22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chairat 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Social Services Bill 1957.
Aged Persons Homes Bill 1957.
Gold-mining Industry AssistanceBill 1957.
– I preface a question tothe Minister forNational Development by pointing out that I was approachedby an exporter who wanted toexport coal to South-east Asia but was refused a licence, I understand, on the ground that there would not be sufficientloading facilities to handlecoal until sometime next year. I asktheMinister: Is it a factthat export licences are refusedto people who want to exportcoal because weare not able tohandlethe loading of coal into ships?
– I know nothing of the particular case to which the honorable senator refers. I could not say of my own knowledge thatexport licences are being refused, but the questionthat the honorablesenatorasksgoes right, in my opinion, to the heart ofone of the biggest problems the coal-mining industryin New South Wales is facing, because whatever may be the reason, there is at the present time apparently quite a substantial export market available for coal. The trouble is that thetransport facilities atNewcastle are a completebottleneck. We are unable to get out of the portof Newcastle the coalfor which orders are available.Solutions are under consideration. The troublebasically is that the cranes atNewcastle portare some 40 to50 yearsold.The Joint Coal Board is building at the present time a temporary loading facility. Discussions are going on between the colliery proprietors and the New South Wales Government concerning the completion of permanent new port facilities at acost of approximately £1,500,000.Inthe meantime, thequestion asked by the honorable senator leads to the answer that all shipping facilities : at the portof Newcastlefor theexport of coalare committeduntil some date next year -I believe the end of March.
SenatorBUTTFIELD. - Has the attention of the Leaderof the Government in the Senatebeen directed to an article in to-day’s “Sun “,in whichsome ofthe leading Australian scientistsgive warning that Australians face adecline in livingstandards in this nuclear era,due to a shortage of scientific man-power? Does theGovernment intend totake action to offer greater incentivestostudents to enter the scientific professions? Since it is inthe schools that the interest of students inscientific subjects could be stimulated,would the Minister considerurging the Government tofind some way of paying higher salaries to teachers of science intheschools, so that the very best people may be available instead of beingattracted to private enterprise by the offer of larger salaries, as at present?
SenatorO’SULLIVAN. - I read the newspaper report referred to by the honorable senator. It is quite true that there ‘is a dearth of students of agricultural science, industrial science,various other sciences and technical mattersgenerally. However, education, for the most part, is outside the control of the Commonwealth Government. It is one ofthose powers thatare vested in the States, but the Commonwealth - the Menzies Government, at all events - has made very generous contributions to higher education. I think the honorable senator will find that, in the Estimates for this year, provision is made for the distribution of over £3,000,000 amongst the universities. The question raised by her, I think, should rather be directed to the State authorities, in whose exclusive province the sphere of education lies.
SenatorHendrickson.- Pass the buck!
– It is not passing the buck.
SenatorPOKE. - Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade been directed to a press report of 18th October, 1957,which stated that Japanese toys to the value of £400,000 were exported to Australia in September, 1957? Will the Minister assure the Senate that, should such a trend continue, he will takeappropriateactionto ensure that toy-makers in Australia areadequatelyprotected? Can the Minister advise what was the monthly value of the trade in toys between Japan and Australia prior to the signing of the Japanese Trade Agreement?
– I am not aware that £400,000 worth of toys was exported from Japan to Australia in September, 1957. J remind the honorable senator that, whatever the figure, it, must be within the limits of the import licences that are being made available. It does not represent an increase in the total amount of imports to Australia. In addition, I remind the honorable senator that the Tariff Board recently made an inquiry into the toy-making industry and expressed its views upon it. These views have been some guide to the Government in the arrangements that have been made.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, relates to the very fine and most interesting atomic energy exhibition in King’s Hall last week. This exhibition has aroused widespread interest in all States. I therefore ask the Minister: Will he allow this exhibition to be shown in Tasmania, both in Hobart and the important northern centre of Launceston? If his answer is in the affirmative, what would be the approximate dates of the display?
– I am able to gladden the heart of the honorable senator by telling him that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission does propose to display the exhibition in both Hobart and Launceston. The dates of the display have yet to be fixed. There is a far greater demand for the exhibition than we expected at the time we launched it. The programme has not yet been finalized, and I cannot promise early exhibitions, because so many requests have been made.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the many conflicting statements being made by Ministers about the possible results of European economic plans, and particularly in the light of the disturbing diagnosis made by Dr. Menzies at the meeting of the council of the Liberal party in Canberra this week, will the Government now give sympathetic consideration to the suggestion I made some months ago that a conference be convened so that representatives of primary producers, trade unions, chambers of commerce and manufactures, and others who are interested, may be able to examine the trends and effects of these far-reaching proposals and see how they are likely to affect Australia’s export markets? It is well known that at the present time the head and deputy head of the Department of Trade and a large number of senior officials of the Department of Trade and Department of Primary Industry are abroad, and that the Treasurer recently returned to Australia armed with all the latest information. With all this information at the Government’s disposal, it is felt that the Parliament of Australia rather than a Liberal party tea party should be given an authoritative statement.
– If the honorable senator is really thirsting for information, I shall go to the bother of getting for him a copy of the Prime Minister’s statement. It is well worth studying. If the honorable senator does not understand it, I am prepared to explain it to him.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation anything to report on plans to extend the aerodrome at Mount Gambier, in South Australia, to enable it to be used by larger aeroplanes? Will he let me know the progress that has been made so far?
– For some time past, the requirements of the aerodrome at Mount Gambier have been under fairly close observation by the Department of Civil Aviation. As the result of a rather close survey of traffic potential, it has been decided to place this project on the current works list. We shall call tenders, probably towards the end of this month, and get the work in hand as soon as a satisfactory tender has been received.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise noted the opposition in Melbourne to the proposed demolition of the 116-year-old Customs House in Flinders-street, Melbourne? Has the Minister read the comments by Sir Harold Gengoult Smith, Professor Lewis, and Mr.
– I have noted the comments in the Melbourne press, and I fully understand the desire of a large section of Victorians to retain the old Customs House which, as Senator Wedgwood stated, is a classic example of early colonial architecture. What I thought was an excellent report by the Public Works Committee on this particular matter was tabled in this chamber recently. The committee closely considered a number of alternatives, and, on reading the report, I felt that the members of the committee had in their hearts all the time a desire to retain the present building if at all possible. They exhaustively examined all alternatives before making their recommendation. However, it is recognized by all sections of the community that the present building is too small for use by the department. At the present time, 180 employees of four branches are housed outside the present Customs House building. Therefore, it was thought that something must be done to make more accommodation available. Various alternatives were suggested, including a suggestion that the State Electricity Commission’s site at 23 Williamstreet should be acquired, if possible, for the erection of a new Customs House, in exchange for the site of the present Customs House building. That was one of a number of alternatives that were mentioned. Possibly the suggestion could be reexamined. I do not know whether it would appeal to either the Commonwealth or the State government, but it may have possibilities on a valuation basis. Victorian Liberal senators, who have taken a very keen interest in this matter, might feel it worth while to discuss it with the Premier of Victoria with this object in view.
– As the Minister for Customs and Excise is no doubt aware, Item 2 of the Third Schedule to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulation provides that the country of manufacture of certain goods may be marked on the outside package containing those goods only. Will the Minister consider favorably an amendment of the regulation making it mandatory that the country of origin be clearly imprinted on the article before it is allowed into Australia?
– The existing regulations state that the country of origin must be clearly marked on the container. The honorable senator showed me an example of an article which could itself have been marked. However, some articles are so minute that they could not be marked.
– Many of them could be marked.
– I have examined the matter thoroughly and do not think it possible to bring in a regulation under which every article, large or small, shall be marked. I think that we can go no further than to say that the container shall be clearly marked.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he has noticed the announcement that certain hirepurchase companies have reduced interest rates on advances for the purchase of new cars. Is it a fact that spokesmen for these companies have said that this reduction is due largely to the reductions in company tax granted in the Budget recently brought down by the present Menzies Government?
– I have noticed that certain hire-purchase companies have reduced their interest rates. I should think that it would be a natural consequence of public confidence in this Government’s sound financial arrangements.
– Has the attention of the Minister for National Development been drawn to an article in to-day’s “ Daily Telegraph “ concerning the renewal of snow leases in the Snowy Mountains area? Is the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority aware that the Kosciusko Park Trust has renewed its snow leases for a further year, and that the New South
Wales Cabinet has approved of this;, in spite of the fact that the New South Wales Minister for Conservation, Mr. Wetherell urged it not to do so because grazing had contributed greatly to erosion of the catchment? What measures is the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority taking to prevent, erosion in. this area?
– I saw the newspaper report and read it with a good deal of interest and pleasure. I interpreted it to mean that the. Lands Department of New South Wales and the Kosciusko Park Trust had composed their1 differences and had made a joint decision not to permit, grazing in the Snowy Mountains catchment area above the 4,500 feet level.
– After next June.
– Even that is a substantial improvement on the present position. My understanding, of the report was that the decision was to take effect immediately. However, anything which restricts grazing in that area, with its accompanying fire hazards, is a move in the right direction.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister; upon notice -
In what form- was authority, if any, given for increases in members’ parliamentary allowances announced in the last week of the autumn sittings?
– I have been supplied with the following, answer: -
The increase was approved by the Government following representations from the All Party Members Amenities Committee.
asked’ the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Tirade has advised me as follows: - 1.. Mr. M. E. McCarthy, who is. chairman of the Tariff Board-, has been appointed as advisory authority to the Minister for Trade in connexion with that aspect of the! Japanese Trade Agreement which relates to the avoidance- of any serious injury to Australian industry arising from the operation of the agreement. It is not expected that Mr. McCarthy’s! duties, as advisory authority will affect his duties or functions as chairman of the Tariff Board.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice: -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
With reference to the explanatory statement in connexion with the amendments to the Telephone Regulations embodied in Statutory Rules 1957, No. 46, in which it is stated that the scheme for the supply of P.A.B.X.’s by approved contractors was introduced because of the department’s inability to devote sufficient resources of funds, materials and man-power to cater for the heavy demand for automatic switching units, and in view of the fact that the reason for this action, advanced in the explanatory statements, is not one of political policy or principle, will trie Postmaster-General explain how the shortage of. funds, materials and manpower referred to developed in this important public enterprise when no such shortage apparently manifests itself in the sphere of private commerce?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
With the rapid development of the automatic telephone system in recent years applications from business subscribers for private automatic branch exchanges have increased heavily. At the same time there has been an unprecedented and growing demand for telephone services generally and the department is faced with very real problems in overtaking arrears of applications of all kinds and keeping abreast with the current application rate. This being so the diversion of funds, labour and materials to provide private automatic branch exchange units would seriously prejudice progress in public telephone exchange installations and in the work of providing urgent and essential telephone facilities for the community as a whole. In fact to satisfy requests for P.A.B.X. units only would involve allocation of approximately £1,000,000 annually and to the extent such resources are so allocated the Post Office would be unable to meet more essential commitments.
In the circumstances the department has welcomed the co-operation of approved telephone equipment suppliers in relieving it of the need to provide funds and labour for P.A.B.X. work and the arrangements now approved will mean that the business subscribers themselves will purchase or rent the equipment from the approved contractors who install it. The department will, however, continue to maintain the equipment once it is installed.
asked the Minister, representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I have been supplied’ with the following answer: -
The distribution of the special assistance of £3,000,000 to be given by the Commonwealth for roads in each of the years 1957-58 and 1958-59 will be announced shortly in conjunction with the introduction of the enabling legislation.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) The Bureau of Mineral Resources has recently made a combined aerial magnetometer and scintillograph survey over 2,500 square miles at Tennant Creek. The first map was made available to the public on 7th October and the others will be made available as completed.
The flight lines were spaced at intervals oi one-fifth of a mile. The aircraft flew at a height of 500 feet. Anomalies will be shown accurately, but not in the same detail as would be obtained by ground surveys. One of the main purposes ot the air survey is to indicate localities where more detailed ground surveys might with advantage be made.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– I have obtained the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s question: -
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– I now furnish the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The following answers have been furnished: -
– On 3rd October last, Senator Hendrickson asked me a question without notice concerning the costs of the Australian National University and the Canberra University College and the possibility of amalgamation of these two bodies. In answer to the honorable senator’s request for a statement of the total cost, including capital expenditure, of the Australian National University and of the Canberra University College, I can give the following figures to the end of June, 1957: -
Canberra University College. - The total direct cost of the Canberra University College to the Government since its establishment, excluding expenditure on Canberra scholarships for which the college is only the administering authority, is £682,000. This does not include the cost of buildings occupied by the college, or of services connected with them, such as cleaning and maintenance. This is because the college has always occupied government buildings.
As for the honorable senator’s questions on the desirability of amalgamation of these two institutions, I think it best to say at this stage that this is a matter touching on the future of Australian universities, and, as such, is one which will be considered in the light of the report of the Committee on Australian Universities. The Prime Minister has indicated that he is now considering this report and hopes to make it, and the Government’s recommendations on it, available in the near future.
– On 2nd October, Senator Wright asked me a question concerning the publication of the report of the Committee on Australian Universities, in which he also asked whether the Senate will have an opportunity to debate the proposals formulated as a result of the report.
The Prime Minister has advised me that he hopes to have the report of the Committee on Australian Universities, together with the views and decisions of the Government on it, available for discussion by Parliament and public early next month.
– by leave - The operations of Trans-Australia Airlines for the year ended 30th June, 1957, resulted in a profit of £308,829, out of which a dividend of 5 per cent., taking £218,500, will be paid to the Commonwealth Treasury. This will be disclosed in the Australian National Airlines Commission’s annual report, which will be available for tabling in the Parliament within the next few weeks. Of the balance of the profit, £50,000 is transferred to the commission’s general reserve and the remainder, together with £23,538 which was brought in from last year’s operations, makes a total of £63,867 carried forward. In addition, the amount of £124,486 arising from the net gain on the sale of aircraft has already been transferred to the commission’s general reserve. T.A.A.’s total revenue for the year was £10,702,466 - its highest to date. Total expenses were £10,393,637. The net operating profit of £308,829 represents a return of slightly over 7 per cent. on the commission’s capital of £4,370,000.
In the supplementary report which the Auditor-General will be presenting this week, I understand he will refer to T.A.A.’s figures and results. As the commission’s printed report will not be available for a few weeks, I am arranging for roneoed copies of the commission’s closing accounts for 1956-57 to be made available immediately to honorable senators.
– I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper: -
Commonwealth Grants Commission Act - Commonwealth Grants Commission - Twentyfourth Report (1957).
The recommendations contained in the report will be adopted by the Government, and the enabling legislation will be introduced shortly. Copies of the report are available for honorable senators.
Debate resumed from 17th October (vide page 689) on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the following papers: -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1958;
The Budget 1957-58 - Papers presented by the Right Hon. Sir Arthur Fadden in connexion with the Budget of 1957-58; and National Income and Expenditure 1956-57, be printed.
Upon which Senator Benn had moved by way of amendment -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert “ the Estimates and Budget Papers. 1957-58 tabled in She Senate should be rejected because they are -an integral part of the Government’s implementation of policies detrimental in their effects on the -defences and development of Australia, on the living standards and employment of the Aus.tralian people and wasteful of national revenues “. “Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) [3.41]. - In rising to take part in this debate 1 want to say, first of all, that I support the proposals contained in the Budget that was presented to the .Parliament, if my memory serves me aright, some two months ago. I do not intend to detail those proposals because they have all been canvassed in this chamber, have been the subject of legislation, or will be the subjects of debate. Nor do I propose to deal this afternoon with the subject of defence, because it has already been fairly fully debated by the Senate this year and doubtless it will crop up again at a later stage. For the same reason, I shall not deal with banking because, as we know, banking bills will be on our notice-paper when we come back later to resume the present sittings.
I believe that the Labour party, through Senator Benn, has submitted its amendment to the motion that the Budget papers be printed in accordance with its usual habit of wasting time and making a fuss. I have listened carefully to the speeches that have been delivered by the Opposition - both parts of it - and I could briefly summarize Labour’s doctrine as expressed during this debate, as follows: - The Government should levy less taxation; it should make more hand-outs to the people; it should expend more money; it should make available more loan money to the States; and it should borrow less money for this purpose. Frankly, the Opposition has not expressed one new thought as to how the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth should be carried out.
I turn now to other subjects and I say, without any levity, that I shall continue to complain each year until, perhaps with the assistance of other honorable senators, I convince the Government of the necessity to introduce the Budget earlier. I strongly condemn the Government for the continued late introduction of the Commonwealth Budget. I have complained about .this for many years, in common with many thousands of business people, but our complaints have fallen on deaf or unwilling ears. T think this is a serious matter. When I have spoken to people in high places about it they have said, “ We cannot get it in any earlier “. But what about the British people? In the United Kingdom, the financial year ends in the first week of April, -which is at the beginning of the season that is usually prosperous. The United Kingdom Government introduces its budget either in the middle of April or during the first week of May. Within a few weeks of the end of .’the financial year, government departments and taxpayers are informed of government policy for the ensuing twelve months - what they will get from the .government, and the amount of taxation that will be levied on them. I say that if the ‘British people can do this, we can do it.
In Australia, the financial year ends on 30th June, which is in the middle of our winter, a time When our economy is at its lowest ebb, due to climatic conditions. Usually, the Budget is introduced, not during July or August, but in the first week of September. Then follow the debates in both chambers. We are now into the second quarter of the new financial year but the people have not yet been told finally the details of the Government’s financial policy. That is riOt known, in theory or in practice, until the Senate has passed the Budget papers and the Estimates. It is really and truly incompetence in government when this practice continued for year after year. There is no doubt that a late Budget causes buyer resistance at the very time of the year when we do not want buyer resistance. We want trade to be given every impetus during the winter months. As a matter of fact, it -was common knowledge that people thought there would be in this Budget a reduction of the sales tax on motor cars. The press boys had been barking it for months. The result was that the registration of new cars in Australia was down by 1,500 in August of this year, compared with August of last year. That shows that there was a great slowing up of business in one of our most important industries:
The late presentation of the Budget also gives the press far too much time to indulge in kite-flying. From June of this year onwards there were tips in various newspapers by various experts about pension rises and other rises. Then again, it- cannot be denied that there were leakages of information about the Budget. Anybody who read, the newspapers and the commentaries really knew, by the time it was presented in another place, what the Budget provided, within a few “ bob “ each way. The fact is that when we come to debate the Budget, it does not excite interest amongst the people, because they know what it provides and have decided that they will take it, but while we are waiting for a Budget to be introduced, the nation plays the game of “ wait and see “. That is why unemployment grows and trade is restricted. I do not mind if the financial year of the Commonwealth is made to end at’ 30th September - which is the beginning of spring, a more prosperous season - as long as we introduce the Budget in the first week of October to keep business running smoothly. I- hope that this will be done in. future years. 1 want to go on to other matters. I believe that in the Senate we- should deal with matters from a State, not a parish pump point of view. We should deal with the Australian Government’s financial- and economic policy particularly as it affects the States. I will say that the Menzies Government, in its nine years of office, has been most generous to the States by way of tax reimbursements, petrol tax allocations and the provision of loan funds. But in Tasmania we have a government of a different political colour. We have a Labour government, which has no responsibility, for collecting the moneys it receives. In my honest opinion, it uses these generous allocations of funds to make more friends and to indulge in more waste, because it has no responsibility, for raising the money. If, any. of my Tasmanian colleagues on the other side of the chamber want to know how the State Labour Government wastes money, I mention Montagu Swamp, where there is a shocking waste of money provided by the Commonwealth, and the glaring example of the East Tamar Highway, built by the Public Works Department.
I do not blame the Commonwealth Government. I praise it for making adequate financial provision for the States, but its responsibility for the economies of the States does not end there. There are cer tain matters within the jurisdiction- of the Commonwealth to which. I believe this Parliament should pay a little more attention. Naturally, defence and repatriation are matters for the Commonwealth Government. We cannot fairly expect or request the expenditure of great defence funds in Tasmania; that would not be good policy. But there, is one way in which the Commonwealth Government could have helped the economy of Tasmania in recent months. It could: have gone on with the promised repairs and additions to the repatriation hospital there. They are long overdue. We have had’ promises, rumours, ideas, and assurances, but the. Government has not gone on with the project. We are no nearer to getting these additions and replacements than we were when I first came into this Parliament. There is also the matter of Commonwealth offices in Tasmania, and other facilities for Commonwealth personnel;
I do not believe that a fair share of Commonwealth funds is being expended- in Tasmania, and I raise this matter because the State has been passing through a period of economic difficulty which could have been greatly alleviated if a little more money had come its way. The reason for- this economic difficulty was the unfortunate fruit export season last year, coupled with a recession of trade in the timber industry. Neither was the fault of the Commonwealth Government, but an island State is not so resilient in economic matters as are the mainland States. Therefore, I believe, more attention should be paid to the situation of Tasmania. The Commonwealth acts very generously in the case of floods, bush fires or droughts, and it would so act if there were earthquakes, but it does not seem to act so quickly and generously in respect of passing economic difficulties. I say straight out that I believe the difficulties of Tasmania since the middle of June have been only passing difficulties, but quite a lot of help could have been given in that period.
The great need of Tasmania is for a fillip to the building trade, which affects the State’s economy throughout. I believe that Tasmania is suffering a greater shortage of housing than are several of the mainland States. One of the reasons for this shortage is that loans are not readily available. The maximum advance, of £2,750 from the Commonwealth Bank is not sufficient under present economic conditions, because the building of a home on a purchased block of land costs from about £4,000 to £4,500. Not enough of our young people who require homes have sufficient money to deposit to enable them to have houses erected with the assistance of loans from the Commonwealth Bank. I understand that the Commonwealth Bank has enough funds available, but while it is tied to a maximum advance of £2,750 it cannot come to the rescue of people as I believe it was intended to do. I ask the Government to consider this limitation, in co-operation with the State Government, to which a lot of the blame for our troubles is attachable, because of its depression-howling after the meeting of the Loan Council. t remind the Government that it has a Responsibility, because the Commonwealth is a part of a federation. We in Tasmania do not criticize the expenditure on St. Mary’s. We are not jealous of the benefits to come to Victoria and New South Wales under the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, on which £18,000,000 of Commonwealth money will be spent this year. We do not criticize the expenditure of millions of pounds on rail standardization. Rather, we congratulate the Government for its initiative in developing such projects. We do not even quibble at special Commonwealth grants for the Western Australian water scheme. We do not blame or criticize the Government for carrying on with the development of Canberra and the territories. We realize that the Government has many responsibilities. All we ask is that it should hear our case and consider whether we in Tasmania could be given a fairer deal in the provision of Commonwealth facilities in our State as a fillip to our trade. No one can deny that Tasmania is a rich State. It is rich in minerals and primary production and has a prosperous tourist industry.
But it has its problems.. Shipping costs, the irregularity of services and the frequent unavailability of shipping are problems that affect the welfare of the primary producer in particular, as do also the climatic and seasonal vagaries for which no government can be blamed. Because such problems exist, I believe that the Department of Trade, the Department of Primary Industry, and the Department of Shipping and Transport should confer with a view to ascertaining how they can help Tasmania.
Recent figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician present a rather gloomy picture. Last year, 38,315 fewer acres were sown with crops than in the previous year. That was a decrease of 11.3 .per cent. The area sown with wheat dropped by 2,324 acres; 12,000 fewer acres were sown with oats; and the area sown with potatoes, which are in great demand on mainland markets, was 1,717 acres less. If we take an average crop of exportable potatoes as being four tons to the acre, it will be noted that there was a big drop in the Tasmanian output of this much-needed foodstuff. Moreover, the total orchard area was 655 acres less.
– It has declined because of the difficulties primary producers are experiencing in the following respects: first, the availability of labour; secondly, shipping costs and irregularity of services; and, thirdly, the uncertainty of markets and prices on the mainland on occasions. 1 am not being destructively critical; I am just setting forth the facts as I plainly see them, with an unbiased mind, which I believe is the attitude in which the National Parliament, and particularly we in the Senate, should approach such matters. Tasmania would be helped more if the Government were to concentrate on including rural workers in the Tasmanian immigrant intake. A close watch on shipping costs and timetables would also be of assistance.
Tasmania’s industries have a great future, particularly its primary industries, its mineral industry, and the tourist industry. But this State needs the full co-operation of the Commonwealth Government in goading a rather lackadaisical State Labour government into action and into an’ acceptance of its rightful responsibilities.
I now leave that subject to discuss this Parliament as a national parliament. I ask this question: Is the National Parliament facing up to its responsibilities and problems?
– If the honorable senator means the Government, no.
– I am referring to our system of parliamentary government and not to the party political attitude that Senator Toohey adopts. Is the system being altered to meet modern needs? I was very pleased to read an extract of the speech of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, when she opened the recent InterParliamentary Union Conference in London. She said -
The Parliament at Westminster has seen many changes and survived many crises. It has adapted itself to the conditions of each succeeding age without loss of vitality or strength. This has happened because there have always been men who have realized that it is the principle of parliamentary government that is important, and principles are only kept alive by people who believe in them passionately.
Every member of the National Parliament should know that extract by heart and should sincerely consider it. Her Majesty has given us a wonderful lead.
Has the Senate adapted itself in any way to modern requirements? I say that the answer is a clear-cut “ No “. I do not believe that the Senate is serving the nation as well as it could. It could be a very valuable house of parliament, and is very definitely needed; but there has been no change in outlook, organization or acceptance of responsibility, to my knowledge, for at least ten years. There is a growing need for Senate reform. I believe that, in relation to the Budget and the Estimates, we should adopt a completely different form of review. The Senate, instead of waiting until another house has slowly gone through the Estimates with many interruptions before it considers them, should, when the Estimates and Budget papers are presented, divide itself into committees. Those committees should thoroughly comb the Estimates, various committees dealing with various groups of estimates. Honorable senators should then return to the chamber and, during a brief debate, advance sound ideas, constructive criticism, or praise if it is warranted. We are always told before the Estimates are presented that the Treasurer has used his pruning knife, but the Estimates that have been presented on this occasion do not indicate much pruning.
To have it on record, I repeat my plea for Senate re-organization. Despite the calibre of those senators who occupy ministerial positions, I believe the Senate would be a greatly improved chamber if none of its members was appointed to Cabinet rank. It would mean that there would be more of the Parliament ruling the Executive than of the Executive ruling the Parliament. Perhaps it could also be made a rule that senators should not attend party meetings with their fellows in another place, but should hold their own meetings. If that suggestion were adopted, and if no member of the Senate were appointed to ministerial rank, there could be clear, dispassionate debate, free of the control of another place. I do not care to which party an honorable senator belongs, the members of another place do seek to control the senators. Instead of having senators as members of the Cabinet, the Government could nominate some of its supporters in this place to represent Ministers in order to handle bills introduced by them and to answer questions on their behalf.
The Government, which came into office in 1949, was heralded as a breath of fresh air in the public and political life of Australia. The people, after their experiences of the period before 1949, breathed a sigh of relief and welcomed the election to office of this Government. They remembered the controls and the black markets of the socialists’ rule. As soon as this Government assumed office, it lived up to its promises. It wiped out many of the controls and literally freed the people as it promised it would. It gave a great impetus to development, and that development has gone on continuously. It also gave encouragement to private enterprise, which was being stifled by the misgovernment of the socialists. Private enterprise has been grateful for the impetus that this Government has given to it. In addition, the Government reduced the size of the Public Service fairly and gradually as a form of economy. Honorable senators will recall how our defence services were reborn after being a thing of threads and patches as a result of Labour’s careless attitude towards that important question. The Government lived up to its reputation and, having promised to be a tax-reducing party, abolished the land tax and the entertainment tax.
But we must be careful not to recall only the good things. It is time that we recalled too, some of the problems that still face the Government after it has been in office for ten years. If I am criticized for recriminating about the past, let me quote the following words that were uttered by Sir Winston Churchill on 29th May, 1936 -
The use of recriminating about the past is to enforce effective action at the present.
I am recriminating about the past only to try to help to get things done and to see continued the good government that we have now had for years. I do not want to see the Government get into the groove of apathy simply because we have no real opposition in the Parliament. I believe that uniform taxation - and I say this bluntly, as a Tasmanian - is the greatest money-waster of the century. Moreover, the financing of capital works from revenue is not sound economics for a young and progressive country. The people of today should not have to pay for the benefits derived by those who are to come after them. We are taxing people too highly in order to finance capital works from revenue. More should be done to popularize Commonwealth bonds and attract the small investor. There is in the savings banks plenty of money which could well be invested in ‘ Commonwealth bonds. That is where we really need investment. The need to popularize the bond market must be tackled with more initiative by the Government.
More attention should be paid to the administration and organization of the PostmasterGeneral’s department, the biggest single industry in Australia. It is going ahead in leaps and bounds because it enjoys a fairly generous allocation of funds, but it should be less fettered by political interference. It should be a thing apart - in the same position as, say, a hydro-electricity commission. It should have a five-year programme, to be carried out with the aid of guaranteed loan funds and a sound accounting system, and then be left to do the job. There are, at the top of the department, men who are worth their weight in gold. They have done wonderful work in the extension of telephone, trunk line and cable systems in recent years. We should take the fetters off those men and give them a fair go.
In conclusion, I should like to enlarge on what I have said about uniform taxation. One reason why we should get rid of it is that it involves holding each year a Premiers’ conference. The conference takes the form of a -back-biting quarrel, the preliminaries of which begin weeks before the appointed date and the aftermath of which continues for months. That does not help to make for a happy and united federation, lt causes many petty quarrels and makes enemies of people who should be friends and should co-operate effectively within their particular spheres. We must get down to taws and introduce a financial policy which will free Australia from the shockingly wasteful system of uniform taxation. The Premiers receive each year a very generous hand-out from the Federal Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), complain bitterly about it, and then go home laughing to themselves because they know that he must bear all the odium of raising taxes, and all the blame if Commonwealth loans are not filled. Every one knows that if you have other people’s money to spend, and no responsibility, you will waste it. This developing young country cannot afford wastage of public funds such as we are witnessing to-day. I support the Budget proposals and the motion for the printing of the papers. I congratulate the Government upon a good year’s work, but urge it to keep on the good work and to try to reduce the incidence of uniform taxation.
.- It might be advisable to begin by reading the amendment, because apparently Senator Marriott has not seen it. It was moved by Senator Benn on behalf of the Australian Labour party. I emphasize that fact. The amendment is in these terms -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert “the Estimates and Budget Papers 1957-58 tabled in the Senate should be rejected because they are an integral part of the Government’s implementation of policies detrimental in their effects on the defences and development of Australia, on the living standards and employment of the Australian people and wasteful of national revenues.
Senator Marriott is apparently 75 per cent, in support of the amendment in detail. He said that he would tell us something new, but at least half of what he said had previously been put by members of the Opposition. He said nothing new, especially when he told us that the States should receive more finance from the Federal Government.
– I did not say that all the States should receive more.
– That does not matter. I understood that the honorable senator was speaking from the point of view of the States; indeed, he said that he was.
Naturally, I thought that he was speaking on behalf of his own State. If he did not think that his own State should receive a bigger hand-out he should have been man enough, while the proceedings of the Parliament were being broadcast, to say so. If he had I would have agreed with him 100 per cent. The honorable senator knows how progress in Tasmania is retarded, and unemployment created, as a result of the fiscal policy of the present Federal Government.
– I referred to the fruit industry and the timber industry.
– What is happening in the timber industry is an example of what we mean by the amendment. The Government is hampering Australia’s development by allowing the importation of timber produced by cheap and sweated labour. It is pushing the sawmiller in Tasmania out of the industry. The honorable senator knows that scores of mills have been shut down because of this Government’s policy. Therefore, he is very ill-advised to mention the timber industry.
The amendment refers also to living standards and employment. Living standards have been lowered by the actions and legislation of the Government which, when it came into office, spoke of bringing a breath of fresh air to the economy. What it did was to increase sales tax by 10 per cent., 20 per cent., 50 per cent, and 100 per cent, in some cases. That was the only breath of fresh air that the people received. So far that additional tax has not been removed. No one knows better than does Senator Marriott the effect that the increased sales tax had upon inflation. I give him credit for having the intelligence to understand that the more government legislation creates inflation the more it undermines the stability of the economy. The honorable gentleman cannot have two bob each way in a Senate debate. He must be honest with himself. Most of his speech really amounted to a trouncing of the Government’s present policy.
The standards of the people are being undermined by the treaties that this Government has made with countries in which sweated labour conditions prevail. I take it that Senator Marriott supports that kind of thing entirely. I have no -doubt about the attitude of the Leader of the SantamariaCole party, because when he spoke on the air recently he said that he agreed 100 per cent, with the policy of importing goods from Japan.
– Who is Santamaria?
– He is sitting beside you. The importation of Japanese goods in quantity is pushing thousands of men out of work. Very soon their numbers will run into tens of thousands. The Government’s action has the 100 per cent, approval of two of the previous speakers from Tasmania, Senator Marriott and Senator Cole. I do not wish to be personal in any way, but anybody with any knowledge of economics knows that if we allow Japanese imports to compete with goods manufactured under Australian standards, without loading a burden of import duties upon them, the result must be that many of our manufacturing industries will close down. Some textile factories and fish-canning factories have already closed. The latest information is that a quantity of Japanese toys is arriving here. Nobody is able to tell us the actual quantity; the only information available is that it is a huge quantity. Those toys have been manufactured at onesixth of the cost at which it would be possible to manufacture the same toys in Australia. The honorable senators I have mentioned agree 100 per cent, with the policy of permitting such imports. The Leader of the Santamaria-Cole party has said that he wants to see every Labour senator in this chamber condemn this Budget and vote against it. How can he make a statement like that when all his speeches are in support of the Budget? When he supports the importation of goods such as those I have mentioned, he is, in fact, supporting a policy which will put our own kith and kin out of employment. He has also stated that he supports a policy of unlimited immigration to Australia, regardless of the effect it will have upon the employment market. Although he is supporting policies which are completely contrary to the amendment that has been moved, he says that Labour senators should condemn me Budget. :He is trying to have it both ways. Why does not he declare himself to be 100 per cent, with the Government and have done with it? Senator Cole is continually interjecting because he does not want the -electors to hear what I am ‘saying.
– We would like to hear the truth now and again.
– While he was speaking on the Japanese Trade Agreement, I interjected to ask -
Does the honorable senator support the Japanese Trade Agreement?
He replied -
Certainly, because the only way we can maintain full employment in this country-
– Finish it.
– He wants us to import goods to put our own kith and kin out of employment. Then he supports the Government 100 per cent, in the miserable addition it has made to the unemployment relief benefit. He goes further and says, “ Let us have unlimited immigration to this country, because we need it, regardless of the employment position “. Will he deny that? Of course he will not.
– Why cannot you be honest?
– I am honest. I was only quoting what the honorable senator said in this chamber. It is quite in keeping with his political history. We do not expect anything else from him. If honorable senators study his political history, they will find that what he has said is in keeping with it. I will let it go at that, but if he wants more, I can give him some more. He was sent here by a section of the community which voted for him because of his pledge to support certain policies, but after getting here, he just wiped those people off and went his own course. He repudiated the policies on which he was elected to this chamber.
– He repudiated new policies that were brought in.
– No new policies were brought in. If honorable senators want to know the full history of the matter, I can tell them. I was placed in the most embarrassing situation I have ever encountered in my life. I carted Senator Cole round the country during the campaign that enabled him to get into this chamber. When he acted in such a treacherous way to the people who had voted for him, it put me
In a most embarrassing position, because I had helped him in the election. That is some of the honorable senator’s political past. I helped him to get here, but I was a member of the controlling body which later declared him black - as black as his name. He will remain black, as far as I am concerned, while I am a member of the Labour party.
– Who put the honorable senator on the Labour ticket in the position he occupied?
– If the honorable . gentleman wants to know something about that, I can tell him that, too. I was put No. 4 on the Labour Senate ticket, and Senator Cole threatened what he would do if I did not advocate that Labour voters should vote according to the ticket. He went further and threatened to bash up age pensioners if they did not pull my posters down. First of all, I helped him in his election campaign, but later I helped to declare his name black. Despite his threats to the electors and to me personally, I am still here, and that is what counts.
– And a disgrace to the Parliament.
– If I were as big a disgrace as the honorable senator, I would resign immediately. I have never acted in the treacherous way that he has acted to the electors.
However, let me come back to the subjects with which I was dealing. I was speaking of unemployment and sales tax. On those subjects, Senator Cole gave 100 per cent, support to the Government. The Labour, party claims that the Government’s policy in those respects is upsetting the economy of this country and, therefore, must be altered. Not only is the Government upsetting the economy of the country, but some of its members have been here for so long - I say too long - that they are becoming arrogant. Supported by the Santamaria-Cole party in this chamber, they are able to carry on.
I have previously mentioned in this chamber the persecution of a certain exserviceman. He belongs to the State represented by Senator Cole, but Senator Cole would not join forces with me to fight his case. The ex-serviceman concerned went on to the land on King Island, under the war service land settlement scheme, but he is being pushed out by the Minister for
Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon). I had a job to pin down the Minister responsible. I asked a number of questions and brought the matter up on the adjournment debates. Finally, I was able to pin the responsibility on to the Minister for Primary Industry. He was the Minister who ordered the prosecution of this returned serviceman, a pensioner, and the persecution - it amounts to persecution - of his family. I did not give any details of this case before, because I was negotiating to see whether it would be possible to obtain justice for him. As it has not been possible to get justice for him, there is no alternative to exposing some of the facts in this chamber.
– Why not all?
– I always like to keep a bullet or two up my sleeve when I am dealing with treacherous people. When a man invites me to his office only for the purpose of insulting me, I know the type of man I am dealing with. That is why I am not giving all the facts at once. 1 think that is fair enough.
– With whom is the honorable senator dealing?
– I am dealing with the Minister for Primary Industry, who ordered the prosecution of Mr. O’Shea, whose family has been persecuted. This Government considers that £4 7s. 6d. is the minimum amount on which an age or invalid pensioner can live, yet it expects this man to keep his family and pay off a debt, not wholly incurred by himself, on a unit basis of £2 a week. I say that that is persecution. It is a deliberate attempt to starve this man’s family, to persecute them into submission. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) tried to wriggle out of it. He said he was not the responsible Minister, and he sought to throw the responsibility on to the shoulders of the State authorities. Let me tell the Senate what the State authorities had to say after this exserviceman’s case was put to them. They said -
There is no question of O’Shea obtaining some sympathy from the Tasmanian Government, as it is entirely a matter for the Commonwealth Government, whose funds are involved.
Entirely a matter for the Commonwealth Government!
– What Minister was that?
– When I went to Mr. McMahon’s office, he told me he was sending the matter back to the proper authority. I suggested to him that there was no higher authority than he. He said he was sending the matter back to the State. I told him that the State authorities had washed their hands of it, and that it was his responsibility. He said, “ If you speak to me in that manner, I will have to ask you to leave the office “.
– If you speak much more about him, I am going to have something to say about it.
– Who is the Tasmanian Minister whom you are quoting?
– The Minister for Agriculture.
– You be careful about what you say.
– I am making this speech, and I am only stating facts. I am sure Mr. McMahon will not deny what 1 have said.
– You are not stating facts when you say a Minister is treacherous.
– I told him that if that was his attitude I was leaving his office there and then. Mr. McMahon stated that he had been given all the facts. I say that he has not. I say that the officers of the department are not furnishing either Mr. McMahon or the federal authorities with the hard cold facts. I have affidavits setting out the facts that have been given to the federal authorities, and until such time as I find that the signatories to these affidavits have committed perjury I am not prepared to back down and give up this fight.
The position is that this returned soldier offered to carry on working the farm under the supervision of District Agricultural Officers if the department would pay him £10 a week for his family’s keep, the department to retain any balance from the farm income, this balance to be dec?ucted from his debt. The department partly agreed to this, but the next thing this man knew was that the department was selling him up without giving him any further notice. He was billed for hundreds of pounds. The department claimed that some of the debt was for money advanced to him for the purchase of superphosphate. It is perfectly true that he received an advance to buy superphosphate-, but the: point is that this superphosphate- was- put into the ground and’ therefore the ID1. A.©;, or- the next occupant, of’ the farm would get the benefit. Although1 the. next person; to take over thefarm will enjoy the benefits from this supers phosphate, the- department is demanding! that O’Shea. pay for it: That is my first) complaint, and if the Minister for Customs: and Excise wants to take- some notes, I) shall quote from O’Shea’s own statement.
Senator- Henty. - I am- not taking notes.
– This is what O’Shea said in his statement -
In September, 1953, the. Board, was on-, my place, and an agreement was made that the Board take over through the local DiA.O. I was to gel £10 per week, and the rest was to go off my debt, but the local D.A.O. would not assist me. Also on the day of’ my sale-, the- C.S.B. officers- Mr. Handley and Mr. Bergess the local: D.A.G. told’ the buyers that my cow had. mastitis which also was untrue, yet Mr. Handley bought most of my stock for a Mr. Lynch who was stockman for the. Board-.
Could any one imagine anything more intriguing than that? First one officer of the. department says to the public at the sale, “ Do not touch this man’s cows, they have mastitis “. Then this officer’s cobber buys them for another cobber of his! Excuse me, Mr. Deputy President, but if that is justice to ex-servicemen or to service and repatriation pensioners, I should, like to know what is not justice. O’Shea signed; a statutory declaration containing what I have just quoted. The: department is disputing what he says. Has any officer, of th& department the, courage to sign a statutory declaration to. support what is being, said, about this man, or are they all too yellow to do so? I say they are too yellow to attempt to. back up- their statements. However, this man is pushed off his property. After having, first bought stock for him at inflated prices, the officers, in order to ensure that he will only get low prices for them when they bring up his debt to the department, tell the public at the sale not to touch these cows, that they are diseased. Then the officers of the department buy them for their own friends! If that is not corrupt, then I have never heard of anything that was corrupt in dealing with ex-servicemen.
– If that- were true, it would be corrupt, but you do not know whether it is true.
– If it is not true, why. doi not these officers come forward with. a. signed- statutory declaration to: the effect that this returned’ serviceman is; not telling the. truth?
Further, while, the department has been working, this man into this position,, he has. spent a total of months in a repatriation hospital. He spent very many weeks at. different times in that hospital. At one stage he was six months off work with a smashed leg. Again, he had no end of trouble with his family. The officers of the department told me to get statutory declarations from him to this effect. I got them, but after having got them, these officers wiped me off and wanted! to insult me. What more could I do than get the required statutory declarations? These officers can check with the repatriation hospital if they wish to see why he was in hospital. He was there suffering from complaints either aggravated or- brought on by his active service in the defence of the country. This is the honour, and glory given to our soldiers when they return to Australia.
This Government, which was going to.do so much for returned soldiers and which criticizes the- Labour party’s policy, treats returned servicemen in this way. Let me say in reply to Senator Wade and othersthat at the commencement of the war the very party that is now the government had’ to vacate office. It evacuated; it got OUt and. left the government of this country to the-. Australian Labour party, a party that had a minority in both Houses. We carried on. until the. next election, whew we were returned with a majority in both Houses. We then carried, on right through the war and; as I have stated, previously, when we went out of office Australia had the soundest economy of any country in the world. That is the record of the Australian Labour party during a time of crisis. Nobody at all can throw stones at us for what we did in the interests of Australia.
We did. not dream for one moment that when our soldiers returned they would be treated in the manner in which Mr. Ted O’Shea ist being, treated now. We did not dream for one moment that children of our ex-servicemen- would be persecuted, by the government that followed us in the manner, in which this man’s family is being persecuted. h would not mind so much if Ministers, had. the common- decency to. discuss, these; matters, civilly and justly when representations are made to them,, but there is morebehind it than appears on. these files. It would seem that once a man announces where his political affiliations lie, the perse?cution begins. The Government is not seeking to give justice; it is out to persecute this man for political reasons.
The same thing is happening on Flinders Island. The boys over there told me recently that at the moment they have to keep quiet, that if it becomes known that they have labour sympathies the hooks are put into them. They say they have got to be on their toes all the time because if they have, labour sympathies the officers of the department will put in the hooks and drive them off the land. There is no getting away from the fact that the returned soldier whose case I am fighting was slowly butdeliberately driven, off his land.
– I do not believe, it.
– It- is no use interjecting. Honorable senators opposite know that I have issued a challenge, that I have offered to meet Mr. McMahon anywhere at all in the. electorate of Braddon where this man’s property is, to discuss- this particularcase and his policy for the land settlement of ex-servicemen. I am taking this case as an example. Will the Minister accept my challenge? If Senator Kendall, who has been interjecting and seeking, to interrupt my speech, would like to take the. Minister’s, place, he is welcome to do so and to debate, this matter with me on any platform in. Braddon.
I would like to see this matter made an election issue. If I do not get satisfaction over this case, I will see that every elector in Braddon knows all the facts. One officer connected with the land settlement of exservicemen said to me, “ I, have four or five more cases coming-up. If I give way here, how will I handle them if a precedent is set in this case? “ The officers concerned are afraid of setting a precedent. Instead, they, are prepared to prosecute this ex-serviceman and starve his. children.
Let us- compare the salary of the ‘Minister for Primary. Industry with the. income of this ex-serviceman. The Minister receives about £3;000 a year as; a member of the Parliament and; possibly, £1,500 more as a
Minister. I do: not know anything about other income he. might have. The. Minister.; who is receiving probably £4,500 a year, hasclaimed: that, an allowance of £.7 10s. a day is not sufficient to. enable him: to live in Canberra.. He wants £-8 8s. a day on top of his £4,500. Yet he has implied that this ex-serviceman must keep his children for £2 a week each.
– What about the. Minister in Tasmania? He gets, a good salary.
– He has said nothing against the ex-serviceman to whom I have referred. If Senator- Kendall has some information from a Tasmanian Minister condemning this ex-serviceman, he should produce it here. I do not care whether I’ meet Tasmanian or Commonwealth Ministers on this matter. I am prepared to meet them on any public platform regardless of. the- party or the government, to which they belong. If Senator Kendall wants to know what the Ministers in Tasmania, have to say about this case, he should ask them to submit- the information here. I am not going to see an ex-serviceman persecuted in. this way.
I could tell the Senate what the Tasmanian Ministers have had to say if I had the- time. One. Tasmanian Minister promised to hold: up everything until there had been a. personal investigation. The next information I. received was that the. ex-serviceman had been prosecuted. I’ wrote to the manager of the Agricultural Bank, and asked him very politely whether he could, inform, me who issued the: instructions., for. the. prosecution. He wrote back flatly refusing to give me any information. I wrote again and asked him to delay proceedings until I had received replies from certain Ministers, including, the Premier of Tasmania, about this case. Up to that time I had not received any replies. . The manager of the bank proceeded with the case, and then I tried to find out who had issued, the instructions.
Time and’ time- again, the issue was evaded in this chamber until- 1 forced the information out- of: those concerned and learned that- the Minister.- for Primary Industry, had issued the instructions for the prosecution of the ex-serviceman and the persecution of the man, his wife and family.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Senator Aylett, in his usual dishonest manner, misquoted me when he was referring to a statement I had made on the Japanese Trade Agreement.
– I rise to order.
– Order! A personal explanation is being made.
– Mr. President, I demand a withdrawal of the statement made by Senator Cole in which he referred to what he described as my “ usual discourteous manner “. The statement is objectionable to me.
– I said “ dishonest “.
– That is worse still. I object to the honorable senator’s statement, Mr. President, and ask for a withdrawal.
– Senator Aylett said plenty about the Minister.
– I did not say he was dishonest.
– Yes, you did.
– I did not say that the Minister was dishonest.
– Order! Senator Cole must withdraw the statement which is objectionable to Senator Aylett.
– I withdraw the words. Senator Aylett quoted a passage from “ Hansard “. I asked him to complete the quotation. This is the relevant passage from “ Hansard “ including the honorable senator’s interjection-
– Does the honorable senator support the Japanese Trade Agreement?
– Certainly, because the only way we can maintain full employment in this country is by the sale of our primary products overseas.
The words that were omitted by Senator Aylett were, “ by the sale of our primary products overseas “.
– After all that, I remind honorable senators that the motion before the Senate is for the printing of the Estimates and Budget papers. As honorable senators know, this is a parliamentary device for the adoption of those papers. Budget time is a period when the Treasurer makes an economic survey and presents the Estimates for the financial year. I wish to quote briefly from the annual report of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for the year ended 30th June, 1957. The report, which was published almost concurrently with the Budget, contains this passage -
The year 1956-57 was marked by a dramatic improvement in the health of the Australian economy. The growth and developments characteristic of the postwar period continued but on a sounder basis and with a considerable easing of inflationary pressures.
That cannot be regarded as a political statement on the soundness and stability of the Australian economy. Some days ago, annual adjustments of basic wage levels based on the C series index were announced by the Commonwealth Statistician. There will not be a variation of wages in New South Wales as a result of the adjustments. This fact, I suggest, is an agreeable indication of the stability of the economy which is remarkable when we consider what is happening in other parts of the world. All thinking people realize that inflation is not peculiar to Australia. A financial supplement published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 21st October, contained an article under the heading “ American Talk of New Inflation “. This statement was published in conjunction with the heading over the article -
For eighteen months now, the American consumers’ price index has been steadily rising. There is much concern over this fact - in Congress, in the Press, and among the public. The increase in prices has made labour anxious for further increases in wages.
In the United Kingdom, the bank rate was increased by 2 per cent, a few weeks ago in an effort to meet inflationary tendencies. In Australia, we have a steady and stable economy and inflationary pressures have been eased. Australian overseas balances have shown a marked increase during the past year and, because of the policy pursued by this Government, overseas funds have improved by approximately £212,000,000. All who have studied this matter know that the Australian economy is irrevocably tied to our overseas balances. If they fall, of course, we are not in a position to buy consumer goods and other equipment from overseas because of the financial difficulties. Therefore, it is worth while recording at this point that our balance of trade has improved by £212,000,000 and our overseas funds are now of the order of £550,000,000. Australia’s export income reached £980,000,000 for the financial year, which was £200,000,000 more than in the previous year and slightly better than the previous record in 1950-51. Financially, for the year 1956-57, after directing £111,600,000 into the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, we finished the year with a net cash surplus of £16,900,000, which I think honorable senators will agree was a very healthy position. The 1957-58 budget envisages revenue raising of £1,321,000,000 and with approximately £119,300,000 going into the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve it is anticipated that we will have a balanced economy.
The 1957-58 Budget proposes various concessions at a cost to revenue of £57,000,000. I do not think that we should overlook this fact. We should not, for instance, simply pass on without reference to the fact that certain social service benefits are to be substantially increased. The totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen will receive an increase of £1 5s. a week; war widows will receive an increase of 7s. 6d., to £4 7s. 6d. a week, together with increased domestic allowances; age pensioners will receive an increase of 7s. 6d., to £4 7s. 6d. a week; widows’ pensions will be increased by 7s. 6d. a week. Assistance in the provision of homes for the aged is to be placed on the basis of £2 for £1 up to a maximum subsidy of £3,000,000 a year. Previously, this assistance was granted on the basis of £1 for £1. There are to be increased payments to the States, which will receive £266,700.000. This is an increase of £22,600,000. There is to be an increase of 15s. a week in unemployment and sickness benefits, and the allowance to sufferers from tuberculosis is to be increased by 7s. 6d., to £6 10s. a week. The Commonwealth hospital benefit is to be increased by 8s. a day, and there is to be an additional amount of £5,000,000 for war service homes, increasing the total provision in this connexion from £30,000,000 to £35,000,000. There are also certain concessions in regard to family allowances. Industry is to be granted increased depreciation allowances. There will be lower company tax, reduced sales tax, and additional payroll tax exemptions.
The Opposition through Senator Benn, has moved an amendment designed to reject the Budget which, it says, implements policies that are detrimental, in their effects, to the defence and development of Australia. In the limited time at my disposal, I shall deal only with the subject of development, but I want to wind up my remarks on the positive aspect of the budget by saying that in Australia we have a stable economy. The Budget grants attractive concessions, in keeping with the policy that has been pursued by this Government since it came to office in 1949.
In reply to the Opposition’s criticism on the basis of development I want to say that, in truth, the dominant theme of the Budget speech of the Treasurer was the aspect of development. The speech also dealt, of course, with other matters such as the provision of additional finance for the standardization of the railway gauge between Melbourne and Wodonga. It made provision also for assistance in the search for oil and for the development of mineral resources. The whole theme of the Budget - contrary to what the Opposition has implied by its amendment - places emphasis on development.
It should never be forgotten that Australia is a rapidly developing country. In deed, it has maintained a rate of development seldom achieved in modern times. I shall quote some figures which are of particular interest. Our population has increased from 7,500,000 to almost 10,000,000, and is expected to reach 12,000,000 by 1967. Contrary to what Senator Aylett said a while ago, the number of factories has increased from 31,000 to over 54,000. Physical output has risen by over 75 per cent. Ingot steel production has increased by 120 per cent. Both cement production and paint production have risen by 150 per cent. The production of domestic refrigerators has almost trebled.
– Over what period?
– I am dealing with the all-over position of the economy during the last ten years and, I remind the Senate, this Government has been in power since 1949. When we start to consider the problem of development it is well to fix our minds on certain background facts which have a mighty influence on the problem. The first, of course, is the vastness of Australia. I do not think that many people realize the problems which are inherent in this factor and stem from it. We have over 12,000 miles of coastline, and the area of this country exceeds 3,000,000 square miles. Furthermore, we have only a relatively, small population of about 9,600,000 persons.
The second thing we have to remember is that although one-third of this nation is situated north of the Tropic of Capricorn, only one-thirtieth of the White population, small as it is, is located north of the Tropic of Capricorn. In addition, we have a huge concentration of our population on the seaboard. It may be of some interest to state that in New South Wales something like 65 per cent, of the population is located in an aTea of the seaboard bounded by Newcastle on the north and Wollongong on the south, with Sydney in the centre. These are all problems which have got to be understood and appreciated when we are looking at this question of development.
The most important thing we have to remember in regard to the development of Australia is this: Either for good or ill, we have a federal system of government, under which there are six sovereign States in addition to the Commonwealth. Those States have complete autonomy in regard to the expenditure of their own loan funds. In another debate this session I propose to give an indictment in regard to what has happened in connexion with some of the expenditure .of loan funds by the States. This is not the occasion to do that, but I do say that when we think in terms of development we have to appreciate the fact that the Commonwealth has not control of the States. The States are ..given the amount of money approved by the Australian Loan Council, and this is contributed to from Commonwealth revenue. They have complete control in relation to the expenditure of .this money. Bearing all these facts in mind, I think we should remember that the present Government is a free enterprise government. We believe that the sure way to develop Australia properly is to encourage private enterprise to .do the job, and to provide the economic climate which will give the private sector of Australia confidence in the future. We do not want to forget that something like 75 per cent., or slightly less, of the work-force of this country is provided by private enterprise. For that reason, the whole essence of development must be to give private ‘enterprise the confidence and political climate to do the job.
– What about the Snowy Mountains scheme?
– I shall refer to that in a moment. There must be a partnership, a marriage between government and private enterprise; but obviously, in view of the figures I have given, .private enterprise must be the senior partner. It always amazes me to hear the Labour party, the professed helper, in its own words, of the working man, talk of socialism, or shall we now say democratic socialism. That policy is more likely than anything else one can think of to frighten free enterprise and scare away foreign capital. It seems obvious that if we want foreign capital to be invested -here we must have political stability, and socialism and political stability, obviously, will not go hand in hand. This Government has provided the climate and the political stability which are the prerequisites of national development. The confidence which is displayed in our Government is revealed in the figures for overseas investment in Australia which have just been released. A recent press report reads -
Overseas investors had invested £700,000,000 in Australia in the last ten years, the Department of Trade said to-day. The Department said between 35 and 40 per cent, of this total had come from American investors.
Another .statement reads -
U.S. capital and technical know-how have played a significant part in this development. Total American investment in. Australia to date is around 650,000,000 dollars.
Stability is the very essence of development. Development is based on .confidence, which in turn must be based upon stable government.
I want to make a point in regard to immigration. When we think , of this vast, sparsely populated ‘land, -we must realize the important role that the immigration policy is .playing in the scheme of things. A few months ago, when -I was in -Western Australia on government -business, I went to a big oil refinery there. I .asked the manager .of the refinery -what was the percentage of immigrants on his pay-roll. He said, “ We have not any specific records but, from the names on the pay-roll, we estimate that about 65 per cent, of the work force are immigrants “. We must never forget the important part that immigration has played and is playing in the development of Australia. The critics must realize that in the final analysis the intensity and rate of development of Australia depends upon the intensity and rate of human endeavour. AM the money and will in the world cannot build a power station, dig uranium or make a machine, without the human element to do the work and carry the project through. Immigration is an important factor in the expansion of a young country, particularly when the young country’s rate of natural increase in population is not sufficient to meet the demands and responsibilities created by the expansion. In this place, regrettably, at various times attacks have been made, in strength and in weakness, upon our immigration policy. This Government has pursued a .consistent policy on immigration, taking the calculated risks that we must take if we want to make Australia a great country.
In the field of mineral development, Australia is making dramatic progress. The value of mineral production in 1955 and 1956 was £200,000,000 and £215,000,000 respectively. Mineral production added £77,000,000 to our export income last year, but that is only a taste of what the future holds if we continue to act as we are acting and give to free enterprise the encouragement that it deserves. I believe that we should look to that part of Australia which is north of the Tropic of Capricorn for our ultimate success in mineral development. I do not think the people of Australia realize the range of resources in various forms that Australia possesses. I have done some research on the matter and I have seen a map showing the location _of our various mineral resources. We have antimony, asbestos, bauxite, coal, copper, gems, gold, gypsum, iron, lead, manganese, mica, oil - we hope - opal, pyrites, silver, tin, tungsten, uranium and zinc. All of those minerals are waiting to be mined, and with the encouragement which this Government and free enterprise can give, the reward will be brought forth.
– What has the Government done?
– I shall tell the honorable senator what is being done. Senator Courtice likes to sit there and interject. First, I shall deal with oil. We have to realize -that in 1956-57 Australia paid £59,500,000 for crude oil, and about £34,800,000 in freight on it, taking, in all, about £94,300,000 from our ‘hard-earned overseas funds. The dramatic effect that the finding of oil would have on our economy must be appreciated. Even if we had no exportable surplus but could provide only for our own consumption, what could we do with an additional £94,300,000 for the purchase of consumer goods from overseas! What a magnificent fillip it would give to the Australian economy! It should be remembered that the search for oil is going on all over Australia and, north of the Tropic of Capricornia alone, about £15,000,000 of privately invested capital has been spent for this purpose. That should .be borne in mind in relation to the proposed subsidy on boring for oil. The Government’s approach to the problem of oil is an enlightened one, which is worthy of praise, and even the approbation of honorable senators opposite.
Let me say a few words about oil refineries. Tremendous development has taken place in this direction and it merits special comment. In 1949, Australia possessed only some small refineries engaged in the simpler refining processes, and producing but a small part of Australia’s requirements. To-day, the picture has been completely transformed. Since 1949, this continent has been ringed by a network of huge new oil refineries, the productive capacity of .which exceeds Australia’s total usage of refined fuel. This vital new industry has brought great new opportunities for employment and has given greater security to every Australian. In 1956-57, we were able to add £10,900,000 to our overseas balances as a result of the sale of refined oils to nearby .countries. The story of oil is a success stony, a story of confidence in the Government .and in the stability of this country.
In the Northern Territory there are two uranium treatment plants in operation by United Uranium. In -Queensland there is the Mary Kathleen project, on which it is proposed to spend about £10,000;000. It is expected that this project will earn an export income of £40,000,000. This is an example of superb development by private enterprise, with ‘the encouragement of the Government. Let us turn now to bauxite, which is also capturing the imagination. We know of the expansion of bauxite production under -this -Government’s encouragement. Yesterday, -I heard a broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of an item which appeared in the press this morning, lt was stated -
One of the biggest aluminium companies in the United States, Reynolds Metals Co., registered a subsidiary company in Melbourne to-day to develop bauxite deposits in Australia. Bauxite is the raw material for aluminium. The subsidiary is Reynolds Pacific Mines Pty. Ltd., with an authorized capital of £5,000,000.
Does the Opposition think that this American firm would have staked its capital in Australia if a system of democratic socialism had been in operation?
– Of course, it would.
– Well, the honorable senator is more confident than I am. That firm has come to Australia because it realizes that we have a stable government which pins its faith for good and all to free enterprise, working with the Government as a team. I do not want to be misunderstood; I believe that government must play its part also. I do not think we could turn to a better example of government enterprise than the Snowy Mountains scheme.
I said a moment ago that I proposed to make some trenchant criticism of the State governments in relation to their expenditure of loan funds, but I put that aside for a moment. The Snowy Mountains scheme is one in which we can all take pride. The. Opposition can take pride in the scheme because it was initiated during Labour’s regime, and this Government can take pride in it because the Government and the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) have pushed on vigorously with it since 1949. The whole of Australia can be proud of the scheme, because it is one of the most magnificent projects that has been embarked upon in our lifetime or is ever likely to be undertaken in Australia.
The scheme, when fully developed, will permit regulation of the flow of the many streams that rise in the Snowy Mountains area. The regulated discharges from its storages will make available an additional 1,818,000 acre-feet of water annually for irrigation. By 1961 or 1962, it will be providing approximately 660,000 additional kilowatts of power to be fed into the grid system.
That is the story of development in Australia. In the short time that is available to me I have been able to deal with it only briefly. But it is a success story, lt is not a story that the Opposition can use as a reason for rejecting the Budget. If ever there has been an example of a government’s providing the climate for free enterprise to come in and do the job, it is the story of development in Australia to-day. Since 1949, this Government has placed the emphasis on planning so that capital from overseas may flow here and so that the people of Australia may have confidence in investing their savings in the development of this land. It is only now that we are gradually but surely starting to enjoy the benefits that will stem from the adoption of that policy.
I could continue to unfold the story of Australia’s development under the guidance of this Government. For example, I could tell the story of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and of steel production, or of General Motors-Holden’s Limited and Holden cars, which are being produced at a rate of .more than 200,000 a year. I could talk about the success story of Mount Isa Mines Limited. I could even tell the Senate about free enterprise in my home town where a private firm is building a huge shopping centre that will cost more than £1,000,000. It is a story of confidence in the economy, going hand in hand with which must be confidence in the Government. Let us never get away from that point, because it is a fundamental issue in a consideration of the Budget.
When we went to school, we had a warcry. I think that our war-cry now might well be “ Progress Unlimited “. I say to the people of Australia, “ Keep this progress and future before you; do not poison or stultify it by adopting the false doctrine of democratic socialism. Remember that our magnificent progress is inseparable from free enterprise and is synonymous with Liberal principles “.
– It was amusing to listen to Senator Anderson’s statements about the achievements of private enterprise that have just been brought to his mind. Let mc remind him that the Caltex oil refinery was commenced and completed during the Chifley regime.
– It was commenced and completed during the Chifley regime.. It is situated at Botany Bay, in New South Wales.
– It is not finished yet.
– It was commenced and put into operation during the Chifley regime. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread! Honorable senators opposite laugh, but I make that statement without fear of contradiction; it is correct. Senator Anderson referred to General Motors-Holden’s Limited. That undertaking was sponsored by the Chifley Labour Government.
– The honorable senator would not know. Last, but not least, Senator Anderson spoke in great praise of what he referred to as being the Government’s Snowy Mountains scheme. Let me remind him that the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the present High Commissioner for Australia in London, Sir Eric Harrison, boycotted the opening ceremony and said that the scheme was a socialist wildcat one. I mention that in passing.
During Ihe Chifley regime, many private enterprise projects were commenced in Australia. The Labour party has come to the assistance of private enterprise.
– But it would not socialize any, would it?
– We would not socialize you, because you are useless; but we always say that it may be necessary to socialize a useful utility. Although we have assisted private enterprise, we believe that it is the job of a Commonwealth government at least to regulate the profits of private enterprise. That is why we say that the profits which some people are reaping from huge private projects which did not exist prior to the advent of the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments should be checked.
We are discussing to-day proposals that are contained in the Budget, and we on this side of the chamber take advantage of this opportunity to express the views of more than half of the electors of Australia. It is not often that we have the opportunity to solicit from Ministers details of what has been done with the huge sums of money that have been extracted from the people over the years, so we take advantage of this opportunity of voicing our protest at the Budget as a whole. You, Mr. President, will remember only too well that in 1949 this Government won the election on its promises to put value back into the £1, to lift all controls, to reduce taxation, and to provide full employment, homes for all, and a reasonable standard of living for age and war pensioners. Since 1949, we have not heard any of those promises repeated. This Government has not carried out one of them.
– What about the reduction of taxation?
– Well, I do not know. If the honorable senator will wait a while-
– What about putting value back into the £1?
– I will tell the honorable senator how taxation has risen over the last eight years.
– The rate applicable to the individual has been reduced.
– This Budget provides for the expenditure of a colossal sum of money. Ten or fifteen years ago, no one in his wildest dreams would have imagined a federal government in Canberra budgeting for the expenditure of taxation collections amounting, in round figures, to £1,300,000,000. At different times we ask responsible Ministers how this money is being expended, but we never get a satisfactory reply. The answer is always in the same vein - it is government policy and, of course, government policy cannot be discussed. However, we take this opportunity of trying to find out from the Government what is going on or, at any rate, bringing under ‘ the notice of the electors this enormous expenditure in peacetime in a country of 10,000,000 people. The people are not being told the true story. It is very difficult for them to learn why we are in our present financial position. Whenever there is an outcry in the press, or from a particular section of the public, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) always thinks up another war, and says that we are preparing for it. When he became Prime Minister he told us that war. would come within eighteen months. After that period had elapsed he announced’ that war was certain within three years. Now, eight years later, we still have not had a war.
– Is the honorable senator disappointed?
– No, but we would like to find out where all the money taken from the. taxpayer has gone.
– It is all there.
– It is not. In another place the other day the Opposition asked for an inquiry into the flagrant waste of £26,000,000 upon the St. Mary’s munitions project. The Government denies that the money has been wasted. Why does.it not permit a select committee of members of Parliament to ascertain whether the allegations that are. being made outside the Parliament are well founded? Senator Scott said that taxes were being reduced.
– I said that the rate in the,fl had been reduced.
– In 1945 direct taxes amounted to £214,000,000. To-day the figure is £670,000,000-an increase of 300 per cent.
-What about the value of the £1?
– For the benefit of Senator Henty I will admit- that £670,000,000 is not equivalent to 214,000,000 Chifley pounds. My complaint is that< the amount collected is constantly increasing. In looking through “Hansard” for 1947 I find that when the Australian Labour party was in office it was gravely criticized for keeping certain departments in. operation in peace-time. The present Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senate O’sullivan) said at that time -
Defence is essentially a matter for experts and, therefore, I do not regard myself as competent to- express an opinion as to what Australia’s defence policy should be. I urge the Government to consult its experts and, as far as practicable, to make available for discussion in this House the reports^ - *
We have asked for the same sort of thing, but apparently Senator O’sullivan has now changed’ his mind - submitted by them from time to time.. In times of peace I suggest that there is no necessity to have a Minister for Defence, a Minister for the Army, a Minister for the Navy, and a Minister for Air. The existence of those four portfolios must mean a great deal of unnecessary overlapping. It would be sufficient to have a Minister for Defence in charge of all the righting services.
The Leader of the Government supported that policy then because he was in opposition. That is where money is being wasted. We are told that the Budget provides for tax reductions but, in fact, direct taxes are to be increased by £62,000,000. Only company taxation has been reduced - by £6,000;000. The worker has been further taxed - just when he might have expected some relief. In 1948, both Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin and Senator Cooper said that sales tax was, in the main, an indirect tax on the worker, and therefore should be reviewed by the Government, and reduced. I agree- entirely. I have always been against the imposition of sales tax which, I- believe, places a great burden on a certain section of the people. I have in mind the man who smokes, goes to the races or has a glass of beer. He is taxed indirectly, but the man who does not form those habits is not.
– What about the girls?
– This is an age of equal rights for women, and. they have the same opportunity to pay taxes. In 1948, sales tax and other forms of indirect taxes amounted to £29,000,000. To-day, the figure is £129,000,000 annually. Whatever the change in the value of the £1 may have been, the total tax collected has increased by £100,000,000 in eight years under this Government-. We say that the sales tax on certain, commodities, should be. reviewed. Taxes could be reduced- if an authoritative body comprising members of Parliament were, set up to inquire into the lavish expenditure that takes place under the guise of. defence preparation. What, in fact, has been spent on defence? In the last eight years total expenditure has been £1,200,000,000. I. challenge any Government supporter to tell me what we have got. in return.
Senator- Hannan. - Preparedness-.
– I will tell you when I speak.
– When these gentlemen speak I hope they will tell me. in greater detail what has happened to thisvast sum of £1,200,000,000.
– The honorable senator will be told.
– Senator Hannan would not know. Senator Gorton, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, might have that information. Much of our expenditure on defence has been wasted.
– That is bunkum!
– We insist that it has been wasted, and call upon the Government either to refute our argument or justify its own. We will continue to ask for a select committee of members of Parliament to inquire into defence expenditure. Six or seven years ago we were told that the main bone of contention on defence was national service training. I have seen a great deal of what goes on at Army training camps. In fact, the young men are not trained at all. There has been flagrant waste of money in that direction also. It was not until six months ago that the Government became aware that national service training, as organized under its administration, was -quite useless as far as the defence -of this country was concerned. National ‘service interferes with both primary and secondary industry, but is still persisted in by the Government. Last Sunday I was in the western district of Victoria. Fifty lads had to go out into the bush in three .trucks, bog one of them and then get it out. They each got 25s. for the day. It cost £50 to send them out there to do that. That is nothing less than flagrant waste. We cannot trust the generals, in the light of statements that have been made in another place over the last three or four weeks. They each have a different story. Why should they be allowed to run haywire with the people’s money? If defence is necessary and will cost as much as £100,000,000, the Labour party is prepared to spend that amount. It did so during World War II. The Labour party does not care what is spent on defence so long as the money is spent economically and in the right directions. Our criticism is that at. present money is being wasted by high-ranking military officials on various projects with which we do not agree. We say that something should be done to curtail such huge expenditure at this time, when the Government is neglecting certain sections of the community which deserve better treatment than they are at present receiving.
– What would the honorable senator do about defence?
– I know as much about defence as Senator Scott knows about lion-taming, and that is nil. As I have said before, the Labour party asks the Government to set up a committee of members of the Parliament to inquire into the present excessive expenditure on defence.
– The members of the committee might know as much about the matter as the honorable senator does, on his own admission.
– They might, but in another chamber it was stated recently that two or three houses which were estimated to cost in the vicinity of £22,000 actually cost £85,000. I have sufficient intelligence to know that there is something wrong there, and I believe that some honorable senators opposite would’ have the same degree of intelligence. That is the sort of thing to which I am referring. The project at St. Mary’s is supposed to be a filling factory where shells will be filled. We have no shells, and, even if we had, we have nothing to fill them with. Still, it was supposed to be an urgent project that had to be .completed within a certain time. In the interests of the defence and development of this country, more care should be taken of the people’s money, which has been so flagrantly wasted over the last few years.
I believe that far too many reproductive permanent works are being .financed from revenue, and I believe that some honorable senators opposite hold the same view. The Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme should not be financed -directly from taxation. It was never meant to be financed in that way. It was meant to be financed with loan money, but the position to-day is that the people who have money are not prepared to lend it to this Government. -Senator Maher. - That is not the answer. The honorable senator knows that high rates of interest offering elsewhere are draining the money away from government loans.
– The people are not prepared to trust this Government, although they were prepared to lend money to a -Labour government during the war. People were prepared to lend ‘£100 when they were given a guarantee that they would receive £100 in return when the loan matured. I am not going to discuss what Commonwealth bonds are worth on the stock exchange now, but if a bond-holder were repaid his investment of £100 now, what would it be worth? It would be worth only £40, compared with what it was worth when the. money was lent in 1943-44. That is why the people will not lend money to the Government. . The result is that the Government is forced to pay for its developmental works out of taxation, when it should be paying for them with loan money. Let me quote the words of the present Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) who in 1948 said -
Loan moneys may be used for works of a permanent character, but it would appear that revenue derived from taxes has been used for these undertakings.
He is opposed to that policy to-day, because he knows in his heart that a government cannot build up a nation by making the present generation pay cash for things which will benefit generations to come. Certain people tell us that Australia is enjoying an era of great prosperity.
– The honorable senator said that himself on Sunday.
– I said that members of Parliament are enjoying an era of prosperity. Of course we are. We are living in luxury, but many people are not prosperous in this era. What about the age pensioners? What about the persons on fixed incomes? This Government is alleged to believe in thrift and in people saving for their old age. The people who saved and invested their money when a Labour government was in office believed that when they retired they would be able to live on their savings, but under this inflationary Government they have found that to-day they are even worse off in some cases than are the age pensioners. Are those people enjoying an era of prosperity? Of course they are not.
Then let us consider a married man with a wife and two or three children to keep. Is he in a good financial position to-day? Is he enjoying the era of prosperity which this Government and the press would have us believe exists? The man who is getting along all right is the married man whose wife is working and, in some cases, neglecting the children of the marriage. After school the children are left to roam the streets of the suburbs of Melbourne and other cities and towns. They are not looked after, because both their parents are working. That is the position that exists to-day. It is all right for those people, but what about the married man who is trying to get along on his own salary, who is paying rent or paying instalments with a view to purchasing his home? He is not enjoying an era of prosperity. He is finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Then let us consider age pensioners. I do not believe that age pensioners should be kicked around and used for political purposes. Whatever is in the minds of honorable senators opposite, I firmly believe that the political views of age pensioners cannot be changed, irrespective of what promises are made to them. It is of no use to promise them anything in the hope of changing their political views because over the years they have made up their minds on that matter. No matter what promises a party may make, they will not change their minds. This Government, or any other government in power in Canberra, should recognize that these people have a right to live decently in the great nation they have built. I do not agree with the suggestion that a contributory scheme should be introduced, or that children who have grown up should maintain their aged parents. I do not agree with other wild-cat suggestions that have been made. The people who built up this nation never received during their working lives the remuneration to which they were entitled - their equity or share of what they produced. Now that they have reached old age, we should give them a decent bed to lie on, a roof over their heads and warm clothes to wear. That is all I ask. Irrespective of the cost, this Government, or any other government in this great Commonwealth of Australia, should give these pensioners sufficient on which to exist. During the winter, I asked what I considered to be a reasonable question. I asked it, not on behalf of all the pensioners, but on behalf of some, who were suffering in the State of Victoria. National service training had been curtailed, and I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he would urge the Cabinet to give favorable consideration to making available to these people during the cold winter months, some of the surplus blankets. socks, flannel shirts and boots that would not be required for national service trainees. The Minister said that the suggestion was a good one, but nothing has been done in the matter. I do not believe in charity, but if there is a blanket lying around, I do not mind handing it to this old chap or that old lady. I say that the Government should have done something about the matter. Furthermore, in 1946, the people of Australia, by their vote at the polling booths, gave the Commonwealth Government permission to control hospitalization and social services. What has this Government done about those matters? It boasts through the Budget that it has increased the contribution to the upkeep of hospital beds from 8s. to 12s. a day. Why, it was 8s. a day under the Chifley regime! It is admitted by all that the cost of almost everything has increased by from 300 per cent, to 350 per cent, since the onset of inflation, yet all this Government gives, after eight years of administration, is an increase of 50 per cent, in its contribution towards the upkeep of hospital beds. The onus of providing hospitalization rests with this Government, and the Government should face up to its obligations.
Another matter I should like to mention is the provision of spectacles for the aged. This Government, if it wished, could make available to the old people of Australia at least one small comfort which many of them do not enjoy to-day. I ask those honorable senators who, like me, wear spectacles, to take them off for a moment. They will then appreciate how miserable one can feel if one cannot read without the aid of spectacles. Having that appreciation, they will have a true realization of the misery suffered by those old people who now have to depend on charity for spectacles in order that they may read the daily press, the Bible or something else in their idle moments. I appeal to the Government not to leave these old people in the position of being dependent upon charitable organizations that do make spectacles available to the aged.
I wish now to refer to the proposal in Melbourne to seek public contributions for cancer research. The target sought is £500,000. Can honorable senators think of any better project upon which to spend money? I venture the opinion that they cannot, yet we learn from to-day’s press that 40,000 people propose to knock on the doors of Melbourne citizens and request donations. Surely, out of the huge sum this Government is taking from the taxpayers, it can make £500,000 available for that very worthy work of conducting research into the prevention and cure of cancer. I appeal to the Government to accept its responsibility and do something in this direction.
I know that we shall have an opportunity, when we have the Estimates before us, to discuss such matters as pensions for soldiers, the administration of the Department of the Interior, and so on. I should like to refer to the plight of returned soldiers from the first world war. When that war broke out, we were told by the then Prime Minister that Australia would give her last man and her last shilling to the struggle. Volunteers were called for, and some of the finest men who ever breathed the pure air of Australia made themselves available to go to any part of the world where they were needed to defend this country. Some of them were overseas for from two or three years, fighting under terrible conditions. I remember the winter of 1916 in France. It was one of the coldest winters experienced there for 40 years and our soldiers were required to live in the open, in mud up to their knees, for weeks and weeks. When these young fellows of 25, 26, 27 or 28 years of age came back from the war, they did not want pensions. They had won the war and they thought that this great country would give them the right to live in some measure of comfort until they passed on. I impress upon the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) that the Government must do something for those men to-day. From a health point of view, they are derelicts. I emphasize here that I am not suggesting for a moment that they are derelicts in any other sense. They are invalids; they are unable to work, yet one finds it impossible to induce the Repatriation Department to make any provision for those ex-servicemen or the nurses who returned from the first world war.
I appeal to the Government, when it is spending this huge amount of money next financial year, to do something about the matters which we on this side have mentioned. If it does nothing, then I venture to say that the people of Australia will say, “ We will give the reins of government back to Labour which, so. successfully controlled this nation: and kept inflation down during the war years, and until. 1949 “. I heartily support the amendment moved by Senator Benn.
.- Before making my contribution to the debate, I should like to answer one or two of the statements made by Senator Hendrickson. In particular, and before he reminds me of. it, I should like to refer to his allegation that of the money spent on defence over the years since this Government has been in office some £1,000,000,000 has been wasted, that there is and has been nothing to show for it. I do not think I have ever heard in this Senate a more irresponsible statement or one more easily countered by a factual list. of. what has been done during the past eight years.
– Tell us.
– In the first place, we have had in being during those years an army, a navy and an air force, all the members of which, every week of every year, have had to be paid. Any one who has studied the defence estimates over that period will know that something like 70 per cent, or more of the money voted is necessary to keep and pay those soldiers, sailors and airmen. I hope there is no suggestion that they should be paid less than civilians, or that they should not’ be paid at all.
– That is one avenue of. defence expenditure over the years. We did not have those forces in being when Labour was in office.
– Have a look at St. Mary’s. I am complaining about the money wasted there.
– Since Labour was in office, as a result of the money voted for defence, we have had in being a force ready to defend this country. Further, the honorable senator has apparently forgotten that during that time this force has been engaged, together with forces of the United Nations, in a war for the defence and freedom of this country. And we cannot fight wars for nothing, as Senator Hendrickson knows! We have also expended our men and materials on the battlefields of Korea. Senator Hendrickson and his party supported that campaign, and that could not be conducted for nothing. That is some return for the money that has been spent.
– We are only questioning the wasteful expenditure.
– If any one thinks it is waste for this country to join with the United Nations in the defence of freedom, he is entitled, to his opinion. In my opinion, the money is not wasted. In my opinion, that expenditure can be pointed to with pride as something that has- been bought: by the defence vote of this country.
Again, since I am asked what we have got for this money that has been spent on defence; L point to the new equipment that has been added to the defence forces by the present Government. The Navy now has long-range. anti-submarine planes which it did. not have before. We have an aircraft, carrier with fighter planes and bomber planes;, which we did not have before: We also have the new radar establishments, which the honorable sena. tor sees- around the country, for the defence of the capital cities. In Sydney, the greatest radar station, in the southern hemisphere is being- established. That’ is being paid for from defence moneys which, Senator Hendrickson alleges, are wasted. If he cared to look to the interior of Australia, if he would care to go to Woomera and Maralinga he would see the work undertaken in conjunction with the United Kingdom Government for the defence of this country in the non-conventional armaments field. He may not like to see that great work going on.
– I have been there and seen it.
-. - It is tangible; it is there for every one to see, and it is paid for out. of the defence vote. If the honorable senator cares to look, he would see at all our stations, Army, Navy and Air Force, the houses that have been built to accommodate defence personnel, houses which have become necessary because, in the time of. the previous government, soldiers, sailors and airmen were supposed to work without being housed and to care for themselves when they moved from one centre of population to another. All these things and many others are tangible, physical results achieved by the expenditure of money under this vote, the expenditure that Senator Hendrickson questions.
But. there is something above and beyond all this as well. I. believe that by this expenditure we. have made a contribution to- peace, which would not have been made had we not expended, this money. There has also been a contribution to the honour of Australia in that we no longer throw ourselves upon a tired Britain to defend us- or upon the United States for help. We can hold our heads up and say, “ In our own way, and according to our own strength, we will play our own part with you “. That is a non-tangible result of the expenditure of money under this vote which has- been questioned by Senator Hendrickson.
Sitting, suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I had been discussing the untenable propositions on defence that had been put forward by Senator Hendrickson. I wish to consider now some of the criticisms that have been levelled at this Government in connexion with taxation. I do that because I believe that, in discussions of this sort, before dealing with the very real benefits that are conferred by this Budget, it is well to consider the criticisms of it that have been advanced. That is particularly relevant when the criticisms come from the Government side of the chamber. Such criticisms should be examined carefully, and that is what I have done.
A proposition was put forward in this chamber that, during the term of office of this Government, general taxation had borne more and more heavily upon the people. The words used in supporting that conclusion were -
Total Commonwealth taxation revenue expressed as a percentage of the gross national product was 20.8 per cent, in 1949 and is expected to be 23 per cent, this year.
That was a startling pronouncement, and I have examined it carefully. I am happy to say that my examination of the facts has shown that that statement is completely and utterly without foundation. To support his contention, the honorable senator who made it asked us to look at page 14 of the 35th report of the Commissioner of Taxation. On that page, there appears a table of general Commonwealth taxation revenue from the years 1945-46 to 1954-55 expressed as a percentage of the national product. That table does, indeed, show that in 1948-49 the percentage so expressed was 20.8 per cent. The table also shows that the percentage had dropped to 19.3 per cent, in 1954-55.
But the honorable senator who sought to show that there had been a great increase in the incidence of Commonwealth taxation went beyond 1954-55 to the present. Consequently, the Senate was asked to examine another table which appears at page 6 of the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure issued by the Treasury. In that table, revenue for the year 1956-57 was expressed as 23 per cent, of the national product. The great fallacy, however, lies here! The first table which was referred to us, and which is contained in the report of the Commissioner of Taxation, related to Commonwealth Government taxation revenue. The second table showed all tax revenue in Australia. It included not only Commonwealth Government taxation but also State government and semi-government taxation revenue.
Obviously, if we compare like and unlike we arrive at a completely fallacious conclusion. That is what happened on this occasion when the honorable senator to whom I have referred reached his conclusions. In fact, figures that have been supplied to me by the Commissioner of Taxation showing Commonwealth taxation revenue expressed as a percentage of national product reveal that the percentage in 1948-49 was 20.8, and in 1956-57 was 19.4 per cent. Therefore, there has been a drop of 1.4 per cent., and not a rise as was stated by the honorable senator who made a mistake in comparing tables that could not be accurately compared. I want to emphasize that these figures are related to general taxation and that, quite clearly, there has been a reduction in the incidence of general taxation during the period to which I have referred.
I move now into the field of income tax. In this connexion, the Opposition has suggested that there has been a rise in the incidence and pressure of taxation, particularly as it affects the wage-earner. The Opposition has claimed that this increased incidence and pressure has occurred since the previous Labour government went out of office. At page 413 of “Hansard”, a table has been incorporated showing the incidence of income tax expressed as a percentage of the national product. That shows that, whereas in 1949-50 the percentage was 10.36 per cent., in 1954-55 - the last year for which figures are given - it had dropped to 9.76 per cent. Probably the percentage has risen since that time, but not to the extent that it had reached in 1948-49.
Not only is it true that the incidence of general taxation has dropped, but it is also a fact that the incidence of income tax has fallen. Moreover, if we study the report of the Commissioner of Taxation, it is patently true that the wage-earner of Australia - the man on the basic wage or above it - has income tax pressing on him less heavily than ever before. If we study the tables of taxes that are paid by wageearners in that category, we find that most of them in Australia to-day do not pay any net income tax. Usually, honorable senators on the Opposition side try to prove that we must be paying more income tax because we have maintained the same graduated scale of taxes on inflated incomes. I state clearly and unequivocally that the same graduated scale of income tax has not been maintained on inflated incomes. The graduated scale has been progressively lowered, and the income tax concessions have been progressively raised.
I do not wish to make that statement without producing some figures to support it. In 1949, the tax deduction on a weekly wage of £16 - the average Australian wage - was £1 6s. 6d. In 1957, it is 12s. 9d. I am speaking of a married man with two children. On the average Australian wage of £16, he would pay income tax totalling 12s. 9d. a week but he would get back in child endowment 15s. In short, the average Australian wage-earner now not only does not contribute to income tax, but actually receives more than is deducted from his wages.
– That is to-day’s funny story.
– Is there any fact that I have given that can be specifically denied by honorable senators who are now bleating on the Opposition side? I can show Senator Hendrickson the official forms. Is not my statement true?
– Of course, it is true.
– Of course. Is it not true that a man who pays 12s. 9d. in income tax and receives back 15s. from child endowment is better off? There is no denying that fact and I cannot understand why my statement has aroused such noise on the Opposition benches. I have disposed once and for all of the suggestion that the Government is putting crippling taxes on the average wage-earner. Why, sir, when we move up to a higher bracket still - to the man earning £20 a week - we find that in 1949 he paid tax of £2 3s. 3d., compared with £1 3s. 3d. to-day. He is receiving 15s. child endowment and his net weekly improvement is 8s.
It must be quite clear from these facts that any suggestion that income taxation on the basic wage-earner, on the average wage-earner or on the above average wageearner has been raised is completely and utterly unfounded. It is borne out by the table I quoted from at the beginning of these remarks showing the fall in income tax since 1948-49 expressed as a percentage of the national income. But there is a rather disturbing factor when we consider the report of the Commissioner of Taxation. We see that now something like 10 per cent, of the taxpayers of Australia pay 60 per cent, of the taxation revenue collected. They are not rich people. They are people whose incomes are £1,200 a year and over, yet they are the people who are contributing 60 per cent, of the taxation revenue of Australia. I have sat here year after year and listened to all sorts of schemes from the Opposition for government expenditure to be financed by raising taxes on the richer sections of the community - as honorable senators opposite put it. That clearly means, if it is to be translated into fact, that what they want to do is to raise taxation on all persons receiving more than £1,000 a year, because they are the persons from whom taxes come at present. I suggest, with the level of taxation as it is to-day, that that would be quite impracticable unless they wish to destroy altogether the personal incentive for gain which is the mainspring that causes a nation to grow and become great. I believe that if they were able to gain office they would, with the added responsibility that that would entail, realize this and be forced, in the situation as it is to-day, to raise taxation on the average taxpayers of Australia in order to meet the socialist schemes that they seek to foist upon us.
– Do not get upset!
– I would not be upset. The people who would be upset are the average wage-earners who, as I have shown, pay no tax to-day but are receiving benefits. Under this proposition they would undoubtedly be the ones that would have to foot the bill for this and that, and would be losing money here and there.
Now I want to move on to another criticism that has been made. That, too, has come from both sides of the chamber and I think is opposed on both sides. I refer to the proposition that it is quite wrong under any circumstances, and under these circumstances, to use taxation revenue for the purposes of capital expansion in this country. It seems to me, and I think I am right in saying that it seemed to the late Mr. Chifley, too, as I know it seemed to Lord Keynes and other eminent economists, that in a period when you have buoyant revenue of this kind and require, as we require, quick development of this country, the only way to keep inflation within bounds if you are to develop with government expenditure is to see that government expenditure does not conflict with great private expenditure at the same time, and consequently either through the loan market or through taxation to use the mass of expenditure in this country for developmental purposes rather than private purposes. That is quite the reverse, of course, of deflationary conditions when you can use credit in order to carry on development without creating inflation and the damage that inflation brings.
There is nothing morally wrong in this at all as some people seek occasionally to tell us, and there is everything economically right with it, as very few honorable senators opposite are prepared to admit. We have seen the results of it and are seeing the results of it now. Wherever we look, we can see great economic expansion schemes in the government sector carried on by this Government and by the States. They are enabled to carry on their works by the taxation revenues of this Government. And we can see that done on a scale never attempted in Australia before, on a magnitude never approached even during the war. We can carry on government expenditure, both defence and civil, and still see, as we saw last week, that the stable economy can be preserved while that is being done. When the latest cost of living figures came out, we saw a stable economy - without a rise but indeed in certain cases a fall. In the Australian Capital Territory itself there is a fall of 4s. which, because of the policy of the arbitration court of what is called wage freezing means that the workers in the Australian Capital Territory, or wherever there is a fall, will be receiving 4s. a week more than they would receive if the position was Labour’s way and tied wages rise and fall with the basic wage.
– Their wages will come down with the fall.
– I am again assailed by an interjection, but the facts are as I have given them. There was a fall of 4s. in the cost of living index in the A.C.T., and because of what is called wage freezing that fall will not be translated into a basic wage reduction in the A.C.T., and workers here will receive 4s. a week more than if Labour’s policy had been put into effect. As Opposition senators are again interjecting, I thing that is a pretty sure guide that they do not like what I am telling them, and I do not blame them. With this great development that has to be carried out under this Government without inflation you would expect - I see no valid objection whatever to it - under those circumstances the utilization of taxation revenue for carrying on those works. We are told that we should get more government loan money rather than do that. The loan market now has to meet current commitments for the States and provide for the development of Australia. Mostly, we have to pay off the money that was borrowed by Labour during the war period. We have had to take from this Budget and put into the Consolidated Loan and Investment Reserve about £190,000,000. I do not blame the Opposition for that. I was in favour of those war loans and I even contributed a little to them. But I think it is a little bit hard when in a Budget we have to pay for that, we should be blamed because we have to bring in more revenue to pay for it. That does not seem to me to be a fair and valid argument.
Inow want to move on to a proposition which has been advancedhere more than once, that the taxationpower shouldbe given backto the States. That is something, I think, which isabove party considerations, From time to time inthe Senate strong philosophicalarguments have been advanced showing why this ought to be done, generally finishing, not with a suggestionas to how it could be done, but with the reverberating remark that, given goodwill and purposef ulness, something of this kind could be accomplished. Perhaps it could, but I want to make it clear that my own opinion is that taxing powercould notbe given back to the States, except in relation to income tax. It has been suggested that power could be givenback in some other way. Let us look at the matter.
Power to impose customs duties, and likewise power in relation to excise and salestax, obviously cannotbe given back to theStates. We must have the same excise duties payable in every State. There couldnotbe in New South Walesan excise duty on some commodity which was different from that whichapplied in Victoria. Otherwise,goodswould be runimmediately across the border to be sold where the lower rateapplied. Obviously, in acountry like Australia, customs and excise duties must be uniform. Sales tax, too, must be uniform. This Government has already vacated several fields of taxation for the purpose of enabling the States to levy their own taxes. It has left the fields of land tax and entertainment tax - taxes which, during thelife of the Government before this, were creeping up on the people who owned land and attend theatres. Obviously, we cannot give back to the States power to impose sales tax, because we cannot have different price levels in different States.
If taxing power is to be returned to the States, we are restricted to the income tax field. Will it be income tax on companies? Would that be right? I come from a State in which most of the big companiesin Australia have their head offices. It is there that they make up their balance-sheetsand pay their taxes. Would Senator Courtice, from Queensland, behappy to see profits made in hisState taxed in mine? Would honorable senators from Tasmania be happy to see profits made in their State taxed in mine? It is clearthat in the field of company taxation, where incomeis earned in all the States, the tax must be levied by the Commonwealth and the proceeds redistributed to the States - to the detriment of my State but to the benefit of Australiain the way as they are distributed now, So if we consider this matter practically, we are forced back to considering giving to the States only the power to levy their own income taxes.
– You battened on to the smaller States in the early days.
– Before I conclude, I want to refer to that very provocative remark. I say again that we are forced back to a consideration of whether we can allow the States to occupy the income tax field. Letus remember that that is the only field that we can give to them, and that the other fields are completely out of the question. Before I finish, I want to deal with the suggestion made by Senator Hendrickson- and, I think, by others - that the money raised in terms of this Budget is completely unaccounted for, and cannot be shown tothe people.
– Of course it is.
– “Of course it is”, says Senator Hendrickson. There isa National Welfare Fund item of £243,500,000, to bepaid to the pensioners of this country. Is that unaccounted for?
– Certainly not.
– Thenit is not all unaccounted for. There is an item of over £129,000,000 forpensions to war service pensioners of allkinds.Isthat unaccounted for?
– No, but it is not sufficient.
– At least it is accounted for. The total of those two items is a quarter of the Budget, and no possible objection can be made to them on the. ground that the money is unaccounted for. This year £300,000,000 will be lent or given to the States.
– It is surplus revenue.
– The honorable senator calls it surplus revenue, but it is not, because the States use and spend it. Anythingthat is spent is not a surplus. They use it for hospitals, schools and for other State works. Who would object to that? Who would say that that £300,000,000 is notaccounted for?
– Get on to: the. defence vote.
– I know that there is- an objection- by the1 Opposition- to- the defence- vote-. That’ is fully accounted for, tangibly- and morally, by- our- services, andby the men1 and material’ that we- have in the- services at the present time.
M we-, look, through this Budget, we. seethat: the- money collected, is- expended, oil social services-, development;, the maintenance of defence- services, or - with- this5, I must, finish,, unfortunately^ - the- creation, in this Commonwealth for the first time of something which, has been, spoken about for generations - a uniform1 gauge- for our railWays. That has been left to this Government to introduce, to the great benefit of. the country.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria) 08:27]! - There - Has been- so1 much- discussion of- thepresent? Budget, both- in- another, place and in the Senate; that’ it; must seem by- now- tohave been- worn rather threadbare1. Many of? the principal items- of the- Budget’ were published- in the press: and- freely- discussed’ weeks- before they- were presented’ to theParliament by- the- Treasurer (Sir- Arthur Fadden). P feel1 that I have the right- to criticize that; because; the? caucus- of my party is. the. only one. whose secrets are. not revealed in the press. Since, the Budget was presented;, it- has- been even! more freelydiscussed in the press- and . in the Parliament. For those reasons-, I feel’ that there is a good deal, to-be said for, the contention of, Senator Marriott that- there is. need, for reform, of” the. manner in which, the-. Budget isi presented, to the Parliament..
The’ Government, of” course, has” the numbers in the. lower” House, and in this chamber it* continues’ to have the numbers because of”’ the failure of’ the Opposition to present’ its full” strength. In those circumstances; anything, that is said’ can be said only in the way of” constructive* criticism, because the Government” knows” that the Budget will go through and’ refuses to accept” any advice or suggestions for improvement; from either ‘the Opposition” or its own -ranks. For* that* reason, I shall’ not dwell upon purely economic- matters; except to, say, that* like, the-: leader.- of* my party, I regret- that’ I cannot, commend- the Budget; because iti appears;. as: he. said; to display a lack of confidence in Australia. It seems to me: to be best described as. a colourless) Budget.. After all, the- Government has: been and! is in; a singularly, fortunate position-.. I* has been, in power; im a> period’ when,, because off wonderful seasons, primary* production, has-been, at its best. Prosperity has. reigned: throughout, the country. The’Government now has a large majority- - too- large, a; majority: - in the lower” House; and* in this House, it? is able- to get”, itslegislation through.
Senator- ©”Byrne. - With your assistance.
– An interjector says, that- it. is getting: legislation, through! with, my assistance.. If. the members- of his> party- had. as regular an, attendance in this chamber- as- 1 have, the. Government would not have been. able, to get its legislation; through so easily, and he- knows it.
To continue my earlier remarks,, let me say this: The Government’ has had- a wonderful opportunity to develop truly great, constructive policies. In view of the fact that it has> not’, had’ to contend with the usual’ difficulties with which governments have to contend, I should have expected! it to. take advantage of the opportunity to deal’, for example, with the vexed question of putting our social services on a proper, basis.. How long, are we to go om from year, to year, on - this hand-to-mouth system, of. social- services;, and: when- does the. Government intend to” take; its. courage in. its hands- and introduce a proper scheme of> national’ insurance- or-‘ national; superannuation? Naturally,, we would- prefer such. a. scheme to’ be’ non-contributory, but in view of-‘ the- difficulties that1 we- know must, face a . government, from- that viewpoint,. I. would, be prepared, to support a contributory system on a. just and. fair basis.
There is general1 dissatisfaction- with the Australian education’ scene. Why- Has- not the Government-: taken advantage of? the opportunity- to” dc something in- regard- to university- education- in> particular; and’ in regard1 to ‘ technological- education?” We are being- told’ that’ we: are being’ left behind- in the scientific and. technological race. We are a small country; but: we could I make a’ contribution; and? I: should have- thought that* the* Government’ would have outlined more of its’- plans- for the future’- in this direction.1
In regard to the matter of roads and transport, I want to commend the Government for its decision on the break of gauge between Sydney and Melbourne. But there are bigger problems than that. When members receive almost monthly communications from municipal councils stressing the fact that our road system is break’ ing down, one would expect the Budget to have contained stronger and more constructive proposals to deal with our road system and transport chaos generally.
My party will support the Government up to the hilt in trying to establish a proper system of defence and security within the limit of our resources. But I must confess to grave misgivings when I note that statements are made and are contradicted a month later, and that decisions are made in one direction and then altered in another. But I want to be fair. I realize that these are days when things happen very quickly and when it may be necessary for our defence and governmental chiefs to recast their defence plans, but it seems to me that there is scope for some decision on a fixed line which we intend to pursue. Whether or not the Government is pursuing such a line, it is not giving to the people of Australia the impression that it is pursuing it.
There has been no solution of the vexed problem of Commonwealth and State financial relations, and hire-purchase finance, which threatens to upset the country’s whole credit structure, remains uncontrolled. In fact, the Budget contains concessions which would seem to many people to be an incentive to hire-purchase organizations to drain off even more of the country’s credit.
Import licensing is a form of control against which supporters of the Government are pledged, yet we find that import licensing, which we were told at the time of its introduction was purely a temporary measure to deal with a purely temporary situation, has now reached such a state of permanency that it is establishing traditions. We write to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on behalf of persons who desire to obtain import licences, and in reply we are told that such licences are to be given to traditional importers. I hope that the day is speedily coming when all these traditions will be swept away, because if there is one form of bureaucratic control of industry to which I violently object it is the system of import licensing that operates in this country to-day.
Sales tax and pay-roll tax continue as they have heretofore. Both these forms of taxation are highly inflationary. I realize that the Government must raise taxes, that it has to get money, but surely in the years that those two forms of taxation have been in existence, during which time they have been shown to have had a cumulative effect in increasing inflation, it would have been possible for the Government to explore alternative measures of raising money.
I welcome one proposal in particular in the Budget. I pay credit to the Treasurer for the fact that in some of the concessions he has granted - I regret that they are so limited, but, at any rate, they are concessions - he has shown some recognition of the fact that the needs of the family should be given a high priority by any government. That recognition is highly commendable, and I hope that it will be extended by the Government in the future. But I do not feel that my commendation’ can go very deep when I look at the figures and realize that, although the Government is granting tax concessions amounting to £57,000,000, its revenue will rise by £81,000,000.
Generally, I followed the debate on the Budget in this chamber with interest and I felt that, except in one case, the speeches were generally of a high standard. I regret to have to mention that exception. I refer to the speech of Senator Aylett, who utilized a considerable portion of his time in making hitter and personal attacks upon the leader of my party, Senator Cole. The reason for those attacks is obvious. Senator Aylett will be a candidate against Senator Cole at next year’s election. But I suggest that it is rather premature for him to begin his electioneering campaign in this chamber, and that one is entitled to expect from an honorable senator constructive speeches rather than an electioneering campaign at a time when the Senate has not completed half of its current term. I know, of course, that very few people will take notice of what Senator Aylett says about anybody.
When I was only a comparative newcomer to this chamber, I heard a scathing attack by Senator Aylett upon an unnamed State Attorney-General, whom he described as being an associate of gunmen, racketeers, and standover men. When he did not name the Attorney-General concerned, he smeared by implication every State Attorney-General in this country and in particular the Attorney-General of Tasmania who is a member of his own party,because obviously, as he comes from Tasmania, people would think that that was the person to whom he was referring.
– A typical Labour attitude!
– It is not a typical Labour attitude, I am glad to say. A few weeks later, Senator Aylett made a similar attack upon unnamed high officials of the police force of an unnamed State. Of course, there are not many high-ranking State police officers. By implication, he -smeared all of them. If he expects people to take notice of such statements and personal attacks, he ought to be prepared to come out and name the people to whom he is referring.
I come now to certain criticisms of the attitude that my party adopted in relation to the Japanese trade agreement. I understand that there has been considerable criticism of our attitude from both Senator Hendrickson and Senator Sandford, both of whom have referred with some bitterness to the members of my party. I have known “both honorable senators for years and have known them to be kindly and goodhumoured men. So, when I hear them speak in that manner, I realize that there is a reason for it. I feel no resentment at what they have said; on the contrary, I feel the greatest sympathy for them, because I know they are passing through a period of considerable mental anguish. The party to which they belong has endorsed four candidates for the next Senate election. Only two of them can be elected, and the party executive is grilling them over a slow fire by telling them that it will not announce the order in which they will face the electors until immediately before the election. I realize that, in those circumstances, there is considerable competition for positions at the barrier.
Doubtless it occurs to some experienced senators that one way of commending themselves to Mr. J. B. Stout - who has opinions about me which I also have about him - especially when we are on the air and he may be listening, is to make remarks of a highly derogatory nature concerning our party. I want to make it clear that I do not mind those remarks at all. I realize the reason behind them. I have the utmost sympathy for those gentlemen. I hope that Mr. Stout was listening when they made those remarks, and I do hope that he will speedily induce his executive to state the order in which Victorian senators of the Opposition are to face the electors. Then we shall once again have from those gentlemen the kindly, constructive speeches that we used to get in the good old days.
Senator Sandford and Senator Hendrickson said that we were adopting an attitude antagonistic to the Australian workers by favouring the trade treaty with Japan. It was suggested over the air that the average Australian worker would lose his employment because Senator Cole and I had supported that treaty, even if it meant putting Australians out of work. The “ Hansard “ record shows that I stated in my speech on the agreement that we had received from the Australian Textile Workers Union a letter - which was received by other honorable senators also - stating that the union realized that there had to be some trade with Japan; that we had to sell our primary products. The union adopted the very fair attitude that Australia must trade with Japan, but it felt that any such trade should be restricted to goods which would not compete with the products of Australian secondary industry, and thereby cause unemployment.
Senator Cole moved an amendment to that effect. Indeed, the amendment embodied the views of the union. It stated that imports from Japan should be of such a character as not to cause unemployment in Australia. Senator Hendrickson, Senator Sandford, Senator Aylett and other members of the Opposition went over to vote with the members of the Liberal party against that amendment. Then they come here and accuse Senator Cole and me of wanting to bring in goods which would cause unemployment! I point out that nothing is more likely to cause unemployment than inability to sell our primary products at the good prices upon which our prosperity of recent years has been so greatly dependent. If Japan becomes bankrupt and cannot buy our primary products, especially wool, our income will be correspondingly reduced. We already face a situation in which, because of the drought,the woolbrokershave statedthat this yearthewool clip will be down by5 percent. or 10 per cent. Wehave tosell to Japan, butwe stand by ourdemand that importsfrom thatcountry should notcompete withthe products of Australian industry,and thereby cause unemployment.
SenatorSandford said that certainpeople were attempting to form a dictatorship of the right.I askedhim who those people were, but he did not feel inclined to say. I have been very alarmedby his statement, becauseI havehadexperienceof a.dictatorship.Ihave been avictimof a dictatorship, andI say that it exists to-dayin the ranks of a well-known political party.What arethe characteristics ofa dictatorship? One is that it is a crime toattempt to removeone’s leader, and that the penalty for criticizing him is expulsion. Another characteristic of politicaldictatorship is that the right tochoose members ofParliament is taken out of thehands of the rank and file. Thathas happened in my State for the firsttimeinthe history ofparties that have called themselvesLabour.I say that there lies thedanger of a dictatorship. Senator Cole andI took the stand that we would fight that dictatorship, and we intend to continuefighting it.
I want to speak now of two questions that areof some importance for the future of Australia.The first is the vexed question of immigration. I pay tributeto the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) and hisstafffor the mannerin which they are administering an immigration planthat hasmet with considerable criticism-mostly entirelyundeserved. Theyhave a very difficult task. Obviously,far more people want to come tothiscountry thanwe are taking at the present time. The department has to make very difficult decisions. I believethatit makes them efficiently and, as far as possible, withhumanity. ThepresentMinister is carrying on the splendid traditions in immigrationthat were established, first by Mr.Calwell, and then by Mr. HaroldHolt.Wehave to make up our minds whether we shall place security, or comfort, first. If weplace security first we must make a stand for immigration.
At last year’sAustralian CitizenshipConventionsucheminent persons asSirIan Glunies Ross and Professor Copland said that, intheiropinion, withinthenext ten yearsAustralia wouldhavethe greatest period ofprosperityinher history.They saidfurtherthatoneof its features would be an intense expansionof our mineral production.Theyadded that the only thing whichcouldstopAustraliafromachieving her destinywaslackofconfidenceinthe future.Theystressedthatwe musthave confidence in immigration.I know that there are people who say that there are difficulties here and difficulties there; that wemustthereforepostpone attempts at large-scaleimmigration.However,they are making an assumption whichno person isentitledto make if one considers the state of the worldto-day.They areassuming thatweshall have exactlythesame state of affairsintenyears’ time. They are making thewholly unjustifiedassumption that the institutionswehave to-day - theSenate, the House ofRepresentatives, and the Government - willexist in a world where things are changing so rapidly.
Ifwe want this country to become secure we mustfill it. If we want it to progress we must have more hands to dothe work. Whenpeople talk to me about unemployment I wonder how much unemployment there would have been if we had not had a millionextra consumers of our internal production. Thestrengthening demand for more British immigrants is no doubt justified,but I suspect the motives of a few of the people advocating it.I emphasize the majorityare bonafide, butI have my doubtsabout the motivesofthe Communist party,for example.I did not know that the members of thepartyfelt anygreat degree of loyalty toBritain. WhileI support British immigration on the ground that theyareour ownkith andkinand can therefore be mostreadily assimilated, Ifeel that itwill not solve all our population problems.First.and foremost,Britain does not want tolose a great many. Of her best people.To make up for Britishpeople who aregoing to theDominions,Great Britain isccepting people fromalmost every European nation. Poles, Germansand Italiansarebeing brought into Great Britain,although, like Australia, it prefers itsown peopleto those of othernations, highly estimablecitizens though they turn out to be. There issomuchwork tobe donein GreatBritainthat, whereas in 1951 only 1,000 ‘West ‘Indian negroes came into that country in a -year, last year between 25,I00O and 30:000 entered. The negro population of ‘Great Britain ‘is increasing, therefore, at the Tate of 25,000 to 30,000 a year. In Jamaica alone, ‘50 agents and 1!50 sub-agents are working full-time arranging for the emigration of negroes to Great Britain.
Great .Britain does -not wish to lose large numbers of its best .people. Therefore, Australia must realize that lit will not be able to fulfil all .its :immigration requirements from ‘Great Britain. We must be prepared to .accept those very :fine people from :the European -.nations, .others of whom have done so much for .us. A moving picture was screened :in this building tonight which showed that in the steel works of Australia three .of every eight employees are new Australians. Where would we have -been without the production of steel for which these people have ;been responsible? “Under these circumstances, I -say without equivocation that we must, in our own interests, keep up our immigration programme and make up our minds that we have -to -put security and industrial progress before comfort.
The only other matter to which I wish to make .brief reference is the recent congress of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, about which some statements have been .made. An assertion was made in another place that at .this congress industrial groupers, as they were called, had assisted to elect Communists to -the executive of the A.C.T;U. The name of Mr. Jim Healy, of the Waterside Workers Federation, was mentioned particularly. I merely wish to say that the people who fought the battle for the industrial groups are too well known for what they did in that fight ito need any special defence. All the mud that has . beer thrown at them from certain quarters constitutes a commendation, because of the quarters from which it came. ‘On the first day of that congress, the industrial groups’ representatives moved to exclude Mr. Healy from the congress because he had attended a ‘meeting of the Communist-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions, contrary to the decision of the International Federation of Free Trade ‘Unions, with which the A.C.T.U. is affiliated. When ‘that motion was moved, it was opposed by members of the party from which the allegation that Mr. Healy was assisted by the groupers had -come.
A few days later, the election of the executive was held. Mr. Healy and the Communists realized that the did system of election was not in their favour and, therefore, they .moved to alter the system of election to one which would be more favorable to the Communists’ prospects. The groupers firmly opposed that alteration, but members of the party from which the allegation has come voted with the Communists to alter the system and so gave Mr. Healy an infinitely better opportunity of being elected.
– Which party was that?
– The Evatt party. I should like to say something a’bout courtcontrolled ballots, but my time has almost expired. I know far more about the industrial groups than do many honorable senators who come from States where these groups did not exist. I know what they did. I know that in .the days when we had to go in and fight the Communists democratically inside the unions, there were very few people who wanted ,to do so. It was an unsavoury and unpleasant .task. Those who undertook it .are the salt of the earth. No matter what is said about them now, it will never take away from them their right to the gratitude of the .people of Australia.
.- The strength of Australia’s economy is shown in the Budget presented by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), a Budget under which he proposes to collect £1,300,000,000 in revenue from the Australian public. The pleasing all-round improvement in -both primary -and secondary industries is demonstrated by the increased export income -in ‘both ‘fields. The increased volume of wool produced and the higher price paid for wool during the last twelve months has done much to correct Australia’s overseas trade balance. It is also pleasing that the steel industry and the motor vehicle industry have increased the value ‘of their exports. The value of steel exports last year was £27,000,000, compared with £7,000,000 the year before. The income from overseas resulting from the export of motor cars and motor car parts was £10,000,000 “last year, compared with £3,000,000 during the best previous year.
A pleasing feature of our steel industry is that, in spite of highly competitive world prices, our steel production has gone from strength to strength. That is a good thing for our secondary industries, because steel production is the foundation on which those industries stand.
I should like to add a few words to what Senator Willesee so ably said about national development. Irrespective of our politics, we agree that national development is most important. I was delighted to hear Senator Willesee make constructive suggestions for the development of Western Australia. In considering development, we should ask ourselves several questions. The first is: How fast should we try to develop? If we attempt to travel too fast, we must necessarily strain our economy. That occurred in 1956, with the result that we had to restrict our immigration intake. Over the past years, our population has been increasing by 2i per cent, a year, 1 per cent, of which has been due to immigration.
As I said earlier, rapid expansion brings problems and difficulties. Development is not a painless matter. It has to be paid for. Large amounts of capital are needed, and this capital must come from the savings of the people as a whole. I desire to stress that point. The increased capital necessary for the development of our industries, whether they be primary or secondary industries, can come only from the savings of the people. Those savings can be accumulated only if we are prepared to restrict our everyday expenditure on consumption needs. That is one of the facts that the people of Australia must face. In other words, they must cut their coats according to the cloth available to them, and if our development is not to be slowed down, we must choose between what we should like to have now and what we must devote to the future. I know it is often argued that we should obtain money from overseas. Admirable and all as that may be, the fact is that overseas capital is hard to obtain. I think even Senator Toohey will agree that the supply is limited. Further, there are many countries other than Australia clamouring for this overseas capital, for British capital in particular, and it is gratifying to know that half the capital invested in Australian industries over the last few years has come from overseas.
If we are to depend upon our own savings for the necessary capital, then, in order to save, we must restrict current consumption in some directions. To-day, people seem to want to spend rather than to save, and if they will not save, and if those who do save will not invest their money in national development, taxation is the only alternative left to us. Much has been said about the Commonwealth Government spending taxation revenue on national development. I favour that policy because, as I have stressed here before, for every £1 spent from our national revenue on public works, we save 30s. Under the scheme advocated by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), who suggests that posterity should pay for everything, every £1 expended would cost the people £2 10s. That must be so even under the best scheme suggested by honorable senators opposite. To-day, when the money is available, when people are prosperous, is the time when we can take off by way of taxation a certain amount of their money for national development. There has been a great deal of criticism of what the Commonwealth Government has done.
– Justifiable criticism, too.
– It is well known that capital expenditure by the Commonwealth Government since the war has been met by taxation, and that during the last five years £370,000,000 has been contributed from that source to the States for public works and housing. That contribution is apart from other loans. If we are to have rapid growth - and it is needed in this country - then a high level of taxation is inescapable. I realize that honorable senators opposite, while advocating development, also urge that taxation should be reduced. I know, too, that there is a limit to which taxation can be applied, that if it becomes too heavy it could discourage individual effort, but I feel that here the Government has shown its wisdom and has realized that there is a limit to which it can safely obtain capital by the .imposition of taxation without restricting the spending of ordinary funds of the public on developmental works.
I am happy to see that lately we have been gradually getting towards price stability. This is pleasing because stability of prices arid costs is an absolute must in any economy, and this applies not only to Australia but throughout the world. It is only natural that with our development there should be an increase in the demand for imports, and I am pleased to see how secondary industry in Australia is meeting this problem. It may seem strange to hear an ardent primary producer, who continually advocates that the interests of the primary producer be looked after, admit the merit of our secondary industry, but it is pleasing to see what secondary industries are doing to improve their production and lower their costs in order that they may compete on the overseas markets.
One matter with which I should like to deal is the standardization of railway gauges. It was my very great privilege and pleasure recently to attend the opening of the Port Augusta-Marree railway line at the invitation of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge). In constructing that railway there was formed a band of loyal workers, men well skilled in their jobs, and it was gratifying to hear the Minister say that he would not disband that labour force, that it could be utilized on other pressing railway work. I think it will be agreed that in all government railway systems the main cost is the labour cost. Any wage increase plays havoc with government railway finance, for government systems are hamstrung in that they cannot apply the usual business principles such as cutting out unprofitable lines and charging true operating costs. It is for this reason that over the last year losses on government railway lines reached the staggering sum of £33,000,000. This is due partly to the fact that the whole pattern of our passenger traffic has altered during the last few years with the development of motor and air transport. This factor has certainly reduced the number of country passengers carried by the railways, and it is admitted that most railway systems are losing money even on their suburban passenger traffic.
This brings us to the question whether freight alone can make the railways pay. lt is my firm belief that in spite of the competition from motor transport there is a definite demand for our railway systems and we must concentrate on their development if we are to lower transport costs. This will be admitted when it is realised that 34.5 per cent, of our national income is absorbed by transport costs. If we could reduce that figure then we could reduce other costs and make it more profitable to compete on overseas markets. I have seen some of the famous roads in other countries, and my observations lead me to believe that no road will stand up to the constant hammering of big lorries and semi-trailers carrying loads of 30 tons and more at speeds of 40 miles an hour and over. Without entering into any discussion of the financial questions involved, I do feel that road hauliers have a very unfair advantage over the railways because the railways are required to maintain their own lines. If road hauliers were obliged to maintain their own roads I do not think they could compete with the railways in transport charges.
One thing noticeable about our railway systems is that there are spur lines jutting out all over the country with their termini in what we might call no-man’s land. Without discussing the question of uniform gauges or the projects which should be started first, I do repeat what I have said before - that I should like to see a standard gauge line running from Adelaide through Pinnaroo to join up with the Victorian system. The route would be from Adelaide to Pinnaroo, then to Ouyen and from Ouyen to Hay, a distance of 160 miles. Ouyen could be connected with Patchewollock, 28 miles away. With diesel engines, the time to carry freight from Sydney to Adelaide would be reduced to seventeen hours.
– Would you have a standard-gauge railway?
– Yes, it would have to be of uniform gauge and a good heavy line. The country that is traversed by that route is generally good. Sixty per cent, of it is undulating country and there are no big hills. The line would tap the rich river area of the Murray and the Murrumbidgee. That area offers more opportunities for development than any other section of Australia. It may not come for some time, but the possibilities are there. We grow some very fine fruit and vegetables around Adelaide, and Sydney is one of our best markets. A direct rail route from Adelaide to Sydney would be a boon to producers because they could get their produce to Sydney in seventeen or eighteen hours.
– Would the honorable senator give preference to the Broken Hill section?
– I do not intend to buy into that argument. If the line were constructed; as- 1 have suggested, three ports of distribution- would be available in Victoria: - Melbourne, Geelong or Portland.
I should like to refer briefly now to the increase in the size and functions of government departments. We have transferred the. power and influence of this Parliament from the floor of the House to the permanent officers of the Public. Service. They are men of ability and. they have strong private political opinions. I mention this matter Because, in my comparatively short life, I have seen a particular government choose- its high-ranking, public servants for, in my opinion, their political views.
– You should not have done it.
– I hope Senator Toohey, will realize that. Mr. Dedman was the man who selected the officers to whom I,ha.ve. referred. He. was* a Minister in the Labour government.
– The honorable senator should name the officers concerned;
– It. would not be done, under, this Government. I. would like to read, a small, piece about the Nile which would- suit Senator Hendrickson admirably. Perhaps I will: give it to. him later. It relates to something that happend 4,000 years ago, but’ it is pertinent to present-day conditions.
– People were- making statements- just as- silly as- those1 of- the honorable senator 4’jOOOf years ago.
– What. I’. want to emphasize, is that the Parliament, has conceded1 to government departments wide autonomous legislative authority. We in this chamber are frequently told! that we must concentrate on. genera! principles and leave to the. respective departments the work’ of- putting the details into effect. In other words;, the legislative supremacy of the Parliament is being, challenged. It could be overthrown, not by direct assault or By- the practical realization of any socialistic theory, but because we have delegated1 our powers- to the various departments.
Just recently, Honorable senators- took, a stand so that the power of the Parliament over, the public purse would be maintained somewhat, but every honorable senator on the Opposition side voted- against us. Year’ by year, the Parliament- is- losing- its fundamental purpose as- a legislative body and is assuming a minor rolfe as a- weak agency to review executive acts-. Administrative power is not declining; in fact, it growswith controls, and the compulsory powersthat are’ associated1- with every form of nationalization! The Parliament should and must correct these inroads into its’ legislative’ role.. We have a Senate Committee on; Regulations and- Ordinances-. It has discovered’ that; in bulk, supporting’ legislation! exceeds the statutes. Those statutes have been, passed by the Parlia-ment, and a. spate of regulations- has flowed &om them. The Regulations and Ordinances Committee should- be commended on- its: keenness and- desire- to ensure that the authority, of the- Parliament is notusurped.
Senator- Hendrickson; - What has the committee achieved!
– The sovereignty of the Parliament should be a matter of fundamental’ interest, to all of” us. Lately, we have seen the surrender of powers that were won through centuries of toil’ and, at times, with- bloodshed. The powers that have been surrendered rightly belonged to the Parliament.. They have been handed over to the Executive. Rights and’ privileges which our forefathers fought to obtain have Been surrendered. Once powers have been given- to the Executive for a special emergency, there is always strong, resistance against returning them to the Parliament, even when the emergency has long passed. We live on the edge of a dictatorship, and our protection against it is. an effective and alert second’ chamber.
In. the short time remaining, to me, I wish to speak, of Australia’s, work, in New Guinea. Recently, I had. the privilege, of visiting New Guinea with other members of the Parliament under the leadership of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth). I wish delegates to the- United Nations had complete, knowledge of the work that the Australian administration is doing in New Guinea. We can be justly proud of our achievements there,, and I pay a tribute to the Administrator,. Mr. Cleland, and his officers. We were taken off-‘ the highways into- the by-ways of New
Guinea. -We went and saw New Guinea, and from my observations ,1 should say that the schools and missionaries at Sogeri, Lae, Wewak and other places are doing wonderful work. The question arose whether the natives should be brought down to secondary schools in Australia. I prefer to see our teachers sent .to New Guinea rather than bring the New Guinea natives to the mainland because the customs in the highlands - I am not speaking about Port Moresby and Lae - that have been observed for 3,000 or 4,000 years are so strong that if several boys came to Australia to be educated and returned to their tribes the value of their education would be lost.
Much -has been ‘done in ‘New Guinea from the stand-point of administration. One or two matters particularly stand -out clearly in my mind . The first relates ito land tenure. The question arises whether “-we are to allow the whites to go there and acquire freehold titles to land. If the .’native population ;is to be developed, I submit that that can be done only by example. That :is evidenced from the progress that .the natives ‘have made in the ‘Coffee, rubber and -cocoa industries. The ‘native councils are ‘doing excellent work in the larger centres of population, but the position is entirely -different -in .the .highlands and at the source of -the Sepik .River, the land of the headhunters. I join issue with people who say that ‘‘New Guinea is ready for self-government. In the limited time available to me, I should like to pay a “tribute ito the missionaries and to our administrative officers for the kindly, yet firm, -manner -in which -they are demonstrating to ‘the New Guinea natives what our -way -of “life -actually means. The title “to the enormous tracts of country in the “highlands, which are inhabited .by more than 2,00.0,000 natives, is .vested -in the natives themselves but, if we expect people to develop the country, we must give .them security of tenure. I should like, also, to pay a tribute to the settlers. In passing, I refer to the arrant nonsense we hear both :in this ‘chamber and in other places that we are the exploiters of the native population. Never was a .greater lie spread -throughout this country. In my opinion, the planters .and -businessmen are not exploiting natives.
So enthusiastic am ‘I about the work that our administrative officers are doing that, if it were possible, “I should like -to see us take over Dutch New Guinea. ‘Irrespective of whether we ‘develop New -Guinea, I regard it as essential to our -defence, lt happened to .be -my -privilege .to be in New Guinea previously when conditions were somewhat different from those of -to-day. 1 should like to be able to convince the United Nations that the Australian people can be justifiably proud of what Australia has done for New Guinea. So proud am 1 of what we have done that I would like to see Australia take over Dutch New Guinea, because I am convinced we could do a much better job there than any other nation, with the possible exception of the Dutch themselves.
There are many other matters “to which I should like to :refer, but lack of -time prevents me .’from dealing with them. I say, in conclusion, that I support the Budget because it reflects ‘the strength of our economy, and it reflects also the development that -is taking place right .throughout Australia. -I oppose the amendment that “has been ‘.moved ‘by Senator Benn .on behalf «o’f <the ‘Opposition.
: - Mae debate on -the ^Estimates and Budget papers provides honorable -senators with -an opportunity ito talk about many things. -I .have -heard Senator Gorton speak during the .-Budget debate every year for some years. He always directed -his “remarks to external affairs, and >he invariably -stated that, due to the Seato pact, the Anzus pact and other pacts everything in the garden was -lovely.. -Repeatedly, .during the Budget debate the question of communism has .been raised. -I should -prefer :to call -it Stalinism, because there is ‘no -such thing as communism. Anybody who has read -the Marxian -Communist -manifesto knows that the state of affairs in -Russia .to-day is the very antithesis -of what Karl Marx visualized would be .communism. -Be that as it “may, the usual attack has been made tin this chamber to-night by -our friends of -the -Democratic Labour -party. They jha-ve .a -decided advantage -when the .-proceedings of this chamber ace being -broadcast. As .-far as -I know, T -shall be the only -member of the Labour -party who will -be -able to -speak to-night. The ‘call :from ‘the -Chair ;has ‘been given ‘to a Government senator, then to Senator McManus and now to me. 3 .do not wish to reflect on .the Chair, but I point out that it is exceedingly difficult for Labour senators to “ catch up “ under these circumstances.
I have heard enough humbug about the industrial groupers having helped to stem the tide of communism; 1 believe that they have helped to foment communism. In Great Britain, there are no groupers. The Labour party has won every by-election in that country, even in strong conservative divisions, and everything goes to indicate that, if there were a general election in Great Britain to-morrow, Labour would Win, As I have said, there are no groupers “in Great Britain, and there are none in Norway, Sweden and Canada. The one thing that the groupers have succeeded in doing has been the job they are paid to do, that is, to split the Labour party and give an open go to vested interests. A study of the allocation of preference votes will support to the hilt what I have said. My dear old friend, the late Mr. Drakeford, who was Minister for Air in the Chifley Government, got only one preference vote from that source to every five that went to the conservatives*. That is how they got in, and that is how they have succeeded.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who is a simple Presbyterian, has played this game pretty low down indeed. I am not one of those people who think that one has to be a tory in order to be decent. At this point, I want to refer to a fine man, ex-Senator Cormack. I was in Melbourne when Mr. Menzies, in addressing an elec.torial meeting, said that he would like to pay a compliment to the work that the groupers were doing. Ex-Senator Cormack was a Presbyterian like myself - one of those who keeps the Sabbath and everything else that he can lay his hands on. The result was that in. the most conservative places the groupers got the preference votes of the nationalists. This was to help to break up the Labour party, and money that was spent for that purpose has certainly been earned by these people. Mr. Menzies likes to be called “ Mingies “. I do not know what is wrong with Australian pronunciation. The late Senator Leckie was a vary amiable person. I remember his saying on one occasion to me, “ Why don’t you speak English? We do not understand Scottish here.” But he was continuously speaking, inferentially, about his Scottish ancestry. Of course, that in itself was nothing of which to be proud; because he had nothing to do with it.
I was glad to hear that Dame Pattie Menzies had been made a president of a Burns club. Subsequently 1 read in the Melbourne “ Herald “ a report to the effect that she had delivered the Burns address to the Haggis in Gaelic. I received letters from some Highlanders whom I know, and at the bottom of one letter, in Gaelic were words which, translated, mean “ Oh my God! She would not know what Gaelic is “. In point of fact, one could learn the address to the Haggis - it is merely a Doric - in about a quarter of an hour. I do not wish to say anything against a most estimable lady, but something must be said when this sort of stuff is printed. The last time Mr. Menzies went away he was called the proud colonial boy. That was pitching for Nasser. He was the wild colonial boy. That fiasco in Suez happened to the British in one of the most vital moments of its terrific struggle. They were knocked right back by what happened there. They acted against the advice of General Tedder and all the rest, who said it was the greatest fiasco since Yorktown, when the British were defeated in America.
– You mean Air Marshal Lord Tedder?
– You want titles; I know you believe in them. He is Tedder just the same, whether he is an air marshal or not an air marshal. Many others said it was a fiasco. What has been the position of France since then? In North Africa, she does not know where she stands; she cannot even form a stable government at home.
Let us consider now the Australian economy. My friend Gorton is talking about so much money for this and so much for that.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! The honorable senator must refer to other honorable senators in the proper way.
– I beg your pardon. I mean Senator Gorton. I said “my friend “, but I will not withdraw that. He kept referring to how much money was spent on this and how much money was spent on that. All that sort of discussion was out of date ten years ago, because the value of money is changing every moment. Everything in this world is relative. Whether you are talking about £1,000 or £100, everything depends on how much it will purchase. Mr. Menzies got into power by political fraud. He promised to put value in the £1. In every month that he has been in office value has gone out of the £1. He has not begun to solve one problem since he has been there. I have said again and again that he remains in office because the Australian Labour party is broken up. I have listened to him speaking and I have never heard anything to suggest that he has burned the midnight oil. Everything that he has put his hands to has been a failure.
Now he comes up with seven points to solve the problems of the Middle East. If anybody should keep quiet about the Middle East, it is Mr. Menzies. He pronounces his name as though it were spelt “ Mingies “. I will not indulge in any discussion on that, because I might become personal. He put forward seven points to solve the problems of the Middle East. Just imagine Mr. Mingies doing that! It would have been all right if the points had come from Nasser. I think Mr. Mingies was Major Mingies at one time. Frank Brennan said of him, “ He was destined for a brilliant military career, which he terminated by resigning at the outbreak of war “. Just imagine Colonel Nasser and his colleagues talking about his proposals! After having made a terrific mess in Egypt, one of the greatest messes that was ever made, he comes forward with a seven-point proposal for the Middle East, but his seven points are the very seven points which the Labour party told him he should have advocated at the time he was speaking to Colonel Nasser. Mr. Menzies now says that he is very glad to hear that the Labour party put these proposals forward. He is very glad, all right. The British Empire has been going down hill - there is no question of that - and when the history of the decline and fall of the British Empire is written, as it must be written - not that I am anti-British-
– Not much!
– You do not know anything about it. I am, if anything, proBritish. Your conception of a Britisher is a man with medals that would spread from here to Bourke. My conception of a Britisher is a man who fought against the anti-combination laws; who started the trade union movement, which allowed me, the son of a crofter, to stand here as a senator; who fought for free speech, trial by jury, Magna Carta, and all those things In literature particularly - not so much in art - no nation on earth has produced men who can compare with the men that Britain has produced. I want to pay that compliment. It is no use being blind to the way things are going. Every tinpot nation is now - to use the vernacular - “ slinging off “ at the British, and what do we do here? We have a Colombo plan to assist other people, but here in our own country we have our own scientists telling us that they are probably the worst-paid people in the civilized world. I have here a report which appeared in the “ Sun “.
– Sydney or Melbourne.
– In Sydney, the most intelligent place in Australia. There are people who say that Sydney is not as well laid out as Melbourne. I can assure you, my friend, that it will be when it is as dead as Melbourne is. An article, which appears in the Sydney “ Sun “ of to-day, reads -
The French Revolution altered the whole course of the French people. The industrial revolution changed the face of the Western world.
– It copied that from the Melbourne “Sun”.
– The Melbourne “ Sun “, the Sydney “ Sun “, the Melbourne “ Herald “, and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, the commercial television stations, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and all the other peddlers of capitalistic dope are united. I do not think that there is a country in the democratic world where there is less freedom of the press than there is here. This is at a time when Sputnik, the Russian satellite, is in outer space. I believe that the name “ Sputnik “ means “ fellow traveller “. It is merely a combination of initial syllables. At the very time when we should be discussing what we are going to do about the satellite, the “ Sun “ devotes four pages to the story of a very intellectual gentleman who is before the court, which is trying to discover whether it is possible for him to be the father and the grandfather of his children. Four pages! That reveals a terrible state of affairs. I did not read all of the story, but that is. what it is all about, page after page of it.
The press must recognize that it cannot continue in the way it is going. This fight between the Russians and the democratic world is a fight that has just started. It has to be a fight to the death, and I should like to see our scientists given a better go. I should like to see us. prepare to. fight these people on a scientific basis and at the same time keep our democratic institutions. That is the problem of the. world to-day. How are we to fight them and still retain some of our democratic institutions? What does the press contribute to the solution of that problem? The. main items that we read in the press to-day. relate to. “ vital statistics”. In these circumstances, how in the name of goodness can we compete against Bolsheviks? We see in the press pictures glorifying women who are actually deformed. They are strapped and re-strapped. Their features - I leave the rest to the imagination of honorable senators - are deformed and strapped up beyond recognition; Some newspapers publish a back view of these “ intellectual “ women. Day after day the newspapers publish pictures of this kind.
However, I am serious in this matter. A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men. With a press like this, how can we hope to compete with the Communist party, with all its discipline and ruthlessness? I have never bowed to theCommunist party.I have never risen to speak without commenting on the Stalin terror, when the great men of the Russian Revolution were eliminated. What was done to Trostsky, Hamenef, Bucharin and all the. rest?I make no apologies for the Russians, but they can never be fought with a press such as this, and the sooner that is realized the better.
Now,I refer again to the article in the. Sydney “ Sun “. It reads-
Professor Oliphant said: “ Our universities have been caught with their pants down. “ We must not pretend all the fault lies with the Government and schools. “Urgent and drastic action is needed.
Profesor Messel said: “ Australia should immediately spend £20 - million or more of the defence vote on science and technology instead of on soldiers nipping round with bayonet. “ In the pre-Russian satellite era, Moscow could have fired a missile at Sydney and missed; now it will be able to correct errors and hit the target.
The article continues -
Professor Messel: In Russia a top scientist gets £15,000 to £20,000 a year-
– Frankie Sinatra gets that.
– Johnny Ray gets: that much, too. The article continues: - and could buy two cars out of his monthly salary.-
I do not know what Senator Gorton thinks about this -
I can’t buy one.
Then Professor Messel is reported as saying -
Practically every scientist in Australia would give his right arm to get as much as a shearers cook.
Increase greatly science teachers and mistresses in schools.
Increase salaries and status of science teachers in schools and universities.
Foster recognition of the prime importance of modern methods of teaching mathematics and science in the schools . . .
Increase by 50% the total of university enrolments in the science faculties- and. so on. Alongside: that article- is an article headed “ Will Tulloch start in the MelbourneCup ?” Nine out of every ten people have never heard of Professor Messel, but they have: all heard of Tulloch;
I like a little joke now and then, but there is always a motive in my telling it. We cannot just continue to go on as we are. Another press article is headed “ Russia’s Satellite Means Life or Death, says Messel “ Another article referred to Dr. Oppenheimer, who resigned: he would not put up with McCarthyism. I think we could get some scientists to work for lower salaries, not that their salaries are high enough. The love of country and the love of defending the country would bring them in, but if they have McCarthyism at their shoulder it is impossible for them to carry on. That is exactly what happened in America.
We. are trying to combat communism by; publishing. in> the.’ press- reports like one which; is- headed “ Luxury, Garbage “ and which reads -
PALM BEACH- (Florida); Tuesday.- Pearls on garbage cans is- the latest thing in Palm Beach.
Th’e Communists- would- cut that article out and publish it ‘ in’ every Communist newspaper in Russia. They do not need any other propaganda. Unless this sort” of thing is eradicated, we will have no hope of survival. I- do, not want the Russian; system;. I’ know too-much’ about, it. But, we- will- never, combat it by. publishing this* sort, oft stuff. The. article continues -
Home.- decorator Marjorie- Niles, Kime, reports? that she Has,just completed, a, jewelled: garbage- cantor an unnamed, client, with, her monogram, inpearls on the top.
MiSs Kime says site went’ shopping for a’ raincoat, f or- the can-
Not for- the kids - but could not find one, so she is having, one specially made.
Oh the next page of the same newspaper we read -
ELIZABETH TAYLOR’S husband, Mike Todd, said: “ I. like you in a-. hat.”. So, she bought! fifty.
On. HIS 50th. birthday he gave: HER a diamond-and:emerald. necklace-:-
That is the sort-.ot thing. that, is, used against, the, Communists How-cam we: claim to be: Christians? I shall read: that paragraph; again- -
On HIS 50th birthday- he- gave- HER a diamond.and emerald necklace, with- chandelier earrings to. match.
They are- the kind that hang- right down. The article continues -
Every Saturday they have a wedding “ anniversary “ and’ he gives Her a present.
Collection! to date:’ one champagne mink (the only one of> its. tyne, in (he world), a, tiara, a Persian necklace, two poodles,, and. other, oddmentssuch as a Rolls-Royce.
When Elizabeth arrived in- London at the start of her Honeymoon’ she- fingered gold-encrusted pearls at her throat; and; explained how lost; shefelt because her, trunks’ had been. mislaid.
Honorable senators- laughs but I do- not see any joke in it. Oh; yes, F see it- now. I’ like people to be serious; because this is really,, a- serious, business?. It: would have been serious; but I admit! I-, was a< bib behind: in seeing that- joke-. I ami usually, not behind: The-, article them reads’ - “ These,, for-‘ instance “’, she said’, ‘“are- last year’s jewellery””.
When the Duchess of Kent wore magnificent earrings at the London premiere of Todd’s “Around the World in 80 Days “, Mike tugged at his wife’s chandeliers and said: “She’ll be throwing these away to-morrow “.
Her engagement ring cost ?35,000. For a wedding- present, Todd gave her- a diamond bracelet,, earrings and a- ring worth ?28-,500.
-No wonder communism is spreading!
– And we go out andteach the heathen!: In: the. Melbourne pressis another, article, which-, reads -
One child- in- every- 15 bom- this year- was- likelyto spend some part of. its life, in a mental hospital, Dr1., Alan Stoller- said to-day.
Still’ another- article states’ that Prince- Philip said that’ machines have to’be-subject to thewill of man and used- to benefit’ man. That statement received headlines in the press. People, have been, talking that way for hundreds of.’ years,, even from the scientific, socialist, down.to the. Utopian Thomas. More. Karl Marx. was. the. first one who made. a. scientific, analysis of the capitalist society, and- many know that what Prince Philip, said is. correct’. But when he says it, it. is i receive as though it is, something wonderful^, and three, columns are. devoted to. it in. the press.
Alongside- that: report* of’ Prince. Philip’s1 statement; is an; article headed, “ Mike Todd to entertain: us . . . Oh! What: a. party.” And; that is in- Melbourne!
-You. must.have. been reading the papers.
– That is one thing you could not do. A sub-heading of that’ article, reads, “ ?5 a seat “. i now propose to read the r’955 Christmas message of Pope Pius; the present Pope; who is a man of tremendous experience. He has occupied- that office throughout the most momentous time in the history, of- the. world. - the. time of Hitler and. Mussolini. He said-
The. spectacles offered) to., the- terrified? gaze: as a, result of much, use:-
Me- was; speaking about intercontinental missiles; - is- of entire cities- wiped’ out; a pall- of death over the-‘ pulverized* ruins; countless: limbs: burned and scattered; the groaning- of? death- agonies’. And the radio-active, cloud, hinders the. survivors fr.om giving any help. There will be no song of victory, only the inconsolable* weeping of- humanity, which in desolation, will gaze upon the catastrophe brought about by its own folly.
Some one has suggested that I am quoting too much, but to do so is somewhat effective.
We are in a very serious position indeed. Every time some one says something about communism, the cry goes up, “ Do not bother about that “. 1 have said in this chamber that some people are so antiCommunist mad that if the clock were to show the time as being a quarter to nine, and if one did not agree with them it was a quarter past three, one would be’ branded as being a Communist. It looks as if the Soviet is turning to Stalinism again. Whether that is so or not, the success or otherwise of communism in the world will depend on whether we can offer something better.
Government supporters are fond of saying that Opposition members are not present in the chamber. I am sorry that Senator Cole is not here because I do not like speaking about a man when he is not present. When the Japanese Trade Agreement was being discussed the honorable senator said that the Japanese could build all the ships that we now build here. Who would believe that within a year or two our womenfolk would be pushing one another about in their efforts to get into Cole’s and Woolworth’s stores to buy Japanese umbrellas? I do not wish to stir up racial prejudice, and I realize that the war is over, but there are wars and wars and, if one puts aside the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, one can say that in World War II. the behaviour of the Japanese was the worst in history.
– Why leave out consideration of the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis?
– I thank the honorable senator for his interjection. I merely said that to show that, with one exception, the Japanese were worse in their treatment of prisoners than the Germans. I was in Peking when the Japanese arrived and 1 know what they did to the Chinese. The Japanese made one great mistake during the last war. They went into China and, fortunately for Australia, were bogged down there for a year. When they got Chinese prisoners they tied them up, put petrol on them, and burnt them to death. Any one who has read of the rape of Nanking recalls that the whole civilized world was appalled at the behaviour of the Japanese. I know something about the Emperor system, and I do not blame the poor Japanese themselves. The fault lay with the way in which they were trained. They really believed that the Emperor was a god.
– What about the way in which they killed the Australian nurses?
– I am not trying to excuse their behaviour. But seemingly it is all forgotten now. I have gone “into Woolworth’s stores and similar places and seen these cheap goods, and none of them were labelled “ Made in Japan “. The British, with all their faults, have done more for civilization than has any other race on earth. I do not think that any one could say that I am anti-British, but that does not mean that we must be blind to our opportunities. Britain will not be able to buy Australian wool if the Japanese undercut her. Britain will simply not be able to pay for our wool.
The great Dr. Johnson said that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. He did not say that it was the last refuge of the honest man. He meant that when all appeals to the emotion, including religion, had failed, the scoundrel appeared saying, “ My country, right or wrong! “ I have in mind what happened to an Australian friend of mine during World War II. He is still alive so I shall not mention his name. He had a very good position, and had been to World War I. as a boy. He was one of a number of us who used to meet on Thursday nights and discuss all sorts of things. He thought it his duty to go to World War II. and was away for some four years. We knew when he came back because his wife told us of his return. Like a good woman she built him up with Bovril and all kinds of nutritious liquids, and after a few weeks he came to see us. Every woman in the room burst out crying, and tears ran down the cheeks of the men. They could not believe that it was the same person.
Now we hear great liberal-minded people speaking of introducing a tariff that will put Britain out of the picture. That cannot fail to happen. There is no such thing as a one-way traffic in trade. We cannot afford to let Japan die by denying her an outlet for her secondary products. However, there is a market of 500,000,000 people in China; Why does not Australia trade with that country? What have the Chinese ever done to the Australians? They have never raped Australian women or beheaded Australian soldiers, or used them for bayonet practice to toughen up their troops. On the other hand, the white race has done a great deal of injury to the Chinese. One need only think back to the Boxer rebellion, when trade was secured by the pretext of carrying the Gospel to the Chinese, and recall the extra-territorial policy employed in that country. European laws prevailed and the white criminal had to be tried according to the white man’s law. In Shanghai I have seen displayed the notice, “ Chinese and dogs not admitted “. This was done to the Chinese in their own country! I do not say that the Chinese have never committed an atrocity, but compared with the Japanese their record for cruelty is not worth talking about. What incenses me most is the fact that, so soon after the war, we are prepared to forget our friends. Whether we like it or not, we must trade with the Chinese. Do honorable senators think that the Australian economy can be helped by our recognizing the regime of Chiang Kai-shek? I did not meet the General himself, but 1 met Madame Chiang Kai-shek. When I was in Formosa the rackets there were worse than they had ever previously been. We are the ally of Formosa, and refuse to trade in a market offering 400,000,000 or 500,000,000 buyers. We are afraid to do so because, economically and financially, we are under American domination, and America has said, “ Don’t do it “. The British trade with red China. Why can we, too, not do so? Whether we like it or not, we must eventually trade with red China. By some peculiar method of reasoning we have come to the conclusion that we must trade with the Japanese. We claim to oppose communism, yet do the very thing that will make communism thrive. If standards of living are continually raised, there will be no communism. The only way to stop communism from spreading is to ensure that the conditions which breed communism do not exist.
When I use the word “ communism “ I want it to be understood that I do not regard Soviet Russia as being under a Communist system. Our system, though not absolutely democratic, has preserved democratic institutions that are well worth preserving. The fight between communism and democracy will be a fight to the death on all fronts. We shall not win the fight while the newspapers publish piffle, and intelligent men turn over page after page because there is nothing worth while reading. As we sow, so shall we reap. What would honorable senators think if they were intelligent Chinese and saw that the Australian Government was willing to trade with the Japanese in preference to the Chinese, although the Japanese had treated Australians so badly?
From a defence point of view alone, the support of Japan is dangerous. Any one who looks at the defence position in the Pacific will agree that Japan is still our greatest menace. It has the technique and know-how that could make it dangerous. On the other hand, China has hardly begun to develop. She may be a menace in years to come, but that is another story. One of the first things that we should do is to recognize red China. The press should realize that it will cease to exist if we lose the fight. Our intellectual standards must be raised, and we must produce good literature. Pulp magazines pandering to the kind of exhibitionism to which I have directed attention must go by the board.
However, I finish by saying that later on I hope to have the opportunity of dealing with the Defence estimates in more detail. I thank honorable senators for their indulgence. I hope I have not been jocular overmuch. If so, it was because I wanted to make my points clear. I think that the existence of the democratic nations - the British Empire is the essence of democracy, and more democratic than the United States of America, because things that have happened in the southern States of the United States could not happen in Australia or in other parts of the British Empire - and, with it, our existence, is at stake. We can only continue to exist by showing that our propaganda is better and more scientific than that of the Stalinists and by giving our people a better standard of living than any communist country can ever give to its people.
.- It is with great pleasure that T support the Budget. A great deal of criticism has been levelled against it, but we sometimes forget the good things which it contains. I think they should be emphasized. This .Budget .carries ion the :good work which was commenced when this Government .came into office in 1 949. Une plight of ‘the age pensioners has received continuous consideraition by this Government. .Despite what honorable ^senators -opposite ;may <say., i believe the position of *be pensioners .’has been greatly improved. We would .all like to :be able to do mane for them, but it (must be remembered <that pensions have to be paid lor by the people, and that expenditure on social .services is determined largely by the revenue available to the Government.
I -want to refer ‘now -to that ‘fine piece of legislation which this ‘Government originated, providing for subsidies for aged people’s homes. An amending bril dealing with this ‘subject passed through Ihe Parliament a week -or -so ago, and there is no need for me to go into the matter in great detail now. I think it is a “fine, humanitarian scheme and it is pleasing that the Government has extended the subsidy so liberally, because these ‘homes bring peace and happiness to aged people in the evenings of their lives.
Senator -Grant -made a great display about our trading -with Japan. 1 know that this is something about which ;the Opposition has .been making a song and dance. Honorable senators -opposite have talked .about Japan having been our enemy and about what it .did to .our people. Let me remind the .Opposition that we trade with Italy, Germany and other countries which were our enemies, some of 4,hem not only in World War II. but during previous wars. I .agree -with a very .prominent -member -of an ex-servicemen’s organization who, when commenting -on the fact that some Japanese were .coming here, said that the time had come when we should forget about .our enmity with Japan. If we wish to keep countries -such as Japan -thinking democratically, we must bring them within our orbit and encourage them to believe in -the things in which we believe.
I have not a great deal of time in which to make some of the points 1 feel should be pressed home. Because of the financial position df this country, particularly in relation to external earnings, the Government should pay even closer attention to industries which have ian export trade. I know that the Government has shown great energy in (developing .trade displays and -advertising campaigns, particularly .in -Great Britain, -but I feel that we should look minutely at (other .avenues which may -be open to :us -to increase our overseas earnings. There are two ways <of doing this. One is to build ! UP industries within Australia which, .by their production, will avoid the necessity -for .us to import ^certain goods from other countries. I have in mind, as a Queenslander, the cotton industry. I know that this .Government has given firm encouragement to ‘that industry by -way of a guaranteed price, but large quantities of cotton are ‘still imported to Australia. The development of :the cotton industry should be -.considered .-more closely, with a view .to avoiding the necessity ito send credits from this country to buy cotton overseas. The establishment -of an industry which .can supply goods that we are mow buying from other countries is , equivalent to earning money overseas.
The other method o’f building up our overseas funds is to develop industries which will bring money to this country. There are many avenues open to us. -As a Queenslander, -various things come into my mind. A few years ago, when dollars were in short supply, certain little industries were commenced. They were nurtured and fostered in the hope of attracting badly needed money from overseas. I have in mind the development of the export of orchid -blooms. That, of course, seems a small thing, but if honorable senators consider the progress that has been made over a period of years in the export of orchids, particularly to the United -States, they will realize that the industry has become reasonably important to Australia. Every orchid ‘bloom that went from this country earned dollars !for us -at -a ‘time when dollars were badly needed here. -Over a period of years, this industry - -I have not the latest figures - has developed to an extent that one would not have -thought possible.
Another industry in this category is the crayfish tail industry. When this industry began to export its product, it was not considered to be ‘very important. The export of crayfish tails began at a time when dollars were more badly needed in Australia than they are -at present. To-day the crayfish industry has become ‘very important to us. Last year, its dollar earnings were ‘the equivalent of £5,100,000. That shows what can -be.done. Then .there.is the. prawning industry. J have a news bulletin issued by the ^Queensland government’s public .relations bureau which ShOwS -.that ‘the prawning :ini dustry .is earning £2,000,000 a year, a . great proportion of which comes from overseas. New prawning grounds have been found :in the southern region of Queensland around Tin .Can Bay. The Commonwealth Government is helping to develop the fishing and prawning industry, and more -prawn beds twill, -no .doubt, -be (found along other parts of :the Queensland coast. -It seems possible tha the prawning .industry -will become just .as important as ‘the crayfish tails industry, which now is -worth £5,100,000 a year to-us. The, prawning industry .is now worth £2,000,000 a year to ais, with £1,000,000 a-.year coming .f ram-exports to America, but, lit .it .could be built-up in the -same -.way <as ,the crayfish industry, -it would .-soon be worth the dollar equivalent of £10,000,000 a year.
Another “very important ‘industry, neglected during the .last twelve “.years by the Queensland State .government, .’is the pearl s”hell industry. The Queensland Labour government refused to allow Japanese divers to enter ‘the industry, ‘but “1 am pleased to say that ‘the new ‘Queensland government !has had the courage to permit Japanese divers to work in ‘the ‘industry. Let me give honorable senators an illustration. The divers employed in the industry during the last few years ‘have ‘.been working only at depths from 7 to 10 ‘fathoms in their search for pearl s”hell. A Japanese diver can dive =to depths df $rom 1;0 to 25 fathoms.
– -Deeper than .that.
– Yes, even deeper than that. Because of this, Tie can get down to pearl-shell -which ‘has not been touched for years. ‘Because -this shell has been left lying on -the sea’bed for all ‘this time, it has been Totting and ‘has been eaten fay worms and this country has “been losing money through not taking it. I estimate that during the ‘last ‘ten years this country, through neglecting this pearl-shell, has ‘lost perhaps £5,000,000 worth of dollars - and all because the ‘.then State Labour government, playing politics, ‘would not allow ‘Japanese divers to come to (Queensland! Pearl-shell diving is work that mo Australian -really wants and I believe that now the employment :of Japanese divers is being permitted this country will be enabled to earn -income overseas, (principally from America. That being so, it is only right that -.we :should tallow them “ito :come :in so that .we may -earn that ‘.income.
I understand that last year the output of pearl-shell an (Queensland was ;about 250 -tons, worth about :£1 75,000 It is estimated that :as /Japanese .divers .are ‘allowed -into -Queensland :this output ‘.will be increased to ;approximately :1,00O -tons Which, at ‘the present price, of £700 -a ton tf or shell, would mean an additional ‘earning of approximately £700;000 a year ‘to ‘Queensland. The important .feature is that :as -most of our pearl-Shell is sold ‘to America, -this new ‘income would ‘be -dollar income. The Government -should look ‘at this question -as .a business proposition connected with the running of the country. -It should adopt the ‘policy -that ‘just as any ‘business Which is needing income or -more ‘trade goes ‘out land Hooks for it so should -we -seek .new avenues .of -income. The mew CountryLiberal .’Government -in ‘Queensland .is already von the .job, doing its utmost ito help the external :credit position of :this country, :and we should :do our part -to help
Another industry ‘about which -I have spoken -in the past -is the film industry, lt has ‘been ‘badly -neglected in this country, mainly ‘because no government. has ‘been interested enough in –it. Honorable senators might ‘be amazed to ‘know that Australia is one of ‘the most backward countries in the -world ‘in film production. Many other countries m the Pacific that we would not ‘think are as modern as Australia are .miles ahead of us in this industry.
Some time ago, J had a .conversation with an American producer who came out here and spent over £1,000,000 of his own dollars but, -because he .could :not get the necessary .encouragement, went back to America. I spoke to various members of the Government but without success. Probably because the -industry is not of any great magnitude in this -country, many people :do not .fully understand its problems. Its greatest need is a complete appreciation by finance organizations .of how it should he financed. In the ‘United .States of -America, where it is ia very important industry, the financial institutions lend money to film organizations for the production -ot films, :and -extend the loans over long periods because -they ‘.realize >that the earnings from a picture is not limited to its first showing. They appreciate that a picture may be run again and again and that the return from it could extend over seven years.
Honorable senators will realize that the production of a motion picture is very expensive and that for any film organization to have a number of films in course of production would require a great deal of capital. For that reason, it must have financial help. If we are to establish this industry on a proper basis in Australia, it is essentia] that we re-orientate our thinking in connexion with financing it. I believe that we have here the technicians, the producers and the actors necessary to make this a very important industry to Australia not only to earn dollars but also to save money that is now being expended on the purchase of films from other countries.
Another reason why the industry should be encouraged is the important part it can play in the development of television. At the moment we are importing films for television from many countries, but mainly from America. This again means the expenditure of dollars. At the moment the whole world is short of film for television purposes and I believe, from information I have received from an American producer and from an authority high up in the financing of these undertakings, that the development of the film industry in Australia would be of tremendous value because films can be produced much cheaper here than in America where they have the costly star system. I am confident that honorable senators would be staggered if they only knew just how valuable the film industry has been to many countries, not only the United States of America, but Italy, Britain, Germany and others. It is an industry of great magnitude in those countries.
– It put Italy on its feet.
– The film industry helped put Italy on its feet after the war. The governments of those countries went to great lengths to help it to develop and I believe that we as a government have got to think of it as one of the means by which we can help to develop Australia. By helping the industry we cannot be accused of merely helping an individual because it must be agreed that the prosperity of an individual, no matter what industry or calling he may be in, helps to make for the prosperity of the economy as a whole. We all play our part as components of this great country.
Another matter to which I have referred so often on previous occasions that honorable senators probably do not need to be told what it is, is the tourist industry. For the remainder of the time at my disposal, I should like to put before the Senate further aspects connected with tourist traffic. The first question is what this Government can do to help in its development. I suggest that its main responsibility is clearly to make available sufficient money for the proper advertising of Australia. As I have said before, it is of no use advertising individual States. We must appreciate that while we have a good knowledge of the various States, they are not so well known to the people of other countries. They have a better knowledge of Australia as a whole and therefore, just as in any publicity campaign the first principle is to adopt the easiest avenue of publicity so do I believe that instead of advertising Queensland or some other State, we should advertise Australia. That being so, the responsibility of providing finance for this publicity devolves largely upon the Commonwealth Government because every dollar and every bit of outside credit coming to this country through the tourist traffic eases Australia’s burden of balancing our imports by exporting our own commodities.
For a number of years now we have had in Australia an organization known as the Australian National Travel Association. It is comprised of representatives of travel organizations, State government organizations and others who are interested in travel, and the Commonwealth Government has subscribed to its funds. For many years, the Commonwealth’s contribution was £15,000 a year. Last year, that was increased to £50,000. I said then, and I emphasize now that £50,000 is a mere drop in the ocean, that when it comes to advertising in a country like America £50,000 is as nothing.
This organization has many duties to perform and it needs a great deal of money if it is to carry them out properly. It is the organization most competent to expend to the best advantage the money made available by the Commonwealth Government. If the Commonwealth Government made liberal funds available, this association could do much to attract tourists here from other countries. Its work embraces not only advertising in newspapers and magazines but the publication of folders and brochures for issue to prospective tourists. It also supplies information to other travel agencies. In its folders it has information which enables one to work out planned tours of Australia. The organization also supplies photographs of Australia to newspapers and magazines and in that way is able to get some free publicity for Australia. It also gets free publicity by passing on news items of travel interest or articles calculated to create a desire in people to come to Australia. It could write articles for magazines and for radio talks. It could also be given the responsibility of making travel films of this country and the production of photographic stills in colour, for the entertainment of people in their clubs, organizations and institutions. By that means, the name of Australia could be made known throughout the world.
I believe that if this Government were to vote £500,000 or £1,000,000 a year to the Australian Travel Association, the flow of tourists to Australia would quickly increase. The task of the association is to bring people to Australia, not only through its travel services but also by sending circulars and distributing information to private travel agencies. The American Society of Travel Agents has more than 3,000 members. Such an organization as A.N.T.A, must have money to do its job properly. If those travel agents concentrated on sending tourists to Australia, we would have a grand opportunity for our tourist industry.
When the tourists arrive in Australia, it is the job of the State tourist bureaux and private organizations to ensure that they are cared for, and to provide organized tours. We would then have a complete scheme to bring tourists to Australia and to look after them when they arrive here.
Another aspect of the tourist trade is the development of hotels. Many honorable senators ask why we should help in the construction of hotels. When we give aid to provide tourist hotels, we are helping ourselves as well as the hotelkeepers. We must have good hotels, and enough of them, to house the tourists. The people who come to Australia spend money, and not only in the hotels. They go to picture theatres. The women visit hairdressers and buy frocks. The men buy their requisites and gifts to take home to friends. When the tourists sit down to breakfast, they eat bacon and eggs and cereals - all primary products. Visitors use electricity, and so they are customers of the coalfields. Tourists benefit every walk of life. Directly or indirectly, they leave money behind them just as a farmer who visits the city leaves some of his money there. When the business people are prosperous, every one shares in their prosperity, and our national prosperity will grow as we bring more tourists to this country.
We have a grand opportunity and 1 believe that some of the States are awake to it. I pay tribute to the new Minister in charge of the tourist trade in Queensland, Mr. Ken Morris. He has not been in that position for a very long time, but he has shown much initiative. He has visited Mackay, Whitsunday Passage, the Great Barrier Reef and other centres. He is determined that Queensland will reap the benefit of the tourist trade which will flow to the Great Barrier Reef and to those districts where the tourists can see Queensland’s tropical vegetation, its jungles, islands and other attractions. If all the States would work with Queensland through the Australian National Travel Association, we would put the tourist industry on the road to prosperity.
I believe that some assistance for hotels is necessary, but I do not refer to an hotel simply as a house that sells liquor. As a hotel grows in size and expands its services, the bar loses its importance in comparison with the house trade. A hotel must be of a certain size to give an economic return. I believe that we must revise our thinking about hotels. Immediately an hotel is completed, it begins to become out of date. We have to change our minds about hotel construction. At present, a first-class hotel costs about £5,000 a room. I believe that we could utilize new principles to construct hotels more cheaply and achieve the same result.
Let us get away from thinking only of luxury hotels. Every American is not a millionaire, and we should try to provide good, clean, first-class accommodation with private toilets and’ shower rooms. We must look for new ideas. The Commonwealth Government and the State governments could1 encourage the hotel trade by tax concessions and assistance. The hotel industry needs encouragement just as much as do the sugar, cotton or wheat industries.
Many sections of the. community benefit from hotels. After World War L, France would have collapsed’ economically but for the tourist trade. The tourist industry is worth- more to- New Zealand’ than its apples and pears, its famous wood pulp industry, its fish and’ fish’ products, its newsprint industry or its seed industry. That’ is its value compared with- industries which are considered important in New Zealand. Some industries, such as the sugar industry, are tangible, but the tourist industry is invisible to the casual observer although it is just as valuable as are our other industries.
In order to demonstrate the value of the tourist trade and its prospects for the future, I direct the attention of honorable senators to an article that was. published in the magazine “ Coming Events “ in November, 1948, under the name of Sir Frederick W. Ogilvie. He said -
Great Britain has obviously got to develop her invisible income to the full, and the chief source of it must continue to be America. What kinds of invisible income can we develop? Shipping? By- all’ means-. Overseas! investments? Perhaps; but difficulties, are obvious with- the great- shortage of capital at home. And it takes time for returns from investments to come in. Films? Insurance?. Good. luck, to them. Apart from, shipping, no item of. invisible income offers such firm prospects of- immediate and lively and’ profitable development1 as tourist traffic.
In the White Paper on the United’ Kingdom Balance of Payments for the:, first’ six months’ of 1948,- a new system was. begun. For the firsttime in history, a British- Government regarded travel receipts as an item worth separate mention. The new figures’ showed that travel receipts were £14 million- for trie’ first’ half of 1’94’8, -or at the annual: rate of £28 million although the second half- of the y.ear. promises, even better, than, the: first half,, because of the Olympic Games and’ the general’ improvement which’ our tourist” industry Kas- achieved;
Now let’ us’ consider the: tourist: potential. Of the- total, o£> lt,1.07;230 visitors, to’- Great. Britain last year, 245,150 came from Commonwealth’ countries’. Both those-‘ totals represent an- increase of- 7 per’ cent”, on the’ previous year’s figures’. The; tourists’ spent? in- Britain about’ £Al212;500;000> Itf. announcing; the year’s results, the British Holiday and Travel Association said -
If, by. our- welcome and’ reception, we can win 1,000,000 new friends: for Britain, we will have done- more. than-, any advertising campaign to persuade the world of the greatness of our past, the vigour of our present and the prospects for our future:
In 1948; Great’ Britain looked forward to tourist revenue totalling £28,000,000. Last year,, its revenue from that source was £2T2”,500,000. Why did’ Great Britain get that revenue? It. spends almost £1,000,000 a’ year- in advertising, its tourist attractions. I” have not sufficient time in which to deal with all’ aspects, of the matter. The United Nations, appreciates the value of this industry which, it. has said, Has become a big. factor in foreign, trade. In 1953, the earnings from, tourism totalled’ more than: the. value, of the world- trade: in wheat, which is, one. of- the. biggest- industries in the world. According to- figures? published- by the International Monetary, Fund, travellers from 41: countries, spent abroad, the equivalent of some 2,400,000,000 dollars, excluding the revenue obtained by international air and shipping lines, which aggregated’ probably another 1,000,000,000 dollars. So- honorable senators will’ see- that this industry is not just- a- fanciful thing; if is something that- could be- of very great Benefit and a Blessing- to Australia- in years to come.
The opportunity is> ours because, as; time goes; on more, larger, and’ faster ships will be coming? to this- country ficm, .the United States of America? and’ frome 1359 onwards more and larger jet planes will be coming here from the- United States and other countries. Trie1 opportunity is ours-, and- 1’ believe that we should seize- it:
The Government’ should: spend’ more money each’ year” to- assist* the’ Australian National Travel Association’ to spread’ propaganda to attract tourists- to- this country, and when they come here* we’ should make sure that they are* looked” after “so that when they return to thei’r homes” they will be great ambassadors* for Australia-. Last week-,, a party of< American, millionaires- visited, the Great Barrier Reef and the WhitsundayPassage: @ne: after another,; the. Americans said that; they had) had; a- wonderful: holiday.. I, believe that the trade; willi be: ours if we Have: sufficient imagination and are’ big enough to accept’ it.
– I, want to begin my speech by expressing- my. very great resentment at the. fact that although- it is. now almost- 25 minutes to eleven, 0,clock, before I rose to. my. feet there had been previously, this evening, only one. speaker- from the official Opposition, in this chamber.
-It is the same every night we are on the air.
– I want to register the strongest possible protest against this situation. I think the Government, is ordering its, business in an- entirely wrong and. unfair manner when it precludes the official Opposition, in- this Commonwealth Parliament from having at. least a fair quota of speakers,, particularly when we are on. the air. I would, not mind, the sequence if, after one member of the microscopic group which, has assisted to produce this situation, had spoken, the Government had the wisdom and a sufficient degree of decency to. come to an agreement or understanding with, the Opposition on who would then receive the. call. The situation has. arisen repeatedly,, but never to the degree, that we, have seen this evening,. The. official Opposition in this Parliament is precluded from raising; its voice,, and the people, of Aus: tralia are precluded from hearing its views. Senator, Pearson, who is interjecting, knows that this is unfair.
– No* it is not., t dc not agree with, YOU
– I want to point outthat there have-‘ been- six-, speeches- in- thischamber* to-night. Only two. of. them have come f from the official: Opposition’.
– Do. you want, to, stop honorable senators: from talking?
– I’ do not want to stop anybody from talking, but I’ think iti oath be said, that the- official’ Opposition is- being- stopped from.1 talking.
– There have been three speakers from each side.
– What I am trying to point out is that the official’ Opposition is not getting a fair quota of ‘ speakers’.
– L rise- to. a- point of order., I suggests that the order ofl speaking- in this- chamber is a matter for your decision, Mr. President. It is not a matter that is under the control of the Government, and I submit that Senator Toohey’s statements are- a reflection on the Chair
– Senator Wright has only expressed an opinion, Mr. President.
– Order! I uphold the point of order that has been raised by Senator Wright. The responsibility for the calling of honorable senators is mine. This matter has been discussed before. If honorable senators will examine “ Hansard “, they will find, I am sure, that the call has been balanced’ fairly and reasonably. If the Senate desires to depart from the existing practice whereby I am supplied with a list of speakers, I shall’ myself in future decide the order of- call. It is for honorable senators themselves to decide whether they wish to continue the present practice or to depart from it. As T have said; a reference to “ Hansard “ will show that, on balance, the practice now in operation has worked quite fairly.
– I should like to make it perfectly clear, Mr. President, that I did not1 intend’’ by my statement- to reflect on you in any way. I’ understood; and I, think most- honorable senators understood’, that s system’ vastly different’ from the one we have seen would1 have operated” this evening.
– Who’ understood that?
– We were: given to understand if.
Senator- Pearson; - By whom?’
– Without reflecting in any. way on- yourself, Mr-. President - I exclude you entirely, from my- remarks - I believe that the- system, is-, operating- unfairly against the- official Opposition-. I make: it clear that I- do. not think that that is. any, fault of, yours? I believe that the Government itself,, in= the main-, by consultation with the Opposition arranged* the order o£ debate, and that you, Mr-.. President, merely accepted the. situation that, was? agreed upon.
– Is it your purpose to exclude the minority, party from speaking?
– No, Lam not. trying to; exclude; the minority.- party at- all. Every, honorable: senator has: a right to speak-. But a. situation should not; be created- in which the official Opposition - Her Majesty’s Opposition - in this Parliament is at a disadvantage in consequence.
Having made that point, I turn to comments that have been made on the Budget by some Government senators. I shall commence by dealing with a statement that was made by Senator Wood. Let me say at once, lest I be misunderstood by honorable senators on the Government side, who are probably only too anxious to misunderstand me, that 1 agree entirely with many of the things that Senator Wood said about the possibilities of the tourist traffic in this country. Many of his comments were sound, and constituted constructive thinking, but I should like to make one suggestion to the honorable senator and his colleagues. If they want first-hand and expert advice on the subject of touring from one country to another, they should approach the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who should be the greatest authority in the world on the tourist trade. The right honorable gentleman spends very little time in Australia, but a great deal of time abroad.
Having said that I agree with many of the propositions advanced by Senator Wood, and offered a kindly word of advice to the Government, I now proceed to examine some statements made by Senator Marriott, to whom I shall be less kind. I listened very attentively to his contribution to the debate. He spent some time in condemning the Government strongly for its late introduction of the Budget. I do not think that I am misquoting him. I think that those were the words that he used. He went on to belabour the Government, saying that there was no reason whatever why the Budget could not be introduced, as it is in other countries - he mentioned Great Britain, I believe - in May or June. We do not disagree with Senator Marriott on that point, but I want to take him to task very strongly on his failure to relate that attitude to his attitude in regard to the date when recipients of benefits provided by the Budget will actually receive them. That is the important point in favour of the Budget being presented earlier than is the case at present. Senator Marriott having made that point very strongly, we cast our minds back to what happened to the Australian Labour party’s proposed amendment to the Social Services Bill, wherein we sought to have the payments made retrospective to 1st July. Senator Marriott was one of those who were most hostile to such a proposition. He not only spoke but voted against it. I suggest that this type of canting hypocrisy will not assist him or the government which he supports. If he had an ounce of consistency in his make-up, he would have supported our amendment, which sought to correct the very situation with which he expressed such extreme dissatisfaction this evening.
Senator Marriott said some rather extraordinary things. He was very critical about leakages of the Budget provisions. Indeed, he had every reason to be, because it seems to be the custom these days, since the Menzies Government assumed office, for the press to know more than honorable senators know about the Budget. We have a strong suspicion that that situation is brought about because some members of the Government talk too much. I think that Senator Marriott feels the same way as I do. We say that it is a disgraceful state of affairs that the journalistic staff of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, the Melbourne “ Age “ or the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ should be able smugly to present to members of Parliament in their respective States, before they assemble at Canberra to give consideration to the provisions of the Budget, almost the exact contents of the Budget. Senator Marriott would do some good by raising this disgraceful state of affairs very strongly at party meetings. Perhaps he would convince some of his colleagues who have not such a high degree of discretion as he has, that there should be an end to this practice which, in fact, is making a farce of the National Parliament.
– The newspapers get the Budget story before the party members get it. It must be the Cabinet that is responsible.
– If the newspapers get it before the rank and file members of the Liberal party, I feel very sorry for the latter, because they are treated just as badly as we are.
Senator Marriott made another extraordinary statement when he said that the defence services of this country were reborn in 1949, when the Chifley Government vacated office and the present Government took over. What an extraordinary statement for a government supporter to make. If his memory went back only as far as 1940, or even 1942, he would know that there was then a very pressing need for defence measures in this country. It was not a question of preparing our defences against the possibility of war; we were actually engaged in war. The total strength of our defence services at that time was a 10-inch gun, a few Wirraways “and other ancient and antiquated weapons of war, provided by the type of re-birth in which Senator Marriott and his colleagues believe. I thought that Senator Marriott’s statement was one of the most remarkable that I have heard.
I want to correct an erroneous statement that was made by Senator Gorton to-night. He said that, because of fluctuations in the C series index, the cost of living in Canberra had dropped by 4s., and that therefore the Menzies Government had increased the purchasing power of the workers of the Australian Capital Territory, but that if the policy enunciated by the Australian Labour party had been followed, those workers would, in effect, have been robbed of 4s.
– The basic wage would have dropped.
– That is what the honorable senator meant. I may not be using the exact terms that he used but at least I have conveyed his meaning. Senator Gorton and his colleagues should remember that if the Labour policy on fluctuations in the basic wage had been followed since this Government came into office, the workers in Canberra would be approximately 18s. better off than they are to-day. When honorable senators opposite set out to try to make a point that assists their case, they cannot expect to get away with such a completely blatant and erroneous statement. I repeat that if Labour’s policy had been maintained, the workers of Canberra would be about 18s. better off than they are today. I am pleased indeed to have the opportunity to correct the obviously erroneous impression that Senator Gorton set out to create.
I want to make a reference or two to Senator McManus, who made the usual type of speech, with the familiar note of hatred running through it. It has been said in relation to the remarks I made earlier this evening in registering my displeasure at the number of speakers from the official Opposition-
– There was not much hatred in that, was there?
– No. There was a good deal of hostility, but it was not directed against you. It was directed against the Government. I will direct at you in a moment a criticism which I feel will be quite legitimate and perfectly valid. Senator McManus, who is supposed to be an Opposition senator, in his contribution to the debate did not do much opposing. In fact he might almost be considered as a speaker in favour of the adoption of the Budget. Let us be practical about it.
– Would you like us to arrange for him to speak early in the debate so that we should know his views?
– No. I would say that we usually have a pretty fair idea, and you would have a better idea. I want to get down to the subject of employment, which I relate both to the Budget and to Senator McManus’s contribution to the debate. He said - and he is entitled to his views - that we should have free and unrestricted immigration to this country. He said, in effect, that we should just pour immigrants into Australia, regardless of consequences.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– I understood you to say that you wanted people to come into this country without any restriction.
– It is a pity you did not listen. I said that we had to have a plan and that we had to maintain it.
– Let us put it in this way, so that we may be clear on the point before I proceed: You were quite happy with the existing situation.
– As far as it goes, I think it should be maintained.
– All right, you are quite happy with the existing situation. You say that it is all right as far as it goes. >I did mot hear you say (originally “.as far .as it goes “,; I .thought you had congratulated the (present Minister.
– He did so, in glowing terms.
– I thought you were very pleased with what he said.
– I spoke in .glowing terms also about Calwell, but you would not mention that. There is such a thing as being fair to [people.
– I admit quite freely that you spoke in eulogistic terms about Mr. Calwell also. But a different situation existed when Mr. Calwell .was administering the immigration laws of this country from that which exists to-day, and you know it as well as I do.
Senator McManus might recall that, after Senator Sandford had not received a .satisfactory reply, I asked the Minister representing ‘the Minister for Labour and National Service how many unemployed persons were at holding centres throughout Australia. After a considerable amount of delay, we discovered *hat ‘on 4th April there were 708 immigrants at migrant holding centres and ‘reception training centres who were available for and -were awaiting employment. They were mot unemployed; they were .available >for employment! I can .recall that during the ‘depression years I was available for employment for a considerable period; but in those days we had not these refinements of verbiage, and we were simply out of work. But to return to , me fact that 708 people were available for -employment, I point out that that figure included 95 who were waiting to go to employment that had been found for them. That means that on 4th October at least 600 people in migrant holding centres throughout Australia were unemployed. The Government should remember that it is bringing .migrants out,here at the rate of 115,000 a year.
– The honorable senator should remember why we brought those people out.
– There is -no misunderstanding ‘as to why they ‘are being brought out. No one recognizes with any greater degree of force than does the Labour parry that ;a proper and ordered immigration programme is necessary We do not need any education (from the honorable senator on that matter.. If he -casts his mind hack, he will recall that the Labour party was the first to embark upon large scale immigration to this country.
But the important point is that the honorable senators, including Senator McManus, cannot afford to ignore much longer the fact that there is a saturation point in respect of employment and other matters that are affected by immigration. It must he obvious to every one that we have reached the danger level. It is un-Christian of the Government, and it is a rank and arrant injustice to .the people concerned, that -there should he -600-odd people in the various immigration -centres waiting, perhaps vainly,, to find a job. I wonder if those people -were -told these things when the officers who were selected by -the Government were -cunning . round Central Europe telling .them what a paradise Australia was -and what would be their lot when they arrived in this country.
It is of no use ;f or -the Government to turn a blind eye to the .situation. -It knows as well as I do that we have reached the danger level in respect of immigration. It is unChristian to bring people out here if we cannot give them a complete and .unequivocal assurance that they will .be working soon after they arrive.
– So you would .not have brought the Hungarians out here?
– In the situation they were in, I would have brought the Hungarians out; but I should like to know how many of them are working. I should -like Senator McManus, who disagrees with me on this matter - not basically, %ut on the question of limits - to make a few ‘discreet inquiries as to how many of the unfortunate Hungarians who came -to this country are working.
Let me get back to what I think is .the basic point .of this disagreement on the question of immigration. I want honorable senators to let what I am about to say sink in, :because :it is important to the future of Australia. The Labour party believes that “we should (continue to “bring into this country as many migrants, including a percentage of British migrants, as the economy can sustain. But if, as a: result of unrestricted immigration, we. create a situation in which old and, new Australians- compete for jobs on an ever-diminishing- labourmarket, we are not doing the right thing by the immigrants and by native-born Australians:
– You mean that you would like to cut the intake by about half?
– I think I have put the position quite clearly.
– You want to cut it by about half?
– By how many do you want to reduce the intake?
– By a number equal to the number of unemployed in this country at the present time.
– By. 55,000 or 60,000 at least.
– By 50,000-odd, and I want the Government to study, in each successive year, the employment situation in relation to the intake. That is all I want the Government to do. But if the Government wants to fool itself into believing that, while 50,000 people are walking the streets of this country and while there is a Japanese Trade Agreement which, regardless of the circumstances, must have its impact on Australian secondary industries within the next twelve months-
– It is having an impact already.
– It is having an impact already.
– That is because you people talk a lot of rubbish about it.
– While that situation exists, it is dangerous to pluck a figure out of the air, say 115,000, and go pell-mell bringing into Australia people who later cannot get a job. People get the fantastic idea that we can bring in unrestricted numbers and that the situation will soon sort itself out, but history has proved that to be incorrect. Immigration should be conducted in a proper, planned, and orderly way, and. I suggest that, the Government is, not’ conducting it in. that way;
While I am dealing with the Japanese Trade Agreement, which I feel has some degree, of relationship to the employment situation, I remind the Government that Japanese imports are making, their presence felt, not only in the toy trade and the textile industries, in which workers are suffering a degree of disability,, but also in the boot trade in South Australia, which is in a parlous condition. Within the last fortnight or so, 100 men have been dismissed from some of the leading boot factories in Adelaide, and, according to the secretary of the Boot Trades Union, the situation must worsen. I note that Senator Pearson is listening with interest.
– I am.
– No doubt the honorable senator read the same statement that I did.
– I thought that the official spoke before his turn.
– He is somewhat concerned.
– I think he was putting men off before any impact from the Japanese Trade Agreement was felt.
– I think Senator Pearson has misread the statement.
– If you read the statement again, you will get the same impression.
– I think Senator Pearson is speaking in complete and utter ignorance, because every one in Adelaide knows that the boot trade in South Australia is in a very bad way. If you do not know that, Senator Pearson, it might be advisable for you to get a little closer to the people of that State. To do that would enable you to come into this chamber and make a more intelligent appraisal of the situation.
– That is a matter of opinion. Let the people judge for themselves.
– How many boots have come from Japan to Adelaide?
– In the remaining moments at my disposal, I wish to refer to the sales tax. I deplore the fact that the sales tax on what is known as the middle kind of motor car has not been eased. Senator Marriott had something to say about Budget leakages which indicated that a reduction might be granted. The failure of the Government to reduce that tax has done great damage to the motor body building industry of South Australia.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 October 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1957/19571023_senate_22_s11/>.