’ leading statesmen of the world, and because of the very sound and telling lesson that came from the meeting of scientists which took place a little while ago. Above all, we have the legacy thai was left to us by the late Professor Einstein in his warning of the alternatives to supplanting fear by hope in the minds of the people. With that in mind, I think that this budget is a negative one, and that it shows contempt for the people of this country and for their wish to share in democratic government and to be informed of what is to be done in the future, as well as what has been done in the past.

Perhaps honorable senators opposite take consolation from the publicity that is being poured continually into their minds by the press and radio to the effect that the Opposition is not sufficiently strong to displace the Government. That does not, however, absolve them from their ever-pressing responsibility to keep the people informed of what the future holds for them. To-day the cost of living is increasing in a spiralling fashion, and that can only result in a reduced standard of living for wageearners, whose basic wage has been pegged and whose ability to buy the ordinary necessities of life is reduced, as it must inevitably be reduced by inflation. That, problem has not even been approached in this budget. Unless it is tackled by the Government, it can only lead to industrial unrest. Only this morning we learned of the resolution passed by the Australian Council of Trades Unions at its conference in Melbourne. There were 450 delegates at that conference - men who are much more closely in touch with industrial life and conditions than are members of the Cabinet and supporters of the Government. Those delegates, after full deliberation, carried a resolution which shows a virtual intention to endeavour to abolish the Arbitration Court. What can we see behind that? We can see an instrument which was originally established to bring justice to wageearners breaking down under its own power. Why? Because, in the first place, the economic policy of this Government has meant that there is not sufficient power vested in the court to give justice to the wage-earners. The pressure on the court brought about by Government policy has been such that court decisions have been delayed. That can. be plainly seen from the support that the Government has given to the appeal by the Public Service Board which is at present being heard, and which has delayed the granting of justice to Commonwealth public servants. The same thing applies to the discontinuance of the quarterly adjustments of the basic wage. Two years have elapsed since those adjustments were abolished, and, in the words of Mr. Justice Barry in Queensland -

There can be no justification for the cutting down of the standard of living or of the actual wage of the wage-earner, merely because some hope is entertained that the upward spiral of prices may be halted.

Throughout this budget may be seen a clear admission that the upward spiral of prices has not been halted; that the abolition of quarterly wage adjustments has not proved to be the remedy. But what evidence is there that this Government is taking any steps to control cost factors other than the wage factor? I cannot find any evidence at all. If mention is made of General Motors-Holden’s Limited, and the huge profits of that company, the excuse of the Government is, “ That is private enterprise, and we cannot interfere with the company’s activities. We are a government that has been elected by the majority of the people, and we must abolish all controls “. As Senator McKenna showed so ably last night, the Government introduces controls for its own convenience and to suit its backers - the financial people who support the Government, who supply the funds for its propaganda, and who in turn expect a rake-off. That is what is happening in this country to-day. But the Government’s backers are illustrating through their selfishness, exactly as this budget does, the inherent weakness of the capitalist system. The cycle which has been inevitable through our economic history is now in a new phase. One does not need to have lived a great number of years to have seen the complete cycle. It was seen in the latter part of last century, when there was a boom and bust, and a war. Then, after World War I. there was the boom of the 1920’s, followed by the bust of 1929 and the thirties, and then the war. Now, as the cycle continues, the Treasurer whose responsibility it is to put the economic situation before the people openly admits that the boom is busting. Only a blind person could fail to see the consequences of another bust.

At the present time, there is growing discontent among the people who actually produce the’ wealth of the country. As part of an experiment they have been deprived for two years of their just rights. The abolition of the quarterly wage adjustments is merely a sticking plaster placed over the cancerous sore which is inherent in capitalism, and prices have continued to rise. If vested interests have made an all-out attack on individual members of the Labour party; if they have devoted all their efforts to finding every possible way to try to discredit the Labour party in the eyes of the people, that is to be expected, because capitalism does not take its defeats easily.


– It does not need to do anything but leave Opposition members alone, and they will achieve that purpose.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– If honorable senators opposite would leave us alone it would be all right, but what we object to is that certain people who, over the years, have done everything possible to discredit individual members of the Labour party, are now taking such a great interest in the domestic affairs of that party that they seem to be able to build up heroes in it. But the heroes that they are building up are fifth-columnists who have infiltrated as stooges of the capitalist system, to destroy the alternative to capitalism. The Labour party’s policy, its programme and platform, are the alternative to capitalism or communism. The individuals who have been made heroes are just waiting for an opportunity, and to those people who close their eyes to the facts, I say that they may not have a choice, as was pointed out by Senator Kennelly this morning in his very fine speech. I hope all honorable senators took note of everything that he had to say. As he told us, in Italy, a country in which there is a very strong religious influence, and which was the cradle of government, although not perhaps democratic government, 9,000,000 people voted for communism at the elections. Those who give a moment’s thought to the reactions of that big section of the community find that they fear that their welfare is being threatened, and that insecurity faces them as the inevitable consequence of the cycle of boom and bust. Too often in the past boom and bust have been followed by a war. What a war would mean in these days has been well described by Professor Einstein. I shall quote a resolution which is the legacy of Professor Einstein. It is taken from The Voice, and is entitled “ Extinction or Peace ? “ I shall quote from the last paragraph on page 9 of the article -

We invito the scientists of the world and the general public to subscribe to the following resolution: In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons certainly would be employed and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the Governments of the world to realize and to acknowledge publicly that their purposes cannot be furthered by a world war; and we urge them consequently to find peaceful means for settlement of all matters of dispute between them.

But what do we find in this budget ? Once again we find that provision is being made for one-fifth of our total national revenue to be devoted to defence purposes. “We do not appear to have derived any benefit from the recent developments in international affairs. At the Big Four conference held recently, the President of the United States gave a lead to lesser men. I fear that Australia’s foreign policy is in the hands of lesser men - much lesser men. President Eisenhower said that the world had been given a breathing space. I believe that to be true. I believe also that it is a breathing space in which the age of peace and. plenty could be born. I think it is fair to say that each member of the Big Four searched his heart and mind for a way to convince every one of his sincerity in this vital matter. The alternative to disarmament is a hydrogen bomb war, and at last the stupidity of such a war is being recognized. Of course, we have our warmongers and those who think they stand to gain by testing out military strength, but I should like to quote the exact words of General Eisenhower in his statement at the Geneva conference three weeks ago. He said - 1 propose we give each other a complete blue print of our military establishments, from beginning to end, from one end of our countries to the other. Lay out the establishments and provide the blue prints to each other. Next we provide within our countries facilities for aerial photography to the other countries - we to provide you with the facilities within our own country for you to study, and you to provide the same facilities for us, and by this step to convince the world that we arc providing against the possibilities of a surprise attack, thus lessening danger and relaxing tension.

That proposal is made on the highest level of statesmanship, but where is it reflected in the budget ?

Senator Wordsworth:

– Where is it reflected in the Communist budgets?

Senator BYRNE:
QUEENSLAND · ALP; QLP from 1957; DLP from 1968

– I have quoted the remarks of the President of the United States of America. It is suggested that Russia has knocked back that proposal, but that is not so, because another conference is to be held in October. It i3 remarkable how honorable senators opposite bristle when a proposal that might help to avert a war is mentioned. They are afraid that the capitalist cycle will be broken, and that they then will have nothing, because with an end of the cycle of boom, bust and war, honorable senators opposite would have no rules of the game to guide them. Accordingly, they jump every time a move is made to prevent war. They show clearly how steeped they are in the belief that the cycle of capitalism must not be broken. They cannot change their views, notwithstanding that in these modern days, with modern means of destruction, war would be a greater calamity than the world has yet suffered. They hold to those views despite the fact that most of the peoples of the world have rejected it. In many countries the people are discarding their belief in the outworn capitalist system. They have rejected colonialism. Because we hold to these old-time views, we. are losing our friends. Australia is not a strongly capitalist country, but its Government is hanging on to the coat tails of other capitalist countries. We are losing the friendship of our near neighbours because we continue to hang on to the outworn idea that we can still bluster our way through. This budget illustrates clearly that the Government is adopting a policy of expediency because it knows that long-range planning would contradict the promises it made on the hustings. Government candidates told the electors that big business interests would have an open, go, and that there would be no controls if they were elected ; but aside they added that they would retain the controls that suited them. The Government is willing to put the thumbscrew on the working man who has only one commodity to sell - his labour.

Senator Pearson:

– Where is that in the budget?

Senator O’BYRNE:

– It is implicit in the budget. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) himself admitted that there was inflation, and that prices were increasing. In addition, we have the example of the Pubic Service Board doing its best to prevent the granting of justice to public servants. Already, the basic wage worker has been denied justice for two years. While, on the one hand, admitting that costs are rising and that inflation exists, the Government, on the other hand, is trying to deprive men of their just rights.

Senator Wordsworth:

– Why does not the honorable senator continue with what President Eisenhower said?

Senator O’BYRNE:

– I was diverted from that line of thought. The budget illustrates that the Government and its supporters cannot get away from the cycle of capitalism. If honorable senators care to study the records for the last six or eight years, they will find that I have consistently warned the Senate, and through it, the people, of the inevitability of the cycle of capitalism.

Senator Wedgwood:

– The honorable senator should talk about something that he understands, and that we can understand.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– The honorable senator cannot understand these things. She is wearing blinkers.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Pearson).- Order ! The honorable senator should address the Chair and take no notice of interjections.

Senator O’BYRNE:

– This budget lacks a message. It holds out so little hope to the people of Australia that one can only assume that the Government is treating the people with contempt. The letter written by President Eisenhower, to which I have referred, holds out hope of peace, but there is no reflection of that new world outlook in the budget. No concessions are to be made, there is no plan for disarmament or any recognition of the relaxation of tension. The Government stands condemned for its attitude. It should have said to the people, with pride, “ We have spent large sums of money in support of our external affairs policy, upon our diplomatic representation abroad, and defence. We have made a symbolic contribution towards peace by strength. We admit that the other nations recognize the terrors and horrors of the hydrogen bomb just as we recognize them. Now we are rewarded for our efforts “. There is no reflection of those feelings in the budget or in the financial statements that have been presented to the Parliament. There is no recognition of the relaxation of world tension.

I direct the attention of honorable senators also to the attitude of the present Government towards our relationships with our near neighbours to the north of Australia. During the past few years, there has been no sign of any positive move by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) to cultivate closer friendship with our near neighbours. The Colombo plan was inaugurated to assist Asian countries and, last year, a vote of £4,500,000 was set aside for that purpose, but less than half of that amount was spent. Recently there have been disastrous floods in India. That nation has been, and I hope that it always will be, a friend of ours, but no move was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) or the Minister for External Affairs to assist the people of India with some of the wheat from our bulging silos.

Where is the dynamic foreign policy that we should expect from a young and virile nation? The Minister for External Affairs has gone abroad again. I do not remember the Minister making a statement on foreign policy since his return from his previous trip overseas. Now he has mounted the hurdy-gurdy again at great cost to Australia. I suggest to the Government that the amount of £2,000,000 unspent from the Colombo plan vote last year could very easily be used to finance shipments of food and other necessities to India in its present crisis. No mention has been made of that need.

Our foreign policy is one of tagging along. No effort is made to discourage the dangerous’ policy affecting Formosa or our continuous backing of Chiang Kai-shek which is just as explosive. We continue to oppose the entry of China into the forum of the United Nations. Any one would think that the United Nations organization was not supposed to be representative of all the nations. Why should Australia adopt the attitude that some people are not entitled to take their place in that forum because we disagree with their political views? This Government’s attitude towards China’s admission to the United Nations is a disgrace to it and its supporters. Nothing positive and dynamic has been done by the Minister for External Affairs to support action in that direction which would help to ease international tensions and achieve the final desirable objective of peace and goodwill towards all men.

That cardinal point in human relation-‘ ships appears to be criminal in the minds of some people because they believe that if we show any sign of friendship to certain nations, they will suddenly swoop down and destroy us.

The Government has shown no recognition of the fact that the world ha; reached a new era. The hydrogen’ bomb has changed international relationships. Although we feared the outcome of the discovery and manufacture of the hydrogen bomb, it has become possibly man’? greatest blessing because it has made the nations of the world turn their minds away from the wars that have held them back through the centuries. War will no longer pay. Every one will lose in future wars. Good has come out of evil, but the Government has closed its eyes to these developments and swims along in the same old stream. The extension of goodwill to our neighbours in Indonesia, India, Pakistan and other countries of South-East Asia is of great importance. I should like to see a lot more done in the way of extending the Colombo plan, not only for the supply of our surplus commodities on long-term credit to those countries outside the plan, but also along similar lines to the latest development of an exchange of people between Asian countries and Australia. This enables people from those countries to learn more about Australia and helps to break down the traditional dislike of coloured people for white people and helps to prove to the Asian people that we are not colonially minded, even though we are closely and compulsorily attached to a colonialminded people. There is a hope that the foreign policy of this country will change in the future and will become one whereby we can co-operate with these people to our mutual benefit. It is most important that the Government should refrain from actions which identify Australia with colonialism.

That brings me to the subject of sending troops to Malaya, a subject which has been canvassed by other honorable senators in this debate. From the two divisions that were originally to be sent, the numbers have been considerably reduced and now amount to a mere token force. It has become a matter of facesaving on the part of the Government.

The forces we are sending to Penang will no doubt obtain practice in aerodrome construction and that type of thing, but there has been a complete backdown by the Government in the face of everchanging events. This time last year there was talk of the posibility of a change of government in Malaya. That change has taken place but this Government could not anticipate that development. It is there after the event. The expression of opinion by the Chief Minister in Singapore that the troops would be unwelcome has been recognized after the event. We are on the negative side all the time. Our foreign policy is so lacking in any positive and dynamic approach that Government members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who are supposed to have some influence, should take this matter in hand and tell the Minister to wake up to what is going on in the world and to realize he is not still living in Poona or Bengal, or wherever he was before the war. We are living in 1955, and in an ever-changing atmosphere. I again stress the importance of resuming diplomatic relations with China. It is all very well for us to nurse our pet hatreds, but we have to be realistic. In the world to-day we cannot possibly afford on the one hand to be offering the hand of friendship, and, on the other hand, to be committing diplomatic acts which antagonize and perpetuate a feeling of ill-will rather than achieve goodwill with these people who are so close to us.

The final matter I wish to speak about is expenditure on our external territories. Recently, I visited the Northern Territory. Everywhere I travelled I could see the need for a more dynamic development policy in the Territory. It is our front door from the point of view of our contact with the large land masses to the north. It is a potentially rich area. Because of fortuitous circumstances a start was made with the opening up of the hinterland by the construction of a road from Alice Springs to Darwin. That has given access to an area which was previously inaccessible. Nevertheless, everywhere in the Northern Territory there seems to be a sense of frustration. There is no policy and no plan. In the City of Darwin itself there was a town plan evolved during, and immediately after, the war, but when we were there we found that the plan had been scrapped. Very few building contractors are in Darwin and those who are there cannot cope with the work. In every respect we found in the Northern Territory that the sense of frustration was such that people who went there simply had a look at the place and immediately made arrangements to return south.

That is a very sad situation indeed, but it is one which could quite easily be remedied if the Minister had the backing of the members of his party and they were to say to him, “ We desire this spirit of frustration to be lifted. It is our responsibility to develop the Northern Territory. Your advisers have given you the blue-prints and you have to find the money and the means to carry them out and so lift from the people up there that apathy that causes them to feel that no good thing can come from the Territory and that there is no future for it “. That was one of the worst features of my trip up there. I was very impressed by the Territory’s expanse, by its many-sided possibilities, the richness of its mining fields and its great uranium deposits. There was also a magnificent exhibition of what can be done if a dynamic policy is carried out. This was exemplified by an English firm of contractors at Rum Jungle. We also saw the possibilities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s experiments at Katherine where grain sorghum, cotton, peanuts and other crops have been tested and have ben found to be suited to the Territory. There is also apathy towards the possibility of developing rice production in the Territory. Capital is needed for water conservation, but by using the waters of the rivers rice-growing could be proceeded with. Right behind everything is the fact that there is no positive government policy to lift the load so that this part of our country can progress. I appeal to those supporters of the Government who have not been to the Territory to look upon it as a responsibility to visit it. If they do so, they will realize that it is a rich part of this Commonwealth. It has a climate which is, of course, very different from that of the south. It may not be as pleasant, but the Australian people, with their great adaptability, could overcome that disadvantage. People feel that they are so far away in. that part of the Commonwealth that they are forgotten.

I believe that it is past the time when a policy and plan for the orderly development of the Northern Territory should be put into effect. “We are very fortunate to have a great country like Australia, and we have been extremely fortunate to have had such good seasons over the past few years which have brought to us our apparent prosperity. But there is no stability in the present Government’s economic policy. It is a policy of expediency only, and unless the Government is prepared to make the necessary alterations in its outlook and political philosophy, it will find that there will be trouble.

There must be a certain amount of order in modern life, and the greed and selfishness of some individuals must be curbed. If that is not done, they will destroy the economy and the welfare of the country. The sooner that the Government realizes that we have these negative and destructive forces in our midst, and takes some measures to control their predatory activities, the sooner the people of this country will be able to attain stability in their economy. The Treasurer said in his budget speech that he would like to hold our economy as it is. But he has done nothing and has said nothing to show the people that there is any chance of holding the economy at all. I hope that the members of the Government will ensure that their future policy will be such as to allow this country to go ahead and still continue to offer the hand of friendship to new settlers, and still continue to offer a bright future to all its people.

Senator LAUGHT:
South Australia

– I rise in support of the motion to print the Estimates and budget papers. I shall not attempt to traverse all the subjects mentioned by Senator O’Byrne, but I believe that I should say something about the Northern Territory. Senator O’Byrne painted a picture of the Northern Territory that was apparently conjured up by the grumbles of some of the people whom, he found there. I say categorically that the development that has taken place in the Northern Terri tory in the last six years has possibly been greater than the development which has taken place in the preceding 60 years. That is noticeable on all sides. One reason for its speedy development is that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is constantly travelling throughout its length and breadth. He is continually investigating its problems personally, particularly the problem of how best to treat the native and half-caste population.

The Minister has gathered around him as the heads of the various sections of the administration of the Northern Territory some very bright-eyed people. They mean to get things done. In saying that, I refer particularly to the men of the Mines Department and the “Welfare Department, and the men associated with the Northern Territory Administration in the Bureau of Mineral Resources. In that bureau there is a team of men, many of them ex-servicemen who served in the Royal Australian Air Force, as did Senator O’Byrne himself, who are keen to get things done in the Territory. I believe that it is quite wrong for Senator O’Byrne to paint a gloomy picture of what is going on in the Territory, because the men to whom I have referred are doing an excellent job there. The men of the Bureau of Mineral Resources are at present located at Coronation Hill, 200 miles from Darwin, on the borders of Arnhem Land. Although the surrounding country is delightful, they are in a very isolated locality. They spend much time flying over the mountains in an effort to locate uranium-bearing ore. It is men of that calibre who are out in the field pursuing the Government’s policy of national development. A beautiful school has recently been built by this Government at Alice Springs. It is situated on the banks of the River Todd. Possibly there is no finer or more modern school in Australia.

Within the last two months the whole of the far northern railway system has been re-organized through the introduction of diesel locomotives. Even to-day, diesel cars are operating between Darwin and Larrimah, a distance of more than 300 miles. They travel that distance in less than 12 hours. Moreover, negotiations are proceeding between private- enterprise, which uses the roads, and the railways authority, to have a guaranteed service from the south to Darwin. Those examples readily come to my mind as an indication of the development that is taking place in the Territory. I again pay a tribute to those young universitytrained men who are giving their lives in the interest of Northern Territory development. Those men are directed from Canberra by one of our younger Ministers, the Minister for Territories. It is not too much to say that a new breath of life has been breathed into development of the Territory by this Government. Of course, that has spurred on private enterprise. Prospecting companies have head-quarters at Katherine and South Alligator River. They are prospecting from daylight to dark for uranium with geiger counters. So it is not right for the Senate to get the idea that the Northern Territory is being forgotten by the Government.

The fact is that great movements are at present going on through the efforts of this Government and its administrative officers. I am glad that Senator O’Byrne referred in favorable terms to Rum Jungle. It absolutely took my breath away to see what has happened there in the last two or three years through the action of the Government in getting the Zinc Corporation Limited to manage the mining and treatment of ore at Rum Jungle. There, in one of the most tropical parts of Australia, I saw men working methodically, and not one was getting up a sweat. Approximately 20 tons of this ore was being moved every two or three minutes. That work is being done under good management and good conditions by a good type of Australian workman and the Government is providing the right climate for private enterprise to flourish in. Those are ideal circumstances for good development. It is not for the Government to do the developmental work, but by wise administration to provide the right climate for it. That has been done at Rum Jungle, to the great credit of the Government, the Zinc Corporation Limited’s organization trading under the name of Territory Enterprises Proprietary Limited, and to the men in the field - managers, geologists, tractor drivers, crane drivers and labourers.

Having said that concerning the development of the Northern Territory, I invite the attention of the Senate to a matter of prime importance. Honorable senators opposite have criticized the budget and the Government’s failure to interpret the problems of Australia. It must be realized that we are a nation of only 9,000,000 people, and in these days of air travel, within 24 hours’ flying time on ordinary schedules of commercial aircraft, it is possible for an Australian resident to reach territory in which onethird of the world’s population lives. There are 100,000,000 people living nearer to Darwin than is the home of my friend Senator Wright. That vast population is being influenced by leaders whose outlook and aspirations are altogether different from those of honorable senators on either side of the Senate. Whether they are Communist inspired or not does not matter. They have distinctly different views from oura about their national rights and aspirations. It would be stupid and fantastically silly to follow some of the suggestions of Senator O’Byrne. This morning Senator Kennelly referred to his attitude to the defence vote. That honorable senator would not have it higher than £150,000,000, but Senator Cole, with the caution born of an ex-serviceman’s experience, would not have it lower thao the present budget figure. Honorable senators must accept Senator Kennelly’s views as representing the policy of the official Labour Opposition. His attitude could be likened to that of children playing on the beach while imminent danger is threatening. This is not the time for any diminution in Australia’s defence effort. Senator O’Byrne referred to a statement which he said had been made by the President of the United States of America. I have no doubt that such a statement was made, but is the United States Government reducing its defence vote by 25 per cent.? That Government is composed of practical men who believe in the old adage, “Keep your powder dry “. This is not the time for Australia to take the action suggested by the Opposition.

An examination of this Government’s record on defence policy is necessary to gain a clear understanding of it. The

Australian Government has made valuable contacts and pacts with overseas countries. I think, first, of the Anzus pact under which there has been a quiet exchange of military information by these three Pacific border member countries, and as a result tension in the Pacific area has eased. I think also of the more recent South-East Asia Treaty under which, every few months, military and economic experts confer, as a result of which a steadying influence has been exerted over the South-East Asian countries. As Senator O’Byrne rightly said, the Colombo plan has been of great assistance in quieting the turmoil that was noticeable in the countries concerned in this plan a few years ago.

The approach by the Labour party to international affairs over the past ten years provides a sharp contrast with that of the Government. Manus Island, for example, was a magnificent air and sea base in the Pacific, but under the policy applied by the Labour party it was allowed to become overgrown with weeds and jungle. The present Government was involved in tremendous expenditure to restore it to an up-to-date base. The national service training scheme, under which at least 100,000 young Australians have received their basic military training, was at first opposed and sucessfully delayed by Labour senators. At least two measures to establish this scheme were defeated by the Labour majority in the Senate at the time. Australia must keep its defences up to date. I took courage from reading the speech made by the right honorable Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) some time ago, in which he clearly intimated that he and the Australian Government will watch closely three or four significant events expected to take place in the near future. This month Dr. Adenauer, the Chancellor of “West Germany, intends to visit Moscow and it will be interesting to see what results follow from his contact with the Soviet capital. Early next month a meeting has been arranged of the foreign ministers of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a follow-up to the summit talks held a few months ago at Geneva. Next month also the United Nations Assembly in New York will be dealing with some very controversial matters. Surely it is prudent to await the resultsof these world-important events before we embark on the course suggested by the Labour party. The fact that no major war has broken out within the past three or four years is attributable to these conferences. The Australian Minister for External Affairs is trusted abroad by the Asian people, as also is the Prime Minister. He has been invited in most friendly terms to visit India and Pakistan to meet the leaders of these great Commonwealth nations. They regard him as a personal friend. The men of the Philippines, Siam and Viet Nam are personal friends of our Minister for External Affairs, and the personal contacts and journeys backwards and forwards, which Senator O’Byrne ridiculed in his references to the Minister, are the very things that are keeping us out of trouble. The fact that the people of other countries know that we are defence-minded also helps to keep us out of trouble in the near north. For those reasons, I think that the allocations for defence, and also those for the Department of External Affairs, are fully justified.

Let us anticipate, with a certain amount of realism, that a period of peace lies ahead. If we go quietly and cautiously about it, I feel sure that such a period of peace will be achieved. If that comes about, let us then face up to some of the economic changes that may be ushered in. The main preoccupation of the leaders of the nations of the world will then be with the development of international trade, because the development of trade will cement the peace. “We, as an advanced people, living in a country to the south of the densely populated Asian countries, will have a very important role to play. Therefore, we should look ahead to the development of trade with the countries to our north. There should be greater trade reciprocity, and we should be planning, with this idea of becoming a nation of merchant adventurers, as it were, to concentrate on selling our primary products, the products of mines, and also the products of our factories. We may have to revise some of’ our present tariff ideas in that event, because if we expect people to buy from us, we must be prepared to buy from them, so that there will not be a big balance due one way or the other.

This Government already has been most prudent in this connexion. It will be recalled that, recently, a delegation of businessmen, led, I believe, by a high officer of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, went to certain Asian countries. From reports that I have heard, that delegation came back to Australia with order books well .filled. However, I feel that we could go a little farther than that, We, in this Parliament, are responsible for the development of trade with the nations to our north. The Government should send one or two members of the Parliament to accompany such delegations. Assisted by our Trade Commissioners and the officials at our trading posts, they could gain an idea of what is happening in those countries. That could be done when, say, a body of journalists was proceeding overseas. The knowledge that those honorable members would bring back to this country and disseminate would be of great importance. Although I do not agree with a lot of the things said by Senator O’Byrne concerning the Northern Territory, the fact that the honorable senator had visited the Territory recently enabled him to tell the Parliament of events that are happening there. It is possible that his report is of far greater value than the report of a civil servant would be, because perhaps a civil servant who was sent to report would not be able to speak with such freedom of the things he saw. I therefore make a plea to the Ministers in the chamber to put this idea before Cabinet. Now is the time for us to develop this surge forward for markets. If one or two members of the Parliament were to accompany small exploratory delegations overseas, I think a lot of good would result.

At the present time, some of our problems can be associated with adverse trade balances, but as this matter has been well canvassed in this chamber, I shall not discuss it now. The future of wool as Australia’s staple commodity is a little doubtful at the moment, but encouraging reports in that connexion appear in today’s Adelaide press. There will be a fall in our overseas balances if prices for our commodities continue to decline, but we have no control over that matter. We can, however, increase the quantity of goods which we have for export. As I see the position at the moment, the three main things we can export are our primary products, such as wool, wheat and dried fruits, our mining products, which are increasing in importance because of the impetus that mining has received in recent months, and our manufactured products. At the present time, South Australia is exporting uranium oxide. The Premier of that State, a man of great imagination, is doing the very thing that I have been advocating just now; he is going forward and personally exploring the possibilities of atomic energy and learning the “know-how” regarding the treatment of uranium ore and the possible markets for it. He personally has negotiated markets for the product of the South Australian mines. Incidentally, South Australia, which is possibly the poorest State of Australia as far as mineral resources are concerned, is the first State to be earning dollars from the sale of uranium oxide. That has come about because the Premier did not sit at his desk or in his club, but went out to get the “ know-how “ about uranium.

There is a great responsibility on men in public office, whether they be back benchers, cabinet ministers or senior civil servants, to move about. After all, the British Parliament is only an hour away from three or four European countries, and during recess, the British member of Parliament can visit a good many countries. How much greater should be the responsibility of members of this Parliament to move about, in view of the fact that Australia is so isolated. With this drive for markets and the idea of getting to know the likes and dislikes of the people of Asia, I think that members of this Parliament are capable of helping the nation.

At the present time, of course, there are some rather bright aspects of the economic situation. The population of this country is increasing at a very rapid rate. The immigration policy of the Government contemplates bringing to Australia 125,000 immigrants this year. I am proud to learn that the millionth immigrant is due to arrive in Australia any day.

Senator Henty:

– Not a bad looker, either !

Senator LAUGHT:

– As my expert friend and senator on my left says, not a bad looker. It is pleasing to know that the millionth immigrant is British. After all, we are of British stock, and it is very gratifying to know that the number of British immigrants coming to Australia is very great, and is expected to become greater. I pay a tribute also to the immigrants who have come here from Europe. I think that the Government has captured the imagination of the Australian people by the manner in which it is assisting these immigrants to become assimilated. Local-governing bodies, which are staging their own naturalization ceremonies, are also doing this country a great service, and are helping the Government in the assimilation of European immigrants. I pay a tribute to the immigrants themselves for the way in which they are participating in the life of the country, and particularly for the way in which they are learning our language.

There is great financial stability at present in certain of our industries. I refer in particular to our rural industries. The activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in the spread of myxomatosis and the use of trace elements have greatly assisted the rural economy. Another factor which has been of great assistance in the rehabilitation of our rural economy is the imaginative taxation treatment which it enjoys, especially with regard to depreciation allowances. When I asked a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer, I was told that this imaginative income tax treatment was to be continued for another year, notwithstanding the fact that no reference to such a proposal had been made in his earlier speech. I feel that it was a case of hiding the light under the bushel, because those income tax concessions have been of great assistance in our rural economy. But I want to impress upon the Cabinet that it must be more imaginative in its taxation proposals than it has been in the past. There is one suggestion that I shall make which will not involve any great loss to our revenue. About two years ago we were privileged to debate a

S.-ro] bill which related to reciprocity with the United States of America in income tax matters. I understand that the Chifley Government, in 1947 or 1948, negotiated a reciprocal agreement on this matter with the United Kingdom, which has been very successful. I give all credit to that Government for its action. It set the pattern for the later reciprocal agreement with the United States of America. That has meant a great deal to this country, because it has resulted in a lot of American capital and “ know-how “ coming to Australia. The results can be seen in the large oil installations that have been built and are being built here. Many manufacturing concerns, particularly those engaged in the motor industry, have established themselves in Australia. Even in my own State one can see the results of the establishment of American industrial concerns. I hope that the Government will seriously consider negotiating further agreements. It might negotiate one with Canada. Think what it would mean if we were able to introduce Canadian knowledge and experience in the making of farming implements, or of implements connected with the timber industry, which is of so great importance, especially to South Australia. There is an opportunity to negotiate an agreement with our sister dominion of New Zealand. There is no reciprocity of taxation between New Zealand aud Australia, although we have such arrangements with America and. the United Kingdom. It. may also be possible for the Commonwealth to arrange a reciprocal taxation agreement with South Africa.

I make that suggestion to the Cabinet because I think that these are matters to which they should have given attention in this budget. The Treasurer says, in effect, “ No taxation remissions - we must maintain the status quo “. I agree with that, but I suggest that he had an opportunity to do something more for the future of the economy. He might, for instance, have turned his attention to certain taxation anomalies, the rectification of which would not affect the revenue to any great extent, but would mean a lot to the taxpayers, especially venturesome persons who are .prepared to risk their capital in the development of Australia. The national development of this country will be carried out far more quickly and in a more expert way by private enterprise, with government co-operation, than it can be by increasing the size of our present Government departments. We can accelerate our national development by encouraging overseas countries to use their capital and their “know-how” in developmental projects in this country.

I shall now deal with what seems to be the Aunt Sally of the Labour party in this budget debate, the undertaking of General Motors-Holden’s Limited. What does the Opposition suggest? Do honorable senators opposite want us to hand over the property of General MotorsHolden’s Limited at Woodville, South Australia to the Postal Department, to be run as a government department? Do they want the South Australian Railways to take over that property as a subsidiary of the Islington workshops? I say that we should let private enterprise carry on. Even if the company did make a gross profit of £10,000,000, it must be realized that that profit was made after the company had ploughed back into the industry, over the years, an amount of, possibly, t’40.000,000. We now have an industry, in South Australia particularly, of which we can be proud. I shall give honorable senators some information relating to this industry. General Motors Corporation linked up with Australian interests and formed the subsidiary known as General Motors-Holden’s Limited. The latter company has grown to such an extent that, since this Government came into office, it has used 250,000 tons of iron and steel; 2,500,000 gallons if paint; 5,500,000 square feet of safety glass; 12,000,000 square feet of upholstery; 500,000 square yards of carpet; l.,500,000 tyres; and a third of a million batteries. I ask honorable senators to consider all the ancillary industries that the company has helped in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and possibly Perth. Think of the employment that the company has given. The fact is that this company has been paying taxes all the lime - pay-roll tax, income tax, and other kinds of tax - and yet it has reached a point where Holden motor cars are now being exported. There is an export market for these vehicles in New Zealand, and these exports are playing an import ant part in reducing our overseas trade deficit. The Australian workman, teamed up with Australian management, can do the job, provided we do not “knock” about it. The Labour party is prepared to “knock” General Motors-Holden’s Limited because it wants to socialize the industry. It is for that reason thathonorable senators opposite talk so much about dividends. Instead of trying to injure Australian industries, we should all do our best to encourage them. If they are given encouragement, and developed into bigger concerns, they may be able to reduce the prices of individual units because of the increased output. That would be good for the internal economy of Australia, as well as for our export trade.

I pass on to make a plea to the Government in regard to an entirely different matter; I urge it to set up a royal commission to deal with taxation matters. It is nearly twenty years since there was a royal commission on taxation, and in the meantime there has been a great change throughout the land. From a predominantly primary producing country twenty years ago we have developed into a much more industrialized country, and our economy is much more complex. 1 believe that a royal commission, along the lines of the Ferguson Royal Commission of 1938, should be appointed to review taxation in all its aspects. Its purpose would be not so much to reduce the revenue derived from taxation as to bring taxing methods up to date. I hope that the Government, which has done nothing this year in this field, will have regard to the anomalies, and agree to the appointment of a royal commission on a completely non-party basis, and also on a non-fiscal basis, so that our system of taxation may be brought up to date in the light of Australia’s present needs and future aspirations.

Debate (on motion by Senator Critchley) adjourned.

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Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan ) agreed to -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday, the 14th September next, at 3 p.m.

Senate adjourned at- 5.48 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 September 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.